Eye Diseases

We have listed some of the more common eye diseases below. If you think you or one of your family members has one of these diseases, please contact Dr. Fydell’s office for more in-depth information. 

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common and progressive eye disease that affects central vision. People who have AMD may no longer be able to read, drive or see the faces of others. With an aging population, the number of people with AMD is expected to double in the next 25 years.

AMD can advance to uncorrectable vision loss if untreated.  Regular comprehensive eye exams by your Optometrist can provide early detection, diagnosis and treatment options that can prevent, slow down or even stop the progression of vision loss. By using special lenses, devices, or magnifiers some visual tasks can still be performed with the condition. 

Conjunctivitis 

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin membrane that covers the white of your eyes and the tissue inside the eyelids. This membrane produces mucus to coat and lubricate the surface of the eye.  Fine blood vessels are located within this membrane. When the conjunctiva becomes irritated, the blood vessels enlarge making the eye appear red in colour.  Other signs can be an irritated eye; a burning or scratchy feeling; or, a stringy white, yellow or green pus-like discharge. 

Viral conjunctivitis is referred to as "pink eye" which is often spread easily among children.  It is rarely serious and will not damage your vision if detected and treated promptly. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by bacterial infections, allergies or environmental irritants.  The viral and bacterial forms can be quite contagious so contact with the infected person should be avoided. Hand washing after contact will also prevent the spread. 

Red eyes caused by viral infections usually clear up on their own but bacterial infections require antibiotics.  An eye exam is necessary to determine the cause of the red eye and the type of treatment best required since there are several eye diseases which also produce what might be confused with "pink eye", particularly true if pain, blurred vision or severe light sensitivity is also present. 

Diabetes 

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. Sugar comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the sugar absorb into your cells to give them energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin, and the condition can be controlled by insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces inadequate amounts of insulin or cannot respond appropriately to it. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled by diet, medication and exercise. 

People with diabetes are at a high risk of developing vision problems which usually affect the retina of the eye, a condition called diabetic retinopathy.  Diabetes is becoming a pandemic health problem in North America and it is estimated that half a million Canadians have diabetic retinopathy. 

Without treatment, the condition can lead to uncorrectable vision loss or even blindness, usually in both eyes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in Canadians under 50 but with regular comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist, diabetic retinopathy can be detected. Referral to an ophthalmologist for treatment may prevent further damage. 

A frequent complication of diabetic retinopathy is diabetic macular edema (DME)

Leaking fluid from blood vessels in the retina cause swelling in the “critical seeing” part of the retina, called the macula.  Macular edema results in blurred vision and can lead to permanent vision loss over time. While DME can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, DME is more likely to occur as the disease progresses.

The first symptoms of DME are usually blurry vision and/or large spots in the line of vision. Sometimes vision will clear without treatment and then symptoms will reoccur. Treatment should therefore be sought at the first sign of vision difficulties. 

To protect against vision loss, everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive eye exam once a year. If the condition is discovered early, treatment can prevent or slow down the progression of vision loss and in some cases improve vision. 

Floaters and Spots 

Floaters are dark specks in the form of dots, spots, tiny threads, circles, lines, or cobwebs that seem to move across your field of vision. They are most noticeable when you are looking at light colored background such as clear sky or white wall. Floaters come in many different sizes and numbers and they seem to move when you look in different directions. Most of the time they are nothing to worry about, but sometimes they can be a symptom of a tear in your retina. If you notice a sudden increase in floaters or if you see floaters along with flashes of light, this may be a symptom of retinal detachment, call your eye doctor. 

As we age, the gel inside the eye called the vitreous, shrinks and separates from the retina. As the separation occurs floaters may occur. At first, floaters can be annoying, but your brain slowly learns to ignore them. After several months you may hardly notice them. 

There are cases where the vitreous remains attached to parts of the retina when it separates, causing the retina to tear. A retinal tear can develop into a retinal detachment which is a serious threat to vision and should be repaired immediately. 

Risk factors such as nearsightedness, cataract surgery, eye or head injury, can lead to a higher risk of retinal tears or detachment.  A dilated eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist is usually required.  You should see your optometrist if you notice the sudden appearance of new floaters, or floaters accompanied by a bright flashing light (usually in only one eye). 

Glaucoma 

Glaucoma involves damage to the optic nerve most often caused by high pressure inside the eye due to a buildup of excess fluid. High eye pressure is not always a sign that you have glaucoma but may be an indication you are at risk of developing it. 

Over time the disease develops into a loss of peripheral (side) vision. If glaucoma is untreated it could advance to where central vision narrows to "tunnel" vision, or it may result in complete loss of vision. Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent severe vision loss or blindness. 

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of vision loss in seniors in Canada. Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. 

Most forms of primary open angled glaucoma progress slowly and can be controlled by eye drops or minor surgery, however, primary acute angle closure glaucoma results from a fast buildup of fluid pressure in the eye because of poor drainage of the eye. This is an emergency and can occur within hours and hence needs immediate attention. 

Secondary Glaucoma can be due to a number of other conditions such as an eye injury or inflammation, eye surgery complications, diabetes and the use of certain medications. 

Styes 

Styes are small bumps on the inside or outside of the eyelids. They are often red and tender. They are little infections in a pore or gland in the lid usually caused by rubbing the eyes. Frequent rubbing is often due to uncorrected vision or eyestrain, fatigue, irritations in the environment like dust or smoke, allergies or head colds. Treatment is often as simple as plenty of warm compresses or in the case of severe styes, antibiotic drops or salves may help. Avoiding rubbing the eyes is very important.

All information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant as a substitute for advice from your optometrist.  Therefore, we assume no responsibility for any omissions or errors in the content. 

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