Dr. Whitten keeps current with the latest in diagnosis and treatment for the most common vision problems and more. Improved vision is usually just a phone call away. The sooner you are able to identify some vision problems, the more likely complete vision restoration is possible. Understanding your options is the best place to start, and Whitten Laser Eye will provide you with detailed information to make your best decision.
The most common vision problems are refractive errors, which occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from directly focusing on the retina. Vision occurs when light rays are bent, or refracted, through the cornea and the lens. This light is then focused on the retina, which converts the light into messages sent through the optic nerves to the brain. Refractive errors occur when there is a change in length of the eyeball, a change in the shape of the cornea, or as a result of an aging lens. Refractive errors manifest as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.
Nearsightedness, which may also be called myopia, is a condition where objects close to your eyes will appear clearly but become blurry as they move further away from your eyes. Most people would say they have trouble seeing far away.
Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a type of refractive error where distant objects will appear clearly, while objects close to your eyes will be blurred. Though this condition is common, some people do not realize that they are affected.
Astigmatism is a refractive problem in which the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina. Because of the uneven distribution, images may appear blurry and stretched.
Presbyopia describes an age-related condition similar to farsightedness. The ability to focus on items close to the eyes becomes more difficult. As the eye ages, the lens loses it’s ability to change shape enough to allow the eye to focus clearly.
The term Glaucoma describes a group of eye diseases in which the normal fluid pressure inside the eye slowly rises. Clear fluid flows in and out of the anterior chamber— the small space at the front of the eye. If this fluid drains too slowly, the optic nerve can be damaged. The building pressure from fluids can lead to vision loss and, sometimes, blindness.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye that develops in the crystalline lens. This clouding can vary in degree from slightly opaque to completely opaque. As the clouding builds and decreases the power of the eye’s lens, nearsightedness can develop, followed by a loss of the perception of the color blue. Though cataracts progress slowly, the condition can lead to blindness if left untreated.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration, also called AMD, is a disease that is associated with people over the age of 60. This disease destroys the sharp, central vision that we use in everyday activities such as reading or driving. AMD affects the macula; this is part of the eye that is located in the center of the retina, and allows the eye to register fine details. There is no pain associated with AMD, but the symptoms of this disease can have a profound effect on daily routines. As the cells of the macula break down, people suffering from dry AMD will register straight lines as wavy, or see blurred spots in the center of their vision. Sufferers of wet AMD, or advanced AMD, may experience rapid vision loss. As abnormal blood vessels grow behind the macula and begin to leak, central vision deteriorates quickly.
Nearsighted individuals typically have problems seeing well at a distance and are forced to wear glasses or contact lenses. The nearsighted eye is usually longer than a normal eye, and its cornea may also be steeper. Therefore, when light passes through the cornea and lens, it is focused in front of the retina. This will make distant images appear blurred. There are several refractive surgery solutions available to correct nearly all levels of nearsightedness.
Farsighted individuals typically develop problems reading up close before the age of 40. The farsighted eye is usually slightly shorter than a normal eye and may have a flatter cornea. Thus, the light of distant objects focuses behind the retina unless the natural lens can compensate fully. Near objects require even greater focusing power to be seen clearly and therefore, blur more easily. LASIK, Refractive Lens Exchange and Contact lenses are a few of the options available to correct farsightedness.
Asymmetric steepening of the cornea or natural lens causes light to be focused unevenly, which is the main optical problem in astigmatism. To individuals with uncorrected astigmatism, images may look blurry or shadowed. Astigmatism can accompany any form of refractive error and is very common. Astigmatism can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, corneal relaxing incisions, laser vision correction, and special implant lenses.
Presbyopia is a condition that typically becomes noticeable for most people around age 45. In children and young adults, the lens inside the eye can easily focus on distant and near objects. With age, the lens loses its ability to focus adequately.
Although presbyopia is not completely understood, it is thought that the lens and its supporting structures lose the ability to make the lens longer during close vision effort. To compensate, affected individuals usually find that holding reading material further away makes the image clearer. Ultimately, aids such as reading glasses are typically needed by the mid-forties. Besides glasses, presbyopia can be dealt with in a number of ways. Options include: new corneal implants, blended vision, laser vision correction and refractive lens exchange.
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