There are countless conditions and diseases that can target the eyes and affect your ability to see. Once damaged, can your eyes be healed once more? There are many common conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, nearsightedness, farsightedness and more that our patients struggle with. Some conditions that involve eye damage or vision damage can be reversed while others can’t. That’s why it’s so important to see an eye doctor often to monitor the health of your eyes and your vision. We can detect problems before they become severe and make you blind. Find out what some of the common eye conditions are that cause vision loss and if your condition can be reversed.
There are many parts of the eye that contribute to your vision. One of the most important parts is the retina. When you look around at your environment, light enters your eyes through your cornea and lens. The lens focuses rays of light onto your retina, which is the light-sensitive nerve tissue that contains photosensitive cells called rods and cones. These cells convert light into electrical signals that tell your brain (via the optic nerve) what you are seeing. If the retina is damaged, then eye damage and even blindness occur.
Nearsightedness is also known as myopia and is a refractive error in the eyes where objects up close appear clearly, while objects far away are blurry. Farsightedness (also known as presbyopia) is the exact opposite. Objects farther away appear clear while objects up close are blurry. About 40% of Americans are nearsighted, and many Americans have some form of farsightedness.
Astigmatism is another common refractive error of the eyes. It is the optical term for more than one point of focus. Instead of being spherical, the cornea is shaped more like a rugby ball, causing the eyes to try to focus on several different points at once. Luckily, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can all be treated and corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, and LASIK or refractive surgery.
This is the leading cause of vision loss currently. The retina’s central area (called the “macula”) is what focuses central vision in the eye. Macular degeneration and age-related macular degeneration are conditions where you lose your central vision. Around 2.1 million Americans over 50 have age-related macular degeneration. Even more people (9.1 million of them) have early macular degeneration. You can get macular degeneration due to genetics or can develop it over time with too much exposure to blue light. If it is the latter, make sure you wear computer glasses when using devices such as laptops, cell phones, tablets, and other electronics that use blue light. LED and fluorescent lighting also give off a lot of blue light, which can damage your retina.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that damage your optic nerve to the point where it leaves your eye. Why is this important? The optic nerve is the part of your eye that carries images from your retina to your brain. If your optic nerve is damaged, those images can’t be sent. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that glaucoma affects more than 2.7 million Americans over 40. The tricky part about glaucoma is that it often has no symptoms and the eye may seem perfectly normal.
Patients will know they are developing glaucoma because they will gradually start to lose their peripheral vision. Untreated, you will begin to lose vision out of the corner of your eye as if you were looking through a tunnel. However, instead of waiting to lose your vision, you can see your eye doctor regularly, where your glaucoma can be detected early on. Immediate treatment through medicines, lasers, and/or surgery for early, open-angle glaucoma is effective in slowing the disease.
People with diabetes commonly have diabetic retinopathy. This is when blood sugar levels in the body damage the blood vessels in the retina. Those blood vessels swell or leak, Without treatment, it can lead to blindness. Eye damage from diabetic retinopathy affects more than 7.7 million Americans over 40. However, the number of people in the United States with diabetes is increasing. Because of that, the number of people that develop diabetic retinopathy is expected to increase. Currently, the only treatment available is to slow down or stop eye damage progression.
Millions of people worldwide tuned in to 2017’s solar eclipse. Many eye doctors and medical professionals warned against eye damage that could be caused by looking directly at the solar eclipse. Those who planned on doing just that were strongly advised to wear protective eyewear. Why?
The sun is incredibly strong to look at all by itself. However, the intensity and strength of the energy brought by the wavelengths of light during an eclipse are much more magnified. You can kill many cells in the retina and be left with solar retinopathy after taking just one peek at the sun. Once those cells have died, that damage is not reversible. For many, that damage set in several days after looking directly at the 2017 solar eclipse.
Prevent eye damage from accelerating by seeing your eye doctor often. For chronic conditions where the damage can be halted or reversed with proper care, it’s worth your time to receive treatment. You only have one set of eyes in this life, so you must take care of them! We can help you with frequent comprehensive eye exams and treatments for common conditions. If you are due for your exam, call Optical Masters today at (720) 782-2190!