Flashes, Floaters, and Vitreous Detachments
Almost everyone occasionally experiences the sensation of spots floating in their field of vision. These spots usually come and go and can be seen in one or both eyes. Sometimes you can make them disappear by merely turning your head, moving your eyes, or blinking. As people mature, the spots can become more frequent. When the spots seem to be strung together with a web-like thread they are called floaters.
Floaters can be harmless symptoms or they can be indicators of a serious eye disorder, such as a retinal tear or detachment. The retina can be compared to the film of a camera; it receives light rays focused by the lens of our eye. The nerve cells in the retina translate the images received into electronic impulses that are transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. If all the elements are healthy and functioning properly, the image created in the brain is sharp and clear. However, any damage to the retina can severely impact the image and result in partial or total loss of vision.
Diabetic Retinopathy: The Leading Cause of New Blindness in the United States
There are about 13 million people in the US who have some form of diabetes and it is estimated 90% of those will develop diabetic retinopathy to some degree. Therefore, any known diabetic, any person with a family history of diabetes, or any person over the age of 40 should obtain a yearly eye examination with evaluation of the retina. Factors such as pregnancy, high blood pressure, smoking, and diets rich in fats can increase the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy.
As the name implies, diabetic retinopathy is a potentially serious eye disorder that affects the retina. The retina receives images focused on its surface by the cornea and lens. These images are transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve, thereby creating the miracle of sight. Any damage to the retina will result in diminished vision and can even lead to loss in central vision or total blindness.
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: background diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The proliferative type is the advanced stage of the disease and affects about 5% of all diabetics, mostly those who have had diabetes for longer periods of time. One of the complications of diabetes is the weakening of tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. Blood can leak from these weak vessels and reduce the nourishment of the retina. The blood vessels may also leak into the vitreous humor, the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inner cavity of the eye. The leak can cause cloudiness in vision. Connective scar tissue can also form from damaged blood vessels and can, over time, shrink and exert a pulling effect on the retina. This can result in a retinal detachment, another serious side effect of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Facts about glaucoma:
• Glaucoma causes damage to sight at an earlier age than many eye conditions.
• Damage subsequent to glaucoma is irreversible but early intervention can prevent further damage from occurring.
• Glaucoma is often symptomless.
• Glaucoma is not contagious.
• Glaucoma is more common in people over 40 and in African Americans. Other risk factors of glaucoma include diabetes, nearsightedness, high cholesterol, and a family history.
What Causes Glaucoma?
There are several types of glaucoma, but all types are caused by increased pressure within the eye that can destroy the optic nerve if not treated properly. Pressure within the eye is usually measured by a machine which administers a puff of air or by a device which shines a blue light on the eye following instillation of yellow eye drops. A constant level of liquid called aqueous humor is maintained in the inner chamber of the eye. Fluid flows into the eye from several structures, and fluid drains from the eye at a spongy outlet located at the angle where the cornea and sclera meet. If the outlet is clogged or if the drainage system is overwhelmed by too much liquid protection, an increase of fluid occurs and causes the pressure inside the eye to increase. This places pressure on the optic nerve and its blood supply that can cause serious irreversible damage.
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Proper maintenance is crucial to maintaining your eyesight. Call Mason Eye Center, Inc. of Mason, Ohio, today at 513-770-4220 to schedule an appointment.
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