Monday, May 25, 2009

Am I At Risk For Macular Degeneration?

The most important risk factor for macular degeneration is getting older. There are other risk factors involved which include smoking, genetics, obesity, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. People who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, do not smoke and are not obese, will be at less risk for developing this disease.

Your ophthalmologist can look in your eyes and see if you are at risk. If she/he sees drusen, then you are at risk. Drusen are collections of waste consisting of left over oxidized fats that have accumulated over time. When there is too much of this waste, the eye can not rid itself of all of it and then we see drusen.

There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. The dry form is when the rods, cones and pigment cells just die. The wet type is when new blood vessels form behind the retina and leak fluid and bleed.

Our current research suggests that high daily doses of vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 IU), beta-carotene (25,000IU), and zinc (8 mg for women and 11 mg for men) may help patients with large drusen or advanced disease in one eye. The supplements in these patients lower the risk of severe disease by 25 percent. These results were published in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) completed in 2001.

There are other drugs that can be used in patients with wet macular degeneration that include injections into the eye which stop blood vessels from growing. Those drugs are Avastin or Lucentis.

Right now there is a new study being conducted to see whether lutein supplement will be more effective than beta-carotene. When smokers took high doses of beta-carotene (33,000 to 50,000 IU per day, they seemed to have a higher risk of lung cancer. Therefore, this new study will be looking into whether this risk is real. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids will be used to see if adding them to the diet will benefit patients with large drusen. Other studies being conducted at this time are assessing the incidence of macular degeneration relative to meat consumption, vitaimin D levels, and glycemic indexes.

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Monday, May 18, 2009


People with dry eyes often experience sandy, gritty, irritated, or burning eyes. Often patients describe that they have a feeling that there is trash in their eyes. Patients are surprised to discover that they have dry eyes, as they frequently notice excessive tearing.

The tear film consists of three layers. The outside layer is the oily layer and it functions to decrease evaporation of the tear film. The middle layer is the aqueous or water layer. The inner layer is the mucous layer that helps to lubricate the eye.

Dry eye is caused by any condition that can decrease tear production or increase tear film evaporation. Often, this can be caused by a dietary insufficiency of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids can be found in foods such as salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel.

Sometimes dry eyes are seen in young adults, but it becomes more prevalent increases with age. Women are affected more frequently than men.

The sensation of feeling like your eyes are tearing are due to the loss of the oil layer that helps hold tears tight to the eye surface. With this coating impaired, the tears will splash around more when you blink, and it feels like you are tearing.

Artificial tears are the basic treatment for dry eyes. In addition, eating the above fish that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful, or second best, taking a supplement containing Omega-3 fatty acids. If these drops do not sufficiently take care of the problem, then tear duct plugs can be used. These plugs are temporary and do not allow the tears to drain from the eye, allowing the eye to stay wetter, longer. For more severe cases, a drop such as Restasis may be used twice a day with excellent results.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

What Do I Need To Know About Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness if it is left untreated. Most forms of glaucoma are painless, therefore, only routine eye examinations will reveal that someone may be at risk or have the disease. There is no cure and vision loss and field of vision can not be regained. Surgery, including laser surgery, and medications can halt further progression of the disease.

Who is at risk? Everyone is at risk. Adults are at higher risk but babies can be born with the disease also. African-Americans are susceptible to the disease at a younger age.

Open angle glaucoma, the most frequent form of glaucoma, has virtually no symptoms. There is no pain with this type of glaucoma. Vision loss begins with side or peripheral vision.

There are other forms of glaucoma, such as narrow angle glaucoma, where there can be a sudden rise in pressure leading to pain, headache, and even vomiting. The pressure rises quickly in a very short amount of time and can lead to severe visual loss. Patients at risk for this type of glaucoma can usually be detected and a laser procedure can be performed to prevent this rise in pressure.

Nine to twelve percent of blindness in the United States is from glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the world and the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans.

High risk groups include people with a family member already diagnosed, people over sixty years old, diabetics, African-Americans, and people who are very nearsighted.

You can promote your eye health by receiving routine eye examinations from your Ophthalmologist.

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