beaumont vision pdx eyecare blog
June 6, 2018

What Causes Cataracts and How Are They Treated?

Understanding Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the lens of the eye. The natural lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the iris. In a healthy eye, light passes through the lens and into the retina where it then changes into nerve signals and is sent to the brain. When cataracts occur, images appear blurred or out of focus due to cloudiness in the lens, which scatters light entering into the retina.

If you are suffering from a cataract, you may experience blurred vision, muted colors, increased sensitivity to light and glares, and difficulty seeing at night. Here’s what can be done about them.

Causes of Cataracts

It’s fairly common to experience cataracts as a symptom of old age. However, there are some external factors that could increase your risk of developing cataracts. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, for example, have been linked to cataracts, as shown by this study by the National Health Institute and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Cataracts can also be caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, diabetes, and some nutritional deficiencies, too. Studies have shown that vitamins C and E can help reduce their risk. The Nutrition and Vision Project conducted a study showing how prolonged use of vitamin C and E supplements for ten or more years could actually reduce the progression of cataracts.

It’s possible for some cataracts to be passed from mother to child; these are called congenital cataracts. Cataracts can also form after sustained damage to the eye—this is called a traumatic cataract and can form years after injury.

Types of Cataracts

There are three common types of cataracts, and each type occurs in a different part of the lens. First, a nuclear cataract occurs in the center of the lens. When nuclear cataracts occur, the nucleus of the lens can turn from clear to yellow or brown. This type of cataract is most closely associated with aging. Second, a cortical cataract affects the area surrounding the nucleus of the lens. This type of cataract can look like the spokes of a bicycle.

Third, a posterior capsular cataract, or a subcapsular cataract, occurs in the back outer layer of the lens. This type of cataract is most commonly associated with diabetes and high doses of certain steroids.

Treatment for Cataracts

Mild cataracts can often be corrected with prescription eyeglasses. Anti-glare material on eyeglasses and sunglasses may also help to relieve the symptoms associated with cataracts, like blurred vision.

However, if a cataract progresses to the point where the patient cannot see, corrective surgery may be necessary. Some cataract surgery involves removing the damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial one. These artificial lenses are called intraocular lenses (IOLs). The two most common types of cataract surgery are small-incision surgery and extracapsular surgery. After surgery, many people require reading glasses or progressive lenses.

How You Can Prevent Cataracts

A healthy diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of cataracts, and healthy levels of vitamin E and C are thought to help prevent cataracts. Sunflower seeds, almonds, and spinach are all rich in vitamin E, in addition to other important nutrients. Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of developing cataracts, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will lower your chances and could reduce the severity of existing cataracts.

May 23, 2018

10 Unique Eye Conditions and What You Can Do About Them

Has Anything Like This Ever Happened to Your Eyes?

Most of us don’t really think about our eyes very much, as long as we can see clearly and nothing is irritating them. When something does go wrong with our eyes, however, it can quickly send us into a panic, especially if we don’t recognize the symptoms affecting our eyes or our vision.

There are actually some rare and unusual eye conditions out there that probably won’t affect you, but you should know about just in case you happen to notice any of these symptoms. Courtesy of the National Eye Institute, here are 10 interesting eye conditions to know about.

  1. Anophthalmia

If you have anophthalmia, you would likely know it, as anophthalmia is a birth defect characterized by the absence of one or both eyes. While there is no working substitute for an eye yet, there are prosthetics that can give the individual with this condition the appearance of two eyes and help to maintain their face structure.

  1. Microphthalmia

Microphthalmia is a similar birth defect to anophthalmia, except in this case, the eyes are abnormally small, rather than missing entirely. A microphthalmic eye can be capped for cosmetic purposes.

  1. Bietti’s Crystalline Dystrophy

An inherited disease, BCD is characterized by crystals in the cornea and yellow shiny deposits on the retina. There is progressive atrophy of the retina and other parts of the eye, leading to night blindness and a constricted visual field.

BCD is caused by a defect in a gene in chromosome #4 and is more common among people with Asian ancestry. It is quite rare because both parents must pass on a copy of the gene for a child to have the disorder.

  1. Bechet’s Disease

This is an autoimmune disease whose symptoms are not limited to the eye, but it causes blood vessel inflammation that can include eye inflammation, leading to blurred vision, redness, and eye pain. The cause is unknown, there is no known cure, and severity varies from person to person.

  1. Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

This is a condition characterized by pressure around the brain and spinal chord, resulting in headaches, vision loss, blind spots, double vision, and other ailments. There are a variety of potential causes, including excessive Vitamin A intake or a bad reaction to tetracycline.

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension can also be caused by a brain tumor, and the fact that its symptoms mimic brain tumor symptoms means IIH can sometimes be misdiagnosed as a brain tumor. The disease is related to weight and weight loss can help with the condition, as well as stopping any medications or supplements that may have brought on the condition.

  1. Retinitis Pigmentosa

The diagnosis of RP represents a group of genetic disorders that interfere with the action of the photoreceptors in the retina. It can lead to the death of rods in the eye, which then causes night blindness and a constricted visual field. Eventually, cones die as well, leading to tunnel vision.

RP is not curable, although there are ways to help the affected person compensate for their vision loss. One study found that 15,000 international units of Vitamin A palmitate a day slowed down the disease progression in adults.

  1. Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that occurs in children and forms in the retina. It should be treated immediately, with the course of treatment similar to other forms of cancer.

  1. Stargardt Disease

An inherited retina disorder, this disease can cause vision loss at a young age. While there is no cure, this disease usually does not render people blind, although it can reduce visual acuity to a considerable degree.

  1. Usher Syndrome

Usher Syndrome is an inherited disorder that causes both hearing loss and vision loss, specifically Retinitis Pigmentosa (see above).

  1. Uveal Coloboma

Coloboma is a blanket term for a rare condition where part of the eye is missing. There are eyelid colobomas, lens colobomas, macula colobomas, optic colobomas, and uveal colobomas. In a uveal coloboma, the inferior portion of the optic nerve or the entire optic disc is missing. A uveal coloboma will mean at least some level of vision loss in the affected eye and there is no treatment at this time.

Understanding the Importance of Regular Eye Exams

The best way to protect yourself from any threats to your vision is with regular eye exams. If you are in the Portland area, contact Beaumont Vision for a thorough exam from a caring professional in a comfortable environment.

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