Eye Health

How to Protect Your Vision from Glaucoma

Three million Americans have been diagnosed with glaucoma, and about 2 million are not aware that they have this disease. Since glaucoma often does not show symptoms, eye exams are needed to prevent the disease from getting worse.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and cause vision loss. The damage to the optic nerve comes from an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye. There are several different ways fluid pressure can build. Often it happens very slowly but occasionally it can happen quickly, which results in a lot of eye pain. No matter the cause of glaucoma, without treatment it can cause blindness within a few years.

The good news is that glaucoma is treatable. The risk of blindness from glaucoma goes down when the condition is found and treated early.

Signs and Symptoms

Glaucoma is often called the “silent thief of sight” because in its early stages it often does not cause symptoms. As the disease worsens, side vision will gradually fade, focusing on objects will become more difficult, halos will appear around light and, without treatment, straight-ahead vision will be lost as well.

Eye doctors can diagnose glaucoma before any symptoms occur. A simple eye exam can rule out most people who do not have glaucoma. After the eye exam, a doctor might decide that a special test called a visual field test is needed. Having these tests regularly can help detect glaucoma in its early stages before any vision loss.

Glaucoma can affect anyone, but genetics and family history play an important role. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye examinations at least every one to two years for:

  • African Americans and Latinos over age 40
  • Anyone over age 65
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • Individuals who have experienced a serious eye injury
  • People with diabetes (yearly exams are recommended)

Childhood Glaucoma

Childhood glaucoma is relatively rare but is the leading cause of blindness in children, especially in developing countries. It can occur at birth or within the first few years of life and requires multiple procedures and lifelong follow-up.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

There are treatments for glaucoma that can help slow or stop vision loss. Glaucoma treatment can include eye drops to either reduce the formation of fluid in the eye or to increase how quickly it flows out. Laser surgery or microsurgery may also be an option for treating glaucoma.

Early detection of glaucoma gives patients the best chance to keep good vision. Since damage cannot be undone, it is important to have regular eye exams and checkups. Protect your vision by scheduling an appointment with an Emory Eye Center doctor today. Appointments can be made Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (ET), by calling 404-778-2020.

About Emory Eye Center

Emory Eye Center is the largest, most comprehensive eye care center in Georgia, serving patients for nearly 150 years. Emory Eye Center has a nationally recognized team of physicians and scientists who work closely on the study and treatment of glaucoma.

About Emory Eye Center’s Glaucoma Research

The Emory Eye Center is on the forefront of glaucoma research and is constantly translating new findings into treatment. Eye Center researchers are working on several glaucoma clinical trials, studying the genetic causes of glaucoma, and working to put in place glaucoma treatment in clinics around the world.

Links to Outside Resources

 

How to Prevent and Treat Low Vision and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Low vision is a common eye condition that affects over 15 million Americans. Learn more about some of the causes of low vision and how you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.

What is Low Vision?

Low vision is a condition that can make everyday tasks like reading, writing, riding a bike, cooking, or driving a vehicle harder. Low vision cannot be fixed with normal glasses, contacts, medicine or surgery, but strategies and tools can improve visual activities, quality of life and independence.

What Are Some Causes of Low Vision?

Some of the common causes of low vision in seniors and adults are eye injury, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

What is AMD?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when part of the retina, the macula, begins to deteriorate. It is the most common cause of low vision and a major cause of partial blindness in adults over 50. The macula is in the center of the retina, so as AMD worsens, patients lose their central vision. This can make it impossible for affected individuals to complete everyday tasks. There are two forms of late AMD: the dry form, accounting for 80-90 percent of affected patients, and the wet form, which affects about 10 percent of patients. Wet AMD is more serious and progresses faster than dry AMD. Patients with advanced AMD, also known as late AMD, are almost entirely reliant on their peripheral vision.

What Causes AMD?

Early-stage AMD results from the eye cells becoming unable to manage inflammation, leading to buildup on the retina. These buildups can damage the macula and lead to dry AMD. In wet AMD, blood vessels form under the retina and leak fluid, interfering with retinal function and distorting vision.

AMD is hereditary, happening most commonly in older white women, so people with a family history have a higher risk of developing the disease. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and lighter eye color.

How Can I Treat AMD?

There is no cure for AMD, but there are some treatments that can slow the condition and slow down vision loss. For early dry AMD, doctors generally prescribe nutritional therapy: a diet high in antioxidants to support the health of the macula. For wet AMD, there are more treatment options, including laser surgery, drug therapy, and injections. As AMD progresses, treatment may also involve finding strategies and devices that help patients adapt to living with AMD, allowing them to continue enjoying hobbies like reading, cooking, or watching TV.

How Can I Prevent AMD?

Changing one’s lifestyle may reduce the risk of early AMD.

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a low-fat diet.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.
  • Include 2-3 servings fish per week in your diet.
  • Exercise regularly (walking, cycling, swimming, etc.).
  • Wear sunglasses and/or a hat to protect against chronic sun exposure.

Regular eye exams are the only way to detect AMD. Emory Eye Center physicians can diagnose AMD before patients experience any symptoms. Protect your vision by scheduling an appointment with an Emory Eye Center physician today. Appointments can be made Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (ET), by calling 404-778-2020.

About Emory Eye Center

Emory Eye Center is the largest, most comprehensive eye care facility in Georgia, serving patients for nearly 150 years. It is one of the leading centers for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) research, committed to studying AMD and turning research findings into treatments for patients. Emory Eye Center has a nationally recognized team of physicians and scientists who work closely on the study and treatment of AMD. These physicians work with research scientists with expertise in molecular genetics, immunology, drug delivery, cell biology, ocular pathology, pharmacology, and biochemistry.

About Emory Eye Center’s Low Vision Clinic

Emory Eye Center’s Ned S. Witkin Vision Rehabilitation Service (Low Vision) helps people of any age who are visually impaired and have only partial sight due to cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, detached retina, or stroke.

More Resources

Glaucoma Risks and Treatment Options

March 11-17 is World Glaucoma Week and the perfect time to learn more about this potentially blinding condition and how early detection can make a difference.

When a person has glaucoma, the normal fluid pressure inside the eye slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve that’s responsible for transmitting images to the brain. If the elevated eye pressure continues, glaucoma will worsen one’s vision. Without treatment, it can cause blindness within a few years.

The good news is, glaucoma is treatable. The risk of blindness from glaucoma decreases when the condition is diagnosed and treated early.

Signs of Glaucoma

More than 3 million Americans – and more than 60 million people worldwide – have glaucoma, yet many don’t realize they have it. That’s because most people with glaucoma don’t have any pain or notice their initial vision loss.

Physicians diagnose glaucoma by combining an eye pressure test with a comprehensive eye exam that includes dilation. Patients with suspected glaucoma will also have a visual field test and an evaluation of the optic nerve. Having these tests on a regular basis can help detect glaucoma in its early stages before vision loss occurs.

Glaucoma can affect anyone, but people at higher risk include:

  • African Americans age 40 and older
  • Adults over age 60, especially Hispanics or Latinos
  • Those who have a family history of the disease.

As glaucoma progresses, symptoms might include a loss of peripheral vision, difficulty focusing on objects, seeing halos around lights, or blurred vision.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

Early detection and treatment of glaucoma give patients the best chance to maintain good vision. Damage cannot be reversed, but treatments can help slow or stop future vision loss. Glaucoma treatment can include eye drops to either reduce the formation of fluid in the eye or to increase its outflow, laser surgery, or microsurgery. An ophthalmologist can help determine a patient’s best treatment option.

To schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an Emory Eye Center doctor, call 404-778-2020.

Learn more about glaucoma and its symptoms and treatments.

About Emory Eye Center

The Emory Eye Center is the largest, most comprehensive eye care facility in Georgia, serving patients for more than 145 years. Our goals are simple: to provide the best possible eye care and save the sight of those in danger of losing it. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other eye care professionals treat individuals of all ages who need care ranging from annual vision exams to treatment of complex vision disorders. Our physicians also help train the ophthalmologists of tomorrow through residency and fellowship programs that are recognized as some of the best in the country. Scientists at Emory Eye Center are researching the causes of and improved treatments for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, genetic eye diseases and more. To learn more, visit the Emory Eye Center.

Learn more about LASIK

Computer Vision Syndrome Tips

Computer Vision Syndrome causes vision problems such as eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes. Learn about preventing computer vision syndrome.The more technology evolves, the more difficult it can be to resist interacting with screens throughout the day. Nielsen confirmed this in June 2016 stating that adults in the United States spend around 10 hours and 39 minutes in front of screens per day. This means that using smartphones, laptops, computers, televisions, tablets, and other personal devices consumes almost half of the typical American adult’s day. As this usage increases, so does our susceptibility to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is defined by the American Optometric Association as “a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use.” CVS typically results in only temporary vision problems such as eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes, it is also possible for these symptoms to continue even after screen interaction has stopped. That’s why device users must be educated on their susceptibility to Computer Vision Syndrome and be aware of ways to prevent it.

While the obvious suggestion to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome is to eliminate or decrease our daily screen time, this is easier said than done since our lives require interacting with these devices. Instead, follow these three simple tips to help prevent vision problems:

  • Match the brightness of your screen to the lighting of the room you are in
  • Maintain proper posture when using devices by sitting up straight and having relaxed shoulders
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule of every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break 20 feet from a screen

It is important to listen to our bodies as well as follow these guidelines to prevent vision problems that come with our constant interactions with screens. The more we pay attention, the less susceptible we might be to Computer Vision Syndrome.

About Ann Van Wie, OD, FAAO

ann van wieAnn M. Van Wie, OD, FAAO, is an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology within Emory University’s School of Medicine. She serves in the Vision & Optical Services within the Comprehensive Ophthalmology section at the Emory Eye Center.

Dr. Van Wie received her doctorate from the Illinois College of Optometry. She completed her residency in Atlanta, then served as staff optometrist and chief operating officer at the Northwest Eye Clinic in Minneapolis. Dr. Van Wie returned to Atlanta to join the Emory Eye Center in 2000.

April is Sports Eye Safety Month!

summer-sports-smallAccording to a national survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), only 35 percent of respondents said they always wear protective eyewear when performing home repairs or maintenance; even fewer do so while playing sports. As such, AAO has named April Eye Safety Month to help increase public awareness of wearing protective eyewear when participating in team sports.

According to the AAO:

  • Men are more likely to sustain an eye injury than women.
  • Most people believe that eye injuries are most common on the job — especially in the course of work at factories and construction sites. But, in fact, nearly half (44.7 percent) of all eye injuries occurred in the home, as reported during the fifth-annual Eye Injury Snapshot (conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma).
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot were caused by projects and activities such as home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. More than a third (34.2 percent) of injuries in the home occurred in living areas such as the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living or family room.
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports or recreational activities.
  • Eyes can be damaged by sun exposure, not just chemicals, dust or objects.
  • Among all eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot, more than 78 percent of people were not wearing eyewear at the time of injury. Of those reported to be wearing eyewear of some sort at the time of injury (including glasses or contact lenses), only 5.3 percent were wearing safety or sports glasses.

Studies have shown that more than 90% of eye injuries can be prevented, simply by wearing the right protective eyewear. Specific eyewear is available for just about any activity—the experts at the Emory Eye Center can recommend the appropriate eyewear for your sport and make sure you have the right fit. If you’ve suffered an eye injury, be sure to have an ophthalmologist examine the eye as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor.

Protecting your eyes from injury will go a long way toward maintaining healthy vision throughout your life.

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Contact Lens Health Week

contact-lensYou only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses. Contact Lens Health Week (August 24th-28th) was established to increase awareness about the importance of proper contact lens hygiene and encourage contact wearers to adopt healthy habits to avoid eye infections. These types of infections can lead to blindness which most commonly occurs in contact users. We emphasize contact users to work on these healthy habits everyday, but this week is a helpful reminder to:

  • Practice healthy contact lens hygiene habits
    • Wash and dry your hands before touching your contacts.
    •  Don’t sleep in your contacts (unless your eye doctor approves).
    • Avoid wearing contacts while showering, swimming, or using a hot tub.
  • Practice proper use, care, and storage of contact lenses and supplies
    • Rub and rinse your contacts with solution each time you clean.
    • Only use fresh disinfecting solution- don’t mix new with old.
    • Never store your contacts in water.
    • Get a new case at least every three months.
  • Attend regular visits to an eye care provider
    •  Visit your eye doctor once a year-or more often if needed.
    • Ask questions about how to care for your lenses and case.

If you have questions about contact eye health call 404-778-2020.

If you’re thinking about tossing those contacts for options in LASIK, contact 404-778-2SEE.

About the Author

ann van wieAnn M. Van Wie, OD, FAAO, is an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology within Emory University’s School of Medicine. She serves in the Vision & Optical Services within the Comprehensive Ophthalmology section at the Emory Eye Center.

Dr. Van Wie received her doctorate from the Illinois College of Optometry. She completed her residency in Atlanta, then served as staff optometrist and chief operating officer at the Northwest Eye Clinic in Minneapolis. Dr. Van Wie returned to Atlanta to join the Emory Eye Center in 2000.

Dr. Van Wie provides comprehensive eye exams, prescribes glasses and contact lenses at both The Emory Clinic, Building B on the main campus and at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital Campus. She also provides follow-up for those having refractive surgery (Emory Vision) at the Perimeter location.

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RELATED RESOURCES:
The Top Five Benefits of LASIK
6 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Vision
5 Tips in Preventing Computer-Eye Strain
Orange Means ‘Go’ When it Comes to Eye Health
Why Do You Need a Yearly Eye Exam?

5 Tips in Preventing Computer-Eye Strain

Computer Eye StrainYou’ve probably had a headache from sitting and staring at a computer screen too long. Especially with contacts lens, you know that dry blinking feeling that comes after a couple hours at a desktop. There’s actually a name for this – computer vision syndrome (CVS). Contact and glasses wearers generally report more issues than non-wearers. Either way, there are a few things you can do to avoid issues.

  • See your eye care specialist regularly: Out-of-date prescription can be to blame for computer eye strain. (Consult a LASIK specialist to determine if LASIK or another similar procedure could get you the vision you desire.)
  • Square up to your computer: The screen should be about an arm’s length away and positioned in front of you. Don’t turn to one side to see your screen – your monitor should be about 4 inches below your line of vision so your gaze is slightly down.
  • Use good posture: Sitting or standing requires some intention. Roll your shoulder back and down to reduce strain for your neck, shoulders and back.
  • Take a break: Staring and glaring isn’t nice in a social setting and it’s probably not good for your computer work either. A break every 15 mins for a quick stretch is recommended.
  • Blink: No matter what amount of time you’re spending looking at a screen remember to be good to your eyes and blink. On average, when we’re awake, people blink 25 a minute. Blinking keeps your eye clean by using natural tears. It’s an automatic reflex, but when you’re deep in thought it’s good to give an additional and intentional blink to give the eyes a rest.

Five tips don’t make up a comprehensive list, but a couple more things to consider are lighting and computer glare. Some people find that computer glasses help and cleaning the screen of your computer can freshen up your space from dust while giving your eyes a more clear sharper image for your eyes to focus.

If you have questions about computer-eye strain call 404-778-2020.

If you’re thinking about tossing those contacts for options in LASIK, contact 404-778-2SEE.

About Dr. Randleman

J. Bradley Randleman, MDJ. Bradley Randleman, MD, is a widely respected cornea specialist whose areas of expertise include: cataract and refractive cataract surgery with premium IOL implantation, LASIK and other corneal and intraocular refractive surgical procedures, the management of keratoconus, corneal diseases, and corneal transplantation. His primary research interests include the diagnosis, prevention, and management of refractive surgical complications and corneal cross-linking.

Dr. Randleman joined the Emory Eye Center faculty in 2004 and served as assistant residency director for two years while also completing a fellowship at Emory University in cornea/external disease and refractive surgery. He serves as service director for the section of Cornea, External Disease and Refractive Surgery.

Related Resources

6 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Vision

Healthy EyesThe summer is a great time to start a new eye-care routine! Here are six things you can do to keep your eyes in tip-top shape.

  1. Have regular eye exams.  Even if you’re not having any noticeable vision problems, have your eyes examined regularly. Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no symptoms. Everyone should have at least one eye exam as a child or young adult, and as we age, the frequency of these examinations should increase.
  2. Always wear safety glasses.  Did you know that each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment? Or that every 13 minutes, an ER in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury?* Most eye injuries can be prevented by choosing and wearing the correct eye safety glasses for the job 100% of the time.
  3. Eat healthy foods.  Research suggests that antioxidants and other important nutrients may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Getting proper nutrition by eating a diet high in zinc, vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein will lead to good eye health. Incorporate foods such as kale, spinach, oranges, eggs, broccoli, nuts & seeds, fish, liver, and carrots into your daily routine.
  4. Always wear sunglasses.  When outside, slip on UV-protective shades. Damage to eyes from UV rays builds up over a lifetime and has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and other conditions that are harmful to the eyes. Even in the shade, UV rays can bounce off objects and cause vision problems.
  5. Go to bed.  Adults should get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Without adequate rest, eye fatigue may make it difficult to get through daily activities. While not a serious problem, symptoms such as soreness, irritation, blurry vision or dry/watery eyes may be bothersome.
  6. Take those contacts out!  Extended wear of contact lenses can lead to significant problems for your eyes and predisposes you to serious infections that can permanently damage your sight. Some contact lenses say they can be worn for extended periods of time without being removed, but studies have shown that any overnight lens wear increases the risk of corneal swelling and serious infection. So, while you are resting, let your eyes rest too!

For more helpful eye care tips, visit the eye-care specialists at Emory Eye.

*References

About Dr. Randleman

J. Bradley Randleman, MDJ. Bradley Randleman, MD, is a widely respected cornea specialist whose areas of expertise include: cataract and refractive cataract surgery with premium IOL implantation, LASIK and other corneal and intraocular refractive surgical procedures, the management of keratoconus, corneal diseases, and corneal transplantation. His primary research interests include the diagnosis, prevention, and management of refractive surgical complications and corneal cross-linking.

Dr. Randleman joined the Emory Eye Center faculty in 2004 and served as assistant residency director for two years while also completing a fellowship at Emory University in cornea/external disease and refractive surgery. He serves as service director for the section of Cornea, External Disease and Refractive Surgery.

Related Resources

Considering LASIK Before Summer?

Summer LASIKAre you ready for the summer sunglass season? If you wear contacts then you know they aren’t pool ready… and glasses that don’t transition to shades will probably leave you squinting.

I am often asked if LASIK is better if done in the winter vs. the summer – the answer is really more specific for your lifestyle and availability. The procedure is performed in a controlled environment so the time of year will not impact outcome.

You can still get in for evaluations before the summer season.

Do the quick check list:
If you answer YES to any the following then LASIK may be right for you.

  • Are you UNDER the age of 60?
  • Without your corrective lenses, is your distance vision blurred?
  • Have you ever been told you have astigmatism?
  • Are your eyes otherwise healthy?

You could be glasses and contacts free this year. We have a special offer for 10% off LASIK if you share your information with us.

Call 404-778-2SEE

About Dr. Randleman

J. Bradley Randleman, MDJ. Bradley Randleman, MD, is a widely respected cornea specialist whose areas of expertise include: cataract and refractive cataract surgery with premium IOL implantation, LASIK and other corneal and intraocular refractive surgical procedures, the management of keratoconus, corneal diseases, and corneal transplantation. His primary research interests include the diagnosis, prevention, and management of refractive surgical complications and corneal cross-linking.

Dr. Randleman joined the Emory Eye Center faculty in 2004 and served as assistant residency director for two years while also completing a fellowship at Emory University in cornea/external disease and refractive surgery. He serves as service director for the section of Cornea, External Disease and Refractive Surgery.

Related Resources

LASIK Myths Debunked
Fun in the Sun After LASIK
The Top Five Benefits of LASIK

Can You See LASIK in Your Future?

LASIK Surgery Web ChatLaser vision correction was first performed in the 1980s and since then, the demand for such procedures has resulted in rapid advancement of the technology. For many people who previously were not a good candidate for laser vision correction, LASIK is now an option. Because LASIK is changing so quickly, our vision team fields lots of questions from people interested in LASIK, but who are not sure if it’s the right option for them, or what the procedure involves.

To help get you up to speed on LASIK surgery, the changes that have been made in the laser vision correction world, and what you can expect if you do choose LASIK, board-certified Emory Vision LASIK surgeon, Dr. Randleman, is hosting a 1 hour free web chat on Wednesday, October 12, 2011.

If you have questions such as…

  • Is LASIK surgery safe?
  • Is LASIK right for everyone? Is it right for me?
  • How long does LASIK surgery take?
  • What happens during the LASIK procedure?
  • Is LASIK painful?

…whether or not you prove to be an ideal candidate for LASIK, you are an ideal candidate for Dr. Randleman’s chat. All that’s required to participate is that you fill out our form so we can send you a link to enter the chat. You can ask as many or as few questions as you’d like during the chat, and in fact, if you’d rather just observe and read on as Dr. Randleman fields questions on LASIK, you’re more than welcome to.

We hope to see you for Dr. Randleman’s LASIK online chat on Wednesday, October 12. If you can’t make it but want more information on LASIK, you can either check out our LASIK resources online, or you can call the Emory Vision offices at 404-778-2733.