Posts Tagged ‘cataracts’

Why Do You Need a Yearly Eye Exam?

Yearly Eye ExamI’m often asked why it’s important to have an annual eye exam. If you wear glasses or contacts, you know that your vision can change over the course of a year. Even if that change isn’t obvious to you, an updated prescription can make a real difference in your quality of life at work and at home. Everyday activities like reading and working on the computer are a lot more comfortable when you have the right eyewear.

Many times, patients come to us for their first exam in their early 40s, when they start experiencing presbyopia, or the inability to focus close up (i.e., when reading). However, even if you’re not experiencing any noticeable change in your vision, periodic comprehensive eye exams are important, because they allow for the early detection of eye diseases and other eye problems—some of which have no obvious symptoms. Earlier detection allows for earlier treatment and a better visual outcome for most.

At the Emory Eye Center, our comprehensive eye exam includes screening for signs of eye and medical problems such as:

  • GlaucomaGlaucoma is an eye disease typically caused by an increase in pressure in the eye that can’t be felt. Over time, if not treated, glaucoma damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. In general, there are no early warning signs, and early detection is the key to preserving vision. Often, the patients we diagnose with glaucoma haven’t had an eye exam in 5 to 10 years.
  • Cataracts - A cataract is a change in the lens inside the eye as a result of aging. Over time, this leads to hazy vision. Cataracts can be treated with surgery.
  • Macular degeneration - Macular degeneration affects your central vision and can occur as a result of aging. Depending on the type of macular degeneration, you may experience drastic changes within a year’s time. A comprehensive annual exam can help us detect the early signs of macular degeneration and treat it, if necessary.
  • Hypertension - Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a systemic issue that can affect the eye in a number of ways. We can detect signs of hypertension in the back of the eye during a comprehensive eye exam.
  • Diabetes - Diabetes is another systemic issue that can affect the eyes and lead to blindness. People with diabetes need to have an annual eye exam to check for diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the eye’s retina, which may be symptomless until the damage is severe. An eye exam also can help detect the early signs of diabetes, allowing earlier preventive treatment.

An annual eye exam provides a baseline against which to measure future vision changes and the progression of eye disease or other medical problems. One hour once a year can make a significant difference in your vision, your health, and your quality of life.

When’s the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam? Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below. If you’re interested in making your eye exam appointment with Emory, visit our Eye Center Patient Services page.

About Ann Van Wie, OD

Ann Van Wie, OD, is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Georgia Optometric Association. Dr. Van Wie started practicing at Emory in 2000 and is an instructor of ophthalmology.

More Options for Improved Vision after Cataract Surgery with IOLs

Maria Aaron, MDAn intraocular lens, or IOL, is the artificial lens often used to replace the eye’s natural lens when it has been damaged by a cataract. With the advancement of IOLs, Emory Eye Center patients undergoing cataract surgery have many more options and the potential to see without glasses after surgery.

There are two basic types of IOLs: the monofocal lens and the multifocal lens. Monofocal lenses may provide spectacle-free vision at a single focal length, either distance, intermediate, or near, while multifocal lenses have multiple focal lengths and therefore may enable you to see near and distance without the dependence on spectacles. Patients with a significant degree of astigmatism may benefit from toric lenses, which are monofocal IOLs that help correct astigmatism.

Before you have eye surgery, your surgeon will take measurements to help determine the best lens for you. IOL insertion usually takes less than 30 minutes and can be performed while you are under local anesthesia. Recovery time generally takes two to three weeks.

If you’re having cataract surgery, you should remember that the goal of cataract surgery is not to get rid of glasses—it’s to get rid of the cataract. However, for the right patient, it can be an opportunity to reduce dependency on glasses.

The Emory Eye Center is one of the top 15 NIH-funded eye research institutions in the U.S. and is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Our researchers are continually pioneering new developments in vision care. Schedule an appointment with the Emory Eye Center, and we’ll help you see your world in a whole new light.

Do you have IOLs? Would you like to share your experience with people who are considering getting them? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Maria Aaron, MD, specializes in cataract surgery, eye trauma, and laser surgery and is board certified in ophthalmology. Dr. Aaron started practicing at Emory in 1999 and is associate professor of ophthalmology.