Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness. It means that the eye sees distant images as blurred or fuzzy. For some people that distance may be only a foot or two.
Myopia is caused by light being focused in front of instead of on the retina of the eye. The cornea (the clear front part - or window - of the eyeball) is the eye's major focusing part. Corneal curve determines its focusing power. The steeper, or more curved, the cornea, the greater the focusing power.
Most times in myopia, the cornea is so curved that it has too much focusing power. If this curve is lessened or made flatter, then light is no longer focused as far forward in the eye but rather nearer the retina.
It is generally believed that there is a genetic predisposition to myopia. The condition may begin anytime from early childhood until the late teens, but it usually stabilizes in the early twenties.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a condition that causes a point in space to focus behind the retina. Often, farsighted people can see distant objects clearly but have difficulty reading. As a hyperopic person ages, he or she can also lose distance vision, because the eye loses its ability to change as easily. Therefore, when a person is farsighted, he or she often needs corrective lenses for both distance and near vision.
Hyperopia is caused when the eye is too short from front to back, or when there is a weakness in the focusing power of the lens or cornea. The focal point of parallel lines in a farsighted person is behind the retina.
Hyperopia generally is present from birth and usually is diagnosed in early childhood. Hyperopia tends to run in families, and it gets worse with age.
Distorted vision, medically known as astigmatism, is a condition in which vertical lines might be in focus, but not horizontal lines, or vice versa. Diagonal lines might also be out of focus. Distant points in space become a blur on the retina.
Astigmatism is caused by an uneven curvature of the cornea. It results when one axis is stronger than the other, causing a blurring on the retina. In other words, one axis focuses differently than the other. High astigmatism can cause double or ghost images.
A person can have a little or a lot of astigmatism. Sometimes it occurs in conjunction with nearsightedness or farsightedness. Astigmatism usually is present from birth, and it may change with age.
Many people think a cataract is a skin growth over the eyes or something outside of the eye that blocks vision. Actually, a cataract is cloudiness or opacity in the lens inside the eye that gradually blurs sight. One of the most noticeable differences is that after cataracts have formed, colors seem less brilliant, almost muted.
The complete biochemical cause of cataracts is not known. While most cataracts develop gradually during aging, some occur after eye trauma or inflammation. Cataracts can also be associated with diabetes, gout, and other diseases. Less frequently, cataracts can be congenital, affecting babies or young people.
A recent study identified the first clear link between exposure to a particular kind of ultraviolet light (sunlight - UVB) and the formation of cortical cataracts, a faster growing type of cataract that accounts for about one-third of the cataract operations performed each year.
Blurred vision, the key symptom of cataracts, gradually worsens over a period of months or even years. Colors become less distinct, and often vision fades, especially in dim light. Night driving may be greatly impaired. Cataracts usually develop bilaterally, but progress at different rates so vision in one eye may be better than in the other.
Glaucoma, an eye disease that is fairly common in adults over age 45, is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Glaucoma is a condition in which fluid in the eye is blocked, causing increased pressure that can impair the functioning of the retina and optic nerve, both vital to good vision.
Prompt diagnosis and treatment have proved to be effective in minimizing loss of vision due to glaucoma. If treated too late or not at all, glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina (the light-sensitive lining in the back of the eye where vision is focused). These weak vessels can leak, swell or develop thin branches, causing a loss of vision. Changes to your vision may not be noticeable at first. But in its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye complication and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Macular edema, which is leaking fluid that causes blurred vision, often occurs with diabetic retinopathy.
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it, but your risk is reduced if you follow your prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, and control your blood pressure. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes are healthy. Diabetic retinopathy can be detected through a visual acuity test, a dilated eye exam or tonometry.
Although damage caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be corrected, patients diagnosed with the condition can be treated to slow its progression and prevent further vision loss. Diabetic Retinopathy can be detected through a dilated exam.
The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden. Deprived of nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision.
AMD is the number-one cause of vision loss in the U.S. Macular degeneration doesn't cause total blindness because it doesn't affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
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