Your eyes are a precious organ in your body and deserve the best care and attention. At Sina J. Sabet, our team of Alexandria eye doctors want to ensure that you receive care that goes beyond a simple checkup every two years. When you come into our office, whether it’s for an update on your glasses prescription, or if you’re concerned about other more serious problems, you will be treated with care and compassion.
When you’re caring for your eyes, it’s beneficial to first understand how the eye works. When you have a basic understanding of the eyes function, you can better understand how some eye conditions can develop and more importantly, how to prevent them from developing.
HOW THE EYE WORKS
Your eye is about one inch wide and it holds a variety of structures that work together to help you see.
- The outermost layer of the eye, the sclera, is a white tissue that protects the lower layers of the eyes and also helps keep the shape of the eye.
- At the very front of your eye is the cornea, which is where light enters the eyes and then bends or refracts the light.
- Toward the back of the eye, lining the inside is the retina. This responds to the light that enters your eye.
- The pupil is at the center of your iris, or the colored part of the eye. Both the pupil and the iris work together to control how much light enters by contracting and dilating depending on the surrounding light.
- Behind the pupil is the lens, which uses muscles to help you focus on objects that are far away or close up depending on the lens’ shape.
With these main parts of the eye, how does light enter and turn that into the people, shapes, and colors that you’re seeing?
- First, light enters the cornea and travels through a substance called the aqueous humor.
- It then moves through the pupil and iris to the lens.
- From the lens, the light reaches the retina where a process of chemical reactions convert the light to electrical impulses.
- A part of the retina is called the macula, which helps your eyes produce clear, detailed images and color. This is possible due to cone cells, which also help you see in low-light situations.
- From the retina, all of the information that is gathered is sent to the brain through the optic nerve in the back of the eye.
With each glance that you take, whether it’s at your computer or phone in front of you, or far away out the window or down the road when you’re driving, each part in your eye is working together, gathering light, and converting the light into images. It all happens very fast, so it’s incredibly important to ensure that each part of the eye is functioning as it should. When you visit an ophthalmologist in Alexandria, they’re looking at the eye in order to diagnose any problems, or issues that could develop in the future. Some of the more common eye conditions include:
If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing this eye condition. Diabetic retinopathy is caused when the blood vessels around the retina are damaged and restricts the flow of blood to the retina. This is caused by high glucose levels which can cause small bulges in the vessel wall or even leak blood. If left untreated, the vessels can become completely blocked, even leading to a detached retina. As this condition develops, there are typically no symptoms, but as it progresses the symptoms will become more noticeable. Symptoms can include blurry vision, spots or floaters in the vision, or a loss of color vision. Your ophthalmologist will recommend trying to control blood sugar levels.
A clouding of the lens, cataracts are one of the most common causes of vision loss in people over 40. The lens consists of water and protein and over time, the protein can begin to mass together, causing a cloud covering a small part of the lens. This condition can be tricky as well because it develops slowly and you may not even notice the symptoms right away. Eventually, the cloud over your lens will cause light to seem too bright, or there may be more glare from headlights than usual. When the symptoms have gotten bad enough to cause significant vision loss, surgery may be an option.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)
As the name suggests, this condition affects the macula, which is part of the retina, and develops as changes to the macula take place. AMD can occur in two forms: “wet” and “dry.”
- “Dry” AMD occurs when the tissue of the macula thins and stops working. This is the more common type. Any vision loss that has occurred cannot be fixed and there isn’t a cure.
- “Wet” AMD is when fluid leaks from new blood vessels under the macula. This type can cause severe vision loss, but treatment by an ophthalmologist is possible when caught early. This type is less common.
Symptoms of Age-related macular degeneration can include seeing objects less clearly or they become distorted, straight lines may appear wavy, you may experience a loss of color vision, or there may be a dark area in the center of your vision.
This condition is a great reason to schedule regular visits with your ophthalmologist. Glaucoma doesn’t often to produce noticeable symptoms until there is actual vision loss. The condition develops as pressure and fluid build up behind the eye and it can cause irreversible damage if left untreated. When glaucoma is diagnosed, it can still be hard to prevent it from progressing. The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle and symptoms can include blurry vision, blank spots on your peripheral vision, headaches, eye pain, halos around lights, and more. To diagnose the condition, your ophthalmologist will use either a pachymeter or a tonometer, which measures the thickness and the eye’s pressure.
HYPEROPIA & MYOPIA
These eye conditions are fairly common and can both be treated with corrective lenses. Just schedule an appointment with your local Alexandria ophthalmologist.
- Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is caused by the shape of the eyeball. With farsightedness, the eye’s cornea isn’t curved enough or the eye is too short. If you have hyperopia, objects that are close appear blurry. Symptoms can include eye strain, burning eyes, or headaches.
- Myopia, or nearsightedness, is when objects that are far away appear blurry. A long eyeball is the most common cause of myopia and it prevents light coming into the eye from focusing on the retina.
With most eye conditions, prevention is key. A regular visit with your eye doctor can ensure that symptoms are detected as early as possible. When visiting with Dr. Sina, you can be confident that you’re getting a skilled and experienced ophthalmologist who cares about the health of your eyes. In between visits, be sure to also give your eyes the best care possible.
Read More about eye diseases and ailments and find help identifying vision problems with these links:
About Eye Diseases/Ailments
Identifying Vision Problems
EYE HEALTH BEST PRACTICES
If you regularly go to the gym to keep your heart and muscles healthy, keeping a consistent eye care routine will have the same benefit for the health of your eyes. Keep your eyes healthy and help prevent these common eye conditions from developing with these healthy habits.
Keep Your Whole Body Healthy
The health of your eyes is related to the health of your body. If you consistently eat fast foods that are high in cholesterol and fat, these habits could eventually harm your eyes. Look for foods that are full of antioxidants, healthy proteins, and are high in vitamins and minerals. Consuming a balanced diet will reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, both of which can have a negative impact on the health of your eyes.
Along with a healthy diet, it’s important to also keep a regular exercise schedule. Exercising at least three times per week can help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, and high blood pressure. All of which can increase the risk for diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and near and farsightedness.
Smoking is also another habit that can have serious effects on your eyes. Those who smoke are more at risk for developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. This is due to the tobacco and toxins that are found in cigarettes which can damage blood vessels, cause oxidative stress, cause biological changes in the eyes, and affects the production of tears.
Protect Your Eyes
Preventing eye conditions from developing is more than just diet and exercise, but is also about protecting your eyes from outside factors. How often do you wear sunglasses? Do you wear protective eyewear when working in the garage?
If you don’t have a pair already, purchase UV blocking sunglasses. Sunglasses will prevent sunlight from causing cataracts to form, they will help prevent retinal damage, and can also help protect the eyelid from cancer and wrinkles. Sunglasses should block UV-A and UV-B rays.
You can also protect your eyes from debris or flying objects such as balls, pieces of wood, and cleaning products. It may look silly to wear protective eyewear when picking weeds in the garden, but you’ll appreciate the protection when a bug flies directly into the glasses.
Schedule Regular Check-Ups With an Ophthalmologist
When you come to visit Dr. Sina, you may also see an optometrist or an optician, all of whom are interested in the health of your eyes. If you don’t have any current eye problems, it’s recommended that you visit an eye doctor once every one to two years to ensure that everything is healthy and functioning properly. If you do have a prescription with an eye doctor, schedule an appointment at least once a year. This will ensure that the prescription is current and that any other, more serious problems haven’t developed.
Everyone should always keep their vision and eye health in the back of their mind. Because so many conditions begin with no obvious symptoms, it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your vision, however small. If you notice blurry vision, eye pain, dark spots in your vision, headaches, or if you have trouble focusing on objects, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist.
IDENTIFYING VISION PROBLEMS
As we just discussed, it’s not always easy to recognize developing eye conditions, which is why it’s so important to regularly visit with an eye doctor. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you have noticed any of the following:
- Sudden eye pain
- Hazy, blurred, or double vision
- Flashes or sudden floating spots in your vision
- Halos around lights
- Sensitivity to light or glare
- A darkness covering one eye
- A sudden change in vision
- A change in color of the iris
- White spots in the pupil
You should also pay attention to problems when moving around, such as bumping into objects or surfaces, cautiously walking up or down stairs, or not being able to grasp an object because of over- or under-reaching. If you are having trouble comfortably reading at night, watching TV, or driving, these could be signs of eye sight issues.
Beyond changes in your eye sight or behavior, family and your own medical history can also mean that you are at a greater risk of developing eye conditions. If you or your family has a history of diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure, or if there is a history of cataracts, glaucoma, or astigmatism, these can increase your chance of developing eye problems.
The eyes are a beautiful, complex network of systems that work together to help you see and it’s crucial to visit with an ophthalmologist regularly. Dr. Sina has years of experience and certifications and you can put your complete trust in his abilities. If you’re in the Alexandria area and it’s time to see an eye doctor, give our office a call today. We are passionate about educating our patients to ensure they have optimal eye health.