Eye Disease Diagnosis & Management in Tennessee
Eye care professionals at OPMT are very skilled at diagnosing eye diseases. Untreated eye disease can cause permanent vision loss and even blindness. By undergoing regular comprehensive eye exams, we are able to detect eye disease in its early stages and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Most eye diseases do not exhibit symptoms early on. By the time you begin to notice changes in your vision, you may have already suffered from significant and irreversible vision loss.
The only way to detect eye disease and prevent vision loss is by having a comprehensive eye exam. Regular eye exams allow your optometrist to identify and track the subtle changes in your vision and eye health that may indicate you have an eye disease. Once an eye disease is detected, your optometrist can begin treatment as soon as possible, minimizing or even preventing vision loss.
Your vision is precious. Do not put it at risk. Schedule your next comprehensive eye exam appointment today.
Common Eye Diseases
Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process and are caused by the proteins in our natural crystalline lenses becoming opaque over time, clouding our vision. Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Hazy or blurry vision
- Reduced color vision
- Increased glare sensitivity, particularly while driving at night
If your cataracts are causing minimal visual impact, your optometrist may suggest a workaround such as wearing glasses treated with an anti-glare coating, using magnifying aids for small print, or using more light while reading, in order to minimize your cataract’s influence on your daily activities.
However, if your cataract begins to significantly impair your vision or prevent you from performing daily tasks, you may require cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing your natural lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens.
Glaucoma is a disease characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve. Our optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual information from our eyes to our brains. Glaucoma is typically caused by high intraocular pressure, but in some cases, it can occur when intraocular pressure is normal, known as normal tension glaucoma.
Early in the disease process, glaucoma does not exhibit any symptoms, which makes it particularly dangerous, because most patients with glaucoma are unaware that they have it. By the time you begin to notice problems with your vision, you may have already suffered from irreversible vision loss.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, and can only be detected by a comprehensive eye exam.
There are many risk factors that can increase your chances of developing glaucoma. These include:
- Family history: If a member of your family has a history of glaucoma you are significantly more likely to develop the disease yourself.
- Age: Your chances of developing glaucoma increase over the age of 60.
- Eye injuries: Severe ocular trauma, such as being hit in the eye, can cause the eye’s internal pressure to spike. This significant increase in pressure can occur immediately or even several weeks to months later. Even after your injury has healed your intraocular pressure may become elevated, so your optometrist may recommend frequent visits following an eye injury.
- Thin corneas and optic nerve sensitivity: Your physiology and optical anatomy may put you at risk for developing glaucoma.
- Select medical conditions: High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes may increase your risk of developing glaucoma.
- Corticosteroid use: Individuals that use corticosteroids, either systemic or ocular (including cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone) for extended periods of time may be more likely to develop glaucoma.
Glaucoma is treatable, but early detection is critical. That is why every comprehensive eye exam includes glaucoma testing. To help us detect glaucoma, OPMT Vision Centers use applanation tonometry to assess your intraocular pressure. This test involves gently pressing a tiny, flat tipped probe against your cornea to measure the amount of resistance.
Untreated dry eye disease can lead to corneal damage. For more information about dry eyes, including symptoms, causes, and treatments available, please visit our Dry Eye Therapy page.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
According to the American Optometric Association, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over 50 years old. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention projects that by 2050 nearly 88 million Americans will suffer from AMD.
AMD occurs when the macula, the small portion of the retina responsible for detailed vision and color perception, degenerates over time. As this condition worsens, your central vision is slowly lost.
There are two forms of AMD:
- Dry AMD: Dry AMD is the most common form of AMD, and occurs when drusen (lipid deposits) accumulate under the macula. This accumulation inhibits the macula’s ability to work properly, and can result in gradual, permanent vision loss. There is no cure for dry AMD. However, studies suggest that dry AMD’s progression may be slowed by consuming nutritional supplements, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc.
- Wet AMD: Wet AMD is less common than dry AMD, but there are treatments available to slow its progression and prevent further vision loss. Some treatments, if started soon enough, may actually allow you to recover some vision. Wet AMD is treated using intravitreal injections.
AMD can be detected using a comprehensive eye exam.
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that causes the cornea, which is typically round, to thin and bulge outwards, in a cone shape. The cone-like cornea bends light entering the eye irregularly, causing distorted vision.
New research suggests that keratoconus, which occurs when the corneal tissue becomes weakened, may be caused by an imbalance in corneal enzymes, making it more susceptible to oxidative damage.
Your chances of developing keratoconus depend heavily on your family history, but overexposure to UV light, excessive eye rubbing, chronic eye irritation, and the use of poorly fitted contact lenses all increase your chances of developing keratoconus.
Diabetic retinopathy is an umbrella term that covers a set of conditions that are commonly caused by diabetes. These conditions include non proliferative retinopathy, proliferative retinopathy, and diabetic macular edema.
For more information about diabetic retinopathy, and the effect diabetes can have on your ocular health and quality of vision, please visit our Diabetic Eye Exams page. Individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to eye and vision problems, and should have a Diabetic Eye Exam at least once per year.
Comprehensive eye exams play a critical role in the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of eye diseases. Untreated eye diseases can lead to permanent vision loss and even blindness. Do not put your vision at risk. Schedule your next appointment today.