Detecting & Managing Eye Disease
Eye diseases have the potential to severely affect your eyesight. If left untreated or not managed correctly, many eye diseases can lead to vision loss and blindness. When you schedule a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor at Burlington Optometry can help detect and manage eye disease.
Essential Statistics about Eye Diseases
It’s crucial to understand how common vision-threatening diseases are among Canadians, and why it’s important you take steps to check in with your optometrist to prevent an eye disease from causing vision loss and blindness.
1 in 7 Canadians experience vision-threatening eye diseases
75% of vision loss and blindness is preventable if identified early
After you turn 40, your risk of vision loss doubles every decade
1 in 9 Canadians develop irreversible vision loss by age 75
Common Eye Diseases & Concerns
Your eye doctor at Burlington Optometry is trained to help diagnose, treat, and manage common eye diseases. Understanding risk factors associated with different eye diseases can help prepare you for your eye exam.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) causes blurry central vision and does not affect your peripheral vision. The macula is located in the middle of the retina at the back of your eye. It’s responsible for recognizing fine details like people’s faces and words on a page.
There are 2 types of AMD. Dry AMD is the most common form, and symptoms generally develop slowly over time. Wet AMD is less common but more severe, and symptoms progress quickly.
Risk Factors: AMD is the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 55. Smoking, excessive sun exposure, high blood pressure, and family history are all risk factors associated with AMD.
Symptoms: Blurred vision, even when using glasses, is the most common early symptom of AMD. Other symptoms include straight lines appearing wavy and dark spots appearing in your vision.
Management: Your eye doctor can go over treatment options after diagnosing AMD. Treatment for dry AMD usually involves ocular vitamin supplementation and lifestyle adjustments. Wet AMD is treated with medications injected into the eye.
Cataracts cause cloudiness in the natural lens of the eye. The lens is normally clear and helps focus light on the retina. Cataracts can develop slowly over time as proteins in the lens break down and clump together over time. If left untreated, cataracts can cause vision loss and blindness.
Risk Factors: Aging is the most common cause of cataracts, which typically develop in people aged 40 and older. Symptoms could go unnoticed until age 60 and above. Other risk factors for cataracts include smoking, sun exposure, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Symptoms: The most common symptom of cataracts is blurred vision. Cloudiness caused by cataracts can also cause colours to appear less bright, halos can appear around bright lights, and light sensitivity may increase.
Prevention: You can reduce your risk of cataracts by limiting sun exposure and protecting your eyes from sunlight. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol can also slow cataract development.
Management: If diagnosed early, your eye doctor can help manage symptoms of cataracts by updating your prescription lenses. If a cataract has reached the point where it causes vision loss, it can be removed through a surgical procedure to replace your existing lens with an intraocular lens.
Conjunctivitis occurs when the conjunctiva—the thin layer between the inner eyelid and the sclera (the white part of your eye)—becomes inflamed. The inflammation causes the blood vessels in the sclera to dilate, appearing red and bloodshot. Conjunctivitis is commonly known as pink eye.
Risk Factors: Conjunctivitis comes in 3 forms: infectious, allergic, and chemical. Infectious conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria from unclean hands or insects, for example. It can also be caused by viruses associated with the common cold. Allergic and chemical conjunctivitis, on the other hand, are not contagious.
Symptoms: The most obvious symptom of conjunctivitis is a pinkish colouring of the sclera. Conjunctivitis can also cause itching or burning, swollen eyelids, excessive tears, and discharge.
Prevention: To avoid infectious conjunctivitis, make sure you wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes. Avoid sharing personal items such as face towels and makeup brushes, and frequently wash items like sheets and pillowcases.
Management: Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Viral conjunctivitis, however, can’t be treated and will usually go away within a week to several weeks. Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with over-the-counter allergy medications. Chemical conjunctivitis is treated by thoroughly rinsing the eyes upon exposure. Depending on the severity of exposure, emergency eye care may be required.
Diabetic retinopathy can occur in people with Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Diabetes causes high blood sugar, which can cause the small blood cells in the retina to swell, become weak, and leak blood or fluid. Advanced diabetic retinopathy can cause incurable vision loss.
Risk Factors: People with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy if their blood sugar levels are not managed correctly.
Symptoms: Blurred vision, sudden flashes of light, and black spots in vision are common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.
Prevention: The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is by visiting your eye doctor for an annual diabetic eye exam. Through these exams, your doctor can diagnose and monitor your condition over time.
Treatment: Diabetic retinopathy can be treated by controlling blood sugar levels. It’s crucial to detect diabetic retinopathy at its early stages so your doctor can work with you on a treatment plan.
Flashes & Floaters
Floaters are small, cobweb-like structures that are part of the gel inside your eye. Floaters can appear in your field of vision at times. Sometimes, they are accompanied by flashes of light that can be a sign of a more serious condition.
Risk Factors: Floaters are generally normal, and are more common with age. A sudden increase in floaters can be a sign of more serious problems like retinal detachment. If you notice a sudden increase in floaters, seek emergency eye care right away.
Symptoms: Floaters typically appear as tiny objects drifting across your field of vision. They can look like small bugs or cobwebs.
Prevention: Taking steps to avoid eye injury like using safety eyewear can reduce your risk of developing flashes & floaters caused by retinal detachment.
Treatment: Floaters typically don’t require treatment, however a sudden increase in floaters caused by retinal detachment may require immediate optical surgery.
Glaucoma is a group of conditions that causes progressive degeneration of the optic nerve. The most common indicator of glaucoma is high intraocular pressure. These conditions can cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve, resulting in blindness, if not diagnosed and treated early.
Risk Factors: People over the age of 60 are at increased risk of developing glaucoma. Genetics and family history also play a role. People with diabetes also have a higher chance of developing glaucoma.
Symptoms: Some forms of glaucoma can appear suddenly, which is a medical emergency. Common symptoms include nausea, eye pain, eye redness, blurry vision, and pressure behind the eyes. Glaucoma causes vision loss in the peripheral field first, which is why it often goes unnoticed until considerable vision loss has occurred.
Prevention: Your doctor will measure your intraocular pressure (IOP) during your regular eye exam. At Burlington Optometry, we use iCare and Goldmann tonometry, never air puff, to measure IOP accurately.
Treatment: Glaucoma is treated by lowering IOP through prescription eye drops, oral medication, and, in some cases, laser eye surgery.
Get Ahead of Eye Disease
Your eye doctor at Burlington Optometry has the training and experience to help diagnose and manage eye diseases. By diagnosing eye diseases early through regular eye exams, you decrease your risk of vision loss and blindness and increase your chance of long-term eye health.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.
Find us in the Burlington Heights Plaza at the corner of Upper Middle Road and Guelph Line. We’re located next to Once Upon a Child, across from McDonald’s. If you have trouble finding us, give us a call!