Seeing Eye To Eye

Glaucoma – The Silent Thief
Written By: | February 28, 2011

One of my patients asked me how he could tell that he was developing glaucoma.  He expected that I would say eye pain or redness.  He was partly correct, as certain types of acute(or angle-closure) glaucoma cause severe eye pain.  However, the typical (or open-angle) glaucoma that affects 2 – 4 million Americans does not cause eye pain or redness.  One cannot “feel” glaucoma and one does not usually notice any visual problems until very late in the disease process.

Glaucoma is generally characterized by higher internal or intra-ocular eye pressures, damage to ocular nerve tissue or the optic nerve, and side vision or peripheral field of vision loss.  If untreated, it ultimately results in blindness.  The diagnosis of glaucoma requires a detailed eye exam.  For this reason, eye exams for “healthy” individuals who don’t even require glasses is recommended on an annual basis…to help catch this “silent thief.”  Screening for glaucoma can be done through microscope examination of the back of the eye, measuring of the intraocular pressure (such as with the “puff test”), laser scans of optic nerve dimensions, and automated peripheral field tests.

These state-of-art diagnostic equipment are available at Pepose Vision Institute for glaucoma diagnosis, including the Ocular Response Analyzer, Pascal Tonometer, Optic Nerve Fiber Analysis, and advanced visual field testing.  So if you would like to be evaluated to determine if you are at risk for developing glaucoma, particularly if someone in your family has glaucoma, then please contact us at 636-728-0111.  Other glaucoma risk factors include African-American or Hispanic race, older age, nearsightedness, previous eye injuries, steroid use, and diabetes.

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The Importance of Eye Safety in Sports
Written By: | February 4, 2011

Sports are the leading cause of eye injuries in children. Seventy-two percent of the injuries occurred in individuals younger than 25 years, 43% occurred in individuals younger than 15, and 8% occurred in children younger than 5. Obviously there are many long-term health and social benefits to playing sports, but 40,000 people each year find themselves in the emergency room because of a sports-related eye injury. More than 100,000 individuals a year visit their doctor because of an eye-related sports injury. The bottom line is that sports related eye injuries do happen, they can be severe, and they can cause permanent vision loss.

The most common eye injuries in sports are from something hitting an eye with force. Contact sports and sports that use balls, rackets, or sticks have a higher risk of this kind of injury. These injuries can be relatively minor, like a black eye, or more serious. Serious injuries include breaking the bones around the eye, bleeding inside the eye, retinal detachments, or rupturing the eyeball. Some of these injuries may result in permanent vision loss.

Other types of sports eye injuries occur when something cuts or pierces the eye, like a piece of glass, debris, or fingernails. These types of injuries can also cause permanent vision loss. Additionally, water and snow sports involve intense sunlight and require protection from ultraviolet light.

The good news is that 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable by simply using the correct protective eyewear or gear. When protective eyewear is fit properly it should not hinder performance. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend protective eyewear for all sports participants where there is a risk of eye injury. Regular eyeglasses and sunglasses do not provide very good protection of the eyes during sports. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, sports participants using regular glasses or sunglasses are at higher risk of an eye injury than those participants not using anything at all. This is because the glasses themselves may become part of what injures the eye.

No matter what your sport, look for eye protection that is appropriate for the sport and fits properly. Some sports have standards for protective eyewear established by the American Society of Testing and Materials. The lenses or shields in this safety eyewear should be made of polycarbonate material, the strongest and most shatter-resistant material. By wearing protective eyewear, you can significantly decrease your risk of eye injury and keep yourself in the game.  Enjoy your winter sports and take care of your eyes!

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