A quick look at some of the most common eye diseases diagnosed and often treated at Jackson Eye in Fairburn
“Eye diseases” is a blanket term that refers to a host of diseases relating to the function of the eye. Below we describe some of the more common types of eye diseases and how they are generally treated. For more in-depth information, please speak with your eye care provider at Jackson Eye.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin, protective membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelids. Caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens and other irritants like smoke and dust, pink eye is highly contagious and is usually accompanied by redness in the white of the eye and increased tearing and/or discharge.
While many minor cases improve within two weeks, some can develop into serious corneal inflammation and threaten sight. If you suspect conjunctivitis, visit your eye care provider at Jackson Eye for an examination and treatment.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease is a general term for a group of eye problems that can result from having type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.
Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic eye disease, so it is important that you don’t wait for symptoms to appear before having a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection and treatment of diabetic eye disease will dramatically reduce your chances of sustaining permanent vision loss.
Diabetic patients should have a dilated eye exam at least once per year. Diabetics are at risk for eye complications that can cause permanent vision loss and blindness (called retinopathy) as well as early cataracts and glaucoma. Medical insurance will typically cover an annual diabetic eye exam.
During a diabetic eye exam, we pay especially close attention to all of the very small blood vessels behind the eyes. That is because these vessels are at higher risk of damage and leaking blood if your blood sugar is too high or unstable. In order to see these very small blood vessels, we always dilate the pupils. Drops are put into the eyes to make the pupils larger (dilated). This process will usually take about 30 minutes, but it is not uncommon for dilation to take longer in those with more unstable blood sugar levels. Once the pupils are dilated, we use special lights and lenses to look inside of the eyes. Light sensitivity and blurred vision are common side effects of dilation. Some patients have no problems driving after the procedure, but if it is your first time getting your eyes dilated, we recommend bringing someone to drive you or using a driving service.
Other parts of a diabetic eye exam include testing your peripheral vision, eye alignment and eye pressure. We may also take pictures of the inside of your eyes or do special scans to make sure the nerves are healthy. Checking your vision for a glasses or contact lens prescription (a process called refraction) is NOT considered a part of a yearly diabetic eye exam. That service is usually not covered by medical insurance. If you have a separate vision benefits plan, refraction may be covered so that you can receive your diabetic exam and prescription for glasses and/or contacts on the same day without any out of pocket fees.
Often called “the silent thief of sight,” glaucoma is an increase in the intraocular pressure of the eyes, which causes damage to the optic nerve with no signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to a decrease in peripheral vision and eventually blindness.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are medications and surgery available that can help halt further vision loss. Early detection and regular eye exams are vital to slowing the progress of the disease.
Macular degeneration is a chronic, progressive disease that gradually destroys sharp central vision due to a deterioration of the macula, a tiny spot in the central portion of your retina comprised of millions of light-sensing cells. Because it is so commonly associated with aging, it is also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two forms of AMD called “dry,” most common and with no known treatment, and “wet,” less common and treated with laser procedures. Genetic testing is now available to help identify those most likely to develop “wet” macular degeneration.
In most cases, reversing damage caused by AMD is not possible, but supplements, protection from sunlight, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking can reduce the risk and progression of macular degeneration. For suggestions, speak with your eye care provider at Jackson Eye.
Jackson Eye has the experience and equipment necessary to diagnose and often treat the eye diseases detailed above, as well as many other eye diseases, at our office in Fairburn. For more information please schedule an appointment with your optometrist, and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.