What are Floaters?
Floaters are small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. Often, you can see them when looking at a plain background like a blank page, computer screen or a clear blue sky. In reality, floaters are small clumps of cells in the vitreous (the jelly like substance that fills the back of your eye). Floaters are the shadows cast on the retina by these small clumps of cells. Some floaters look like dots or circles, while others look like lines or spider webs, or even clouds.
Because of the danger of torn retina, call our ophthalmologist if a new floater suddenly appears. While some floaters can remain in your vision for a long period, most will fade over time.
What Causes Floaters?
Floaters are commonly caused by a posterior vitreous separation, which is when the vitreous gel thickens and pulls away from the back wall of the eye. This is more common in people who are nearsighted or have just undergone cataract surgery.
Are Floaters Serious?
It is possible for a retinal tear to occur when the vitreous gel pulls away from the back wall of the eye. A retinal tear is serious and you should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if:
-new floaters appear suddenly
-you see sudden flashes of light
What Causes Flashes?
When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls at the retina, a person will sometimes experience what looks like flashing lights. As we grow older, it is more common to see flashes, however, if you notice a sudden onset of flashing light, you should see your ophthalmologist immediately.
Some people see flashes of light, zigzag lines, or a “mirage” in both eyes that can last 10-20 minutes. This is usually caused by spasms of blood vessels in the brain (commonly called a migraine). Migraine headaches are often associated with these flashes of light, but not always.
There are several ways to fix a retinal detachment. The decision of which type of surgery and anesthesia (local or general) to use depends upon the characteristics of your detachment.
A gas bubble is injected into the vitreous space inside the eye. The gas bubble pushes the retinal tear closed against the back wall of the eye. Your ophthalmologist will ask you to maintain a certain head position for several days. The gas bubble will gradually disappear.
A flexible band (scleral buckle) is placed around the eye to counteract the force pulling the retina out of place. The ophthalmologist often drains the fluid under the detached retina from the eye, pulling the retina to its normal position against the back wall of the eye.
The vitreous gel, which is pulling on the retina, is removed from the eye and usually replaced with a gas bubble. Your body’s own fluids will generally replace the gas bubble.
What is a Retina?
The retina is similar to a camera’s film. The retina is a thin nerve layer on the back wall of your eye. It senses this light and transmits the information to your brain via the optic nerve.
What is a detachment?
The retina can sometimes pull away from its normal position and cause a curtain or veil to be seen in the patient’s vision. This serious condition will almost always cause blindness unless treated. This is usually caused by the vitreous pulling on the retina hard enough to tear it in and lead to retinal detachment.
Early signs of a possible detached retina include:
-Flashes of light
-A gray curtain moving across your vision
While these symptoms don’t always mean you have a detached retina, you should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
What are the treatments for macular degeneration?
Nutritional supplements such as zinc and antioxidant vitamins may help reduce the impact of age-related macular degeneration. However, they cannot cure the problem, nor can they restore lost vision. If you are at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration, though, they may help maintain your vision. Laser surgery and photodynamic therapy can help treat certain types of “wet” macular degeneration by slowing or stopping the leaking blood vessels that can damage the macula. Still, these procedures are not cures.
What is macular degeneration?
There is a small area of the retina, at the back of the eye, called the macula. It makes it possible for you to see fine details of objects. When a deterioration of this area occurs, it’s called macular degeneration. It affects the central portion of your vision, but not the peripheral. Macular degeneration does not cause blindness and often has a minimal impact on your vision.
What causes macular degeneration?
Primarily, the process of aging. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common form, but why it develops is unknown. There is “dry” or atrophic macular degeneration, and “wet” or exudative macular degeneration. The dry form causes a gradual vision loss and results from the thinning of the macula tissues. The wet form causes a rapid and severe vision loss and results from the abnormal formation of blood vessels underneath the retina that leak.
What are some symptoms of macular degeneration?
If you find straight lines look distorted, words are blurred or you see dark areas in the center of your vision, you may have macular degeneration. It is typically not noticeable in the early stages. Your ophthalmologist can perform an eye examination to detect the early stages of macular degeneration. You may be alerted to the need for such an examination only when your blurred vision becomes obvious.
To fully remove a cataract, surgery is the only answer. However, if your symptoms are mild, you may need nothing more than a new eyeglass prescription to relieve the problem. You won’t find a miracle cure in dietary supplements, medication, or even eye exercises. Surgery is the only proven way to treat cataracts.
How can I avoid cataracts?
You may not be able to completely avoid cataracts, but you can help your eyes by protecting them from overexposure to sunlight by wearing glasses that screen ultraviolet rays.
When do I need surgery?
This is a decision you need make with your doctor’s help. If your vision is blurred to the point that it interferes with your daily activities or prohibits part of your job performance, it’s probably time to talk to your doctor about surgery.
What happens during surgery?
Cataract surgery is typically performed as an outpatient surgical procedure under a local anesthetic. Your doctor will remove the cloudy lens and will usually replace it with a permanent intraocular lens implant. This restores the focusing ability of your natural lens. Cataract surgery is successful in over 95% of the cases, barring problems with the cornea, retina or optic nerve. However, if complications should occur following your surgery, contact your doctor immediately.
How do I know if I have a cataract?
See your ophthalmologist. Your doctor will conduct a thorough examination of your eyes and can determine if you have a cataract or if there are other factors causing your symptoms. Cataracts tend to develop gradually when they are associated with the aging process, but when they are found in younger people or people with diabetes, they can progress at a much quicker pace. However, since cataracts can develop at a different rate even from your left eye to your right, it is impossible to accurately predict how fast they will progress.
Under normal conditions, the lens of the eye is clear. But, when a cataract is present, the lens appears cloudy and can seem as though you’re looking through a fog. With a cataract you may experience sensitivity to light, a need for brighter reading light, reduced night vision, fading of colors, painless blurred vision, double vision, and the possibility of changing your eyeglass prescription with greater frequency. The cloudiness can vary from one eye to the other and may not even be noticeable to the patient because it occurs gradually in most patients.
What a cataract isn’t:
Cataract is not caused by overuse of the eye, and it can’t be spread from one eye to the other. It is not just a film that covers the eye and will not cause irreversible blindness.
What causes a cataract?
The simple process of aging is the most common cause of cataract. However, family history can also play a part. If you have had an eye injury or medical problems, like diabetes, these can also contribute to the formation of a cataract. You’re also more susceptible to cataracts if you have had previous eye surgery, if your eyes have been exposed to sunlight over a long period of time, or by the use of steroids and other medications.
What is the ReSTOR lens?
The ReSTOR lens takes regular cataract surgery to a new level. Cataract surgery does an excellent job of clearing the cloudiness a patient experiences, and restores the quality of distant vision. However, many patients still require the use of reading glasses to see objects at close range. Now, with the ReSTOR lens, patients experience a wider range of vision and may no longer need reading glasses or bifocals.
How do I get the ReSTOR lens?
After you and your doctor have determined that cataract surgery is right for you, you can then determine if the ReSTOR lens is right for you as well. The lens is implanted during cataract surgery just like a traditional single focus lens.