Frequently Asked Questions
We offer many topics that our patients have frequently asked.
Floaters are small dark shapes that float across your vision. They can look like spots, threads, squiggly lines, or even little cobwebs. Most people have floaters that come and go, and they often don’t need treatment. But sometimes floaters can be a sign of a more serious eye condition.
Almost everyone develops floaters as they get older, but some people are at higher risk. You’re at higher risk if you: are very nearsighted, have diabetes, have had surgery to treat cataracts. If you notice new floaters that appear suddenly and don’t go away, it’s important to tell your eye doctor.
Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve. The optic nerve is made of more than a million tiny nerve fibers. It is like an electric cable made up of many small wires. As these nerve fibers die, you will develop blind spots in your vision. You may not notice these blind spots until most of your optic nerve fibers have died. If all of the fibers die, you will become blind.
Some people have a higher than normal risk of getting glaucoma. This includes people who:
Nearsightedness (myopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. Nearsightedness may develop gradually or rapidly, often worsening during childhood and adolescence. Nearsightedness tends to run in families. You can compensate for the blur with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Farsightedness (hyperopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby may be blurry. The degree of your farsightedness influences your focusing ability. Farsightedness usually is present at birth and tends to run in families. You can compensate for the blur with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Presbyopia is the gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects. It’s a natural, often annoying part of aging. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in your early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 65. You may become aware of presbyopia when you start holding books and newspapers at arm’s length to be able to read them. You can compensate for the blur with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
With the visual health of a child being such an important factor in their growth and development, it is crucial that you know when your child should get eye exams. About 25 percent of school-aged children have some type of vision problem, and even 5 to 10 percent have vision issues at preschool age. Therefore, regular exams from an early age are necessary. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), an eye exam should be done at six months of age, at three-years-old, when they start school, and then every year after that.
A cataract is when your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy. Proteins in your lens break down and cause things to look blurry, hazy or less colorful. Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. Other cataracts can develop more quickly, such as those in younger people or those in people with diabetes. Doctors cannot predict how quickly a person’s cataract will develop.
- Aging is the most common cause. This is due to normal eye changes that begin to happen after age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy. People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
- Other reasons you may get cataracts include:
- having parents, brothers, sisters, or other family members who have cataracts
- having certain medical problems, such as diabetes
- having spent a lot of time in the sun, especially without sunglasses that protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays
- using certain medications such as corticosteroids, which may cause early formation of cataracts
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. It affects blood vessels in the retina (the tissue in the back of your eye). If you have diabetes, it’s important to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Diabetic retinopathy may not have any symptoms at first — but finding it early can help you take steps to protect your vision.
- Anyone with any kind of diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy — including people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy).
- Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. Over time, more than half of people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the maculais damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands. AMD is very common and it is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years or older.
- Two types of AMD
- Dry AMD: This form is quite common. About 80% of people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD is when parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet.
- Wet AMD: This form is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.
Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular eye care visits. You are more likely to develop AMD if you:
- eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter, and cheese)
- are overweight
- smoke cigarettes
- are over 50 years old
- have hypertension (high blood pressure)
- have high cholesterol levels
- have a family history of AMD
- Caucasians (white people) also have an elevated risk of getting AMD.
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