Feature of the Month
Save Your Vision Month is dedicated to promoting better eye health habits. Our eyes are subjected to many environments every day. Excessive UV exposure from sunlight can increase your risk of developing eye problems later in life. Too much blue light from looking at smartphone and computer screens causes digital eye strain and leads to sleeping problems.
Sometimes we take our vision for granted and don't think about visiting our eye doctor until we notice something has gone wrong. However, getting annual eye exams is important for much more than getting new glasses or contacts. Regular eye check-ups are the first line of defense in detecting early signs of many eye diseases. This helps prevent or slow down irreversible vision loss from certain diseases such as glaucoma. Eye exams are also important for measuring changes in not just your eyes but also conditions that affect the entire body. High blood pressure and diabetes is associated retinopathy (damaged retinal blood vessels) and regular check-ups help to monitor any worsening symptoms.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that occurs when the eye area known as the "macula" becomes damaged. The macula is responsible for our ability to see in our central field of vision. Over time, AMD leads to blurred and/or darkened spots in the center of our vision which can grow larger and worsen as we get age. AMD is the number one cause of severe vision loss among older adults, and especially those over the age of 60. Other risk factors that increase your chances of developing AMD include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, ethnicity (AMD more commonly affects Caucasians), and having a family history of AMD.
Currently most forms of AMD don't have any treatment. However, AMD can be caught early by being diagnosed through regular eye exams. One such method is known as optical coherence tomography angiography (what a tongue twister!), or simply as "OCT-A." It's a new innovative procedure that benefits from being much less invasive that other common angiogram methods that usually require an inject of fluorescein dye. OCT-A uses light reflection to visualize the blood vessels of the eye area with great clarity. Big Island Vision Center was recently equipped with its own OCTA machine which is incorporated as a regular part of our eye exams.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that occurs when the optic nerve gets damaged from pressure around the eye area. It often goes undiagnosed because glaucoma generally develops slowly over a long period of time. (An estimated half of all people who already have glaucoma aren't even aware of it!) Blindedness caused by glaucoma can't be reversed which is why early diagnosis and treatment (through annual dilated eye exams) are highly recommended to slow down and, if possible, prevent any further vision loss.