When tissue thins or deteriorates in the center of the retina, in an area known as the macula, the condition is called dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak under the macula causing it to become distorted. Both types degrade central vision. There is newer forms of treatment for wet macular degeneration. It is important to monitor your Amsler grid and take daily vitamins to minimize the risk of dry macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD) from transforming to the more rapidly destructive wet form.
In people with diabetes, abnormal blood vessels may develop and rupture in the viscous material that fills the back of the eye. The leaking of blood and fluid obscures vision. Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in working aged persons. Half of those with diabetes are unaware that they have the disease. Annual eye exams are necessary to reduce the chance of vision loss with diabetes.
Dry eye is a condition that occurs when the eye does not produce the normal volume of lubricating tears. Symptoms include over-production of non-lubricating tears. Excellent treatment plans exist for Dry Eyes. Simple supplementation with artificial tears are a starting point. If you cannot keep up with the tears or the expense is too burdensome, punctal occlusion is a surgical procedure to keep the tears that you produce in your eyes. A prescription eye drop, Restasis, is available to enhance the tear production.
Flashes and floaters are shadows cast by tissue strands and clumps in the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the back of the eye. In youth, these objects are stationary. With age, the vitreous becomes more fluid and the strands and clumps begin to move around causing shadows on the retina. This can be a hallmark of a retinal tear or detachement. An eye exam is mandatory with the new onset of flashes or floaters!
Keratoconus is a weakening and thinning of the central cornea.
Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy is an inherited abnormality of the endothelium, the inner cell layer of the cornea. A normal endothelium pumps fluids out of the cornea, keeping it clear. An abnormal endothelium causes swelling, leading to a cloudy cornea and decreased vision.
Bullous keratopathy is a condition in which the endothelium has been damaged and no longer pumps fluids out of the corneal tissue. The result is a permanently swollen cornea. Fortunately the cornea is one part of the eye that can be replaced. The procedure is called a PKP or penetrating keratoplasty. Sometimes a less invasive procedure can be done replacing only the inside part of the cornea : DSEK.
Corneal abrasions are scratches in the epithelium, the thin, outer layer of the cornea. They are very painful and generally heal within a few days with the proper treatment.
Corneal abrasions are sometimes deep enough to allow microorganisms to reach the layer beneath the epithelium, called the stroma and cause a corneal ulcer. The ulcer if severe or not responsive to treatment can lead to scarring and the necessity for a corneal transplant.
Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis and is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that lines the inside of the eyelid and the outside of the eye. Pink eye caused by bacteria is highly contagious.