Glaucoma is group of diseases that cause damage to the nerve fibers within the eye. Some reasons this may happen include an increased pressure within the eye, weak ocular structures and nerves, or poor fluid drainage within the eye. Increased pressure within the eye damages healthy nerve fibers and eventually causes their death. Nerve fibers within the eye do not regenerate and cause vision loss. Most glaucoma is painless and visual field defects are not noticeable by the patient until they are quite advanced. Other factors that put a patient at risk for glaucoma include race (Hispanics and Blacks are more prone to glaucoma at a younger age), steroid drug use, eye trauma, family history, increased age, and diabetes mellitus. A comprehensive eye examination at Hamilton Family Eyecare is the best way to avoid the detrimental effects of glaucoma. Dr. Hamilton is considered an optometric glaucoma specialist by the state of Texas. He also employs the most advanced technology in the eyecare field to diagnose and treat glaucoma. All glaucoma work ups include pressure readings, a measurement of the fluid drainage within the eye, Blood flow analysis of the optic nerve, corneal thickness readings, visual field testing, laser polarizer, and photographs of the optic nerve if necessary. If Dr. Hamilton finds glaucoma within your eyes he will likely prescribe eye drops that will reduce the pressure within your eyes. Other treatment options include laser procedures, and/or surgery. The good news is that most glaucoma is manageable with pressure lowering drops. Early detection of glaucoma will help to protect a lifetime of good usable vision. Schedule your comprehensive eye examination at Hamilton Family Eyecare today.
A cataract is defined as an opacification of the eye’s natural lens. This condition can appear as a result of age, eye trauma, systemic steroid use, UV light exposure and smoking. In age related cataracts a progressive clouding of the lens is observed. This distorts a patient’s ability to see objects at both distance and near and usually progresses slowly over time. Other symptoms include blurred or fogged vision, glare or halos observed at night, a decrease in color vision and contrast sensitivity. Prevention is imperative. If you would like to prevent age related cataracts it is important to always wear sunglasses when outside, discontinue smoking, and take a multi-vitamin daily. Cataracts are considered medical conditions and examination would be covered by a patient’s medical insurance. If you think you have cataracts please schedule an appointment today at Hamilton Family Eyecare. Dr. Hamilton will discuss with you the most advanced options in cataract surgery. These include the ReStor, ReZoom, Crystalens, and toric intraocular lenses. (joel please link these to my other sections under refractive surgery). He will also co-manage your surgery and help you choose an excellent surgeon.
Allergic Conjunctivitis (Allergy Eyes)
An allergy is an overreaction of the bodies immune system to a foreign body. When this reaction happens in the eyes it is called allergic conjunctivitis, which may be initiated by a variety of factors–cosmetics, perfumes, contact lens deposits, contact lens solutions, preservatives found in artifical tears and ophthalmic drugs, and/or they may be seasonal. Symptoms include redness, tearing, matting of the eyelids, swelling, and the hallmark sign is itching. In Austin’s warm, humid, allergen rich environment Dr. Hamilton has become an expect at treating seasonal as well as chemical induced allergies. If you think you have allergic conjunctivitis schedule an appointment with us today. He will discuss a variety of treatment options which range from routine maintenance to over-the-counter medications to prescription drugs. Based upon your specific needs he will recommend the best treatment course.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a condition that can affect any age, but is more common the senior population. Approximately 1/3 of people over the age of 65 show some signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration. This condition can be detected by Dr. Hamilton when small waste deposits called drusen are left behind in the macular area of the retina. When these deposits are not removed by the eyes natural cleaning mechanisms one of two forms of macular degeneration may result–wet or dry. In dry macular degeneration “rough” areas may be observed in the central area of a patients retina. The current treatment for dry macular degeneration is vitamins rich in antioxidants. Vitamins A,E, and C as well as Zinc and Lutein are recommended to help slow the progression of the disease. The wet form of macular degeneration also shows these “rough” spots or drusen accompanied by new blood vessel growth. The new blood vessel growth is particularly damaging to the vision because the vessels are weak and leak fluids into the retina. Leakage of fluid causes swelling within the eye and rapid loss of vision. The current treatment for wet macular degeneration includes the injection of drugs into the globe of the eye or laser treatment to halt the growth of these new blood vessels. Finally, Dr. Hamilton has incorporated a retinal camera into his practice in order to tract and monitor macular degeneration over time. Some photographs of a retina with wet and dry macular degeneration may look like this:
An Amsler grid may be used to detect early signs of macular degeneration and should be used daily in patients that are suspects of the disease. The following is a description of how to use and Amsler grid.
Hold the Amsler grid at normal reading distance. If you normally use corrective lenses to read, use them for this test. Cover your left eye and focus on the dot in the middle of the grid. While looking at the center dot use your peripheral (side) vision to observe the lines throughout the grid. In normal vision, the surrounding lines should appear straight and evenly spaced with no missing or odd looking areas. In macular degeneration, the lines can look bent, distorted, or missing. Please pay careful attention to anything that seems unusual and record what you are seeing. Repeat the test with the left eye, covering the right eye. If any visual disturbance are observed they should be reported to Dr. Hamilton immediately.
Meibobmianitis and Blepharitis are two distinct eyelid conditions that often present together in the same eye. Meibomianitis is an inflammation of the oil glands that are positioned at the intersection of the outer and inner eyelid. Blepharitis is an inflammation secondary to bacterial endotoxins around the eye. These two conditions often present together because bacteria are attracted to the oils that accumulate around the dysfunctional meibomian glands. Characteristics of meimobian gland dysfunction include dry eyes, frothy, foamy tears, a burning sensation, red, irritated eyes. Characteristics of blepharitis include red irritated eyes, a burning sensation, mild discharge, and light sensitivity. Treatment of blepharitis and meibomianitis includes a warm soak of the eyelids and/or a warm compress massage (see directions below), daily lid hygiene (see directions below), and/or topical antibiotics or steroids. Finally, 1000-2000mg of flax seed oil supplement has been shown to increase meimobian gland function over a six month period. It is always best seek the diagnosis of a trained professional. If you have blepharitis/meibomianitis Dr Hamilton will follow these steps to quickly help your eyes to return to their comfortable, normal state.
Directions For A Warm Soak Of The Eyelids
- Wash your hands throughly
- Moisten a clean washcloth with warm water
- Close eyes and place washcloth on eyelids for about 5 minutes
- Optional…you may add a heating pad to the top of the washcloth to retain the heat
Directions For An Eyelid Scrub
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Mix warm water and a small amount of shampoo that does not irritate the eye (baby shampoo) or use a commercially prepared lid scrub solution recommended by Dr Hamilton
- Use the corner of the wash cloth or a cotton tipped applicator to clean at the apex of the eyelid (where the inside of the eyelid meets the outside)
- Repeat this on the upper and lower lids of each eye
- Rinse with cool, clear water
- Repeat several times daily
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a dry, gritty, scratchy , feeling in the eyes. It may present in a patient’s eyes for a variety of reasons, which include:
- decreased tear production
- poor lipid or mucin production in/around the eyes
- extended computer use
- long periods of time in a dry environment
- systemic disorders including LUPUS, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and thyroid disorders
- systemic medications including oral contraceptives and anti-histamines
- abnormal lid closure including trauma, sleeping with the eyes open, and not blinking fully or often enough
- older aged individuals
- contact lens wear
Individuals that experience dry eye may have other symptoms of dryness, which include:
- stabbing pain in the eye
- inability to wear contact lenses for long or short periods of time
- light sensitivity
- poor visual acuity
- excessive tearing of the eyes
Dry Eye Syndrome has many causes and many symptoms, but also many treatments. Preservative free artificial tears is the baseline treatment. Preservative free is recommended because preservatives are chemicals that can irritate the eyes. By removing the chemicals it will ensure treatment does not make the eyes worse. Lid hygiene is also helpful in dry eye treatment. Lid hygiene includes the daily cleaning of the eyelids and instructions on how to do this may be referenced (here). Lifestyle adjustments that can be made to treat dry eyes include blinking more often, drinking at least 64 oz of water/day, a dehumidifier in the office/home, and taking frequent breaks from computer work. If these treatments do not provide relief Dr Hamilton may prescribe Restasis or steroid drops for the eyes which will increase tear production by decreasing inflammation around the eyes. Also, he may insert plugs into the punctum of each eye. The puctum is a small cavity in the corner of each eye that allows the tears to drain. By placing a “stop” to this drain the tears remain on the outer surface of the eye longer. Most cases of dry eyes result in mild to moderate discomfort. In an extreme case dry eyes can cause corneal scarring and a loss of vision. If you think that you have dry eyes please schedule an appointment at Hamilton Family Eyecare today. Dr Hamilton will use the latest research and technology to ensure your vision is healthy and comfortable.