Are Dry Eyes Serious?

Dry eye is a relatively common condition where tear production doesn’t sufficiently keep the eye lubricated. The cause can vary, though it usually falls into one of two categories. First, the eye may not produce enough tears. Second, the tear composition may not provide enough lubrication, even if the quantity is high.  

For those that have dry eyes, finding relief is typically a priority. However, it’s also common to wonder whether dry eye is a serious condition. If you’re wondering whether you should be concerned about your dry eyes, what treatment options are available, and whether you should see your eye care provider, here’s what you need to know.  

Are Dry Eyes Serious?  

Dry eyes can be a serious condition for several reasons. First, the discomfort they cause can be disruptive to daily life. Itching, burning, and stinging eyes are distracting at a minimum. Second, they can harm visual acuity, as focusing may become challenging.  

Finally, dry eyes can increase a person’s odds of developing certain medical conditions. Your risk of an eye infection generally increases. In some cases, abnormal blood vessel development can happen. Scarring and corneal thinning are also possible side effects. In any of these scenarios, permanent vision changes may occur, especially if the dry eyes are left untreated.  

Home Treatments for Dry Eyes  

If you have mild to moderate dry eye, some home treatments may be viable. Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops are the most common option, as they’re readily available and reasonably affordable.  

Other steps may also help. For example, limiting screen time can help. People tend to blink less when viewing screens, which can make dry eyes worse. Having a humidifier may also help, particularly if you live in a dry climate or during the winter when heaters are in use. This increases the amount of moisture in the air, which can slow tear evaporation.  

Wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors can make a difference, too. That helps keep irritants out of the eye and shields your eyes from the wind. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids could also potentially provide some relief.  

Ophthalmic Treatments for Dry Eyes  

If you have moderate to severe dry eye, certain ophthalmic treatments may be more effective than home remedies. There are several prescription eye drops that can treat potential causes of dry eyes. These can include anti-inflammatories, steroids, immunosuppressants, and more.  

Certain other medications might work in specific scenarios. For example, there are oral tear-stimulating drugs that can increase tear production. You may also be a strong candidate for eye inserts that work similarly to artificial tears.  

Punctal plugs that intentionally block tear-draining ducts to keep tears in your eyes longer may be a viable treatment option. Medical procedures that unblock clogs tear glands might be worth considering as well.   

When to See Your Eye Care Provider  

Generally, if your dry eye symptoms are disruptive and don’t improve after using home remedies, it’s best to see your eye care provider. They can examine your eyes to determine the potential cause, allowing them to develop an effective treatment plan based on your specific needs.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Questions to Ask When Considering Lasik

For many people who’ve spent time wearing contact lenses or glasses, Lasik may seem like an attractive alternative. Depending on various factors, Lasik could restore your vision or, at a minimum, reduce the need for corrective lenses.  

However, not everyone is an ideal candidate for Lasik. Additionally, the results can vary. If you’re considering Lasik, here are some critical questions to ask your ophthalmologist to determine if you’re a good candidate and estimate your results.  

Does My Refractive Error Fall Within the Approved Range?  

Lasik is only approved to treat specific refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Additionally, the degree of the error has to fall within a particular range, both individual and, in cases where multiple conditions are present, when taken together. This question allows you to learn if Lasik is a viable option.  

Has My Vision Been Relatively Stable Over the Past Few Years?  

Fluctuating visual acuity can mean that Lasik isn’t an ideal choice. Ideally, it’s best to have some stability before considering this option, increasing the odds that your results will last long enough to justify the procedure. Generally, your ophthalmologist can review your history with corrective lenses to gauge how much your vision has changed, allowing them to answer this question easily.  

Is This the Right Time for Lasik, Based on My Age or Life-Stage?  

Vision changes are more common during certain life stages. Often, visual acuity fluctuates through childhood and into young adulthood, as well as after reaching the age of 40 or 45. Certain other medical events, including pregnancy and menopause, and specific conditions can also alter visual acuity. This question helps you determine if Lasik is a good option today or if waiting may be best.  

Does My Lifestyle Make Lasik a Good Choice?  

How you live your life may impact whether Lasik is right for you. This can include aspects of your work and family life, as well as any sports, hobbies, or other types of recreation you engage in regularly. This question ensures your lifestyle is factored into the equation.  

What Alternatives Are Available, Aside from Contacts or Glasses?  

While Lasik is a popular option for vision correction, there are alternatives that may better suit your needs. By asking about what’s available, your ophthalmologist can review them with you, ensuring you can move forward with the best option for your situation if an alternative is appropriate.  

If There’s an Undesirable Side Effect, What May Occur, and Will Any Harm Be Lasting?  

Like any other medical procedure, Lasik can come with side effects. With this question, you can learn about potential outcomes, as well as available treatments should they occur, and how they will impact your vision in the short- and long-term.  

Ultimately, asking the right questions ensures you’re properly informed. Additionally, it can give you insights into how the ophthalmologist views you as a candidate, ensuring you fully understand their recommendations.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are considering Lasik or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Does a Retinal Detachment Heal on Its Own?

Retinal detachment is a severe medical condition that can cost you your vision. As a result, it should always be taken seriously, as quick action is generally essential if you want to preserve your sight or repair any damage.  

However, many people wonder if a retinal detachment will heal on its own. If you’re curious about that option, here’s a look at retinal detachments, including why they happen and whether they can heal without intervention.  

How Do Retinal Detachments Occur?  

Retinal detachments can happen for a few reasons. The most common one is age-related. It begins with a retinal tear, which allows vitreous gel in the eye to shift and pull the retina away from the back of the eye. Tractional retinal detachments can occur when scar tissue pulls the retina away, a process that is more common in individuals with diabetes.  

With an exudative retinal detachment, fluid builds up behind the retina, pushing it away from the back of the eye. Leaking blood vessels, swelling after an injury, inflation, and macular degeneration can all potentially cause this type of detachment.  

Does a Retinal Detachment Heal on Its Own?  

If you’re wondering whether a retinal detachment can heal on its own, it’s essential to understand the difference between “healing” and “repairing” in the context of the condition. Technically, the eye can heal from this injury without intervention. However, it won’t repair any damage done. For example, a retina won’t typically reattach without medical intervention.  

There are also no home treatments for retinal detachment. Without assistance from your eye care provider, the best you can hope for is no vision loss beyond what you’re currently experiencing, though that may be unlikely if scar tissue, swelling, or other potential side effects exacerbate the detachment.  

Treating a Retinal Detachment  

As mentioned above, retinal detachments typically require treatment from an eye care provider if you want to preserve your vision or repair any damage. Depending on the type of retinal detachment, various courses of action may be viable.  

If there’s a retinal tear, thermal or cryopexy treatments may repair it, preventing any leakage that could lead to a detachment. Pneumatic retinopexy is another option for smaller tears, involving the placement of a strategic bubble to stop leakage.  

A scleral buckle can reposition the eye slightly, essentially pushing a segment of the eye back so that the tear or detachment can potentially heal. For larger tears or detachments, a vitrectomy could be necessary.  

In many cases, success rates tend to range from 80 to 90 percent, depending on the procedure. Additionally, it could take up to several months for your vision to return, even if it’s a success, depending on the nature of the issue, the severity of the detachment, and other factors.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are experiencing symptoms of a retinal detachment or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Is a Dilated Eye Exam Necessary?

When you prepare for an eye appointment, you may discover that your eye care provider will dilate your eyes during the exam. Since that can lead to some mild discomfort in brighter lighting following the appointment and may make driving or other activities difficult for several hours, you may wonder whether dilation is actually necessary.  

Similarly, if you’ve had dilated eye exams in the past, but your eye care provider says that dilation isn’t necessary this time, you may wonder why it isn’t being used. In either case, if you want to know when and why dilation eye exams might be necessary and what to expect from these appointments, here’s what you need to know.  

Why a Dilated Eye Exam Is Important  

Dilation eye exams are important for one main reason; dilation makes it easier to see the back of your eye. When your eyes are dilated, the pupil widens significantly. This allows far more light in and gives your eye care provider a better view.  

With a dilated eye exam, your eye care provider can look for signs of various conditions and potentially spot issues during earlier stages. Some diseases and conditions they may be able to spot include: glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  

When and how often you need to have a dilated eye exam depends on several factors. For example, age plays a role. Essentially everyone needs dilation eye exams if they’re age 60 and up every one or two years. However, if you’re at greater risk of certain eye diseases or conditions, you usually start getting dilated eye exams every year or two, beginning at age 40.  

Your ethnic background is also a factor, as members of particular groups may have higher occurrences of specific conditions, making frequent dilated eye exams advisable. Similarly, your eye health history, current overall health matter, and the reason you’re coming in for an appointment.  

What to Expect from a Dilation Eye Exam  

Dilated eye exams aren’t any more invasive than a traditional one. Your eye care provider will apply drops that dilate your pupils, which may sting slightly for a brief period or could cause some mild eye-watering for a few moments. While somewhat uncomfortable, most people wouldn’t classify the drops as a painful experience.  

Once your pupils dilate, you may have some light sensitivity and some mild blurriness. Usually, that only lasts a few hours, as the drops wear off during that timeframe. That could make driving more difficult, even if you wear sunglasses, so it’s usually best to have someone drive you after your appointment.  

Working, studying, or similar activities may be harder while your eyes are dilated, too. As a result, it’s best to plan for several hours where engaging in those types of tasks isn’t necessary.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you would like to learn more about dilation eye exams or haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

 

Can You Prevent Cataracts from Getting Worse?

Cataracts can have a dramatic impact on your vision, causing cloudiness that harms visual acuity and alters the visual field. Typically, cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. Additionally, they’re reasonably easy to treat should the need arise.  

However, those with cataracts may want to do their part to slow the progression of the condition. While there isn’t a natural cure for cataracts, certain lifestyle practices may make a difference. Here are some approaches that are worth trying.  

Watch Blood Sugar  

Cataracts are more common in individuals with diabetes. Mainly, it’s because high blood pressure can lead to certain eye changes, such as swelling of the lens. By keeping blood sugar under control, those eye changes don’t occur, potentially lowering your risk of developing cataracts.  

In most cases, you should follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding blood sugar management. Along with dietary changes, certain prescription medications may be necessary to maintain blood sugar levels. By adhering to the treatment plan, you’ll have a far easier time keeping everything under control.  

Quit Smoking  

Smoking is associated with a range of health conditions, including a higher occurrence of cataracts. By quitting, you could reduce your risk of developing cataracts early or may be able to slow the overall progression.  

Those who want to quit have a variety of options available. You can speak with your physician about smoking-cessation medications, join smoking-cessation programs, or use over-the-counter products to make the transition easier to manage.  

Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption  

Like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption is tied to a range of health conditions. Generally speaking, consuming more than two alcoholic beverages daily increases a person’s risk of cataracts. Since that’s the case, limiting your consumption can potentially make a difference.  

It’s critical to point out that serving sizes of alcohol are far smaller than most people expect. “Standard” drinks are based on alcohol levels, not beverage volumes. Based on average alcohol percentages, a serving includes 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. However, drinks with higher-than-average alcohol contents may actually count for two or more servings, so keep that in mind.  

Eat Nutritious Foods  

A diet rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E helps support good eye health. By ensuring your diet is balanced and chocked full of critical vitamins and minerals, you may reduce your odds of developing cataracts.  

Wear UV-Blocking Sunglasses  

UV rays can damage the eyes, even if the sun isn’t shining brightly. By wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, you prevent those harmful rays from reaching your eyes, ensuring they don’t cause damage or accelerate the development of certain eye conditions. Just make sure they’re rated for UV-A and UV-B rays, as broad-spectrum protection is a far better approach.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are experiencing symptoms of cataracts or progressing cataracts, or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Is Lasik Surgery Safe? What You Need to Know 

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis – also known as LASIK – is a popular outpatient procedure for treating nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Millions of people have chosen to use LASIK to correct their vision, allowing them to see more clearly without glasses or contact lenses.  

However, while LASIK has been around for decades, many people wonder, is LASIK surgery safe? While the procedure has an excellent track record overall, as with all surgical procedures, there are risks. Here’s what you need to know.  

LASIK and Patient Outcomes  

Overall, LASIK is one of the most studied elective surgeries, with ample data being collected about patient outcomes, satisfaction rates, and more. Overall, patient satisfaction reached 98 percent in a recent study, with nearly all patients achieving 20/40 vision and over 90 percent reaching 20/20.  

Additionally, safety procedures surrounding LASIK surgery have also improved over the years. Eye care providers are far more stringent regarding patient selection, ensuring those who potentially undergo the procedure and legitimately good candidates. Further, processes for optimizing the approach to the patient have also advanced, leading to better results.  

However, that doesn’t mean side effects aren’t possible, including some that can significantly impact visual acuity or quality of life. While they’re broadly considered rare, patients should be aware of these potential outcomes, allowing them to make wise choices about their future and health.  

Potential Side Effects of LASIK  

The potential side effects of LASIK range from mildly inconvenient to highly impactful to daily life. Some of the more common adverse outcomes are fairly simple and generally easy to manage. For example, dry eyes can occur, which may make eye drops or similar treatment options a must long-term. Glare, halos, and diminished night vision also happen, though the degree can vary.  

With those side effects, they may be temporary or long-term. The healing process after LASIK can take up to a year, so some patients might initially struggle with issues like dry eye only to see the problem diminish over the coming weeks or months. However, others may experience the issue permanently.  

When it comes to more serious side effects, eye infections, vision loss, retinal detachment, and chronic pain may all occur. Overall, these outcomes aren’t common, particularly among those without certain risk factors, like a pre-existing autoimmune condition, persistent dry eyes, or certain kinds of inflammation. However, if they do occur, the impact may be irreversible.  

Since there are risks to LASIK, choosing an eye care provider you trust to handle the procedure is essential. Seek out an experienced surgeon, ask questions about outcomes, and ensure you’re fully apprised of the possible results, both positive and negative. By doing so, you can make wiser decisions about your vision and health, ensuring you don’t move forward only partially informed and feel confident about your odds of an excellent outcome.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are considering LASIK surgery or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Cataract Surgery Success Rate

Cataract surgery is among the most common types of surgery. While it was once an inpatient procedure requiring general anesthesia, it can now be performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. This approach is more convenient, safer, and less expensive, and cataract surgery success rates have never been higher. Traditionally, cataract surgery has been performed with a scalpel, but lasers are increasingly used. Patients report little pain and a quick recovery in most cases. Cataract surgery success rates are very high, reportedly 97-98%, according to recent studies, and few complications are encountered.  

Who Performs Cataract Surgery?

If you’re looking for an eye doctor for cataracts, ophthalmologists are the specialists who perform this type of surgery. If you’ve never had eye surgery before, your eye care has most likely been managed by optometrists or opticians. Optometrists are licensed professionals who can perform eye examinations and diagnose and treat some conditions, but they are not medical doctors. Conditions that require surgery, such as cataracts, must be referred to an ophthalmologist. If you have glasses or contacts, you’ll know your optician as the helpful person who ensures they fit correctly. 

What are the Risks of Cataract Surgery?

Any surgery comes with a degree of risk, but cataract surgery complications are rare and seldom serious. All long as the patient follows the post-operative instructions their ophthalmologist gives them, the chances they will experience any side effects are low. There are three serious potential issues to be aware of: retinal detachment, swelling of the eye and eye infection. Familiarize yourself with the following symptoms and report any occurrences to your ophthalmologist immediately. While these cataract surgery complications are serious if ignored, prompt treatment can keep you and your vision healthy. 

Retinal Detachment

Cataract surgery has been shown to cause a slightly increased risk of retinal detachment. For patients with other eye disorders, such as high myopia – a rare type of severe nearsightedness – the risk of retinal detachment is even higher. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss. 

Retinal detachment is usually painless. The symptoms you are likely to notice are a sudden increase in floaters or flashes of light. Floaters are just what they sound like – little specks that seem to float around in your vision. If you notice these symptoms, don’t take a nap or wait to see if they clear up on their own, contact your doctor immediately, even if they occur after hours. The sooner retinal detachment is treated, the better the chances of preserving some or all of your vision. 

Swelling of the Eye

Some post-surgical swelling of the eye is not unusual. It can increase during the first 24 hours after surgery. It can be alarming to notice that your vision was better immediately right after surgery than a day later. Chances are, the swelling will go down on its own, but if it’s severe and not dissipating as your instructions indicated that it would, don’t hesitate to contact the ophthalmologist who performed your cataract surgery. They may tell you to use your steroid eye drops more frequently or prescribe something different or more potent. 

Eye Infection

Preventing eye infection often comes down to meticulous hygiene. Your ophthalmologist will do their part by prescribing antibiotic drops for you to begin using before surgery and continue afterward. You can do your part by using the drops as prescribed and washing your hands well with soap before using the drops or touching the eye area. Also, take care not to touch the surface of your eye or your eyelashes with the dropper.  

Is Cataract Surgery Always Successful?

While the cataract surgery success rate is high, it’s not 100%. It’s possible for your vision to be worse than before the surgery or blurry. Typically, this is due to issues such as waiting too long to have cataract surgery performed, which can lead to difficulties with the surgery.  

Can Cataracts Come Back After Surgery?

Once cataracts are removed, they cannot grow back, but a new one can form. These secondary cataracts are called posterior capsular opacification(PCO). Secondary cataract symptoms take months or years to develop and are becoming rarer as technology has advanced. Reasons for an increased risk of PCO include age (secondary cataract symptoms are more common among younger patients), diabetes, uveitis, myotonic dystrophy, and retinitis pigmentosa. Cataracts caused by injury are more likely to lead to secondary contact symptoms. 

Secondary cataract symptoms to watch for include blurry vision, glare or halos from headlights and issues with vision such as trouble reading, driving, watching television and sometimes difficulty with color perception. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your cataract ophthalmologist.  

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Cataract Surgery?

After cataract surgery, most people can go back to work and resume other daily activities in a couple of days. Full recovery can take as long as eight weeks and your vision should stabilize within 3-6 weeks. The closer you follow the instructions of your ophthalmologist, the better your chance of being a cataract surgery success story.  

What Should You Look For in a Cataract Surgeon in Buffalo? 

When you’re trusting someone with your vision, you want an ophthalmologist you can trust. Look for a surgeon specializing in cataract surgery and up to date on the latest studies and technologies. Look for reviews and recommendations and review the credentials and experience of any cataract surgeon you consider. Be sure to ask your surgeon relevant questions such as how many surgeries they have performed and their cataract surgery success rate. 

Credentials of a Cataract Surgeon

Your surgeon should be board certified in ophthalmology if they have the training and skills required to perform cataract surgery successfully. You should also check that the doctor has no malpractice suits or disciplinary actions on their record. Healthgrades.com is a good source for conducting this research.  

Experience

Even though cataract surgery is relatively simple and risk-free, you don’t want to put your eyesight in the hands of someone who doesn’t have plenty of experience. Surgery performed by an ophthalmologist with plenty of experience increases the chances of successful cataract surgery. A doctor who has performed the surgery many times before will know exactly what to watch for. 

Choosing the Right Cataract Surgeon in Buffalo

If you have been identified as a candidate for cataract surgery, you may wonder what the next step is. If an optometrist diagnosed you, they may refer you to a specific ophthalmologist, or provide you with a list to choose from. If they did not refer you, there are several ways to find qualified cataract ophthalmologists in Buffalo. If you have friends or family who have undergone cataract surgery, they may be able to provide recommendations for cataract eye doctors in Buffalo. If not, your insurance company may be able to help, or you can request referrals from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes and vision are our priority. That’s why we encourage you to watch for early signs of cataracts and see your eye doctor regularly. If you are experiencing vision changes or haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Can Cataracts Come Back After Surgery?

Cataracts, or an opacification or clouding of the eye’s lens, affect millions of people – it’s one of the most common eye conditions in the world. Cataracts often affect older people, although it’s possible for them to develop in younger patients as well. Today, laser surgery is commonly used to remove cataracts, and it has a high success rate. Traditional cataract surgery using blades is also still commonly used to great effect.

Have you ever wondered whether cataracts can come back after surgery?

The answer isn’t quite as simple as a “yes” or “no.” Cataracts cannot grow back once they’ve been removed. But it is possible for a secondary (or new) cataract to form. So, yes, cataracts can come back after cataract surgery; it’s not the old one growing back, but a new one forming. The medical term for this is posterior capsular opacification, or PCO.

Let’s take a closer look at how cataracts surgery works and how secondary cataracts or PCO happens. Then, we’ll discuss the symptoms of this condition and what can be done about it to help patients see clearly once again.

How Does Cataract Surgery Work?

There are two types of cataract surgery: traditional cataract surgery, which has been used for many years, and the newer laser-assisted cataract surgery.

Traditional Cataract Surgery

This type of cataract surgery involves using a tiny blade to make an incision on the side of the eye’s lens (the cornea) and removing the clouded lens. After that, an artificial lens called an intraocular lens is inserted in place of the natural lens. In some cases, sutures might be needed to close the incision, but more often than not the incision is left alone to heal over time. Most patients are fully healed within a few days or weeks of cataract surgery.

Laser Cataract Surgery

Laser-assisted cataract surgery uses laser technology and 3D imaging to make the incision. An advanced laser called a femtosecond laser creates an opening in the cornea’s front layer, and then the laser breaks

up the clouded lens before it’s sucked out through the incision. Then, an intraocular lens replaces the natural lens in the same manner as traditional cataract surgery.

Both types of cataract surgery are fast, efficient, and very safe. They’re both widely used today, including by top cataract surgeons in Buffalo. In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most common types of surgery performed in the world, with a very high success rate.

Can You Have Cataracts Twice?

As mentioned above, yes, you can have cataracts twice, even after surgery. Secondary cataracts, sometimes called after-cataracts, isn’t particularly common but it is possible.

Secondary cataracts doesn’t develop immediately after your cataract surgery. It will typically take months or, even more commonly, years before developing. And here’s the good news: it’s less common than ever before. For many years, nearly half of all patients who had cataract surgery developed secondary cataracts at some point. Now, thanks to technological improvements particularly in laser surgery, only about four to 12 percent of patients experience secondary cataracts.

PCO is still the most common complication after cataract surgery, but it occurs less frequently than ever before. And research is ongoing into ways to make it even less common.

What is a Secondary Cataract?

Secondary cataracts or posterior capsular opacification (PCO) occurs when the membrane around the lens capsule (not removed during surgery) becomes cloudy and starts to impair vision. New protein cells begin to grow on the back of the lens capsule, which obscures vision just like a cataract does.

There are actually two types of secondary cataracts:

· Pearl PCO: Responsible for the majority of secondary cataracts cases, pearl PCO involves normal differentiation of lens epithelial cells (LECs) in the equatorial lens region.

· Fibrous PCO: Fibrous PCO involves abnormal growth of LECs in the lens.

To put it simply, secondary cataracts is the opacification of the membrane around the lens capsule, which wasn’t removed during cataract surgery. It usually starts to opacify months or years after cataract surgery.

What Makes Secondary Cataracts More Likely?

The development of secondary cataracts is, on the whole, not extremely common. But there are a few conditions and factors that make this condition more likely to occur. One is age; it turns out that younger cataracts patients are more likely to develop secondary cataracts. Other factors include:

· Diabetes – Diabetes and vision problems are closely linked. Patients who have diabetes or had it in the past have a higher incidence of PCO development.

· Uveitis – Uveitis occurs when the uvea, the middle part of the eye, becomes inflamed. This results in itching and redness. Patients with this condition are more likely to develop secondary cataracts.

· Myotonic dystrophy – Related to muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy is an inherited disease that involves prolonged muscle contractions and difficulty relaxing certain muscle groups. Cataracts often develop as a symptom of this condition, and people with myotonic dystrophy often require multiple capsulectomies to restore proper vision.

· Retinitis pigmentosa – People with retinitis pigmentosa have a higher occurrence rate of secondary cataracts. This condition involves the breakdown of cells in the retina, which causes symptoms like loss of peripheral vision and difficulty seeing at night.

· Cataracts caused by trauma – It’s possible for cataracts to be caused by injury or trauma to the head or eye. When this is the case, the chance of secondary cataracts occurring is much higher.

Secondary Cataract Symptoms

What are the main secondary cataract symptoms? How can you tell if you’re developing this condition?

Blurry Vision

Blurry vision after cataract surgery is the most common sign of secondary cataracts. As mentioned, the blurred vision won’t occur immediately after surgery. It will probably happen months or even years afterward.

Glare/Halos

Patients might notice an increased glare from light sources, such as the sun or car headlights when driving at night. It’s also relatively common for those with secondary cataracts to see halos around these light sources.

Lack of Visual Acuity

A reduction in visual acuity is another common sign of secondary cataracts. This might manifest in difficulty reading text or seeing the television, difficulty driving and seeing road signs, etc. Patients might also notice a reduction in the accurate perception of colors.

Can Secondary Cataracts Be Prevented?

It is not possible to prevent the occurrence of secondary cataracts in every case. However, there are things that can be done to make it less likely. Advances in surgical techniques are one approach; as the technology improves and processes are further refined, ophthalmologists hope to reduce the risk of secondary cataracts developing. Extensive polishing of the epithelial cells during cataract surgery can also help.

New intraocular lens designs (the artificial lenses that replace the clouded cataract lens) show promise for reducing cataract surgery side effects, including secondary cataracts. Square-edged intraocular lenses can reduce the risk of PCO development, and there is also evidence that changes to the surface chemistry of the lens makes PCO development less likely.

Last but not least, drugs that suppress certain cell growth could be used to inhibit the growth of lens cells that end up obscuring vision. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved prescription drugs for this reason yet, so it remains to be seen if medication could play a role in preventing the development of secondary cataracts.

Secondary Cataract Treatment

Secondary cataracts can certainly be a frustrating thing to deal with. After all, cataract surgery was supposed to solve the issue. It’s understandable that patients are frustrated when their vision becomes blurry once again. Luckily, treating secondary cataracts is generally very simple and easy.

Secondary cataract surgery is performed via a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, and it’s widely effective in treating secondary cataracts and helping patients to experience restored vision after the development of secondary cataracts.

YAG Laser Capsulotomy

YAG laser capsulotomy is a quick, painless procedure. First, the eye is numbed with special drops. Then, a laser creates a small opening in the clouded part of the lens capsule. This allows light to shine through to the retina, allowing the lost vision to be restored. Most often, the patient can return home immediately with an eyedrop treatment, and will probably be able to return to normal activities – driving, working, etc. – within a day or two.

YAG laser capsulotomy only takes about five minutes, even less than the already quick cataract surgery itself. You’ll probably need to revisit the eye doctor’s office in a week or so for a follow-up appointment to make sure things are progressing well and you’re not experiencing any side effects.

Contact the Ophthalmologists at ECVA if You’re Experiencing Secondary Cataract Symptoms

Are you experiencing blurred vision or other symptoms of secondary cataracts? It’s time to make an appointment with Eye Care & Vision Associates to see the top ophthalmologists in Buffalo, NY. We can help you understand cataract symptoms including secondary cataracts and map out a treatment plan to restore your vision. Contact ECVA, your eye doctor in Buffalo, NY, to get started. We’re here to help! Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.

Why Is My Vision Getting Worse?

Many people know that vision changes can occur at any time. However, if your vision is declining year after year or suddenly takes a turn for the worst, you may wonder why it’s happening.  

Here is a look at common reasons for declining vision, as well as the symptoms you may experience.  

Aging  

As people age, their visual acuity typically decreases, especially when it comes to near-vision. Often, this process is unavoidable. Additionally, it’s normal for vision to decline further as time passes.  

Often, age-related vision changes begin around middle age, commonly among adults over 40. During that time, presbyopia – a loss of lens flexibility – can alter visual acuity, particularly when viewing nearby objects. However, some may not see shifts until they’re far beyond 40, while others may see these changes begin earlier.  

Usually, the most common symptoms of age-related changes are trouble reading small print, fatigue after reading, holding items farther away to read, needing brighter light, and squinting.  

Injury  

An eye injury can lead to a range of physical changes that may impact your vision. If the optic nerve is damaged, it can cause significant vision loss. Similarly, an injury-related retinal detachment may cause a rise in the number of floaters, bright light flashes, and blurriness.  

Eye injuries can also cause other kinds of damage, many of which require quick treatment to prevent or reduce vision loss. Since that’s the case, fast action is always recommended, including seeing your eye health provider for an immediate assessment.  

UV Damage  

UV light harms the eyes, potentially leading to vision changes. Often, the damage begins during childhood, a period when most people aren’t as cautious when it comes to eye health. However, it may not be apparent until adulthood. Additionally, choices as an adult also influence the equation.  

In most cases, UV damage leads to blurriness. Eye pain, redness, and light sensitivity are also symptoms you may experience.  

Eye Strain  

Due to the rise of digital devices, eye strain is surprisingly common, and it can lead to certain vision changes. When people view screens, they tend to blink less. Additionally, they’re keeping their focus on a specific distance.  

In most cases, tiredness or fatigue is the most apparent symptom, coupled with dry, itchy, or burning eyes. However, you may experience headaches, light sensitivity, and soreness, too.  

Cataracts  

Technically, cataracts are another age-related reason for vision decline. As proteins in the lens break down, they can cloud the lens, leading to blurry vision.  

Along with being very common, cataracts are typically incredibly treatable, particularly when caught early. Some signs of cataracts include blurriness, glare, halos, and faded or yellowed colors.  

Glaucoma  

Glaucoma is a condition involving elevated pressure in the eye, leading to damage to the optic nerve. As the damage occurs, peripheral vision typically declines first. Blurriness and halos may also develop, as well as trouble seeing in low-light conditions.  

In some cases, glaucoma is also accompanied by pain. However, that isn’t always the case.  

Since vision changes are potentially caused by a range of conditions, including some severe problems that can lead to permanent vision loss, it’s best to see your eye health provider whenever you notice a shift. Additionally, attending your annual appointments ensures your provider can monitor your eye health and take quick action should they spot an issue that’s yet to result in symptoms.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are experiencing vision changes or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

What Are the Early Signs of Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition impacting the optic nerve. As intraocular pressure builds, damage to the optic nerve can occur, leading to permanent vision defects and loss, potentially leading to blindness.  

While glaucoma isn’t typically preventable, early detection is crucial if you want to avoid optic nerve damage and slow the progression of vision loss. By knowing the early signs of glaucoma, you can take action at a critical time, increasing your odds of maintaining as much of your vision as possible.  

Here’s what you need to know about the early signs of glaucoma, as well as when you should see an eye health provider.  

Early Signs of Glaucoma  

Generally, there are a few symptoms that can be early signs of glaucoma. One of the most common ones is the loss of peripheral – or side – vision. Over time, it can lead to a sort of tunnel vision, though the process is often slow and hard to identify right when it begins.  

Halos around light are another symptom of glaucoma. Sensitivity to light is similarly a classic sign. In both of these cases, the issues may be particularly apparent in specific situations, such as driving at night.  

Other forms of vision loss – including a sudden decline in acuity or the visual field – can indicate glaucoma, too. Eye redness and pain could be a symptom of acute glaucoma. Haziness of the cornea is a potential symptom, though it’s usually only present with childhood glaucoma.  

In some cases, unexplained nausea or vomiting may also be related to glaucoma, particularly the acute form. The same goes for headaches and blurry vision.  

When to See an Eye Health Provider  

Ultimately, it’s always wise to see an eye health provider whenever you notice any shifts in the visual field or acuity, as well as symptoms of physical changes in the eye. Glaucoma typically isn’t preventable. However, with proper management, vision loss can be minimized.  

Additionally, some of the early signs of glaucoma are also symptoms of other serious eye conditions. For example, redness and eye pain may indicate an infection and, depending on the type, permanent eye damage can occur with surprising speed. Halos may be a sign of glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and many other potentially serious conditions, all of which should be assessed quickly to determine if treatment is necessary.  

However, even if you don’t have any of the early signs of glaucoma or symptoms of an eye condition, it’s still wise to see your eye health provider regularly. For most adults, an annual appointment is enough to monitor for vision changes and signs of eye health issues, though some may require more frequent visits if certain risks factors are present or they have an eye condition that requires ongoing treatment and tracking.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you have early signs of glaucoma or haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.