Eyes: Why See An Eye Doctor?
Adam Flug M.D.
My eyes are just fine, then why should I see an eye doctor? Eye conditions, much like many general health related issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are often silent in their early stages. Just like we rely on routine physicals to evaluate our general health, we need complete eye examinations to detect conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. If you are a diabetic, it is even more important to get yearly examinations by your ophthalmologist.
Glaucoma is a disease of increased eye pressure that can damage the optic nerve and cause gradual loss of vision. It is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is usually asymptomatic because it starts with the gradual loss of peripheral vision that often goes unnoticed by most people. If left untreated it will eventually affect the central vision as well causing permanent loss of vision. In its early stages, there are no symptoms, but catching it early can prevent severe vision loss. There are major types:
Open Angle Glaucoma:
· - This is the slow type of glaucoma.
· - Most people have NO symptoms until they begin to lose vision.
· - Gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision (also called tunnel vision).
· - Symptoms may come and go at first, or steadily become worse
· - Sudden, severe pain in one eye with rainbow like halos around lights.
· - Decreased or cloudy vision with red eyes.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (also known as AMD) affects the retinas. It is a leading cause of blindness in people 60 and older. Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces.
Early stages or Dry AMD is often silent. The most common symptom in dry AMD is blurred vision. This is limited to the center of the field of vision.
Often objects in the central vision look distorted and dim, and colors look faded.
A patient may have trouble reading print or seeing other details, but can generally see well enough to walk and perform most routine activities.
Late stage or Wet AMD can lead to severe central vision loss.
Straight lines appear distorted and wavy.
You may also notice a small dark spot in the center of your vision that gradually gets larger. Knowing if you have Dry AMD can make an enormous difference in preventing the progression to the more severe Wet AMD. Specially formulated vitamins and careful monitoring can delay or even prevent significant vision loss. Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans. It can develop in anyone who has type 1 diabetes or type II diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugars are, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to blood vessels of the retina. Most of the time, there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until it starts to change your vision. Having your eyes checked every 1 to 2 years can find diabetic retinopathy early enough to treat it and help prevent vision loss. On routine eye examinations, your ophthalmologist will check the overall health of your eyes. This includes checking for glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and many other conditions. It is not uncommon that certain medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid disease can sometimes be detected in the eye before they become apparent on a routine physical.
Adam J. Flug, MD is a Comprehensive Ophthalmologist at ProHEALTH. Dr. Flug received his undergraduate degree with honors from Yeshiva University. He subsequently attended the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he graduated at the top of his class, and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Dr. Flug subsequently completed his ophthalmology residency at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. He specializes in small-incision cataract surgery, screening and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. He takes care of adult and pediatric patients. Dr. Flug has published his clinical research in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national meetings. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the New York State Ophthalmology Society.