Age-related Macular Degeneration

By Dr. Domenic Turco

Macular degeneration is an umbrella term for diseases that affect the macula—the location in the retina responsible for your central vision.  Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is one of the most common types of macular degeneration and affects almost 10% of the world’s population ages 45-85.  Aside from increasing age, other risk factors for ARMD include positive family history, smoking history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and having a diet high in saturated fats.

There are two types of ARMD—non-exudative and exudative.  Non-exudative, which is commonly referred to as the “dry” form of macular degeneration, is the more common form and is seen in about 80% of patients with ARMD.  Exudative, also called the “wet” form, is less common but nonetheless can cause significant central vision loss.

There is unfortunately no cure for ARMD.  The non-exudative form is generally managed by taking oral medications with special ingredients called the AREDS2 formula which includes vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and copper.  The exudative form is treated in many cases with injections of medications into the eye called anti-VEGF agents.  These injections help to reduce leakage of blood vessels which can lead to fluid accumulation within and underneath the retina.  Although the central vision is affected in both forms of the disease, patients maintain their peripheral vision.  In many cases, patients learn to adapt to their new level of vision, sometimes with the help of low-vision aides, to maintain the ability to perform their daily visual functions.

It is important to have regular eye exams as you age, especially if you have a family history of significant eye disease.  If you have any questions regarding your eyes or vision, please call our office for a consultation.

The Truth About Cataracts

By Dr. Jay Fiore

A main fallacy with cataracts is that it “has to be ripe” before it can be removed.  While it is true that Medicare and insurance companies won’t pay for clear lenses to be removed just so an intraocular lens can be placed, one does not have to be blind in the eye in order to qualify for surgery. Typically, a visual acuity of 20/40 or less under normal lighting or glare testing, in a patient with cataract related visual complaints, is reason enough to remove the cataract.

Cataract surgery in today’s world has moved from being a purely therapeutic procedure to a refractive procedure.  Not only is the visual obstruction to vision removed, but a lens is placed in the eye that can compensate for one’s eyeglass prescription.

For those willing to pay a premium, lenses are available that can correct both distance and near vision or astigmatism.   While not perfect, these technologies are great for the right patient.

If you or someone you know feels their vision is being affected by a cataract, schedule an evaluation with our specialists at Heimer Eye Care Associates.

Shingles and Your Eyes

Shingles is a common viral infection that often appears as a painful, burning, or itchy rash. About one in three adults in the United States will experience shingles.  This infection occurs when the childhood chicken pox infection reactivates during a period of stress or with weakened immune system. This infection frequently appears on the torso of the body, however, up to 20% of shingles infections can affect the nerves of the head.

When shingles occurs in the nerves of the head, it can frequently cause a rash on the forehead, eyelids, and even a red, irritated eye. This infection could damage both internal and external structures of the eye. If you develop shingles on your forehead, upper face, or scalp, it is important to have a full eye examination with your eye care provider to protect your vision.

The key to overcoming shingles is quick diagnosis and treatment. However, shingles can also be prevented. The best way to prevent shingles is with a newer, more effective shingles vaccine, Shingrix. Shingrix is a two-dose vaccine recommended for adults over age 50. If you would like to learn more about preventing shingles or its painful companion, post-herpetic neuralgia, schedule an appointment with your medical doctor to discuss your options.

If your eyes are currently red or irritated, schedule an appointment with your eye care doctor. He or she will help you to determine the cause of your discomfort and find a treatment plan that works for you.

 

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