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Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Leading Cause of Blindness in Seniors

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects more than 2 million Americans and is the leading cause of severe vision loss for those 50 years and older. It is a progressive and usually painless eye disease that occurs when the eye’s macula starts to deteriorate, diminishing central vision. The macula is the small central portion of the retina, or the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye.

 

AMD develops slowly over time with symptoms often going unnoticed until significant damage has already occurred. It causes central vision to blur while peripheral vision is unaffected. Central vision is necessary to see straight ahead and distinguish fine details.

 

There are two forms of AMD—dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most common and is a result of drusen, white or yellow fatty protein deposits, in the macula. Eyesight becomes dimmed or distorted as drusen grow and multiply. In advanced stages, the macula becomes thinner and can lead to blind spots or complete loss of central vision.

 

Wet AMD is far less common but advances much more rapidly. Abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula and leak blood and fluid into the retina. The abnormal blood vessels eventually scar and cause permanent loss of central vision. In some cases, dry AMD can turn into wet AMD. Symptoms of AMD include dark, blurry spots in the center of vision and a decrease in the brightness of colors.

 

Early detection of AMD is vital in preserving eyesight. For those over 50, a complete dilated eye examination is recommended every one to two years, or annually for anyone with diabetes. If early AMD is detected, more frequent eye exams may be needed to see if the disease is progressing.

 

Risk factors for AMD include: being 50 and older, smoking, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and a family history of the disease. Caucasians and women are also more likely to develop AMD. The best way to help prevent AMD or limit its effects is to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and not smoke.

 

Currently, there’s no treatment for early AMD and no cure for the dry form. Nutritional supplements based on extensive studies conducted by the National Eye Institute are available from a number of manufacturers and may be referred to as AREDS or AREDS2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Studies). The supplements consists of high doses of certain vitamins and minerals (vitmain C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin) that help to slow the progression for those with intermediate or late AMD.

Wet AMD can be treated with a variety of procedures that help to close off broken blood vessels and slow the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels. Treatments can be helpful in stabilizing vision loss.

 

Even with treatment, AMD may still progress or reoccur. It’s important to speak with an eye care professional about treatment options and risks.

 

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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration:

Leading Cause of Blindness in Seniors

 

(Wahiawa, Hawaii) February 8. 2017 – Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects more than 2 million Americans and is the leading cause of severe vision loss for those 50 years and older. It is a progressive and usually painless eye disease that occurs when the eye’s macula starts to deteriorate, diminishing central vision. The macula is the small central portion of the retina, or the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye.

 

“AMD develops slowly over time with symptoms often going unnoticed until significant damage has already occurred,” said Christopher Tortora, M.D., Medical Director of Hawaiian Eye Center. “It causes central vision to blur while peripheral vision is unaffected. Central vision is necessary to see straight ahead and distinguish fine details.”

 

There are two forms of AMD—dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most common and is a result of drusen, white or yellow fatty protein deposits, in the macula. Eyesight becomes dimmed or distorted as drusen grow and multiply. In advanced stages, the macula becomes thinner and can lead to blind spots or complete loss of central vision.

 

Wet AMD is far less common but advances much more rapidly. Abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula and leak blood and fluid into the retina. The abnormal blood vessels eventually scar and cause permanent loss of central vision. In some cases, dry AMD can turn into wet AMD. Symptoms of AMD include dark, blurry spots in the center of vision and a decrease in the brightness of colors.

 

Early detection is important to preserve eyesight. Those 50 and older should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam from an eye doctor every two to three years to check for AMD and other eye diseases. If early AMD is detected, more frequent eye exams may be needed to see if the disease is progressing.

 

Risk factors for AMD include: being 50 and older, smoking, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and a family history of the disease. Caucasians and women are also more likely to develop AMD. The best way to help prevent AMD or limit its effects is to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and not smoke.

 

Currently, there’s no treatment for early AMD and no cure for the dry form. Nutritional supplements based on extensive studies conducted by  the National Eye Institute are available from a number of manufacturers and may be referred to as AREDS or AREDS2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Studies). The supplements consists of high doses of certain vitamins and minerals (vitmain C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin) that help to slow the progression for those with intermediate or late AMD.

 

Wet AMD can be treated with a variety of procedures that help to close off broken blood vessels and slow the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels. Treatments can be helpful in stabilizing vision loss.

 

“Even with treatment, AMD may still progress or reoccur,” Dr. Tortora said. “It’s important to speak with an eye care professional about treatment options and risks.”

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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

 

(Wahiawa, Hawaii) January 10, 2017 – Nearly 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma and that number is expected to increase 50 percent by 2032, according to the 2014 Prevent Blindness “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems” report. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for sending images from the eye to the brain. January is designated Glaucoma Awareness Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to remind those most at risk to get regular checkups from their eye care professional.

 

“Glaucoma typically occurs due to an increase in pressure in the eye, or intraocular pressure, because of either an overproduction of fluid in the eye or blockage in the eye’s natural drain,” said Christopher Tortora, M.D., Medical Director of Hawaiian Eye Center. “It can also occur in those with normal eye pressure and is believed to be related to poor blood flow to the optic nerve.”

 

Open-angle and angle-closure are the two primary types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease and progresses slowly over time. Angle-closure glaucoma is less common but progresses quickly with a painful, sudden buildup of pressure in the eye because the angle of the drainage area is too narrow.

 

Gradual loss of peripheral vision is a common symptom of open-angle glaucoma. Symptoms usually go unnoticed until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. Angle-closure glaucoma symptoms are more abrupt. Symptoms include severe eye pain, headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, seeing haloes around lights and red eye.

 

People most at risk of developing glaucoma include those:

  • Aged 40 and over
  • Of Hispanic, Asian or African-American descent
  • With a family history of the disease in a parent or sibling
  • Diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension
  • Who’ve had an eye injury or eye surgery
  • With extreme nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Taking steroid medications for an extended period of time

 

“Most of the risk factors for developing glaucoma cannot be prevented, and the optic nerve doesn’t regenerate itself,” Dr. Tortora said. “However, glaucoma can be successfully controlled with an early diagnosis and treatment to slow down or stop further damage. The goal is to lower eye pressure with treatment ranging from eye drops to laser surgery and microsurgery.”

 

Everyone 40 and over should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every two to three years from their eye care professional to check for glaucoma and other eye diseases. Individuals most likely to develop glaucoma should get an eye exam once a year, including those 40 and over with other risk factors or 60 and over.

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Don’t Toy With Your Keiki’s Vision

Don’t Toy With Your Keiki’s Vision

Holiday Gift Ideas That Are Safe and Fun

 

(Wahiawa, Hawaii) December 12, 2016 – Last year, 254,200 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. December is designated Safe Toys and Celebrations Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to remind parents to purchase gifts for keiki this holiday season that are both safe and fun.

 

Eye tissue is very vulnerable to toy-related injuries because it’s sensitive and delicate. Children often don’t take the necessary precautions when playing with toys and only focus on having fun. This makes it especially important for parents to select toys that help limit the chance of serious eye damage.

 

Toys can cause a variety of eye injuries that range from minor to severe, including:

  • Scratches to the eye’s surface (corneal abrasions)
  • Open sores typically from infections (corneal ulcers)
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Clouding of the eye’s lens (traumatic cataracts)
  • Tearing or detachment of the retina—light-sensitive tissue in back of eye

 

In the U.S., most toy packaging will display suggested age ranges. Use the label and your personal judgment to purchase a toy you believe meets the age and developmental level of your child. Toys are not one-size-fits-all.

 

 

Suggestions for age-appropriate toys that help develop hand-eye coordination, stimulate visual development and teach spatial relationships include:

  • Birth to 12 months: Brightly colored mobiles, rattles, balls, stuffed animals, activity gyms and blocks.
  • 1-year-olds: Stuffed animals, blocks, puzzles, finger paints, modeling clay, stacking/nesting toys or musical toys.
  • 2-year-olds: Stuffed animals, blocks, puzzles, finger paints, modeling clay, stacking/nesting toys, musical toys, dress-up clothes, child-size household items, sandbox, kiddie pool, swings, backyard gym/climbing toys, toy typewriter or cash register.
  • 3- to 6-year-olds: Large crayons, markers, toy computer or computer games, board games, roller skates, toy camera, stuffed animals, blocks, puzzles, finger paints, modeling clay, stacking/nesting toys, musical toys and dress-up clothes.
  • 7- to 12-year-olds: Science items (microscope, telescope, chemistry set, etc.), books, bicycle, musical instrument, skateboard, jump rope, electric train, sports equipment, video games, computer games and board games.

 

Protect your keiki’s eyes this holiday season by picking toys that are safe, fun and educational.

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November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Nearly 600,000 people in Hawaii suffer from prediabetes or diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes can lead to diabetic eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy—the leading cause of new cases of blindness in U.S. adults. November is designated Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to help raise awareness and “encourage those with diabetes to take proactive steps to protect their vision.”

Diabetes, both type 1 and 2, can cause major problems for your vision by increasing the risk and severity of eye diseases. Most people are familiar with cataract and glaucoma, but diabetic retinopathy is less known despite how common and dangerous it can be. It’s estimated that between 40 to 45 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy damages the retina’s blood vessels located at the back of the eye. It can cause blood vessels in the eye to swell and leak fluid or cause abnormal growth of blood vessels on the surface of the retina. Leaking fluid can lead to macular edema—swelling of the retina’s macular area that’s responsible for sharp, central vision.

If you suffer from diabetes, it’s important to manage your condition and get regular checkups to prevent health complications that can adversely affect your eyes. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam from your eyecare professional at least once a year because diabetic eye diseases often go unnoticed until serious damage has already occurred. If you’ve been diagnosed with a diabetic eye disease, you may need more frequent eye exams.

Cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can be treated with a variety of methods and surgical procedures, but early detection is key to protecting your vision. Proper treatment can be administered by an eyecare professional to help control the effects of diabetic eye diseases and prevent blindness.

If you have diabetes, protect your eyes by:

  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels
  • Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol in check
  • Taking insulin and other medications prescribed by your doctor
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting regular eye exams at least once a year
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