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UV Safety: Protecting Your Vision from the Sun

By Steven Rhee, D.O.
Cornea Specialist at
Hawaiian Eye Center 

Hawaii is blessed with year-round beach weather, which is one of the many reasons most of us are happy to call this place home. However, the more time you spend outside in the sun, the more you’re exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light isn’t just damaging to the skin, but it’s also damaging to the eyes.

Exposure to the sun is hazardous anytime during daylight hours even when it’s cloudy. UV radiation is especially severe from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can burn the surface of the eyes directly or indirectly from reflections off sand, water and pavement.

UV damage to the eyes often goes unnoticed but accumulates over time. Exposure to UV light can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, skin cancer around the eyes, and pterygium—an unsightly, noncancerous growth on the eye’s surface.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss for those 50 years of age and older, with an estimated 11 million Americans affected by the disease. In addition, over 24 million Americans 40 and over suffer from cataracts.

The best way to prevent eye damage from the sun is by wearing sunglasses. No matter the style or cost, choose sunglasses labeled “100% protection” or “UV 400.” Wrap-around sunglasses that extend around the temples and a hat add further protection from indirect sunlight.

Eye care professionals recommend that everyone of every age wear sunglasses whenever spending anytime outside.

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Upcoming Events

July 31 – August 13 – UH of Manoa, Family medicine residency program: Ophthalmology rotation – Nash Witten

August 2 – Seminar for OD’s @ Pearl Country Club: Unusual Glaucoma and case studies – Dr. Christopher Tortora, MD

September 4 – Labor day we will be closed

October 4 – Seminar for OD’s @ Pearl Country Club: Cataract Surgery update and complications of modern Cat surgery –  Dr. Christopher Tortora, MD

October 21 – Breast Cancer walk with the employees at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park

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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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