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Can Eye Floaters Cause You to go Blind?

Occasionally, you may see small spots that seem to “float” in your field of vision. These are commonly known as floaters. Floaters are usually caused by condensation of the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Shrinking of the vitreous causes the gel to pull off of the eye wall, causing a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), retinal break or retinal detachment. This is commonly age related, but is also more common with nearsightedness, following trauma or surgery, or with inflammation inside the eye. Floaters can also be caused by bleeding into the vitreous (as in proliferative diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusions).

Even though they may seem to be in front of the eye,
floaters actually are seen as shadows by your retina, the light-sensitive,
inner layer of the eye. Floaters appear in various forms such as dots, threads
or cobwebs. Since they are within the eye, floaters move as the eyes move; they
may dart away when you try to look at them.

Although floaters may be unsettling or annoying when they first develop, they are usually harmless and usually become much less noticeable within several weeks to months. The floaters can often be moved out of the way by moving your eyes around. Rarely, some will require vitrectomy, a relatively painless outpatient surgery, to remove the vitreous for visually disabling floaters.

While eye floaters cannot directly cause you to go blind, if
they are caused by a serious underlying retinal condition, it could lead to
blindness if not treated. If your retina has a bleeding hole, is inflamed, even
has retinal detachment, and you do not receive proper treatment, it may lead to
blindness. If you experience floaters, it is important to have a retinal
examination to check […]

Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is damage to the small blood vessels that nourish tissue and nerve cells in the retina of the eye; a common complication of diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy has four stages:

Stage One – Mild Non-Proliferative Retinopathy: At this early stage, small areas of balloon-like swelling occur in the retina’s tiny blood vessels.

Stage Two – Moderate Non-Proliferative Retinopathy: As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina become blocked.

Stage Three – Severe Non-Proliferative Retinopathy: During this stage, many more blood vessels become blocked, which disrupts the blood supply that nourishes the retina. The damaged retina then signals the body to produce new blood vessels.

Stage Four – Proliferative Retinopathy: At this advanced stage, signals sent by the retina trigger the development of new blood vessels that grow (or proliferate) in the retina and the vitreous, which is a transparent gel that fills the interior of the eye. Because these new blood vessels are abnormal, they can rupture and bleed, causing hemorrhages in the retina or vitreous. Scar tissue can develop and can tug at the retina, causing further damage or even retinal detachment.

In addition, fluid can leak into the macula, the small sensitive area in the center of the retina that provides detailed vision. This fluid can cause macular edema (or swelling), which can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:

Blurry vision or double vision
Flashing lights, which can indicate a retinal detachment
A veil, cloud or streaks of red in the field of vision, or dark or floating spots in one or both eyes, which can indicate bleeding
Blind or blank spots in the […]

What is Vitreoretinal Surgery?

Vitreoretinal eye surgery refers to a group of advanced, highly delicate procedures that are done deep inside the eye’s interior. Vitreoretinal surgery is performed in the part of your eye where the vitreous and retina are located. The vitreous is a jelly-like substance filling the cavity between the lens of your eye and your retina.

The purpose of vitreoretinal surgery is to restore, preserve and improve vision for a wide range of conditions. The most common reasons vitreoretinal eye surgery is performed include:

Diabetic retinopathy: Complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels in the retina.
Floaters and flashes: Flashes occur when vitreous moves around in the eye and pulls on the retina, creating a flash of light. Floaters occur when small substances form in the vitreous or from a retinal tear or a hemorrhage.
Macular holes: Age-related condition in which the vitreous shrinks and pulls the retina, tearing a hole in a section called the macula (center of the retina where most focus occurs), affecting vision.
Macular pucker: A wrinkle in the very small area of the retina that’s responsible for focus, causing distorted vision.
Retinal detachments or tears: Tears in the retina or separation of the retina from the back of the eye. Patients experience a sensation like curtains closing in on their peripheral vision.
Retinitis pigmentosa: Group of rare genetic disorders that causes cells in both retinas to degenerate, leading to profound vision loss. Symptoms include a progressive loss of night vision, peripheral vision and central vision.
Retinopathy of prematurity: Eye disorder of the retina that primarily affects premature babies. Because the retina is not fully developed, abnormal blood vessels can grow into it, leading to distortion and detachment of the retina.
Retinoblastoma: […]

Can a Macular Pucker Heal on its Own?

A macular pucker is scar tissue that has formed on the eye’s macula, located in the center of the retina—your eye’s light-sensitive tissue. The macula is responsible for central vision which is the sharp, straight-ahead vision we all need for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. As we grow older, the thick vitreous gel in the middle of our eyes begins to shrink and pull away from the macula. Sometimes, as the vitreous pulls away, it causes microscopic damage to the surface of the retina (this is different than a macular hole).

Most macular puckering is related to aging, but it can also be caused by other eye conditions. These include detached retina, inflammation of the eye (uveitis) and diabetic retinopathy. A macular pucker can be caused by trauma from eye surgery or eye injury as well.

The main symptom of macular pucker is changes in vision. People with a macular pucker might notice that their vision is blurry or slightly distorted, and straight lines can appear wavy. They might have difficulty seeing fine details or reading small print. They might also have a gray area in the center of vision or even a blind spot.

A macular pucker usually does not need treatment. Vision problems are usually mild and do not interfere with daily activities. In many cases, people can adjust to the changes in their vision.

In serious cases, people with a macular pucker develop vision problems that are severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. If this occurs, surgery can be performed to treat the macular pucker.

Sometimes the scar tissue that causes the macular pucker separates from the retina, and the macular pucker heals on its own.

If you notice a change in your vision, […]

Eye Exams for Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that profoundly affects many areas of the body, including the eyes. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults in the United States. Diabetes also increases your risk for eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts.

The primary concern for eye health in people with diabetes is the development of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition that develops when the blood vessels in the retina become damaged due to high blood sugar. As the damage to the retina worsens, vision loss begins and can quickly increase. Your eyesight may become blurry, less sharp and then begin to dissipate.

The longer you live with diabetes, the more likely you are to develop complications like diabetic retinopathy. Diligent control of blood sugar can significantly reduce the prevalence and severity of diabetic retinopathy, but the only way to identify this and other diabetic eye problems in their earliest and most treatable stages is to have regular, comprehensive eye examinations.

Eye exams for diabetes involve a series of painless tests that check your visual acuity and general eye health and screen for signs of disease. In Medford, Dr. Lemley recommends all adult patients, especially those with diabetes, have a yearly eye exam. Depending on your diagnosis and treatment plan, you may be required to have more frequent exams.

The best way to deal with eye problems related to diabetes is through early detection of retinal abnormalities, regular monitoring and prompt treatment. The chances of avoiding vision loss from diabetes related eye conditions are better than ever, but vigilance is key. If you have never had a dilated eye exam or haven’t had one within the past year, contact Medical Eye Center today at […]

Retinal Detachment Repair

The retina is the part of your eye that sends images through your optic nerve to the brain and is essential to your vision. Retinal detachment is a serious condition that occurs when the retina pulls away from the back of the eye and its blood supply. Without a blood supply, the retinal cells will start to die. This condition can cause permanent damage to your vision if not treated promptly. Reattaching the retina quickly is essential to prevent such a serious complication.

A retinal detachment may be caused by the vitreous fluid of the eye retracting from the back of the eye.  When this occurs, the retinal tissue may tear. That retinal tear can then pull away from the back of the eye and detach the retina. Some causes and risk factors of retinal detachment include glaucoma, severe trauma, nearsightedness, previous cataract surgery, previous retinal detachment in your other eye or family history of retinal detachment.
Retinal Detachment Repair Procedures
There are several types of surgery to repair a detached retina. A simple tear in the retina can be treated with freezing, called cryotherapy, or a laser procedure. Different types of retinal detachment require different kinds of surgery and different levels of anesthesia. The type of procedure your doctor chooses will depend on the severity of the detachment.

One method of retinal detachment repair is pneumatic retinopexy. In this procedure, a gas bubble is injected into the eye. The bubble presses against the detached retina and pushes it back into place. A laser or cryotherapy is then used to reattach the retina firmly into place. The gas bubble dissolves in a few days following the procedure.

In more severe cases, a procedure called a scleral buckle may be […]

Benefits of a Retinal Exam

A healthy retina is essential to maintaining clear vision and overall eye function. A retinal examination allows your doctor to evaluate the back of your eye including the retina, the optic disk and the underlying layer of blood vessels that nourish the retina (choroid). During a retinal exam in Medford, Dr. Lemley will perform a series of diagnostic procedures in order to evaluate the retina for any sign of disease or abnormality.

These tests may include:

Fundus Photography: Fundus photography uses specialized film and digital cameras to document abnormalities in the retina. It is important in following the progress of certain retinal diseases and to monitor treatment.
Fluorescein Angiography: Fluorescein angiography is a test used to examine blood vessels in the retina. This procedure involves the injection of a vegetable-based fluorescein dye into the blood stream. As the blood circulates through the retina, a series of rapid, sequential photographs are taken of the eye. This commonly performed test provides useful anatomic and functional information about the retina and is one of the most important tools in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disorders.
OCT: Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technique relying on low coherence interferometry to generate cross-sectional imagery of ocular tissues. Cross-sectional visualization is an extremely powerful tool in the identification and assessment of retina abnormalities.
Visual Field: Visual field testing is a sophisticated, automated computerized vision test that measures both central and peripheral vision/visual function. It is essential in monitoring glaucoma and it is a useful ancillary test to diagnose, document or treat neurologic or retinal disease
B-scan Ultrasound: B-scan ultrasound is a method for viewing the structures at the back of the eye through the use of high frequency […]

Diabetic Eye Disease Treatment

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. While diabetic eye disease may not always be preventable, early detection and treatment, before significant vision loss or blindness, is the best way to control diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease treatment depends on the type of eye disease you have developed and the severity of it among other factors.
Some Diabetic Eye Disease and Treatment Options:
Diabetic Retinopathy: For those who have diabetes, high blood sugar levels can damage and change blood vessels in the retina (back of the eye that senses light and sends images to the brain). A healthy retina is extremely important and necessary for good vision. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in the retina may swell and leak fluid. In others, abnormal new blood vessels may grow on the surface of the retina. These new blood vessels can bleed into the eye and block vision.

Macular Edema: Macular edema develops when damaged blood vessels leak fluid into the macula causing swelling and blurred vision. The macula is the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Vision loss may be mild to severe but in many cases, peripheral vision remains. Macular edema is often a complication of diabetic retinopathy. Laser treatment can be used to reduce swelling of the macula for those who have macular edema. Medication injection therapy is also used. In some cases, vision loss may be improved.

Cataract: Clouding of the eye’s lens. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop a cataract, many times at earlier ages than other people. If diabetes has caused a cataract, the only treatment option is surgery […]

Macular Hole Symptoms

A macular hole is a small hole in the central part of the retina which can lead to distortion and blurring of central vision. The eye contains a jelly-like substance called the vitreous and with age, the vitreous contracts and pulls away from the retinal surface. Usually, this separation occurs without noticeable negative effect. The patient might notice floaters but there is no significant visual damage. For some people, however, in spots where the vitreous is firmly attached to the retinal surface, pulling can occur on the retina and a small hole may eventually form in the macula. In addition, as we age the vitreous fluid becomes more liquid and less gel-like. It can readily seep through the resulting imperfection and cause a dark spot or defect in the patient’s central vision noticed through distortion and loss of central vision.

A macular hole normally only occurs in one eye, although they are present in both eyes in 10-15% of cases. They can be detected by a scan of the back of the eye. Macular hole symptoms often begin gradually and become more severe as the disease progresses. There may be no symptoms in the early stages of a macular hole and clarity of vision can still be good. As a hole progresses, patients may notice distortion and blurring of vision. An early macular hole symptom is straight lines that look crooked or wavy. A late-stage macular hole symptom is the loss of most of your central vision.

The severity of macular hole symptoms will depend on the size of the hole and its location on the retina.
Early Macular Hole Symptoms
With early macular hole symptoms, people may notice a slight distortion or blurriness in their straight-ahead vision. Straight […]

What Causes Retinal Tears and Detachments?

Retinal tears and detachments occur when the retina (the inner lining of the eye) is damaged. The retina is the thin layer of light-sensing nerve cells lining the inside back of your eye. It converts light rays into signals which are sent through the optic nerve to your brain where they are recognized as images. Without it, we are unable to see.

A retinal tear is a small break in this inner lining. Retinal tears can have many causes and can happen at any age. Aging, eye trauma, eye surgery or being drastically nearsighted may cause retinal tears or detachments. If not treated properly, a retinal tear may lead to retinal detachment.

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position of lining the inside eyewall. The retina does not work when it is detached.  All vision will end up blurry. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes irreversible blindness unless it is treated.

A common cause of retinal tears and detachments is posterior vitreous detachment. A clear gel called vitreous fills the middle of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye. Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing problems. However, sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear. As fluid accumulates between the retina and the eye wall, the retina detaches from the eye wall, much as wallpaper can peel off a wall.

The following conditions increase the chance of having a retinal tear or detachment:

Previous cataract surgery
Severe injury
Previous retinal […]