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In addition to various types of refractive surgery, Eye Care Associates of St. Louis also provides diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma. Regular examinations and early detection aid us in successfully preventing loss of vision or further damage from these diseases. Read the sections below to learn more about the symptoms and treatment of these eye disorders.
Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally as we age, causing people over the age of 65 to see a gradual reduction of vision. However, cataracts are not considered part of the natural aging process and are a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, although it may be a result of injury, certain medications, illnesses (such as diabetes), prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking.
In addition to age, there are a number of known risk factors that contribute to the development of cataracts. These include family health history, diabetes, eye injuries, chronic internal eye inflammation, certain drugs such as cortisone, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet B radiation from sunlight, toxins in cigarette smoke and alcohol, and a dietary deficiency of Vitamin E.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
Cataracts are often so slow to develop that symptoms are often overlooked. Some people are unaware of the changes in their vision until the vision loss becomes significant. Typical symptoms include:
Thanks to medical and surgical advancements in recent years, cataract surgery has become one of the gentlest and most successful medical procedures performed today. Modern cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under local or eye drop anesthesia and minimal sedation. The procedure typically takes less than thirty minutes.
Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens through a small incision. This clears the path for light rays entering the eye. Vision is then corrected through the insertion and implantation of a polished plastic intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs were first introduced as a treatment for cataracts more than forty years ago. Today, 500 million IOLs have been implanted worldwide. And with the ever-changing technology, the results for our patients just keep getting better and better.
More than 1.5 million cataract operations are performed in this country each year. At Eye Care Associates of St. Louis, the restoration of precious eyesight is accomplished practically every day. Our surgeons use only the latest technology and techniques for the correction of cataracts, maximizing both comfort and results for our patients.
To learn more about cataract surgery, contact Eye Care Associates of St. Louis for more information.
Crystalens® is a new cataract replacement lens (IOL) that works naturally with muscles in the eye to retain the eye’s ability to “accommodate” – shift focus between nearby and distant objects – after cataract surgery. It is the first FDA-approved accommodating lens. With other IOLs, patients lose this ability and require corrective measures such as glasses or contact lenses. Crystalens can treat both cataracts and presbyopia.
Unlike rigid lenses, the flexible silicone Crystalens features hinges that allow it to move with the eye’s muscles and accommodate seamlessly, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for vision correction.
The Crystalens is implanted using the same, nearly risk-free cataract surgery techniques as with other IOLs.
Most people with cataracts or who have had corneal refractive surgery and retained good eye health are acceptable candidates for Crystalens implantation, but those who have already had cataract surgery are not. People with eye health problems such as chronic infections or diabetes should check with their doctors about eligibility.
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that carries images to the brain. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision. When the optic nerve fibers are damaged, blind spots develop. These blind spots often go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness will likely result. The damage occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises and is left unchecked.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Although the damage caused by glaucoma is permanent, early diagnosis and treatment can usually protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
The most significant risk factors for developing glaucoma include:
Primary open-angle glaucoma usually has no symptoms until there is extensive loss of vision.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma usually causes severe symptoms because of the sudden rise of pressure in the eye. Some of the symptoms that can occur with acute angle-closure glaucoma include:
The key to successfully treating glaucoma is to diagnose it in its earliest stages, before extensive damage has occurred. Because there are often no symptoms of the disease until the damage is very advanced, it is extremely important to have periodic eye check-ups, particularly if you are at high risk for developing glaucoma. The best way to detect glaucoma is through regular, comprehensive eye examinations by a doctor at Eye Care Associates. Our doctors use a variety of tests to diagnose the disease.
As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. However, in the great majority of patients, treatment can prevent loss of vision from glaucoma. Even in advanced cases, treatment often can prevent further vision loss. Depending upon the needs of the particular patient and the type of glaucoma, treatment to lower intraocular pressure may consist of eye drops, oral medication, laser therapy, and/or surgery. Because glaucoma can progress without your knowledge, adjustments to your treatment may be necessary from time to time.
The SLT procedure is effective for almost all patients with just one session. It has been performed successfully in Europe for the past 10 years and is now FDA approved for use in the US. It is performed in the office and takes just a few minutes, providing long-term results through the use of a low-energy laser beam.
SLT is most effective for patients unable to keep up with a daily eye drop treatment because of its cost, inconvenience or side effects. SLT controls glaucoma symptoms for up to 5 years with no need for additional medication, and relieves symptoms by promoting the body's natural healing response. There are no major risks or complications associated with SLT and the procedure is covered by most insurance companies.