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Why Are Dilated Eye Exams So Important?

Advanced Eye Health Dilated Eye Exam near you in Le Mars, Iowa

Having your eyes dilated during an eye exam may seem like a nuisance. But when you consider the benefits of a dilated eye exam, the temporary blurred vision and sensitivity to light that typically follow are definitely worth it.

What Are Dilated Eye Exams?

At some point during a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will shine a bright light into your eyes to examine the back of your eye, called the retina. The problem is that bright light causes the size of the pupil’s opening to shrink, which makes it hard for the optometrist to see a large portion of the retina.

That’s why eye doctors apply special eye drops in each eye to keep the pupils open. A dilated pupil allows for a much more accurate assessment of your eye’s structures, including the focusing lens, blood vessels and tissues at the back of the eye called the retina, as well as the optic nerve and macula.

Dilating the eyes makes it easier for your optometrist to detect the following conditions and diseases:

It’s important to note that many of these conditions can develop without noticeable symptoms, until they cause vision loss at which point treatment may be more challenging, making dilated eye exams all the more crucial.

The Dilation Process

First, your eye doctor will apply eye drops to each eye to trigger dilation of the pupil. Your eyes should be fully dilated about 10-20 minutes later.

Your eyes will remain dilated for 4-6 hours, and during this time you may be sensitive to light. That’s because the larger pupil allows more light than usual to enter the eye. Many patients find it more comfortable to wear sunglasses until their eyes return to normal.

Reading and using a computer may be difficult with dilated eyes, and your vision may be blurred. Some patients report feeling a tightening sensation in their eyelids, or headaches.

Dilated eye exams are a crucial part of keeping your eyes healthy. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call our optometry practice today!

Advanced Eye Health, your Le Mars eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

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Adult & Pediatric Eye Exams – Eye Exam in Le Mars Walmart

You should have your dilated eye exam no matter your age. Most eye doctors will dilate a new patient at their first exam regardless of age to get a baseline of their retinal health.

Will I be able to return to work after a dilated eye exam?

Everyone reacts differently, so it’s hard to tell. If your job requires you to focus on small print or detail, it may be challenging. Typing and writing may also be difficult with dilated pupils. To be on the safe side, book your appointment at the end of your work day, clear your schedule after your eye exam and only plan to do activities which aren’t visually demanding.

Help! My Child Doesn’t Want to Wear Glasses!

Do your kids need glasses in order to see clearly? Maybe they have a strong case of nearsightedness, perhaps they have astigmatism, or another type of refractive error. Whatever the cause, getting your kids to wear eyeglasses can be a parenting challenge.

Dr. Becky DeRuyter treats patients from all over Le Mars, Iowa with their vision correction needs. The knowledgeable, caring staff at Advanced Eye Health can help you and your kids if they’re struggling with their glasses or don’t want to wear them.

Why Won’t My Child Wear His or Her Glasses?

To help your children get the best vision possible, you first need to understand why they’re fighting with you over their glasses. It usually stems from something physical, emotional, or social, such as:

  • Wrong fit
  • Wrong prescription
  • Personal style
  • Reactions from friends

How do you know which it is? Pay close attention to the signs, from what your kids say, to how they behave, to how they interact with others.

Physical

Improper fit is a big reason why glasses could feel uncomfortable. If they slip down, itch behind the ears, or put pressure on the bridge of the nose, it can explain why a child wouldn’t like to wear them.

If there’s been a big change to their prescription, they may need time to get used to it. If they were given the wrong prescription, they may be straining their eyes, getting headaches, or having eye fatigue. An incorrect prescription can make wearing glasses painful or awkward. It doesn’t correct their vision, either, so they’ll still see blurry images. When this happens, your eye doctor can check the prescription and make an adjustment.

Emotional

Your kids at home aren’t the same as your kids in school, on the sports field, or with their friends. They may be afraid of being made fun of in school, or they may not want the sudden attention on their appearance. These feelings can be even stronger among the tween and teen set.

Social

Even young kids can feel different when they put on a pair of glasses, especially if it’s for the first time. Feeling different or weird, in their eyes, translates to a negative experience. When wearing glasses makes them feel like the odd man out, they may not want to wear them. The last thing your child wants is to feel like a social outcast. After all, everyone wants to belong.

How We Can Help

First, bring your child in to the eye doctor for an eye exam. Our optometrist, Dr. Becky DeRuyter, will check to make sure that your child has the right prescription and that any vision problems are being corrected. Next, we’ll take a look at the glasses and place them on your child’s face to determine if they’ve got the proper fit. Our optician will take care of any adjustments that need to be made.

The Vision They Need, The Style They Want

Fashion isn’t only for adults. Your budding fashionista or trendy young stud wants to look awesome, so don’t forget about style. When your kids look great, they’ll feel great! Give them the top-quality eyewear they need without compromising on style. Your kids are a lot more likely to wear glasses when they like the way they look.

What You Can Do to Help

Encourage, stay positive, and don’t give up. Avoid telling them what you want them to wear. Let them choose for themselves. In the end, they’re the ones wearing the glasses. Making decisions is an important life skill, something they’ll need as they grow up and become more independent.

For younger children, use positive words to encourage them. Talk about how glasses are like magic, letting them see beautiful things around them. Show them how a pretty flower or a bright red truck looks with the glasses on, and how different it looks with the glasses off. For older kids, throw in a little pop culture. Tell them how trendy they’ll look by showing them pictures of celebrities who also wear glasses. You’ll also rack up some cool parent points.

At Advanced Eye Health, we have the experience and unique approach to children’s eyewear that will make your kids want to wear their glasses. Schedule an eye exam today – you can book an appointment online right here. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call and we’ll be glad to help.

Wal-Mart FAQs

Frequently Asked Patient Questions

Q. Are you employed by WalMart?

A. No. I am an independent doctor of optometry who chose to locate my practice at Wal-Mart, which is my landlord. I make no income from selling glasses or contacts, only from providing comprehensive exams and treating ocular disease.

Q. How can your fees be so much lower than other eye doctors? Will I receive a quality exam?

A. We provide a thorough exam with the most advanced diagnostic instruments to evaluate your vision needs and uncover any other ocular conditions that may go undetected, if not regularly monitored. I received my doctor’s degree after the same four years of training that all optometrists receive and was licensed to practice by the state after extensive testing. We can offer lower fees because our overhead is lower operating here, and we are able to keep busy seeing patients all day because of our convenient location.

Q. Will I receive a written prescription after the exam? Will the prescription be accepted anywhere?

A. We will supply a written prescription and summary of your exam as you leave the office.The prescription is valid anywhere in the U.S.

Q. I had an eye exam a little over a year ago, and my vision seems fine. Why do I need another exam?

A. We think it is important that all of our patients receive an annual eye exam. Your vision can change over a 12-month period. A regular check-up enables us to uncover any sight-threatening ocular conditions that can develop, unnoticed by you.

Q. Will you accept my insurance plan?

A. For the convenience of our patients, we accept most vision plans for whatever portion of the examination cost the plan covers. Please tell me your insurance company so that we can confirm your coverage.

Q. Why does it cost more for a contact lens exam?

A. We do additional testing with contact lens patients to measure the curvature of the eye to ensure that we prescribe the lens that optimizes fit and comfort. We also do an evaluation after you have worn the lenses for a given period to make sure there are no complications.

Q. Aren’t all contact lenses the same? Shouldn’t I just buy the cheapest ones?

A. They are not all the same. The contact lens companies spend millions of dollars every year to improve their lenses and regularly introduce new and better technology. You wouldn’t want to buy a five-year-old computer. For the same reason, it’s best to keep current and wear the latest and best lenses. Right now the companies are introducing new lens materials that allow much more oxygen to pass through, making them healthier to wear and enabling people to wear them in comfort for 14 hours or more per day. We recommend these new materials to most patients, even though they cost a little more, because we think they are better for their eyes in the long run.

Q. Will my contact lens prescription allow me to buy any brand of lens I want?

A. Your prescription is for a specific brand of contact lens that my examination and experience tell me is best for your vision and ocular health.

Q. Is it safe to wear a contact lens with a small tear in it?

A. A torn lens can damage the delicate outer tissue of your eye and lead to serious infection. If you tear a lens and do not have a replacement, come into the office right away and we will provide, at no charge, a lens that you can wear until your new supply arrives.

Q. Does WalMart make high quality glasses? Because they cost less, will they last as long and let me see well?

A. Wal-Mart will custom-make your glasses in one of its six ultra-modern optical labs, using top quality lens and frame materials, which the company constantly seeks to upgrade. Because of Wal-Mart’s buying power and operating efficiency, you receive top-quality glasses at an everyday low price.

Eye Care Services – WalMart Eye Care in Le Mars

Trust Your Vision to Our Eye Doctor in WalMart

Did you know that Walmart is the largest producer of finished prescription eyeglasses in the nation, and also the second largest provider of optical goods in the country? In fact, production at one of their main labs (Fayetteville, Arkansas) runs 24 hours a day, with a production record of 11,000 pairs of eyeglasses in one day! That information alone shows how millions of Americans trust and turn to Walmart Vision Center for their eyewear needs. Let’s take a closer look at all the reasons why:

Historical View of WalMart

An understanding of Walmart Vision Center’s origins will give you a greater appreciation for this vision giant. How did it begin, and how did it grow into the valued company it is now?

In 1991, Walmart entered the optical market with a line of affordable prescription lenses. In 2000, they began offering premium lenses, such as Zeiss. Customers were satisfied immediately with this upgrade, and the company moved forwards with providing high quality eyewear products that exceeded industry standards. For example, Walmart was one of the first optical businesses to offer anti-reflective and anti-scratch lens coatings. Many other large-scale retail stores didn’t have the resources to include these features.

At this point, there are approximately 3,000 of their Vision Centers located in Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs. The selection of frames and lenses is massive, including plenty of designer glasses at a low budget price. In addition, they offer a full range of contact lenses and eye exams by qualified optometrists.

Reasons to Visit Walmart vs. Your Private Eye Doctor

  • Walmart Vision Centers are located conveniently for most people
  • Wide variety of quality eyewear – all at affordable prices
  • Many styles, from trendy to classic, of designer frames
  • Extensive selection of contact lenses; many types are available, including for hard-to-fit vision prescriptions
  • Walk-ins are welcome; you can pop in whenever you have time, with no need to schedule an appointment
  • Professional eye exams by an experienced optometrist – Walmart-employed eye doctors provide comprehensive eye exams to diagnose both eye diseases and vision conditions

Superior Customer Satisfaction

Our loyal customers keep returning because of their fantastic overall experience. With Walmart Vision Center’s stylish eyeglasses, premium contact lenses, friendly and helpful optical staff, expert eye care services, experienced optometrists, and low prices – there’s nothing else to look for when it comes to your family’s vision care.

Eye Exam Technology

Corneal Mapping

Corneal topography, also known as photokeratoscopy or videokeratography, is a non-invasive medical imaging technique for mapping the surface curvature of the cornea, the outer structure of the eye. Since the cornea is normally responsible for some 70% of the eye's refractive power, its topography is of critical importance in determining the quality of vision.

The three-dimensional map is therefore a valuable aid to the examining ophthalmologist or optometrist and can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of conditions; in planning refractive surgery such as LASIK and evaluation of its results; or in assessing the fit of contact lenses. A development of keratoscopy, corneal topography extends the measurement range from the four points a few millimeters apart that is offered by keratometry to a grid of thousands of points covering the entire cornea. The procedure is carried out in seconds and is completely painless.

Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!

Digital Retinal Imaging & OCT Scans

We use cutting-edge digital imaging technology to assess your eyes. Many eye diseases, if detected at an early stage, can be treated successfully without total loss of vision. Your retinal Images will be stored electronically. This gives the eye doctor a permanent record of the condition and state of your retina.

This is very important in assisting your Optometrist to detect and measure any changes to your retina each time you get your eyes examined, as many eye conditions, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration are diagnosed by detecting changes over time.

The advantages of digital imaging include:

  • Quick, safe, non-invasive and painless
  • Provides detailed images of your retina and sub-surface of your eyes
  • Provides instant, direct imaging of the form and structure of eye tissue
  • Image resolution is extremely high quality
  • Uses eye-safe near-infra-red light
  • No patient prep required

Digital Retinal Imaging

Digital Retinal Imaging allows your eye doctor to evaluate the health of the back of your eye, the retina. It is critical to confirm the health of the retina, optic nerve and other retinal structures. The digital camera snaps a high-resolution digital picture of your retina. This picture clearly shows the health of your eyes and is used as a baseline to track any changes in your eyes in future eye examinations.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

An Optical Coherence Tomography scan (commonly referred to as an OCT scan) is the latest advancement in imaging technology. Similar to ultrasound, this diagnostic technique employs light rather than sound waves to achieve higher resolution pictures of the structural layers of the back of the eye.

A scanning laser used to analyze the layers of the retina and optic nerve for any signs of eye disease, similar to an CT scan of the eye. It works using light without radiation, and is essential for early diagnosis of glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinal disease.

With an OCT scan, doctors are provided with color-coded, cross-sectional images of the retina. These detailed images are revolutionizing early detection and treatment of eye conditions such as wet and dry age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy.

An OCT scan is a noninvasive, painless test. It is performed in about 10 minutes right in our office. Feel free to contact our office to inquire about an OCT at your next appointment.

Visual Field Testing

A visual field test measures the range of your peripheral or “side” vision to assess whether you have any blind spots (scotomas), peripheral vision loss or visual field abnormalities. It is a straightforward and painless test that does not involve eye drops but does involve the patient's ability to understand and follow instructions.

An initial visual field screening can be carried out by the optometrist by asking you to keep your gaze fixed on a central object, covering one eye and having you describe what you see at the periphery of your field of view. For a more comprehensive assessment, special equipment might be used to test your visual field. In one such test, you place your chin on a chin rest and look ahead. Lights are flashed on, and you have to press a button whenever you see the light. The lights are bright or dim at different stages of the test. Some of the flashes are purely to check you are concentrating. Each eye is tested separately and the entire test takes 15-45 minutes. These machines can create a computerized map out your visual field to identify if and where you have any deficiencies.

OPTOS Retinal Exam

Annual eye exams are vital to maintaining your vision and overall health. We offer the optomap® Retinal Exam as an important part of our eye exams. The optomap® Retinal Exam produces an image that is as unique as you fingerprint and provides us with a wide view to look at the health of your retina. The retina is the part of your eye that captures the image of what you are looking at, similar to film in a camera.

Many eye problems can develop without you knowing. You may not even notice any change in your sight. But, diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal tears or detachments, and other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure can be seen with a thorough exam of the retina.

An optomap® Retinal Exam provides:

  • A scan to show a healthy eye or detect disease.
  • A view of the retina, giving your doctor a more detailed view than he/she can get by other means.
  • The opportunity for you to view and discuss the optomap® image of your eye with your doctor at the time of your exam.
  • A permanent record for your file, which allows us to view your images each year to look for changes.

The optomap® Retinal Exam is fast, easy, and comfortable for all ages.  To have the exam, you simply look into the device one eye at a time and you will see a comfortable flash of light to let you know the image of your retina has been taken. The optomap® image is shown immediately on a computer screen so we can review it with you.

Please schedule your optomap® Retinal Exam today!

For more information on the optomap® Retinal Exam, go to the Optos website.

Computer Eyestrain

Digital eye strain is an increasingly common condition as digital devices become more ingrained into our daily lives. Digital eye strain, eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome (CVS) are conditions that result from extended exposure to digital screens such as computers, smartphones, tablets and televisions from a combination of factors including the blue light radiation emitted from the devices and the pixelated content that is difficult for our eyes to focus on.

Symptoms of computer or digital eyestrain tend to be noticed after someone has used a digital device for as little as 2 hours a day. Studies show that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device and 70% of adults report some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) which include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light or
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain (caused by compromised posture to adjust to vision difficulty).

Digital eye strain also impacts your ability to focus and lessens productivity. Most people do nothing to ease their discomfort from these symptoms because they are not aware of the cause.

Protecting Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain and Blue Light

There are a number of options for reducing digital eye strain and your exposure to blue light which include workspace ergonomics, computer glasses, specialized lenses and protective coatings. The first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam, making sure you speak to your eye doctor about how often you use a computer and digital device. This will help your doctor to get the full picture of your eye and vision needs in order to determine which option is best for you. It was also help the doctor to identify any underlying issues that could be worsening your symptoms.

Alleviating Digital EyeStrain

Workspace Alterations

Proper Lighting and Screen Brightness: You want the screen to be as bright as the surrounding environment or the brightest object in the room (depending on what is most comfortable for you). Therefore interior lighting or sunlight from the outdoors should be dimmed or blocked. Use fewer light fixtures or lower voltage light bulbs and close curtains or blinds when possible. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor to the levels that are most comfortable.

Reduce Glare: Glare is a significant cause of computer eyestrain so it is important to minimize it as much as possible. Set up your computer where glare from windows won’t affect your screen or cover windows when this is not possible. Glare can also reflect from walls and shiny finishes on desks and other surfaces. An anti-glare screen on your monitor or an anti-reflective (AR) or anti-glare coating applied to your eyewear can also help to minimize glare and the strain it causes to your vision.

Screen size and distance: You want to make sure you are using a high quality (such as a flat LCD) screen that has a relatively large display (look for a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches) and is located directly in front of your line of vision. Your viewing distance should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the monitor at about eye level or slightly below.

Eye Care

Keep Eyes Moist: When viewing a digital screen or monitor for an extended period of time, we tend to blink less frequently (about ⅓ as often as we should). Blinking however, is critical for keeping the eyes moist, which allows them to remain clear and comfortable and to avoid dry eyes, irritation, blurry vision or eye fatigue.

Focus on blinking by setting a timer for every 20 minutes and slowly closing and opening your eyes 10 times. Keep a bottle of artificial tears handy to use when your eyes are feeling dry.

Give Your Eyes a Break: Schedule and take frequent breaks from your screen. Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take this time to stand up and stretch your back, neck and legs as well.

Computer Eyewear

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes. There are a number of options for computer eyewear, both if you need prescription eyewear and not. Speak to your eye doctor about what the best options are for you.
Learn more about computer glasses here.

It is important to know that both adults and children alike are susceptible to computer eye strain from computers and digital devices. With the growing use of such devices in our everyday lives it is important to start educating ourselves and our children on how to combat the negative effects of these habits.

Controlling Nearsightedness in Children

Eye Exam Near Me Walmart - Call 712-546-6868 - Best Optometrist In Le Mars, IA

Best Optometrist for Myopia In Le Mars, IA

Best Eye Doctor for Myopia In Le Mars, IA

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Childhood myopia or nearsightedness is a common condition that causes blurred distance vision and can usually be easily corrected with either glasses or contact lenses. Unfortunately, simply getting a pair of glasses doesn’t always solve the problem, because often myopia is progressive which means that every year the vision gets worse. This usually continues until sometime around the child’s 20th birthday when his eyes stop growing and eyesight levels off.

It can be worrisome and quite disconcerting for both the parent and the child when each visit to the eye doctor results in a higher prescription. There could be a number of factors involved in progressive myopia, involving hereditary factors as well as possible environmental or behavioral factors such as frequent close-up tasks such as reading or using an electronic device. In fact, studies show that children that spend more time outdoors playing have a lower incidence of myopia.  Much research is currently being done into treatments for slowing or stopping myopia progression in children.

Here are some of the treatment options currently being offered:

Orthokeratology (Ortho-k)

Ortho-k is a process that uses specially designed rigid gas permeable contact lenses worn at night to gently reshape the cornea, eventually allowing clear vision during the day. The lenses are worn every night or every couple of nights depending on the results of the individual.  Ideal for mild to moderate myopia, ortho-k usually takes a few weeks to show results, during which time the patient may need to temporarily continue wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Studies show that the use of ortho-k can permanently reduce the progressive lengthening of the cornea which is responsible for nearsightedness and can, therefore, slow or stop the childhood progression of the condition.  Therefore, in addition to being used for myopia correction, it is now also being offered as a therapeutic treatment to halt myopia progression in children.

Multifocal Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses

Bifocal or multifocal soft contact lenses or glasses have been shown in some studies to slow myopia progression.  This therapy is based on the idea that the eye is strained from accommodating to see close up and that by providing multiple focusing powers, this allows the eye to relax when doing near work, which reduces the progression of the refractive error. This treatment has been shown to delay or slow the advancement of myopia in some children.

Atropine Drops

Treatment with atropine drops is another therapy that is used to relax the eye from “focusing fatigue” which may be a culprit in myopia progression. Research is still being done but some studies show that daily use of low doses of atropine drops do slow the progression of myopia. Atropine drops dilate the pupil which temporarily prevents the eye from being able to focus, thereby allowing this mechanism to relax. Research is still being done to determine dosages, but the results are promising.

If your child has progressive myopia, seek out a pediatric optometrist who is knowledgeable about the options available. Finding the right treatment could give your child the gift of better eyesight for life.

Advanced Eye Health

Our independent practice is conveniently located at Wal-Mart. Not sure how to get here? Click on the Google Maps and Directions below.

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Le Mars, IA 51031
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Macular Degeneration

Untreated macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in those over 65 years old.

While researchers have not yet discovered a cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are treatment options that prevent the disease from progressing to blindness, and in some cases, they can even improve vision. It’s important to have an open discussion with your eye doctor about the risks and limitations of AMD treatments.

Types of Macular Degeneration:

There are 2 basic types of AMD, the wet form and the dry form.

  • Dry macular degeneration is considered the less aggressive form of AMD. It typically progresses much more slowly, and the level of eyesight damage is less severe. Dry AMD is detected during routine eye exams, which is why it’s important to have yearly testing. Treating Dry AMD often involves high doses of zinc and antioxidants which have been shown to slow diseases progression.
  • Wet macular degeneration is the more severe form of AMD. Call us to book an emergency eye doctor's appointment if you experience a sudden worsening of blurry central vision. Wet AMD occurs when there is abnormal blood vessel growth (angiogenesis), and leakage, which can cause scar tissue to develop. Treatments include laser surgery, injecting light sensitive dyes, or AMD medication injected directly into the eye to inhibit angiogenesis.

Learn More

AMD is an age related eye disease that runs in families, and is a leading cause of blindness in our aging population. There is no cure for this ocular disease, and AMD related vision loss is cannot usually be recovered. There are treatments, and preventative measures that can be taken, if detected early, so routine eye exams are essential.

Read more about macular degeneration symptoms and treatment.
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!

Glaucoma Testing & Treatment

Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable vision loss and blindness in adults in the United States and Canada and the second leading cause of blindness in the World, even more than macular degeneration.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not a single disease. It is actually a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve due to an increase in pressure inside the eye, which is called intraocular pressure (IOP). When detected in the early stages, glaucoma can often be controlled, preventing severe vision loss and blindness. However, symptoms of noticeable vision loss often only occur once the disease has progressed. This is why glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight”. Unfortunately, once vision is lost from the disease, it usually can’t be restored.

Treatments include medication or surgery that can regulate the IOP and slow down the progression of the disease to prevent further vision loss. The type of treatment depends on the type and the cause of glaucoma.

Risk Factors

Prevention is possible only with early detection and treatment. Since symptoms are often absent, regular eye exams which include a glaucoma screening are essential, particularly for individuals at risk of the disease. While anyone can get glaucoma, the following traits put you at a higher risk:

  • Age over 60
  • Hispanic or Latino descent, Asian descent
  • African Americans over the age of 40 (glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans, 6-8 times more common than in Caucasians.)
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetics
  • People with severe nearsightedness
  • Certain medications (e.g. steroids)
  • Significant eye injury (even if it occurred in childhood)

Understanding Glaucoma

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma: Due to a buildup of pressure in the eye, glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. How does glaucoma affect your vision?

Types of Glaucoma: There are a number of types of glaucoma, some more acute than others. Learn about the common types of glaucoma and the differences between them.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Glaucoma: Early detection and treatment of glaucoma are essential to stopping or slowing the disease progression and saving vision. Treatment can include medicated eye drops, pills, laser procedures and minor surgical procedures depending on the type and stage of glaucoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma

The intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma can slowly damage the optic nerve, causing a gradual loss of vision. Vision loss begins with peripheral (side) vision, resulting in limited tunnel vision. Over time if left untreated, central vision will also be affected which will increase until it eventually causes total blindness. Unfortunately, any vision that is lost from the optic nerve damage cannot be restored.

What are the Symptoms?

Typically, glaucoma sets in without any symptoms. At the early onset of the most common type of glaucoma “open angle” glaucoma, vision remains normal and there is no pain or discomfort. This is why the disease is nicknamed the “sneak thief of sight”.

An acute type of glaucoma, called angle-closure glaucoma, can present sudden symptoms such as foggy, blurred vision, halos around lights, eye pain, headache and even nausea. This is a medical emergency and should be assessed immediately as the intraocular pressure can become extremely high and cause permanent damage within hours.

Types of Glaucoma

The primary forms of glaucoma are open-angle and narrow-angle, with open-angle being the most common type.

Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG)

POAG gradually progresses without pain or noticeable vision loss initially affecting peripheral vision. By the time visual symptoms appear, irreparable damage has usually occurred, however, the sooner treatment starts the more vision loss can be prevented. When untreated, vision loss will eventually result in total loss of side vision (or tunnel vision) and eventually total vision loss.

Normal-tension glaucoma or low-tension glaucoma

This is another form of open-angle glaucoma in which the intraocular pressure remains within the normal level. The cause of this form of glaucoma is not known, but it is believed to have something to do with insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve, causing damage. Individuals of Japanese descent, women and those with a history of vascular disease or low blood pressure are at higher risk.

Angle-closure glaucoma

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is marked by a sudden increase in eye pressure, which can cause severe pain, blurred vision, halos, nausea, and headaches. The pressure is caused by a blockage in the fluid at the front of the eye which is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately. Without prompt treatment to clear the blockage vision can be permanently lost.

Congenital glaucoma

The inherited form of the disease that is present at birth. In these cases, babies are born with a defect that slows the normal drainage of fluid out of the eye; they are usually diagnosed by the time they turn one. There are typically some noticeable symptoms such as excessive tearing, cloudiness or haziness of the eyes, large or protruding eyes or light sensitivity. Surgery is usually performed, with a very high success rate, to restore full vision.

Secondary glaucomas

Glaucoma can develop as a complication of eye surgeries, injuries or other medical conditions such as cataracts, tumors, or a condition called uveitis which causes inflammation. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes can result in another serious form called neovascular glaucoma.

Pigmentary glaucoma

A rare form of glaucoma, this occurs when pigment from the iris sheds and clogs the drainage of fluid from the eye resulting in inflammation and damage to the eye and drainage system.

Treatment of glaucoma is dependant upon the severity and type of glaucoma present.

Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment

Detecting Glaucoma

During a routine comprehensive eye exam to check for glaucoma, your eye doctor will dilate your eye to examine the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma and will also measure the intraocular pressure (IOP) with an instrument called a tonometer.

IOP Measurement

Tonometry involves numbing the eye with drops and then gently pressing on the surface of the eye to measure the pressure. Since your IOP can fluctuate throughout the day and glaucoma can exist without elevated IOP this is not enough to rule out the disease. If there are signs of the disease, further testing will be performed.

Visual Field Test

A visual field test is designed to detect any blind spots in your peripheral or side field of vision. You will be asked to place your head in front of a machine while looking ahead and indicate when you see a signal in your peripheral field of view.

Retina Testing

Your doctor may also measure the thickness of the cornea with an ultrasonic wave instrument in a test called pachymetry or use imaging techniques such as digital retina scanning or optical coherence tomography (OCT) to create an image of your optic nerve to look for glaucoma damage.

Treating Glaucoma

Treatment for glaucoma depends on the type and severity of the disease and can include medication such as eye drops or pills or laser or traditional surgery.

Medication

Medication and drops to lower IOP are often the first resort for controlling pressure-related glaucoma. These drops may have some uncomfortable side effects, but compliance with the treatment plan is essential for preserving vision and halting the progression of the disease.

Surgery

Surgical procedures are designed to control the flow of fluids through the eye by either decreasing the amount of fluid produced or improving the drainage. Your doctor may decide that a combination of surgery and medication will be the most effective in many cases.

Prevention

It cannot be stressed enough that the most effective treatment for glaucoma happens when the disease is detected and treated early before significant vision loss occurs. Any vision that is lost cannot be restored. This is why the best prevention is awareness by knowing your risks and taking responsibility by having your eyes examined on a regular basis.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetes is associated with several eye health issues including cataracts and glaucoma, but the most well known diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that only affects diabetics. It occurs when the fragile vascular network that supplies the retina – the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that helps us see – begins to swell or leak. During the beginning stages of the disease, there may be no noticeable symptoms, so it’s important to have your eyes checked at least once a year, if you have diabetes.

Once symptoms of diabetic retinopathy do develop, they can include: dark or black spots in your visual field, or blurry vision, and it increases over time. This is a result of bleeding at the back of the eye, which prevents a clear image from being transmitted from the retina to the brain.

Whether you have type 1, type 2, or even just gestational diabetes, you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have had the disease, the greater the risk. It is essential to keep your blood sugar levels under control to prevent vision loss, and this may require a trip back to your primary care physician.

Treating diabetic retinopathy can include vitrectomy, replacing the inner gel-like substance that supports the eyeball structure, and laser surgery.

Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!