Ophthalmology is an umbrella term that includes all eye-related studies, disorders, therapy and surgical treatments. It deals with all clinical conditions that arise in the eye, their causes, symptoms, and prevention methods. These studies may also include the surrounding organs and structures of the eye.
An ophthalmologist is a medical practitioner who specializes in general or specific eye conditions, their diagnosis, and treatment. Most of the eye conditions are a product of aging, traumatic injuries or congenital and systemic disorders.
The most common types of eye disorders and their treatments include:
Cataracts are one of the leading eye problems in India that are almost always caused due to overuse of the ocular muscles.
As we age, the lens inside our eyes that focuses external light onto the retina starts clouding due to the accumulation of proteins over the lens. If left untreated for long, the cataract covers the entire lens and leads to complete loss of vision.
- Age of more than 50 years
- Congenital disorders
- Previous eye surgeries
- Medical conditions like diabetes and High Blood Pressure
- Traumatic accidents
- Consumptions of steroidal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes
A cataract is a progressive condition with no apparent symptoms until it becomes moderately severe. At this point, the most common signs one may experience include:
- Blurred, clouded or dim vision
- Problem seeing at night
- Problem seeing through light and glare
- Seeing ‘halos’ around lights
This condition of cataracts cannot be reversed and can only be treated via replacement surgery. The goal of cataract surgery is to remove the clouded lens and replace it with a synthetic replica called Intraocular lens(IOL).
Refractive error or refraction error of the eye implies the inability of the eye to focus light accurately on the retina due to a change in its shape. They are categorised in three distinct cases:
Nearsightedness(Myopia) : Myopia is caused when the eyeball gets elongated horizontally making the incident light focus in front of the retina instead of on it. This causes distant objects to be blurry while nearer objects appear normal.
Farsightedness(Hypermetropia) : Hypermetropia occurs when the eye elongates vertically, causing the incident light to focus behind the retina. Hence, distant objects appear perfectly while the nearby objects are blurred out.
Astigmatism(keratoconus) : When the eye’s cornea has an abnormally curved shape, the incident light fails to focus at any point, causing a general blurriness in the vision.
Refractive errors are mostly caused due to genetic defects or overexposure to UV rays. Refractive errors are easily manageable with corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses that help focus the incident light on the retina. Today, they can also be cured with refractive surgeries such as the LASIK eye treatment which is a safe and effective way of eliminating the need for eyeglasses or lenses.
As the number of diabetic patients has largely grown in India, the cases of diabetic retinopathy are also on the rise. Diabetes causes severe damage to the blood vessels of the retina.
People who have Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes for a long time don’t notice any symptoms in its initial stages, but as the condition escalates, the following symptoms are commonly observed:
- Floaters like dark spots in the vision
- Fluctuating and blurred vision
- Vision loss
In its early stages, a laser treatment for retinopathy called photocoagulation can be used to prevent further vision loss. Vitrectomy is another type of retinal surgery where the vitreous fluid in the eye is removed and replaced before the retina takes any severe damage.
Uveitis is an umbrella term for all conditions that cause inflammation in the middle layer of the eye beneath the sclera known as ‘Uvea’. The uvea is responsible for some vital eye functions such as adjusting to different levels of light or distances of objects.
Any uveitis conditions cause pain, redness, and sensitivity to light, and also leads to the destruction of several tissues. They may also cause complete loss of vision It can affect any specific part of the eye, and its treatment is dependent on the underlying cause and the area of the eye that’s affected.
Initially, they are treated with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and immunosuppressive drugs to control the damage and reduce the symptoms. If the condition doesn’t improve with medications, then vitrectomy is the only solution.
When excessive and unwanted fluids start accumulating in the middle region of the eye known as the ‘macula’, it gets swelled and causes distorted vision. This condition is known as ‘Macular Edema.’
If one of the blood vessel in the retina leak, it leads to the accumulation of fluids in the macula. Hence, any eye disease like diabetic retinopathy that damages blood vessels can also potentially cause macular oedema.
As this condition emerges, the central vision starts to get wavy and blurred. Its symptoms can vary anywhere from slight blurriness to significant vision loss.
Macular oedema treatment starts with either non-steroidal drugs (NSAID) or steroid treatment via eye drops and injections.
Laser treatment can also be performed to seal the leaking blood vessels and maintain the remaining vision.
If vitreous pulling has caused macular oedema, then vitrectomy surgery is a better treatment option which involves removing the vitreous fluid and peeling off scar tissues damaging the macula due to traction.
In addition to taking care of them routinely, it is crucial to be prudent about any problematic signs and symptoms and visit Lifepoint Hospital, the most comprehensive eye hospital in Pune, so that your eyes can get professional care and treatment before it’s too late.