Treatments to Save or Restore Vision
Baby Boomers are quick to tell you that 60 is the new 40, but while they may feel way younger than their chronological age, their eyes are usually changing right on schedule. Cataracts and glaucoma can both occur as part of the natural aging process, and although many people over 60 have both, the two are not necessarily related to one another. It’s important to make the distinction between these conditions, since both can lead to blindness if not treated. The most significant difference is that loss of vision due to cataracts can be reversed with surgery. Loss of vision from glaucoma is, at least so far, irreversible. However, if diagnosed early before damage is apparent, there are highly effective treatments that can manage the progression of the disease and save your sight. In order to maximize the success of their individual treatment plan, patients experiencing both cataracts and glaucoma should review all the available options with their doctors before making any decisions.
Cataracts and Cataract Surgery
Cataracts have been around as long as mankind, and are essentially inevitable if one lives long enough! As we age, the natural lenses in our eyes become cloudy, and more opaque than clear. This blocks light from entering the eye and reaching the retina, resulting in blurry vision, sensitivity to glare, and poor night vision, often with halos appearing around lights. These symptoms can lead to diminished enjoyment of life, as people find they have to give up driving or no longer enjoy the pastime of reading. Today’s seniors have little patience for anything that interferes with their active lifestyle, so cataract surgery is often suggested when vision has declined to the point where it affects the performance of usual daily tasks. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens implant or IOL. Both laser-assisted surgery and traditional surgery, which is performed manually with a blade, effectively remove the cataract and restore good vision. Mostly all cataract patients report vastly improved eyesight after undergoing cataract surgery, and it is actually the most commonly performed kind of surgery in the United States today.
At The Eye Associates, laser-assisted surgery utilizes the Alcon LenSx® femtosecond laser to automate the most challenging steps of cataract surgery, such as performing corneal incisions, opening the capsule and softening and breaking up the cataract. It enables our skilled surgeons, Dr. Robert Friedman, Dr. Cathleen McCabe and Dr. Brian Foster, to provide enhanced accuracy, predictability, and a uniquely personalized outcome for each patient. Advanced technology brings that extra degree of precision to cataract surgery that is unattainable with traditional methods.
Glaucoma and Treatment Plans
Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly and painlessly steals away your sight. It damages vision by destroying the optic nerve, that all-important connection between your eye and the brain that carries visual data to be translated into the images you see. Damage to the optic nerve is permanent. The cause of glaucoma is unknown, but several factors increase your risk for the disease. These include being over age 60, being of African-American or Hispanic descent, having a family history of glaucoma, having certain medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, and being nearsighted. Anyone with one or more of these risk factors should get annual eye exams to discover glaucoma, for it is the only way the disease can be diagnosed. If a glaucoma diagnosis is given, there are several kinds of treatment available to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) and stop nerve damage. These include prescription eye drops, laser therapy, and surgery. A treatment plan must be followed for the rest of a patient’s life in order to keep the progression of glaucoma at bay. Eye drop medications are expensive, may have side effects, and it’s easy to forget to take them on a daily basis. Therefore, in some patients, laser therapy or a surgical procedure is recommended instead. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, combining medical treatment with regularly scheduled eye exams can reduce the risk of vision loss,.
Can Cataract and Glaucoma Surgeries Be Combined?
If you are a glaucoma patient who is also a candidate for cataract surgery, there are unique challenges and opportunities which should be discussed with your doctor. Cataract surgeons at The Eye Associates have had remarkable success combining laser-assisted cataract surgery with the iStent. The smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA, the iSTent is inserted during cataract surgery for cataract patients with open-angle glaucoma. Studies have shown that more than 50% of patients with the iStent® no longer need eye drop medications to control their IOP. There are many variables that factor into the decision to choose a particular procedure, or combination of procedures. A detailed discussion with your doctor and/or surgeon is essential in order to determine the best option for you.
The Eye Associates
Toll Free: 1-866-865-2020
6002 Pointe West Blvd
7230 55th Avenue East
7915 US Hwy 301 North, # 101
2111 Bee Ridge Road
SUN CITY CENTER:
3894 Sun City Blvd
Dermatology & Hearing only
2101 61st Street West
250 South Tamiami Trail, #103