We provide diagnosis, treatment and management of many diseases which affect the eye and visual system. Some examples include:
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or dry eye disease, is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and provide clear vision. Dry eye is very common in Flagstaff where high elevation and a dry climate increase the frequency and commonality of symptoms.
Symptoms vary but may include: red irritated eyes, burning, itching, flaking, crusting, tearing, grittiness, and foreign body sensation. People are often confused when we tell them that their eyes may excessively tear when they are dry. This occurs because the eye is irritated from the dryness and reacts by trying to wash this irrigation out. The gland that we cry with is called the lacrimal gland and it should not be turned on in a healthy eye unless there is irritation, and occasionally when we are emotional.
Treating dry eye is complex as each individual is unique in their presentation and needs to be treated based on their individual appearance and symptoms profile. Treatment can range from simple artificial tears that can be found over the counter to perception medication or punctual plugs used to increase tears on the eye. Come in and let us guild you through this process of making a treatment plan that is right for you.
Keratoconus is a genetic disorder that causes the cornea, which is typically rounded to become cone-shaped. This distorts vision and progressively gets worse, to the point that vision can only be corrected with special contact lenses or surgery in some cases. It is important to understand that contact lenses are not a treatment for the keratoconus they simply correct the vision problem associated with the keratoconus. There is currently only one FDA approved treatment for keratoconus called corneal cross linking. It is very effective and can stop the progression of keratoconus if the disease process is detected early enough in its’ progression. We have sent many patents for this procedure and feel early detection and treatment is the key to stopping this disease.
Glaucoma is defined as progressive optic neuropathy. It’s a fancy way to say the optic nerve, responsible for vision, is slowly dying. The death of the nerve is slow, painless, and usually has no symptoms. If glaucoma if left untreated it can cause permanent blindness. Because there are no symptoms of glaucoma until the late stages of the disease we screen every patient for it. Screening is done during a complete eye health examination and special testing is often added if we determine that you are at risk for the disease. If glaucoma is detected we often treat it by lowering the eye pressure. To do this a simple daily eye drop is used, this lowers the eye pressure and can prevent further loss of the neural tissue.
Macular Degeneration also called age-related macular degeneration, is the gradual damaging of the central retina. This central part of the retina, called the macula, is responsible for our central and most acute vision. Macular degeneration can cause central blindness or loss of vision. Macular degeneration is associated with the aging of the eye but the damage is worse in patients who have a genetic predisposition for the disease. The tissue in the macula becomes damaged and the cells in the eye die releasing their contents into the macular area. These deposits, called drusen, can be seen during an eye exam and are a sign of early macular degeneration (dry macular degeneration). New blood vessels can also grow in this area and further damage your vision (wet macular degeneration). The more birthdays you have the higher your risk for macular degeneration. During the early stages you will have no symptoms. Later in the disease process there can be vision distortion or loss of vision. It is believed that this breakdown may be due to a lack of nutrients being supplied to the macular region. Studies done by NIH have concluded that specific vitamins can slow the disease process. As our population lives longer macular degeneration is becoming more common. Make sure you get annual exam to screen for macular degeneration at our office.
Cataract is a clouding of the lens that is contained in our eye. This clouding is usually a part of the natural aging process, in fact if you live long enough you get cataracts. The lens has no blood flow and because our bodies heal though sending in white blood cells to sites of tissue damage our lens has no way of repairing damage that occurs over a lifetime. Damage occurs for many reasons but the most common are exposure to UV light, injury, medications, as well as unhealthy lifestyle. We see cataracts every day, they are extremely common, and stand ready to help if treatment is needed. Treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove the cataract from the eye and replace it with a new lens. This procedure is very common and we stand ready to help you through the post operative period if needed.
Retinal Detachment is when the retinal tissue is pulled or torn off the inside of the eye. This causes no pain at all, it does however, cause three major symptoms that everyone would know. The symptoms include flashes of light in your peripheral vision, a curtain in your vision (partially or solidly blocking your vision), and an increase in floaters in your vision (described like spider webs or black dots). Due to the severity of a retinal detachment it is important to have a dilated eye exam immediately after symptoms begin. Retinal detachment is relatively rare but can cause blindness if it is not treated promptly. Call our office immediately after symptoms begin, our receptionists are trained to get you in for examination immediately if you have these symptoms.
A more common cause of these symptoms is a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). A PVD is when the vitreous humor collapses within the eye. This process is usually benign and natural, however, these symptoms should always be assessed by your eye doctor because the symptoms are the same as a retinal detachment. Only a thorough dilated eye exam can assess if there is a retinal detachment.
Diabetic Retinopathy is an eye condition caused from uncontrolled diabetes. If blood sugar is not controlled properly it causes blood vessels in the retina of the eye to leak, which results in bleeding into the eye. This blood and fluid can kill the cells in the eye and cause blindness. Every patient with diabetes should plan to be dilated each year so we can properly assess if there is any bleeding in the retina. There are surgical treatments for diabetic retinopathy but the best treatment is prevention and this is our goal. We work closely with your primary care doctor to help you keep you blood sugar under control. At our office we are capable and qualified to assess your retina for any form of retinopathy.