Alamo Optometry Blog

February 3, 2010

Eye Terms

Filed under: Educational — Tags: , — admin @ 11:43 pm

Eye Terms
(As appeared in Alamo Today, February 2010, pg. 29)

When I have patients in my office and I am explaining to them the results of my examination, I try to explain terms and conditions in a manner that is easy to understand. At times that is difficult, but I believe my patients need to leave the exam understanding what went on and why my recommendations were given. To help assist, I will give some straight-forward definitions of everyday conditions I see in the office.

Myopia: “near-sighted”, this means that without any type of correction on, it is easier to see close than far. Depending on how high the prescription, it might even be very difficult to read since you will have to hold reading material extremely close to have it in focus.

Hyperopia: “far-sighted”, it is easier to see farther away than up close. Far-sighted people are always working to keep objects in focus and the closer the point of focus, the more power and work needed. Patients with a high prescription generally will have sustained near-point issues like fatigue, headaches, avoidance, etc. Keep in mind this only refers to your distance vision, not up close difficulty (see next).

Presbyopia: “short-arm syndrome”. This diagnosis is given when your ability to focus up close starts to decline. Keep in mind this is a completely normal process that starts in your 40’s and stops somewhere in your mid 50’s. Remember this does not mean you are far-sighted, that defines your distance vision only.

Astigmatism: This occurs when your cornea is not completely round. A simple analogy is that it is shaped more like a football or egg. It is not a disease; it is just how your eye was formed and developed. This can be corrected with glasses, most contact lenses, and LASIK (also depending on other factors.)

Cornea: This is the clear front portion of the eye that is in front of the iris (colored part of the eye). This structure is where contact lenses are placed and what is operated on in LASIK. The cornea has no blood vessels so it only receives oxygen from the air and your tears.

Cataracts: This is another age-related finding in which the lens, which is inside your eye, becomes harder and denser. This eye structure continues to grow throughout life, so as you mature, if becomes a barrier to clear vision and needs to be removed. The three main contributors besides age are UV exposure, diabetes, and therapeutic steroid use. Surgery to do this is simple with a relatively quick recovery.

Macular Degeneration: Everyone seems to be concerned about this condition, including myself. This is a disease that degrades your sharp, central vision along with color vision. The macula is the very small area in your central retina that gives you 20/20-corrected vision and color vision. Once this vision is lost, you do not get it back. As of now, there is no cure. There are many treatments, but they are aimed at treating the bleeding blood vessels in the retina, which hopefully halt or slow down the progression. There is a genetic link to this disease, but currently the best thing you can do to improve your chances besides annual exams is to not smoke. Everything else equal, there is a 4-6 fold increase risk for any person who currently smokes or smoked a considerable amount in the past, but has since quit.

Retina: This structure has 10 layers and of all the organs in the body, it uses the third most amount of oxygen (behind the heart and brain). The retina interprets the light images it receives and changes it into an electrical signal that is sent to your brain to process via the optic nerve.

Optic Nerve: The optic nerve is the wiring connection between the eye and the brain. The optic nerve does not contain photoreceptors, so it does not interpret any images you see; hence this is your blind spot when you look out into the world. Glaucoma is a disease that slowly kills the optic nerve, so end-stage of the disease is blindness since no signal is sent to your brain from the affected eye(s).

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo. Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

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