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Should You See a Retina Specialist?

Should You See a Retina Specialist 640×350You go to your optometrist for regular eye exams or if you need a prescription for glasses or contacts lenses. However, your optometrist can also detect the early signs that you may have a problem with your retina, and will manage your condition until it’s necessary for you to see a retina specialist.

What Does a Retina Specialist Do?

Retina specialists are medical doctors who have received further training in eye diseases to become ophthalmologists. These doctors have earned an additional degree focused on diagnosing and treating retinal conditions. The treatments that retina specialists perform include laser surgeries and intraocular injections as well as hospital-based surgeries, such as vitrectomy.

What is the retina?

The retina is a layer of nerve cells at the back of your eye. These cells detect the light entering the eye and send signals via nerves to the brain so you can see images clearly.

What Conditions Does A Retina Specialist Treat?

A retina specialist treats a wide range of retinal problems. These are the most common:

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is one of the main causes of blindness in people over the age of 60. This disease damages the macula, the part of the retina that’s responsible for your central, detailed vision.

The retina specialist will choose a treatment based on the type of AMD: Dry AMD, the more common form of macular degeneration or Wet AMD, the much rarer but more severe form.

Dry AMD is currently best treated with a specific formulation of vitamins and supplements based on the AREDS studies, and clinical trials are underway to check the safety and efficacy of several other proposed treatments.

Wet AMD can be treated with:

  • Medications and anti-VEGF injections
  • Laser therapy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a sight-threatening condition caused by high blood sugar levels in diabetics. At early stages of the disease, a retina specialist will provide retina [exams] and suggest ways to slow its progression.

If the condition worsens, blood vessels in the eye may swell and lead to aneurysms or diabetic macular edema. Your retina specialist will recommend procedures to stop extra blood vessels from growing or leaking, or surgery to remove part of the vitreous humor. Diabetic retinopathy treatments include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Anti-VEGF injections
  • Vitrectomy
  • Laser surgery

Retinal Tearing or Detachment

Eye inflammation or injury can cause the vitreous humor to tear slightly or detach completely from the retina. If left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to vision loss and even blindness. A retina specialist treats this condition with laser surgery, cryotherapy (freezing therapy) or surgical repair.

Macular hole

With aging or as the result of an injury, the macula may pull away from the retina and leave a hole, or the macula may pucker or wrinkle. To prevent further damage and vision loss, a retina specialist will perform surgery to correct the problem.

Ocular trauma or Eye Injury

If an object penetrates your eye, you’ll likely need the immediate care of a retina specialist to preserve your vision. With surgery, the retina specialist can often repair your eye and prevent vision loss.

Has your optometrist or ophthalmologist recommended that you visit a retina specialist? Don’t delay. Schedule an appointment right away for efficient screening, diagnosis and treatment of your retinal condition. The sooner you visit a retina specialist, the greater the chances of slowing the condition’s progression and maintaining your vision.

Schedule an appointment at Dr. Colette Whiting and Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy in Shelburne Primary EyeCare Our practice serves patients from Shelburne, Dundalk, Orangeville, and Mount Forest, Dufferin County and surrounding communities. today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Colette Whiting, Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy, and Dr. Priyajeet Kainth

Q: How does a retina specialist diagnose macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy?

  • A: Your retina specialist may give you any of the following tests:

    – Comprehensive [eye exam] – Visual acuity test
    – Amsler grid
    – Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
    – Fluorescein angiography

Q: What are Fluorescein angiography and OCT?

  • A: Your retina specialist will give you a dilated [eye exam] so they can see your retina clearly. After applying eye drops, they may do the following tests:

    – Fluorescein angiography – after the retina specialist injects dye into your arm, they’ll take pictures of blood vessels in your eye to detect ruptures or leaks.
    – Optical coherence tomography (OCT) – cross-sectional photographs of the eye show retinal thickness and possible blood vessel leakages.

Request a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Call 844-611-3222

Covid Patients Are 40% More Likely to Get Diabetes – What Does That Mean for Your Vision?

Covid 19 Patient Sick in BedHave you had Covid-19? After your fever and cough have subsided, you may think the virus is behind you. However, even after your Covid test comes back negative, you may experience health problems in the near future, including diabetes.

Recent studies have found that a significant percentage of post-Covid-19 patients developed diabetes within a year of contracting the virus. This is particularly problematic, as diabetes raises the risk of developing many health problems, including several sight-threatening eye conditions that can rob people of their vision.

What Does the Research Show?

A March 2022 Lancet study that evaluated the records of 181,280 U.S. military veterans found a 40% higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in those who had Covid. Although those at greatest risk were over 65, African American and/or had underlying health conditions, many younger patients also developed Type 2 diabetes.

A study published in January 2022 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that children and teens under 18 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis (both Type 1 and Type 2) at least 30 days after infection than those who never contracted Covid.

Scientists are investigating exactly why Covid-19 raises the risk of developing diabetes. In many cases, it’s believed that the virus targets pancreatic cells, which are responsible for making insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. A lack of insulin causes diabetes.

Some scientists also theorize that inactivity and weight gain due to lockdowns and quarantines may have raised the risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes-Related Conditions

Diabetes is linked to many eye conditions, including:

Blurry Vision – High blood sugar drives the lens inside your eye to swell, causing your vision to blur.

Cataracts – Diabetes can cause cataracts, cloudy patches that form in the lens of the eye.

Glaucoma – This disease develops from high pressure inside the eye and can lead to severe vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy – High blood sugar levels damage the small fragile blood vessels on the retina, leading to vision loss.

Maculopathy – Swelling of the macula, the center of the retina, can make it difficult to drive, read or see detail.

Some of these conditions have no noticeable symptoms during their early stages when it’s still possible to prevent or minimize vision loss. So having regular comprehensive eye exams is crucial.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes Post-Covid

Even after you’ve recovered from Covid, you may still be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. So, along with people who have a family history of the disease, make sure to book a comprehensive eye exam, eat a healthy and balanced diet, don’t smoke, maintain your appropriate weight, and ask your physician to monitor your blood sugar levels.

Also, if you have any eye symptoms, such as blurry vision, schedule an appointment with Shelburne Primary EyeCare immediately. Remaining vigilant and aware of the risks can help safeguard your vision thanks to early intervention and treatment.

Are you concerned about the effect having Covid may have on your eyes? Schedule an appointment with Shelburne Primary EyeCare today!

Our practice serves patients from Shelburne, Dundalk, Orangeville, and Mount Forest, Dufferin County and surrounding communities.

Q&A with Dr. Colette Whiting, Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy, and Dr. Priyajeet Kainth

Q: What is a diabetic retinal eye exam?

A: A diabetic retinal [eye__exam] checks for diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the small thin blood vessels in the retina located at the back of the eye. Your optometrist will place eye drops into your eye to open your pupils so they can more easily see the back of your eye. They may take digital images to inspect blood vessels: these full-color 3D images show the cross-section of the retina and measure the retinal thickness to help your optometrist detect any fluid or blood leakage.

Q: How common is vision loss with diabetes?

A: People with diabetes are more likely to experience eye and vision problems. Among people over 45 diagnosed with diabetes, 17.6% experience some degree of vision loss.
– 9.2% is caused by cataracts
– 4.1% is caused by diabetic retinopathy
– 2.2% is caused by macular degeneration
– 2.1% is caused by glaucoma. Therefore, anyone diagnosed with or with risk factors for diabetes should have regular eye exams to protect their vision and eye health.

Request a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Call 844-611-3222

5 Need-to-Know Facts About Glaucoma

elderly couple sitting outside width=While most people have heard of glaucoma, many aren’t aware of how and why it can lead to vision loss and blindness, and why or how regular eye exams can help safeguard their vision. To get a better understanding, check out these 5 important facts.

Glaucoma Causes Permanent Vision Loss

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness, affecting more than 1 in 50 adults. Nowadays, more than 80 million people around the world have glaucoma, with the number is expected to reach a staggering 111 million by 2040!

Vision loss is caused by abnormally high pressure within the eye which permanently damages the optic nerve that delivers the eye’s messages to the brain.

The rise in eye pressure results from the buildup of fluid in the eye that does not drain effectively out of the eye.

Though it’s possible to manage glaucoma symptoms, vision loss can’t be reversed once it’s occurred. That’s why it’s crucial to catch this serious eye condition in its early stages.

Half the People With Glaucoma Don’t Know They Have It

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the most worrying things about glaucoma is that half the people with this condition don’t even know they have it! The most common type — primary open-angle glaucoma — has no obvious symptoms in its early stages. It’s no wonder glaucoma is called the ‘Thief of Sight.’

The best way to avoid any vision loss from glaucoma is to have regular eye exams to detect the condition as soon as possible.

Some Are More At Risk for Glaucoma Than Others

The following are risk factors for glaucoma:

  • Being 60 or older
  • A family history – particularly of open-angle glaucoma
  • African, Asian or Hispanic descent
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive Thyroid

Glaucoma Can Be Treated, Not Cured

There is no cure for glaucoma and vision that has already been lost to the condition can’t be restored. However, glaucoma can be treated, and the progression of the disease can be stopped or slowed.

Common treatments for glaucoma include:

  • Prescription eye drops that can lower pressure inside the eye
  • Oral medications, such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
  • Laser therapy, such as SLT or trabeculoplasty, is used to open up channels to improve the drainage of fluid from the eye
  • Eye surgery or trabeculectomy – surgical removal of obstructions in the eye’s drainage system
  • Trabecular stent bypass – a stent is placed in the eye to make drainage easier

Only an Eye Exam Can Diagnose Glaucoma

As mentioned above, regular eye exams are essential to detect glaucoma, especially in the early stages before permanent vision loss has occurred. Your eye doctor may use several types of tests to detect glaucoma:

  • Tonometry – measurement of eye pressure
  • Visual field – tests for peripheral vision loss
  • Gonioscopy – determines if the drainage system is open.
  • Corneal thickness (pachymetry) – the thickness of the cornea can affect the eye pressure measurements
  • Optic Nerve Exam – detection of any nerve damage using digital imaging

Glaucoma is yet another good reason to get your eyes tested regularly, especially if you’re over 60. To check the health of your eyes, schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Shelburne Primary EyeCare today.

Our practice serves patients from Shelburne, Dundalk, Orangeville, and Mount Forest, Dufferin County and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Colette Whiting, Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy, and Dr. Priyajeet Kainth

Q: How much time does it take for glaucoma to cause blindness?

  • A: In most cases of open-angle glaucoma, it can take several years from the onset of the disease before significant vision loss occurs. However, in the case of closed-angle glaucoma, where the eye pressure rises suddenly, it can immediately cause severe vision loss. The speed of the onset of glaucoma depends on the type of glaucoma and eye pressure levels. The higher the pressure, the faster glaucoma can drive vision loss.

Q: How many people go blind from glaucoma?

  • A: Overall, the incidence of blindness in at least one eye from glaucoma is 26.5% after 10 years, and 38.1% after 20 years. This means that without effective treatment the chance of going blind in one eye is more than 1 in 4 in just 10 years.

References

Request a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Call 844-611-3222

Signs It’s Time For Cataract Surgery

Elderly Couple Discussing Cataract SurgeryCataract surgery, which replaces the cataract-affected lens of the eye with a new, clear artificial lens, is the most common surgical procedure in the world. While the procedure is considered safe and effective, patients want to know the optimal time to have the surgery.

Early Signs of Cataracts

During the earlier stages, individuals with cataracts experience cloudy vision and sensitivity to glare and light. Halos may appear around lit objects at night, and night vision may be impaired. Colors may appear washed out, such as bright red hues appearing dark pink.

Signs You Need Cataract Surgery

It’s common for people to live with cataracts for several years before considering surgery. The following are signs it is time to have your cataracts removed:

  • You find it difficult to see well enough to perform tasks at work
  • Your vision has gotten in the way of doing activities around the home, such as cooking and cleaning
  • You no longer see the television screen or printed material clearly
  • Driving, especially at night, no longer feels safe
  • Glare and bright lights are more pronounced

If you experience any of the above, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss cataract surgery.

The Presence of Other Eye Problems

Your eye doctor may encourage you to have cataract surgery if your cataracts render it difficult to examine the back of your eye to treat a range of serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinopathy. Any of these may require the urgent removal of the cataract so the optometrist can accurately diagnose and manage other serious eye problems.

What Happens If You Delay Surgery?

There are advantages to having cataract surgery earlier rather than later. Cataracts can severely interfere with daily life and can make night driving difficult, even hazardous. If left untreated, cataracts result in vision loss and eventually blindness. Additionally, over time cataracts become thicker, darker and denser, which can add unnecessary complications to the surgery and lengthen the post-surgery recovery period.

However, in certain cases, patients can wait to have cataract surgery. In the meantime, their eye doctor can recommend stronger prescription lenses or the use of bright lights to help them see better.

Whether you decide to get cataract surgery early on or to wait it out, we encourage you to do so under the guidance of Dr. Colette Whiting and Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy at Shelburne Primary EyeCare.

Our practice serves patients from Shelburne, Dundalk, Orangeville, and Mount Forest, Dufferin County and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Colette Whiting, Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy, and Dr. Priyajeet Kainth

Q: What Are the Benefits of Cataract Surgery?

A: Having cataract surgery:

  • – Restores clear vision
  • – Enhances enjoyment of reading and watching TV
  • – Improves quality of life by allowing you to do everyday activities and hobbies
  • – Lowers the risk of developing other eye problems, such as eye inflammation and glaucoma
  • – Renders it safer to drive in low light environments

Q: How Do I Lower My Risk of Cataracts?

A: The tips below may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts:

  • – Have regular eye exams to catch any problems early
  • – Wear sunglasses to block UV rays – 10% of cataract cases are related to the sun’s harmful UV rays
  • – Maintain healthy blood sugar levels, particularly if you have diabetes
  • – Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamins C and E
  • – Quit smoking and drink only moderate amounts of alcohol
  • – Be aware that steroidal eye drops and corticosteroids may increase the risk of cataracts

References

 

Request a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Call 844-611-3222