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What You Need To Know About …

Amblyopia

This is also known as "Lazy eye" as the eye is not able to see properly and remains "lazy". The common causes are the presence of a squint or mal-alignment of the eye or the need for glasses. The latter may include farsighted, nearsighted problem and astigmatism. Often the only way to detect amblyopia is having the child's eyes tested by an Ophthalmologist. The importance of detecting amblyopia early is that treatment is possible and produces good results up to an age of 8 or 9. Treatment usually is done by fitting the correct glasses and forcing the lazy eye to work or by simple patching of the child's good eye. Hence it is recommended that parents ensure all their children have their eyes tested as early as possible but definitely before age 5 to detect this condition.

Astigmatism

In this refractive error, a set of rays is focused on the retina and one behind or in front of the retina, which in turn produces a blurred vision. This is due to abnormal curvature of cornea or lens that can be corrected by:
01. Glasses
02. Contact lenses
03. Lasik Laser

Blepharitis

This is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelid margins. In most cases it tends to have a recurrent course making it often difficult to manage.

Anterior blepharitis affects the outer portion of the eyelid margin, where the eyelashes are attached. The two most common causes of anterior blepharitis are bacteria and scalp dandruff.

Posterior blepharitis affects the inner portion of the eyelid margin (the moist part that makes contact with the eye) and is caused by problems with the oil (meibomian) glands in this part of the eyelid. Two skin disorders can cause this form of blepharitis: acne rosacea, which leads to red and inflamed skin, and scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).Symptoms of either form of blepharitis include a foreign body or burning sensation, excessive tearing, itching, sensitivity to light (photophobia), red and swollen eyelids, redness of the eye, blurred vision, frothy tears, dry eye, or crusting of the eyelashes on awakening.

Complications from blepharitis include:
Stye: A red tender bump on the eyelid that is caused by an acute infection of the oil glands of the eyelid.

Cataract

The lens is the part of the eye that helps focus light on the retina. The retina is the eye's light-sensitive layer that sends visual signals to the brain. In a normal eye, light passes through the lens and gets focused on the retina. To help produce a sharp image, the lens must remain clear. Cataract is defined as opacification or clouding of the natural clear lens that results in visual problems. The lens is made mostly of water and protein. The protein is arranged to let light pass through and focus on the retina. Sometimes some of the protein clumps together. This can start clouding small areas of the lens, blocking some light from reaching the retina and interfering with the vision. In the early stages, cataract may not cause a problem. The cloudiness may affect only a small part of the lens. However, after some time, the cataract grows larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see. Because less light reaches the retina, the vision may become dull and blurry. Though the cataract does not spread from one eye to the other, many people develop cataract in both the eyes. The most common type is related to aging. Other causes include diabetes, inflammation and trauma. Some children are born with cataract or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may not affect vision. and If they do, the cataract may be removed.

What are the symptoms of cataract?

The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

Cloudy or blurry vision.
Glare from lamps, headlights or very bright sunlight; or a halo around lights.
Colors seem faded.
Poor night vision.
Double or multiple vision
Frequent changes in the power of your eyeglasses.

However these symptoms can also be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, it is essential to have a check up with an Ophthalmologist.

What is the treatment for a cataract?

In early stages of cataract, the vision may be improve by using different eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or stronger lighting. However, when these measures are no longer helpful, a simple surgery becomes the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with daily activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. The decision for surgery has to be made by you and your eye care specialist. If you have cataract in both eyes, the doctor will not remove the cataract in both the eyes at the same time. You will need to undergo surgery for cataract for each eye separately. Sometimes, a cataract need to be removed even if it doesn't cause problems with vision. For example, a cataract should be removed if it prevents examination or treatment of another eye problem, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, or if it is associated with diseases of the back of the eye that may need independent surgical treatment.

How is a cataract removed?

There are two primary surgical ways to remove a cataract.

Phacoemulsification, or phaco: A small incision is made on the side of the cornea, through which a tiny probe is inserted into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the cloudy center of the lens so it can be removed by suction.
Extracapsular surgery: A slightly longer incision is made on the side of the cornea and the hard center of the lens is removed in one piece. At the end of surgery the incision is closed with a few stitches. In most cataract surgeries, the removed lens is replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL is a clear, artificial lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of the eye. For people who cannot have an IOL due to. problems during surgery or due to another eye disease, a soft contact lens may be suggested. For others, glasses that provide powerful magnification may be prescribed.

Corneal Dystrophy

Alternations in the clarity and shape of the cornea can result in decreased comfort and vision for the patient. A group of diseases termed corneal dystrophies can cause such problems. These diseases are inherited due to diseased genes of the parents. Often similar problems will be found among other family members too.

In these conditions, abnormal deposits are formed in the corneal layers. These usually start in the second decade of life and can be of varying severity, but often affect both eyes in a symmetrical manner. These are usually progressive and can impair visual function. These deposits cause an irregular corneal surface, which can produce frequent episodes of pain, redness, tearing and light sensitivity in patients. In other conditions such as keratoconous, although the cornea is clear, it becomes quite thin and may begin to protrude forwards resulting in a conical shape of the cornea.

Although there is no medical treatment for such conditions, in the early stages of the disease, artificial tears may provide symptomatic relief to the patient. As the disease progresses, with increasing visual deficit, contact lenses may sometimes help in improving visual acuity, especially in keratoconous. In the other central dystrophies, replacing the diseased cornea tissue with donor corneal tissue can restore vision, a procedure termed as corneal transplantation.

Squint

This is a condition when there is a misalignment of the eye. This could be prevalent at birth or may occur later in life, even as adults. Some of these children may also develop poor vision in one eye because of the squint. Adults with recent onset of squint often have double vision. Some types of squint may also be secondary to diseases of the brain and nerves. Most types of squint are correctable by surgery. Some are treated with glasses and exercise. Hence any child with a squint or adult with a sudden onset of squint or double vision needs to have their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.