Eye injuries and infections are best handled immediately. If care is delayed, recovery is more difficult and sometimes permanent eye damage can occur. Our doctors are available "on-call" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to protect your eyesight. Emergency Services Call us at any time if you think an eye emergency is occurring: Please call our main number (903)-838-9063 to receive the doctor on call's cellphone/pager number. If we do not answer your call will be returned immediately.
Diseases & Conditions Of The Eye
Diabetic Eye Disease
There are approximately 16 million Americans who have either Type I (juvenile onset) or Type II (adult onset) diabetes. All are at risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases that are common complication of diabetes. Early detection and timely treatment can substantially reduce the risk of severe visual loss or blindness from diabetic eye disease. Unfortunately many people at risk are not having their eyes examined regularly to detect these problems before they impair vision.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of sight threatening eye conditions that may develop as a result of systemic diabetes. They include:
- Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetes attacks the blood vessels located in the retina. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye that translates light into electrical signals that the brain interprets as vision.
- Cataract: People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop a cataract as someone who does not have the disease. In addition, cataracts tend to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
- Glaucoma: This disease occurs when increased fluid pressure in the eye leads to progressive optic nerve damage. People with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop glaucoma as other adults.
A cataract is any opacity of the crystalline lens sufficient to cause visual impairment. Cataracts have been known about since the beginning of medical history and are the leading cause of blindness throughout the world. Ninety percent of all cataracts are the result of aging and usually there is no other reason for its development. Some loss of transparency of the lens with age is nearly as inevitable as wrinkling of the skin and graying of the hair. More evidence is mounting that exposure to the sun and its ultraviolet rays may be the cause of this loss of transparency.
The other ten percent of cataracts are either congenital (present at birth) or juvenile (early onset) in nature. A large variety of congenital lens opacities exist, but the majority do not cause visual impairment. Juvenile cataracts can occur with congenital rubella, congenital syphilis, diabetes mellitus, and inflammation from an infection. Cataracts can also be caused by trauma to the eye. A blunt injury to the eye may cause the rapid formation of a cataract or it may develop months or years later.
There are many forms of glaucoma and together they are the third major cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is a condition of the eye in which the intraocular pressure exceeds the tolerance of the eye. This often results in irreversible blindness through progressive loss of one's field of vision. Glaucoma may develop at any age, but is more prevalent in the elderly. Most people with glaucoma are unaware of their problem, and experience no symptoms while their vision is slowly and progressively damaged. However, if glaucoma is detected and the intraocular pressure is reduced, the progression of blindness can be controlled.
Because glaucoma is often without warning signs, early diagnosis depends heavily on the routine measurement of the intraocular pressure, examination of the optic nerve and visual field. Early diagnosis is critical because once the retinal axons of the nerve are damaged they cannot be restored. It is recommended that people over the age of 40 have annual eye exams that include assessment of the optic nerve, retina and the visual field in addition to measuring intraocular pressure. In our office we utilize the most advanced technology such as the GDX, VF, OCT, and Visante to diagnose and manage glaucoma.
Symptoms of Retinopathy
For many people with diabetic retinopathy, there are no early warning symptoms. There is no pain, no blurred vision, and no ocular inflammation. In fact, many people do not develop any visual impairment until the disease is well advanced. Some people in the early and advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy may notice a change in their central and/or color vision. Because of the lack of symptoms it is usually undetected until your eye care specialist discovers it at an eye examination. For this reason the National Eye Institute recommends that people with diabetes undergo a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year. At this examination you should expect to have your pupils dilated with eye drops. This allows the practitioner to better examine the back of the eye for early signs of disease.
While the sunshine, warm weather, and spring blooms are a refreshing, welcome sight after the cold winter months, they also bring along with them an abundance of pesky allergens. Like other allergies, eye allergies can be seasonal (affecting most people during the spring, summer and fall) or perennial (causing problems year-round). Seasonal allergies are most commonly caused by exposure to airborne allergens, like pollen from flowers, grasses, trees, or even mold spores.
Just like other allergic reactions, eye allergies are caused when these particles come into contact with the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines our eyelids and the whites of our eyes). The allergic reaction is caused by our immune system's incorrect response when coming into contact with these particles. Instead of classifying these substances as harmless "debris" in the air around us, when we have an allergic reaction, our body's immune system attacks the perceived threat by releasing antibodies. This, in turn, causes our body to release histamines, which can lead to itchy, red, watery eyes.
These eye irritations can also cause allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis is more common in adults than children, but it may occur at any age. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs in a rapid fashion as the result of exposure to pollen, grass, dust mites, chemical exposure, certain foods, or exposure to any other substance to which you are allergic. It can be either acute or chronic.
Visual Symptoms of Cataracts
Many people with cataracts will experience a slowly progressive and painless decrease in vision, whereas others report a rapid loss of vision over a period of months, weeks, or even days. It is not uncommon for elderly patients with cataracts to notice a renewed ability to read without glasses, despite a decrease in distance acuity. This "second sight" is due to a thickening of the lens that changes their eyeglass prescription. Some cataracts will create glare from lights and "halos" while driving at night. It is not uncommon to experience a loss of color vision. In summary, cataracts can cause loss of vision ranging from very mild to severe impairment. Cataracts alone, however, are not responsible for total blindness.
Pink Eye AKA Conjunctivitis
While anyone can get “pink eye,” it is the most common eye infection in school-aged children. It can be very uncomfortable and highly-contagious and can quickly run rampant through schools, daycares, and other locations where children are together.
What is “Pink Eye” or Conjunctivitis?
The conjunctiva is a clear, thin mucous membrane that covers the whites of the eyes and the underside of the eyelids. This tissue is susceptible to infection by bacteria and viruses. The most common causes of conjunctivitis in children are bacteria, viruses, or allergies. Eye irritants such as pool chlorine, smoke, shampoo, and soaps may also cause conjunctivitis.
In all types of conjunctivitis, the eyes are uncomfortable and the whites of the eyes are red, with a light pink up to a bright red appearance (hence, the name “pinkeye”). Symptoms may include frequent tearing, pain, light sensitivity, discharge, swelling of the eyelids, itching, and matting shut of the eyelids. The most common type of conjunctivitis in children is caused by bacteria. The bacteria that cause eye infections are often the same ones that cause sinus and ear infections, and infections involving these different organ systems may all occur simultaneously.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can develop quickly and may cause significant crusting of the eyelids, yellow to green discharge of pus during the day, and matting of the eyelids so that they are difficult to open upon waking in the morning. Bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious and is easily spread to the unaffected eye and other people. Vision Source of Texarkana advises patients with bacterial (and viral) conjunctivitis to behave the same way they would when they have a cold: wash your hands frequently, don’t shake hands with others, and don’t share towels, washcloths, and pillowcases with others. Also, don’t rub or wipe the infected eye and then rub the unaffected eye, as it will become cross-infected.
Parents should consider keeping children home from school for forty-eight hours after starting antibiotic eyedrops to prevent spreading of the infection to other people. Conjunctivitis spreads quickly through schools and daycare centers, but the spread of pinkeye is mitigated if the child stays home for a couple of days. Bacterial conjunctivitis will likely go away on it’s own within ten days, but treatment with prescription antibiotic eyedrops clears the infection in half the time or less and reduces the exposure of others to the contagious infection. Visiting Vision Source of Texarkana at the first sign of an eye infection is strongly recommended.
Viral conjunctivitis has many of the same symptoms as bacterial conjunctivitis. Viral eye infections make the eyes look pink in color, whereas bacterial infections make the eyes more red than pink. Another difference between viral and bacterial infections is that viral infections cause more excessive tearing, with little to no pus in the discharge. Bacterial infections usually involve heavy amounts of pus.
Viral eye infections may last anywhere from a few days up to several months. Like all viruses, there are not many treatment options for this type of infection other than cold compresses to comfort the eyes. Infrequently, a doctor may use a steroid eye drop in an attempt to make a very uncomfortable patient feel better, but it does not alter the course of the virus. A newer treatment option that is “off-label” — not specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — and has reportedly excellent results is a diluted solution of Betadine, which is directly applied to the eye as an eyedrop in the doctor’s office. Betadine is an iodine solution that is widely used as a sterilization preparation on the skin prior to a surgical procedure.
Allergic conjunctivitis is more common in adults than children, but it may occur at any age. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs in a rapid fashion as the result of exposure to pollen, grass, dust mites, chemical exposure, certain foods, or exposure to any other substance that you are allergic to. It can be either acute or chronic. Acute allergic conjunctivitis is the eye’s rapid (and exaggerated) response to an allergen. The hallmark symptoms are itchiness of the eyes, redness, and sometimes swelling of the eyelids. If the itchiness worsens when you rub the eyes, it is likely an allergic reaction. Depending on the severity, the eyelids may swell enough to cause them to shut due to the excessive inflammatory response. Acute allergic reactions may involve other areas of the body in addition to the eyes, so it’s wise to seek medical attention. Once your doctor at Vision Source of Texarkana has diagnosed your condition, there are several treatment options to make you more comfortable. Severe allergic reactions may even require prescription medications or epinephrine injections.
Chronic allergic conjunctivitis is typically a less severe, but longer lasting manifestation of the same signs and symptoms. Acute conjunctivitis normally occurs when there’s a limited exposure to the offending agent and then it’s removed, whereas chronic conjunctivitis is a result of prolonged exposure to the allergen. Chronic allergic conjunctivitis frequently occurs when someone lives with a pet they are allergic to or due to the seasonal hayfever that occurs in the Spring and Fall months in many areas of the country. Over-the-counter anti-allergy medications are a good way to begin treating chronic allergies. However, prescription tablets, liquid, nasal spray, and eyedrop medications are very effective in the management of chronic allergies.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 65 in the United States. It is a slow, progressive, and painless condition that affects the macula, the small central part of the retina that allows you to see fine detail clearly. Many people develop AMD as part of the aging process. This disease can occur in two different forms known as either Dry AMD or Wet AMD.
The dry form of AMD accounts for ninety percent of all people with AMD. Recent studies suggest that dry AMD is caused by the aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula, a region in the center of the retina that allows people to see straight ahead and distinguish fine details. Usually vision remains functional in this form and profound vision loss is uncommon.
Wet AMD affects ten percent of people with AMD and is a much greater threat to vision. With the wet form of the disease, rapidly growing abnormal blood vessels develop under the central area of the retina. These vessels begin leaking fluid and blood that can cause severe loss of central vision. Laser surgery is a standard treatment for treating these leaky vessels. This treatment is limited to a small number of patients because the heat generated by the high power laser treatment can damage the retina and harm vision itself.
Newer treatment methods include the use of a cool laser that does not damage the surrounding retina and injectable medications that prevent new blood vessel growth.
Even something as innocent as catching up on a little spring pruning in the garden can result in an eye injury. The doctors at Vision Source of Texarkana evaluate and treat several patients each year with corneal abrasions caused by tree branches, pine needles, blowing debris, or other typically harmless elements in our surroundings. Our eyes are extremely delicate tissues, and they are easily damaged. Fortunately for us, our eyes are remarkably adept at healing when things go wrong, too.
The cornea is the clear tissue over the colored part of the eye. Millions of pain-receptor nerves reside in this tissue, the purpose of which is to cause immediate awareness of any threat to the wellbeing of the corneal tissue. Even the smallest corneal abrasions are extremely painful and have the uncanny capacity to debilitate the toughest of men. Fortunately, the cornea has the wonderful ability to heal itself swiftly. Most abrasions do not cause permanent scarring or long-term vision loss when they are treated properly and promptly. However, severe injuries to the cornea may leave scarring that permanently damages or destroys eyesight.
Treatment of a corneal abrasion involves the removal of any remaining foreign objects in the eye, prevention of infections by antibiotics, pain management, and facilitation of the healing process. The constant eyelid movement over the abrasion slows the healing process and further agitates the wound. Often, the doctor will place a “bandage” contact lens on the eye for overnight wear to create a shield over the abrasion. This hastens the healing process and helps alleviate pain. In addition, doctors may dilate the affected eye with a long-lasting dilation eyedrop to aid in pain reduction. Over-the-counter or prescription oral pain medications are normally utilized to control significant pain.
Corneal abrasions are best managed by a doctor rather than by self-treatment. Given the possible chance for a secondary infection as well as the possibility of long-term scarring, it is advisable to be safe and have it evaluated by an eye doctor at Vision Source of Texarkana.