SPOKANE (509) 928-8040  :  HAYDEN (208) 762-0605

MARK A. KONTOS, M.D. : CHRISTOPHER W. STURBAUM, M.D. : CASEY D. CLAYPOOL, O.D.

Patient Education


What follows are definitions of some of the more commonly referred to eye conditions. This information is provided for our patients use in the hope it will assist them in both identifying any eye conditions they may currently have and in completing our patient medical history forms. 

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. A cataract can occur in either one or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of their disease. Of which, all can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. Diabetic eye disease may include: 1. Diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to the blood vessels in the retina. 2. Cataracts (Cataracts develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.) 3. Glaucoma, which is an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.(A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults.)

Dry Eye

Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. In addition, inflammation of the surface of the eye may occur along with dry eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision. However, permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon. Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and it can decrease tolerance for dry environments, such as the air inside an airplane.

Floaters

Floaters are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They do not follow your eye movements precisely, and usually drift when your eyes stop moving. Most people have floaters and learn to ignore them; they are usually not noticed until they become numerous or more prominent. Floaters can become apparent when looking at something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder in which structural changes to the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve. Keratoconus can cause substantial distortion of vision, including multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light. It is typically diagnosed in the patient's adolescent years and attains its most severe state in the twenties and thirties.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition usually found in older adults which results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in "dry" and "wet" forms. It is a major cause of blindness in the elderly. Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.

Ptosis

Ptosis is an abnormal drooping of the upper eyelid. The drooping may be worse after being awake longer, when the individual's muscles are tired. If severe enough and left untreated, the drooping eyelid can cause other conditions, like amblyopia or astigmatism. This is why it is especially important for this disorder to be treated in children at a young age, before it can interfere with vision development.

Retinal Detachment

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.

Strabismus

Strabismus, or eye turn is a condition in which an individual is unable to keep both eyes simultaneously aligned. It can occur with one or both eyes and the turn can be in, out, up or down. In addition, the condition can be intermittent or constant. 

Have questions? Email us at empireeye@empireeye.com