The below topics are important to our practice and the services we offer. If you have any questions regarding these or any other eye health related topics, please call our office or ask our doctors and staff during your visit. We’d love to help you in any way we can!
Vision and Learning
Good vision entails more than seeing 20/20. Acuity is the sharpness or clearness of eyesight. Vision, on the other hand, is the ability to internalize, process, form understandings and react to information being gathered through the eyes. Visual skills must be developed as we grow just as we develop the ability to walk and talk. Many children fail to develop these visual skills, and are forced to enter school unprepared. As a result, learning may be more difficult.
Determining Possible Visual Difficulties
An evaluation known as Developmental Vision Exam tests three arenas:
1. Visual Acuity (annual exam) – Tests are done to determine eye health, acuity and refraction.
2. Visual Efficiency Skills – Tests are done to determine how well the eyes are coordinated.
Tests are performed in three areas:
- Eye Teaming – The simultaneous use of both eyes as either far or near points
- Focusing – The eye’s ability to adjust its focus at either far or near points quickly and effortlessly
- Tracking – The eye’s ability to move along in a smooth and consistent manner
3. Visual Perception – Tests are done to determine the ability to organize and interpret information that is seen and assign meaning.
Success of the treatment depends upon:
- The severity of the difficulty
- The age of the person
- The amount of effort put forth on the part of the patient and family regarding home therapy and regular attendance
Parents may contact Dr. Villella to discuss whether or not your child should have a developmental evaluation.
The natural lens in the eye gradually becomes less clear as we get older. When opacities develop in the lens and the lens gets too hazy, vision will be impaired. Our office can diagnose and manage cataract care. When the cataract affects the vision to the extent that you cannot read or see distant objects comfortably, we will recommend cataract surgery. Our office co-manages with cataract specialists that are proven experts in cataract surgery. Cataract surgery can provide you with a bright new world of vision.
Glaucoma gradually destroys the optic nerve tissue in the back of the eye. The greatest danger of glaucoma stems from the fact that the disease is painless and without obvious symptoms until significant damage has occurred. The most common cause is from pressure being too high inside the eye, but vascular disease and other diseases can also cause glaucoma. We always monitor for glaucoma during routine eye examinations. Tests include checking the pressure of the eye, screening for peripheral vision defects, nerve fiber analysis, corneal thickness, and analyzing the appearance of the optic nerve. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, we typically prescribe medications that lower the eye pressure. Most forms of glaucoma are successfully treated with eye drops. Laser treatments and eye surgery are secondary treatments that offer alternative ways to treat more advanced glaucoma.
Macular Degeneration is a disease that effects the central part of vision. There are two types of this disease, dry form or wet form. The more common of the two is the dry form, where the center of the retina weakens. The wet form is where leaky blood vessels grow under the retina. The cause of Macular Degeneration is not completely known but age is a big risk factor along with environment and genetics. Symptoms include dark or empty spots located centrally in the field of vision, things slowly becoming less clear, shapes become distorted, and straight lines appearing wavy. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease but it can me managed up to a certain point of progression. Early detection will lead to the best outcomes.
One complication a patient with Diabetes can experience is Diabetic Retinopathy, which can threaten a patient’s vision. The retina gets it’s nutrients by tiny blood vessels. When these vessels are damaged they begin to leak blood and fluid, causing retinal tissue to swell and a patient’s vision to seem cloudy. The longer a patient lives with Diabetes the higher the chance they have of developing this problem. In the beginning stages of Diabetic Retinopathy there are no significant signs that patients will notice. That is the explanation behind Optometrist and Primary Care Physicians recommending yearly dilated eye health exams, because if left unmonitored and untreated it can lead to blindness. If necessary, laser surgery is used to seal any leaking blood vessels and to depress new leaky vessels from developing. Injections administered into the eye are also used to decease inflammation or to prevent new blood vessels from developing. In the more advance d stages of Diabetic Retinopathy, surgical procedures may be required for treatment.
One of the most common eye conditions of patients is Astigmatism. Astigmatism causes patients to have blurry vision due to their cornea having an irregular shape or by the way the lens inside their eye is curved. The cornea and the lens are the two parts that make up the eye’s ability to focus light. There is no specific cause behind why patients have astigmatism, but it can be hereditary. Patients who have a small amount of astigmatism may not notice it, therefore no correction is needed. Larger amounts can cause patients to experience distorted or blurred vision. Astigmatism can be corrected by glasses, contacts, or in more severe cases, LASIK refractive surgery.
Dizziness & Balance Problems Related to Vision
Vision plays a significant role in balance. Approximately twenty percent of the nerve fibers from the eyes interact with the vestibular system. There are a variety of visual dysfunctions that can cause, or are associated with dizziness and balance problems. Sometimes these are purely visual problems, and sometimes they are caused from other disorders such as stroke, head injury, vestibular dysfunction, deconditioning, and decompensation.
Dr. Villella will perform a neuro-optometric evaluation to determine if a deficit in the visual system is contributing to the dizziness and balance problems. Treatment often times includes prism glasses and occasionally vision therapy or occupational therapy is indicated.