With the percentage of older people in the community on the increase, eye disease is becoming more widespread. The work of optometrists, whose titles include Doctor of Optometry or O.D., is therefore increasingly important in relation to the care of vision and the detection and treatment of eye disease.
Glaucoma is the #1 cause of blindness in the African-American population, but anyone can have it. It is a disease in which the optic nerve fibers are damaged. Normally, this is a result of elevated eye pressure due to an impaired drainage of the aqueous fluid within the eye. There are several types of glaucoma.
A choroidal nevus is a clump of pigment cells beneath the retina. It is like a freckle on your skin. It is a benign condition but may sometimes become a malignant melanoma, which is life threatening. It should be monitored by an eye doctor.
An estimated 20 million Americans age 20 or older have either diagnosed diabetes mellitus, undiagnosed diabetes, or impaired fasting blood glucose levels. About one-third are not aware that they have the disease. If the diabetes is poorly controlled, diabetic retinopathy may develop. This is the #1 cause of blindness in the Hispanic population.
In early diabetic retinopathy, the vessels leak blood and fluid into the retinal tissues. If the leaking is extensive enough, vision worsens. This is referred to as Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. (NPDR)
As the condition worsens from NPDR, fragile new blood vessels that may leak more blood will grow. This is referred to as Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR). Fibrous bands of tissue develop along these new vessels and later shrink, pulling on the retina which results in a retinal detachment and possible blindness.
Diabetic Retinopathy can be treated with lasers to destroy new blood vessels and injections to slow the progression of these vessels. Individuals with diabetes are 25% more likely than the general population to become blind.