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What is Keratoconus, and are You at Risk?

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 @ 11:57 AM

keratoconus.jpegThere are many common eye conditions that most patients are aware of such as glaucoma, cataracts, and refractive errors.  However, aside from the latter, there are few that are of much concern during youth.  After all, most health conditions tend to impact individuals as they age, and those affecting the eyes are no different.  Yet, there are some, albeit rare, conditions which are not only problematic for vision and eye health but that are more likely to occur during a patient’s younger years.  Keratoconus is one such condition.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a condition affecting the cornea, or the clear covering of the eye.  In a healthy cornea, tiny fibers of protein support it and help it hold its shape.  However, those with keratoconus experience a gradual weakening of these fibers and the cornea slowly begins to protrude outward into a cone shape. 

What are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

In the early stages, keratoconus may cause blurring of vision and sensitivity to light or glare.  This is often corrected with the use of glasses or soft contact lenses.  However, if the condition progresses, so too will the method of treatment.  As keratoconus worsens, prescriptions may begin to change frequently and vision may become suddenly cloudy or distorted in the affected eye.  Patients may move to hard, gas permeable contact lenses, and in the most severe instances, a corneal transplant may be needed.  

Who Develops Keratoconus?

Typically, signs of keratoconus first appear in or around the teenage years.  However, while less likely, there are cases of individuals in their 30s or 40s being impacted by the condition.  It may progress quickly, or it may move slowly over the course of the next 10 or more years.  It is more likely to occur in those who have a family history of keratoconus, those who also have Down syndrome, and those who have a habit of rubbing too vigorously at their eyes.

When is a Corneal Transplant Needed for Keratoconus?

In advanced cases of keratoconus, the cornea may become scarred or extremely thin, and it may no longer be possible to help vision improve through the use of corrective eyewear.  While patients may not become completely blind from keratoconus, legal blindness and extreme vision interference from such keratoconus complications will likely require correction through corneal transplant surgery (keratoplasty).  During this procedure, the damaged and diseased cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea.  While complications such as graft rejection or poor vision may occur, this type of procedure has shown to be largely successful in the treatment of keratoconus.

If you are concerned about the possibility of keratoconus and associated complications, the first step is to visit an ophthalmologist for testing and a confirmation of your diagnosis.  Identifying and monitoring the condition as early as possible is key to successful treatment.  For those in the greater Baton Rouge area, Eye Specialists of Louisiana is home to many highly-trained ophthalmologists, all of whom can help ensure both the current and long-term health of your eyes.  Call (225) 768-7777 to schedule a consultation.

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The Genetic Component of Glaucoma: What Patients Should Know

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Thu, Jan 04, 2018 @ 12:26 PM

Father and his son looking at the camera in the garden.jpegIf you suffer from glaucoma, you know that it has rightfully earned its reputation as the “silent thief of eyesight.” Glaucoma is a group of diseases that irreversibly damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and ultimately, if untreated, blindness. Patients developing glaucoma do not typically experience any symptoms of the disease. It doesn’t make your eyes red or cause any pain, but it is the second leading cause of blindness the U.S. So, what causes this disease? In recent years, innovative research has proven that there is, in fact, a genetic component to glaucoma. So, if mom or dad suffered from it, there is a higher likelihood that you will as well. 

Genetic Testing for Glaucoma

Unfortunately, there is no genetic testing currently available for adult-onset glaucoma.  There is, however, genetic testing available for expecting parents. Because of the genetic component of the disease, expecting parents can be tested to see if passing a disease specific gene to their child is a possibility. Although it is most widely known to affect the older population, glaucoma is not age exclusive and can even be present from birth.

3 Main Forms of Glaucoma

There are 3 types of glaucoma that make up the majority of the cases seen in the United States. They are:

  1. Primary Congenital GlaucomaThis is the most common form of glaucoma found in children from birth to 3 years of age. This disease is a primary cause of blindness in this young population because it interrupts the development of the eye and causes drainage structures to form abnormally.
  2. Primary Open- Angle GlaucomaThis is the most common type of glaucoma. POAG patients experience no symptoms until later stages of the disease when irreversible damage has already occurred. Fortunately, eye exams can detect POAG early, allowing ophthalmologists to treat and prevent worsening of the condition.  
  3. Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma - This is the second most common type of glaucoma found nationwide. The eye structure of patients affected by PACG closes over time which, in turn, creates high eye pressure. Connections between PACG and genetic variants were just recently discovered, but it is still unclear how these genes specifically affect the patient’s disease.

Groups Most at Risk for Glaucoma

Being aware of your risk for glaucoma is critical to its prevention.  Risk groups that are more likely to develop the disease are: adults over age 60, African Americans over age 40, and patients with family history of glaucoma. If you fall into one of these categories, bi-annual comprehensive dilated eye exams are necessary.

As technology and science progresses through time, research becomes more advanced. With innovation and knowledge comes better treatments and quality of life for many who suffer from diseases. The genetic component of glaucoma is under continuous study. We hope that some day soon, there will be a breakthrough that closes the remaining gaps in our understanding of the disease and brings our research full circle.   

If you or someone you know is at risk or suffering from glaucoma, contact our Baton Rouge ophthalmology practice to schedule your next appointment.

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Diabetes and Eye Disease: 3 Most Common Forms

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

diabetic eye conditions.jpegBeing diabetic automatically places a patient in a much higher risk category for many health complications.  These include heart disease, nerve damage, skin infections, and eye disease.  In particular, there are three types of eye disease which are more likely to impact those with diabetes than the average patient, and it is of critical importance that each of these be understood and eye health actively monitored.  If you or a loved one live with diabetes, here are the eye conditions of which you should be most aware:

Diabetes and Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition in which fluid is unable to normally drain from the eye.  Over time, this buildup of fluid leads to increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and damage to the optic nerve.  Unfortunately, diabetic patients are especially susceptible to the condition which can cause gradual vision loss and often comes with no warning signs. 

Diabetes and Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a common cause of vision loss among diabetics.  Elevated levels of blood sugar over an extended period of time can lead to damage and blockage of blood vessels, particularly the tiny ones that feed into the retina.  The body will attempt to compensate by developing new blood vessels which are susceptible to microscopic hemorrhages.  In this case, dark splotches from the bleeding may be visible in the field of vision, and if allowed to advance far enough, blurred central vision, retinal detachment, and even blindness may occur.

Diabetes and Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens due to protein buildup and are a condition commonly associated with age.  In fact, the majority of Americans over the age of 60 will deal with cataracts to some degree.  However, those who are also diagnosed with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop the condition than their peers.  Fortunately, treatment has come a very long way, and cataract surgery options ranging from traditional to laser to dropless are giving patients better outcomes and stronger vision than those in years past.

For patients with diabetes, there is no shortage of associated health concerns.  It’s an unfortunate reality of the disease.  However, careful monitoring of the condition and a healthy lifestyle and diet can keep many of these problems at bay.  In the case of diabetes-related eye conditions, a skilled ophthalmologist is a critical member of your medical team.

If you are in the Baton Rouge area and are living with diabetes, contact Eye Specialists of Louisiana, and request an appointment with one of our physicians to evaluate the current state of your eye health and for recommendations to keep your vision strong well into the future.

 10 Things You Should Know About Cataracts

Night Blindness: Causes and Baton Rouge Treatment Options

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 02:14 PM

night blindness.jpegHave you ever driven on the interstate at night and wondered how anyone could focus on the road with such little light and the added distraction of oncoming traffic? Staring straight ahead for miles on end, depending solely on your headlights to lead you down the correct path can be difficult with or without a vision problem, but for some, the task is exceptionally difficult. What could be causing the additional struggle? In many cases, the problem can be attributed to a condition known as night blindness.

What is Night Blindness?

Night Blindness (aka nyctalopia) is the inability to see well at night or in poor light. Nyctalopia is not a disease, but rather, a symptom of another optical problem. Many who suffer from nyctalopia also suffer from disorders such as nearsightedness, glaucoma, myopia, cataracts, vitamin A deficiency, Keratoconus, or other such eye condition.  These optic issues can each hinder your ability to see in dim light, which explains the challenge of driving at night or transitioning from a light to dark space.

What Treatment Options are Available for Night Blindness?

Successfully treating nyctalopia can typically be accomplished by first treating the underlying eye disorder. If a patient is nearsighted, for instance, a prescription for new glasses could do the trick. For cases caused by cataracts, surgical interventions such as dropless cataract surgery can lead to drastic improvement.  In the case of glaucoma, medication may be needed. 

Determining the source of night blindness, as well as the most appropriate treatment method, can be accomplished with a complete eye exam.  A board-certified ophthalmologist will have the skill and training needed to detect not only refractive errors, but any other conditions which may be affecting the retina, cornea, or other structure within the eye.  Additionally, they will be able to actively monitor your condition with regular visits and prescribe or update your treatment plan as needed.

Our team at Eye Specialists of Louisiana is committed to working diligently to diagnose and resolve your optical disorders. If think you may be suffering from nyctalopia as a result of an underlying optical disorder, contact our Baton Rouge ophthalmology practice to schedule your next appointment.

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3 Tips for Giving LASIK as a Christmas Gift

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Mon, Oct 30, 2017 @ 04:13 PM

LASIK for Christmas-1.pngIf you have a loved one who wears contacts or glasses, you’ve probably heard them lament their poor eyesight more than once.  You may have even heard them express their desire to get LASIK surgery.  It’s an option that seems to regularly cross the minds of those whose sight has become dependent upon corrective eyewear.  After all, it’s quite easy to take for granted the ability to simply wake up and be able to see or to dash out the door without regard for glasses or contact solution.  And, while your loved one may have expressed some of these same sentiments, there could also be a couple of hurdles that are preventing them from taking the leap.  However, with the help and encouragement of someone they love and trust, their dream of clear, unassisted vision could be a reality.

Tip 1: Understand Who is a Candidate for LASIK

Not all patients with refractive errors are candidates for LASIK, so it’s important to do some homework ahead of time to determine if your loved one would even be able to take advantage of the surgery.  Here are the requirements that patients must meet:

  • Over 18 years old
  • Eyes are generally healthy (i.e. – no infection, scars, etc.)
  • Have stable vision without prescription changes in the past year
  • Willing to stop wearing contacts 2 to 4 weeks prior to surgery

While there are certainly other factors that will come into play and that can be discussed during a consultation, meeting the above makes a patient a pretty good candidate for LASIK surgery.

Tip 2: Research LASIK Surgeons

You may see ads promoting discounted LASIK procedures or notice a physician’s television commercials, but these should not be the determining factor in which LASIK surgeon you choose.  When it comes to any surgical procedure, especially one involving an area as delicate as the eyes, due diligence in research is necessary to make the best possible choice.  Use search engines and social media to locate nearby doctors.  Read their reviews and talk to former patients.  You likely know at least one or two people who have already had LASIK.  Find out who they went to and if they would recommend them.  And, of course, always confirm your surgeon’s qualifications and experience.

Tip 3: Look for LASIK Financing Options

The average cost of LASIK is anywhere from $1500 to $3000 per eye.  Although some surgeons may charge slightly more or less.  This cost can be off-putting to some, but LASIK is actually quite cost effective, drastically reducing the amount of money that patients must spend on prescription eyewear and associated products such as contact solution over their lifetime.  Additionally, most practices offer financing options to help patients pay for their procedure over the course of several months versus one lump sum.  And, don’t forget other payment options that may be available such as a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account through an employer.

If you want to give the gift this Christmas that will last forever, give the gift of clear sight.  Not only is it something that will be used every single day, it can also greatly improve quality of life and even happiness.  You can begin by scheduling an initial consultation with a Baton Rouge LASIK surgeon such as those at Eye Specialists of Louisiana who will help guide yourself and your loved one through the process from evaluation to surgery to follow-up.  Simply click below to request your appointment.

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