We now know that certain eye tests may help serve as “biomarkers” for the progression of Huntington’s Disease as well as help understand whether some of the new medications prescribed might be helping to slow its progress. Huntington's Disease is an inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown and degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington's disease has a broad impact on a person's functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking and psychiatric disorders. Most people with Huntington's Disease develop signs and symptoms in their 30s or 40s, but the onset of disease may be earlier or later in life. Medications are available to help manage the symptoms of Huntington's Disease, but treatments can't prevent the physical, mental and behavioral decline associated with the condition.
Eye Problems with Huntington’s Disease
One of the earliest and most recognizable eye problems of Huntington’s Disease is a change in eye movements or “saccades” where there is a lag initiating an eye movement to look at something and/or an involuntary reflex saccadic movement that the person can’t control. This loss of eye movement control is quite common. Recent research using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) testing that we do right in our offices allows us to study the health of the retinal nerve fiber layer and the health of the nerve fibers around the center of vision, called the macula. What we know is the thinning of the nerve fiber layer on OCT, along with a loss of the macular volume is an indicator of the progression of the disease and can serve to monitor that progression.
Lazy Eye Amblyopia: What is it? Amblyopia or “lazy eye” is a very common vision problem that we see in children. In fact it is responsible for more vision loss in kids than all other reasons combined. Amblyopia is a decrease in the child’s vision that occurs even without any structural problem being present. The decrease in vision results when one or both eyes send a blurry image to the brain. The brain then “learns” to only see blurry with that eye, even when glasses are used. Only children can get amblyopia. If it is not treated, it can cause permanent loss of vision. There are a number of types of amblyopia including strabismic amblyopia which is caused by an eye alignment or eye turning problem, deprivation amblyopia which is caused by cataracts or other condition that “deprives” the eye of a visual image and refractive amblyopia which is due to an uncorrected refractive error such as farsightedness or astigmatism.
Depending on the cause of the amblyopia and whether there is an underlying uncorrected refractive error sometime glasses can help but will not correct the vision to 20/20. With amblyopia, the brain is “used to” seeing a blurry image and it cannot interpret the clear image that the glasses produce. With time, however, the brain may “re-learn” how to see and the vision may increase. Remember, glasses alone do not increase the vision all the way to 20/20, as the brain is used to seeing blurry with that eye. Because of this most of the time the normal eye is treated with patching or eye drops to force the amblyopic eye to be used and make it “stronger.” to make the amblyopic (weak) eye stronger.
“I had lasik a couple of months ago and couldn’t be happier. I am a truck driver so my schedule is all over the place. I was excited to hear that the healing time was minimal and i could return to work relatively quickly. I was nervous about my vision during nighttime driving. At first it was a little difficult to due to glare from oncoming headlights but after a few weeks that went away and is no longer a problem for me. One of the best things I have ever done!”
Spring is beautiful, except for pollen and itchy eyes! While many people enjoy the spring, millions of others live with hatred of those times when the trees, grass and weeds begin to pollinate. People who are sensitive to these allergens experience seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, the most common type of eye allergy. Allergic conjunctivitis-which causes red, itchy, watery eyes-results in the conjunctiva, the clear membrane like skin that covers the eye, becoming inflamed when triggered by an allergen. It is estimated that in the United States, some 20 percent of the population suffers from eye allergies making them anything but unusual. Further, the incidence appears to be on the rise. Some researchers believe that our increasingly clean, modern society which no longer requires our bodies to fight off multiple childhood infections has caused our immune systems to shift from an infection-fighting stance to more of an allergic stance. When the body's immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to substances such as seasonal pollens and pet allergens, an allergic reaction can occur whenever they come in contact with your eyes.
Normally, tears drain through tiny opening in corners of the upper and lower eyelids call “puncta,” then enter the nose through the nasolacrimal duct. Sometimes the nasolacrimal duct or tear duct can become blocked or obstructed making it impossible for the tears to drain normally. This can cause the eyes to run water or even produce a discharge. Often, the tears well up on the surface of the eye and overflow onto the eyelashes, eyelids, and down the cheek. This usually occurs within the first days or weeks of life. Sometimes, the eyelids can become red and swollen, even stuck together with yellowish-green discharge since the normal eyelid bacteria are not properly "flushed" down the obstructed system. Probably the most common cause of a tear duct obstruction in kids is a failure of the membrane at the end of the tear duct opening to open fully at the time of birth. Generally we see this happening in some 5-10% of newborn infants where one or both eyes is affected with a tear duct obstruction-BUT some 90% clear without any treatment with the first 12 months after birth.
Treatment of Kids’ Tear Duct Obstruction
As most of the time the obstruction will clear on its own, we don’t always have to treat it. But, if it persists and causes the welling up of tears or the sticking or redness of the eyelids we can suggest a gentle massage as a first step and prescribe antibiotic eye drops if necessary. Sometimes we will need to do a tear duct probing to clear the blockage and in a some more difficult situations we might need to perform a tear duct dilation with a tiny balloon or even insert some microscopic tubes. We perform these types of treatments as a matter of routine and, as a parent I will make sure to thoroughly explain them and answer all of your questions if they become necessary.
One of the Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center shared this comment with us,
“I’m a mechanic and over the course of about a year I noticed that my vision was deteriorating. I couldn’t see under the hood of cars as clearly and it was driving me crazy. I am 45 years old and never worn glasses. So I just figured I was aging and it was time to get my eyes checked. I couldn’t believe it when Dr. Buck told me I had cataracts! I thought that only happened to people in their 80’s. Well I was wrong. It can happen to anyone. After being in denial for about a week I scheduled the surgery and I am so happy I did. After a couple of days I was back at work. I wasn’t supposed to lift anything really heavy for the first week but that was ok. I was still able to do most of my duties. Not only have things at work improved for me I think my target shooting has improved as well!
If you or someone you know suffers from cloudy, blurry vision with night vision problems or fading of colors you should be checked for cataracts and learn more about cataract surgery and lens implants. Please call Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center at 219-464-8223, or visit Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center, Google+ or facebook.com/nwindianaeyeandlaser to schedule an appointment.
Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center offices are located at 502 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383 and 1001 South Edgewood Drive, Knox, Indiana 46354.
Dry Eye Slows Reading Speed Anyone who experiences the symptoms of dry eye is familiar with dryness, discomfort, burning, light sensitivity and even watering that can mark the presence of dry eye disease. But, did you know that dry eye problems and disease can impact visual function? Researchers reporting in Cornea compared visual function using reading tests including the Radner Reading Test, the International Reading Speed Texts [IReST], and the Wilkins Reading Test and studied cognitive function, fatigue, dry eye symptoms, reading acuity, reading rate and blink rate. The results showed significantly lower reading rates in all reading tests in patients with dry eye and a significantly increased fatigue level when reading in dry eye patients.