How the Eye Works
The human eye is like a camera where outside images are focused onto a piece of film. The cornea and crystalline lens are the lenses that focus the picture onto the eye’s film, the retina. The iris is the colored circle in the front of the eye. The black pupil, in the center of the iris, enlarges and contracts to regulate the amount of light entering the eye. The vitreous is a transparent jelly filling the inside of the eye. The choroid is a system of blood vessels which covers the outer retinal surface, providing it with oxygen and nourishment. The sclera, or white of the eye, is a tough protective outer shell that corresponds to the body of a camera. The optic nerve carries the light images to the brain.
The macula is a small specialized area of the retina responsible for straight-ahead reading and driving vision. The retina reacts to light through a chemical process which then sends nerve impulses directly to the brain where the "picture" is processed.
Unlike a camera, the image obtained by the retina is not of uniform clarity or sharpness. Only the macula is sensitive enough to provide high quality central vision. Any disease that affects the macula can cause symptoms such as central blurriness or distortion.
Common vision problems
The human eye is designed so that light enters through the cornea at the front, passes through the internal structures and focuses on the retina, which is the nerve layer at the back of the eye. Errors in this focusing system result in blurred or distorted vision.
Am I Nearsighted (Myopic)?
In nearsightedness, or myopia, close objects can be seen clearly while distant objects appear blurred.
Am I Farsighted (Hyperopic)?
With farsightedness, or hyperopia, additional effort is required to focus both at a distance and near. This can be difficult, resulting in eyestrain or headaches, or possible blurred vision.
Do I Have Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a condition where the front surface of the eye (cornea) has 2 different curves, and both of these curves must be accounted for in your prescription to allow you to see the best.
Am I Presbyopic?
Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process in which your eye’s ability to focus up close has gradually reduced. This generally affects those 40 or older.
All of these conditions can be easily treated with glasses or contact lenses. Dr. Dungan will explain these conditions to you during the course of your exam and will discuss treatment options with you.
What You Should Know About Cataracts
As we get older, chemical changes occur causing the lens to become cloudy, forming what we call cataracts. A cataract is a painless, gradual clouding of the normally transparent crystalline lens inside the eye. Contrary to popular belief, they are not caused by eyestrain or wearing improper glasses. However, when they develop, light transmission through the eye becomes increasingly scattered, causing vision clarity to decrease.
If you have recently been diagnosed with cataracts, you’re in good company. They are one of the most common and treatable causes of vision loss in the world. Poor vision from cataracts affects 60 percent of all people over 60. In fact, over one million Americans have cataracts removed every year.
At Ocean Eye, Dr. Dungan will evaluate your eyes to determine if you have cataracts, and if so, what your options are regarding treatment.
What You Should Know About Glaucoma
Glaucoma is usually associated with the build-up of fluid pressure inside the eye. If left untreated it can damage the optic nerve—responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain—and lead to vision loss.
Glaucoma is commonly referred to as the silent thief of sight, because in most cases it progresses gradually and quietly. Your vision can be damaged without any noticeable symptoms. It may begin with loss of peripheral vision and then advance to a reduction in central vision and blindness. This disease affects nearly two out of every 100 people over age 35. Half of those people are at risk for blindness because they may not know they even have the disease.
Significant damage is nearly always preventable. That’s right, you do not have to go blind from glaucoma. Dr. Dungan uses the most up-to-date technology to diagnose and treat glaucoma. With early detection and careful management, significant damage to your eyesight from glaucoma is nearly always preventable; however, treatment cannot restore any vision that has already been lost.
What You Should Know About Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration can be thought of as a wearing out of the macula, the small, specialized area of the retina that gives us our straight-ahead reading and driving vision. There are two basic types of macular degeneration. The majority of patients have the less severe dry type, which consists of small aging spots (drusen) in the macula. New blood vessel growth beneath the macula (choroidal neovascularization) is associated with the wet type. These vessels cause the macula to swell with fluid and blood and often lead to permanent central vision loss.
Since this disease does not affect the part of the eye responsible for side vision, you will never go completely blind. In fact, most people with macular degeneration will see normally throughout their lifetime. However, some may develop blurriness or distortion. In extreme cases, central vision may even be lost.
At this time there is no cure for macular degeneration, although early detection and treatment have been shown to slow or halt the disease. Dr. Dungan is committed to keeping up with the latest technology and treatment options to provide you the best possible outcome. When diagnosed in time, we are often able to treat the condition and help prevent vision loss.
What You Should Know About Diabetic Retinopathy
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are afraid of losing your vision, you are not alone. Diabetes has many faces—it affects people of all ages, races and nationalities. Of the almost 20 million people in the United States with diabetes, almost half of those will eventually develop some sort of diabetic eye disease.
Diabetes primarily affects the blood vessels in the retina, the light sensing tissue at the back of the eye. These vessels work like tubes, bringing oxygen and other nutrients into and out of the eye. Damage to these vessels is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy develops gradually and painlessly.
Although good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure can help prevent diabetic eye disease, significant problems can still occur. Regular dilated eye examinations are therefore the only way to diagnose problems early, before vision loss occurs.
Diabetic vision loss is often preventable with early detection and treatment. At Ocean Eye, our advanced diagnostic techniques allow us to diagnose diabetic retinopathy at an earlier stage and therefore initiate treatment as soon as possible. If you are concerned about how diabetes may affect your eyes or someone in your family, please allow Dr. Dungan to explain this condition in detail during your examination.
What you Should Know About Dry Eyes/Ocular Surface Disease
If you have a sandy, gritty irritation or burning in your eyes that generally gets worse as the day goes on, you may have dry eyes—especially if you’ve had these symptoms for 6 months or more. Dry eye syndrome does not truly come and go, but in its early stages, or with mild dry eye, you may only have symptoms after long days, after prolonged computer use, and in dry or windy conditions. In addition, you may notice symptoms only when wearing your contact lenses or when you become dehydrated. The most common treatment for dry eyes is artificial tears, available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. However, you should always consult with your eye doctor before treating this condition yourself. Other options are available for more severe dry eyes including punctual plugs, medications and lifestyle changes.
Dry eye is diagnosed with a thorough examination of your eyes with magnifying instruments; measuring your rate of tear production and checking the amount of time it takes for tears to evaporate between blinks. The doctor can also check for pinpoint scratches on the front surface of the eye caused by dryness using special, colored eye drops. At Ocean Eye, we offer complete, ongoing eye care using the latest technology and techniques to diagnose and treat this condition.
What You Should Know About Flashes & Floaters
Floaters are seen as clouds, or lines that seem to float in your field of vision. Flashes, which may be associated with floaters, appear as flickers of light.
Although floaters are usually common and harmless, their sudden appearance can be a symptom of an eye hemorrhage or a retinal detachment. Early detection is critical in successfully treating these conditions. You should therefore have an emergency eye examination for sudden floaters or flashes in your vision.
What You Should Know About Retinal Detachment
The retina, the light sensing tissue at the back of the eye, lines the inside of the eye like wallpaper. A retinal detachment develops when the retina pulls away from its normal position. Vision loss can progress rapidly, and if left untreated usually causes permanent blindness.
Retinal detachment develops in approximately 1 in 10,000 people per year. Awareness of the quality of your vision in each eye is extremely important, especially if you are in a higher-risk group such as those who are diabetic, nearsighted or have a family history of retinal detachment. Early detection is critical in successfully treating torn and detached retinas. At Ocean Eye, we are committed to your sight. We stay at the cutting edge of research and offer you our expertise and advanced diagnostic and treatment techniques to help maintain your vision.