common Eye Exam Conditions

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Conditions our Salt Lake City Eye Doctors Commonly Treat

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Olympus Eye Associates works diligently to preserve sight and prevent major vision loss. When your vision is threatened by disease or other harmful eye conditions, you need to consult with a qualified ophthalmologist as early as possible. Our eye doctors provide complete eye care and treatment for many common and lesser-known eye conditions.

Olympus Eye Associates uses proven, cutting-edge technology and the latest in innovative eye care and vision correcting technology. Serving people from all around the Salt Lake valley our office is centrally located in Murray Utah close to both I-15 and I-215.

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Cataracts

A cataract is a progressive clouding of the lens that occurs naturally over time. The lens of the eye is located behind the iris and helps to focus light on the retina. A cataract develops when the proteins that make up the lens begin to break down leading to clouding of the lens material - like dark smudges on a camera's lens.

Some people with cataracts do not notice any symptoms due to its gradual and progressive nature. Some of these symptoms can make driving dangerous especially at night.

Cataract symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Fading of bright colors
  • Light sensitivity or glare
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision

Cause of cataracts:

The most common cause for developing cataracts is aging. The lens proteins begin breaking down and changing around age 40. Most people will not notice any changes until age 60, and others still may not have significant vision changes until much later. There are other risk factors for the development of cataracts including a family history of cataracts, diabetes and other medical conditions, prior eye injury or surgery, prior radiation treatment to the upper body, and significant time in the sun without UV (ultraviolet light) protection.

Treatment for cataracts:

Wearing sunglasses or glasses that filter out harmful UV light rays is the best way to slow the development of cataracts, but once a visually-significant cataract has developed the only available treatment is surgical. The goal of cataract surgery is to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Prior to surgery, the cateract surgeon obtains measurements of the eye to determine the power and type of IOL to place in the eye. The surgeon will also discuss the IOL options available to the patient which can further enhance one's vision potential and reduce their dependence on glasses.

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Macular Degeneration

As the name implies, macular degeneration, is a degenerative disease that damages the macula - the most sensitive part of the retina responsible for central vision. The disease exists in two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is by far the most common (roughly 90% of all cases). It is also the milder of the two forms, develops gradually, and usually only leads to minor vision loss. Dry macular degeneration tends to occur when yellow fatty particles called drusen accumulate in the retina underneath the macula. This build-up results in thinning and drying-out of the macular cells. Wet macular degeneration is less common, but the vast majority of severe vision loss cases result from this form. First, abnormal blood vessels form underneath the surface of the retina. Leakage of blood and other fluids from these blood vessels permanently damage the outside cells (which detect incoming light). As these cells are damaged, vision is lost.

The primary cause of macular degeneration remains unknown. Macular degeneration typically occurs more frequently in the aging population with patients over 60. Research has shown there are many other factors such as family history, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and/or a high cholesterol, high fat diet that may contribute towards the development of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration symptoms may include:

  • Shadows, blurriness, or holes in the center of vision.
  • Straight lines appear wavy.
  • Trouble seeing details both up close and at a distance.
  • Vision can be slow to come back after bright light exposure.
  • Difficulty telling colors apart, especially ones close in hue.

Treatment for macular degeneration:

  • Eye Vitamins: A large national study completed by the National Eye Institute (a part of the NIH) found a specific formulation of nutritional supplements reduced the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. This study was called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), and a follow up study (AREDS2) further refined the formulation. These vitamins are recommended for patients with dry macular degeneration (intermediate stage, or worse) and wet macular degeneration.
  • Anti-angiogenesis Drugs: These inhibit proteins which contribute to abnormal blood vessel growth. They are known as anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs. There are a variety of drugs that can be applicable for this purpose, some FDA approved, and some off-label (officially approved for a different application).
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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a common disease in which blood-sugar levels are chronically too high. The disease has many related complications, and several eye diseases among them. The most common eye complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of adult blindness. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood-sugar levels affect the functionality of blood vessels in the retina (light-sensing cells in the eye). In early phases of the disease, capillaries will leak blood or fluid. This can cause swelling in the retina (which may result in blurring of central vision), and it can leak into the vitreous humor (the fluid surrounding the retina) causing floaters or obscuring vision.

During the beginning stage serious vision damage is less likely, however, it can lead to a more advanced stage of the disease called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this form, blood vessels in the retina actually close off. New blood vessels grow to make up for the lack of blood flow to the retina. The new blood vessels unfortunately are accompanied by scarring and more leakage. This can lead to serious vision loss and blindness.

Early Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy may include:

  • Decreased night vision.
  • Floaters or obscured vision.
  • Blurry vision.

Treatment:

Treatments for diabetic retinopathy vary based upon the nature and progression of the condition. The best way to preserve good vision is to vigilantly control blood-sugar levels, lessening the chance of retinopathy, and impeding its rate of advancement. Once the disease is in advanced stages, the ophthalmologist may choose a type of laser surgery, called pan-retinal photocoagulation. This technique burns many tiny dots across the retina, with the aim of sealing off leaky blood vessels and discouraging further blood vessel growth.

This surgery does not cure diabetic retinopathy, but it can help to save remaining vision. If the vitreous humor has become clouded by blood leakage, there is a chance it may be naturally purged by the eye. If clouding persists, however, a vitrectomy, a surgical removal of the vitreous humor, may be necessary. The ophthalmologist replaces it with a saline solution, and the eye naturally replenishes the vitreous fluid over time. This procedure can restore vision that has been obscured in the vitreous, however, any vision loss due to retinal damage or detachment is not restored.

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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve, the part of the eye which receives images collected by the retina and sends them to the brain. Every eye maintains a certain amount of internal pressure, called intraocular pressure. When this pressure rises to abnormal levels however, it can put extra stress on the optic nerve, causing significant damage. Optic nerve damage results in loss of vision, and ultimately blindness. The front of the eye is constantly producing a fluid called aqueous humor. A healthy eye will continually produce small amounts of aqueous humor to ensure consistent pressure within the eye. When normal drainage becomes slowed or blocked, pressure increases, and may lead to glaucoma. There are several different types of glaucoma the two most common types being chronic open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma.

Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease and usually develops with age. With this type of glaucoma, pressure gradually increases around the eye causing it to work less effectively over a period of time.

Glaucoma symptoms (although most people do not notice symtoms at all and rarely do the following occur):

  • Severe eye pain.
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Rainbow halos around lights.

Treatment for Glaucoma

There are a wide range of treatments for the disease, including medication, laser surgery and traditional surgery. The treatment (or combination of treatments) for an individual is chosen based upon the type of glaucoma and other details of the particular case. One option is medication such as prescription eye drops which help to reduce intraocular pressure, or pills called carbonic anhydrase inhibitors which slow down fluid production within the eye. Laser surgery has also become a common treatment option for glaucoma. For open-angle glaucoma the doctor may choose a trabeculoplasty, a painless laser procedure which uses light to shrink and stretch eye tissue to allow more drainage of fluid. For closed-angle cases, in which the iris is blocking drainage of aqueous humor, a laser surgery called iridotomy may be preformed.

Other glaucoma treatment options involve various traditional surgeries. A common surgery for open-angle glaucoma is the trabeculectomy, where a doctor creates a small flap in the sclera (white part of the eye). Through this flap, aqueous fluid drains into a surgically-created reservoir called a filtration bleb. The fluid filtered from the eye reduces the intraocular pressure and is absorbed from the filtration bleb by the body. There are a number of treatments available for glaucoma patients. If diagnosed with glaucoma, your ophthalmologist will consult with you on your options in order to maintain the best possible health of your eyes.

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Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is a common disease in which the eye under-produces tears to form a tear film which moisturizes and lubricates the surface of the eye. A normal functioning eye constantly produces tears to form a tear film, which acts as moisturizer and lubricant. For someone with dry eye, the resulting lack of moisture and lubrication can cause a variety of problems.

Dry eye syndrome is typically more common in older people and women; however, there are many other factors that can cause this to happen. A common cause of dry eye can be over the counter and prescription medications such as antihistamines, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, pain relievers and many others. Overuse of diuretics can also play a role in developing dry eye. For this reason, it is very important to inform your ophthalmologist about any medications you are currently taking, which can help the doctor in the proper diagnosis of the disease.

Dry Eye symptoms may include:

  • A burning, stinging or stratchy sensation in the eyes.
  • Eyes may redden or become easily irritated by smoke or wind.
  • The eyes may produce stringy mucus.
  • Contact lenses may be difficult or impossible to wear.
  • Sometimes the eye will produce excess tears or overflow.

Treatment for Dry Eye:

  • Artifical Tears: Mild to moderate cases of dry eye syndrome may be treated by applying artificial tear eye drops as little or as often as necessary. There are a wide range of products available without a prescription that the doctor can recommend.
  • Prescription Medications: For those with chronic dry eye, these drops can increase the eye's natural production of tears. It does this by targeting inflammation in the eye.
  • Conserving Tears: An effective way to make better use of the tears in the eye is surgery to close the tear ducts, thus preventing existing tears from leaving the eye as quickly. This may be done temporarily, with punctal plugs made of collagen, or permanently with silicone plugs or by cauterizing the tear ducts closed.
  • Controlling One's Enviornment: Patients should avoid situations in which tears evaporate quickly; for example, by using a humidifier in a dry house, wearing wrap-around glasses in the wind, and not smoking.
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Strabismus

Strabismus, also called a crossed eye, is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned. Eye position is controlled by six muscles, called extraocular muscles, which surround the eye. Strabismus is most often caused by one or more of these muscles pulling either too hard or not hard enough. While one eye gazes straight ahead, the other may point inward, outward, up or down. Strabismus is commonly congenital, or develops in young children, though it may develop in adulthood as well. It is often hereditary.

Strabismus is often visually evident by the misalignment of the eyes and is sometimes noticed by a parent before being diagnosed by a physician. Some types, however, are very difficult to identify. There are also cases of pseudo strabismus, in which an infant or toddler appears to have inwardly-crossing eyes, but is actually exhibiting incomplete facial development; this requires no treatment, and remedies itself with further growth. If strabismus goes untreated in children, it often develops into amblyopia (lazy eye), in which the brain ignores images coming from the weak eye, rendering a person effectively blind in one eye. For this reason, all children should be checked by a physician for strabismus by age three or four. Children with a family history of the condition should be examined even earlier.

Strabismus symptoms may include:

  • Eye pointing in different directions
  • Weakened depth perception
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision- particularly in adults

Treatments:

Corrective lenses are a common initial treatment and sometimes glasses alone will be effective. However, surgery is sometimes necessary to correct strabismus. Surgery involves adjusting the extraocular muscles in one or both eyes so that the eyes point in the same direction. Strabismus surgery is generally a safe and common procedure, and when indicated is the only way to effectively treat the disorder.

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Irritation/Allergy/Infection

Red, swollen, itching, or burning eyes are common symptoms indicative of inflammation - a normal response to some type of irritant. These symptoms are a common reason for a visit to an eye specialist.

Some common causes for these symptoms include dry eyes, allergies, contact lens intolerance, various eyelid diseases, and infection. When patient's present with such symptoms, the eye doctor will take a complete history and perform a detailed evaluation to assess the level of inflammation and associated signs which help them to accurately diagnose and treat the specific problem.

Treatment is tailored to the specific problem, but commonly over-the-counter eye lubricants together with warm compresses and good lid hygiene will be all that is needed. Occasionally an anti-inflammatory or allergy medication is needed.


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The eyes are amazing structures and provide an incredible service to us every day. Unfortunately, when things go wrong with our eyes, it can really illuminate the importance of clear vision. For information on a variety of other eye conditions and available therapies please visit the site provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Meet Our Salt Lake City Eye Doctors

Olympus Eye Associates

David Brockbank Eye Doctor Salt Lake City / Murray

David T. Brockbank, M.D.


Education
B.A. Degree - University of Utah, 1999
M.D. Degree - Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, 2003
Residency: University of Missouri Mason Eye Institute, Columbia, MO, 2007
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David Dodds Lasik Doctor Salt Lake City / Murray

David W. Dodds, M.D.


Education
B.S. Degree - Brigham Young University, 2007
M.D. Degree - Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, 2015
Residency: Saint Louis University Eye Institute, St. Louis, MO, 2015
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Stephen Brockbank Vision Doctor Salt Lake City / Murray

Stephen R. Brockbank, O.D.


Education
B.A. Degree - University of Utah, 1995
O.D. Degree - Southern California College of Optometry, 2002
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