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Information about common eye disorders
Eye health is quality of life
Often, we only notice how precious our sight is when impairments and challenges develop. Here we have listed some common eye disorders and conditions that we encounter and effectively treat in our everyday practice.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye and is a common disorder. It usually develops slowly with advancing age. The first signs include a gradual worsening of vision, blurred or clouded vision, colours appearing faded and greater sensitivity to glare. The condition is treated by surgery in which the clouded lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens. This is the most common eye surgery of all and it is usually done on an out-patient basis. We will be happy to explain how cataract surgery is done and talk about surgical techniques involving ultrasound or laser-assisted surgery. We can provide advice on all the options for correcting vision that suit your needs.
This optic nerve damaging disease progresses slowly and unnoticed and is not painful. If it is not treated, glaucoma leads to increasing restriction of the field of vision and, in the worst case, blindness. This is why early diagnosis by an ophthalmologist is important. There are various ways of treating glaucoma: medication in the form of eye drops to lower pressure, laser or surgery. Regular examinations including measurement of the (intraocular) pressure inside the eye are recommended from the age of 40 so that any problems can be identified early on. At the Augenzentrum Muttenz-Pratteln ophthalmological center we specialize in the early detection of glaucoma by examining the optic disk with an infrared laser, using a wavelength that is completely safe.
Macular degeneration (AMD)
This is a common cause of vision issues that mostly is related to aging. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an alteration (degeneration) at the center of the retina (the macula). There is a dry form and a wet form of the disease. In the dry form the loss of vision usually happens relatively slowly. This form is generally less severe, but unfortunately no effective treatment has yet been found. In the wet form of AMD there is a sudden accumulation of fluid, causing the center of the retina to swell. This produces a rapid and marked worsening of vision and distorted perception of images. If detected early enough, this form can be treated with injections directly into the eye. AMD doesn’t usually lead to total blindness, but over time it can restrict vision so much that it is no longer possible to read, for example. Here too, regular eye examinations in advanced years help to detect the disease at an early stage and, if the dry form transitions to wet AMD, it can be treated immediately. This treatment is provided at the ophthalmological day hospital in St. Jakob-Strasse in Muttenz and in the Aquila tower near the railway station in Pratteln.
Diabetes mellitus alters the flow of blood and the metabolism in the tiny blood vessels that supply the retina. This results in a poor supply of oxygen (ischaemia) and the formation of new blood vessels with bleeding and swelling/edema. In advanced cases this can result in detachment of the retina, problems with pressure inside the eye and even blindness.
Patients don’t usually notice anything in the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. Substantial worsening of vision (floaters, dark areas) only occurs when the condition is at an advanced stage.
However, the middle of the retina (diabetic maculopathy) can be affected independently of any disease of the peripheral section. Optimum control of blood glucose and blood pressure helps to delay the disease. Regular examination by an ophthalmologist is strongly recommended for everyone with diabetes. Advanced diabetic retinopathy can be treated by laser, medication or surgery. At our ophthalmological center you can talk to experts with years of experience who know all about investigating and treating diabetic retinopathy. As with wet macular degeneration (wet AMD), injections directly into the eye help to slow the progression of diabetic maculopathy which, if left untreated, results in destruction of the central retina.
Dry eye syndrome
This condition is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Dry eye syndrome is a term that covers a multitude of symptoms such as a burning sensation, a foreign-body sensation in the eye, pain, increased tear production, particularly when exposed to cold and wind, sensitivity to light, easily fatigued eyes and impaired vision. It arises in some cases when they eye does not produce enough tears but more often as a result of disruption to the composition of the tear film protecting the surface of the eye. This leads to the cornea and the conjunctiva drying out. The condition can be treated by lubricating the eyelids and applying artificial tears, for example in the form of eye drops or gels. Surgery may be required in certain, severe cases. We will be happy to discuss which approach is best suited to your personal situation.
Vitreous clouding / vitreous detachment
This is usually caused by shrinking of the vitreous body, a completely normal process due to aging. The vitreous body is the gel-like, transparent mass that fills the eye. This body changes in every person with increasing age; it becomes more fluid and may detach partly or completely from the retina. Vitreous clouding is usually perceived by the individual as small dots or threads floating in the field of vision (floaters). They are annoying but often harmless. In rare cases, however, the retina may tear or even become detached. For this reason, people with newly detected floaters are urgently recommended to have their retina examined. Please contact us immediately if you suddenly notice new and unusual «floating objects» in your field of vision.
The conjunctiva of the eye and the cornea together make up the outer layer of the eye, meaning that they are particularly exposed and directly in contact with environmental factors. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common disorders, and it is frequently caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Classic viral or bacterial inflammations are usually treated with eye drops. The patient also often has dry eye syndrome. If you suffer from red eyes, a sensation of burning or pressure in the eyes, itching, increased tear production, or sticky or swollen eyes, please contact our ophthalmological center.
The ability of the eye’s lens to focus on various distances decreases as a normal part of aging. Sooner or later, everyone needs reading glasses for close work. Unlike short-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, presbyopia is not a vision defect but a perfectly normal part of the aging process caused by the loss of elasticity in the eye’s lens and its ability to adapt. At the Augenzentrum Muttenz-Pratteln ophthalmological center we’ll be happy to advise you on ways of overcoming this annoying but perfectly natural process and rapidly regaining clear vision on a day-to-day basis.
Disorders of the eyelid
The upper and lower eyelids protect the eyes from injury and stop tears from evaporating from the surface. Here is an overview of disorders and impairments that we see all the time at our ophthalmological center:
If the edge of the eyelid is turned inwards (entropium), the eyelashes rub against the eye, leading to abrasion and damage to the cornea. If the edge of the eyelid is turned outwards (ectropium), the upper and lower eyelid do not close properly and the distribution of tears is disrupted. These two lid disorders frequently lead to scratches, inflammation, watering or conjunctivitis. Impairments and malfunctions of this kind can usually be treated with surgery.
This term is used if one or both upper lids hang downwards. The most common causes are aponeurotic ptosis in old age and muscle disorders. Droopy eyelids can be more than just a cosmetic problem, potentially leading to impaired vision. Sudden, one-sided occurrence in combination with double vision or headaches, on the other hand, requires immediate investigation as an emergency.
Hanging lids and bags under the eyes
The «excess» skin that causes hanging lids and bags under the eyes is frequently due to a hereditary connective tissue weakness. Many people with these features are disturbed by their appearance (eyelids that appear swollen, difficulty applying make-up, etc.). Hanging lids and bags under the eyes can be corrected by surgery.
Tumors of the eyelids are in many cases benign, e.g. in the form of warts or fatty deposits. However, malignant tumors can also develop in the lid area. Basal cell carcinoma (non-melanoma or white skin cancer) is the most common malignant tumor of the eyelids. Examination by an ophthalmologist, with a fine-tissue analysis if necessary, will clarify the situation.