Eye Exams From The Eye Doctors At Ophthalmology Associates of Bay Ridge
The doctors at Ophthalmology Associates of Bay Ridge perform eye examinations for patients of all ages. During your eye exam, we will determine if a change in eyeglass prescription is needed, check the eye pressure, and evaluate the health of the front and the back of your eyes. Your Brooklyn ophthalmologist may recommend dilation of your pupils to fully visualize the back of the eye (optic nerve and retina). In most cases, patients are able to drive after dilation, but reading vision can be affected for a few hours. The most common diseases can easily be detected, including cataract, glaucoma, dry eye, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease. We have a full range of diagnostic equipment available to determine the extent of any conditions discovered, and our ophthalmologists provide the latest medical and surgical treatments available. An eye examination is recommended annually for adults over the age of 50. We have a full-service optical shop on premises to assist with your eyeglass and contact lens needs.
Two very common symptoms that prompt patients to visit their eye doctor are red eye and flashes and floaters. Some information about those symptoms and what constitutes an eye emergency is included below.
Flashes and Floaters
Seeing floating spots is very common, especially as we get older. They can look like bugs, threads, spider webs or small circles that move about and float away when you try to look at them. Floating spots are alarming when they first appear and an eye exam by an ophthalmologist should be performed to rule out a serious eye problem. Fortunately, they are usually not indicative of a serious eye problem, usually do not require treatment, and usually become less noticeable and smaller with time.
Floating spots usually result from changes in the jelly-like material that fills the inner cavity of the eye. This jelly is called the vitreous and the spots are called vitreous floaters. Eventually, almost everyone experiences floaters, but some people are bothered by them more than others, due to their size and location within the inner cavity of their eye. Those who are especially prone to develop floaters are nearsighted people and people who have had eye surgery, eye injuries or serious eye inflammatory conditions.
The vitreous is a normal part of the eye. Early in life, it is firmly attached to the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. As part of the normal aging process, the vitreous liquefies and shrinks, and eventually pulls away from the retina and floats in the middle of the eye cavity. The floating vitreous casts shadows on the retina, which is what you notice as the “floaters.”
As the vitreous jelly starts to shrink, it can pull on the retina. The tugging stimulates the retina and may cause you to see a flash of light, lasting for a second. These flashes are usually seen from the corner of the eye and are most noticeable in the dark.
Sometimes the pull of the vitreous on the retina is so strong that the retina itself can tear. This is a serious problem and requires immediate treatment in order to prevent a retinal detachment. A retinal tear should be strongly suspected if you notice a shower of many floating spots. If fluid from the vitreous cavity of the eye starts to seep into the retinal tear, a retinal detachment starts to form. The fluid slowly progresses and spreads out to detach more and more of the retina if it is left untreated. A retinal detachment should be suspected if you notice decreased vision or what appears to be a dark curtain blocking part or all of your field of vision.
When floaters or flashes of light occur, an eye exam by an ophthalmologist is important to rule out serious eye problems. Fortunately, these eye problems are not common and for most people, a floater will basically just be a nuisance. Floaters are most noticeable in the sunlight, when looking at a white background, or when reading. Using sunglasses can help to decrease their visibility.
Please call our Brooklyn office for an eye exam if you notice any of the following problems:
- New floaters or more floaters
- Recurrent flashes of light that last about a second
- More severe flashes of light
- Decreased vision or distortion in the vision
- A dark curtain blocking all or part of your field of vision
What Your Ophthalmologist Can Do for Red Eye
The sudden development of a red eye can be due to a variety of causes, some of which can be sight threatening. Red eye may be associated with a number of symptoms, such as itchiness, discharge, tearing, foreign body sensation, eye pain, light sensitivity, or blurry vision. Red eye that persists for more than a few hours should be immediately evaluated by an ophthalmologist, especially if it is accompanied by eye pain or decreased vision. The most common causes of red eye are described below:
1. Conjunctivitis: infectious or allergic
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis may be due to infectious causes, such as bacteria or viruses. In such situations, there is usually a discharge or crustiness accompanied with the red eye, but no visual loss. The treatment usually involves antibiotic drops, artificial tears, and cool compresses. Precautions must be taken to avoid passing the infection to friends, coworkers and relatives. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by allergies or toxic substances. In these circumstances, your eye doctor may prescribe allergy drops or anti-inflammatory drops to improve the condition.
2. Dry Eye
Our tears function to lubricate and protect the surface of our eyes. When tears do not function properly due to problems with tear film quality or quantity, the eye surface becomes dry, irritated and red. Dry eye is associated with eye discomfort and sometimes blurry vision. Treatments range from use of artificial tears to anti-inflammatory eye drops to punctal plugs. These are discussed further in our dry eye section.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes that can be caused by bacteria or clogged eyelid glands. Blepharitis can cause considerable eye itching and discomfort, as well as eye redness. Your eye doctor may recommend improved hygiene with eyelid scrubs or antibiotic/anti-inflammatory drops to improve this condition.
4. Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is caused by a rupture of a small blood vessel in the covering of the white part of the eye. This can be brought on by heavy lifting, coughing, vomiting, eye trauma, high blood pressure and use of blood thinning medications. Despite their unsightly appearance, subconjunctival hemorrhages are generally harmless and slowly resolve over several weeks. Subconjunctival hemorrhages are not associated with visual changes or eye pain.
5. Corneal abrasion and other eye injuries
An injury to the eye can cause redness and discomfort. A corneal abrasion (scratch on the surface of the cornea) is a common eye injury that can cause significant irritation, foreign body sensation, redness and tearing. While corneal abrasions heal quickly, usually without permanent damage, there is a risk of eye infection which requires the use of an antibiotic eye drop during the healing stages.
6. Corneal Ulcer or Infection
An infection of the cornea (the clear, dome-like structure in the front of the eye) is a serious problem that can cause significant vision loss if not treated quickly. Contact lens wearers are at increased risk of developing corneal ulcers and must seek immediate consultation with an ophthalmologist if they experience prolonged pain and redness in one of their eyes. The treatment involves the use of hourly antibiotic drops, and patients require daily eye exams in the early stages to make sure the affected eye is healing appropriately.
7. Contact Lens Overwear
In some individuals, wearing contact lenses every day (or for extended periods of time) can cause the eyes to appear red. Some people develop contact lens-induced dry eyes, which makes it difficult to wear contact lenses comfortably. In others, merely having a foreign body, such as a contact lens, in the eye causes redness. The treatment for contact lens overwear involves taking a break from contact lenses, switching contact lens solutions, or sometimes switching contact lens brands.
Uveitis is an inflammation of the inner tissues of the eye. It can cause redness, pain, blurry vision, floaters and light sensitivity. Uveitis should be treated quickly because other complications, including glaucoma and scarring of the eye, may occur if it lingers. The condition is usually treated with potent steroid drops. Sometimes, certain blood tests are ordered to evaluate for certain infectious and inflammatory diseases that are associated with the development of uveitis.
9. Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Unlike most types of glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma causes several recognizable signs, including painful redness that usually occurs in one eye. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a serious medical emergency and must be treated immediately.
10. Frequent Use of Eye Drops
Constant use of one of the widely available “get the red out” eye drops can cause dilation of the eyes’ blood vessels. After the effect of the eye drop wears off, the blood vessels sometimes dilate larger, causing the eyes to appear even more bloodshot. In addition, a patient may develop an allergy to chronic eye medications, such as glaucoma drops. In these cases, your eye doctor will recommend stopping the offending eye drop.