Two of the most valuable forms of diagnostic testing that we are able to provide for our patients are age-related macular degeneration and testing and diabetic testing.
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD as it often referred to, is a very common condition that currently affects as many as 11 million people in the United States and is a leading cause of vision loss. It occurs when the part of the retina known as the macula, begins to naturally deteriorate with advancing age. The macula is responsible for our central vision – the part of our vision that enables us to read, watch tv, drive and recognize faces.
AMD can affect anyone, but there are certain risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing the condition. These include being over the age of 50, being Caucasian, currently smoking or having been a smoker in the past, being overweight, experiencing health problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, and finally, having a family history of AMD.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for AMD and the progressive nature of the condition means that it is often not detected until it has already started to compromise patient vision. Fortunately, since dark adaptation is one of the earliest symptoms of AMD, testing your eye’s ability to adapt from light to dark can enable the condition to be spotted early. This then means that steps can be taken to preserve your vision for as long as possible.
We have invested in a new, state-of-the-art piece of technology that enables us to perform the most accurate macular degeneration testing yet. This is known as the AdaptDXÒ Dark Adapotometer.
The AdaptDX works by measuring the eye’s ability to adjust from being in bright light to see in the darkness. This process is known as dark adaption. Healthy eyes can adapt to the dark fairly quickly, and whilst your vision is obviously not as good as it would be in the light, you can see shapes and shadows well enough to be able to move around fairly safely. However, studies have found that slow dark adaption can be an indicator of AMD, and using this technique, it is possible to detect the condition at least three years before drusen or spots on the retina are visible – which are usually used to diagnose the condition.
Many people worry about undergoing tests on their eyes. However, the AdaptDXÒ is a very swift and easy, non-invasive assessment. Simply look into the device and push a button each and every time you see a light. The results will enable us to identify if you are developing AMD and we can then recommend treatments and therapies to help sustain your vision for as long as possible. This could include nutritional supplements, wearing UV protection even when it isn’t sunny and making positive lifestyle changes such as losing weight and giving up smoking.
Diabetes is another very common disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to a hormone known as insulin is impaired. This causes the abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, leading to too much glucose in the blood. There are two different types of diabetes:
Type I diabetes, your body is unable to make any insulin at all.
Type II diabetes, your body can’t produce enough insulin or the insulin you can make doesn’t work effectively
Both types result in excess blood sugar levels and both are equally dangerous. This is because, over time, high glucose levels can cause serious, irreversible damage to your heart, kidneys, feet and even your eyes.
Patients who have diabetes can develop a complication of their disease known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when persistently high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels serving the retina at the very back of the eyes. They can become blocked, leak or grow randomly, preventing the retina from getting the blood it needs to remain healthy. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy will almost certainly lead to blindness.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
Gradually worsening vision
Sudden vision loss
Floaters in your field of vision
Since diabetic retinopathy can be so serious, all patients with diabetes are invited for regular screening appointments. This enables prompt diagnosis and treatment. Screening for diabetic retinopathy is simple and non-invasive. A series of images are taken of the back of your eyes so that the blood vessels serving the retina can be properly examined for signs of disease. The process usually takes under 30 minutes.
If you would like to find out more about either AMD or diabetic retinopathy or to make an appointment to have the health of your eyes assessed by our experienced team, please contact El Paso EyeCare in El Paso, TX today by calling (915) 745-7960.