Common Conditions

Cataracts

Cataracts are the clouding of your eye’s lens, and are one of the most common eye conditions. Generally, they are caused by age-related factors, but they can also develop early due to trauma, certain types of medications or systemic conditions like diabetes. They usually develop slowly over your lifetime until they reach a stage where they inhibit your vision enough to make cataract surgery necessary. When you come in for your comprehensive eye examination, our optometrist will check your lenses and vision for cataracts and determine whether cataract surgery is likely to be needed in the near future.  When your cataracts reach the stage that they are operable, we will refer you to an ophthalmologist who will manage the surgery and early post-operative care.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is a condition that affects your body’s blood vessels.  Because your optometrist is able to directly evaluate your blood vessels during your eye examination, she is able to look for changes in your eyes related to diabetes.  Ocular changes are significant because they can lead to significant vision loss or permanent blindness. On a more mild level, eye changes can be the first sign that your medications are not working as they should be, which warrants a referral back to your primary care provider.  Moderate to severe changes may need to be referred to an ophthalmologist for evaluation and treatment in the form of laser or injections.   Diabetes Canada recommends annual diabetic eye exams for patients with type I and type II diabetes.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD/AMD)

Age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among elderly people in Canada.  It is most common in patients with either a family history of the condition or a history of cigarette smoking. Macular degeneration involves the development of deposits (drusen) within the layers of the eye.  These deposits can cause distortion or complete vision loss.  Macular degeneration can be classified as wet or dry.  There is no cure for either condition, but wet macular degeneration may be treated by an ophthalmologist with intra-ocular injections to prevent progression.

Hypertensive Retinopathy

Unstable blood pressure can cause significant harm to your blood vessels and this damage includes the arteries and veins in your eyes.  Hypertensive retinopathy is a leading cause of vision loss in the United States.  High or variable blood pressure can cause ocular strokes, leaking blood vessels and permanent vision loss. If you have high or low blood pressure it is important to discuss risk factors with your optometrist so that they can manage these eye conditions.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a very common condition in Northern Alberta.  It can be caused by environmental or health factors and results in damage to the front surface of the eye.  Signs and symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and treatment plans are generally linked to the underlying cause.  Age, systemic diseases, screen use, heat systems, humidity, and diet can all contribute to developing dry eye.

For More Information on these and other eye conditions, visit the
Alberta Association of Optometrist’s Eye Health Library