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Common Conditions

Woman receiving comprehensive eye exam with arm reaching out to adjust equipment

5 Common Eye Conditions You Should Know

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. However, they can also develop early due to trauma, certain types of medications, or systemic conditions like diabetes. They usually develop slowly over your life 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 postoperative 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 exam, 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.  We may refer moderate to severe changes 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.  Eye care professionals classify this disease as either wet or dry.  There is no cure for either condition, but wet macular degeneration may be treated by an ophthalmologist with intraocular injections. These injections work to slow or stall the development of the disease.

Hypertensive Retinopathy

Unstable blood pressure can cause significant harm to your blood vessels. This damage affects 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. They can provide assistance in managing these conditions.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a very common condition in Northern Alberta.  Both environmental and health factors can cause dry eye, mainly by damaging the eye’s front surface.  Signs and symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Likewise, treatment plans are generally different, matching the underlying cause.  Age, systemic diseases, screen use, heat systems, humidity, and diet can all contribute to developing dry eye.

Our clinics offer detailed dry eye assessments using the Tear Check diagnostic equipment and the E>Eye treatment system for evaporative dry eye disease.  This treatment uses IRPL (Intense regulated pulsed Light), a cold light which stimulates the meibomian glands, improving meibomian gland secretion, aiding the lacrimal film and reducing dry eye symptoms.  Additionally, we stock a variety of I-Med Pharma preservative-free pharmaceutical options to reduce dry eye symptoms. 

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