By Cheryl L. Dejewski
People of Latino heritage are at a substantially greater risk for vision loss from certain eye conditions. It is especially important to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye examination if you have:
1. A family history of eye problems. For example, siblings or children of glaucoma patients have a 5-10 times greater risk of developing the disease.
2. Symptoms, such as blurred or decreased vision, pain, flashes or floaters, redness, difficulty seeing at night, lines appearing distorted or wavy, blind spots or loss of vision, sensitivity to light and glare, etc.
3. Diabetes, since elevated blood sugar levels can lead to the development of sight-threatening conditions like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma
4. Latino heritage, which substantially increases the risk for vision loss from glaucoma and diabetes
5. Not had a thorough vision screening (with dilation and a glaucoma check) in more than two years, since permanent damage may be occurring from conditions that do not have early symptoms
“Oftentimes, when I tell a patient that they have a serious eye condition like glaucoma or macular degeneration, they’ll respond with ‘But, I can see fine’ or ‘I haven’t noticed anything wrong with my eyes,’” reports Brett Rhode, MD, of Eye Care Specialists, a local ophthalmology practice that utilizes OCT laser scan technology to detect, track and treat many serious eye conditions. “Unfortunately, most people aren’t motivated to make an eye appointment unless they notice a problem—and often not even then. What they don’t realize is that many sight-threatening conditions have no warning signs. So, whether the person is in denial, simply didn’t notice, or actually has no symptoms, the outcome is the same. Early diagnosis and treatment is the only way to prevent unnecessary vision loss. That’s why we can’t stress enough the importance of scheduling comprehensive dilated eye examinations typically every two years after the age of 40.” Daniel Paskowitz, MD, PhD, notes several other reasons for scheduling an appointment, “You should be seen as soon as possible if you have any concerns or changes to your vision. And, if you have diabetes, Latino heritage, or a family history of eye problems you should be aware of your greater risks and extra vigilant about scheduling eye exams.”
“When it comes to your vision, don’t self-diagnose, downplay or delay. If you notice any significant changes, pain or redness, see an eye specialist as soon as possible. It’s important to discover what’s behind those symptoms—whether it’s simply the need for a new eyeglass prescription or something more serious that requires prompt attention to stabilize vision and prevent further damage. Problems with haziness and glare can signal the start of a cataract. A sudden dark veil or numerous floaters could be the result of your retina tearing away from the back of the eye. Blind spots, straight lines appearing bent or wavy, and difficulty seeing things in the center of vision (faces, clocks, printed words, etc.) could be warning signs for macular degeneration (AMD). And, blurring or spots in the line of sight could mark diabetes-related damage to the retina. A comprehensive eye exam is necessary to evaluate the presence, type and severity of the condition and whether or not treatment would help,” advises Michael Raciti, an ophthalmologist at Eye Care Specialists, where thousands of AMD, diabetes and glaucoma patients are treated each year with sight-saving laser and injection treatments.
FREE Booklets & Information
Call 414-321-7035 for free booklets on diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration (AMD), or for information about scheduling an exam (typically covered by Medicare and insurance). Eye Care Specialists has offices on 7th & Wisconsin Ave., Mayfair Road, or 102nd & National Ave. Or, visit www.eyecarespecialists.net.