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Eye Diseases

A quick look at some of the most common eye diseases diagnosed and often treated at Tracey L. Mercer in Hoover

“Eye diseases” is a blanket term that refers to a host of diseases relating to the function of the eye. Below we describe some of the more common types of eye diseases and how they are generally treated. For more in-depth information, please speak with your eye care provider at Tracey L. Mercer.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin, protective membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelids. Caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens and other irritants like smoke and dust, pink eye is highly contagious and is usually accompanied by redness in the white of the eye and increased tearing and/or discharge.

While many minor cases improve within two weeks, some can develop into serious corneal inflammation and threaten sight. If you suspect conjunctivitis, visit your eye care provider at Tracey L. Mercer for an examination and treatment.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease is a general term for a group of eye problems that can result from having type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.

Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic eye disease, so it is important that you don’t wait for symptoms to appear before having a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection and treatment of diabetic eye disease will dramatically reduce your chances of sustaining permanent vision loss. It is recommended that all diabetics (insulin dependent and non-insulin dependant) have their eyes checked on an annual basis.

We are able to provide technologically advanced care– illustrating any diabetic changes seen to our patients through the use of Optos photos as well as using diagnostic OCT to expedite any referrals that may be needed for better diabetic care. Dr. Mercer and Dr. Aubrey also maintain communication with patient’s primary care physicians, ensuring better continuity of care.

Glaucoma

Often called “the silent thief of sight,” glaucoma is an increase in the intraocular pressure of the eyes, which causes damage to the optic nerve with no signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to a decrease in peripheral vision and eventually blindness.

While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are medications and surgery available that can help halt further vision loss. Early detection and regular eye exams are vital to slowing the progress of the disease.

Dr. Mercer and Dr. Aubrey have the technology required to better detect these early changes in glaucoma. This can ultimately prevent further vision loss and protect our patients vision.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a chronic, progressive disease that gradually destroys sharp central vision due to a deterioration of the macula, a tiny spot in the central portion of your retina comprised of millions of light-sensing cells. Because it is so commonly associated with aging, it is also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two forms of AMD called “dry,” most common and with no known treatment, and “wet,” less common and treated with laser procedures. Genetic testing is now available to help identify those most likely to develop “wet” macular degeneration.

In most cases, reversing damage caused by AMD is not possible, but supplements, protection from sunlight, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking can reduce the risk and progression of macular degeneration. There is treatment for wet macular degeneration now if the changes in vision are caught early enough. When vision changes are noticed, contact your eye doctor immediately to preserve your vision and prevent further scarring from occurring.

Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine) Maculopathy

Many patients who suffer from inflammatory diseases or autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are treated with plaquenil to control inflammation and pain. Plaquenil has been documented for decades to cause a specific vision/ retina problem. We now know it has to do wit the cumulative dose of plaquenil a patient receives over time. Therefore, the requirements now to monitor a patient who takes plaquenil is different than in previous years. A baseline dilated eye exam, including visual field and OCTs are required followed by yearly exams. Dr. Mercer and Dr. Aubrey have all of the technology needed to properly monitor any changes related to plaquenil and would be happy to answer any of your questions or concerns.

Tracey L. Mercer has the experience and equipment necessary to diagnose and often treat the eye diseases detailed above, as well as many other eye diseases, at our office in Hoover. For more information please schedule an appointment with your optometrist, and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.