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Is LASIK a Permanent Vision Correction Solution?

LASIK helps millions of people enjoy life without the need for glasses or contact lenses. So if you opt for the procedure, how soon can you expect to see results — and for how long?

With more than 660,000 surgeries completed in 2018, LASIK is one of the most popular procedures undertaken in the United States. Thanks to LASIK — a procedure that involves a specialist shaping the cornea with precise laser technology — millions of Americans can go through their daily routine without having to deal with the hassle of glasses or contact lenses.

If you’re considering LASIK to improve your vision, you probably have a number of questions you’re thinking about as you weigh whether or not to go through with the procedure. For example, how soon will you be able to see results? And, once you do, how long will these results last?

Just as everyone’s vision needs are unique, so too will your recovery from LASIK vary from that of other patients. However, the general post-op experience can give you an idea of what that recovery time may look like, and whether or not your results will be completely permanent.

When You’ll See Full Results from LASIK Surgery

Recovery from LASIK goes through stages. Immediately after the procedure, your eyes will likely be cloudy, making it difficult to see. However, that cloudiness usually clears up within several hours. Over the following 24 to 48 hours, you’ll be checking in regularly with your doctor so that they can monitor your progress as your eyes heal and as you begin to see regularly again.

Your vision will begin to stabilize more completely over the next several months. However, this process can take three to six months to normalize as your eyes continue to acclimate. During that time, it’s not uncommon to experience glares, haloes, or difficulty seeing at night.

How Long LASIK Results Will Last

For most patients who opt for the procedure, LASIK provides permanent vision improvement. However, a minority of patients will see changes in their eyesight after LASIK that may require additional surgery.

Such developments may pop up several months after the procedure — or several decades. The exact circumstances behind these changes differ from patient to patient, but typical causes include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The onset of cataracts may also trigger changes in eyesight that affect the results of a LASIK procedure.  

Why You Might Need LASIK Enhancement

If your eyesight changes even after LASIK, you may need to go back in for something called LASIK enhancement. This may be required if changes both related and unrelated to the surgery alter the anatomy of the eye in such a way that specialists need to make adjustments. In addition to the causes outlined above, over- or under-healing of the eyes and general cornea health may call for additional attention.

While some of these changes are so slight that many patients choose not to undergo LASIK enhancement, others may experience marked-enough changes that a second go is necessary. In this instance, you’ll have to consult with your doctor to understand how your first LASIK procedure would affect a follow-up.

Speaking with a Specialist

If you’re looking into LASIK for the first time or you’re curious about whether or not you need LASIK enhancement, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation today. At ICON Eyecare, our team can help you understand your options, learn more about your particular needs, and work with you every step of the way as you consider permanent vision improvement.

Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

Heredity and genetics are risk factors for age-related macular degeneration, but there’s more to the condition than that.

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, making this month a great time for patients to learn more about the condition and speak with eye care specialists about any concerns they might have. With age-related macular degeneration (AMD) classified as the most common cause of vision loss for Americans over 50 — about 10 million people in the United States are affected by it — it’s important to get the conversation started with your doctor, especially if you’re nearing or past your 50th birthday.

To that end, there are some AMD questions that eye care specialists answer on a regular basis. For example, many patients are concerned whether a family history of AMD will affect their chances of developing the condition — and if so, to what extent. Although doctors can’t tell you with 100% certainty whether you’ll develop AMD, they can speak with you about preventable and unpreventable risk factors that can contribute to your chances.

What is AMD?

AMD, as the name suggests, damages the macula and most often affects those 50 or older. The macula is located near the center of the retina and is responsible for helping us see objects in fine detail.

For some, AMD develops so gradually that it’s difficult to tell you even have the condition or to notice that your vision is deteriorating. For others, AMD can set in quickly and lead to vision loss on a much shorter timeline.

On its own, AMD does not cause blindness, but it can create complications for those leading an active lifestyle. Because the macula allows us to see things clearly, damage to the macula can make it difficult to read, drive, or discern individual faces. After a time, it’s possible for AMD to leave blank spots in your field of vision.

What are its Risk Factors?

There is no known cure for AMD and it’s not possible to tell with 100% certainty whether someone will develop the condition. However, there are risk factors that may indicate a predisposition toward AMD — some preventable and others not.

For instance, smoking increases your chances of developing AMD two to three times. Unprotected exposure to sunlight — blue wavelengths specifically — can cause damage to the macula that can lead to AMD. Your diet can also play a role, too. Americans who eat a lot of artificial fats and processed foods, who have high cholesterol, and who don’t consume enough vegetables increase their odds of vision loss through AMD.

Do Heredity and Genetics Play a Role?

Unfortunately, heredity and genetics do play a role in AMD. While a family history of the condition doesn’t guarantee that you’ll develop it, too, your chances are higher. Experts say that, if a parent or sibling has AMD, you’re three to four times more likely to develop it yourself.

If you’re concerned about AMD and have a family history of the condition, there are tests you can take to better understand your risk. For instance, there are tests available that combine pharmacogenetic and prognostic DNA methods to determine your genetic risk profile and your chances of progression to advanced AMD.

Who Can I Talk to about AMD?

Because AMD is so common, eye care specialists will be ready to speak with you about the condition whenever you have any questions. If you’d like to get that conversation started sooner rather than later, consider scheduling a consultation with ICON Eyecare today. Together, our team can help you better understand your chances of AMD, accurately diagnose you if you already have the condition, and devise a treatment plan based on your specific needs.

Most Eye Floaters are Harmless, but Here’s When They’re Cause for Concern

While eye floaters are usually not a danger to your vision, there are instances in which you should consult with a doctor or seek immediate medical attention.

As we age, it’s important to know the difference between the harmless effects of getting older and related conditions that require prompt medical attention. While aging affects various parts of the body differently, it can cause optical phenomena known as eye floaters.

If you’ve ever looked up at a blue sky or at a blank wall and noticed specks or cobwebs moving across your field of vision, then you’re probably familiar with floaters. These small spots may be a temporary source of frustration, but people often get used to them. Additionally, while some people may be concerned by the appearance of floaters in their vision, they’re harmless in most instances.

However, there are occasions when floaters should be cause for concern and when it’s appropriate to reach out to an eye care specialist. Knowing the difference between these two situations is a must, especially as you get older and if you have other issues with your vision.

What Causes Floaters?

Typically, floaters are caused by the breakdown of the vitreous. The vitreous, a gel-like fluid that makes up most of the eye’s interior and helps give it its shape, contains millions of fibers that are attached to the surface of the retina.

As we get older, the vitreous changes and gradually shrinks. When this happens, the fibers within the vitreous become more prominent, casting shadows on the retina that then seem to appear in front of your eye. Floaters usually settle below the field of vision after a time, but don’t go away completely.

However, there are other potential causes of floaters. Inflammation at the back of the eye, such as posterior uveitis, can cause inflammatory debris to break loose from the point of infection and appear as floaters. The same can happen with bleeding within the eye, with broken blood cells looking like floaters. Certain surgeries and medications can cause floaters to appear, as well, although these are typically temporary side effects

How Common are Floaters?

It may be a relief to hear that floaters are very common. Because the vitreous inevitably changes to some degree as we age, most people will experience some kind of optical changes, like floaters, as its fibrous material casts shadows on the retina.

With that said, there are some types of floaters that aren’t as common and that should be cause for concern. For example, a sudden increase in the number of floaters, subsequent deterioration of your peripheral vision, and flashes of light shouldn’t be waved off as common and temporary.   

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. While it’s possible you have posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), a common condition when the vitreous detaches from the retina that’s not an emergency, there’s also a risk that you’re experiencing retinal detachment. This condition is serious and needs immediate attention so that it doesn’t cause lasting damage and vision loss to your eyes.

If you’re worried about floaters or you’re experiencing a concerning change in the number of floaters you see, reach out to ICON Eyecare today. A consultation is a great way to develop a baseline for the number of floaters in your field of vision, but if it’s an emergency, be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Is Glaucoma Genetic? The Truth about This Common Condition and Heritability

While everyone can be considered at risk for glaucoma, a family history of the condition or a particular racial background can increase your chances of developing the disease.

Glaucoma — also known as the “silent thief of sight” — is a group of eye disorders that irreversibly damage the optic nerve. With more than three million Americans living with the condition, glaucoma is the primary cause of permanent vision loss in the United States.

For patients concerned about eye health, especially those who are aging and worried about maintaining their vision as time passes, glaucoma is an understandably disconcerting condition. Because glaucoma develops so gradually, it can be difficult to know that you have it until it’s too late to meaningfully repair damaged vision.

While everyone should schedule regular check-ups to detect glaucoma early, there are genetic risk factors that may make some patients more likely to develop glaucoma than others. If you’re worried about your own possible genetic risk factors, keep reading to learn more about the different types of glaucoma and what contributes to them.

The Different Types of Glaucoma

Although we typically speak of glaucoma as if it’s a single condition, it’s actually a group of eye disorders that can have slightly different causes and effects. The most common form of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma or POAG. Patients with POAG may experience damage to the optic nerve as the eye’s drainage mechanisms fail to function properly. This can cause intraocular pressure (IOP) to build up, which causes that damage.

The vast majority of those with glaucoma have POAG, but there are several other types. For instance, primary angle-closure glaucoma, or PACG, occurs when the fluid that flows between the iris and the lens of the eye is blocked. Another version, exfoliation glaucoma, or XFG, sets in when a white, protein-like material builds up deposits on the lens and within the drainage system that lets out fluid from the eye.

The Genetics that Contribute to Glaucoma

Because the effects of glaucoma are, at present, irreversible, researchers are racing to better understand the hereditary and genetic risk factors that may indicate a predisposition to the condition. So far, certain genes have been linked with each of the major types of glaucoma, although these are not surefire signs that glaucoma will inevitably develop.

Additionally, certain patients’ ethnic background, age, and family history may be glaucoma risk factors. For example, Africans Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans are all more likely to develop glaucoma than Caucasians, with Asian Americans at greater risk of PACG specifically. For patients over the age of 60 and with a family history of glaucoma, the risk of developing the condition is, likewise, several times higher.

The State of Genetic Glaucoma Testing

Thankfully, a number of advances in glaucoma testing have made it possible for specialists to identify whether some patients face a greater risk. However, the field is still developing, as is the understanding of the underlying genetic conditions that give rise to the disease. While some patients may be able to benefit from genetic analysis, there aren’t many whose genetic profile would provide a clear-cut answer as to whether or not they will experience glaucoma.

Until such a time that this testing can advance to scale, it’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your eye care specialist. By making an appointment to detect glaucoma early, it’s possible to catch it and manage it effectively before it causes widespread damage.

If you’re looking to book a consultation today, reach out to ICON Eyecare. Our doctors are standing by and ready to help you learn more about glaucoma, your risk factors, and what you can do to stay on top of the condition.

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