Eye Conditions Treated
Dr. Washington treats a variety of eye diseases, conditions, and injuries. To learn more about the conditions treated at Peachtree Ophthalmology, choose a topic below.
- Dry Eye
- Macular Degeneration
- Diabetic Eye Disease
- Corneal Abrasion
- Corneal Foreign Body
You need tears to moisten the eyes and to wash away particles that have gotten into your eyes. A healthy tear film on the eye is necessary for good vision. Dry eyes develop when the eye is unable to maintain a healthy coating of tears.
Dry eye syndrome commonly occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. It becomes more common with older age. This can occur due to hormonal changes that make your eyes produce fewer tears.
Symptoms of dry ey may include blurred vision; burning, itching, or redness in the eye; gritty or scratchy feeling in the eye; and sensitivity to light.
Causes of dry eye include:
- Dry environment or workplace (wind, air conditioning)
- Sun exposure
- Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
- Cold or allergy medicines
- Wearing contact lenses
- Heat or chemical burns
- Previous eye surgery
- Use of eye drops for other eye diseases
The first step in treatment is artificial tears. There are many brands available without a prescription.
Other treatments include:
- Taking fish oil 2 to 3 times per day
- Using glasses, goggles or contact lenses that keep moisture in the eyes
- Medicines such as cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra), corticosteroid eye drops, and oral tetracycline and doxycycline
- Tiny plugs placed in the tear drainage ducts to help moisture stay on the surface of the eye longer
Blepharitis is manifest by inflamed, irritated, itchy, and reddened eyelids. It most often occurs where the eyelashes grow. Dandruff-like debris builds up at the base of the eyelashes as well.
The exact cause of blepharitis is unknown. It is thought to be due to:
- An overgrowth of bacteria.
- A skin mite called Demodex.
- A decrease or breakdown of the normal oils produced by the eyelid.
Symptoms include red, irritated eyelids; scales that stick to the base of the eyelashes, burning feeling in the eyelids; and crusting, itching and swelling of the eyelids.
Blepharitis is more likely to be seen in people with:
- A skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea. This problem involves the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, skin behind the ears, and the creases of the nose.
- Allergies that affect the eyelashes (less common).
- Excess growth of the bacteria that are normally found on the skin.
- Rosacea, which is a skin condition that causes a red rash on the face.
Cleaning the edges of the eyelid every day will help remove excess bacteria and oil. Your provider might recommend using baby shampoo or special cleansers. Using an antibiotic ointment on the eyelid or taking antibiotic pills may help treat the problem. It may also help to take fish oil supplements.
If you have blepharitis:
- Apply warm compresses to your eyes for 5 minutes, at least 2 times per day.
- After the warm compresses, gently rub a solution of warm water and no-tears baby shampoo along your eyelid, where the lash meets the lid, using a cotton swab.
A device has recently been developed that can warm and massage the eyelids to increase the flow of oil from the glands. The role of this device in treatment of blepharitis remains unclear.
A drug containing hypochlorous acid, which is sprayed onto the eyelids is helpful in certain cases of blepharitis, especially when rosacea is also present.
If Demodex is suspected as the cause, tea tree oil applied to the lids by your provider can be helpful; a new prescription medicine may soon be available.
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. It is a disease that destroys your sharp, central vision. You need central vision to see objects clearly and to do tasks such as reading and driving.
AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. It does not hurt, but it causes cells in the macula to die. There are two types: wet and dry. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid. Wet AMD damages the macula quickly. Blurred vision is a common early symptom. Dry AMD happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Your gradually lose your central vision. A common early symptom is that straight lines appear crooked.
Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect macular degeneration before the disease causes vision loss. Treatment can slow vision loss. It does not restore vision.
Uveitis is swelling and inflammation of the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the wall of the eye. The uvea supplies blood for the iris at the front of the eye and the retina in the back of the eye.
Uveitis can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms depend on which part of the uvea is inflamed. Symptoms may develop rapidly and can include blurred vision; dark, floating spots in the vision; eye pain; redness of the eye and sensitivity to light.
Uveitis can be caused by autoimmune disorders. These diseases occur when the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. Examples are:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Behcet disease
- Reactive arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
Uveitis can also be caused by infections such as:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis
- Herpes zoster infection
- Kawasaki disease
Exposure to toxins or injury can also cause uveitis. In many cases, the cause is unknown.
Often the inflammation is limited to only part of the uvea. The most common form of uveitis involves inflammation of the iris, in the front part of the eye. In this case, the condition is called iritis. In most cases, it occurs in healthy people. The disorder may affect only one eye. It is most common in young and middle-aged people.
Posterior uveitis affects the back part of the eye. It involves primarily the choroid. This is the layer of blood vessels and connective tissue in the middle layer of the eye. This type of uveitis is called choroiditis. If the retina is also involved, it is called chorioretinitis.
Another form of uveitis is pars planitis. Inflammation occurs in the area called the pars plana, which is located between the iris and the choroid. Pars planitis most often occurs in young men. It is generally not associated with any other disease. However, it may be linked to Crohn disease and possibly multiple sclerosis.
Iritis and irido-cyclitis (anterior uveitis) are most often mild. Treatment may involve:
- Dark glasses
- Eye drops that dilate the pupil to relieve pain
- Steroid eye drops
Pars planitis is often treated with steroid eye drops. Other medicines, including steroids taken by mouth, may be used to help suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Posterior uveitis treatment depends on the underlying cause. It almost always includes steroids taken by mouth.
If the uveitis is caused by a body-wide (systemic) infection, you may be given antibiotics. You may also be given powerful anti-inflammatory medicines called corticosteroids. Sometimes certain types of immune-suppressant drugs are used to treat severe uveitis.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Over time, high blood sugar may damage the blood vessels and lenses in your eyes. This can lead to serious diabetic eye problems which can harm your vision and sometimes cause blindness. Some common diabetes eye problems include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetic macular edema (DME)
Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease. But your risk of developing it is higher if you:
- Have had diabetes for a long time
- Don't have good control over your high blood sugar or high blood pressure
- Are pregnant
- Have high blood cholesterol
- Smoke tobacco
Eye doctors do dilated eye exams to diagnose eye problems. A dilated eye exam uses eye drops to open your pupils wide so your doctor can look for signs of eye problems and treat them before they harm your vision. Your doctor will also test your vision and measure the pressure in your eyes.
Treatment for diabetic eye problems depends on the problem and how serious it is. Some of the treatments include:
- Lasers to stop blood vessels from leaking
- Injections (shots) in the eye to stop new, leaky blood vessels from growing
- Surgery to remove blood and scar tissue or replace a cloudy lens
- Eye drops to lower fluid pressure in the eye
But these treatments aren't cures. Eye problems can come back. That's why your best defense against serious vision loss is to take control of your diabetes and get regular eye exams. It's also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in a healthy range.
The cornea is the crystal clear (transparent) tissue that covers the front of the eye. It works with the lens of the eye to focus images on the retina. A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the outermost layer of the cornea.
Symptoms include blurred vision, eye pain or stinging and burning in the eye, feeling like something is in your eye, light sensitivity, redness of the eye, swollen eyelids, and watery eyes or increased tearing.
Treatment for corneal abrasion may involve:
- Wearing an eye patch or temporary bandage contact lens
- Using eye drops or ointments prescribed by the doctor
- Not wearing contact lenses until the eye has healed
- Taking pain medicines
Corneal Foreign Body
The eye will often flush out small objects, like eyelashes and sand, through blinking and tearing. DO NOT rub the eye if there is something in it. Wash your hands before examining the eye. Examine the eye in a well-lit area. To find the object, look up and down, then from side to side.
Contact our office and do not treat yourself if:
- You have a lot of eye pain or sensitivity to light.
- Your vision is decreased.
- You have red or painful eyes.
- You have flaking, discharge, or a sore on your eye or eyelid.
- You have had trauma to your eye, or you have a bulging eye or a drooping eyelid.
- Your dry eyes do not get better with self-care measures within a few days.
Conjunctivitis is the medical name for pink eye. It involves inflammation of the outer layer of the eye and inside of the eyelid. It can cause swelling, itching, burning, discharge, and redness. Causes include:
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Substances that cause irritation
- Contact lens products, eye drops, or eye ointments
Pink eye usually does not affect vision. Infectious pink eye can easily spread from one person to another. The infection will clear in most cases without medical care, but bacterial pink eye needs treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
Most bumps on the eyelid are styes. A stye is an inflamed oil gland on the edge of your eyelid, where the eyelash meets the lid. It appears as a red, swollen bump that looks like a pimple. It is often tender to the touch.
A stye is caused by a blockage of one of the oil glands in the eyelids. This allows bacteria to grow inside the blocked gland. Styes are a lot like common acne pimples that occur elsewhere on the skin. You may have more than one stye at the same time.
Styes most often develop over a few days. They may drain and heal on their own. A stye can become a chalazion, which occurs when an inflamed oil gland becomes fully blocked. If a chalazion gets large enough, it can cause trouble with your vision.
Styes can be made worse by the presence of Demodex, a mite commonly found on human skin. Demodex has been identified as a cause of blepharitis. If you have blepharitis, you are more likely to get styes.
Other possible common eyelid bumps include:
- Xanthelasma: Raised yellow patches on your eyelids that can happen with age. These are harmless, although they are sometimes a sign of high cholesterol.
- Papillomas: Pink or skin-colored bumps. They are harmless, but can slowly grow, affect your vision, or bother you for cosmetic reasons. If so, they can be surgically removed.
- Cysts: Small fluid-filled sacs that can affect your vision.
To treat eyelid bumps at home:
- Apply a warm, wet cloth to the area for 10 minutes. Do this 4 times a day.
- Do not attempt to squeeze a stye or any other type of eyelid bump. Let it drain on its own.
- Do not use contact lenses or wear eye makeup until the area has healed.
For a stye, your doctor may:
- Prescribe antibiotic ointment
- Make an opening in the stye to drain it (Do not try this at home)
A chalazion is a small bump in the eyelid caused by a blockage of a tiny oil gland.
A chalazion is caused by a blocked duct in one of the meibomian glands. These glands are located in the eyelid directly behind the eyelashes. They produce a thin, oily fluid that lubricates the eye.
A chalazion often develops following an internal hordeolum (also called a stye). The eyelid most often becomes tender, red, swollen and warm. Sometimes, the blocked gland causing the stye will not drain even though the redness and swelling go away. The gland will form a firm nodule in the eyelid that is not tender. This is called a chalazion.
A chalazion will often go away without treatment in a month or so.
- The first treatment is to place warm compresses over the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes at least four times a day. Use lukewarm water (no hotter than you can leave your hand in comfortably). This may soften the hardened oils blocking the duct, and lead to drainage and healing.
- Do not push or squeeze the chalazion.
If the chalazion continues to get bigger, it may need to be removed with surgery. This is most often done from the inside of the eyelid to avoid a scar on the skin.
Steroid injection is another treatment option.