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Common Eye Problems
· Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Amblyopia also known as “lazy eye” is the lack of normal visual development in an eye, despite the eye being healthy. If left untreated, it can cause legal blindness in the affected eye.

Q: What are signs and symptoms of Amblyopia?
A: Amblyopia generally starts at birth or during early childhood. Its symptoms often are noted by parents, caregivers or health-care professionals. If a child squints or completely closes one eye to see, he or she may have amblyopia. Other signs include overall poor visual acuity, eyestrain and headaches.

Q: What causes amblyopia?
A: The most common cause of amblyopia is strabismus (intermittent or constant misalignment of the eyes). Another common cause is a significant difference in the refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism) in the two eyes. It's important to correct amblyopia as early as possible, before the brain ignores vision in the affected eye.

Q: What treatment is available for amblyopia?
A: Amblyopic children can be treated with Vision Therapy (which often includes patching one eye), atropine eye drops, the correct prescription for nearsightedness or farsightedness or surgery. Placing a patch over the stronger eye to force the weaker eye to be used more. VT may be required for several hours each day or even all day long, and may continue for weeks or months.

These exercises help both eyes work as a team, thus forces the brain to use the amblyopic eye, restoring vision.

In some children, atropine eye drops have been used to treat amblyopia instead of patching. One drop is placed in your child's good eye each day. Atropine blurs vision in the good eye, which forces your child to use the eye with amblyopia more, to strengthen it. One advantage of this method of treatment is that it doesn't require your constant vigilance to make sure your child wears an eye patch.

If your child has become amblyopic due to a strong uncorrected refractive error or a large difference between the refractive errors of their eyes, wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses full-time can sometimes simply treat amblyopia. In some cases, patching may be recommended along with the new glasses or contact lenses.

In cases when the amblyopia is caused by a large eye turn, strabismus surgery may be required to straighten the eyes. The surgery corrects the muscle problem that causes strabismus so the eyes can focus together and see properly.

Amblyopia will not go away on its own, and untreated amblyopia can lead to permanent visual problems and poor depth perception. If your child has amblyopia and the stronger eye develops disease or is injured later in life, the result will be poor vision through the amblyopic eye. To prevent this and to give your child the best vision possible, amblyopia should be treated early on call Brian M. Brown, M.D., at 562-904-1989 to schedule your child’s appointment today.

· Astigmatism
Astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems. Many people are relieved to learn that astigmatism is not an eye disease. Like nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism is a type of refractive error – a condition related to the shape and size of the eye that causes blurred vision.

In addition to blurred vision, uncorrected astigmatism can cause headaches, eyestrain and make objects at all distances appear distorted.

Q: Astigmatism signs and symptoms?
A: If you have only a small amount of astigmatism, you may not notice it at all, or you may have only mildly blurred or distorted vision. But even small amounts of uncorrected astigmatism can cause headaches, fatigue and eyestrain over time. Astigmatism usually develops in childhood. Children may be even more unaware of the condition than adults, and they may also be less likely to complain of blurred or distorted vision. Astigmatism can cause problems that interfere with learning, so it's important to have your child’s eyes examined each year.

Q: What causes astigmatism?
A: Usually, astigmatism is caused by an irregular-shaped cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. In astigmatism, the cornea isn’t perfectly round, but instead is more football- or egg-shaped an astigmatic eye has a steeper and flatter one curve. In some cases, astigmatism may be caused by an irregular-shaped lens inside the eye.

Q: How is astigmatism treated?
A: In most cases, astigmatism can be fully corrected with LASIK, eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you have Astigmatism you may be a candidate for LASIK, call Brian M. Brown, M.D., at 562-904-1989 to schedule your complimentary LASIK evaluation today.

· Blepharitis
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids, occurring particularly at the lid margins. It's a common disorder and may be associated with a low-grade bacterial infection or a generalized skin condition. Blepharitis occurs in two forms: anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis.

Anterior blepharitis affects the front of the eyelids, usually near the eyelashes. The two most common causes of anterior blepharitis are bacteria and a skin disorder called seborrheic dermatitis, which causes itchy, flaky red skin.

Posterior blepharitis affects the inner surface of the eyelid that comes in contact with the eye. It is usually caused by problems with the oil (meibomian) glands in the lid margin. Posterior blepharitis is more common than the anterior variety, and often affects people with a rosacea skin type.

Q: Are there signs and symptoms of Blepharitis?
A: Regardless of which type of blepharitis you have, you will probably have such symptoms as eye irritation, burning, tearing, foreign body sensation, crusty debris (in the lashes, in the corner of the eyes or on the lids), and dryness and red eyelid margins.

It’s important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brian M. Brown for treatment. If your blepharitis is bacterial possible long-term effects are thickened lid margins, dilated and visible capillaries, misdirected eyelashes, loss of eyelashes and a loss of the normal position of the eyelid margin against the eye. Blepharitis can also lead to sties, eye infections and/or erosions of the cornea.

Blepharitis treatments

Blepharitis can be difficult to manage because it tends to recur. Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis you have. It may include applying warm compresses to the eyelids, cleaning your eyelids frequently, using an antibiotic and/or massaging the lids to help express oil from the meibomian glands.

If your blepharitis makes your eyes feel dry, artificial tears or lubricating ointments may also be recommended. In some cases, anti-bacterial or steroid eye drops or ointments may be prescribed.

Always wash your hands before and after touching your eyelids when treating blepharitis. We will provide instructions on the products and techniques to use to relieve symptoms and get your blepharitis under control. Thereafter, a daily regimen of lid hygiene is helpful in preventing recurrences of blepharitis.

There is some evidence to suggest that taking a daily Flaxseed oil supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent or reduce the severity of posterior blepharitis. Be sure to discuss any supplements you are currently using to Dr. Brown.

Because blepharitis tends to be chronic, expect to keep up therapy for a prolonged period of time to keep it at bay. If you normally wear contact lenses, you may need to discontinue wearing them during the treatment period and even beyond.

If you have any of the symptoms listed, call Brian M. Brown, M.D. at 562-904-1989 to schedule your appointment and treatment.

· Chalazion
Chalazion: is a small bump in the eyelid caused by a blockage of a tiny oil gland. A chalazion develops in the glands that produce the fluid that lubricates the eye. These are called Meibomian glands. The eyelid has approximately 100 of these glands, which are located near the eyelashes.

A chalazion is caused by a blockage of the duct that drains one of these glands.

Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Eyelid tenderness, Increased tearing, Painful swelling on the eyelid, Light sensitivity

Q: What are the signs and test to determine a chalazion?
An exam of the eyelid confirms the diagnosis. Rarely, the Meibomian gland duct may be blocked by a skin cancer. If this is suspected, you may need a biopsy.

A chalazion will often disappear without treatment in a month or so.

The primary treatment is to apply warm compresses for 10-15 minutes at least four times a day. This may soften the hardened oils blocking the duct, and promote drainage and healing.

If the chalazion continues to get bigger, it may need to be removed with surgery. This is usually done from underneath the eyelid to avoid a scar on the skin.

Antibiotic eye drops are usually used several days before and after the cyst is removed. However, they are not much use otherwise in treating a chalazion.

Steroid injection is another treatment option.

A chalazion will usually heal on its own. The outcome with treatment is usually excellent.

Q: What are complications of a chalazion?
A: A large chalazion can cause astigmatism, due to pressure on the cornea. This will get better when the chalazion is treated.

Q: What can I do to prevent a chalazion?
A: Properly cleaning the eyelid may prevent the condition from returning in people who are prone to getting a chalazion. Cleaning the eyelash area with baby shampoo will help reduce clogging of the ducts.

· Dry Eye
Dry eyes are caused by a lack of tears. Tears are necessary for the normal lubrication of your eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies. Even if your eyes water excessively they can still be dry.

Several things can contribute to dry eyes; working and living environments, too much make-up around the eye, LASIK can make the eyes dry for up to 30 days after the procedure (your doctor should perform testing to ensure you have adequate tear flow prior to suggesting or performing LASIK) and surgery around the eye area.

· Eye Allergies
Allergies can trigger other problems, such as conjunctivitis and asthma. Most of the more than 22 million Americans who suffer from allergies also have allergic conjunctivitis, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Similar to processes that occur with other types of allergic responses, the eye may overreact to a substance perceived as harmful even though it may not be. For example, dust that is harmless to most people can cause excessive tear production and mucus in eyes of overly sensitive, allergic individuals these allergies are often hereditary.

Q: What are some allergy signs and symptoms?
A: Common signs of allergies include: red, swollen, tearing or itchy eyes; runny nose; sneezing; coughing; difficulty breathing; itchy nose, mouth or throat, and headache from sinus congestion.

Q: What causes eye allergies?
A: Many allergens are in the air, where they come in contact with your eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, mold, dust and pet dander. Other causes of allergies, such as certain foods or bee stings, do not typically affect the eyes the way airborne allergens do. Adverse reactions to certain cosmetics or drugs such as antibiotic eye drops also may cause eye allergies.

Q: What are some eye allergy treatments?
A: Prevention: The most common is to avoid what's causing your eye allergy (Itchy eyes). Keep your home free of pet dander and dust, and stay inside with the air conditioner on when a lot of pollen is in the air. If you have central air conditioning, use a high quality filter that can trap most airborne allergens and replace it frequently.
If you're not sure what's causing your eye allergies, or you're not having any luck avoiding them, your next step will probably be medication to alleviate the symptoms. Eye drops are available as simple eye washes, or they may have one or more active ingredients such as antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers.
relieve many symptoms caused by airborne allergens, such as itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing.
Decongestants: clear up redness. They contain vasoconstrictors, which make the blood vessels in your eyes smaller, lessening the apparent redness. They treat the symptom, not the cause.

In fact, with extended use, the blood vessels can become dependent on the vasoconstrictor to stay small. When you discontinue the eye drops, the vessels actually get bigger than they were in the first place. This process is called rebound hyperemia, and the result is that your red eyes worsen over time.

Some products have ingredients that act as mast cell stabilizers, which alleviate redness and swelling. Mast cell stabilizers are similar to antihistamines. But while antihistamines are known for their immediate relief, mast cell stabilizers are known for their long-lasting relief.

Other medications used for allergies include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. In some cases, combinations of medications may be used.

Immunotherapy: You may also benefit from immunotherapy, in which an allergy specialist injects you with small amounts of allergens to help your body gradually build up immunity to them.

Q: Should you wear contact lenses if you have eye allergies?
A: Even if you are generally a successful contact lens wearer, allergy season can make your contacts uncomfortable. Airborne allergens can get on your lenses, causing discomfort. Allergens can also stimulate the excessive production of natural substances in your tears that bind to your contacts, adding to your discomfort and allergy symptoms.

Ask Dr. Brian M. Brown, what eye drops can help you relieve your symptoms. Call 562-904-1989 to schedule your appointment today.

· Pterygium
A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue conjunctiva that lays over the white part of the eye (sclera). One or both eyes may be involved.

Q: What causes a pterygium?
A: The cause is unknown, but it is more common in people with excess outdoor exposure to sunlight and wind, such as those who work outdoors.

Q: What are the symptoms of a pterygium?
A: The main symptom of a pterygium is a painless area of raised white tissue, with blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea. Sometimes it may become inflamed and cause burning, irritation, or a feeling like there's something foreign in the eye.

Signs and tests
A physical examination of the eyes and eyelids confirms the diagnosis. Special tests are usually not needed.

No treatment is needed unless the pterygium begins to block vision or causes symptoms that are hard to control. Then it should be removed with surgery. Wear protective glasses and a hat with a brim to prevent the condition from returning.

Q: What are some common problems with a pterygium?
A: Some pterygium’s don’t cause problems and some do not need treatment.

Q: Can a pterygium return after it is removed?
A: Yes

Common Eye Problems

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