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Thomasville Eye Center: Care for Patients

Thomasville Eye Center

Vision Health for Seniors

Everybody gets cataracts. The idea that many elderly folks think that cataract is some growth you get in your eye or a film that develops in your eye, but all a cataract actually is, is that everybody is born with a lens in their eye, just like a camera has a lens. The lens of a person’s eye gets cloudy as part of aging. That’s actually what a cataract is.  Just because a person has a cataract is not a reason to have to have cataract surgery. It’s only when the cataract gets to the stage that it starts interfering with the person’s lifestyle or what they like to do day in and day out, then it becomes a problem and needs to be addressed.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure we do here at the Thomasville Eye Center surgery center.  We don’t put people to sleep. We either use drops to anesthetize the eye, or most commonly, we actually have an anesthesia doctor who will give some medication around the eye to put the eye asleep for surgery.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma’s very prominent, especially among African Americans. It goes along with cataracts in a lot of cases. Patients can have glaucoma without having cataracts. Usually, glaucoma, we see that in families of patients. Just because a patient has a brother, sister, a mom, or dad who had glaucoma doesn’t mean you’re going to have glaucoma; it makes you a little bit more likely to have glaucoma, but not necessarily that you will have it.

The difference between a cataract and glaucoma is glaucoma occurs when the pressure in the eye gets too high and damages the eye. It can lead to permanent blindness. Cataracts can never cause permanent blindness. Cataracts can really diminish a person’s vision, but really will never cause someone to become totally blind.

Macular Degeneration

A lot of patients, as they get older, will develop macular degeneration. That’s a big scare among a lot of elderly patients. In fact, my father had macular degeneration before he passed away. It’s a condition that’s just a deterioration of the part of the retina called the macula. A lot of patients think that that’s going to lead to total blindness. It can be severely visually handicapping.  In its worst case scenario, macular degeneration robs you of your central vision. Patients that have macular degeneration will always have their peripheral vision. That won’t allow them to drive or do a lot of activities, but they can still see to get around relatively well in that type of situation.

Dementia’s Impact on Eye Health

While dementia really doesn’t affect the eye itself, it affects the brain and the brain centers that can control vision. I see patients frequently who are brought in by their family saying, “Mom or dad can’t see the food in front of them. Something must be wrong with their eyes.” In a lot of those cases, they really don’t have a problem with their eyes; it’s the connections between the eye and the brain just aren’t there anymore due to the Alzheimer’s.  It’s more of a brain issue than an eye issue. Even though they really can see that there’s food in front of them or where they’re going, the brain just doesn’t tell the eye and the eye doesn’t connect with the brain the way it should.

Supporting Vision Health in Seniors

The big thing here is we have a lot of patients who just need to have their eyes examined. They may feel like they’re having a problem and sit at home thinking, ‘Gosh, I don’t know if I should go to the doctor or not.’ If there’s any doubt, they should! We can check for cataracts, we can check for glaucoma. Those are treatable conditions that can vastly improve the health and quality of life of the patient.