While most people are familiar with the concept of organ donation, many do not realize that part of the eye can be donated and transplanted, as well. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer surface of the eye. Every year, over 70,000 people receive a corneal transplant, and each of those transplants came from an organ donor. Unlike organ donation, most anyone can donate their cornea. The great thing about corneal tissue is that everyone is a universal donor. Your blood type does not have to match. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what color your eyes are or how good your eyesight is. Aside from those suffering from infections or a few highly communicable diseases, most people are suitable donors. To become a donor, all you need to do is mark a box on your driver’s license!

Dr. Michael Vrabec, a fellowship trained corneal specialist, transplants over 100 corneas every year. There are many reasons why a patient might need a cornea transplant, ranging from corneal disease to injury. Valley Eye Associates works with the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of restoring the Gift of Sight through recovery and transplantation of corneas. Without them, restoring sight to many cornea patients would be impossible!

For more information on donation and the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin, visit their website.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 50. AMD damages the macula, which is a small spot near the center of the retina—and is responsible for sharp central vision, allowing us to see objects that are straight ahead clearly.

In less advanced cases, AMD symptoms are mild and may not impact activities, while more advanced cases result in severe loss of sight in the central part of vision. AMD eventually creates “blind spots,” which are not correctable with surgery or glasses.

AMD will not cause complete blindness. However, the loss of central vision can interfere with many normal activities such as driving, reading, writing and doing any work that utilized close up vision. Peripheral vision is not affected by AMD, but is too low resolution to make up for lost central vision.

Who is at risk for AMD?

Age is the biggest risk factor for AMD, as it typically affects those 50 years of age and older.

Other risk factors:

  1. Smoking: Can double the risk of AMD
  2. Race: AMD is more prevalent among Caucasians
  3. Family history: If there is AMD in your family, you are at greater risk

How is AMD detected?

Early and intermediate AMD typically present little to no symptoms, so a complete dilated eye examination is critical in early detection.

Annual eye examinations with your optometrist or ophthalmologist are important, particularly if you fall into a high risk category. Early detection of age-related macular degeneration is vital, as it improves the prognosis and allows for possible treatments that can delay or reduce the severity of the disease.

Patients who already suffer from AMD do have treatment options available to them. Valley Eye offers several different types of injectable medications that can slow the progression of AMD. In end-stage cases, a surgical option called Centrasight might be appropriate. Centrasight is an Implantable Telescope that can help improve central vision in one eye.

For more information about these treatments, please call or visit our website.

Glaucoma, also known as the “silent sight stealer”, is a potentially blinding disease, often with no symptoms in early stages. If undetected, and the patient experiences vision loss, the damage is permanent. There are currently more than 2.7 million people in the U.S., and over 60 million worldwide, with glaucoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness.

Who is at risk?

While glaucoma can affect anyone, there are certain factors that may put you at more risk for developing glaucoma. For example, if you are over the age of 65, or are African-American, Hispanic, have a family history of glaucoma, are severely nearsighted or have diabetes, you are at particularly high risk.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and is an eye disease that can gradually steal sight without much warning. In fact, the most common form of glaucoma virtually has no symptoms until vision loss has begun. Glaucoma causes an increase in eye pressure, which will eventually damage the optic nerve, causing vision damage and loss.

Regular eye examinations are important

Glaucoma can be easily detected in the early stages with an eye examination. Routine eye exams are especially critical for patients who are at higher risk for glaucoma.

Treatment options for glaucoma have changed dramatically over the past several years, offering you a wide variety of possible options.  One of these options is the iStent, which both Dr. Michael Vrabec and Dr. Douglas Salm recommend to patients frequently.  The iStent is a device implanted in your eye during cataract surgery that can help control eye pressure.

Early detection is vital in preventing vision loss from glaucoma—schedule your appointment for an annual eye examination today!