Steroid Use May Raise Cataract Risks

Steroid Use May Raise Cataract Risks

People who use both inhaled and oral steroids (corticosteroids) may be at increased risk for cataracts, according to a recent study. Many people with asthma rely on inhaled, and sometimes oral, steroids, as do people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study assessed the inhaled and/or oral steroid use and cataract status of more than 3,600 people, following them for up to ten years. Increased cataract risks were found only in patients who, at the start of the study had ever used inhaled steroids, had used oral steroids for at least one month, and had no cataracts. Although only a small number of patients met these criteria, nearly all of them—seven of 10—were found to have cataracts in follow-up exams. You should talk with your doctor if you are prescribed both oral and inhaled steroids because of the potential for increased cataract risk. More information on cataracts can be found at www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Seasonal Allergies and Your Eyes

Seasonal Allergies Attack the Eye!
Seasonal allergies affect more than 35 million Americans each year and can have a tremendously negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. Tree pollens in April and May, grass pollens in June and July and mold spores and weed pollens in July and August equal a five-month attack of eye-irritating allergens.
The combination of reproducing flowers and fungi with human antibodies makes for some awful allergy attacks each spring. Plant pollen and mold spores initiate the allergic response when they come in contact with the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and lungs. Antibodies called immunoglobulin react by activating mast cell, which release chemicals, including histamine, to attack what it believes is an threat to the body. Thus, allergy symptoms appear. Spring and summer allergy episodes can be a bigger problem than chronic varieties. Drier air and exploding springtime pollen counts wreak havoc on the itchy, inflamed ocular surface. Seasonal allergic sufferers usually endure a combination of ocular itching, inflammation, watering and redness of the eyes. Ocular itching is the most distinguishing feature when seasonal allergic episodes occur. Some symptoms of seasonal allergies are also quite similar to dry eye symptoms. If you have seasonal allergy symptoms it is important to see your Eye M.D. for a visual examination to help rule out dry eye.
This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Medical Myth Exposed

Medical Myth Exposed

Does glaucoma cause headaches?

Glaucoma usually does not cause headaches. Most often patients with glaucoma do not have any symptoms at all in the early stages. This is why comprehensive eye examinations are so important, especially for someone who has risk factors for glaucoma. Sometimes, eye pain or a headache around the eye can be the first sign of angle closure glaucoma. This can occur when the eye pressure is dangerously high.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Ask An Eye M.D. Question of the Month

Featured Ask an Eye M.D. question

Question:
My child has Down syndrome and autism. I was surprised to find out he has cataracts in both eyes; one may not be operable. They are suggesting possible ocular implant, what is the success rate and percentage of possibly getting an infection? Would he lose his eye if he did get an infection?

Answer:
Lens implants (known as intraocular lenses or IOLs) have been routinely used to replace the natural lens after cataract surgery in adults for decades.  Increasingly, IOLs have been used in children to aid in visual recovery after cataract surgery.  In fact, most children older than 2 years of age receive an IOL during cataract surgery today.  Both cataract surgery and IOL placement in children are highly successful, though vision is often limited in young children by amblyopia (commonly referred to as lazy eye) that can develop as a result of the cataract.  Infection can occur after any surgery, including cataract surgery.  Fortunately, this complication occurs at a rate of less than one in 3,000 such surgeries, and vision can be saved in most cases if the infection is detected early.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?

Did You Know?

How often you should get an eye exam? How about your kids?

If you are in your 30’s, otherwise healthy, have no ocular symptoms, do not require glasses or contact lenses, have not had a serious eye injury or eye surgery, and do not have a family history of serious eye disease, you should have a comprehensive eye exam at age 40.  If you have any of the issues just mentioned, you may have a higher risk of eye disease and should be evaluated more regularly depending on the specifics of that problem.  Consult your Eye M.D. to determine the most appropriate interval for eye exams.

All children should have their visual acuity tested by age five. Your children should be receiving vision screening exams at the time of their well-child visits with their pediatrician or family doctor.  They may also be getting vision screenings at school. Routine comprehensive professional eye examination of children with no signs of eye problems has no proven medical benefit. If there are known risk factors for eye disease in your family, or if there is any indication that your children might not have normal vision, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your local Eye M.D.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).