Blinking is essential. Every time our eyelids close, salty secretions from our tear glands sweep over our eyes’ surfaces, protecting them from harmful particles. The average person blinks 12 to 15 times per minute but when you’re in front of a computer screen, that number decreases dramatically to 3 to 4 times per minute. With the average American spending 6 to 8 hours each day in front of a computer, we’re missing out on hundreds of opportunities to cleanse and protect our eyes.
Macular degeneration (AMD) can be a visually devastating disease. It can affect our grandparents, our parents, our aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends. It is the leading cause of blindness in those over 65. America’s aging population is growing rapidly and AMD affects 10-15 million of these patients today. It is projected to affect 20-25 million in 2020.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the amount of sugar in the blood, and can also cause cataracts. Cataracts cloud the eye’s naturally clear lens, and diabetics are more likely to develop this condition that impairs your vision. Columbus Ophthalmology Associates specializes in eye care for patients with diabetes, and the following video with Dr. McHale shows how we can help restore your eyesight through cataract surgery.
With the talk of cannabis constantly growing, we get a number of patients who ask about marijuana and glaucoma. We would like to shed some light on the reality of the situation and have asked Dr. Orlando, founder of Columbus Ophthalmology Associates and expert cataract surgeon to shed some light on the reality of using marijuana to treat glaucoma.
But first, let’s start with what is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a common sight-threatening disease that can cause damage to the optic nerve damage, the delicate cable-like structure that connects the eye to the brain. Most often, the damage is a result of chronic high pressure within the eye that slowly destroys the nerve fibers from the inside of the nerve outward. The loss of optic nerve fibers is not reversible but at detection and with treatment, the progression of the disease can be stopped.
Now that we’re clear about glaucoma, we’ve asked Dr. Orlando to give us a glimpse of what he shares with his patients about glaucoma and the use of cannabis.
“Last year Ohio voted to legalize medical marijuana and almost immediately patients began to ask if it would help them with their glaucoma. So far, Ohio has not determined what medical conditions and in what clinical circumstance cannabis can be used. However, the drug has been studied for many years by ophthalmologists as public opinion has more or less approved it’s use for glaucoma. But the scientific reality is that it does not really work as treatment for this potentially blinding disorder. First of all, one must understand that glaucoma is a very multi-faceted and challenging disease that can present in a variety of ways. Basically, the internal pressure of the eye damages the delicate optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain where images are created. Eye doctors measure this pressure as part of their routine eye exam and look for elevation that is above the normal of 20mmHg. However, damage can occur even with pressure readings lower than 20 and so the optic nerve itself needs evaluation with a variety of tests that can pick up early signs of damage. When diagnosed, the glaucoma specialist will set a “target pressure” and begin the most appropriate treatment to lower the readings to that point. Follow up visits are required in order to make sure there is no further damage to the nerve with the initial medical therapy. In some cases, a special laser known as the SLT will open the internal canals and allow the pressure to drop if topical drops do not control the pressure readings at a safe level. In extreme cases, microsurgery will create a drain from inside to drop the pressure and prevent further damage.
Scientific research on the use of cannabis for glaucoma treatment has been done for over 30 years. Initial studies done with patients smoking the drug found pressure readings that dropped around 25% but the effect lasted only 2 to 4 hours. Other studies with oral administration of cannabis extract also showed only a short time frame for lowering of the intra-ocular pressures. Some case reports have showed variable response to the drug in lowering pressures and so the overall consensus is that cannabis is ineffective for long term treatment of glaucoma. There are far more proven effective therapies and the American Glaucoma Society has stated there is no form of cannabis that is recommended for treatment of this disease. The University of Mississippi is currently the only approved site for cannabis research and we will await further studies to see if this can be an effective adjunct to our current treatment options.”
Hopefully this update from Dr. Orlando has helped shed some light on the use of cannabis for the treatment of glaucoma. If you are suffering from glaucoma and would like to speak with a specialist, please call our offices and we will be happy to assist you.
A number of our patients come to see us because they need to discuss next steps towards getting rid of their cataract. We realize that some people are nervous by this conversation but it’s nothing to fear. We want to ensure that you and your family are fully confident in knowing what a cataract is, how common it is, and how quickly we can help you get rid of it and begin enjoying your life with great sight!
What is a Cataract?
Everyone has a natural lens in both of their eyes. Cataracts form in the actual lens – not on top or underneath it. “I see a number of patients that think a cataract is something that is laying on top of their lens, as if we can simply go in and remove the covering. It doesn’t exactly work that way, but the actual procedure isn’t much more complicated. It’s so simple, the procedure of removing and replacing the lens is completed in 10 or 15 minutes” said Dr. James McHale, an Ophthalmologist and Managing Partner at Columbus Ophthalmology Associates who says he completes this procedure hundreds of times a year. Like Dr. McHale said, a cataract is when the lens, which is clear most of your life, becomes cloudy. At a point, that cloudiness can cause blurry or foggy vision, problems with glare from headlights or the sun, a dullness in color, and other issues. See photo below of what someone with normal vision versus someone with a cataract would see if they looked at the same photo:
How do you treat Cataracts?
Removal and replacement of the cloudy lens with an Intra-Ocular Lens is the only way to treat a cataract. But don’t worry, it’s not a difficult procedure at all! Cataract surgery is one of the most successful operations in all of medicine and it has excellent results. The actual procedure only takes up to 15 minutes – and there are no sutures to deal with. Your healing time is quick and most people resume normal activities in days! Cataract surgery is such a common procedure, that by the age of 80, half of all Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. So if you have to have this procedure, we don’t want you to worry at all! We’re here to help you through it.
If you would like more information on Cataract Surgery, watch this quick video:
If you are struggling with cataracts and this is a treatment you need to have, hopefully this will encourage you to further look into completing your cataract surgery. Remember, you are always free to call our office and speak with someone to ask questions and to schedule an appointment to see one of our Ophthalmologists. We would be happy to see you and discuss your options for a brighter, and clearer, vision future!