What Is Ophthalmology?
Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine studying the visual system. Ophthalmology is concerned with revealing the causes and risk factors of eye diseases and, most importantly, their diagnosis and treatment.
The main function of the eye is detection, transmission, and transformation of light into a specific image. The eyes help us receive the larger part of all information, so it is important to maintain eye health for as long as possible. In fact, almost every person develops eye diseases during their lifetime, but how soon it happens depends on many factors. Even healthy people having no aggravating factors or a positive family history experience eyesight deterioration as they get older, which is normal.
The Most Common Diseases
Many eye diseases develop without causing any symptoms and being noticed by the patient. The clinical presentation often becomes evident only at an extensive stage, when the visual system already features significant abnormal changes. In this case, non-surgical therapy is unlikely to help, and the treatment cost and duration will be more impressive. Therefore, you should not neglect the annual preventive examination by an ophthalmologist: this will help you not to miss the disease onset.
The most common diseases are refractive errors: myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The ophthalmologist also deals with other diseases such as:
- Dry eye syndrome. A condition is common in elderly people or those who spend a lot of time at the computer and with the smartphone. People wearing contact lenses for appearance or vision correction always suffer from dry eye. The syndrome is caused by lacrimal gland dysfunction: the glands produce fewer tears than is necessary for lubricating the eyeballs. Temporary symptoms of dry eye may appear after laser correction surgery. Dry eyes, burning, and discomfort can be caused by blepharitis and several other conditions. In these cases, dry eye syndrome will be one of their symptoms.
- This is a rather dangerous condition since it is considered one of the main causes of vision loss. Glaucoma is closely associated with ocular hypertension and predominantly develops in people aged 45 and older. Hypertension gradually destroys the retina, resulting in irreversible blindness. Examinations by an ophthalmologist including compulsory measurement of intraocular pressure (tonometry) help diagnose glaucoma early and start treatment on time.
- It is characterized by the clouding of the crystalline lens, which naturally should be transparent. The risk of cataracts increases with age. If a patient does not pay due attention to their health and ignores the symptoms of cataracts, they may lose their vision forever. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery: the opaque lens is replaced with an intraocular lens.
- Macular dystrophy is an age-related disease involving retinal degeneration. The death of retinal neural cells disrupts its information exchange with the brain. Various disorders appear so it becomes difficult for the patient to lead their normal life: to read books, watch news programs, recognize the people around them, etc. Macular dystrophy forces people to leave their jobs because they are no longer able to perform their work. It is not yet possible to restore the vision lost because of macular dystrophy, but early diagnosis of the disease enables starting therapy to prevent further cell destruction.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that diabetes cases are diagnosed with: this problem is considered one of its severe complications. Chronic hyperglycemia causes the destruction of retinal blood vessels. Managing blood sugar and having regular consultations with an ophthalmologist help maintain vision and delay vascular damage. Laser therapy can slow down the disease progression.
Eye Diseases Treatment Methods
Surgical techniques in ophthalmology are extremely advanced and are often considered the only effective way to solve the problem. The operation makes it possible to restore lost vision or slow down the abnormal changes.
Due to the booming growth of microsurgery, eye operations have become much more efficient and safer. They are also less traumatizing, which reduces the risk of postoperative complications.
Foreign specialists of the world’s best clinics use microsurgical instruments, laser technologies, and ultrasound equipment in a single combination. More and more operations exclude opening the eyeball whenever possible. For reconstructive surgery, doctors in clinics in Israel, Germany, and other developed countries use the latest-generation biocompatible materials that meet all quality and safety standards.
Along with the equipment and advanced technologies, the skill of the surgeon plays an important role in treatment success. Foreign specialists never stop learning: they attend seminars and workshops, where they perfect their skills. The teamwork of doctors and nursing staff makes all stages of treatment and rehabilitation easy and comfortable for the patient.
Non-surgical treatments are also quite popular in ophthalmology. Medications are mostly topical: doctors prescribe eye drops, ointments, and sometimes injections. Systemic medications are also used, but less often.
Non-surgical treatment is often prescribed to outpatients: a patient visits the doctor, receives prescriptions, and has the treatment at home. In this case, the patient is able to do all procedures on their own and does not need the help of medical personnel. But when a person needs surgery or continuous medical supervision, hospitalization will be recommended to them.
In large healthcare centers, physiotherapy is widely used to treat eye diseases. The techniques include reflex therapy, intense pulsed light therapy, electrophoresis, etc. As a rule, physiotherapy consists of several multidirectional procedures prescribed as a certain combination.
Ophthalmologists often seek advice from doctors of other specialties and engage them in the treatment process. Diabetes often causes damage to the eyes, so an endocrinologist often takes part in the treatment; sometimes consultation with an allergist and immunologist or a cardiologist is necessary.
Patients with myopia, astigmatism, or hyperopia choose glasses as an optimal and simple method of vision correction. When diagnosing, the doctor accurately assesses the level of visual impairment and helps choose the right eyeglass lenses. If a person does not want to wear glasses or contact lenses, laser correction or other surgeries may be offered to them depending on their age, concomitant diseases, and many other factors.
Rehabilitation helps consolidate the treatment results. This stage is especially important for postoperative recovery. The doctor in charge of the case makes an individual rehabilitation program in cooperation with rehabilitation physicians, kinesiotherapists, physiotherapists, and other specialists. Such a program will provide everything the body needs during this difficult period and enable the patient to come back to normal as soon as possible.