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The Visually Impaired Patient - Article
ABSTRACT: Blindness or low vision affects more than 3 million Americans 40 years and older, and this number is projected to reach 5.5 million by 2020. In addition to treating a patient's vision loss and comorbid medical issues, physicians must be aware of the physical limitations and social issues associated with vision loss to optimize health and independent living for the visually impaired patient. In the United States, the four most prevalent etiologies of vision loss in persons 40 years and older are age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Exudative macular degeneration is treated with laser therapy, and progression of nonexudative macular degeneration in its advanced stages may be slowed with high-dose antioxidant and zinc regimens. The value of screening for glaucoma is uncertain; management of this condition relies on topical ocular medications. Cataract symptoms include decreased visual acuity, decreased color perception, decreased contrast sensitivity, and glare disability. Lifestyle and environmental interventions can improve function in patients with cataracts, but surgery is commonly performed if the condition worsens. Diabetic retinopathy responds to tight glucose control, and severe cases marked by macular edema are treated with laser photocoagulation. Vision-enhancing devices can help magnify objects, and nonoptical interventions include special filters and enhanced lighting.
Another Ounce of Prevention - Getting Paid
ABSTRACT: Early and accurate detection of eye disorders in children can present a challenge for family physicians. Visual acuity screening, preferably performed before four years of age, is essential for diagnosing amblyopia. Cover testing may disclose small-angle or intermittent strabismus. Leukocoria, which is detected with an ophthalmoscope, may indicate retinoblastoma or cataract. Children with glaucoma may have light sensitivity and enlargement of the cornea, and conjunctivitis that does not respond quickly to treatment may reflect more serious ocular inflammation. Children with serious eye injuries often present to the primary care physician. Nystagmus and many systemic conditions are associated with specific eye findings.
ABSTRACT: Red eye is the cardinal sign of ocular inflammation. The condition is usually benign and can be managed by primary care physicians. Conjunctivitis is the most common cause of red eye. Other common causes include blepharitis, corneal abrasion, foreign body, subconjunctival hemorrhage, keratitis, iritis, glaucoma, chemical burn, and scleritis. Signs and symptoms of red eye include eye discharge, redness, pain, photophobia, itching, and visual changes. Generally, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are self-limiting conditions, and serious complications are rare. Because there is no specific diagnostic test to differentiate viral from bacterial conjunctivitis, most cases are treated using broad-spectrum antibiotics. Allergies or irritants also may cause conjunctivitis. The cause of red eye can be diagnosed through a detailed patient history and careful eye examination, and treatment is based on the underlying etiology. Recognizing the need for emergent referral to an ophthalmologist is key in the primary care management of red eye. Referral is necessary when severe pain is not relieved with topical anesthetics; topical steroids are needed; or the patient has vision loss, copious purulent discharge, corneal involvement, traumatic eye injury, recent ocular surgery, distorted pupil, herpes infection, or recurrent infections.
ABSTRACT: Medication classes historically used in the management of glaucoma include beta blockers, miotics, sympathomimetics and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Because topically applied medications are more site specific, they are preferred in the treatment of glaucoma. Compared with oral medications, topical agents are associated with a decreased incidence of systemic side effects. With topical administration, conjunctival and localized skin allergic reactions are relatively common, whereas severe reactions, including death, are rare. Recently introduced topical agents for glaucoma therapy include dorzolamide and brinzolamide, the first topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors; brimonidine and apraclonidine, more ocular-specific alpha agonists; and latanoprost, a prostaglandin analog, which is a new class of glaucoma medication. Latanoprost has the unique side effect of increasing iris pigmentation. Like their predecessors, the newer agents lower intraocular pressure by a statistically significant degree. Preservation of visual field, the more substantial patient-oriented end point, continues to be studied.
ABSTRACT: Vision loss among the elderly is a major health care problem. Approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65. The most common causes of vision loss among the elderly are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. Age-related macular degeneration is characterized by the loss of central vision. Primary open-angle glaucoma results in optic nerve damage and visual field loss. Because this condition may initially be asymptomatic, regular screening examinations are recommended for elderly patients. Cataract is a common cause of vision impairment among the elderly, but surgery is often effective in restoring vision. Diabetic retinopathy may be observed in the elderly at the time of diagnosis or during the first few years of diabetes. Patients should undergo eye examinations with dilation when diabetes is diagnosed and annually thereafter.