Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Conditions & Treatments

Conditions & Treatments

Conditions & Treatments

Houston Methodist Department of Ophthalmology provides comprehensive medical and surgical eye care as well as basic and clinical research in the structure, function, and diseases of the eye, ocular adnexa, and visual system.

Service physicians are developing new medical therapies and innovative microsurgical techniques for prevention and treatment for blinding diseases, including:

Cataracts
Glaucoma
Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinal Detachment
Age-related Macular Degeneration
Uveal Melanoma Corneal Infections (Keratitis)
Corneal Dystrophy Refractive Errors
Orbital Diseases and Tumors
Hereditary Eye Diseases
Optic Nerve Diseases
 

Cataracts

A cataract is a condition that causes a painless, hazy area in the lens of the eye that obstructs the passage of light to the retina.

Symptoms

In the beginning stages, patients will notice a slight cloudiness in the eye but as their condition progresses, it can cover the entire eye, making it extremely difficult to see anything clearly. Patients with severe cataracts will see images as if there is a cloud of fog hanging over their eyes.

Treatment

Surgery is the widely accepted treatment for patients with a cataract because it is a relatively safe procedure that has a high success rate. During the procedure, a surgeon will remove the damaged lens and replace it with an artificial lens, allowing the patient to have clearer vision.

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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve—the nerve responsible for carrying information from the eye to the brain.

Symptoms

Symptoms include gradual loss of peripheral vision or "tunnel vision."

Treatment

Glaucoma can often be controlled or treated with eye drops or surgery, including a minimally-invasive option with the Trabectome surgical instrument.

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic eye disease that affects the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to swell and leak fluid.

Symptoms

Symptoms include eye pain, "floaters" (small spots which block the ability to see clearly), blurry vision and partial or total loss of vision.

Treatment

While there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, treatments to preserve vision include laser treatment and surgical removal of the vitreous gel, known as a vitrectomy.

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Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious condition that occurs when the retina is pulled away from the back of the eye where it normally resides. A detached retina urgently needs to be treated, and may cause blindness.

Symptoms

Symptoms include the development of "floaters" (small spots which block the ability to see clearly), blurry vision, shadowy spots and lines in the field of vision and occasional complete loss of vision.

Treatment

Treatments include laser therapy, cryotherapy, and surgery.

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Aging-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a disease characterized by damage to the macula, the central part of the retina that allows the person to see details. When the macula deteriorates, vision becomes blurred, leading to the loss of central vision used for activities such as reading, writing or driving. ARMD does not affect peripheral vision; therefore complete blindness is not expected. In its early stages, ARMD causes degeneration in the macula, called "Dry ARMD". In advanced stages, new blood vessels can grow under the retina, leading to leakage and sudden worsening of vision, known as "Wet ARMD".

Symptoms

Symptoms include fuzzy or distorted vision and defects in central vision.

Treatment

Sometimes lifestyle and diet changes can help to reduce the progression of ARMD. There is no other effective treatment for Dry ARMD, but if Wet ARMD develops, patients may be able to preserve some or even all of their eyesight with treatments including injections, laser treatment and possibly surgery.

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Uveal Melanoma

Uveal melanoma is a form of cancer found in the eye, specifically in the uvea. Melanoma refers to a type of tumor that carries cancer cells; typically these tumors are found in the skin but rarer forms of melanoma can be found elsewhere in the body, including the eye.

Symptoms

Typically, there are no symptoms until later stages of the disease. Symptoms can include vision problems, among others.

Treatment

There are several treatment options available depending on which will benefit the patient's condition the most. Treatment may involve general observation, cryotherapy (which freezes the cancerous tissues), laser photocoagulation (which uses lasers to clot the tissue preventing leakage from blood vessels), radiotherapy (use of local radiation to eliminate cell growth) or transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT), which uses heat to destroy tumors.

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Corneal Infections (Keratitis)

Corneal infections, known as keratitis, are usually caused by contact lenses, dust, or accidental injury to the cornea, and can cause serious damage to the eye. Bacteria and fungi can enter into the cornea and cause painful inflammation.

Symptoms

Symptoms include eye redness, pain, watering eyes, sensitivity to light, decreased vision and spots that may appear on the eyeball.

Treatment

Contact lens wearers must discontinue contact lens wear at the first sign of any eye problems. Treatment for infections includes antibiotics as well as other anti-infective and anti-inflammatory medications.

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Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophies are inherited disorders of the cornea that lead to decreased vision and/or pain. Though these are inherited, there is not always a family history of cornea diseases.

Symptoms

Corneal dystrophies tend to gradually worsen over time and can affect both the right and left eyes at once, causing progressively worse vision problems.

Treatment

Depending on which layer of the cornea is affected, treatment options may be available and can include medical as well as surgical options.

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Refractive Errors

A refractive error is caused by an abnormal eye shape, making the cornea unable to focus light correctly onto the retina, which can cause blurry vision. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is caused by an overly long eye or a steep cornea, whereas hyperopia, or farsightedness, is caused by a short eye or a flat cornea. Astigmatism can occur with either of these conditions, or independently. Astigmatism is usually the result of the cornea being shaped more like an oblong football than a round soccer ball.

Symptoms

Symptoms include blurred or fuzzy vision.

Treatment

Refractive errors are commonly treated using either glasses or contacts, depending on the patient's preference. Surgeries have also become increasingly popular, including LASIK and PRK. Most surgical techniques will either change the curvature of the cornea or use an artificial lens to correct vision.

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Orbital Diseases & Tumors

Orbital diseases affect the orbit or "eye socket," which is the bony structure where the eyes, muscles, arteries and nerves are housed. Diseases that affect the orbit can cause inflammation in this area.

Symptoms

Symptoms include eye pain, vision loss, bulging eyeballs and swelling of the eyelids.

Treatment

Inflammation in the orbit is treated with medications that control the inflammation. The ideal treatment option for orbital tumors is to have them completely removed, but in some cases, the tumor is located too close to sensitive areas of the eye. In this case, radiation therapy can help to reduce the size and danger of the tumor.

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Hereditary Eye Diseases

Hereditary eye diseases are present when one or both parents carry gene mutations that cause different forms of eye disease. Some hosts can pass this disorder to their children even if they do not suffer from the condition. Some inherited eye diseases and disorders can progressively diminish vision. Stargardt's disease, Marfan syndrome, retinitis pigmentosa, Hunter's syndrome and poor color vision (color blindness) are well-known inherited eye diseases and disorders.

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Optic Nerve Diseases

Optic nerve diseases disrupt the normal function of the eye. The optic nerve, located at the back of the eye, is responsible for carrying messages to and from the brain. When this nerve is damaged due to disease, age or sports-related trauma, it can interfere with the nerve's ability to function properly. Those with multiple sclerosis and pseudotumor cerebri often suffer optic nerve damage as a result of their illness.

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For more information on the Houston Methodist Department of Ophthalmology, please call our Physician Referral & Health Information Line at 713-790-3333.