Ophthalmology (Eye Diseases)
A Look Inside Your Eyes
Your eyes are the window to the world. View a slide show of the different parts of your eye and how it works.
Your eyes are responsible for providing you with vision, perhaps the most important of the senses. However, the eye is a delicate and complicated structure that needs protection. The ugly truth is that eye injuries can happen at any time and place. Find eye health information on our blog or choose a topic below.
Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. Normally, the lens of your eye is clear. A cataract causes the lens to become cloudy, which eventually affects your vision.
Cataract surgery is performed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) on an outpatient basis, which means you don't have to stay in the hospital after the surgery. Cataract surgery is very common and is generally a safe procedure. Learn more about cataract surgery.
During phacoemulsification — the most common type of cataract surgery — the rapidly vibrating tip of the ultrasound probe emulsifies and helps break up the cataract, which your surgeon then suctions out (top). An outer housing of the cataract (the lens capsule) is generally left in place. After removing the emulsified material, your surgeon inserts the lens implant into the empty space within the capsule where the natural lens used to be (bottom).
Eye Injury PreventionWhile it's true that many eye injuries happen on the job, almost as many happen around the home. All it takes is a flying champagne cork or a shooting rubber band.
Fortunately, most eye injuries are preventable. Take simple steps to reduce the risk of an eye injury and understand when to see a doctor.
What can you do to prevent an eye injury?
Follow these safety tips to prevent eye injuries around the home.
- Wear protective eyewear during risky activities. Wear safety glasses with side shields anytime you might be exposed to flying particles, objects or dust.
- Wear goggles when exposed to chemicals. Take precautions even if you're just a bystander.
- Supervise your child's use of tools. Pencils, scissors, forks and knives can all cause serious eye injury. Keep in mind that common household items — such as paper clips, bungee cords, wire coat hangers, rubber bands and fishhooks — also can be dangerous.
In the yard
- Protect your eyes while doing yardwork. Use protective eyewear every time you operate lawnmowers, lawn trimmers and leaf blowers.
- Keep children away from flying debris. Make sure young children stay out of the yard while a lawnmower is being operated.
- Store hazardous substances out of reach. Keep fertilizers, pesticides and pool chemicals away from children at all times.
Cooking and cleaning
- Use caution with chemicals and cleaners. Carefully read the labels of chemicals and household cleaning supplies, such as bleach, before using them. Don't mix products. Keep all chemicals and sprays out of a child's reach.
- Be careful when cooking or using hot objects. Use grease shields to prevent the splattering of hot grease or oil. Avoid using a curling iron near your eyes.
- Keep sharp kitchen tools and utensils away from small children. Store them in child-proof locations, and avoid setting them down within reach of young children.
On the move
- Eliminate hazards that may cause falls. Secure rugs and railings. If a child or elderly adult lives in your home, use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs, and consider covering sharp furniture edges and corners with a cushioning material.
- Use car seats. Make sure your child is properly secured in a car seat and that the seat belt or shoulder belt fits tightly. Don't allow a child age 12 or younger to ride in the front seat. Store loose items in your trunk or secure them to the floor of your vehicle.
- Avoid certain children's toys. Don't allow your child to play with non-powder rifles, such as pellet guns or BB guns. Avoid projectile toys, such as darts, bows and arrows, and missile-firing toys.
- Don't allow your children to use laser pointers. Laser pointers, especially those with short wave lengths such as green laser pointers, can permanently damage the retina and cause visual loss with exposures as short as a few seconds. As an adult, be cautious when using laser pointers. Avoid directing the beam toward anyone's eyes.
- Wear protective eyewear during sports. Any sport featuring a ball, puck, stick, bat, racket or flying object, is a potential risk of eye injury. Choose sports protective eyewear labeled as ASTM F803-approved. Eyewear that hasn't been tested for sports use, such as sunglasses, can cause more harm than no eyewear at all.
- Keep small children safe around dogs. When young children are bitten by dogs, eye injuries frequently occur.
- Forgo backyard fireworks. Leave fireworks to trained professionals.
- Use caution when opening a champagne bottle. Don't shake the bottle. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders. Firmly place your palm over the cork while removing the wire hood. Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle, grasp the cork and slowly twist the bottle until the cork is almost out of the neck. To prevent the cork from being discharged like a missile, maintain slight downward pressure on the cork just as it comes out of the bottle.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to good vision. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults.
The most common form of glaucoma has no warning signs. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage.
Vision loss due to glaucoma can't be recovered. So it's important to have regular eye exams that include measurements of your eye pressure. If glaucoma is recognized early, vision loss can be slowed or prevented. If you have the condition, you'll generally need treatment for the rest of your life.
Learn about the symptoms, causes and risk factors of glaucoma.
Normally, fluid (aqueous humor) flows freely through the anterior chamber by way of a drainage system (trabecular meshwork). If that system is blocked, the pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) builds, which in turn damages the optic nerve. With the most common type of glaucoma, this results in gradual vision loss.
In angle-closure glaucoma, the angle formed by the cornea and the iris closes. In this illustration, the iris is plastered against the trabecular meshwork, which prevents the aqueous humor from reaching the drainage channels (see black arrow). This can lead to a rapid increase in intraocular pressure, a serious medical condition.