The term cataract is often misunderstood by some physicians and the general public. Any thickness of the lens of the eye, whether it interferes with vision or not, is a cataract by definition. In the United States, more than half the population over the age of forty has some form of cataract. Cataracts, however, are responsible for only 10 percent of legal blindness. Cataracts may appear in only one eye, or both.
The most common type of cataract is senile caratact which progresses very slowly. Many diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, hasten the development of cataracts. In addition, the danger of diabetic retinopathy faces the diabetic. It is a disease which affects the blood vessels of the eye.
Both diabetic retinopathy and severe cataracts are often treatable with photocoagulation therapy, a form of the laser process; many cases of detached retina have been repaired successfully by the use of controlled laser beam.
In some cases of glaucoma, the opthalmologist has been able to control intraocular pressure by using laser treatment (laser trabeculoplasty). The procedure is less complicated than surgery. It does not require hospitalization.
Glaucoma is an ocular degenerative condition characterized by intraocular pressure which causes changes in the optic disk and defects in the field of vision.
Macular degeneration affects the central portion of the retina and diminishes clear central vision. A small lesion in the eye would ordinarily not affect vision, but creates problems when it settles on the macula.
Some forms of macular degeneration can be improved with laser photocoagulation.
By Drew Randelman