Dr. Almallah's Corner

Laser Vision Specialists serving Toms River, Brick, Barnegat & Manalapan Township, New Jersey

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the part of the eye needed for central vision and is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 60. While the “dry” form of AMD is vastly more common, “wet” (or neovascular) AMD accounts for 10 percent of cases but causes 90 percent of AMD-related vision loss. As abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, they leak blood and fluid and cause scar tissue that can result in sudden and severe vision loss. Until recently, most people with wet AMD had two options: photocoagulation or photodynamic therapy. Now there is a third. The FDA has approved pegaptanib, which is an aptamer, a drug that blocks the action of a substance that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels. Many older people develop age-related macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. The best way to protect yourself from loss of vision is with regular, thorough eye exams. You can’t treat a disease you don’t know you have. Macular degeneration can cause different symptoms in different people.

Inflammation of the eyelids, “blepharitis,” which causes redness and scaly skin at the edges of the eyelids, is one of the most common eye problems among older adults. There are two types of blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis, which occurs at the outside edges of the eyelids, is often caused by bacteria or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows. Interior blepharitis affects the inner edges of the eyelids and can be caused by irregular oil production by the meibomian glands. Regardless of which type of blepharitis a patient has, he or she will likely experience a gritty feeling in the affected eyes, as well as burning, tearing, and irritation. Treatment usually consists of warm compresses, cleansing, topical antibiotics, and massage. Almost everyone gets blepharitis at some time in his or her life. Some people get it repeatedly. Fortunately, blepharitis is relatively easy to treat.

If you think you’re suffering from blepharitis, you may want to call SUSSKIND & ALMALLAH EYE ASSOCIATES, P.A.

Most people are probably so unfamiliar with the topic of eye cancer that they are not even aware it exists, much less are aware of its symptoms and possible indicators. If so, many will be surprised to learn that researchers have recently uncovered a link between moles and freckles on the skin and uveal melanoma (cancer of the eye’s iris, ciliary body, or choroid). The common denominator is the melanocytes that are located in the uvea (the pigmented middle layer of the eye) and also are responsible for skin color. According to researchers, people with atypical moles were found to have nearly three times the risk of having melanoma of the eye as those without the moles. Certain signs and symptoms might suggest that a person may have eye cancer, but tests are typically needed to confirm the diagnosis.

If you are concerned about eye cancer, you can call SUSSKIND & ALMALLAH EYE ASSOCIATES, P.A.

The excessive, uncontrollable blinking that some people endure is caused by involuntary spasms of the muscles that control the eyelids. Known as “benign essential blepharospasm,” the first indications of this condition are irritation of the eyes (usually due to dryness) and increased blinking (perhaps triggered by sunlight, reading, or stress/ anxiety). Although blepharospasm is not life-threatening, it usually worsens over time. Blinking can become so frequent that it interferes with vision, possibly progressing to the point that the eyelids are closed for several seconds at a time, precluding the ability to perform activities such as driving or reading. Fortunately, effective treatment in the form of Botox injections can help tame muscles associated with benign essential blepharospasm. It is important to have blepharospasm evaluated by a trained eye health professional because it may be a symptom and not a condition unto itself.

Please contact us today if you suffer from uncontrollable blinking.

Braille, which utilizes raised dots to signify letters of the alphabet, enables blind individuals to read and write. While more than half of this nation’s blind children were learning Braille at the height of its popularity in the 1950s, the National Federation of the Blind reports that only 10 percent of blind children are learning Braille today. Instead, they are being encouraged to rely on audio texts, voice-recognition software, and other technologies. However, as a result of using technology as a substitute for Braille, illiteracy is increasing among the blind. By contrast, the National Federation of the Blind cites numerous studies that show that people who know Braille are more likely to earn advanced degrees, find good jobs, and live independently.

The importance of a routine eye exam can mean the difference between seeing the street sign you are looking for or making a wrong turn onto a busy interstate. Very often people let the fact that they are seeing poorly go too long before scheduling an appointment with their eye doctor. Of course the opposite is also true, when things look clear, chances are they could be seen even clearer with new eyeglasses, contact lenses, cataract surgery or laser vision correction.

Although an eye exam may not be at the top of the priority list, many practices offer additional convenience to their patients by providing evening and weekend hours. A meticulous doctor will provide a thorough examination and can inform a patient of any issues that need to be addressed or simply to let them know that their eyes are doing well. A regular eye exam is recommended at least once a year.

A complete eye exam should include a number of reassuring tests and measures including a glaucoma test, dilation (to determine the health of the inner eye including the lens), refraction, (commonly performed to establish the patient’s current prescription) and a patient history, to enable the doctor to evaluate the patient’s chief complaint, previous conditions and/or complications. These test results will give the doctor the information needed to let the patient know if additional care is needed. Most often it is the reassurance of having these tests that will give the patient sound piece of mind.

Although fairly common after the age of sixty, cataracts and glaucoma should be taken seriously if detected during an examination. A consultation with the eye doctor can determine if a patient has cataracts or glaucoma or if the patient may be at risk in the future. In the hands of a skillfully trained and experienced surgeon, these issues may be remedied with routine surgery and/or prescribed eye drops and can have remarkable results.

In the unfortunate case of an emergency involving the eye(s), call the eye doctor’s office. If the situation is serious, the patient will be seen immediately. If the emergency occurs after regular office hours, the doctor on call will be notified and will return the patient’s call to determine the nature and severity of their situation. If necessary, the doctor will advise the patient to meet him at the office. Of course if the patient should go to the hospital first, the doctor on call will meet the patient there. No matter what the situation, the patient comes first. Choose the practice that will provide premiere service and professional care. Take the time to ask friends and family whom they recommend. A good practice will be easy to find.

The vast majority of patients who undergo LASIK (the laser-assisted surgery that eliminates the need for vision-correcting eyeglasses) are quite satisfied with the results. That is the finding of a review of scientific literature from all over the world that spanned a decade. According to a review of studies reported from 1998 to 2008 reporting on patient satisfaction, some 95.4 percent of patients were satisfied with the results of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). These results show LASIK to be among the most successful of all elective surgeries. Interestingly, there was no significant difference in patient satisfaction whether the procedure was conducted inside or outside the United States, indicating that the standardization of the procedure seems to be highly consistent.

We encourage patients to ask questions at every step of the refractive surgery process, from initial consultation to follow up appointments. LASIK is not for everyone, and we will advise you about certain conditions that may prevent you from being a good candidate for this procedure. Any change in your vision should prompt a thorough and professional eye examination. We want to help you see beyond your imagination by providing the highest level of eye care. Your vision is priceless!

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped “front window” of the eye that covers the colored iris and the round pupil. When this important component of the eye’s focusing mechanism is damaged or scarred, the ophthalmologist may suggest a corneal transplant. Otherwise known as keratoplasty, the procedure involves removing the central portion of the injured cornea (the “button”) and replacing it with a donor cornea of corresponding size. After the surgery is completed, corneal transplant patients can expect to be fitted with a protective eye shield and gauze patch and receive medication. During the first year after surgery, frequent exams are necessary. Once the outer layer of the cornea has healed, adjustments can be made to improve vision.

Cataract, which is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens caused by proteins clumping together, can increasingly compromise vision to the point where surgery is decided upon. In the past, the man-made replacement lenses used by ophthalmologists enabled post-surgery cataract patients to see well in the distance, but required reading glasses. More recently, however, patients have been able to choose from implant lenses that better suit their needs. For example, “deluxe” lenses are available that enable cataract patients to focus on both far, intermediate and near distances, more closely approximating the function of a natural eye lens. We would like to alert you that August is cataract awareness month. Do you have regular professional eye examinations? A comprehensive medical eye examination and appropriate treatment by an ophthalmologist are the best protection against eye disease.

Many Americans are too complacent when it comes to preserving their precious vision. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reports that only 23 percent of respondents to a recent AAO survey felt they were at risk for any sort of eye disease. Just 23 percent of the survey’s respondents indicated that they were concerned about losing their vision. What many of these people don’t realize is that many eye diseases threaten vision without presenting any symptoms that are readily noticeable in their early stages. By the time people do recognize vision loss, the chance for early, effective treatment has passed. According to new AAO guidelines, everyone should see an ophthalmologist at least once by age 40.

Impaired vision can be caused by age-related eye diseases, refractive error, or head injuries. If you think you may be suffering from an eye disease, it is important to visit an experienced ophthalmologist, who can diagnose your condition and recommend the proper course of treatment.