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Eye Care


Trust UNM Health System Eye Care to provide excellent clinical care with the best patient experience possible. We also offer outstanding education to our resident physicians and pursue research opportunities to continue to search for the best treatments possible to save vision and prevent blindness.

Your Clinic Visit

Your visit at either of our eye clinics can take anywhere from one to three hours, so plan accordingly! We suggest you bring your sunglasses in case we need to put drops in your eyes to dilate them. A book or magazine is also useful to help pass the time while you are waiting. You may also want to bring snacks for your children or yourself, especially if you have a health condition such as diabetes. When you check in you will need to have your co-pay ready. Also, you will need a referral if seeing a specialist or if your insurance requires it.

Well Eye Exams

A well eye exam is strictly for people who have no medical or eye conditions but want to have a regular dilated eye exam to ensure their eyes are healthy. Although insurance does not typically pay for these exams, we highly recommend them so that any problems can be detected early. We offer them at a very low and competitive rate at our University Blvd. location. Please call 505-272-2553 for pricing.

Eye Conditions and Treatments

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

This is the medical term used when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the brain and the eye are not working together properly. The eye itself looks normal, but it is not being used normally because the brain is favoring the other eye. This is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood, affecting 2-3% of all children.

What causes amblyopia?

It may be caused by any condition that affects normal visual development or use of the eyes, or by strabismus, which is an imbalance in the positioning of the eyes. It can also occur when one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic than the other one.

How is amblyopia treated?

The goal is to strengthen the weaker eye, and this can be done through either atropine (in the form of an eye drop) or a patch over the stronger eye. In adults it is currently unknown what the success rate for treating it is. Research is currently being conducted to determine whether treatment for amblyopia in adults can improve vision.

Astigmatism

This is a common type of refractive error in which the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. It can affect both children and adults, and some patients with a slight case will not notice much change in their vision.

How does astigmatism occur?

It occurs when light is bent differently depending on where it strikes the cornea and passes through the eyeball. The cornea of a normal eye is curved like a basketball, with the same degree of roundness in all areas. An astigmatic eye has a cornea that is curved more like a football, with some areas that are steeper or more rounded than others. This can cause images to appear blurry and stretched out.

What are some symptoms of astigmatism?

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Distorted or blurred vision at all distances
  • Difficulty seeing at night

How is it treated?

Astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct it, and contact lenses are also a safe and effective option for most patients. Refractive surgery aims to change the shape of the cornea permanently. This change restores the focusing power of the eye by allowing the light rays to focus precisely on the retina. Your eye care professional can help you decide if surgery is an option for you.

Cataract

A cataract is clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most of the time they are related to aging as more than half of all Americans have either had a cataract or have had cataract surgery by the time they are 80. It can occur in either eye but cannot spread from one eye to the other.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

The most common symptoms are:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Colors seem faded
  • Glare, including headlights, lamps or the sun may appear too bright and/or with a halo around them
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye
  • Frequent changes in your prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses

How are cataracts treated?

The symptoms of early cataracts may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these do not help then surgery is the only effective treatment. A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities like driving, reading or watching TV.

Cornea Disease

The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It helps shield the rest of the eye from germs, dust and other harmful matter. It also acts as the eye’s outermost lens. It functions like a window that controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye. It contributes between 65-75% of the eye’s total focusing power. There are many conditions that can affect its health and functionality, including:

  • Allergies – the eye turns red with itching, tearing, burning, stinging and watery discharge
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) – includes a group of diseases that cause swelling, itching, burning and redness of the protective membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the exposed areas of the sclera (white of the eye)
  • Corneal infections – typically occurs when a foreign object has penetrated the tissue (poke) or if bacteria or fungi from a contaminated contact lens pass into the cornea
  • Dry eye – tears are important to the eye’s health, but some people do not produce enough of them to protect against eye infection
  • Fuchs’ Dystrophy
  • Corneal dystrophies – one or more parts of the cornea lose their normal clarity due to a buildup of cloudy material
  • Herpes zoster (shingles)
  • Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome – features visible change in the iris, swelling of the cornea, and the development of glaucoma
  • Keratoconus – the most common corneal dystrophy, it is a progressive thinning of the cornea
  • Other corneal dystrophies – including lattice dystrophy and map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy
  • Ocular herpes
  • Pterygium – a pinkish, triangular-shaped growth on the cornea
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome – also called erythema multiforme major is a skin condition that can also affect the eye

Floaters

Floaters are little “cobweb-like” specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. Most people have them and learn to ignore them, and they are usually not noticed until they become numerous or more prominent.

How are floaters treated?

For most people in whom floaters are merely annoying, no treatment is recommended. However, on rare occasions they can be so dense and numerous that they affect vision. In these instances a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy may be needed.

Retinal detachment and floaters

Sometimes a section of the vitreous pulls away the fine fibers from the retina all at once, and many new floaters appear. This is most always not a threat to your sight and requires no treatment. However, a sudden increase in floaters accompanied by light flashes or peripheral vision loss could indicate a retinal detachment. This is a very serious condition and should always be considered an emergency. If left untreated it can lead to permanent visual impairment or even blindness in the eye in just a couple days.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. However, with early detection and treatment you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.

Who is at risk for glaucoma?

Anyone can develop it, but some people are at higher risk than others, including:

  • African Americans over the age of 40
  • Anyone over age 60, especially Hispanics
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

What are symptoms of glaucoma?

At first, there are no symptoms. There is no pain and your vision stays normal. People without treatment will slowly lose their peripheral vision, and it may eventually seem like they are looking through a tunnel. Over time, central vision may decrease as well until no vision remains.

What are some treatments for glaucoma?

Although there is no cure for glaucoma and lost vision cannot be restored, there are some options to delay progression of the disease. These treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery or a combination of these.

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

This is a common type of refractive error where distant objects may be seen more clearly than nearer objects. This occurs when the eyeball is too short, which prevents incoming light from focusing directly on the retina. It can affect both children and adults and is present in 5-10% of Americans.

What are signs and symptoms of hyperopia?

Although they vary from person to person, common ones include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Blurry vision, especially for close objects

How is hyperopia treated?

It can be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

The cousin to hyperopia, this is a common type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, but distant objects are blurry. High myopia is a severe form of this condition, which can cause changes in vision. Myopia can affect both children and adults and is present in about 25% of Americans.

What are signs and symptoms of myopia?

Although they vary from person to person, common ones include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty seeing distant objects like highway signs

How is myopia treated?

It can be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Contact Us

Please call 505-272-2553 with any questions or concerns you have about your eye health or to schedule an appointment at either one of our clinic locations.

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