In the last two iSights we described the importance of the oily layer and the watery layer of the eye's tear film.
This month we'll focus on the innermost layer, the mucin layer. This is the layer that sits between the watery
layer and the eye's surface. Its purpose is to help the watery layer 'stick' to the eye rather than running down
your cheek. The cells on the eye surface that produce this layer can be damaged by sunburns, chemical burns
and certain diseases. Thankfully there are new medications and surgical treatments that can help. Specialized
surgical procedures have been developed to help restore the health of the eye surface in advanced cases. For
milder cases, a prescription drop called Restasis contains a medication that over time can help restore the
mucin-producing cells when they've been damaged from chronic inflammatory conditions.
What's new in vision correction procedures
Have you ever wondered if you or someone you know can have laser vision correction if they've had previous
eye surgery or if they've been diagnosed with certain conditions, such as dry eyes or glaucoma, for example?
With modern diagnostic and treatment methods, many conditions are no longer contraindications to laser vision
correction. For example, laser vision correction can be performed on most patients who had previous cataract
surgery, corneal transplants, eye muscle surgery, and, in some instances, even glaucoma surgery. Dry eyes
can be diagnosed and treated before the procedure. Even certain conditions that affect your body, such as
well-controlled lupus and arthritis, are no longer absolute contraindications to refractive surgery.
In last month's iSight we described the exciting experimental artificial retina. Did you know there are also
artificial corneas already in use? Known as "ketatoprosthesis", these implants are being used for people
whose eyes could not support a traditional corneal transplant graft. Several models have been developed
around the world and hundreds have already been implanted in the US. There have already been reports
of patients with excellent visual outcomes. This new and exciting technology is a wonderful option for
patients who were not candidates for corneal transplantation.
Fun Eye Facts
Although we usually think of pirates wearing a patch to cover an old swordfight eye injury, there is another
theory as to why pirates wore a patch. It's possible they used the patch to keep one eye dark adapted to
make it easy to rush back and forth between the sunny deck and the dark interior of the ship. You've
probably noticed that when you walk from a sunny patio into a dark house, it takes several minutes to see
in the dim light. This is partly due to the time it takes for your pupil to dilate to let in more light, but it's also
due to the time it takes for your retinal rod cells to 'dark adapt'. By keeping one eye patched, the pirate
might have been able to quickly see inside his ship with a quick lift of the patch.
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