Vision problems and eye diseases cost the American people roughly $139 million every year.
If you had a problem with your eyes, you'd know it right away, wouldn't you? Don't be so sure. Many people develop vision problems without even realizing it. These conditions come on gradually, and it's easy to overlook subtle changes.
This is especially true in the case of conditions like asteroid hyalosis, which typically doesn't affect a person's ability to see.
Never heard of asteroid hyalosis? Not sure which symptoms you should be on the lookout for? Keep reading. Everything you need to know about this condition is explained below.
What is Asteroid Hyalosis?
Asteroid hyalosis (also known as AH) is a degenerative vision condition. This condition is characterized by a buildup of calcium and lipids (fatty acid compounds).
In the case of AH, these compounds accumulate in the vitreous humor. Vitreous humor is the fluid found between the retina and the lens of the eye.
The calcium and lipid deposits often reflect the light. This reflection can create the appearance of stars in the night sky -- hence the name, asteroid hyalosis.
Some people confuse asteroid hyalosis with another condition known as synchysis scintillans. This is a similar condition. But, it involves a buildup of calcium and cholesterol in the vitreous humor, rather than calcium and lipids.
AH is a relatively common vision condition. Approximately one in every 200 people struggles with it during their lifetime.
Symptoms of Asteroid Hyalosis
The primary symptom of asteroid hyalosis is the presence of white spots, or small floaters, in your field of vision.
Sometimes, these spots may move. But, they typically do not affect your vision. The spots can also be hard to see unless you look very closely under proper lighting.
Most people do not experience any other other symptoms. In fact, they often go quite a long time without even realizing that they have asteroid hyalosis.
In rare cases, though, individuals with this condition may experience some minor disruptions to their vision.
If you never look at your eyes in bright enough lighting, you may not notice that you're experiencing AH. But, your doctor may notice it during your regular check-ups.
The deposits that characterize asteroid hyalosis can make it harder for an eye doctor to perform an eye exam. This is because the floaters can block the other structures of the eye (the blood vessels, the head of the optic nerve, etc.).
What Causes Asteroid Hyalosis?
Vision experts aren't fully certain of the cause of asteroid hyalosis.
But, some researchers have noted a connection between this condition and chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Age also plays a role in this condition. Asteroid hyalosis is more likely to affect older adults. Women are also more prone to developing AH than men.
How to Treat Asteroid Hyalosis
In most cases, treatment isn't required for asteroid hyalosis. But, if it begins to affect your vision, a surgeon can remove the vitreous humor from your eye and replace it. This will get rid of the deposits and restore your vision back to normal.
Some people also have the vitreous humor from their eyes removed if they have other conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which are known to increase their risk of experiencing eye damage.
Adjustments During Vision Appointments
If you are suffering from asteroid hyalosis, you may find that your eye doctor has to make some adjustments during your regular appointments.
Your doctor may have a harder time checking the health of your eyes during a regular exam. As a result, they might need to dilate your pupils and examine your eyes using a slit lamp.
They might also look at your eyes using a type of scan known as optical coherence tomography. This makes it easier for them to visualize the layers of your retina and make sure everything is healthy and working as it's supposed to.
Surgery Success Rate
Some people worry that an asteroid hyalosis diagnosis might disqualify them from other procedures like Lasik surgery or cataract surgery.
The good news, though, is that this condition doesn't interfere with either procedure. Patients who have been diagnosed with AH can expect to see normal results from Lasik and cataract surgeries.
The deposits in the vitreous humor aren't problematic, and some doctors find that they actually make it easier for them to see the vitreous humor while they're performing the surgery.
What Should You Do if You Think You Have Asteroid Hyalosis?
As you can see, the development of symptoms of asteroid hyalosis isn't necessarily a cause for alarm. This is especially true if you haven't experienced any vision changes.
At the same time, though, if you think you have asteroid hyalosis, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as you can.
Having an eye doctor examine you will help you rule out any other vision conditions and ensure your eyes are otherwise healthy.
The development of asteroid hyalosis can also be a sign that you need to pay attention to other aspects of your health. Remember, this condition can be connected to illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.
If it's been a while since you've had a physical exam, you might want to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to make sure everything else is working as it's meant to.
Do You Think You Have Asteroid Hyalosis?
After learning more about asteroid hyalosis, do you think you have it? Asteroid hyalosis may not be a life-threatening condition, but it can still negatively affect your vision and your overall quality of life.
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms described above, it's important to see an eye doctor as soon as you can to figure out what's causing them.
Not sure where to find a good eye doctor? If you live in or around the San Antonio or Schertz, Texas areas, we can help at Focal Point Vision.
Contact us today to book an appointment or learn more about our services.