The eye is a miracle of complexity. You can spend a lifetime studying its mysteries, and Dr. Ruth Williams has. As past president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and current president of Wheaton Eye Clinic, she has made understanding and treating the eye her life’s work. Naperville magazine recently sat down with Dr. Williams to learn more about her career and get some summer eye care tips.
What factors should be considered when choosing sunglasses? The single-most important thing is UV protection. Look for glasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. While more expensive lenses may give you a better view, they may not necessarily be better at protecting your eyes than a less expensive pair. Polarized lenses reduce glare, but do not add UV protection. And choose bigger lenses—in addition to protecting your eyes from UV rays, larger lenses protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
As a glaucoma specialist, what do you want people to know about the condition? Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. Most commonly, the irreversible vision loss from glaucoma occurs as a result of elevated pressure in the front of the eye. Left untreated, it can cause blindness—it’s the second most common cause of blindness. Because it affects peripheral vision, people often don’t realize they have lost any sight. Glaucoma is easier to treat when found earlier and it is a highly manageable disease. I recommend a baseline glaucoma exam for everyone over 40. There is no cure for glaucoma, but there are excellent treatments that can stop and slow down progression.
What are some new medical advancements in caring for people’s eyes? The FDA recently approved a drug to treat some inherited retinal diseases, which is the very first gene therapy available to treat a congenital condition. Also, treating weak corneas, a condition called keratoconus, with riboflavin and UV light is another exciting development.