LINWOOD — Quality Eye Associates helps people see better, but it serves another crucial function as well — stopping them from losing eyesight all together.
Nationally, the population is getting older, people are living longer and diabetes rates are rising.
As a result, the practice is seeing related eyesight problems related to those trends, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, said Dr. Jun “Jim” Huang, 56, of Northfield.
These issues can cause blindness if untreated. But major advances in treatment over the past decade are helping older people keep their eyesight, said Huang, an ophthalmologist and owner of Quality Eye Associates with offices in Linwood and Cape May Court House.
“Before 2000, there were no effective treatments for macular degeneration. Now there are very good treatments,” Huang said, noting advancements particularly in the past six years.
The main treatment for the more aggressive wet form of macular degeneration is injections of medicine into the eye, he said. The dry form can be treated with antioxidants, vitamins and supplements to delay its progression.
Quality Eye Associates is the result of a merger in 2008 between two long-standing eye practices in the region — Atlantic Cumberland Eye Associates and Quality Eye Center, said Huang, who specializes in the retina, or back of the eye.
The merger meant the business now also specializes in the cornea, or the front of the eye, as well as all aspects of eye care, glasses and contact lenses, Huang said.
The practice covers all cornea disorders, cataracts, glaucoma, contact lenses, dry-eye syndrome, glasses, and retinal conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, uveitis and others.
The practice has about 20 employees and four doctors: Huang, Truc Nguyen, Jonathan Dorn and Michael O’Hara.
Huang said he has had patients in their 90s and even 100 years old who were able to keep their vision despite eye disorders that years ago likely would have caused blindness.
“A lot of our patients say they want to be able to see their grandkids,” office manager Jewel Milewski said.
The aging population is growing, especially in this region. In Atlantic County, the number of residents 85 and older grew 11 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to Census Bureau data.
Huang expects the treatment rates of the elderly population to increase in the coming years because people are living longer.
Saving someone’s eyesight has a special feeling, he said.
“I am gratified, and I feel happy for them,” Huang said. “We have many patients who have had more than 10 years treatment, and we saved them from going blind, or reversed their blindness.”
The eye is unique among organs, Huang said.
“It’s one of the most complex organs in the human body,” he said. “Many disorders in the eye can affect the person’s eyesight because of the complexity of the eye. On the other hand, because of the unique nature of the eye, the doctor can see through it from the cornea to the retina. The doctors can detect the disorders in the eye relatively early.”
“Ophthalmology has ways to treat eye problems with medicine and surgery. We’re a combination of internal medical and survey, and have both advantages,” he said.
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