Get Your Eyes Checked
Eye diseases are not very common in the general population, although they can become more common as we get older. All eye diseases have the potential to cause serious damage if not treated appropriately, even diseases that appear mild and don’t have many symptoms.
Many serious eye diseases like glaucoma do not have obvious or uncomfortable symptoms. It’s quite common for people with serious eye diseases to miss the problem until they’ve suffered irreversible damage.
Everyone should have a checkup from an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years. Your optometrist may recommend more frequent checks if you are older, have a family history or other health issues that put you at risk.
If you think you have an eye problem, contact us or your optometrist immediately.
Glaucoma is a condition which damages the nerve cells which transmit information from the eye to the brain. This prevents visual information from getting from the retina in the eye to the brain.
Glaucoma is often associated with a build-up of pressure in the eye. The eye is filled with fluid which is constantly being replaced. If excessive amounts of fluid are produced, or if it cannot drain away properly, the pressure inside the eye can increase. In some forms of glaucoma, the pressure inside the eye can become extremely high, but in other forms the pressure may remain normal.
There may not be any obvious symptoms of glaucoma, and the changes to your vision are subtle and develop slowly. Once the damage has happened, there is not much that can be done to solve the problem. The best option is prevention.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages the part of the retina responsible for central vision and for seeing fine detail and makes it difficult to see small details of objects. Side vision is not affected. If both eyes are affected, reading and other tasks requiring fine vision may become very difficult, but because side vision remains, people with AMD can usually remain quite mobile.
AMD is the result of ageing processes in the eye. Some of the layers of the retina thicken and waste material which is usually removed from the retina forms deposits, distorting the retina.
There is little that can be done to cure AMD, particularly in its more advanced stages. One study found that antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation assisted in halting the progression of AMD in a small percentage of patients. These supplements should be taken under the supervision of a health care professional as they may be associated with harmful effects.
Diabetic Eye Disease
About 25% over 75 years of age have diabetes and a small number of younger people are also affected. Of these, more than 70% will develop some changes in their eyes within 15 years of diagnosis. Optometrists play a fundamental role in diagnosing these conditions in their early stages when they respond best to treatment.
Diabetes can weaken the ability of the eye to focus and can also cause longer term damage to the retina at the back of your eye. Our optometrist uses different instruments to check the back of the eye. These changes are known as diabetic retinopathy. The risk is also increased when blood glucose levels are not well controlled over time.
Your eye has a lens like a camera, but your lens is made of a clear, flexible tissue. The lens is responsible for about one-third of the eye’s focusing power. The lens is normally clear, but cataracts are cloudy areas that form in the lens of the eye. Poor vision results because the cloudiness interferes with light entering the eye. The cloudy areas in the lens scatter the light, causing hazy vision, in the same way that a dirty window is hard to see through.
If left untreated, a cataract can cause blindness. This can be prevented by detecting the cataracts early and, if necessary, by having them removed surgically. Our optometrist will refer you to an eye specialist if they consider that you need medical treatment for your cataracts. After the cataract has been removed, you should be able to see quite well with the help of spectacles.
A pterygium (pronounced ter-idge-ee-um, plural: pterygia) is a triangular-shaped lump of tissue with blood vessels that grows from the conjunctiva (the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye) on to the cornea (the clear central part of the eye).
Pterygia frequently occurs in both eyes, usually on the side of the eye closer to the nose. A pterygium is not a cancer. People sometimes confuse pterygia with cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye and cannot be seen easily with the naked eye.
Pterygia are not dangerous, but they can cause irritation and affect vision. Protecting the eye from UV light can stabilise the problem. If it remains a problem, it can be removed with minor surgery.
The best way to reduce your risk of developing a pterygium, or to slow the progression of an existing pterygium, is to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light. UV radiation can also cause cataracts and other eye diseases, as well as skin cancers, so reducing exposure is a wise move.
The best ways of doing this are to:
Avoid the sun: UV radiation is strongest between 10 am and 3 pm. Staying out of the sun between those times will significantly reduce your UV exposure.
Wear a hat: a broad-brimmed hat will not only protect your head from sunburn but will reduce by at least half the amount of UV radiation reaching your eyes.
Wear sunglasses: a good pair of sunglasses will reduce the amount of UV reaching your eyes and cut the amount of glare. Wrap-around sunglasses are best as they block UV radiation that can slip around the sides of conventional sunglasses.
Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
Irritated dry eye
Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but your optometrist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected.