Common Eye Conditions
Early diagnosis of these conditions can make a significant difference to their successful and effective treatment. Regular eye tests ensure we keep on top of your eye health and give you the greatest opportunity of identifying any possible conditions early.
Our tests look for the early signs of the following conditions
Inside the eye is a small lens, this lens constantly changes throughout our lives. This is the part of the eye that becomes less pliable as we get older so that we need reading glasses in our forties. As we continue through life or we damage the lens it becomes browner and more opaque and eventually this is called a cataract. This causes blurred or foggy vision, increased sensitivity to light and the need for more light to continue certain tasks, colour definition also becomes more difficult.
Cataracts are treated with a surgical procedure, which usually lasts about 15 minute, carried out under local anaesthesia. The cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant.
Sometimes after cataract surgery, a membrane left behind after the cataract extraction, can become hazy. A small amount of laser applied to the centre of the pupil area can alleviate the visual problem. This takes a matter of minutes to carry out. This is a YAG laser capsulotomy.
Inside the eye fluid is constantly produced and constantly drained away. In glaucoma either too much fluid is produced or the drainage channels are blocked so the pressure builds up in the eye. This can also be congenital, or due to trauma, infection or inflammation.
Usually it is a very slow disease so a person with it would not notice until damage had been done. Very rarely does the pressure go up very quickly. In this case the eye is very painful so most sufferers seek out medical advice.
Glaucoma is treated with eye drops, laser or surgery to prevent further visual loss. A better outcome is obtained with prompter treatment. It is very important for anyone noticing a drop or loss in their vision either quickly or over a longer period of time to be seen by an optometrist as soon as possible.
The macula is the central, most sensitive area at the back of the eye. This is where the light rays coming into the eye are focussed. It is responsible for our most detailed vision and colour perception.
As we get older waste products build up at the back of the eye, called drusen. This damages the cells that are responsible for vision and is called dry ARMD.
The damage stimulates the production of new blood vessels in the area.These new blood vessels are fragile and are prone to leakage, this is called wet ARMD.
Wet ARMD can be treated with injections of Lucentis or Eylea if treated early. In later stages scar tissue is produced. It is very important for anyone noticing that straight edges appear distorted to be seen by an optometrist as soon as possible.
Raised Blood Pressure.
The eye is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be seen. Raised blood pressure causes a series of microvascular changes called retinopathy , depending on how high the blood pressure is.
Retinopathy includes changes in the appearance of the blood vessels, haemorrhages, leakage of other substances, microaneurysms and swelling of the macula and optic nerve.
Hypertensive retinopathy also makes diabetic changes more progressive. Raised cholesterol also causes more risk of damage. A hypertensive person is also more likely to suffer from arterial and venous blockages or occlusions which can severely affect the eyesight.
Regular eye examinations will help prevent permanent damage.
This is when the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye becomes damaged in diabetes. This layer is covered with a fine network of blood vessels, which, due to poor diabetic control, over many years, become swollen, blocked or leak.
Sometimes new, abnormal blood vessels grow which are prone to leaking as well. All this can produce visual impairment, which is made worse if scar tissue is formed.
In the early stages diabetic retinopathy may not need treatment. In its later stages, treatment maybe by laser or injections. It is very important for anyone noticing a drop in their visual acuity either quickly or over a longer period of time to be seen by an optometrist as soon as possible.
Advice on Dry Eyes
In order for your eyes to stay healthy and comfortable they need to be covered by a thin film of tears. The tears are produced by tear glands and are spread over the surface of the eye when you blink. In some people this system does not work very well, some parts of the eye dry out causing irritation, redness and maybe excessive watering.
The condition is not serious but you will require some form of artificial tears. There are many types available ie. Systane, optive and hyabak – drops that can be used as frequently as required.
This type of medication can be bought at over the counter without a prescription or you can consult your G.P. who will prescribe which type of artificial tears are most suitable for your condition and how often to use them.
There are also Viscotears, carbomer gel, or Geltears, these are gel-like preparations, which tend to stay in the eyes for slightly longer. These may blur your vision for a short while whilst they dissolve but may give longer relief and are usually used four times a day.
Your eyes drying overnight whilst asleep can also be a problem and to help with this lacrilube may be suggested to put in at night before sleep. Lacrilube is an ointment which will stay in the eye for longer. It will blur the vision on insertion and so is not suitable for use during the day.
Prolonged computer use or reading can cause the following – eyestrain, visual fatigue, headaches, focussing problems, dry and red eyes and postural problems all of which we can advise on and suggest possible ways of improvement. We would also suggest to try to avoid smoky atmospheres and try to ensure that the atmosphere does not get too dry, houseplants, bowls of water or humidifiers close-by may help.
Common Causes of Dry Eyes
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)and Blepharitis
Blepharitis describes inflammation of the eyelid, it may be allergic or infectious.
MGD is “a chronic, diffuse abnormality of the meibomian glands, commonly characterized by blockage of the glands and changes in the secretion produced. This may result in the alteration of the tear film causing the symptoms of eye irritation.
Certain medicines can affect your tears
Treatment for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Blepharitis
With clean hands
Wipe along the lid margins, with the eyelids closed, using a Supranette lid wipe or a blephaclean lid wipe or
Dab Blephasol solution onto a cotton wool pad and wipe over closed lids according to the instructions
Use fresh for each eye
Repeat this at least daily and reduce the frequency as the condition improves
Close the eyes and lay a warm compress across them for 15 minutes. When the compress cools down warm it up again and replace it.
An Eyebag or Eye Doctor can also be used for this. These are warmed up in a microwave, before use, please read and follow the instructions, check the bag is not too hot before placing over eyes.
After the warm compresses, close eyes and gently massage the eyelids, upwards for the lower lid and downwards for the upper lid. Some people prefer to use a cotton wool bud for this.
This aims at unblocking the glands along the lid margin which become blocked with a waxy secretion. Normal secretions from these glands should be oily. The treatment aims at raising the melting point of the waxy lipids and so unblocking the glands. The extra oily secretion helps coat the tears and prevents their evaporation therefore improving dry eye symptoms
One or two drops of artificial tears in each eye, at least four to six times a day. Different solutions are available for use with or without contact lenses, there are different viscosities and there are medications which are suitable just for use overnight. We can advise on which may be best for your requirements
What can you do to keep your eyes healthy?
- Have regular eye examinations
- Stop smoking
- Eat a diet rich in oily fish, coloured fruit and vegetables.
- Keep within a healthy weight.
- Be aware of your vision in each eye separately, as many conditions appear in one eye first, carry out this simple test:
Amsler chart – Instructions for use.
- Wear your normal reading glasses preferably not varifocals
- View the chart at normal reading distance and cover one eye. With the uncovered eye, stare at the dot in the centre of the grid.
- You should be able to see the full grid. The lines should appear to be straight and continuous from top to bottom and side-to-side.
- Now test your other eye.
- Should you notice any new distortion then please ring for an eye examination.
Please remember you can reduce your risk of falling if you try and keep your eyes healthy.
Other things that can help are
- Having good lighting and using it,
- Make sure your carpets are well fitted, make sure rugs are not going to slip or be a trip hazard
- Wearing suitable footwear
We can give advice on improving contrast, glare and changing the type of spectacles you wear may also help.