Long Sightedness or Hyperopia usually occurs when the eye is slightly smaller than usual, or the cornea is flatter than usual. This means that light isn't perfectly focussed on the retina and results in blur. People with hyperopia usually can see things in the distance well, but struggle to make things at near clear. Common symptoms include headaches, sore or tired eyes and difficulty concentrating.
Short Sightedness or Myopia usually occurs when the eye is slightly larger than usual. People with myopia usually can see things up close but have difficulty seeing in the distance. Common signs include squinting and holding books closely when reading. Myopia usually presents during the teenage years.
Astigmatism generally results from the shape of the front of the eye. If the shape is more football shaped than circular, light is focused differently causing blur. Objects appear more blurred in a one direction, which gives them a skewed look. It affects vision at all distances. Astigmatism can be corrected with glasses and contact lenses. Symptoms of astigmatism include headaches, eye strain and squinting.
Presbyopia is a normal ageing condition. It results in an inability to focus at near, that occurs through natural loss of flexibility of the lens in the eye. It can be corrected with glasses. Presbyopia can start anytime from the age of 40. As a person ages and the flexibility of their lens declines, it becomes harder to focus. Therefore routine checks are required to give extra support at near. The risk of eye disease also increases with age, so your two yearly check is a must.
Amblyopia (lazy eye) and Strabismus (eye turn)
Amblyopia is a reduction in vision of one or both eyes, even with optimal spectacle correction. It is most commonly noticed in the first decade of life. It can be caused by many conditions such as eye turns and high prescriptions. It is important that this is addressed as soon as possible, as the brain is developing areas for the left and right eye, and if the signal from one eye is not as strong, then its corresponding brain area is not developed as well. Amblyopia is treated in many ways including, spectacle prescription, patching and eye drops. It is important for children to have their eyes tested when they are young, especially if they have relatives with eye problems.
Strabismus (eye turn) can result from amblyopia, high prescription and eye muscle anatomy. It is important to get the eyes as straight as possible, to ensure that the corresponding area in the brain develops well. It is also important for the optometrist to check that the back of the eye is healthy too, as strabismus can result from eye disease. This usually means that drops will be used to enlargen the pupil (the black part of the eye) in order to examine the eye better. Strabismus can be treated by spectacles, eye patching and surgery.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a normal ageing condition. It occurs when the lens that sits behind the pupil becomes cloudy. It causes a reduction in vision and an increase in glare. If you are older than 65 then you will likely have signs of cataract.
What causes Cataracts?
Cataracts generally form through UV exposure. Diseases such as diabetes can cause cataracts to develop, as well as steroid usage and trauma to the eye. In some cases babies can be born with cataracts.
Treatment for Cataracts
UV protection is important in slowing down the progression of cataracts.
When the cataract becomes cloudy enough to affect your lifestyle (driving is usually the most important factor here) then cataract surgery is considered. This involves a referral to an ophthalmologist for assessment. Untreated cataracts can result in blindness.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of diseases that cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The optic nerve comprises of many nerve cells that take information from the retina to the brain in order for us to see. When the optic nerve is damaged, a loss in visual field results. Patients with glaucoma generally do not notice this loss of vision as it begins peripherally. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness.
What are the causes of Glaucoma?
Damage to the optic nerve can be caused by the pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure). If too much fluid is being produced or fluid is not being drained efficiently then the intraocular pressure can rise. In some forms of glaucoma there is no pressure rise.
Risk factors for Glaucoma include: age, family history, race and smoking. If you are over 40 you are at a higher risk and need to ensure your eyes are checked regularly.
How is Glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Early detection is vital, as the damage to the optic nerve is irreversible. There are many treatments for glaucoma, all of which focus on reducing eye pressure. Eye drops are usually the first line of treatment, then laser therapy (can be combined with eye drops) and finally surgery to allow alternate drainage of fluid.
What is Macula Degeneration?
The macula is a part of the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a light sensitive membrane that lines the back of the eye. The macula is responsible for central vision. Macula degeneration occurs when this area is damaged.
Symptoms include difficulty recognising faces, difficulty reading and kinks or bends in straight lines.
What is the cause of Macula Degeneration?
It is still unclear what exactly causes macula degeneration. Known risk factors include age, family history and smoking.
The damage to the macula occurs through deposits called drusen that form in the inner layers of the retina. This results in a reduction in central vision.
There are two type of macula degeneration, dry and wet. Dry macula degeneration is slow and less severe. Wet macula degeneration can affect vision very quickly. It occurs when new vessels start to form under the damaged macula and they begin to bleed.
What are the treatments for Macula Degeneration?
There are treatments for wet macula degeneration, but none for dry macula degeneration. Some preventative measures include: sunglass wear/ UV protection, no smoking and eating green leafy vegetables, nuts and fish.