Common Eye Conditions
Amblyopia (lazy eye) | Astigmatism | Blepharitis | Cataracts | Colour Blindness | Conjunctivitis | Diabetic Retinopathy | Dry Eye Syndrome | Glaucoma | Hyperopia (Long Sight) | Keratoconus | Macular Degeneration | Myopia (Short sight) | Ocular hypertension | Photophobia | Presbyopia | Ptosis | Retinal detachment | Retinitis pigmentosa | Strabismus | Styes
Amblyopia (lazy eye)
Amblyopia (lazy eye) is a condition that affects the vision in one eye because it doesn’t work in tandem with the other eye. The brain and the other eye ignore the images from the lazy eye and the lazy eye becomes gradually worse. The condition is best treated when the patient is very young, with the optimal period for treatment being 0-6 years. Treatment is most effective when given before the age of two. Lazy eye can, however, be treated right into adulthood but the success rate diminishes as the patient gets older and long term therapy may become necessary. Amblyopia can occur due to trauma, drooping eyelids or sometimes for as simple a reason as having different prescriptions in each eye. Treatment is normally painless and may combine patches, drops and simple exercises. If left untreated amblyopia can cause permanent loss of vision so regular checks by an optician are highly advisable, particularly for children in their formative years.
Astigmatism is a common condition where the shape of the cornea becomes abnormal and causes distortion in vision. It can be a common cause of headaches and discomfort. Our opticians are able to detect astigmatism during a routine eye test and the problem is normally very easy to correct with glasses or contact lenses. More severe problems can be corrected with a very simple surgical procedure. Astigmatism can affect anyone at any time so it is important to ensure that your eyes are checked regularly.
There are two types of blepharitis, a condition that affects the eyelids – anterior (front of eyelid) and posterior (inner eyelid). It can be quite a problematic condition due to its frequent recurrence. It is commonly caused by dermatitis or bacterial infection in the skin. Posterior blepharitis generally occurs when the oil glands on the inside of the eyelid are disturbed by inflammation or dermatitis. Blepharitis is usually obvious when it occurs as sufferers will have red and itchy eyelids, dry eyes, swollen eyelids, red eye and blurry vision. Treatment can be as simple as using antibiotic creams, drops or tablets. Artificial tear drops can also be used to moisten dry eyes. In some cases it will be necessary to unblock the oil glands on the inner eye lid but this is usually a very simple procedure. Blepharitis should never be left untreated as it can cause complications such as styes or chalazion (a hard lump) which can be quite painful.
Cataracts can be caused by trauma, overexposure to ultra-violet light, birth defects or disease and illness. In most cases cataracts occur simply as part of the aging process. They are formed by a build up of protein and cause cloudiness on the lens. Patients with cataracts sometimes complain of seeing things with a brown tint, having poor vision in bright light or seeing halos or hazes around light sources. Opticians play a vital part in the management and treatment of cataracts. Regular checks can help to monitor the growth of the cataracts and to ensure that any necessary corrections can be made to your lenses. As time goes on our opticians may refer you for surgery in order to remove the cataracts. If this is the case then there is nothing to fear as most surgery is under local anaesthetic and is usually completed within 30 minutes. Patients are normally return home the same day and the difference in vision can be remarkable.
Colour blindness is the inability to tell certain colours apart from each other. The condition can be the result of illness but in many cases it is hereditary. It generally stays as it is and does not usually get any worse. Colour blindness can be corrected by wearing specially prescribed tinted spectacles that can help those affected to better distinguish between colours. If the condition has been caused by illness or medication then it normally corrects itself as the illness is cured or when that particular medication is no longer taken but it can sometimes require surgery. There are numerous procedures available for colour blindness, whether hereditary or not. All of them can make a significant improvement to the patient’s vision.
Conjunctivitis is an infection of the conjunctiva, a membrane that produces the mucus that lubricates the surface of your eye. It can be caused by allergy, bacteria or a virus and will result in redness of the eye, irritation, inflammation of the eyelids and patients may become sensitive to bright light. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually clears up very quickly through the use of antibiotic drops. Viral conjunctivitis can take up to two weeks to clear as the virus has to run its course. If caused by an allergy then antihistamine drops can provide relief. Conjunctivitis is not usually dangerous but it is always advisable to seek early medical advice in order to ensure that it is treated correctly and quickly as it can be extremely contagious.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes causes complications. The blood vessels that are responsible for carrying nutrients to the retina become weak and will usually cause a severe loss of vision. In some cases it can cause blindness. Unfortunately, nobody has ever been able to completely understand what causes diabetic retinopathy and there is no known prevention for the condition. Fortunately it can be treated with laser surgery and the results can be remarkable. Diabetic retinopathy is an excellent example of the numerous reasons for making sure you have a thorough check up with an optician on a regular basis. Our opticians are highly trained and will be able to identify the onset of such conditions at an early stage so that they can be treated quickly and successfully.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a common condition that is often attributed to the ageing process. It can also be caused by environmental factors such as smoky, hot or dry conditions. Some patients find that their eyes become dry if they use a computer or read for any length of time. Dry eyes can result in blurry vision and an itching or burning sensation. It is usually harmless and can be easily solved with the use of artificial tear drops. If the case is severe then silicone plugs can be surgically inserted into the tear ducts in order to prevent tears from draining away too quickly. If a contact lens wearer experiences dry eyes then it is always advisable to consult an optician in order to determine if the problem can be solved by changed the type of lenses or by reducing the time that they are worn. Artificial tear drops can be bought over the counter but patients should always seek medical advice in order to ensure that there are no underlying problems.
Glaucoma is a build up in pressure in the eyeball due to the inability to drain fluid at an adequate rate. Early detection and treatment is essential in order to prevent a total loss in vision as sustained pressure can cause irreparable damage to the optic nerve as well as other parts of the eye. Glaucoma is commonly caused by diabetes, injury, tumours or eye surgery. There are various checks that opticians perform as part of a routine eye test which can help to detect glaucoma, even in its early stages when patients may be unaware that they have the condition. Glaucoma can be treated with medication, eye drops, laser treatment or surgery, depending on the stage of the condition.
Hyperopia (Long Sight)
Hyperopia is more commonly known as long sightedness. Patients who have the condition have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up and are likely to suffer headaches due to the extra strain on the eyes. Hyperopia is easily detected during routine eye tests and can be corrected very simply by using glasses or contact lenses. Our opticians can advise you on the best form of correction depending on your individual needs and lifestyle.
Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea becomes an irregular shape. It causes blurry vision and can often occur in teens and patients in their twenties. It is very easily detectable by our opticians who use a slit lamp during all routine eye tests. In most cases the problem can be corrected by glasses or contact lenses. In severe cases our opticians may refer you to a specialist in order to determine if surgery may be needed in order to adequately correct the problem.
The macula is a part of the retina that enables us to see things in great detail. Macular degeneration is a common cause of blindness in older patients and progressively affects the vision in both eyes. It is a condition that can be detected by our opticians during a routine eye exam, primarily through the use of a visual acuity test. At Maxivise we include retinal photography free as part of our eye tests if our opticians suspect that you need it. We use a fundus camera to do this and it is a vital check that can help to detect many eye conditions, including macular degeneration. Patients who suffer from this condition typically complain that their vision appears distorted or that they are having difficulty in seeing fine details or when reading. Unfortunately, macular degeneration can be very difficult to treat. A very small proportion of patients may benefit from some form of surgery or therapy while others may be given high doses of vitamin supplements in order to reduce the rate of degeneration. It is vital that this disease is identified as early as possible in order to effectively manage the condition and prolong your sight. Regular eye tests will ensure that your eyes remain healthy and that you get the treatment you need at a very early stage of the condition.
Myopia (Short sight)
Myopia is the condition that is commonly referred to as short sightedness. It is hereditary and often occurs from an early age. Patients will normally complain that they have frequent headaches as a result of eye strain. Myopia is very easily identified during a routine eye test and there is normally no need for concern as it can be easily managed and corrected with glasses or contact lenses. It is not unusual for the condition to begin to deteriorate with age and patients may find that there are greater and more frequent changes in their prescription.
Ocular hypertension is an unusual increase in eye pressure and, whilst not always a problem in itself, it can be an early indication of glaucoma. Ocular hypertension is common in patients who have a family history of glaucoma or diabetes. Our opticians use a tonometer during a routine eye test in order to detect abnormal levels of pressure. In some cases medication may be necessary to manage the condition and, although the risk is greater, it does not necessarily mean that a patient will develop glaucoma.
Photophobia is a hypersensitivity to light. It can be an indication that the patient is suffering from an eye condition of which photophobia is a symptom. It occurs because the iris is unable to adequately control the amount of light that enters the eye. On some cases it can be the result of drug abuse or as a result of medication. If there is an underlying cause then it is important that it is identified and treated. In some cases photophobia will not be the result of any other condition and patients may need to wear tinted lenses or sunglasses in order to reduce the amount of light that enters the eye.
Presbyopia naturally occurs with age and results in an inability to focus on fine detail or small print. It commonly manifests itself in patients in their late 40s and our opticians come across this condition on an almost daily basis. It is very easy to correct with glasses or contact lenses. It is not uncommon for patients at this stage to move on to bifocal or varifocal lenses in order to correct problems with both near and distance vision. Our opticians can also provide advice on simple dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make that can slow down the rate of progression of presbyopia. Please feel free to contact us or pop in to speak to a member of our eyecare team who will be please to assist you.
Ptosis is the condition that causes drooping eyelids. In severe cases it can restrict vision in the affected eye which could result in degeneration due to one eye being used more than the other. Ptosis can be a birth defect due to under-development of the muscle that controls the eyelids. Some patients with ptosis will have no problems with their vision and may choose to have surgery purely for cosmetic reasons. Others may need surgery in order to avoid impairment of their sight. In either case the surgical procedure itself is very simple.
Retinal detachment mostly occurs when there is damage to the retina which then results in fluid leaking into its layers, causing them to separate. It sometimes occurs as a result of diabetes or scarring. Patients often complain of seeing floaters or of objects having a watery appearance. Surgery is the only way to repair the detachment and is normally very effective. It is, however, imperative that surgery is immediate as retinal detachment can cause permanent damage resulting in a total loss of vision.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary condition that causes a reduction in night vision and peripheral vision. It is a condition that usually manifests itself in childhood and gradually deteriorates. Unfortunately, an effective treatment has not yet been discovered for this condition, though some believe that it is possible to slow down the progression of the condition by taking vitamin A supplements. Research into this condition and possible treatments is currently ongoing.
Strabismus is commonly referred to as cross-eye, a condition where the eyes do not turn together. This results in misalignment of the eyes. Strabismus is normally a genetic disorder and it is mostly a neurological problem in the brain rather than a problem with the eyes themselves. Patients will typically complain of squinting or double vision. It is important to have a thorough eye test if you suspect that you have this condition as our opticians will often be able to offer some form of simple correction such as eye patches or special lenses. In some cases you may be referred for surgery.
Styes are very common and normally quite harmless. They can occur in patients of all ages and normally heal of their own accord within a few days. They develop as a result of glandular infection in the eyelids which causes small boils. Healing can normally be expedited by regular cleansing of the affected area.