In Australia with our strong UV rays - sunglasses, and other protection such as hats shade our eyes from direct sunlight and can significantly help to keep eyes healthy. Direct, excessive exposure to the sun increases the risk of cataracts, Macular degeneration and Pterygia. In addition to keeping eyes shaded from the sun, healthy, nutritious food is also important when considering eye health. Like other aspects of your health, by keeping up overall wellbeing you have a much better chance of maintaining healthy eyes.
It is important to find eye problems early. If a vision problem is detected, a recommendation of glasses, contact lenses, eye exercises, prescription eye drops or even referral for eye surgery may be made.
Below are a list of common eye conditions and diseases which Sankey Fraser Eyecare assist in treating.
What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a cloudy area in a normally clear lens of the eye. The cataract develops in the lens just behind the pupil. It causes vision to become foggy, just like looking through dirty glasses or a dirty windscreen. Cataracts are not a disease, they can be surgically removed at any stage.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of cataracts are quite variable from person to person. The most likely are;
- Blurry vision
- Glare sensitivity
- Difficulty with reading and/or distance vision
- Quick changes in spectacle prescription
- Double vision in one eye
- Deterioration of colour vision
Cataracts often develop in one eye first and worsen very slowly. They are most common in people over 70 years of age, but a cataract can develop at any age.
What can be done if I have Cataracts?
If you are developing cataracts we will discuss your options during your routine eye test. When it is necessary we will refer you to an eye surgeon. Using specialised equipment we can detect cataracts even before they affect your vision.
Cataract surgery is short procedure where the lens with the cataract is removed and replaced with an implant, an implant is a plastic lens. In most cases, by adjusting the power of the implant before surgery short-sightedness and long-sightedness can be corrected at the same time.
Cataract surgery is performed by an Ophthalmologist, and normally takes less than half an hour.
Glaucoma in its various forms can be a difficult disease to accurately diagnose. The early signs are often subtle, and generally there are no symptoms for you to recognise. Often, glaucoma is a result from increasing internal eye pressure. We can test for glaucoma by measuring your eye pressure, assessing your optic nerves and measuring your peripheral vision. Early detection of glaucoma is vital.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness in Australia today. Macular Degeneration causes damage to the retinal cells in the Macula in the back of the eye. The Macula is a critical part of your retina, it is responsible for detailed central vision.
How does Macular Degeneration affect vision?
Macular Degeneration begins with minor blurring of vision which cannot be corrected with spectacles. This blurring worsens and may be accompanied by distortion, color vision problems and finally dark and dull central vision.
Peripheral vision is not affected. If both eyes are affected then central vision becomes difficult. Reading, watching television, driving, face recognition, and seeing your watch or phone all become more difficult with Macular Degeneration. Because the side vision is not damaged, people with Macular Degeneration can usually take care of themselves.
What causes Macular Degeneration?
A number of factors are thought to contribute to MD.
- Family history
- High exposure to light (working outdoors)
- Poor circulation
- Inadequate absorption of some vitamins and minerals
Is all Macular degeneration the same?
Put simply there are two basic types of Macular Degeneration, dry Macular Degeneration and wet Macular Degeneration.
Dry Macular Degeneration is a more common, slower progressing disease. It is recognized by yellow deposits (drusen) at the macula. These drusen can be easily seen on retinal photographs. Over time the drusen become larger and more numerous. This interferes with the normal circulation and damages the retinal tissue. These are retinal photographs and OCT scans of Dry Macular Degeneration at various stages.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Only 10 per cent of people with Macular Degeneration develop wet Macular Degeneration. These eyes often have pre-existing Dry Macular Degeneration. Wet Macular Degeneration is suspected when the retina becomes swollen. This swelling can be easily found with an OCT scan. There are a number of other conditions that cause swelling, the OCT is excellent for differentiating between them.
This swelling or Oedema is caused by new vessels behind the retina. These new vessels leak, causing swelling (oedema). This swelling leads quickly to scarring and severe vision loss. If not treated quickly, permanent severe loss of vision is inevitable.
What are the risk factors?
- Aged over 50 years
- A family history of Macular Degeneration
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Hypertension or cardiovascular disease
How is Macular Degeneration detected?
The optometrist will use a range of instruments to assess the condition of your macula and the tissue behind it.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Lazy eye, commonly known as amblyopia, is a loss or lack of development of vision. This usually occurs in one eye. This degenerative process usually begins with an inherited condition and appears during infancy or early childhood. Lazy eye needs to be diagnosed between birth and early school age since it is during this period that the brain “chooses” its visual pathway and may ignore the weaker eye permanently.
Lazy eye is not always easy to recognize since a child with poorer vision in one eye does not necessarily have amblyopia. It is recommended that all children have a comprehensive eye examination by the age of four and sooner if there is a family history of any eye condition or disease.
Blepharitis is a general term used for the inflammation of the eyelid and eyelashes. It is among the most common and stubborn eye conditions usually resulting from skin type and environment, a low-grade bacterial infection, an allergic reaction and/or abnormalities in oil gland function.
Blepharitis can be controlled but not cured. The main goals in treating it are to reduce the amount of bacteria along the lid margin and blocked glands.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome refers to a breakdown in the quantity or quality of tears to moisten, cleanse and protect the eyes. With each blink, tears protect the surface of the eye, washing away dust and microorganisms. When this protective coating dries up, the eyes may feel “gritty” or burn and can be more sensitive to light. In extreme cases, vision can be blurred.
If you suspect that you have dry eye, see your Optometrist. Proper care will not only increase your comfort – it will protect your eyes. Your eye care provider can perform a series of tests to determine if you have dry eyes.
Being “Cross-eyed” known as strabismus, refers to a condition in which eyes are misaligned. It commonly occurs when the muscles that control eye movement are not properly working together. The result is one or both eyes turning inward, outward, upward or downward, or one or both eyes moving irregularly.
Strabismus is usually diagnosed during childhood, afflicting boys and girls equally. Though it cannot be prevented, its complications can be avoided with early intervention. Even if you notice symptoms intermittently – when your child is ill, stressed or fatigued – alert your Optometrist.
Conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin, protective membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelids. It is caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens and other irritants like smoke and dust. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and is usually accompanied by redness in the white of the eye and increased tearing and/or discharge.
While many minor cases improve within two weeks, some can develop into serious corneal inflammation and threaten sight. If you suspect conjunctivitis, visit your therapeutically qualified Optometrist at Sankey Fraser Eyecare for an examination and treatment.