Eye symptoms not to be ignored –
- Sudden onset of redness, pain, light sensitivity and/or loss of vision
- Worsening of pain, redness or vision following recent eye surgery
- Contact lens wearers with redness and/or pain
- New onset of flashes, floaters or loss of peripheral vision
If you experience any of these symptoms please see an ophthalmologist within 24 hours.
Cataract is clouding of the lens that sits in the centre of your eye. The job of the lens is to focus light, which allows you to see a clear image. Once clouding of the lens develops you may notice gradual blurring of your vision, trouble reading, and glare. Often people have difficulty driving at night due to glare related to oncoming headlights.
Usually cataract develops in older age, but sometimes it may come on sooner if you have diabetes, frequent use of steroid treatment, or a previous injury to the eye.
The only treatment for cataract is surgery, but often cataract can be monitored as long as your eyesight is good enough to drive. Cataract surgery is a day procedure used to remove the cloudy lens from your eye and to replace it with a clear artificial lens that stays in your eye for the rest of your life. It is a very common and highly successful surgery for most patients.
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the nerve cable that connects your eye to your brain. In most cases outside (peripheral) vision is slowly lost over years, but in some cases vision loss can be rapid over days or weeks.
The strongest risk factors for glaucoma include high eye pressure, having a first degree relative with glaucoma, and older age.
Unlike other eye diseases it is impossible to know whether you have glaucoma unless you are tested. Glaucoma damage is not reversible so early detection and management is the key to controlling the disease. Waiting until you notice vision changes from glaucoma means the disease has progressed to an advanced state.
Glaucoma is managed by reducing eye pressure with eye drops, laser or surgery. Treatment decisions vary between individuals. None of these treatments will improve your vision, but are used to prevent further loss of vision. In some cases glaucoma can be very slow to worsen, so monitoring without treatment may be possible.
The macula is the central part of the retina (the retina is the back part of the eye) normally used for producing the clearest vision. Macular degeneration refers to an age-related disease that causes damage and dysfunction of the macula. Unlike glaucoma, macular degeneration causes noticeable changes to vision including blurring and distortion.
Macular degeneration can be split into “dry” and “wet” types. The dry type comes on more slowly and can lead to loss of central vision. The wet type comes on within days due to leakage of fluid and causes more rapid loss of central vision.
The main risks for macular degeneration are smoking, older age, and having first-degree relatives with the disease.
Treatment options in dry macular degeneration are used to prevent further damage. You will be given some dietary advice and possibly a tablet supplement to lower your risk.
Wet macular degeneration is a different story and requires injections into the eye to dry up the fluid leakage within the retina. These injections are initially every month, reducing in frequency over time. The injections may be required on a long-term basis.
Patients with any type of diabetes are at risk of developing back of the eye (retinal) problems. Complications include small bleeds or fluid leakage into the retina.
Diabetic retinal disease may or may not affect your central vision depending on the area of the retina that is involved.
Controlling blood sugar levels is vital for a healthy retina, but sometimes diabetic patients will need injections into the eye to stop fluid leaking into the retina. Laser treatment is less frequently used.
It is very important for patients with diabetes to have regular eye checks, as you may not realise your diabetes is affecting your retina.
Flashes and floaters are very common symptoms, particularly in patients older than 40 years. Usually there is no concerning cause, but it is very important to have your eyes checked within 24 hours to ensure there is no retinal tear or retinal detachment.
If untreated, a retinal tear can progress into a retinal detachment and this can be sight threatening. Retinal tears are often treatable with a simple laser procedure, but retinal detachment requires surgery.
Dry eye is a very common condition and may cause symptoms of dryness, watering, burning, irritation, redness or blurred vision. Often dry eye is related to blepharitis, which is a dysfunction of the oil glands that run along the base of the eyelashes. Both conditions are considered to be long-term and may sometimes flare-up.
There are many treatment options for dry eye and blepharitis, so management is tailored to the individual.