Information on a range of relatively common eye conditions
If you do have any concerns about your vision or eye-related health, or think you may have any of the conditions set out below, we recommend you discuss these with an optometrist.
If you have any queries or would like to book an appointment, call the practice on: 0208 883 6879
- AMD/Age-Related Macular Degeneration – The macula is a tiny part of the retina at the back of the eye, about the size of a pinhead. It is however responsible for the vast majority of our central, fine-detail vision which enables us to read and see faces. There are two types of AMD: ‘dry’ slow progressing ‘wear and tear’; and ‘wet’ AMD, which is when there is fluid at the macula. Early diagnosis and close monitoring of this condition are vital for the best visual outcomes. Ask at the practice for more information.
- Astigmatism – Astigmatism affects the shape of the eye. Rather than the eye being round like a football, and all the light focusing in one place, it is more rugby-ball shaped. Without correction, images look ‘stretched out’ and this can lead to blurred vision and eye strain. Thankfully, we can correct for astigmatism in both spectacles and specialist contact lenses.
- Blepharitis – Blepharitis is a very common chronic condition which can affect anyone. Although it rarely causes serious eye damage, it can be extremely irritating. There are two main types of blepharitis: anterior which is like dandruff of the eyelids and posterior or MGD which is dysfunction of the oily meibomian glands on the eyelids which prevent tears evaporating off the eyes. Symptoms can include irritable/ dry/ burning/ itchy eyes, and decreased satisfaction with certain contact lenses. We offer many treatments at the practice, tailored to your individual eyes and needs.
- Cataracts – Cataracts form due to changes in the proteins in the lens of the eye, a hardening which happens throughout life. While the main risk factor is age; a range of other factors, including certain medications (such as steroids), diseases like diabetes, exposure to sunlight and smoking, have all been linked to early formation of cataracts. Symptoms include blurry or hazy vision with reduced contrast and muted colours. It can seem a bit like a bathroom window smearing over. Removal can be carried out at any age privately, but there are restrictions on the NHS in terms of severity and visual acuity.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – Diabetes can affect the eye in many ways, including causing vision to fluctuate, affecting the eye muscles and speeding up cataracts. Retinopathy refers to changes in the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, which can become blocked or leaky and problematic. If not managed correctly, this can lead to permanent loss of vision.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye (either from high pressure or sensitivity to normal pressure). Left untreated, glaucoma leads to deterioration in peripheral vision and eventual tunnel vision and blindness. 90% of glaucoma has a gradual, painless onset which cannot be identified by symptoms alone. By monitoring the appearance of your eye, shape, pressures and fields; glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated long before problems occur. Treatments usually involves inserting eye drops which relieve the pressure in your eye, though in more complicated cases surgery may be required.
- Keratoconus – This condition affects the shape of the cornea at the front of the eye, which helps with the focusing ability of the eye and its sensitivity to light. Keratoconus often affects which optical correction is best for you. As with any conditions, early diagnosis is vital for a good visual outcome; if left untreated keratoconus can lead to significant vision impairment and possibly the need for a corneal transplant.
- Presbyopia – Around the age of 40, the lens in the eye gets less flexible. Consequently it takes longer to change focus from distance to near, and we require more help to see up close (as our arms are not long enough). With the help of reading glasses, bifocals, varifocals or contact lenses, presbyopia can be managed very well.
- PVD/Posterior Vitreous Detachment – The vitreous is an important fluid in the eye which shrinks over time (or with trauma) and clumps together to form ‘floaters’, which can be rather distracting. Sometimes as this vitreous jelly shrinks it tugs at the retina and ‘flashing lights’ are seen (like a light-switch being turned on and off). Flashes and Floaters are also symptoms of retinal detachment, which is sight-threatening (see below).
- Retinal Tear/Detachment – A retinal tear or detachment is an ocular emergency. If left untreated, it can cause rapid loss of sight. Retinal tears are more common in short-sighted people, in the weeks following a PVD, following trauma and if there is a genetic predisposition, but can happen to anyone. If you notice new symptoms of flashes, an unusual level of floaters or a curtain or ‘veil’ in your vision please ring the practice immediately. Alternatively if it is the middle of the night please contact the nearest eye A&E department; Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in Old Street is the closest to our practice. Their 24-hour A&E queries number is: 0207 253 3411.
- Visual Stress/Mearles-Irlen Syndrome – This refers to reading difficulties, light sensitivity and headaches from exposure to certain visual patterns which are more common in the modern world, such as striped black on white text. It can be responsible for distortion, lack of clarity, irritation and rapid fatigue when reading, especially for prolonged periods. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person, and can occur despite normal vision. Coloured Overlay Assessments objectively measure this phenomenon.
For more information on any of these conditions please do not hesitate to take a leaflet in store or book a consultation.