The macula is the area at the back of the eye used for seeing fine detail. Macular degeneration is when this area becomes damaged. Most people with macular degeneration, even if it becomes advanced, still keep their edge vision, but may lose the central detail.
Some degree of macular degeneration is very common as you get older. Smoking increases your risk, so stop if you can. Having a good diet with oily fish and plenty of coloured fruit and vegetables may help to reduce your risk too.
Macular degeneration is often divided into wet and dry types. Dry is more common than wet, and usually only very slowly affects your vision. The wet type is more often associated with distorted vision (straight lines appearing wavy for example). If this is caught at an early stage there are now some new treatments available –so if you notice any sudden distortion in your vision, or any blank spots contact us straight away.
Blepharitis is a common inflammation of the eyelids that makes your eyes feel gritty and itchy. Your eyelids may appear red and puffy. It is uncomfortable but rarely causes serious eye damage or affects your vision. It tends to be a chronic condition.
You can help to reduce the symptoms by following a regime of warm compresses, lid scrubs and possibly lubricants. Our optometrists will give you appropriate advice after examining your eyes.
A cataract is when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. It does not hurt and in the early stages may not even affect your sight. The main cause of cataract is age. Smoking, poor diet and exposure to UV are also linked to cataracts. Occasionally they may develop after an eye injury.
You may notice that your vision is less clear, colours become faded and you are more bothered by glare. Your prescription for your glasses may change more often. The only proven treatment for cataract is surgery, where the cloudy lens is removed and usually replaced with a clear plastic implant lens. It is mainly carried out under local anesthetic and has a very high success rate. When your cataract starts to affect your day-to-day life, we can carry out a full assessment and refer you on for the necessary treatment.
Diabetes is a long-term condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. High blood sugar levels may eventually damage the cells at the back of the eye. If your diabetes is well controlled you are less likely to have eye problems, or they may be less serious. However, if there are eye problems it is vital that they are diagnosed early and receive prompt treatment.
As you may not be aware that there is anything wrong with your eyes until it is too late, having your regular annual diabetic eye screening is essential. You will also reduce your risk of problems if you maintain good control of your sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and if you don’t smoke. In our Moreton and Prescot branches, we can carry out your diabetic retinal screening in the practice, and keep your spectacles up-to-date at the same time.
Floaters are very common and usually harmless. They are changes in the gel inside the eye and look like dark spots or strands that float in front of your vision.
Flashes of light may be seen when the gel inside the eye moves around and tugs on the retina. If you have a sudden increase in floaters, particularly if you also see flashing lights, or a new large floater or a shadow spreading across the vision of one eye you should seek urgent medical attention, preferably at an eye casualty department. These symptoms could indicate a retinal tear or detachment which can be treated if it is caught at an early stage.
Glaucoma is the name given to an eye condition which causes optic nerve damage. It is often characterised by higher than normal eye pressure readings, changes to the optic nerve, and loss of peripheral visual field. In the early stages you may well not be aware there is anything wrong. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause serious vision loss. However if diagnosed and treated, further damage to vision can be prevented. Having a regular eye test will help to ensure that any signs of glaucoma can be detected early and allow treatment to begin, to control the condition and to minimise any future problems. Your risk increases with age, and also if you have a close family member with glaucoma, if you have diabetes, if you are very short-sighted or if you are of African origin. If you are in a higher risk group, it is especially important that you come for your regular eye test even if you feel your vision is unchanged.