4 Vision Problems You Should Know About
Many of us take our eyesight for granted, so we thought we’d provide a quick guide to 4 of the main vision problems you should be aware of.
Don’t worry, we’re not here to frighten, only to inform! And we’ll be offering tips to keep your peepers healthy. It’s worth knowing what to look out for so you can manage your vision and keep your eyes as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Some of these conditions you’ll be familiar with, others possibly not so much.
Grab a cuppa and let’s get started!
This is one condition the vast majority of us will recognise. Generally considered as a slow-developing affliction that affects the elderly, cataracts can also come about as a result of injury and from conditions like diabetes. It can develop in one or both eyes and manifests as a clouding of the clear lens of your eye.
Signs and Symptoms
- Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
- Problems seeing clearly at night
- Sensitivity to bright light and glare
- Experiencing a ‘halo’ around bright lights
- Frequent changes in lens/glasses prescription
- Getting older
- Excessive exposure to strong light
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye surgery
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Long term use of corticosteroid medications
- Regular eye tests – we can’t stress this enough!
- Successful management of health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure
- Stop smoking (easier said than done but important!)
- Eat a balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables
Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts, is a common and complicated disease that causes damage to the optic nerve which can lead to irreversible sight loss.
It’s generally caused by a buildup of fluid in the front of the eye and if not diagnosed and treated early can cause vision loss.
Signs and Symptoms
Because glaucoma develops gradually over many years symptoms aren’t always obvious which is why it is often picked up during a routine eye test.
- The peripheral vision is affected over a long period of time which means you may not be aware you have glaucoma
- You may experience blurred vision
- You may also experience a colourful halo around bright lights
- Both eyes are usually affected but it may be worse in one eye
- Glaucoma is more common in older people
- If it runs in your family you may be more prone to developing glaucoma
- Other vision issues like long and short-sightedness can increase your risk of developing glaucoma
- Diabetes is also a risk factor
- People of Carribean, African or Asian origin have a higher than average risk of contracting glaucoma
- You guessed it, regular eye tests! At least every 2 years but more regularly as you get older
- Get to know your family’s eye healthy history
- Regular, moderate exercise can help reduce eye pressure
- Eye trauma can lead to certain types of glaucoma so always ensure your eyes are protected when undertaking DIY and strenuous sport.
3. Refractive Errors
These are much less complicated than they appear! Basically, your eyeball, cornea and lens must be shaped a certain way in order for light rays to bend (refract) and land on your retina to make their way to your brain. If they’re not you will experience blurred vision.
Types of refractive errors:
Short-sightedness (myopia) – this is where the light rays fall short of your retina. It’s a common condition where you can clearly see objects close to you but objects farther away are blurry. Myopia affects up to a third of the population and is becoming increasingly common amongst children. Why? Because kids are glued to screens more than ever before. They might experience headaches, rub their eyes and sit too close to the television. The solution? Get them outside and used to looking into the distance. It sounds a little strange but being in wide open spaces is an excellent way to train the eyes. However, the best thing you can do is, yes, book regular eye tests. We can’t stress this enough!
Long-sightedness (hyperopia) – here, light rays overreach your retina. Distant objects are much clearer than those up close. Finding yourself squinting in order to see clearly? Are your eyes becoming tired from focusing on close-up work? Come and see us and we’ll do what we can to help!
Presbyopia – this is a completely normal loss of focusing ability that occurs as you get older, whether you have an existing vision problem or not. After the age of forty you’ll start to experience difficulty reading small print (like text messages). It might be distressing but don’t worry, it’s just a sign that you’re getting older and it affects nearly 2 billion people, so you’re not alone!
In simple terms presbyopia is a gradual thickening and inflexibility of the lens in your eye which leads to the aforementioned difficulty with reading small print. Treatment is straightforward so talk to us about glasses (including reading glasses) and contact lenses.
4. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Simply, this is the deterioration of the macula which is a small area of the retina that controls clarity of vision or the middle part of your vision.
The health of your macular determines how well you can see fine detail when reading, driving, using a computer etc.
- Blurred or distorted vision when reading, driving, looking at screens etc
- You may struggle to see things in the middle of your vision
- Objects may seem smaller than normal and colours less bright
- You might experience hallucinations
Risk factors and Prevention
- Smoking is a major risk factor for AMD for you and for your loved ones. Why? A study showed that if you live with a smoker your chances of developing AMD doubles
- Diet – if you enjoy a diet high in antioxidants, green leafy veg and low-glycemic foods you can lower the risk of developing AMD
- High blood pressure may be associated with the development of AMD so ensure that you maintain good health and visit your GP if you have any concerns
- Heredity is also a factor as studies have shown that people with AMD present with specific gene variants.
Visit your friendly local optician!
We stress a lot about the importance of regular eye tests, and we’re going to do it again!
Don’t ignore any developing symptoms. By getting to know your local optician, feeling comfortable with asking questions and remembering to organise and attend your appointments you will do wonders for the management and maintenance of healthy eyes.