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The Importance Of Regular Eye Examinations
Your eyesight is your most precious sense and deserves the highest standards of professional care. Without good vision it is difficult to enjoy most everyday activities, including driving, reading and watching TV.
However poor sight may also indicate the presence of potentially serious eye diseases such as:
- macular degeneration
- or general health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure
Because eye conditions often develop slowly and can be painless, you may not notice any initial symptoms. That’s why it is essential to have your eyes examined regularly by an optometrist.
The sooner any problem is detected, the greater the chance of it being treated successfully.
When we blink, the tears lubricate, nourish and protect the front of the eye.
Tears have three main components: The lacrimal gland produces a watery component, glands in our eyelids produce an oily component, while other cells produce a mucous.
These mix together to create a film which covers the white of the eye and the cornea. When we blink, the film is wiped across the eye by the eyelids.
If insufficient tears are produced or the constituents are out of balance, it can result in sore, dry eyes.
Wearing glasses or sunglasses can help to reduce tear evaporation. Instilling artificial tears can also help.
In some cases, the tears can be kept in the eye for longer by plugging the tear ducts.
Blepharitis and Eye Hygiene
Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyelids. Material secreted by the eyelids builds up on the lid margin and they become red and sore.
Regularly cleaning the eyelids will help. Add baby shampoo to water (1:10) which has been boiled and left to cool until warm.
Clean your hands, then apply cotton wool pads dipped in the solution to the eyelids. Leave for several minutes to loosen the material, repeating with a fresh pad. Then take a cotton bud and dip it into the solution.
Gently rub the cotton bud across the upper and lower eyelid margins, removing the debris. Repeat the process, ensuring you use a fresh cotton bud each time.
Carryout this process regularly and the condition should improve.
Other methods include the use of lid scrubs and lid care solution, which is easier to use than baby shampoo.
Flashes & Floaters
The eye is filled with a jelly-like substance known as the vitreous. Normally this is clear, but as we get older, debris can accumulate in the jelly.
This appears as dots or threads floating across your vision in bright conditions. Floaters are usually of no concern, but if you notice a sudden increase in the number, or if you see flashing lights, you should consult your optometrist immediately.
In most cases no treatment is required, but if vision is significantly impaired, the jelly can be replaced with an artificial gel.
The eye is filled with a jelly-like substance known as the vitreous. This jelly is loosely attached to the retina at the back of the eye.
As we get older, the jelly tends to shrink a little, and can tug on the retina. In some cases the vitreous can detach from the retina.
As it tugs on the retina, this can cause flashing lights in the corner of your eye, followed by the appearance of floaters which move across your vision.
The eye is filled with a jelly-like substance know as the vitreous.The vitreous is loosely attached to the retina at the back of the eye.
The retina is quite fragile and can tear.This may happen spontaneously or following a blow to the eye or head.As the retina tears, flashing lights are often seen - usually out of the corner of the eye.
If this is not treated, fluid can pass through the tear,and cause a larger area to become detached.This can lead to a permanent loss of vision if not treated straightaway.
A tear or a detachment often causes a sudden increase in the number of floaters.
As we get older, the lens in the eye can become cloudy - a condition known as cataract. A cataract is a bit like a "dirty window" which makes everything look rather blurred or hazy.
In most cases, vision can be restored by a simple operation. The eye is numbed and a special tool is used.
This tool removes the cloudy part of the lens. A plastic lens designed for your eye is made. This is rolled up so that it can be inserted into the eye and placed in the lens capsule, where it springs into position.
Usually, the new clear window greatly improves the quality of vision.
The Amsler chart provides a quick way of checking for any changes in your vision. In particular, it will detect early changes in the macula.
Cover your left eye and stare at the dot in the centre of the chart. Make a note of any areas where the lines are faded, or where the lines are distorted.
Cover your right eye and repeat the procedure. Report any abnormalities to your Optometrist.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Light is focussed on the retina at the back of the eye. The macula is a small area in the centre of the retina that we use to read and see fine detail.
The macula consists of several layers of tiny cells. As we get older, these cells can fail to function properly leading to a build up of deposits and a loss of cells.
This can lead to distortion and over time, it can become difficult to read and see fine detail.
The condition usually progresses quite slowly and various aids are available to help you to see smaller print.
A good diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is important to try and slow down the process. Supplements are available for more advanced cases of dry macular degeneration.
Smoking increases the chances of macular degeneration.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Light entering the eye is imaged on the retina at the back of the eye.The macula is a small area in the centre of the retina. This is the part of the eye that we use to read and see fine detail.
The macula consists of several layers of tiny cells. As we get older, some of these can fail to function properly.
This can lead to a build up of deposits in the retina and the growth of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are fragile and bleed easily.
Fluid can also build up between the retinal layer. There may be a sudden loss of central vision and objects may appear distorted. An urgent examination is recommended.
Wet macular degeneration can be treated in certain cases by injections into the eye.
When light hits the back of the eye, tiny cells convert the light into nervous impulses. These travel across the retina, through the optic disc, to the brain.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases which cause these nerves to become damaged.When this happens the nerves become unable to send the impulses which leads to blind spots, initially out of the corner of the eye.
If the condition is not treated, the blind spots get larger and can lead to blindness.It is known that pressure in the eye is an important factor in this condition.
The production and drainage of "water" in the front of the eye affects the pressure.If this gets out of balance the pressure in the eye can increase.
Glaucoma can be controlled by using eye drops to reduce the pressure in the eye.
Diabetes & The Eye
Diabetes can have various affects on the eyes, most commonly the retina. Over time, the walls may bulge - known as an aneurysm.
This creates an 'eddy' in the blood flow which can eventually block. Blood and other fluids also tend to leak from the blood vessels.
This results in a build up of lipids in the layers of the retina. Because of the reduction in blood flow, new blood vessels tend to form.
However these blood vessels are fragile and bleed easily. If the new blood vessels bleed into the jelly in the eye (the vitreous), there can be a sudden loss of vision. But this may clear somewhat over time.
Treatment is possible by using a laser.
If you would like any further advice, please get in touch here and we would be more than happy to help!