As the most common cause of impaired vision throughout the world, cataracts are a problem many of us may have to face one day. Although they are potentially capable of causing blindness, cataracts can be easily dealt with, and like so many medical issues, the key to successful treatment is recognising the symptoms as early as possible.
Situated behind the coloured part of your eye, the lens is a clear piece of tissue, through which light passes. Cataracts are hazy patches in the lens, which block daylight in a similar way to clouds blocking sunlight. Eventually, the lens will become so misty that light can filter through but it
becomes impossible to focus on detail, and the cloudier the lens becomes, the more your eyesight will be impaired.
Although they can be present in newborn babies, cataracts are more usually associated with the older generations and they are equally common in men and women.
Because of their gradual development, it can take years for a person to notice the deterioration in their vision. Using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope, which directs a bright light through the lens of each eye and picks up the telltale cloudiness, your optometrist will be able to detect them during a routine eye examination, which is why regular checks are important.
Cataracts often develop in both eyes, but at different rates of progression. Particular indicators about the onset of problems include difficulty seeing in very dim or bright conditions, discomfort when facing towards strong light, a washing-out of colours and problems focusing on written
words or a TV picture. Other symptoms can include halos around light sources and double vision, although these are comparatively rare side effects. Although experts are uncertain about the exact cause of cataracts, there are measures you can take to reduce the risk of them developing. A healthy balanced diet is one key factor in helping to avoid cataracts, as is not smoking. Wearing sunglasses or a wide-brimmed or peaked cap can also make a big difference, since they protect the eyes from having to filter out the damaging UV rays of harsh sunlight.
If you do develop cataracts, medical treatment involves a small operation, usually under local anaesthetic as an outpatient. With liquid drops helping to dilate the pupil, a surgeon breaks down the lens into tiny pieces using ultrasound before those fragments are sucked out through a small incision in the cornea. A bespoke artificial lens is then inserted, designed to remain in place permanently. It's frequently possible to go home almost as soon as surgery is over, and recuperation should be straightforward.
If you are not sure you have cataracts or you would like a general eye health examination call us on 01268 544646 to book an appointment.
Your eyes are delicate and complicated organs, and even a minor infection can have a big impact on your sight and appearance. Any face-to-face communication involves eye contact, so a condition like conjunctivitis can be socially embarrassing, as well as physically uncomfortable. In this article, we'll explain the main causes of conjunctivitis, outline some simple treatments, and explain why an appointment with your optician should be your first course of action.
Conjunctivitis occurs when one part of the eye, called the conjunctiva, gets infected or swells up. This thin layer of clear tissue is designed to protect the eyes from harm, but it can easily be attacked by viruses or bacteria, resulting in various different symptoms. Fortunately, conjunctivitis is easily dealt with, and your optician is ideally placed to diagnose it and recommend a programme of treatment. There's no need to visit a doctor- our qualified optometrist can recommend most required medication.
Viral conjunctivitis is very common and often attacks one eye only. Classic symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are excessive itchiness and watering, and there are relatively few available treatments for this condition. Cool compresses and eye baths can help to soothe any itching, and it's important to avoid make-up for a week, giving your eyes the best chance to recover.
Unlike the viral strain, bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with eye drops or creams. This type of conjunctivitis often produces small amounts of pus, which (as well as looking rather unpleasant) can make it difficult to open your eyes first thing in the morning. If the inner eyelids become infected as well, your eyes can feel gritty and sticky, as though something's trapped inside them. Fortunately, like viral conjunctivitis, these symptoms should go away within a few days.
The cause of allergic conjunctivitis can be hard to pinpoint, but new cosmetics or high pollen levels are classic triggers. Once a likely source has been identified, you should do your best to avoid it. This type of conjunctivitis often feels like a bad dose of hayfever, with itchiness and watery eyes. Running water can provide short-term relief, and your optometrist may decide to prescribe special antihistamine drops as well as lubricants to relieve the symptoms.
A few treatments are recommended for all forms of conjunctivitis. Gentle eye cleaning and cold compresses will ease discomfort, and regular hand-washing can prevent other people becoming infected. Conjunctivitis sufferers should use their own towels and tissues at all times, and contact lenses must be avoided (along with eye make-up) until the condition has cleared.
If you do not see an improvement then it may be a good idea to book an appointment by calling us on 01268544646 and one of our optometrists will be able to help you further.
Although our eyes are fully-formed at birth, it takes a long time for these powerful tools to develop the skills we take for granted, like recognising each other. Newborn babies can't focus or see colours, but in their first year, their eyes will master the techniques of tracking and identifying moving objects.
Toddlers are constantly improving their hand-to-eye co-ordination and depth perception, and young children learn to read, write and play as their eyes become more able to interpret the world around them.
Because good eyesight is so vital for children, it's never too early to book them into the practice to see an optician for a full eye test. Even if they're too young to read, optometrists can still learn a great deal about your child's overall eye health and vision.
Regular eye tests are particularly vital for toddlers and young children because their eyes can develop a number of vision problems that could last a lifetime if left undiagnosed, even though successful treatment is often quick and easy. Although some conditions are obvious, such as a
squint, others can be impossible to spot without specialist equipment and medical training. It's important to remember that young children naturally assume their eyesight is normal, so things like blurred vision won't seem strange or unusual to them.
As well as organising family trips to the optician, you can help to identify sight related problems by watching out for symptoms like light sensitivity or sitting too close to TVs or books. Investigate any family history of eye-related diseases, because your children may be at higher risk of developing
Eye examinations are free on the NHS for children under 16 years of age and up to 18 years of age if they remain in full time education. We have a wide range of spectacles for all ages so book your children in by calling 01268 544646.
Along with poor lighting, regular computer use is one of the biggest causes of discomfort for your eyes. Headaches, uncomfortable dryness of the eyes, mental tiredness and a gradual loss of sharp vision throughout the day are all tell-tale signs that prolonged computer use might be contributing to undue strain on your eyesight.
Millions of us rely on computers to do our jobs, and many people unwind after a long day by web-surfing, on social media or instant messaging. Numerous studies have proved that looking at a monitor or phone doesn't damage your eyesight in itself, but like so many things in life, doing it to excess can be unhealthy. The eyes were not intended to stare at a screen for hours on end, so if this is part of your daily life, how can you ease the burden on your eyes?
Firstly, adjust your seating position as you would in a car. Set your monitor and seat so that the centre of the screen is around two feet away and positioned slightly below your natural eye level. Adjust the screen brightness so that it isn't too piercing or dull. If necessary change the standard font size on your computer; bigger text will be easier to read. Don't be tempted to squint in order to see things clearly, since muscle fatigue will almost inevitably follow.
Lighting is a crucial component in avoiding eye strain. If your computer is near a window, could sunshine make it hard to see things clearly? Harsh artificial lighting is another potential problem, especially in the office;full spectrum lighting is much better for you than standard bulbs or striplights, since it gives a more accurate representation of real daylight. It's also considered helpful in reducing seasonal affective disorder.
Other things you can do to reduce eye fatigue include taking a few minutes away from the screen every hour, giving your eyes a chance to focus on more distant objects. When we stare at things, we tend to blink less, but regular blinking helps to prevent the surface of our eyes from drying out. Contact lens users are particularly susceptible to this, although lubricant eye drops can also be used to help restore the tear film layer. Screen filters reduce glare in bright environments, and it's important to keep dust off your monitor - it's much harder to see the screen clearly
through a layer of grime.
If you habitually use a computer screen, legislation obliges your employer to provide and pay for regular eye examinations and to contribute towards any spectacles which may be required specifically for computer use.
For more information or to book an appointment please call us on 01268 544646.
No its not a disease....it's a sign of maturity. This is my 'PC' way of letting my patients down gently that they are in fact getting older.
Presbyopia may be an unfamiliar word to many people, but it is one of the most common conditions affecting our eyesight. In essence, it concerns the inability to focus on close objects.
We know that presbyopia is a naturally occurring and universal phenomenon, but its precise cause is unclear. Most experts believe that the eye's lens hardens and becomes less elastic as it ages, making presbyopia different to more genetic conditions like astigmatism or myopia. Although
there is no known way to prevent onset, people with presbyopia can now choose from a number of alternative treatments to counterbalance the condition's effect.
Reading glasses have usually been the simplest solution for people with presbyopia, although their
popularity has been lessened by the development of alternative more sophisticated lenses. As the name suggests, bifocal lenses offer two types of magnification - a prescription for distance vision in the top lens, with the lower section containing a different strength for looking down at close objects. Meanwhile, the relatively recent phenomenon of progressive (varifocal) lenses has created seamless vision correction. These graduated lenses change in shape and strength from the top down, creating a smoother distortion-free transition between distance and close-up focus,
as well as offering aesthetic benefits, with no join between different lenses. Varifocals now account for almost a fifth of lenses professionally prescribed, enabling people to use a single pair of spectacles for reading, driving and everything in between - particularly practical for close tasks
using compact modern technology like mobile phones.
Contact lenses are another increasingly popular option for presbyopia sufferers, and thanks to the flexibility of modern manufacturing techniques, it's now possible to obtain bifocal and multifocal lenses, to achieve different prescription strengths at varying distances.
One final alternative is monovision, where one eye has a distance contact lens fitted and the other wears a near-sighted lens, although some patients find this method of vision correction takes time to adapt to, and distance perception can be affected.
Call us to book an appointment on 01268 544646
Could 2015 be your year? It is said if you want to break a repetitive cycle then change something...well why not change your look?
Contact lenses have metamorphosed into tiny visual aids, worn over the cornea so comfortably that users can forget about them for hours on end.
Anyone considering contact lenses needs to make a few key decisions about their new visual correction aids, and the first choice concerns the actual lens material. Until the 1930s, all lenses were made out of glass, but advances in manufacturing mean that they can now be created from
a variety of materials. Modern "soft" lenses have a higher water content and are generally agreed to be more comfortable to wear, allowing plenty of oxygen to reach the eye's surface, although they usually have a shorter lifespan as a result of their "wetter" composition.
In recent years, there has been strong growth in the popularity of "daily disposable" lenses. These are supplied individually in blister packs, worn once and then thrown away. The principal advantages of daily disposables involve hygiene and the absence of cleaning. Alternatively, it's possible to obtain lenses which are re-useable for varying time periods - often worn for
a month and then discarded. These require daily care and maintenance, usually in a twin-pot plastic case with an all-in-one cleaner/disinfectant solution for overnight storage.
Lets not forget the children, many lenses can be worn from around the age of ten, making daily disposables a safe, popular option for youngsters. This is especially beneficial for children who regularly participate in sports.
Other innovations in contact lens design include toric lenses, with an asymmetric design for people with astigmatism, who couldn't comfortably wear normal spherical lenses. Multifocal lenses allow individuals, who normally wear reading spectacles or varifocals, amazing freedom with an ability to see near and far. Contact lenses can be tinted or coloured (often for purely cosmetic rather than corrective reasons), and many incorporate UV protection against the sun's harmful rays.
Silicone based soft contact lenses are fast becoming the norm as they allow the cornea to breathe better than the older 'hydrogel' lenses. This allows safer, longer wearing times and less dryness especially towards the end of the day. Silicone based lenses are available in daily, two-weekly or monthly disposable forms.
For more information or if you are interested in booking a contact lens trial call us on