Various general health conditions can affect the health of your eyes and also your vision.
Blepharitis is a common condition where the eyelids are inflamed. This can lead the eyes to look red and swollen around the eye lashes. It can vary in severity from mild discomfort to painful and very red angry eyes.
The most common symptoms are red rimmed eyes, sore irritated eyes, dry eyes, flaky bits on the eye lashes, styes, increased sensitivity to light and eyes feeling stuck together.
Blepharitis is caused by either a reaction to certain bacteria on the skin or by dermatitis (a skin condition where the skin becomes flaky and dry).
There are different types of blepharitis. The names indicate the position on the eyelid being affected. Anterior Blepharitis is inflammation along the bottom of the eye lashes. Posterior Blepharitis affects the gland just behind the eye lashes. Mixed Blepharitis is a combination of the previous two. Because blepharitis is a chronic condition, it cannot be completely cured. It can however be very well managed.
The traditional treatment was to use a combination of cooled boiled water and baby shampoo to
clean and massage the eye lids. This does successfully clean the eye lashes but as it is a soap it dries the eyes out more, so leading them to feel uncomfortable again. To overcome this, there are now ready made preparations that you can purchase to treat the Blepharitis. They are available in several different varieties including foam cleaners, eyelid wipes and gentle heat treatments. Please call into the practice and we can talk you through the different options and decide which would work best for you and your lifestyle.
There is now also an in-practice treatment for Blepharitis as well. It is a painless procedure which involves using a hand held piece of equipment. This is used to very precisely and carefully, spin a medical grade micro-sponge along the edge of your eyelids and lashes, removing scurf and debris and exfoliating your eyelids. It takes about 15 minutes to perform. In the lead up to having the procedure we ask you to prepare by using the foam cleaner once a day and a heat device to soften the lids twice a day. The whole procedure should be repeated every 4 to 6 months but this varies depending on the severity of the symptoms.
For more information or to book an appointment please contact the practice.
A cataract is when the natural lens in your eye goes cloudy over time. This is a natural process that happens with age. As it progresses it causes your vision to go cloudy/ blurry. Some people describe it as though they are looking through a misty window. Some people also experience glare with bright lights. Cataracts gradually get worse over time.
The exact cause of cataracts is not very well known, but it is an inevitable part of aging. There are certain factors that we know increase your risk of developing cataracts. These include lifelong exposure to sunlight, smoking, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption.
When the cataracts start affecting your vision, there is an operation that can be done to remove them. One eye is done at a time. The operation takes about half an hour and is usually done under a local anaesthetic. This means that although you are conscious, you do not feel any pain or see anything that is going on. During the operation your natural lens is removed and they replace it with a plastic lens. There are no stitches used in the operation. Following the surgery you need to use drops for about 4-6 weeks after.
Here in Derbyshire, only your Optician can refer you to have a cataract removed. Currently there are NHS Guideline that stipulate that you are only eligible for cataract surgery, once your vision deteriorates a certain amount. You can however have a cataract removed privately at any time. Therefore if you are experiencing visual problems then please book in for an eye test. We can then have a look to ensure that cataracts are the problems and whether you are eligible for the surgery on the NHS.
Glaucoma is a disease that affects you vision usually due to a build-up of pressure in the eye. It can affect one or both eyes. There is a jelly in the eye, of which there is constant flow in and out of the eye. It is when there is a blockage in the drainage of this that leads to an increase in the pressure of the eye. This increase in pressure causes damage to the nerve at the back of the eye cutting off the signal from some area of the retina. This leads to a reducing field of vision (how far out you can see in the periphery). However you can still develop Glaucoma if you don’t have high pressures, and you can have high pressures without developing Glaucoma!
Glaucoma is usually a slowly progressive disease which if left untreated may lead to blindness. However if detected early there are successful treatments that can reduced and in some cases halt the progression of the disease. Glaucoma initially is a silent disease, with most people not noticing that anything is wrong until the late stages of the disease. This makes it essential that we test people regularly so we can pick up on any problems early. There is specific type of Glaucoma called Closed angle Glaucoma which is a much more sudden and symptomatic that the other. It’s however much less common. This causes a painful red eye that is sensitive to light and the vision is blurry. If this occurs seek help IMMEDIATELY.
We use several tests to help us diagnose Glaucoma. One is the pressure test (the most common of these is the puff of air in the eye). This tests the pressure in the eyes to make sure it is similar in each eye and that is not above a certain level. The other is the field of vision test or flashing light test. This checks for Glaucoma amongst other things. It checks how well you can see in the periphery of vision, with each eye individually. As you usually have both eyes working together, this can mask a problem so you may not notice it. The other thing we do is look at the nerve at the back of your eye, to make sure it look healthy and that no damage has already occurred.
If there a problem with either of these we will repeat it to confirm if there is an issue, rather than sending you straight onto the hospital. We are currently part of a scheme in Derbyshire that means if you are seen at an Optician that isn’t participating and you are found to have high pressures or a defect in your visual field, then you will be referred onto us to use certain techniques to confirm any suspicions, before referring you to the hospital.
There are a couple of different treatments for Glaucoma. The most common is using a drop, or combination of drops. If this doesn’t work, or if your pressures are particularly high in the first place, they may do a small operation to allow the fluid to drain and therefore reduce the pressure.
Currently in Derbyshire, all children in their first year of school have a vision screening. This involves someone coming into school and checking each child’s vision. If their vision falls within a certain level then nothing further will happen. If the child’s vision isn’t quite as good as expected then a letter will be sent to the parent’s ask them to take the letter to their local participating optician’s and book an eye test. We are part of this scheme so if you receive one of these letters then give us a call and we can arrange an appointment.
At this appointment we will reassess the child’s vision. We often find that the vision is better this time than at the screening as the child knows what they are doing. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know letters, we can use pictures instead. We also check how the eye are working together and how well the muscles of the eyes are working. After this we put some drops in the child’s eyes. These drops relax all the muscles of the eyes allowing us to see if there is any underlying prescription that may otherwise be missed. The drops take about 20 minutes to work. They cause the child’s pupil to open (this last for up to 24 hours) and their vision, especially close vision to be blurry.
It is very important to get your child’s eyes checked on a regular basis to ensure they are developing at the rate we would expect and that there is no underlying prescription. If a prescription remains un-detected then it can lead to your child struggling at school and not developing at the expected rate. It can also lead your child to seem bored or uninterested, simply because they cannot see things properly. Also remember a child does not know what their vision should look like therefore if their vision is blurry and always has been then they will think this is normal and how everyone sees. We recommend children have their eyes tested every 1-2 years. We can start testing them at any age.
Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, thins and changes shape. This causes unusual changes in the prescription and dropping vision. Keratoconus is a progressive disease but some can stabilise over time. The actual cause of the condition is currently unknown but it seems to be more common in people who have multiple allergic conditions, such as Asthma and Eczema. Also those with Down’s syndrome and Marfan’s syndrome are more at risk of this condition.
Most people with the condition are initially treated with hard contact lenses. This works as it tries to keep the cornea in a more regular shape. In progressing cases a new procedure called Corneal Cross-linking may be considered. This uses special drops and UV light to stiffen the cornea to prevent any more deterioration. It is successful in 90% of cases. In extreme cases the only option maybe a corneal graft. This is when the clear window at the front of the eye is removed and replace by a donor one.
Here at Oakwood Eyecare we have a piece of equipment called a topographer. This maps the curves of the front of the eye and from this it can assess whether you may or may not have keratoconus.
Dry eye is a very common condition that causes the eyes to feel sore and irritable. It is caused by a reduced amount of tears, either due to lack of production or by them evaporating too quickly. The symptoms may vary from an occasional blurring of the vision to very sore, irritated red eyes. Some people can also get watery eyes. Dry eye can be caused by many things from the weather to hormonal changes and can also be a sign of other general health problems. It is also something that is more common in older age. Dry eye can also be a symptom of Blepharitis – see above.
The most common form of treatment for dry eye is eye drops and gels. There are lots of different drops for dry eye made by many different manufacturers. Some drops are better than others. Some drops contain added ingredients to help boost the health of the eye. It is preferable to use a drops that does not have preservatives in, as if used on a long term use you can become allergic to the preservatives in them. The eye drops have a very watery consistency and therefore have quite a quick effect and don’t really affect you vision. Due to its watery nature it can feel as though it’s not lasting well in the eye. The gel is a bit thicker and therefore has a more lasting effect, however they do usually blur the vision for the first few minutes after putting them in the eye. There are other things you can try as well. Warm compresses can help to get the gland secreting the tears to work better, therefore reducing the dry eye. There are also supplements available to help dry eye. They usually contain mainly fish oils which help boost part of the tears.
If you think you may have dry eyes, then it is best to book yourself in for a check-up. The optician will then be able to tell you if it is dry eye you are suffering from and which treatments will be most beneficial for you.
A retinal detachment is where the retina, the light sensitive lining of the eye, comes away from the back of the eye and its blood supply. Without a blood supply the cells die which causes you to loose vision. This can lead to you going blind if not treated. It is a medical emergency therefore if you get any of the symptoms then you should get this checked out immediately.
The symptoms that you may experience are flashing lights. These are little lights that last a few seconds at most then go. It will happen multiple times. You may also get floaters. These are black or grey shapes that float in the vision and can look like dots or streaks or cobwebs. You may also experience a part missing in your vision. It will look like a dark patch missing. Some people do not get any symptoms of a retinal detachment.
Flashing lights and floaters can also be caused by something called a vitreous detachment. This is where the jelly in your eye, which is usually sat against the retina, starts to shrink and pull away. This is a perfectly normal thing to happen. When this happen it can cause debris – which you see as floaters. Where the jelly is tugging on the retina it can cause flashing lights. Therefore we always treat flashing lights and floaters seriously as it could be a retinal detachment, but you may be told they are nothing to worry about.
There can be different causes to a retinal detachment. In some cases the retina can tear or have a hole. Fluid from the centre of the eye can then seep through the holes and collect behind it, gradually lifting the retina away from the back of the eye. With age the retina can become more brittle and therefore more likely to break. In some cases a scar can pull on the retina which in turn can lead to a break. There can also be some cases where new blood vessels produce fluid underneath the retina causing it to pull away. Trauma and injury to the eye can also cause a retinal detachment. They are more common in Short sighted people.
Retinal detachments can be treated by way of an operation. The quicker treatment can take place, the better the likely outcome for your vision. If left untreated then you will lose your vision completely over time. The operation is done under a general anesthetic and takes about an hour. The first part of the operation involves removing the jelly inside your eye. They then use a laser to mend any holes or tears there are. After this they fill the eye up with a gas or oil bubble. The pressure of this helps to push the retina back onto the back of the eye as well. After the operation the vision is very poor due to this bubble. Over the next 6 weeks or so the bubble of oil or gas gets replaced by the normal jelly of the eye and as that happens the vision starts to return. You will need to use drops for a while after the operation to prevent any infection or inflammation. How good you vision will be after the operation does depend on which part, and how much of the retina was affected.
If you notice any flashing lights or floaters all of a sudden then you should get it checked immediately so give us a ring. We will book you in for an appointment to check if there is a retinal detachment.
Macular degeneration causes the loss of the central part of vision. It is a painless progressive problem. The macula is the very sensitive central part of your vision which is responsible for seeing exactly what you are looking at. This means that reading, seeing faces and seeing the TV become progressively more difficult. As AMD only affects the central part of your vision, you will never go completely blind.
There are two types of macular degeneration. The first is called Dry macular degeneration. This is a slow progressing age change at the macula. It can take years to develop. Currently there is no treatment for this type of macular degeneration.
The other is called Wet Macular degeneration. This is where new blood vessel develop under the macula which can then leak and damage the macula. In time this can cause scarring here. Wet AMD causes vision changes much faster, in a matter of weeks or months. There is a treatment you can have for this type of macular degeneration. It involves the doctors injecting a drug in to the eye which helps prevent the growing and leaking of these new blood vessels. The quicker this treatment is started, the much better outcome there is.
Although there are the two types of macular degeneration, you can have a combination of both. So some people who have dry AMD, then develop wet AMD in the same eye. Sometime those who have Wet AMD in one eye then develop Dry AMD in the other eye. This is, however, rare.
If you notice any sudden changes in your vision, let us know straight away so we can arrange an appointment to get it checked ASAP. It is likely that at this appointment we may want to put a drop in the affected eye. This opens up the pupil so we can have a really good look inside the eye to see what is going on. These drops affect you vision, meaning that you cannot drive for 3-4 hours after the appointment.
General health problems such as high blood pressure can have an effect on your eyes. It can cause a problem with the blood vessels. They can become leaky or they can narrow. It can also cause areas of swelling at the back of the eye, including the optic nerve, (The main symptoms you may experience with this are headaches, reduced or blurry vision.) You can also get a burst blood vessel at the front of the eye. These are very common but if they are happening to you on a regular basis then it could be a sign of high blood pressure.
Your eyes are the only place we can see the small blood vessels without operating or using cameras. If there are any changes to the blood vessels in the eye then it could be a sign of what is going on elsewhere in the body. Therefore regular eye tests are very important, even if your blood pressure is well controlled. It is also why an eye test is often the 1st place that high blood pressure is suspected.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition where the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the body. Your blood sugar levels are controlled by a hormone called Insulin. There are two types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes usually starts before the age of 30 and is caused by the body attacking the cells that produce Insulin. This leads to the body producing too little, or no, Insulin. These people will be put straight onto Insulin injections. The other type of Diabetes is Type 2 is where the body produces too little Insulin or does not use the Insulin properly. Type 2 Diabetes can in some cases be controlled just by limiting how much sugar you are eating and increasing the amount of exercise you are doing. Otherwise tablets or Insulin injections are used.
Diabetes can cause a number of issues with the body in general but it does have some specific effects on the eyes. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina- the lining at the back of the eye. This damage can occur to different levels.
• The first is known as background retinopathy/damage. This is where the blood vessels become more leaking, causing little bleeds. Theses do not affect your vision and can clear up leaving no sign they were there.
• The next stage is known as pre-proliferative retinopathy. This is where there is more widespread and severe leaking of the blood vessels.
• The next stage is Proliferative retinopathy. This is where there is scar tissue and new blood vessels forming which are very leaky. This can cause vision loss.
• There is also Maculopathy. This is where the above problems affect a small area of the retina known as the macula. This area is crucial of your central portion of your vision so if it starts to be affected it can have a big affect on your vision.
You may have background retinopathy or pre-proliferative retinopathy and may never know it was there. For this reason all Diabetics should be called for an annual screening at the Hospital where they dilate you pupils (put drops in to open your pupil) and take a photograph of the back of your eyes. This is usually done annually but if there are any changes they want to monitor they may call you back quicker. If there are any changes they are concerned about, or that needs treatment then they will refer you to see one of the Doctors at the hospital. At the screening test they only look for Diabetic changes at the back of the eye and do not check you vision and prescription. It is therefore very important to still have your eyes tested on a regular basis at an Optician’s so we can look for other problems and check you prescription.
Strabismus is where one eye turns in, out, up or down. This means the eyes are not looking at the same object and can therefore lead to double vision in some cases. This may be constant or intermitant (only happens at certain times). It is sometimes known as a squint. A strabismus can occur in childhood or as an adult.
Often when it occurs in a child it is either due to some underlying prescription in that eye, a weakness in one of the muscles of the eye or a combination of these. If you notice a strabismus in your child it is important to get their eyes tested so we can find the cause. If it is left then it can cause a lazy or amblyopic eye, in the eye that turns. This is because the vision is unable to develop properly as the brain is ignoring it so the child doesn’t get double vision. If there is a prescription found then it is advisable to try the glasses for a few months to see if this solves the problem. If it doesn’t then we may need to refer your child to the hospital. Here they can check for any muscle deficiencies and potentially give some exercises to help strengthen the muscles. If this doesn’t work then in some cases they can do an operation to physically straighten the eye.
If a strabismus starts later in life then the cause is usually different and will usually be accompanied by double vision. It tends to be cause either be an injury to the eye or to the brain i.e. a stroke or brain tumours. Due to the potential causes it is very important to have your eyes tested as soon as you notice one eye turning. We need to investigate the cause of the problem. You may need to be referred to the Eye Department for more specialist investigation and potential treatments.