It’s good for you to be familiar with what good eye health feels like, so if your eyes don’t feel quite right, you know what to look out for, what you can do and when to seek help. If you’ve noticed a change in your eyesight, you can find a whole range of eye conditions and vision problems below, alongside helpful information about their symptoms and treatment.
Your eyes can also indicate signs of more problematic issues to do with your general health like diabetes and high blood pressure. Symptoms of these conditions are not always obvious, so regular eye tests are an essential part of maintaining your eye health and vision.
Although flashes and floaters are usually harmless, If you suddenly notice any of the below:
- Flashes or floaters getting worse
- A black shadow in your vision
- A sudden cloud of spots
- A curtain or veil over your vision
- Any change in vision
These are signs of a retinal tear & it may come away from the back of the eye and can lead to a retinal detachment which can result in you losing part or all of your vision. If you experience these please go to A & E immediately.
Flashes and floaters
Tiny grey/dark dots, wiggly lines, flashes of light in your vision are known as flashes and floaters. Lots of people experience them and they are harmless in most cases.
Usually with age, although this can happen at any time, the jelly inside your eye shrinks a little and pulls on the retina, which causes us to see light flashes similar to a camera flash in the corners of our eyes.
Most people have floaters; they look like dots or cobwebs when you look at a blank wall, screen or even a clear blue sky. Caused by cells sticking together in the jelly of the eye, they create shadows on your retina, which is what you see.
This is an age-related condition that occurs when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy. It causes changes in prescription, blurry vision, low contrast and reduced colour vision. Smoking, UV & blue light exposure, diabetes all can cause early cataract onset. It is one of the most common eye problems in the UK and is easily manageable with updating prescription and possibly as it progresses, a simple operation when day to day activities become difficult. Regular eye examinations allow your Optometrist to monitor the progression and advise the best time for treatment.
Dry eye syndrome is a condition that can affect one’s quality of life if allowed to progress without treatment. People with dry eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears they do produce, are of poor quality and do not have enough of the oily layer to stop them evaporating. This results in the eyes producing watery tears that provide short term relief leaving the eyes feeling uncomfortable and gritty. Symptoms to look out for:
- Gritty feeling eyes
- Sore and sometimes painful eyes
- Itchy, burning eyes
- Short-term blurred vision
- Watery eyes, as if you are crying especially in cold weather
There are many treatment options for dry eye so do consult your optometrist for help.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
There are 2 types of ARMD, Wet & Dry and as the name suggests it affects those over 60 and those with a family history. Smoking, blue and UV light & poor diet are also significant risk factors.
Wet AMD is recognised by straight lines appearing wavy or distorted. New blood vessels cause fluid build-up and the vision goes blurry, you may also experience a sudden loss of central vision. In these instances, immediate action is required so consult your Optometrist ASAP.
Dry AMD symptoms start slowly and is caused by leakage of waste from the small blood vessels in the retina that stops light penetrating the cells which would normally allow us to see. It affects the central part of the vision that sees detail i.e the Macula. Regular eye examinations are essential so this can be detected as early as possible so management can be discussed. A good diet of vitamin rich veg like kale and spinach can be a good preventative measure.
I know what you are thinking, Diabetes isn’t an eye condition? It isn’t, but it is a disease that affects small blood vessels which are in abundance in the eyes. If your sugar levels are not controlled, your sight will be at risk in the form of Diabetic Retinopathy. Most diabetic patients should take part in a retina screening program at local clinics or hospitals, where an optometrist/ ophthalmologist will usually put drops in the eyes to get a good clear look at the back of the eye make sure the vision is not affected. Good control of the diabetes will minimise this risk and regular attendance at your screening appointments and Opticians is vital.
Also known as short-sight, due to being able to see well at close distances and poorly in the distance. This happens in larger eyes, is also genetic, and has increased in prevalence due to the increased use of screens and our worlds becoming “smaller”
Myopia is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses however more and more treatments are available to slow the progression of it, Orthokeratology being one of them. Some people opt for corrective surgery. However, it is important children are examined yearly to correct any myopia they may have. It is a myth that correcting the short sight will make their vision worse, and your Optometrist will advise the best course of action for them.
An eye condition associated with high pressure in the eye that can cause damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated it can cause peripheral visual field loss, however if diagnosed early it can be managed and treated. Usually there are no symptoms, so this is why regular eye tests are important especially if there is family history as open angle glaucoma is genetic.
Closed angle glaucoma does produce symptoms:
- Painful red eye
- Headache & nausea
- Coloured halos around lights
If you experience these, you should go to A&E as soon as possible.