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Some of the more common eye problems are:
Myopia is when the eye is able to see short distances well (reading) but cannot see long distances (TV, driving). About 15% of the population is shortsighted. Although the exact cause of myopia is unknown, it appears to be a combination of genetic & environmental factors. Myopia can be corrected easily with spectacles or contact lenses, and it can also be reduced by Corneal Refractive Surgery or refractive surgery.
Hyperopia is the opposite of myopia. People with hyperopia do not see near objects clearly. Younger people can often compensate for their hyperopia by the process of accommodation (changing the focusing power of the lens inside the eye), although this may cause symptoms of eye strain. Hyperopia can also be corrected using spectacles or contact lenses, although low degrees of hyperopia sometimes do not require any correction in children and young adults.
Astigmatism in simple terms is a mixture of short and longsightedness, though there are variations of it, so it affects both short and long distance vision. Usually the eye ball is spherical in shape (like a soccer ball). In astigmatism the eyeball becomes elliptical (like an Australian Rules football). It is not abnormal, it is just the way the eye is shaped. It can be corrected with spectacle or contact lenses. In some rare cases, special contact lenses are required to correct it.
Presbyopia is when the eye's ability to see short distance or reading vision is reduced. It generally commences in the 40’s and affects most people at or after that that age. All of these conditions are treatable with glasses and/or contact lenses.
The following eye conditions require prevention, monitoring and sometimes medical attention. some examples are:
Cataract is when the crystalline lens inside the eye becomes opaque, and prevents the light reaching the retina, so the vision gradually becomes blurred. It usually happens with age, typically in 60's and onwards. It is treated simply with surgery where a replacement intraocular lens implant is used to replace their cloudy lens.
This is a degenerative disease of the optic nerve that can be associated with increased fluid pressure of the eyeball. It can happen without any obvious sign or symptom. That is why it has been dubbed the "Thief of Sight". It damages the peripheral vision; in extreme cases the patient ends up with tunnel vision or even complete blindness. So one could have perfectly fine central vision (when looking straight ahead) but slowly be losing peripheral vision. Early detection can lead to successful treatment with eye drops or in some cases surgery to reduce the fluid pressure. A major risk factor in this condition is family history of Glaucoma, so again regular eye examinations are vital particularly if one has family history of the condition.
Age Related Macular degeneration (ARM)
There is currently a lot of emphasis in the media about this condition. With the aging population it is unfortunately on the increase. One in every 7 Australians over the age of 50 has some sign of macular degeneration, this increases to 1 in every 3 people over the age of 75. It happens when metabolic waste material called “drusen” builds up on the macula over many years and this damages the light sensitive cells on the retina. As a result most of the useful central vision of the eye is lost. Fortunately with modern technology we are able to detect its’ signs at very early stages and if diagnosed early, there are effective treatments available. Its’ risk factors include: age, family history, smoking, blood pressure, obesity, and sunlight. Regular eye examinations are vital to detect its’ signs.
This condition happens when the fine blood vessels on the retina become weak so there are haemorrhages in the retina which cause damage to vision. Regular eye examinations are vital to monitor the retina for any such damage and timely treatment. Fluctuations in blood glucose level can sometimes cause fluctuations in vision. So controlling the blood sugar level is the best way to minimise the damage to the eyes. Vision loss and potential blindness can be prevented if diabetic retinopathy is detected and treated early
Keratoconus represents a progressive, non-inflammatory thinning and protrusion of the central cornea. It usually presents clinically in youth or adolescence, although the age of onset can be anywhere between 7 and 50. It is nearly always bilateral, although may not be similar in both eyes. Considerable visual impairment can result due to the development of a high degree of irregular astigmatism associated with this front surface ("window") of the eye. Due to this marked distortion and irregularity the improvement in vision obtained with spectacles may be minimal. There is usually a marked improvement in vision if rigid gas permeable contact lenses are fitted and they are often the only adequate means of correction for patients suffering this condition. Keratoconus does not cause blindness.
Pterygium is a lump of tissue that grows on the white part of the eye usually near the edge of the iris or the coloured part. It sometimes grows over the cornea and even the pupil. It can be removed surgically.
This is a fairly common condition in which the eyes feel dry and irritable. There are various causes for it such as deficient tear film, environmental causes such as airconditioning, or other medical conditions such as arthritis. They can be treated with eye drops or occasionally with simple surgery.
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other - and not working together - when focusing. As a result, the eyes look in different directions and do not generally focus on the same point. A person with strabismus will often have impaired binocular function (therefore affecting depth perception) and they may also have amblyopia ('lazy eye') in the affected eye. Treatment options for strabismus include spectacles, special eye exercises, occlusion (patching of one eye) and surgery.
Tumors of the eye
These are usually benign though they can sometimes be malignant. They can occur on the eyelids or other parts of the eye.
At I-Care @ Optometrists, we are able to manage all these conditions using the latest technology, either by treating them, monitoring them, or referring you to the most appropriate ophthalmologists. Different ophthalmologists specialise in different parts of the eye, such as retinal speciality, or glaucoma speciality. We can advise you on this so you go through the right channels. We will also advise you of ways to protect your eyes and the precautions you can take to avoid or delay some of these conditions.