Eye health

Changes in vision and eye health are often quite slow and subtle, and can easily go unnoticed.

Having a regular eye examination will help with early detection of common eye conditions and potentially serious eye diseases, and that means better vision for longer.

Eye Conditions

For more information on any of these common eye health conditions please consult your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

myopia

Myopia, or Short-sightedness, is a condition in which near objects are seen more clearly than objects which are far away.

The main symptom is blurred distance vision. Short-sighted people often report difficulty distinguishing details on road signs and scoreboards.

Another common symptom is “squinting” the lids together in an attempt to see clearer. This works by narrowing the aperture they are looking through and therefore reducing the size of the blur circle on the retina inside the eye.

Myopia tends to first develop during adolescence as the eye grows to full adult size. Myopia occurs either due to hereditary factors or due to environmental stress and a subsequent spasm of the eye focussing muscles.

Myopia is corrected with either contact lenses or spectacles. Since these lenses are thickest at the edge, new spectacle lens technologies have been developed to produce thinner and lighter lenses.

astigmatism

Astigmatism is an out-of-roundness of one or more surfaces in the eye’s optical system.
An eye with no astigmatism is spherical in shape, like a marble. On the other hand an eye with astigmatism has a distorted shape, slightly like a grape.

In lesser degrees this can cause strain and discomfort after visual concentration; while in higher degrees astigmatism causes images at all distances to be distorted or blurred.

colour vision

Colour blindness is almost always inherited, although it can be acquired condition as a result of some diseases or injuries.

The abnormality is sex linked, recessive, and carried on the X chromosomes. This means that males need only have their one X chromosome affected to be colour blind while females must carry the condition on both their X chromosomes to be colour blind. If females have it only on one X chromosome they will carry the condition but still have normal colour vision themselves.

As a result, about 8% of males and 0.5% of females have colour vision deficiencies. Almost all colour deficient people do see most colours but they will have difficulty identifying particular ones, confusing certain shades of red and green for example.

As children, few of these people will be aware that they have a colour vision deficiency but the detection of these problems is important, especially when career choices are affected.

At Eyecare Plus Optometrists colour vision testing is a routine part of the eye examinations of every new patient and child.

dry eyes

Dry eye disease affects about 20% of people, and poor eye lubrication increases susceptibility to scratches, infection and possibly vision impairment. A range of effective treatments is available. For information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

hyperopia

Hyperopia, or Long-sightedness, causes a person to see clearer at far than at near.

Extra effort is required to try to clear the focus at all distances, resulting in eye strain and fatigue. This “strain” can manifest itself as headaches after close work, blurred near vision, tired eyes, difficulty adjusting focus from distance to near and near to distance, avoiding close work and short attention span for near tasks.

Common symptoms are associated with tasks which require continued visual concentration. It becomes a problem to maintain a clear focus on near objects; causing headaches and tired or aching eyes.

In some age groups a prescription for hyperopia often works to relieve the strain, rather than clearing the vision.

presbyopia

Presbyopia, or age-related long sightedness, is a gradual loss in the focusing ability (accommodation) of the eye and is part of the normal vision changes we all experience as we age.

This condition is caused by a natural hardening of the eye lens, so that by the early 40’s it does not respond as well to the muscles intended to change the focus of the eye.

As a result people in this age group start to have difficulty with near tasks like reading small print, threading a needle, etc. This is especially true at the end of the day when lighting levels are poorer and the individual is more likely to be tired. Correction consists of reading spectacles, bifocals or the newer progressive lenses.

digital eye strain

Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain are terms used to describe vision-related problems that result from prolonged – and particularly close up – viewing of devices with modern screens such as flat screen televisions, computers, tablets like iPads and mobile phones.

Eye strain caused by the displays of digital devices is becoming increasingly common as we rely more on these devices in our daily lives. Physical eye discomfort can occur in any healthy individual, but particularly among those who use a screen for longer than two hours at a time.

Eye Diseases

These are medical conditions which should be attended to as soon as possible. For more information on any of these eye diseases please consult your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Diabetes and Vision

The health of the retina is very dependent on a good blood supply to the eye. Diabetes compromises this circulation and can cause serious damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy).
Diabetes needs life-long management to prevent ongoing damage. Early diagnosis, reduction of risk factors and ongoing treatment are very important in preventing complications. Your optometrist is an important member of the health team monitoring diabetic patients.

For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Cataract

A cataract is an opacity or clouding of the lens inside the eye, then distorting the light as it enters. Cataracts are often confused with pterygium but cataracts cannot be seen on the surface of the eye.
Symptoms of cataract may include a gradual painless decrease in clear vision, hazy vision, increased sensitivity to glare, and even double vision.

Special tints or filters can often improve vision and UV protection can help to slow development of this condition.
The eventual “cure” is surgical removal of the lens with cataract and replacement with an artificial lens (intra-ocular lens implant).

MACULAR DEGENERATION

Macular Degeneration (MD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys central vision. Central vision occurs at the macula on the retina, at the back of the eye. Because it is the central part of vision, it is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common everyday tasks such as reading and driving.

MD is present in 15% of people between the ages of 70-75 and is now the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. In some cases, MD advances so slowly that people fail to notice the gradual deterioration of their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a permanent loss of central vision.

While there is presently no cure for Macular Degeneration, there are steps that you can take to prevent or slow the progress of the disease. For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

SPOTS & FLOATERS

Some patients comment that they look like cobwebs or threads, and most usually notice floaters when looking at a bright clear background like a ceiling or plain coloured wall.

They can be caused by debris left over from before birth, injury or eye disease. A full eye examination will determine the cause and whether any follow-up is needed. If treatment is needed, there are several options including surgical draining of the eye and destruction of the floating material with a laser. For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease where the pressure within the eye is typically increased (although not always). This can damage parts of the eye, and if left untreated may result in blindness.

Many times the symptoms are not noticeable until damage to the eye has already occurred. Diagnosis consists of having regular eye examinations which include a pressure measurement (usually every 2 years for patients over 40), to enable early detection of possible problems.

For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or Lazy Eye, is a reduced vision, generally in only one eye. The condition usually results from poor eye co-ordination, from having a turned eye, or after having one eye which requires a far greater lens power.

The reduced vision occurs because, for one or more of the above reasons, one eye is being used less than the other. When detected early enough, patching, vision training and lenses may help to reverse or prevent permanent damage to the vision.

For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Pterygium

A pterygium is a triangular growth of degenerative tissue on the white of the eye (sclera), usually on the nasal side, that may extend onto the clear window of the eye called the cornea.

A pterygium results from irritation due to long term exposure to ultra-violet light (UV), wind, glare or dust. Treatment is by eliminating the irritation with protective eyewear, eye-drops or surgery. For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Meibomian (“my-BOH-mee-an”) glands are the tiny oil glands which line the margin of the eyelids (the edges which touch when the eyelids are closed). The function of these glands is to secrete oils onto the surface of the eye. These oils help keep the tears from evaporating too quickly. The tear film lubricates and keeps the surface of our eyes healthy; it also affects how clearly we see.

Meibomian gland dysfunction is a common condition where the glands are not secreting enough oil or when the oil they secrete is of poor quality. For more information talk to your optometrist Andrew Greer at Eyecare Plus Tamworth.

Eye Health News

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Contact lenses can be a great part of the overall plan for achieving your best possible vision. They are a comfortable and convenient option for patients who don’t want to wear prescription glasses all the time. Read on to see how they could help you.

What is a contact lens?

A contact lens is a super thin, curved plastic disc placed on the surface of your eye. While naturally clear, they are often given the slightest tinge of colour to make them easier to see when you are handling them. They can be used to treat a range of vision problems including:

  • distance vision (myopia, or short sightedness, astigmatism)
  • reading (hyperopia, or long sightedness)
  • therapeutic treatment programs (Ortho-K, keratoconus)
Contact lenses for distance and reading - Eyecare Plus Tamworth

Soft vS. hard

Most people wear ‘soft’ contact lenses, which are very flexible and squishy because of their high water content. This is what makes them so comfortable and easy to wear. They can be worn on a full-time or part-time basis. Daily disposable soft contact lenses are worn throughout the day then tossed before bed and replaced by a fresh pair in the morning. Other soft lenses have different replacement schedules (eg. fortnightly, monthly).

Rigid gas permeable lenses, or ‘hard’ lenses, are less often prescribed – often to address an underlying structural eye condition such as keratoconus. Ortho-K treatment for corneal reshaping also requires this type of lens.

Your optometrist Andrew Greer will prescribe the most appropriate type of lens for you.

How should I use them?

How you use them depends on your vision needs and your lifestyle. Some contact lens patients are committed daily wearers, while other patients choose to use them on a needs basis, perhaps for specific work, sporting, recreational or special occasions.

You will still need prescription glasses, but you might only wear them, say, in the evenings if your eyes are tired, or if you need to get up in the middle of the night!

In your 40's and starting to need

Reading glasses?

An alternative to reading glasses

In your 40’s and starting to need reading glasses? Presbyopia, or age-related long sightedness, is part of the normal vision changes we all experience as we age. It is caused by a natural hardening of the eye lens, so that by the early 40’s it does not respond as well to the muscles intended to change the focus of the eye. Contact lenses can be prescribed as an alternative to reading glasses.

The onset of age-related long sightedness can be particularly frustrating if you already wear contact lenses for distance and want to continue seeing clearly up close without adding reading glasses.

A great option to try is monovision, which requires wearing one contact lens that corrects only distance vision in one eye, and wearing another lens that corrects only near vision in the other eye. Your brain is smart and both eyes still work together, allowing you to see clearly at any distance without you even giving it a thought.

If your distance vision remains good then with monovision you might only need to wear a contact lens in one eye instead of wearing reading glasses. That’s a very simple solution to never losing your reading glasses again!

Multifocal contact lenses are also available.

Monovision contact lenses for distance and reading

Monovision corrects for distance vision in one eye and near vision in the other eye.