Common eye conditions

What does “short-sighted” or “myopia” mean?

Being short-sighted means you have the benefit of short sight i.e. you cannot see things far away. You will have trouble with tasks such as driving, seeing bus numbers, and seeing peoples’ faces in the street.

It can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or laser vision correction.


What does “long-sighted” or “hyperopia” mean?

Being long-sighted means you cannot focus on objects close to you; for example, when reading, looking at your watch, or looking at a computer, these things may appear fuzzy or out of focus. You can be long-sighted at any age.

It can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or laser vision correction.


What is “astigmatism”?

Astigmatism is when the eye is more of a rugby ball shape rather than spherical like a football. It is very common and means that your vision may be blurry at all distances.

It can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or laser vision correction.


What is “presbyopia”?

Presbyopia is the term used to describe our need for reading glasses from the approximate age of 40 upwards. As we get older, the muscles in our eyes that help us focus on things up close get weaker, so reading glasses give us the extra support to see clearly with for example, restaurant menus, price tags, and looking at your phone.

It can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or some form of surgical intervention.


What is cataract?

Cataract is where the lens in your eye becomes cloudy causing your vision to gradually deteriorate over time.

Cataract happens as part of the normal aging process of the eye and onset is usually from age 50 upwards although can be earlier.

Glasses with corrective lenses and a tint can sometimes help but the most effective treatment is a short surgical procedure to exchange your lens for a new one.


What is glaucoma?

This is when the pressure of the eye is greater than the eye can handle, therefore causing damage to your peripheral vision. Glaucoma usually affects both eyes to varying degrees and if left untreated can lead to blindness.

Risk factors include but are not limited to a family history and being of Afro-Caribbean descent.

If this is detected at your regular eye examination, you will be referred to the care of a doctor within the hospital eye service.


How does diabetes affect my eyes?

Diabetes is a common disease that affects many parts of the body, in particular the feet, the kidneys and the eyes. If you are a diabetic, it is essential that you have an annual eye examination to manage any visual changes that may develop.

Some examples of eye conditions caused by diabetes are fluctuating vision, cataract, reduced central and peripheral vision and sometimes even retinal detachment.

It is important that your diabetes is kept under control


What is a pterygium?

Pterygium is a very slow growth of what looks like skin across the white of the eye. It is most common in people who have lived in hot climates for a long period of time and is caused by exposure to UV light. Symptoms include red, itchy, sore, dry eyes when the pterygium is aggravated and can be alleviated by eye drops.

Vision is usually unaffected unless the pterygium begins to grow across the front of the eye at which point it can be removed.


Can I get a birthmark in my eye?

Yes you can. A birthmark in or on the eye is called a “naevus” and looks very much like a birthmark on our skin. As with normal birthmarks (or beauty spots), they usually appear at birth.

If you have just noticed it, as with any pigment spot that you discover, it needs to be monitored to ensure it is harmless. 


What is age-related macular degeneration?

The macula at the back of the eye is responsible for our central vision i.e. being able to see things clearly when looking at something directly. Through wear and tear of the eye, the macula begins to degenerate. This can cause blurry vision and you may notice that straight lines appear to be wavy.

The “wet” version of the disease can develop rapidly and is considered to be more serious than the slow progressing “dry” version.

Risk factors include smoking, a family history and being of Caucasian race. Glasses can sometimes help but you may also need to be under the care of a doctor within the hospital eye service.

Nutritional supplements can help to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.


What is retinal detachment?

The back of the eye consists of 3 layers; the outermost layer called the Sclera, followed by the Choroid, then the Retina. A retinal detachment is when part of or the entire retina comes away from the layers behind it. This can cause sudden visual loss and may lead to blindness if not treated in time.

Risk factors include trauma to the head or your eye and significant short-sightedness.

Symptoms include sudden onset of flashing lights and floaters, a shadow or curtain across your vision, sudden visual loss or distortion of your vision.

If you notice any of these you must go straight to A&E for treatment.


What is dry eye?

This is when the eyes can feel irritated and sore towards the end of the day. Dry eye disease can occur as a result of rapidly evaporating tears or when the eye does not produce enough tears.

Dry eye is common as we get older, as a side effect of certain general health conditions and in people who have lived in hot countries.

Lubricating eye drops and maintaining lid hygiene will play a part in managing dry eyes.


What is a visual migraine?

Symptoms of a visual migraine can include a variety of visual aura such as zig-zag flashes of light, tunnel vision and dark vision. These episodes may be followed by a headache or they may occur in isolation.

Should you experience any of these signs or symptoms, you should have regular eye examinations to rule out anything more sinister.


What are floaters?

Floaters are little black spots in your vision that seem to move around when your eyes move. They are not always visible but are more commonly noticed when looking at for example a white wall or a bright blue sky.

They are little bits of debris inside your eye and it is quite normal to see them every now and then.

However, if you have a sudden onset of floaters, perhaps accompanied by flashing lights and reduced vision you must either go straight to A&E or to your opticians.


If you have any concerns regarding your vision, please call: 020 8429 0101 or visit Eyesey Eyecare – Pinner