Common eye diseases and problems
Information on common eye diseases and problems including myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Myopia, or short sight occurs when light is focused in front of the retina and causes distance vision to become blurred. Near vision, however, is usually clear.
This commonly develops in childhood or adolescence and is often first noticed by children complaining of not seeing the board clearly at school.
Hypermetropia, or long sight occurs when the natural tendency is to focus light beyond the retina rather than on it, and the eye has to make a compensating effort to re-focus. With a younger person this may only be possible with effort and may, for example, cause headaches when reading. In an older person, as well as making reading very difficult, it may also cause distance vision to become blurred.
Astigmatism occurs when the front of the eye is rugby ball shaped instead of football shaped. In this case both distance and near vision may be distorted. People with this condition may suffer from headaches or be unduly sensitive to light.
As we get older, the lens of the eye thickens and slowly loses its flexibility, leading to a gradual decline in our ability to focus on objects that are close up. This loss of focusing ability is called PRESBYOPIA.
Sometimes the delicate cells of the macula become damaged and stop working. We do not know why this is, although it tends to happen as people get older. This is called macular degeneration, and often age-related macular degeneration.
Glaucoma is characterised by raised pressure inside the eye which can damage the optic nerve - the nerve at the back of the eye, reducing the field of vision and the ability to see clearly.
Cataracts are extremely common. Most people over 65 years of age will develop a cataract. A cataract is the result of the lens inside your eye becoming opacified, which results in 'cloudy' vision.
Dry eyes occur when either the eyes do not produce enough tears, or the quality of the tears that are produced is poor, meaning they evaporate very quickly, leaving the eyes dry. One of the most common symptoms of dry eye is excess watering of the eyes - which may sound contradicting!
Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelid margins. This is a very common condition and can affect people of all ages. There is no definitive cure for blepharitis but it can be managed and controlled in a number of ways. Blepharitis and dry eye disease are closely linked.