Your Eye Health
Everyone’s eyesight changes over time, and occasionally health problems occur which affect your sight.
At Date Opticians we put a very high priority on your eye health. When you come in for your eye test, we’ll offer simple tips and advice for looking after your eyes.
We’re also proud of our clinical expertise. Our thorough eye exams are often able to pick up on eye conditions at an early stage. Sometimes even before you experience any symptoms.
That’s why regular eye tests are so important. This is usually every two years, but can be more frequent when dealing with particular conditions.
Find out more about some common eye conditions…
Many children have their vision checked at school between the ages of four and five.
Most children have good eyesight and don’t need glasses. However one in five children have an undetected eye problem.
Some eye conditions found in adults also occur in children – such as long and short sightedness or astigmatism (see above for more information about these conditions).
If you have any concerns about your child’s eyes, or if there is a history of squint or lazy eye in the family, don’t wait for the vision screening at school. Book a sight test for your child at Date Opticians. This is free under the NHS for children under 16.
Your child doesn’t have to be able to read – or even talk – to have a sight test.
And remember – don’t expect your child to tell you if there is a problem. Children assume that the way they see is normal – they will not have known anything different.
Lazy eye and squint
About 2-3% of children have a lazy eye (‘amblyopia’). This may be because one eye is much more short- or long- sighted than the other. Or they may have a squint (where the eyes are not looking in the same direction). If you notice your child appears to have a squint after they are six weeks old, you should book an appointment to have their eyes tested as soon as possible.
The sooner the child is treated, the more likely they are to have good vision.
Around one in 12 men and one in 200 women has some sort of problem with their colour vision. If you suspect that your child has a colour-vision problem, or if there is a family history of colour-vision problems, ask your Date optometrist about it. There is no cure, but you can tell your child’s teachers, so that they use colours appropriately.
Protect your child’s eyes from the sun
Because children tend to spend a lot of time outside, it’s important to protect your child’s eyes in the sun. Make sure your child’s sunglasses have UV protection. All Date children’s sunglasses have full UV protection and are specially designed to fit a child’s face.
However, scientific studies have shown that children who spend time outdoors are less likely to be short-sighted, so don’t stop your child exercising outdoors – just make sure their eyes are properly protected.
People with long-sightedness (also known as hyperopia) have difficulty focussing on things that are close to them.
Short-sightedness (myopia) describes people who have difficulty focussing on things that are further away.
Both conditions can run in families and both are easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
Astigmatism is when the eye is not quite spherical – and is shaped more like a rugby ball than a football.
This makes it difficult for the eye to focus on some shapes and can result in distorted or blurred vision at all distances.
If it’s not corrected with glasses or contact lenses, astigmatism can lead to headaches, tiredness and pain around the eye muscles.
Astigmatism is very common – nearly half the UK population are estimated to have it. Astigmatism can usually be corrected with glasses or with ‘toric’ contact lenses.
If you think you may have astigmatism, make an appointment with your Date optometrist.
Presbyopia – or age-related long-sightedness – is associated with difficulty reading, as it affects our ability to focus on things close up.
Everyone’s close-up vision deteriorates to some extent as they get older. It can be noticable from aged 35 onwards.
If you have difficulty reading
- text messages on your phone
- fine print, or
- the menu in a restaurant
you may be developing age-related long-sightedness.
An entirely natural effect of ageing as the lens get harder and less flexible over time, presbyopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Talk to your Date optician about a sight test.
Dry eye is a common condition that happens when your eyes don’t make enough tears, or when tears evaporate too quickly.
Common symptoms include:
- feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that get worse throughout the day
- red eyes
- eyelids that stick together when you wake up
- temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink
- sensitivity to light
If you experience these symptoms and they continue over time, make an appointment with your Date optometrist.
Date Opticians specialise in treating dry eye and will be very happy to advise you on this common condition.
Floaters – small dark spots or strands that appear to float in front of your eyes – are common and usually harmless.
They are caused by a build up of debris in the jelly-like substance in your eye, and are a normal part of getting older.
Flashes are also caused by the gel in your eye. Sometimes it becomes more liquid, tugging on the retina and causing flashes that look like small sparkles, lightening or fireworks.
Both flashes and floaters usually come and go, and most people get used to them or even stop noticing they are there.
However if you experience a sudden increase in floaters or flashes, you should see your optometrist immediately, as it may be a sign of retinal detachment. If you cannot do this you should seek urgent attention from an eye casualty department at the hospital.
Cataracts are formed when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy or misty. It is a gradual process that usually happens as people get older. It doesn’t normally affect your eyesight in the early stages, and it doesn’t hurt.
Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, though they can do so at different rates, you may notice the effect in only one eye at first.
- Your vision becoming less clear
- Streetlights or car headlights becoming more dazzling
- Difficulties adjusting from shade to direct sunlight
- Colours becoming faded, yellowy or different
If you experience these symptoms arrange an appointment with your Date optometrist.
How can I prevent cataracts developing?
You can’t prevent cataracts from developing, but the best advice to slow down their progression is to avoid smoking and to wear sunglasses or photochromic lenses with UV protection.
Cataracts are treated by surgery, which removes the cataract under local anaesthetic. Cataract surgery has a very high success rate.
If your cataracts get to the stage where your eyesight can no longer be improved by glasses, your Date Optician can refer you to an eye specialist for surgery.
The macula is an area at the back of the eye that enables you to see finer details. When the macula degenerates, this affects a person’s ability to do things like read a book or watch TV. But it doesn’t affect side vision – so activities like walking around are not affected.
There are a number of different kinds of macular degeneration. The most common are age-related – they happen as you get older – and are called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
How to recognise AMD
Often the first sign of AMD is when straight lines begin to appear wavy. Another is when patches start to become ‘missing’ from your vision.
People don’t always notice these things because if it happens in one eye, the other eye may compensate. So it’s important to check each eye separately. One way to do this is to look at the straight lines of a door frame, first with one eye, then with the other. If they appear distorted or there are missing patches, you should see your Date optometrist straight away.
There are two kinds of AMD – ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.
Dry AMD is the most common kind. In dry AMD yellow deposits build up behind the macula. This may affect a person’s vision in the long term though it usually happens slowly.
You may have dry AMD if:
- you need brighter light than normal when reading
- text appears blurry
- colours appear less vibrant
- you have difficulty recognising people’s faces
- your vision seems hazy or less well defined
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, and they can’t be improved by wearing glasses, you should make an appointment with your Date optometrist.
There is currently no treatment for dry AMD but there are steps you can take to reduce its progression including not smoking, protecting your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light with sunglasses or photochromic lenses, eating a healthy diet (especially green leafy vegetables) and taking specific supplements. Ask us for more advice.
In Wet AMD, blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula which leak fluid.
If you have wet AMD, any blurring in your central vision will suddenly worsen.
You may also experience other symptoms, such as:
- visual distortions – straight lines may appear wavy or crooked
- blind spots –usually in the middle of your visual field (these become larger the longer they’re left untreated)
Wet AMD needs to be treated as soon as possible to stop your vision getting worse. Make an appointment with your Date optometrist if you notice any of these symptoms.
Glaucoma is a condition that can affect your sight, usually due to a build up of pressure within the eye caused when the fluid in the eye can’t drain properly.
Although it usually affects both eyes, Glaucoma can develop more quickly in one eye than the other.
Glaucoma can damage the optic nerve (which connects the eye to the brain) and the nerve fibres from the retina (the light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye).
There are four main types of glaucoma. Each has its own distinct symptoms. To find out more about the symptoms of glaucoma visit the NHS Choices website.
It can take a long time for a person with glaucoma to realise they have it, because it usually affects the outer edge of the eye first and only slowly moves inwards to where its effects are more obvious. This is one of the reasons why regular eye tests are so important.
Glaucoma can be treated but early diagnosis is important to because any damage that’s already occurred can’t be reversed.
If you have any concerns about the health of your eyes, please discuss these with your Date optometrist.
Although we have described some of the more common eye conditions, the list is by no means complete. If you are concerned about your eye health, get in touch to arrange an appointment.
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“I arrived very concerned about ‘floaters’ and the condition of my right eye, but due to your thorough testing and reassuring kind manner I left feeling much happier. Thank you for explaining things so clearly and putting me at ease.”
Did you know?
Date Opticians is one of a number of practices in the Wakefield area which has been selected by the local NHS health commissioners (Wakefield CCG) to provide a direct assessment and referral service for acute eye problems.
This means that Date patients no longer have to wait for GP or specialist eye clinic appointments and can get the help they need quickly and easily at their local practice.
Find out more about PEARS self referral service at Date Opticians.