Eye health

At L&F Eyecare we are often asked questions about ongoing eye health. We hope the following is of help but please do contact us if you have a specific concern.

Why get your eyes tested?

Periodic eye examinations are an important part of routine preventive health care. Many eye and vision conditions present no obvious symptoms therefore individuals are often unaware that a problem exists. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for maintaining good vision and, when possible, preventing permanent vision loss. The need for and frequency of eye examinations vary with age, race, medical history, family history, occupation and other factors. Individuals with ocular signs or symptoms require prompt examination. In addition, the presence of certain risk factors may necessitate more frequent evaluations based on professional judgment.

How can I reduce computer eyestrain?

When using computers it is important to make sure your eyes remain healthy. To ensure you do not strain your eyes you can make the following changes to your workspace:

  • Place screen 35cm to 60cm from your eyes
  • Place the top of the screen 10 degrees below eye level
  • Stand documents close to the screen
  • Control glare by having even room lighting
  • Minimise reflection from the monitor by changing the angle of the screen
  • Clean your screen with a soft cloth once a week
  • Take a break every half hour and focus on a distant object for one minute
  • Have your eyes tested at least every two years or sooner if you are experiencing strain

How does Diabetes affect my eyes?

Diabetes is a condition affecting over 1 million Australians, and many others who are unaware they have the condition. By 2014, Diabetes was the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia with around 280 Australians developing diabetes each day.

Diabetes sometimes causes fluctuating vision and changes in sight can be the first sign. Often this has led to optometrists diagnosing diabetes in their patients. The problem eases when blood sugar levels are under control. When diabetes has been present for some years, changes may occur at the back of the eye in the retina. These changes are known as diabetic retinopathy. The risk of developing retinopathy increases with the length of time that one has been diabetic, and with poor control of blood sugar levels.

Optometrists can check for these changes at the back of the eye and advise you accordingly or refer you to an eye surgeon for appropriate treatment. It is advisable for all diabetics to have yearly eye examinations, or more frequently if retinopathy is present, as recommended by the optometrist.

How should I care for and protect my eyes?

Periodic examinations by an eye care professional is an essential part of good preventative eye care as most eye health problems have no early noticeable symptoms and can be diagnosed only through an eye exam. However, a few precautions can be taken to protect and maintain the health of your eyes.

  • Protect your eyes from UV radiation and foreign objects by wearing protective eyewear
  • Have a balanced diet
  • Avoid eye strain while reading
  • Take care with your eyes when using cosmetics

What are the most common eye problems?

  • Common eye problems
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Blepharitis Cataracts
  • Colour vision deficiency
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Refractive errors
  • Tear duct obstruction

 What causes Cataracts?

A cataract does not form on the eye, but rather within the eye. A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. The lens is contained in a sealed bag or capsule. As old cells die they become trapped within the capsule. Over time, the cells accumulate causing the lens to cloud, making images look blurred or fuzzy.

For most people, cataracts are a natural result of aging. In fact, they are the leading cause of visual loss among adults 55 and older in the developed world. Eye injuries, certain medications, and diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism have also been known to cause cataracts.

The symptoms of early cataracts may be improved with new glasses with antiglare coating, brighter lighting or sunglasses. If these measures do not help, surgery offers effective treatment. This involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the condition involving irreversible damage of the optic nerve, which transmits information from the eye to the brain, hence preventing visual information from reaching the brain. Glaucoma is often associated with a build-up of pressure in the eye, which is caused by excessive amounts of fluid in the eye.

The exact causes of glaucoma are not known. Often, a person is not aware that they have glaucoma until it is too late as there are no noticeable symptoms until permanent damage has occurred. To diagnose glaucoma, the optometrist looks at the nerve fibres at the back of the eye, measures the pressure in the eye and sometimes tests the field of vision.

These are simple and painless tests. Eye drops can be prescribed to treat and control glaucoma if it is detected early. However, if left untreated, the nerve cells are progressively damaged and objects in different parts of the visual field are lost. In extreme cases, untreated glaucoma leads to tunnel vision or blindness.

People over 40 years of age and with a relative that has suffered from glaucoma are at risk and should have their eyes checked regularly by an optometrist.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the progressive deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the retina. The central macula, the fovea, is responsible for fine detail vision and has the highest concentration of colour receptors.

The most common type of macular degeneration is called age related macular degeneration (AMD), which usually develops in patients over the age of 55. AMD primarily affects central vision but patients usually do not lose vision completely, even at advanced stages. This disorder can make it difficult to read, drive, work at a computer, and perform other daily activities that require clear central vision. AMD occurs in two forms, dry and wet.

Dry (atrophic) AMD accounts for 85–90% of all cases. The earliest sign of AMD is the development of waste material deposits, called drusen, that appear as tiny orange or yellow dots. These deposits are initially tiny and few in numbers, but they may grow larger and become more numerous. The presence of drusen does not necessarily signal vision loss, and many people with drusen could continue to have good vision. As dry AMD progresses, mild to moderate visual acuity loss may occur.

Wet (vascular) AMD accounts for approximately 10% of cases but is responsible for the vast majority of severe, AMD related vision loss. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessel growth is triggered by mechanisms that are not completely understood. The new vessels are very delicate, break easily, and bleed and leak fluid into surrounding tissue.