Common Eye Conditions FAQs
Here are some questions related to common eye conditions.
Age-related macular degeneration
What is AMD?
AMD is a degeneration of the central portion of the retina called the macula that occurs in older age. This is the part of the retina that we use for central vision – to read and see faces, so people who suffer from AMD usually find that reading becomes difficult, colours become less vibrant and faces are more difficult to recognise. It can occur suddenly but most people experience a slow change in their vision, with one eye more affected tan the other. If you find that your vision is becoming poorer, visit your optometrist who can easily check for signs of AMD.
How can Amblyopia be treated?
If it is detected early, especially before the age of five, a lazy eye can be encouraged to work properly with a combination of patching, glasses and/or surgery.
What is Amblyopia?
More commonly known as lazy eye, Amblyopia is a condition where the connections between the eye and the brain are underdeveloped. This is often due to a squint or severe blurred vision in one eye during childhood.
Are there any treatments for astigmatism?
It is easy for your optometrist to detect astigmatism. One analogy they often use to explain your focussing problem is to explain that your eye is shaped slightly more like a rugby ball than a perfect round. If the problem is significantly affecting your vision, your optometrist can prescribe glasses to sharpen your vision.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a visual condition that causes vision to be blurred due to the inability of the eye to focus an object into a sharp image on the retina. This may be due to an irregularity of curvature in the cornea or lens. It is very common and many of us who are short or long sighted will have some astigmatism too.
What is Blepharitis?
Please see our page dedicated to Blepharitis.
What is a cataract?
Please see our page dedicated to Surgery.
Is a chalazion treatable?
They can resolve on their own, but if persistent your doctor may be able to refer you for a minor procedure to remove it.
CAUTION: You should always seek professional advice about any lumps and bumps on your eyelids that do not resolve within a couple of weeks.
What is a chalazion?
A chalazion is a small round, hard swelling in the upper or lower eyelid relating to inflammation in an eyelash follicle or a meibomian gland that produces oil for the tear film. It can sometimes follow on from having a stye. They are often painless but can look unsightly.
Am I colour blind?
People who are colour blind get certain colours confused: red can appear green; green as red and blue looks like yellow. The condition is often inherited or the result of other eye diseases, or even sometimes due to medication. It is rare for people to be unable to see any colours at all. If you have any problems identifying colours you should see your optometrist who will be able to advise you.
What are conjunctivitis treatments?
Conjunctivitis is a self-limiting condition, which means it often clears up by itself without any treatment. In the case of allergies or irritants, it is best to avoid the substance or environmental factor (heat, pollen, dust) that is causing the inflammation. Antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed in severe cases.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?
You may experience a whole range of symptoms including discomfort, itchiness and a tender sensation. Often the eye appears red which is why conjunctivitis is also known as Red Eye or Pink Eye.
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye). It can be cause by infection (bacterial or viral); by an allergy; or because an irritant such as shampoo, has irritated the eye.
Is diplopia treatable?
Sometimes the underlying cause is an eye muscle problem that can be fixed with a combination of eye exercises, glasses and/or eye surgery. But some causes are more medical, relating to blood or nerve supply to the eye muscles and require medical or surgical treatment.
What does diplopia mean?
Diplopia means ‘double vision’, when the brain sees two images of the same object, and can be very uncomfortable and distressing. It occurs when the eyes are incorrectly aligned, and can be intermmitent or persistent. Any sudden onset of diplopia requires urgent investigation as it may suggest an acute eye problem.
How can I prevent eye strain?
Making some simple changes to your work environment can help with eye strain. Such as taking regular breaks, ensuring the screen brightness is set at an acceptable level and keep screens at a distance. It also helps to take good care of your eyes by blinking regularly and using drops for dry eyes if they feel dry.
Have I got eye strain?
If you spend a lot of time focusing on one particular task, such as sitting at a computer or driving for a long time your eyes become tired and start to show signs of strain. This may lead to blurred vision, headaches or difficulty focusing. Eyestrain is also known as aesthenopia.
What should I do if I have floaters?
Floaters aren’t normally serious and gradually become less noticeable the longer you experience them. It’s worth seeing your optician regularly to keep an eye on them. If they don’t improve over time you may suitable for a vitrectomy, which is a surgical procedure designed to remove the vitreous humour from your eye.
What are floaters?
Tiny spots or specks that float across the field of vision are commonly known as floaters. They are actually debris and/or clumps of cells floating in the jelly (vitreous humour) of the eye – because they cast a shadow onto the retina, the brain visualises them in space in front of you, but you need a plain bright background to see them against normally.
Floaters are mostly a normal phenomenon, but sometimes can indicate a more serious eye problem, particularly if they appear suddenly. Vitreous Syndrome (DVS), floaters occur when the vitreous humour – a gel-like substance between the lens and the retina breaks down.
What is Glaucoma?
Please see our page dedicated to Glaucoma.
Is hypermetropia treatable?
There are many treatment options for long-sightedness including corrective glasses or contact lenses; laser eye surgery (for adults only); or artificial lens implants, which aren’t available on the NHS.
What does hypermetropia mean?
If you have Hypermetropia (or Hyperopia), it means your vision is described as long-sighted or hyperopic. This means that your eyes have to work harder to see clearly, and this is most likely to cause problems when looking at objects closer to you, rather than those further away.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
Please our page about blepharitis.
Is myopia treatable?
There are many treatment options for short-sightedness including corrective glasses or contact lenses; laser eye surgery (for adults only); or artificial lens implants, which aren’t available on the NHS.
What does myopia mean?
If you have myopia, it means your vision is described as short-sighted or myopic. This means that objects close-up can be seen clearly but anything at a distance appears blurred. Short-sightedness often runs in families.
Do I have night blindness?
If you have difficulty seeing in dim light or see halos at night you may be experiencing night blindness (Nyctalopia). Rather than a disease or eye condition in itself, this usually indicates another underlying problem such as short-sightedness or myopia.
It can also be a sign of vitamin deficiency or a congenital condition so it’s important to consult your optometrist or GP if you are experiencing this problem.
What can I do about presbyopia?
Visit your optician to determine the extent of the problem and they will most likely prescribe glasses, contact lenses, reading glasses or bifocals.
What is presbyopia?
A condition that usually affects people over the age of 40, presbyopia is the loss of the ability to see close objects or small print clearly. You may suddenly find it difficult to read books or suffer from headaches if you work on a computer.
What is a Strabismus (squint) ?
This is where the eyes are not correctly aligned with each other, often related to a weakness in one of more of the six eye muscles that control eye movement. If it develops suddenly, double vision (diplopia) develops, but if it is related to a longstanding weakness the brain can learn to ignore the deviating eye.
Here’s a link to a great website about squints.
Can styes be treated?
Often styes will burst themselves if they are anterior in the eyelid, or just spontaneously resolve on their own. Warm bathing can sometimes encourage them to resolve sooner, and it is rare to need any medicated treatment.
What is a stye?
A stye is an acute bacterial infection in the upper or lower eyelid, centred around an eyelash follicle or a meibomian gland (oil producing gland that are numerous in the eyelids). They can make the eyelid red, swollen and quite tender.
Is hayfever treatable?
Hayfever tends to be a lifelong nuisance, and for some people it can be debilitating. Symptoms can be minimised with medication such as anti-histamines, nasal sprays and eye drops.
What is Hayfever?
Hayfever is the condition you have if you are allergic to pollen. It is a very common allergy in the UK, affecting 1 in 5 people at some point in their life. Symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing.
For more details see the NHS page.