7 of the most common eye diseases: National Eye Health Week 2021

23 September 2021

Author: Kate Green

7 common eye diseases

Understanding the importance of eye health

 

National Eye Health Week runs for the week from Monday 20th September 2021. We’re passionate about all things eyes – not just laser eye surgery! – and we spend a great deal of time ensuring that our website is place where you can become informed about a range of different eye conditions and diseases. This week, we’re shining a light on some of the most common eye diseases and conditions, highlighting symptoms and available treatments. We’ll also look into the long-term effects of these eye conditions as it’s crucial to understand how they can affect your vision – so you can act and seek treatment before it’s too late.

 

7 common eye conditions: symptoms and treatment

 

Age-related macular degeneration

 

Also known as AMD, age-related macular degeneration is a condition that affects your central vision. The macula is the middle part of your retina and is responsible for your central vision, colour vision and seeing fine details. When your macula starts to deteriorate, it can become difficult to see faces, read or even check your phone. Although your peripheral vision will remain unaffected by AMD, your central vision is what you rely on most in daily life.

 

Over 600,000 people in the UK have AMD, and this number sits at 196 million people worldwide. It’s expected that 288 million people globally will be affected by AMD by 2040. AMD is often brought on by obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption, and it’s clear to see that the rise of these habits is increasingly directly in line with AMD cases globally.

 

Symptoms of AMD include:

  • Words disappearing when you’re reading
  • Dark smudges across central vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Faded colours
  • Objects changing shape, size and colour
  • Straight lines looking bent

 

You should attend regular eye tests and mention any of these visual changes to your optician who will be able recommend the best treatment options for you. You can read in further detail about AMD here.

 

Cataracts

 

Cataracts are an incredibly common condition and, thankfully, they’re very easily treatable. In fact, over 2.5 million people across England and Wales have cataracts which affect their vision. A cataract forms when the proteins in your eyes clump together, leading to cloudy vision. Cataracts can be removed with a simple cataract surgery – one of the world’s most frequently-carried out procedures – whereby the cataract is broken up and extracted from the eye, before being replaced with a clear artificial lens.

 

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Dimmed colour vision
  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Poor night vision

 

We perform cataract surgery on an out-patient basis at Optimax. In fact, our patients are typically in and out of the treatment room in around 20 minutes! You can read more about what to expect at your cataract surgery here, or discover our Optimax pricing plans for cataract surgery. It’s a very common condition treated with a simple procedure, and you’ll be in safe hands with us.

 

Glaucoma

 

Glaucoma is a condition where a build-up of pressure in your eye damages your optic nerve, leading to a slow deterioration of your vision. The pressure typically builds up due to issues with your eye’s draining area; the aqueous (the watery fluid your eyes naturally produce) is unable to leave the eye. Usually, glaucoma affects your peripheral vision and this can be lost permanently if the condition is not identified and treated early on.

 

Symptoms of glaucoma can include:

  • Changes to your peripheral vision
  • Red eyes
  • Headaches
  • Severe eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Rings appearing around lights

 

Thankfully, as time goes by, research into glaucoma treatment improves and we now have a range of solutions available for the condition. From eye drops and oral medication, to laser surgery (a different procedure to corrective laser eye surgery) and microsurgery, treatments for glaucoma usually rely on lowering your eye pressure. However, once vision has been lost due to glaucoma it can’t be restored. Ensuring you have regular eye checks is crucial in detecting glaucoma early enough to treat it effectively and preserve your sight.

 

Diabetic retinopathy

 

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition which occurs in people who are living with diabetes. Almost 5 million people in the UK have diabetes, and this number is expected to rise to 5.5 million by 2030. When we consider that only 1.9 million people in the UK had diabetes in 1998, it’s clear to see that the condition is becoming more and more common.

 

Type 1 diabetes often presents itself in childhood and occurs when the body doesn’t produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or when the body’s cells are resistant to insulin’s effects. It usually presents after childhood and adolescence. Eye issues relating to diabetes are more prevalent in people with type 2 diabetes, who often show signs of eye damage upon diabetes diagnosis.

 

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 20-74. The high blood pressure that people with diabetes experience causes damage to their eyes’ blood vessels and prevents blood from reaching the retina. This can stop them being able to see well and their vision can worsen over time. Diabetic retinopathy is often picked up during a routine eye test, so having your eyes checked by your optician can help prevent the condition from worsening.

 

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Sudden increase of floaters
  • Dark or empty patches across visual field
  • Vision loss

 

Dry eyes

 

Dry eye disease is a common eye condition whereby the eye isn’t lubricated enough. It’s hard to pin down an exact number of people who suffer with it, as lots of people don’t even know they have it and haven’t sought treatment for it. However, it’s estimated that around 7% (although some sources say up to 15%) of the population deal with dry eyes on a daily basis.

 

Symptoms of dry eyes might include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning or itching sensation
  • Red eyes
  • Foreign body sensation

 

The condition can occur for a number of reasons but one of the most common is an imbalance in the makeup of your tears. Tears have three components: one oily, one watery and one mucus-like. Any interruption to this balance can cause your eyes to feel dry, and even to appear more watery in a bid to compensate for the overall dryness.

 

Dry eyes can be treated with a combination of eye drops and MiBo Thermoflo treatment to help relieve the symptoms and increase lubrication in the eye. If you’re suffering with any of the above symptoms, contact your optician and speak to them about their suggestions to combat the condition.

 

Conjunctivitis

 

We’ve likely all had conjunctivitis at some point in our lives. It is an infection of the eye where the conjunctiva (the thin layer that covers the whites of your eyes) becomes inflamed. The inside lining of your eyelids can also become inflamed due to the infection, causing redness and discomfort – hence the condition sometimes being referred to as ‘pink eye’.

 

Symptoms of conjunctivitis can include:

  • Severe eye redness
  • Itching eyes
  • Crusting sticking lashes together
  • Swollen eyes
  • Burning sensation

 

Conjunctivitis usually clears up within two weeks of developing and doesn’t require treatment. However, if you are really suffering with the symptoms or it is taking longer than it should to clear up, you can contact your doctor who will be able to prescribe antibiotic or antiviral eye drops (depending on the type of conjunctivitis you have).

 

Styes

 

Styes can look quite scary but they’re usually nothing to worry about. A stye typically appears as an inflamed collection of pus along your lash line, due to a build-up of bacteria in an eyelash follicle or gland. The particular bacteria is Staphylococcus which can be found in your nose, and transferred to your eyes on your hands after you have touched the inside of your nose. Styes are contagious and can spread from eye to eye as well as person to person, so it’s important to wash your hands before and after touching your infected eye.

 

Symptoms of a stye can include:

  • A hard, painful lump
  • Redness and swelling of the eyelid
  • Itching, burning and foreign body sensation
  • Mucus discharge and crusting around the eyes
  • Tearing and blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Drooping of the eyelid

 

Most styes don’t require treatment. They can be managed at home with a warm compress held against the affected eye. This helps to draw the pus out and speed up the healing process. It can also reduce the pain and swelling that comes with the stye. Most styes rupture on their own within a week and symptoms disappear quickly once this has happened.


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