Our eyes are the second most complex organ in our body after the brain, so it’s very important to look after them. As we age through life we become more aware of our eyes aging too. Many of us are prescribed reading spectacles after a certain age as the muscles and the lens in our eyes stiffens and doesn’t respond as well as they once did.
From middle through to old age, the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye causes long-sightedness (also known as presbyopia), which makes it difficult to focus on near objects like reading a book. Some people will also develop conditions such as dry eye, cataract or macular degeneration. Most of these conditions develop over time but can be successfully treated or managed with some knowledge and advice from a qualified practitioner, such as an optometrist.
So let’s take a closer look at some of the most common eye conditions:
Cataracts is easily treated. The cataract forms over time as the once clear lens become cloudy. This tends to happen as we get older, and you may experience dazzling from car headlights or feeling that your vision is less clear, and you start to see the world with a yellow hue. Once the cataract is affecting your vision and lifestyle it can be easily removed and replaced with a new one. This is normally performed as a day patient under local anaesthetic. After the removal of cataract, it’s very important to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Dry eye is a condition caused when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, the tears produced evaporate too quickly or they don’t spread across the front surface of the eyes effectively, causing your eyes to feel dry, tired, scratchy or irritated. Dry eye can cause your vision to become blurry, which although usually temporary, can be very uncomfortable to live with. Dry eye is usually associated with aging and in particular women affected with hormone changes through the menopause. Medication and other health conditions can also affect the tear film and many people experience their eyes watering more with dry eye as the eye tries to counter balance the dry effect. Dry eye can be easily managed through the introduction of lubricants which give you extra moisture. There are different types of products available with varying levels of oils and waters dependant on the severity of the symptoms.
Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include burning, soreness or red, irritated eyelids. In severe cases you can develop small ulcers or styes. Although blepharitis is a chronic condition, it is very easily managed by establishing a good eyelid hygiene routine. Warm compresses work well by unblocking the matter that blocks the glands and loosening the crust on the eyelids, this enables the easy removal with cotton wool pads. You can also buy special lid wipes to clean the eyelids or use a solution of freshly boiled cooled water with a small amount of baby shampoo (1 part shampoo to 10 parts water) and clean the eyelid with a cotton bud. Regular use of this routine will manage the condition.
To help keep our eyes in general good health we should consider the following things:
- A good balanced diet with lots of green leafy vegetables, oily fish, eggs and nuts.
- Take a vitamin and mineral supplement specifically formulated for eye health.
- Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sun glasses.
- Have regular eye examinations. For adults, eye tests are recommended every two years.
- If using computers for long periods, give your eyes a break by regularly looking away from the screen and blinking 20 times.
For more information about eye health and National Eye Health Week 2018, please visit www.visionmatters.org.uk.
If you are experiencing problems with your eyes, it’s always best to a pay a visit to your optician as soon as possible. Our highly trained and experienced optometrist will be able to recognise any abnormalities and conditions. If we feel there is a need for further investigation, we can refer you to a GP or a hospital eye clinic. You can contact us by calling 01858 433 577.