"Floaters" - 'Floaters' may appear as black spots/ cobweb/ hair- like/ “tadpoles” floating in front of your vision. They can be semi-transparent or dark.
The brain adapts to them after a while, but if there is a sudden increase in them it can mean something more serious inside the eye. Because they are cells or protein fibres that float in the jelly inside the eye you will find if you move your eye to look at them they will flit away. They are caused by a natural change in the jelly that fills the inside of your eye and it is common to see more of them as you get older. If they are associated with what appear to be flashes of light in your area of vision it is important that you seek an eye check reasonably quickly as it could mean that the retina at the back of your eye has become torn. More often than not floaters are normal and do not affect your eyesight.
Dry Eyes - Generally associated with a feeling of hot or burning sensation in the eyes, scratchiness, a feeling of sand in the eyes, blurring of vision, particularly when reading or using a computer or other digital devices. This can also be a cause of excessive watering of the eyes very much like when peeling onions which is because of reflex tearing to try and relieve the discomfort. In its mild form dry eye can be annoying but in it’s severest form it can change quality of life. It is usually caused by our tear glands naturally reducing their tear output with age, however it can also be contributed to environmental factors, general health (particularly rheumatoid arthritis), certain prescription drugs and/or inflammation of the eyelids (Blepharitis). It is important to seek professional help from us so the correct cause for the dry eye can be diagnosed and a quicker solution found.
This will sometimes be a combination of treatments or, in rarer cases, recommendation for antibiotic treatment.
Cataract - The human eye is like a camera with a lens system at the front and a light sensitive film at the back. The normal function of the lens is to focus light so that you see sharp, clear images of the outside world.
As we get older (and sometimes thro’ eye injury) the lens starts to gradually lose it’s clarity and become cloudy, known as cataract. This obviously dims our vision and when it reaches a state which starts to affect our quality of life a decision for surgery is made. The cloudy lens is replaced by a new clear artificial one usually under local anaesthetic and to a very high success rate. Stephen Wilcox Optometrists are accredited to perform pre and post cataract treatment examinations and are able to advise and refer you to the most appropriate medical eye unit….perhaps having the whole procedure completed in a little over a month or so under the NHS or privately.
Glaucoma - The second most common eye disease in the Western world.
Caused by an unhealthy pressure inside the eye which ultimately causes progressive damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. This results in peripheral vision shrinking until, in the late stages , only “tunnel vision” remains. Having regular eye checks means that glaucoma can be diagnosed much sooner and even more so now with latest technology such as OCT which we have in our consulting rooms. The most common form of glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops which maintain the eye pressure at a safe level, however new laser treatment may soon make this a thing of the past. Risks increase with age but also if you have a close family member who suffers. Also if you are of African origin, suffer diabetes or are highly short sighted puts you in a slightly higher risk group.
Macular Degeneration - The most common eye disease in the Western world.
Associated with growing older but can be reduced or prevented by leading a healthy life, protecting our eyes from UV light (sunglasses ), not smoking, having a balanced diet…particularly including the oily fish (tuna, salmon, kippers, sardines) and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables (peppers), spinach, kale. The macular is the highly sensitive focal point at the back of our eye where light is focused. So if it is damaged our central vision is affected making a lot of daily tasks more difficult. It can be a general wearing out (known as the Dry form) or happen much quicker ( the Wet form) and it is important that these are differentiated when diagnosed as the treatments are very different. Again our OCT machine helps us to make these decisions that much sooner.
Stephen Wilcox Optometrists 169 Dunbabin Road Childwall Liverpool L16 7QQ