An eye check is a vital health check for your eyes. Every adult needs an eye check every two years, and some people may be advised to have a test more often.
During the eye check the optometrist checks if you need glasses, but they do much more than that too. When you have your eyes examined, the optometrist checks for eye diseases like glaucoma that you might not be aware that you are developing. They can also see signs of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes when they check the eye.
Many of these conditions are treatable, but it is best to get them detected before they start causing problems. An eye check can save your sight, and help you stay healthy too
OCT stands for ‘Ocular Coherence Tomography’ which is an advanced eye scan for people of all ages. Similar to ultrasound, OCT uses infra red light rather than sound waves to illustrate the different layers that make up the back of the eye. This particular 3D OCT unit captures a digital photograph of the back of the eye at the same time as scanning it. This can then be cross referenced across any areas of concern and all the detailed measurements are stored to compare at your next visit.
Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that most people will experience as they get older. Fortunately it can be treated, often as day surgery. The vast majority of people with cataract will find that their vision is much improved after surgery. The overall success rate of cataract surgery in the UK is over 95 per cent and the chances of a serious or sight-threatening complication are less than 1 in 500. After getting your glasses updated you will be able to carry on with daily life as normal.
If you suspect that you have cataract make an appointment with us for an eye check, click here. It is important to get a professional to check your eye health as blurred vision can have a number of causes.
There are now lens implants available that are “multifocal” and these enable you to see for distance and for reading without the need for glasses. They are not suitable for everybody but studies have shown that 80-90 per cent of people who have these implants become spectacle independent. Although these lenses are not perfect they produce a very high level of satisfaction in those who are suited to them. There are also available lens implants that neutralise any naturally occurring astigmatism or irregular curvature of the front of the eye. Unfortunately these are not yet routinely available on the NHS as they are relatively expensive.
Everyone’s eyes are filled with fluid, known as aqueous humour. This fluid helps keep your eyeball in shape and circulates through a tiny meshwork round the edge of your iris. In some people the pressure of the fluid is raised and damages the optic nerve, which carries messages from your eye to your brain. In other people, although the pressure is not raised, there may be a weakness which causes similar nerve damage. In many people it can be a combination of nerve weakness and raised pressure which predisposes them to glaucoma.
The damage to the optic nerve usually takes place gradually. A small patch of vision is affected first. Most people won’t spot this initially as the other eye makes up for the loss. If left untreated your sight would slowly decrease from the edge inwards so you miss things at the periphery of your vision. This causes problems with getting about as you won’t see hazards coming in from the side.
Over time, untreated glaucoma causes tunnel vision, where you can only see things straight ahead. In severe cases this can make it hard to read as you are unable to scan pages and can only focus on a small area of print at a time.
Most of the time when we talk about glaucoma, we mean Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). This is painless and in the early stage you will have no warning signs. In POAG, the fluid in the eye can flow to the meshwork through which is should drain, but its flow is then restricted. The blockage happens slowly over many years, and the pressure in your eye increases gradually too.
NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, has issued guidance that people with eye pressure of over 21mmHg should be referred for further investigation. This is the case if the raised pressure is in one or both eyes.
As pressure in the eye typically rises with age, this guidance has been modified so if you are aged 65 and over you should be referred if your pressure is 25mmHg and over, or 26mmHg and over if you are aged 80 plus.
If you have raised pressure and no signs of damage to the nerves in they eye, this is called ‘ocular hypertension’. This could affect between 3 and 5 per cent of people aged 40+, and means that you may be at risk of glaucoma in the future. You will be asked to come back for regular checks and may be offered eye drops to protect your sight.
A smaller number of people have a type of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) where the pressure is within normal levels. This is known as Normal Tension Glaucoma. It may be due to poor blood circulation around the optic nerve. As with other types of glaucoma, treatment aims to lower the pressure in your eye to a level where the nerves do not suffer further damage.
Glaucoma can be caused by other eye problems: this is known as secondary glaucoma. A very small number of babies are born with a problem that causes the pressure to rise in their eyes. This is known as developmental glaucoma.