No expense should be spared in the investigation of your eye health that's why we use most up-to-date techniques such as OCT, Slit Lamp imaging, contact tonometry, gonioscopy and topography. Thankfully in the majority of cases if we do find a concern we are direct the response and deal with any concerns quickly and efficiently. Some of the more of the more common eye conditions are outlined here for your information. If you have any further questions regarding anything you read, please feel free to contact the practice for more insight.
One of the most common symptoms we encounter in the practice, flashes can be a result of conditions including simple migraine (even without the headache), however, the most serious being retinal detachment. We will always rule this out if these symptoms are experienced and that means a thorough retinal check using dilating eye drops and bright lights. After this examination you will not be able to drive following your appointment.
Rest assured in most cases there are no retinal issues and the symptoms can be esaily explained, usually this involves a PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment) where the jelly of your eye wobbles and breaks free of the retina. This is quite normal but still requires investigation.
Floaters are quite normal throughout life and can be very irritating however, they are quite harmless unless you see lots of them suddenly.
Flashes & Floaters
Dry eye is by far the most complained about condition in our practice by both young and old. The symptoms can varied but generally include itching, burning, foreign body sensation, watering... Yes watering, especially in the wind.
The eye waters more as it is irritated, especially by the upper lid movement during a blink, when the eye is poorly wetted. This promotes watering to "flush" out the irritant, therefore the eyes water.
A better name for dry eye would be "Tear Deficiency Syndome" i.e. quality not quantity! This is why the mainstay of treatments are tear layer supplements in the form of eye drops. It is important to remember that dry eye is a chronic condition therefore, if you find drops help DON"T STOP USING THEM when your symptoms improve because your symptoms will eventually return. The best advice is to use a myriad of treatments including eyelid hygiene, drops and heat. Ask your optometrist for recommendations and more advice.
Cataract comes to most =, if not all, of us. It is a common misconception that a cataract is "a film that grows over the eye", in fact is simply a misting of the internal lens over time, generally associated with age. The misting process can be exaggerated by other factors such as diabetes, chronic use of steroids, smoking and over-exposure to UV light or info-red light (glass blowers cataract).
A cataract is relatively simple to manage these days, howevwe, nothing has to be done unless the patient, i.e. you, become symptomatic and struggling to perform daily tasks such as driving.
Cataract is relatively simple to manage with modern surgical techniques rendering this operative very quick and successful with serious complications, thankfully being quite rare. Following the operation it is very likely that you will not have the need for glasses, at least for the distance.
Glaucoma is a hereditary linked condition where nerve fibre tissue is lost resulting in gradual loss of vision. Left undiagnosed and untreated it has the potential to permanently blind a patient, and everybody is at risk!
Glaucoma is defined as a loss of optic nerve tissue linked to raised pressure within the eye. There are several different types of Glaucoma but the most common, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, does not have any physical symptoms for the patient, therefor, it is essential that everybody, especially rthose at risk have regular eye examinations to rule out any development of the disease.
Family history is the biggest risk factor as having a parent suffering with the disease increases your chances by 4 fold, however, having a sibling with Glaucoma gives you 10fold increased chance. Other risk factors include race, with African-American and Hispanic ethnicities affected the most, as well as cataract, steroid use and previous history of eye injury.
Red or Pink eye can be quite common and inmost cases is completely benign and self-limiting. The most common being a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage. This is a nasty looking red eye with no other symptoms. The eye suddenly looks blood red and can be quite nasty looking. What has happened in this case is there has been a temporary spike in blood pressure by coughing or heavy lifting for instance which has burst a blood vessel flooding the surface of the eye just under it's first layer with blood. Essentially it is a bruise that will take a few days possibly a week to dissipate.
The second most common is conjunctivitis, a mile but irritating condition of the very surface of the eye which again is self limiting and rarely warrants treatment.
The key to deciding whether a red eye is serious or not is how many symptoms are experienced. Remember the acronym RSVP - R Redness, S Sensitivity to light, V Vision change and P Pain. Too or more of these symptoms together and you may have a serious problem, in which case seek professional advice straight away. Call the practice or your GP if you re concerned.
At Thompson & Hardwick Optometrists we have built up a bit of a reputation for dealing with Keratoconus patients. In fact Mr Drew Thompson runs a cornea clinic at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and has worked there for over 12 years.
Keratoconus affects rioughly 1 in 4000 and is a progressive degeneration of the cornea resulting in high levels of astigmatism and difficulty with vision that glasses typically cannot fix. The condition is generally piked up in the mid-late teens and progressively worsens until the age of about 30. Allergies and eye rubbing, as well as family history are all associated factors, therefore it is important to have regular eye examinations for early detection and management if you fall into any of these categories.
New treatments mean that we can now halt the progression, therefore, preventing the degeneration affecting the person so early detection is essential.
The good news is that contact lenses are often the answer, and they work very well. See our speciality contact lens page for more information or call in to the practice and speak to us.
Age Related Macula Degeneration (ARMD or AMD) is by far the most common cause of sight loss in the UK affecting over 2% of the over 50's population and comprising 23% of those registered with sight loss... and the figures are growing!
As the name suggests it affects those who are elderly, over 50's but is much more prevalent in the over 65's. There are two main forms of AMD named Wet and Dry. Wet essentially means a haemorrhage of blood into the retina and rapid affects vision. Thankfully there are treatments available to improve the vision but the condition MUST be referred in rapidly. Dry AMD is a much more gradual change in the retina function meaning that vision deteriorates much more slowly over years and regrettably there is no know treatment at this point in time.
AMD is a condition that we, as professionals, don;t fully understand. There is currently a myriad of research projects underway but these are longterm studies and only drip feed information. There is a hereditary element to the disease, however, we currently don't have enough imformation to advicse how strong this link is. We know that nutrition has a role to play and are currently recommending lutein and zeaxanthin suppliments in accordance with the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2). For more information on this please click here. Please always read the label as some supplements can be harmful if mixed with other medications and in smokers.
We also know that oxidants in the retina can damage its delicate structure and as such smoking is a big risk factor. UV light damage also has an affect. It is no accident that those most affected by AMD are caucasian women, i.e. those affected most bu UV light. The advice here is to wear good sunglasses with side protection wherever possible. Contact lenses can be of use also due to their UV blocking properties.
OCT scanning is an essential detecting, monitoring and treating AMD. It is especially helpful in detecting the early signs of changes, therefore, anyone who is "at risk", concerned or suffering from AMD would benefit greatly from having this more detailed examination.
Age-Related Macula Degeneration
Diabetes is a vascular disease (affecting the blood vessels) and as such can have an affect on any part of the body but especially the extremities such as the feet, hands and eyes. The eyes can exhibit small haemorrhages which can affect the structure and function of the retina and can leasd to blurred vision and ultinatley vision loss if not treated.
Using OCT scanning technology we can easily detect and monitor even the smallest of retinal changes and deal with them appropriatley. This is a service that we can offer all patients, however, we highly recommend it in diabetic patients.
We are also delighted to be able to offer a solution to the development of diabetic eye disease in the form of the innovative and ingenious Noctura 400 sleep mask. For more information check out our information page here. It really is a simple and ingenious idea.