We all know how important it is to take care of our eyes, but you won't believe the results from this shocking research from Vision Direct. They uncovered that one in seven Brits haven't had an eye-test in the last five years! And when putting the public to the test, they found people mistook common eye conditions for the names of dinosaurs!
The study of 2,000 British adults found that two of the most common eye conditions, presbyopia (short-sightedness) and hyperopia (far-sightedness), were a source of confusion to many. Almost 1.8 million believed hyperopia was a region in ancient Egypt while a similar number were under the impression that presbyopia was a blockbuster sci-fi movie.
Everything You Need To Know About Presbyopia
Presbyopia is an age-related eye condition that causes blurring of your close-up vision. It has nothing to do with the shape of your eye in the way astigmatism, near and far-sightedness does. This means that even if you haven't had eye problems before, you can still develop presbyopia. Eyesite opticians have compiled four things you should know about the eye condition.
Presbyopia is believed to be caused by the gradual thickening of the lens in your eye. This thickening restricts the flexibility of the lens, causing things to look blurry when you try to focus on close objects. It develops naturally over time and happens at different rates for different people. Some people under 40 experience what is known as Premature Presbyopia, while other people don't experience symptoms until well into their 50s.
Presbyopia Affects Everyone
Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 billion people had presbyopia in 2011. As our life expectancy increases, this number is expected to rise to 2.1 billion by 2020. Presbyopia affects 80% of Brits over 60, making it one of the most common eye conditions in older people.
The Symptoms Can Be Caught Early
Conditions like presbyopia are one of the main reasons why optometrists advise everyone get regular eye tests, even if they have healthy eyes. Thanks to advanced eye examination technologies, opticians are able to catch the early development of presbyopia sooner than you can.
The gradual effect of vision loss can make it difficult to notice until it's already causing a significant problem. As humans, we're wonderful at adapting to change. So much so, that you might not even notice that you're holding your phone out a little further than usual.
Even without regular eye tests, presbyopia is easy to spot in others. People commonly find that they need to hold books or menus at arm’s length in order to focus on them properly. The difficulty in focusing also leads to eyestrain, headaches and fatigue. So, if someone you know has been absently holding things at arm's length without noticing, advise them to get their eyes checked.
You Have A Variety Of Treatment Options
Varifocal or bifocal glasses are a convenient and cost-effective way to treat presbyopia. Bifocal lenses have two different levels of focus. The bottom portion has a stronger prescription for close distances to counter the early effects of presbyopia. The top portion has your standard prescription.
The most common option for glasses, however, is varifocal lenses. These act in a similar way to a bifocal, only with a gradual transition from distance to near prescription. This solution makes the lenses more visually attractive (as they look the same as single vision glasses), but can take a little more getting used to.
Finally, there are reading glasses. These are best suited to those who prefer just to use glasses to read and have no desire to wear glasses all day long.
The final option for presbyopia is surgery. Presbyopia surgery involves replacing the natural lens with an artificial lens. This lens works in a similar way to multifocal contact lenses, only the lens stays permanently inside the eye. This is the same operation as cataract surgery.
Everything you need to know about Glaucoma
Most of us have heard of glaucoma – the name of a group of eye conditions which cause a build-up of pressure within the fluid-filled chamber at the front of the eye. This increased pressure, caused by problems with drainage of fluid from your eye, can lead to damage to the light-sensitive membrane at the back of your eye and the optic nerve, which carries signals about vision back to your brain.
Glaucoma tends to affect both eyes, but may be more severe or start earlier in one. There are four different types: chronic open-angle glaucoma, primary angle-closure glaucoma, secondary glaucoma (which develops after another condition has damaged the eye such as an injury or inflammation) and developmental glaucoma (a rare condition in babies).
Chronic open-angle glaucoma is most common, affecting nearly half a million people in the UK. The risk increases with age. About one in 50 people over 40 have chronic open-angle glaucoma, and one in ten over 75. It’s caused by a partial blockage of the drainage channels in the front of your eye, which leads to a gradual build-up in pressure.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is less common. It may develop slowly, but importantly it can develop very rapidly with a sudden painful build-up of pressure in the eye, causing significant damage. It is more common in women.
In many cases, you’ll be unaware that there is raised pressure in your eye. From middle age onwards, the pressure in your eyes will be checked during a routine eye test. Eye tests are free on the NHS from 60, and from 40 in those at increased risk of glaucoma.
Symptoms to be aware of include sudden and severe pain and redness in your eyes, with headache, and blurred or reduced vision and a ‘halo’ effect around lights. Symptoms may come and go after a few hours, but each time there will be damage to your eye so get it checked out quickly.
The diagnosis is fairly easy to make, but needs to be confirmed by an ophthalmologist who will examine your eyes with a slit lamp and a special lens to look at the outflow channels of your eye, your optic nerve and to check your peripheral vision as well as measuring the pressures in your eye.
Your ophthalmologist may recommend eye drops to reduce fluid or prevent inflammation. In some cases laser surgery may be used to make a small hole in the iris and allow fluid to drain more freely. If the condition is diagnosed early, and treatment started quickly, it’s possible to prevent long-term damage to the eyes – so get checked!
Q I read recently that fat is good for your after all – is this correct?
Dr Trisha says: This apparent about-turn on fat came from a large overview of data from 72 studies, which found that neither the total amount of saturated fat eaten, nor levels of saturated fat measured in the bloodstream, showed any association with heart disease. But experts from the British Heart Foundation warn that there still isn’t enough evidence to be clear how much fat we should eat.
Stick with the advice that came from the huge amount of research showing that reducing saturated fat intake will lower blood cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Try to restrict your intake of processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, packaged snacks and puddings and choose unprocessed foods with unsaturated oils such as nuts, fish, vegetable oils, as well as lots of fruit and veg.
- Dr Trisha writes a column every fortnight in Yours magazine. Ask Dr Trisha about your health problems by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.