Common eye problems and symptoms

Eye problems are not unusual and can often be treated easily. Though, it is important that they are treated properly. In some cases, prompt treatment might save your eyesight. Nowadays, technology is very advanced. This why the treatment of common eye problems is very successful.

Cataract

This involves clouding of the lens within your eye. Light needs to pass through the lens to get to the retina. Having a cataract makes your vision misty and colours look more dull, just like looking through a frosted window. You can read more about this here. To find out if you may benefit from cataract surgery, contact our friendly and professional staff in London to book your consultation.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This condition affects the part of the retina that is needed for tasks such as reading and recognising faces. Early AMD is common and most people over the age of 60 will have some features of this. Vision is not usually affected. Advanced AMD does result in sight loss and only develops in about 15% of patients. The ‘wet’ form requires urgent treatment. More information about this disorder and treatment options can be found in the section called ‘treatment of retinal disease’.

Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO)

The retina is composed of a network of thousands of blood vessels. These consist of arteries and veins, just like in other parts of the body. If one of these veins develops a thrombus (blockage), it results in bleeding and swelling (oedema) of the retina. This can result in a sudden reduction in the vision and requires early investigation and treatment. Find out more about how this can be treated here.

Uveitis

The eye consists of many specialised structures that can develop inflammation. Inflammation of the iris (the pupil) and/or retina is called uveitis. This can sometimes be associated with inflammation in the body such as the lungs, joints, skin or bowels. Contact us if you are worried about a painful red eye for same day reassurance and treatment.

Flashing lights

The most common cause for seeing intermittent flashing lights is a posterior vitreous detachment. This usually results in short flashes of lights that may occur with eye movement. There may be associated floaters or a cobweb-like visual disturbance. It is important to have a full evaluation of your retina during this process to help identify any damage to the retina. Most patients do not develop any problems. However, if a retinal tear or detachment is not identified in the few who do develop them, it can cause loss of vision including blindness. Early treatment will prevent this.

Other causes of flashing or flickering of light sensation include certain inflammatory disorders but these are very rare. Migraines can be associated with a zig-zag type visual disturbance that is typically seen to one side of the visual field. It is usually persistent for about 20 minutes and may or may not be associated with a headache.

Floaters

The most common cause of floaters is normal degenerative changes within the vitreous. The vitreous becomes more liquid in consistency with time and develops small areas where the vitreous is relatively more opaque. This causes light passing through the vitreous to be scattered and casts a shadow on the retina.

Developing floaters is normal. However floaters can also result from bleeding into the retina during a posterior vitreous detachment and this is more dangerous. If there is associated damage to the retina, it can lead to loss of sight.

Advanced diabetic retinopathy can also cause sudden onset floaters. This occurs when abnormal vessels grow on the retina and this requires urgent treatment.

A careful examination by a retina specialist will help identify if any treatment is needed. If you have developed new floaters, please contact us in London to book an urgent assessment of your eyes. Some types of floaters can be disrupted with YAG laser to minimise the problems they cause to your vision. Click here to find out more.

Red eyes

There are many causes of a red eye that range from a harmless bleed to inflammation or raised pressure in the eye that constitutes an emergency. This includes inflammation of structures on the eye surface (allergic conjunctivitis, episcleritis and scleritis) and inflammation of structures inside the eye (uveitis), dry eyes and harmless bleeding of surface blood vessels (subconjunctival haemorrhage). Most people with red eyes can simply be reassured and given the treatment needed to help the eyes feel more comfortable again.

Dry eyes

The tears produced by the eyes are a very specialised structure. The tears have to stick to the eye even though it is a vertical structure (just think of water thrown at a window pane; it runs away immediately unlike tears which have to coat the eye surface). Tears have three main components; water, an oil layer and a more viscous protein-rich layer. Abnormalities of any of these layers or deficiencies in the quantity of tears produced can result in sensations of grittiness, burning, redness and leave the eyes feeling tired. It can even result in blurred vision when reading or using a computer. Ironically it can even result in a watery eye when out in cold and windy weather. If you need help with tired, sore eyes, contact us for a consultation on the best strategies suited to your needs.

Blepharitis

This consists of inflammation of the surface of the eyelids or of the specialised meibomian glands on the lid surface. It is not really an infection but can be considered to be an allergic reaction to the products of bacteria that are normally found on the skin surface. It can result in symptoms of grittiness, burning and crusting on the lids. It can also result in tear film abnormalities and dry eye symptoms. For help on managing blepharitis, contact us for an appointment.

Chalazion (lid cyst)

This is a small pea sized swelling that can develop on the lid and is usually associated with some redness and pain when it develops. It results from inflammation and the collection of oily secretions within the meibomian glands on the lid margin. It may resolve spontaneously or require a surgical incision to drain and remove it. IF you have developed a chalazion, we can help remove it with an outpatient procedure that will provide rapid relief. Contact us in London to find out more.

YAG laser

The Yitrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG) laser is used to treat some types of glaucoma. It is also used to laser the posterior capsule, a structure that can become cloudy after cataract surgery. This will usually require your pupil to be dilated and your vision will be blurred for about 4 hours.

Retinal laser

This is a highly focused laser that is used to reduce the leakage of fluid from blood vessels in the retina. It is very selective and only treats a small area that is selected by your doctor. The treatment may be delivered in stages. Sometimes, larger areas of the retina are treated in diseases such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This will usually require your pupil to be dilated and your vision will be blurred for about 4 hours. We have the advanced Pascal 577nm wavelength laser system with pattern laser technology to provide you with the best results.