Many eye diseases have no early symptoms. They may be painless, and you may see no change in your vision until the disease has become quite advanced. Only your eye care professional will be able to tell if you have an eye condition and options to care for your eyes.
What Should I Look For?
If you are experiencing an unusual vision symptom, see your eye care professional immediately. Here are some clues to help you determine what may be happening to your eyes.
If you’re having trouble reading and watching television, and driving at night has become uncomfortable because of the glare of oncoming headlights, you may have cataracts. Almost all of us will develop cataracts as we age, because the eyes’ lenses become more opaque as we get older. Luckily, cataracts have become a "normal" problem to rectify. In an outpatient procedure, your ophthalmologist can replace your eye’s lens with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL), resulting in a dramatic restoration of your sight.
Crystalens is an artificial lens implant that, unlike a standard IOL, can treat both a person's cataracts and presbyopia—loss of near and intermediate vision. You probably noticed in your forties that you started to lose some of your up-close vision and had to start wearing reading glasses. Crystalens not only treats your cataracts (a clouding or hardening of your lens); many patients hardly if ever wear glasses after surgery. It does so by recreating accommodation similar to your eye's natural lens. The innovative Crystalens is designed to allow you to enjoy a fuller, more natural range of vision for most activities, including: reading a book, working on the computer, and driving a car.
Loss of peripheral vision
Abnormally high pressure inside your eye can lead to glaucoma – and it often has no symptoms until damage to your vision has begun. It may seem that you don’t have the side-to-side vision you’re used to, producing an experience called “tunnel vision.” While glaucoma has no cure, early treatment can keep it from getting worse, preserving some of your vision.
Blurred images and dull colours
When reading the newspaper or street signs takes a major effort, and colours have lost their intensity, you may have the early warning signs of eye conditions that affect the macula.
The macula, the part of your retina that’s responsible for central vision, deteriorates to the point where it may create a blind spot in the middle of your field of vision. AMD’s progress is slow and often affects only one eye, but it’s the leading cause of blindness in people over 65. Some cases can be treated with surgery, but the more prevalent form of macular degeneration is currently untreatable.
In an important clinical study, people with intermediate to advance AMD at high risk for more advanced stages of AMD lowered their risk by about 25% when treated with a high dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. Bausch + Lomb provided the high-potency, antioxidant vitamin and zinc supplement evaluated in the National Eye Institute's Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).
Floating spots and flashes of light
It’s normal to see the occasional floating black speck or even a pinpoint flash of light in your eye. The vitreous, or gel-like part of your eye that maintains the shape of your eyeball, sometimes contains cells and bits of fibre that seem to float between the retina and the lens of our eyes. If you suddenly see many more floaters than normal and they are accompanied by bright flashes of light, you could be viewing the first stages of retinal detachment – an actual tear between the vitreous and the retina. This is a serious problem that requires immediate action and medical care to avoid a major vision loss.
Diabetes and Your Eyes
High blood sugar and hypertension (high blood pressure) can damage the tiny blood vessels that lead to your retina. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, tell your eye doctor – and have your eyes examined every year to watch for a complication called diabetic retinopathy. This painless condition has no symptoms until it becomes serious, but it can be controlled and treated – and its progress can be slowed significantly if it’s found before you experience vision loss.
Many people over 65 have some loss of sight beyond the normal, age-related vision correction issues like presbyopia or cataracts. For example, glaucoma can cause a permanent loss of peripheral vision, and macular degeneration can block a portion of your field of vision in one or both eyes. This state of your eyesight is known as low vision, a condition that can’t be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery.
Although low vision is untreatable, there are many products available to help people who have it perform everyday tasks – including magnifiers, large-text reading materials, and more. Plus, there are certain eye care professionals who specialise in rehabilitation for low vision, who can help you continue many of your normal activities with some modifications.
Your low vision specialist will begin by evaluating your specific case, asking you about the activities you’re having trouble performing on a daily basis. Testing will help to determine exactly what types of devices and aids are helpful to you: eyeglasses, magnifiers, telescopes, reading stands, lamps, and others.
Your eye care practitioner will help you plan a rehabilitation program involving an occupational therapist and other health care professionals as needed, so that you may resume your independent life within your condition’s limitations.