Eye Conditions

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or Lazy Eye, is a reduced vision, generally in only one eye. The condition usually results from poor eye co-ordination, from having a turned eye, or after having one eye which requires a far greater lens power.

The reduced vision occurs because, for one or more of the above reasons, one eye is being used less than the other. When detected early enough, patching, vision training and lenses may help to reverse or prevent permanent damage to the vision.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is an out-of-roundness of one or more surfaces in the eye’s optical system.

An eye with no astigmatism is spherical in shape, like a marble. On the other hand an eye with astigmatism has a distorted shape, slightly like a grape.

In lesser degrees this can cause strain and discomfort after visual concentration; while in higher degrees astigmatism causes images at all distances to be distorted or blurred.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Cataract

cataract is an opacity or clouding of the lens inside the eye, then distorting the light as it enters. Cataracts are often confused with pterygium but cataracts cannot be seen on the surface of the eye.

Symptoms of cataract may include a gradual painless decrease in clear vision, hazy vision, increased sensitivity to glare, and even double vision.

Special tints or filters can often improve vision and UV protection can help to slow development of this condition.

The eventual “cure” is surgical removal of the lens with cataract and replacement with an artificial lens (intra-ocular lens implant).

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Colour Vision and Blindness

Colour blindness is almost always inherited, although it can be acquired condition as a result of some diseases or injuries.

The abnormality is sex linked, recessive, and carried on the X chromosomes. This means that males need only have their one X chromosome affected to be colour blind while females must carry the condition on both their X chromosomes to be colour blind. If females have it only on one X chromosome they will carry the condition but still have normal colour vision themselves.

As a result, about 8% of males and 0.5% of females have colour vision deficiencies. Almost all colour deficient people do see most colours but they will have difficulty identifying particular ones, confusing certain shades of red and green for example.

As children, few of these people will be aware that they have a colour vision deficiency but the detection of these problems is important, especially when career choices are affected.

At Eyecare Plus Optometrists colour vision testing is a routine part of the eye examinations of every new patient and child.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Fatigue are terms used to describe vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet and mobile phone use.

In our modern world, we increasingly use information presented on digital screens rather than printed material. Digital screens are usually located at a near or intermediate distance and present similar tasks to reading. Good near focus ability and eye co-ordination is required to maintain comfortable vision for all near tasks.

Screen based devices emit natural blue light and it has been recently suggested that excessive exposure may contribute to discomfort. In addition, we probably spend more time each day using digital screens than we did previously with reading print.

Causes of Digital Eye Fatigue

Conditions which can contribute include:

  • uncorrected focussing or coordination vision problems
  • poor lighting
  • glare from light sources reflecting off the digital screen
  • variable viewing distances and screen position
  • poor posture
  • a combination of these factors
  • reduced natural blinking

Symptoms of Digital Eye Fatigue

The most common symptoms associated include:

  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • neck and shoulder pain

Treatment of Digital Eye Fatigue

Any vision discomfort can diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination at your local Eyecare Plus Optometrist.

In some cases, individuals who do not require the use of eyeglasses for other daily activities may benefit from glasses prescribed specifically for computer use. In addition, persons already wearing glasses may find their current prescription does not provide optimal vision for viewing a computer.

Specific lens designs, lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort.

Practical tips to assist in easing the discomfort in the short term include:

  • Try to keep your computer monitor at arm’s length and the top near or below eye level. Looking down slightly to the screen allows the eyes to align better
  • Ensure that the eyes are well focussed and aligned at the screen viewing distance and wear any spectacles recommended for the task
  • Monitor lighting – you will be more comfortable if the room has good general illumination, the screen has appropriate brightness and contrast and is tilted to avoid reflected surface glare
  • Have a break occasionally by getting up and leaving your desk. Moving about relieves any postural problems and looking at longer distances allows the eyes to relax focus.
  • Don’t forget to blink regularly to avoid the eyes drying. Blink rate reduces when concentrating on specific tasks and many office environments have low humidity. Avoid having your face directly in air flow from air conditioning outlets, fans or heaters. Fresh humid air will also help with comfort.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0439 during business hours.

Diabetes and Vision

The health of the retina is very dependent on a good blood supply to the eye. Diabetes compromises this circulation and can cause serious damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy).

Glucose is the main source of energy to the body. It is obtained from foods containing carbohydrates and we produce insulin to metabolise glucose and release it from the blood to body tissues. Diabetes occurs when insulin production is insufficient or fails and glucose levels fluctuate leading to poor circulation. Too much or too little glucose compromises red blood cells making them less able to carry oxygen and nutrients to body tissues. Damage follows as small blood vessels become distorted, blocked or leak into surrounding tissue. New blood vessels can also be formed but these have weak walls and can easily bleed. All these changes are observed in the eye and can lead to serious vision loss.

Diabetes can be an inherited defect (Type 1, 10-15%) or acquired (Type 2, 85-90%). Family history of diabetes is significant. Increased risk occurs with Aboriginal or Pacific Islander, Indian or Chinese heritage. Pregnancy can be accompanied by gestational diabetes.

The more common Type 2 Diabetes is increasing, particularly with sedentary life style and western diets. It is estimated that 2 million Australians will develop diabetes and that 60% can be prevented. There are many risk factors some of which can be modified to reduce the risk of tissue damage. The most common risk factors are increasing age (<50yrs), diet, lack of exercise, excessive weight, smoking, raised blood pressure and elevated blood fats.

Symptoms include thirst, hunger, blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, pain or tingling in the legs or feet, weight changes, skin rashes and poor wound healing.

Early symptoms may not be obvious and the first signs might be seen during an eye examination. Variable blood sugar can cause early fluctuation in vision and in the long term, can cause serious vision loss through damage to the retina. The retina is also the only place where tiny blood vessels can be easily examined. A detailed examination of the retina is part of a full eye test and is an important component of ongoing management of diabetes.

The full range of vascular changes can be seen in the retina. Early changes (background retinopathy) are subtle, without obvious symptoms and can be stable with good blood sugar control. Regular monitoring with detailed retinal examination may be all that is required at this stage.

Progressive (proliferative retinopathy) is more serious and can lead to bleeding, tissue swelling and new blood vessel formation. Referral to a retinal eye specialist for treatment is indicated when progression is noted.

To help prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes you should maintain a healthy body weight, participate in regular physical activity, make healthy food choices, manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and avoid smoking.

Diabetes needs life-long management to prevent ongoing damage. Early diagnosis, reduction of risk factors and ongoing treatment are very important in preventing complications. Your optometrist is an important member of the health team monitoring diabetic patients.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Source: www.diabetesaustralia.com.au

Dry Eye Disease

What is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.

Dry eye can cause a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye, with people often complaining of irritated, itchy, watery eyes.

Dry eye disease is fairly common affecting about 20 per cent of the population and is more prevalent in an older population and in particular with females.

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the leading cause of dry eye disease where the glands are not secreting enough oil or when the oil they secrete is of poor quality. Meibomian glands are located inside the bottom eyelids and are responsible for the creation of a tear film that keeps eyes moisturised.

Your optometrist can detect dry eye and provide a range of effective treatments.

What are the Symptoms and Causes of Dry Eye Disease?

Some of the symptoms of dry eye disease include some or all of the following:

  • Scratchy sensation or a feeling that something is in the eye
  • Stinging or burning
  • Episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge, pain and redness in the eye
  • Itchiness
  • Dryness
  • Eye fatigue
  • Feeling that the eyelids are heavy
  • Experiencing blurred vision.

Dry eye can occur when basal tear production decreases, tear evaporation increases, or tear composition is imbalanced.

Factors that can contribute to dry eye include:

  • A range of medications including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause, medications for anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and high blood pressure have been associated with dry eye disease.
  • Ageing is a risk factor for the decline in tear production. Dry eye is more common in people aged 50 years or older.
  • Rosacea (an inflammatory skin disease) and blepharitis (an inflammatory eyelid disease) can disrupt the function of the meibomian glands.
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Sjögren’s Disease, lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and Vitamin A deficiency are associated with dry eye.
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after menopause have been linked with dry eye. Women also have an increased risk for autoimmune disorders.
  • Windy, smoky or dry environments increase tear evaporation.
  • Seasonal allergies can contribute to dry eyes.
  • Prolonged periods of digital screen time encourage insufficient blinking which can be a contributing factor.
  • Laser eye surgery may cause temporary dry eye symptoms.

Eyes that have poor lubrication are more susceptible to scratches or infection. Tears keep the eye surface smooth and protected. A lack of lubrication can lead to excessive rubbing of the eyes when they are itchy which can exacerbate the irritation.

Your vision can be affected as tears on the eye’s surface can play an important role in focusing light. In some cases, deeper injuries to the surface of the eye can lead to corneal scarring, resulting in a hazy cornea and impaired vision.

Dry Eye Treatment

A range of dry eye treatments are available including:

  • Artificial eye drops often provide short-term relief along with the application of a warm compress to help loosen any blockages in the oil glands.
  • Blephasteam is an eyelid warming device using moisture and heat to treat Meibomian gland dysfunction. The treatment sessions are short and work well for most people with Meibomian gland dysfunction.
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can provide long-term relief. It is a non-invasive treatment utilising pulsed loght to stimulate the secretion and the contraction of the Meibomian glands. It is quick, gentle and can offer long-lasting relief.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease where the pressure within the eye is typically increased (although not always). This can damage parts of the eye, and if left untreated may result in blindness.

Many times the symptoms are not noticeable until damage to the eye has already occurred. Diagnosis consists of having regular eye examinations which include a pressure measurement (usually every 2 years for patients over 40), to enable early detection of possible problems.

Lower your risk of Glaucoma

  • A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet benefits overall physical and mental well-being, as well as the eyes. Eat a varied and healthy diet. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that certain vitamins and minerals prevent glaucoma or delay its progress. However, carotenoids (especially lutein and zeaxanthin), antioxidants (vitamins C and E), vitamins A and D, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids may all contribute to better vision.
  • Carotenoids are found in dark green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, green beans, papaya, oranges, mango, sweet potato, corn, peaches and apricots.
  • Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy greens, sweet and white potato, broccoli and capsicum.
  • Vitamin A is found in liver, carrots, sweet potato, mangoes, milk and egg yolks.
  • The main dietary sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, ‘oily’ fish, fortified milk and cereal and egg yolks.
  • Zinc can be found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, wholegrains and dairy products.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseed oil.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Hyperopia

Hyperopia, or Long-sightedness, causes a person to see clearer at far than at near.

Extra effort is required to try to clear the focus at all distances, resulting in eye strain and fatigue. This “strain” can manifest itself as headaches after close work, blurred near vision, tired eyes, difficulty adjusting focus from distance to near and near to distance, avoiding close work and short attention span for near tasks.

Common symptoms are associated with tasks which require continued visual concentration. It becomes a problem to maintain a clear focus on near objects; causing headaches and tired or aching eyes.

In some age groups a prescription for hyperopia often works to relieve the strain, rather than clearing the vision.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration (MD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys central vision. Central vision occurs at the macula on the retina, at the back of the eye. Because it is the central part of vision, it is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common everyday tasks such as reading and driving.

In some cases, MD advances so slowly that people fail to notice the gradual deterioration of their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a permanent loss of central vision.

While there is presently no cure for Macular Degeneration, there are steps that you can take to prevent or slow the progress of the disease.

MD is present in 15% of people between the ages of 70-75 and is now the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

The first signs of MD involve distortion of vision where straight lines appear wavy or bent, rather than loss of sight.

  • Difficulty reading.
  • Difficulty distinguishing faces.
  • Need for increased illumination.
  • Sensitivity to glare.
  • Decreased night vision.
  • Reduced colour sensitivity.
  • In many cases, MD progresses so slowly that people don’t notice changes until their vision has already been significantly compromised.

Risks for developing MD:

  • Ageing is the greatest risk factor. The prevalence trebles with each decade over 40 years.
  • Smokers have a 3 times greater risk of developing MD. They also develop the disease approximately 10 years earlier than non-smokers.
  • Women have slightly higher risk than men.
  • Family history is a risk factor. Genes have been identified and linked with MD. There is a 50% chance of developing MD if there is a family history of the disease.

Defense against MD:

  • Early detection of MD is crucial as some forms of the disease may be arrested with early treatment.
  • Regular eye examinations are the key to early detection before vision loss occurs.
  • Eat a healthy diet. (See more details below).
  • Consider taking a zinc and anti-oxidant supplement.
  • Eye protection against UV damage. This is especially important before MD develops.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and get some regular exercise (minimum of a 30 minute walk, three times a week).
  • Don’t smoke.

Diet and MD

Diet can help with good eye health and there is a recommended eating program that can lower the risk of Macular Degeneration. Scientific studies have shown that MD responds to anti-oxidants and other nutrients. This is not an unpleasant diet, but simply emphasizes the benefits of vegetables, fruit and fish.

Anti-oxidants benefit our health by neutralisng “free radicals” in the body. The most important anti-oxidants are:

  • Lutein – Found in especially high levels in leafy dark green vegetables (eg spinach)
  • Vitamin C – Found in citrus fruits, papaya and rockmelon. Or vegetables like capsicum, peas and broccoli.
  • Vitamin E – Found in nuts (almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts), whole grains, leafy green vegetables, broccoli and carrots.
  • Zinc – Found in meat, seafood (especially oysters), nuts (cashews, pine nuts, brazil nuts, pecans, almonds) and whole grains.

Eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Include fish at least two times a week and include dark green leafy vegetables. Eat fresh fruit every day, a handful of nuts each week and avoid fatty foods.

More information

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

You can also visit the website of the Australian Macular Degeneration Foundation here.

Myopia

Myopia, or Short-sightedness, is a condition in which near objects are seen more clearly than objects which are far away.

The main symptom is blurred distance vision. Short-sighted people often report difficulty distinguishing details on road signs and scoreboards.

Another common symptom is “squinting” the lids together in an attempt to see clearer. This works by narrowing the aperture they are looking through and therefore reducing the size of the blur circle on the retina inside the eye.

Myopia tends to first develop during adolescence as the eye grows to full adult size. Myopia occurs either due to hereditary factors or due to environmental stress and a subsequent spasm of the eye focussing muscles.

Myopia is corrected with either contact lenses or spectacles. Since these lenses are thickest at the edge, new spectacle lens technologies have been developed to produce thinner and lighter lenses.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Phorias

Eye Muscle Inco-ordinations, or Phorias, occur when the eyes do not align or focus together as a team. This improper control of the eye muscles can result in crossed-eyes, poor focussing ability, or simply discomfort and headache from the extra effort required.

Common remedies are vision training, prisms, therapeutic spectacles, bifocal or progressive lenses.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a gradual loss in the focusing ability (accommodation) of the eye and is part of the normal vision changes we all experience as we age.

This condition is caused by a natural hardening of the eye lens, so that by the early 40’s it does not respond as well to the muscles intended to change the focus of the eye.

As a result people in this age group start to have difficulty with near tasks like reading small print, threading a needle, etc. This is especially true at the end of the day when lighting levels are poorer and the individual is more likely to be tired. Correction consists of reading spectacles, bifocals or the newer progressive lenses.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Pteryglum

A pterygium is a triangular growth of degenerative tissue on the white of the eye (sclera), usually on the nasal side, that may extend onto the clear window of the eye called the cornea.

A pterygium results from irritation due to long term exposure to ultra-violet light (UV), wind, glare or dust. Treatment is by eliminating the irritation with protective eyewear, eye-drops or surgery.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Refractive Laser Surgery

Refractive surgery describes a group of procedures where surgery is used to correct the focus of vision rather than spectacles or contact lenses.

The most modern techniques use computer controlled lasers to remove a layer of the cornea (window at the front of the eye) and to reshape it to correct vision.

Refractive surgery is best suited for patients who wear spectacles or contact lenses all the time. Most patients do not need spectacles for general wear after the surgery but it is likely that a prescription will often be needed for fine work or as focussing problems (presbyopia) develop naturally in the 40’s.

Originally, laser surgery could only correct short-sightedness. Now it also offers hope to those suffering from astigmatism (distorted vision) and long-sightedness. Laser surgery gives speedy results with minimal pain. But this procedure is not suitable for everyone. If you are under 18 years old, pregnant, or have had changes to your prescribed corrective lenses in the past year, we usually do not recommend laser surgery.

Cost is an important factor: laser surgery costs up to $3000 per eye and is not covered by Medicare or any other private health fund (though in some cases it is partially tax deductible). Most laser clinics offer finance plans or interest-free terms.

While laser techniques in refractive eye surgery have been years in the making, only in this decade has laser surgery become truly widespread. It is estimated that up to one and a half million people worldwide have had such operations, many thousands of those in Australia.

Reputable eye surgeons emphasise that not all laser patients will attain 20/20 vision. This depends on various factors, including the severity of the patient’s original vision problem. Some patients may still require glasses or contact lenses after laser surgery.

Those with presbyopia or “ageing eye” which often occurs in one’s early 40’s, cannot generally be treated by laser surgery, although in some cases monovision laser treatment may be used for one eye only.

The expert optometrists at Durkin & Black Eyecare Plus will be glad to assess your suitability for this procedure, refer you to a qualified provider, and even provide follow up care after the surgery.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Spots and Floaters

Spots and floaters are semi-transparent specks of natural materials inside the eye, which sometimes can be seen floating in the field of vision.

Some patients comment that they look like cobwebs or threads, and most usually notice floaters when looking at a bright clear background like a ceiling or plain coloured wall.

They can be caused by debris left over from before birth, injury or eye disease. A full eye examination will determine the cause and whether any follow-up is needed. If treatment is needed, there are several options including surgical draining of the eye and destruction of the floating material with a laser.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of the optometrists at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.

Visual Therapy

Many children we see for visual learning assessments have excellent eyesight, but poor ability to use their eyes to gather information in an efficient and meaningful way. Moving and teaming our eyes together can take practice and experience.

During vision therapy, we work on developing sound visual efficiency and visual processing skills, as well as working on integrating vision with other sensory inputs.

Visual therapy may be used in the treatment of such conditions as:

  • Eye turn (strabismus)
  • Lazy eye (amblyopia)
  • Poor eye movement or eye focussing skills (fine visual motor therapy)
  • In traumatic brain injury (accident and stroke)
  • Enhance specific visual abilities. (ie. required in a sport)
  • Developmental and visual perceptual deficits.

In our vision therapy programme, skills are developed from a lower to higher order, until they become more automatic for the person to draw upon.

Interested to know more? To make an appointment with one of our behavioural optometrists or our vision therapist at Durkin & Black, Eyecare Plus Ashgrove simply book online here or call 07 3463 0349 during business hours.