What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a condition that causes progressive loss of central vision, most commonly in people over 50 years of age. Central vision is the vision we use when looking directly at an object. We use our central vision to see fine detail and perform tasks such as reading, driving and recognising faces. Macular degeneration does not lead to total blindness as the peripheral (side) vision is not affected.
You are using your macula and your central vision as you read this print. The macula is part of the retina at the back of your eye. Neil and Jason can check your macula using a number of techniques, which may include viewing the macula with special instuments or taking a macula photo.
Regular eye tests (every two years) are important, because you might be developing macular degeneration and not know it. It does not cause pain, and central vision may remain clear, or be only slightly blurry at first. If you ever experience a sudden change in your vision, such as sudden blur (especially if it is only one eye) or distortions in your vision, get your eyes checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist without delay.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye becomes damaged and slowly dies over time. In the early stages there are usually no symptoms (although eye pain can be experienced in certain types of glaucoma).
It is estimated that 300,000 people in Australia currently have glaucoma. 150,000 of these people do not know that they have it.
Glaucoma is often, but not always, related to increased pressure of the fluid inside the eye. Checking the pressure of the eye is one important test we do to check for glaucoma but this measurement alone is not enough to diagnose the disease. The heath of the optic nerve at the back of the eye also needs to be assessed. Further tests may also be needed, such as a visual field test, retinal photo, measurement of corneal thickness, or optic nerve scan (Optical Coherence Tomography - OCT).
Glaucoma leads to loss in peripheral (side) vision, which eventually can become tunnel vision. It can lead to total blindness if left untreated.
Although glaucoma usually progresses slowly it is important that it is detected early as once vision is lost it cannot be restored.
Glaucoma is most commonly treated with eye drops to lower the pressure in the eye. It is also sometimes treated surgically.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are an opacity or discoloration of a structure called the lens which is found inside the eye behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and pupil. Cataracts do not grow across the front of the eye.
Cataracts are most commonly caused by aging - just as your skin changes as you age so does the lens of the eye. The lens is usually clear like a glasses lens at birth, and becomes more hazy and yellowed throughout your lifetime. Eventually it becomes more difficult to see through the lens, causing blurry vision and increased problems with glare. This may not be as noticeable as you would think because the cataract forms slowing over many years, allowing a person to get used to their vision not being as clear as it once was. For many people, one of their first symptoms of cataract is increasing difficulty reading small print, even when wearing their glasses. It is common to have some degree of cataract by age 60 even though the cataract may be having no impact on day to day vision at this time.
Cataracts are treated by surgical removal by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon). Our optometrists, Neil and Jason, can examine your eyes for cataracts, monitor the progression of your cataracts, and provide referral to a local ophthalmologist for for treatment as required.