Eye Conditions

Eye Conditions and Disorders

All EyeQ Optometrists are proud of delivering the very best clinical eyecare. We diagnose and treat all kinds of eye health issues, and help our patients understand what these conditions can mean. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the conditions we regularly treat which you may want to discuss further with your EyeQ Optometrist.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is a neuro-developmental condition in which vision does not develop adequately in one eye. It may be caused by any condition that affects normal visual development or use of the eyes. Conditions include an eye turn, an uncorrected high prescription, or ocular pathology which blocks light from reaching the retina such as a cataract or a drooping eyelid (ptosis). In each of these cases, the brain chooses to ignore the image produced by the affected eye (known as suppression), and thus nerve fibres don’t grow to that particular eye. Because most children adapt well to seeing through one eye, many parents are unaware that the child has a problem, which is only diagnosed during a thorough eye exam.

For more information on amblyopia or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a condition in which the shape of the cornea- the clear window at the front of the eye is unequal in different directions. A useful analogy is to compare the shape of a soccer ball with a rugby ball. A soccer ball is spherical in shape with equal curvatures in all meridians. The surface of a rugby ball on the other hand, has different curvatures in the horizontal and vertical meridians. ie. The horizontal meridian is flatter and the vertical meridian is steeper. Small amounts of astigmatism may cause headaches, fatigue and discomfort. Higher degrees result in distorted or blurred vision.

For more information on astigmatism or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a common chronic condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids, resulting in long term ‘on-again-off-again’ irritation of the eyes. It can affect people of all ages and is often associated with certain skin conditions including acne rosacea and seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Common signs and symptoms include redness of the eyelids, crusting of the lid margins (particularly worse in the morning).

For more information on blepharitis or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the clear lens in the eye and is one of the leading causes of vision impairment. Whilst cataracts commonly occur in those who are older, they may develop in younger people or infants. In most cases, over time, the focusing lens in the eye loses its ability to remain clear, disrupting the flow of light through the eye and onto the retina. In its early stages a cataract may not cause vision problems. However some of the common signs associated with advanced cataracts include blurred vision, sensitivity to glare, distortion or double vision in the affected eye or a feeling of looking through a veil or curtain.

For more information on cataracts or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Colour Vision and Colour Vision Deficiencies (CVDs)

Colour vision deficiencies are almost always inherited, although they can be acquired as a result of some diseases or injuries.

The abnormality is carried on the X chromosome. Males inherit their X chromosome from their mother and their Y chromosome from their father. Therefore, if a mother is a carrier of a CVD, her son will be affected. Alternatively, females inherit two X chromosomes and so have a 50/50 chance of being affected if their mother is a carrier of a CVD. As a result, about 8% (1 in 12) of males and 0.5% (1 in 200) of females have CVDs.

The vast majority of people with CVDs will see all colours; however their perception of each colour is slightly different to what unaffected people perceive. As children, few of these people will be aware that they have a CVD, however, the detection of this deficiency is important, especially when career choices are affected.

For more information on colour vision deficiencies or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye are damaged. This can seriously affect vision and in some cases may even cause blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by the complications of diabetes. For patients who have suffered from diabetes for over 20 years, nearly all patients with Type I diabetes and >60% of patients with Type II diabetes will have some degree of retinopathy. Early signs of diabetic retinopathy include small haemorrhages and microaneurysms appearing in the retina. In its later stages, poor control of blood sugar levels may result in extensive haemorrhages, blood vessel leakage and in some cases, swelling at the macula (the region of the retina responsible for all detailed central vision).

Symptoms include blurred or distorted vision. For diabetics, strict control of blood sugar levels is essential in preventing the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

For more information on diabetic retinopathy or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common visual condition which affects one in four people worldwide and is more likely to occur in women and the elderly. The medical name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Symptoms can include burning, scratchiness or irritation, redness, watering and even blurred vision. Although dry eye is generally not a sight-threatening condition, for those who suffer from it, it is often more than just a minor aggravation. Dry eye can be caused by insufficient tear production from the lacrimal gland or an unstable lipid layer, which is the thin oily layer on the outer most part of the tear film.

For more information on dry eye or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Glaucoma

The term ‘glaucoma’ refers to an eye condition which is characterised by damage to the optic nerve that causes peripheral vision loss. It is often, but not always, associated with increased pressure of the fluid in the eye (aqueous humour). Glaucoma often has no symptoms so it is important to have regular eye examinations in order for early detection.

For more information on glaucoma or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Hyperopia (Long-sightedness)

Hyperopia otherwise known as long-sightedness, refers to refractive condition when a patient finds reading initially, then eventually distance vision blurry. It is a result of the visual image being focused behind the retina rather than directly on it. It may be caused by the eyeball being too small or the focusing power of the eye being too weak.

Most school-age children are in fact a little longsighted. Longsighted children must exert extra effort to bring their near vision into sharp, clear focus. Symptoms include fatigue and headaches after close work, rubbing of the eyes, close reading distance, difficulty maintaining clear focus when performing sustained close work and difficulty adjusting one’s focus.

For more information on hyperopia or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a thinning of the central zone of the cornea, the front surface of the eye. As a result of this thinning, the normally round shape of the cornea becomes distorted and a cone-like bulge develops, resulting in significant visual impairment. A useful analogy is to compare the shapes of an orange with a pear. The average person has a spherical shaped cornea like an orange whereas a person with keratoconus has a bulge in their cornea much like a pear. It is typically diagnosed in the patient’s adolescent years and may progress until the patient is in their twenties and thirties.

For more information on keratoconus or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Macular Degeneration

The macula is the central part of the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The macula processes all central visual images. It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. Macular Degeneration (MD) causes progressive macula damage resulting in loss of central vision whilst peripheral vision remains unaffected. It is the leading cause of blindness in Australia. 1 in 7 people over the age of 50 are affected in some way and the incidence increases with age*.

Common symptoms associated with MD include a gradual decline in the ability to see objects clearly, distorted vision and dark or empty spaces blocking central vision. Early detection of MD is crucial since in its early stages MD may not produce any noticeable symptoms. An eye test can often detect MD before any visual symptoms occur. As part of a routine examination we perform digital retinal imaging, which involves taking high magnification images of the macula.

For more information on macular degeneration or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

 

*Source: Macular Disease Foundation

Myopia (Short-sightedness)

Myopia otherwise known as short-sightedness refers to the refractive condition when a person finds near vision clear, yet distance vision blurry. It is a result of the visual image being focused in front the retina rather than directly on it. It may be caused by the eyeball being too large or the focusing power of the eye being too strong.

Symptoms include squinting, and blurred distance vision such as when viewing the television or when trying to read signs while driving.

While the exact cause of myopia is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of both nature (genetics) and nurture (one’s environment including near work and stress).

For more information on myopia or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Orthokeratology

What is Ortho-K?

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) is the use of rigid contact lenses to remould the shape of the cornea (the clear dome of tissue at the front of the eye) to reduce or correct myopia (short sightedness) as well as small amounts of astigmatism (the irregular shape of the cornea).

Orthokeratology is a non-surgical alternative to laser surgery and in many ways it is akin to using braces to straighten teeth. Whereas teeth usually hold their new position once straightened, the cornea is easily moulded and will always return to its original shape once the moulding forces have been removed. As a result the lenses are required to be worn every night in order for the ideal corneal shape to be maintained.

Why use Ortho-K?

Orthokeratology is an excellent treatment option for children since it is effective at slowing down the progression of myopia. A recent study from Hong Kong found that myopia progression was slowed by up to 50% with the use of ortho-K lenses.

Orthokeratology allows those normally requiring glasses to be free of both spectacles and contact lenses during waking hours. This enables greater freedom and is ideal for sports people, swimmers and those who work in dirty or dusty environments.

Can anyone have Orthokeratology?

No. There is a limit to how much myopia ortho-K can correct. As a general rule, prescriptions up to five dioptres of myopia and one dioptre of astigmatism can be treated. Hence low to moderate myopes are best suited.

The speed of moulding of the cornea will vary from person to person depending on corneal shape and rigidity. Allergies, dry eyes and other health problems may restrict wearing times and thus the success of ortho-K.

What does Ortho-K involve?

The first stage is an initial examination to assess the general condition and health of the eyes. This also provides the opportunity to discuss the likely effectiveness of the procedure.

The next step is the fitting. Using a computerised corneal mapping system the shape of the cornea is measured and a pair of lenses is ordered. A delivery appointment is scheduled where you are shown how to insert, remove and clean the lenses. The lenses are designed to be worn for at least 6 hours whilst sleeping and then removed soon after waking. The cornea will begin changing shape on the very first night of wear, 50% of reshaping is obtained on the first night and 100% within 10 days. Stabilisation occurs over the next few months at a lesser pace. Thus the Ortho-K program runs for one to three months depending on the initial degree of myopia and the rate of change of corneal shape.

A number of follow-up appointments will be scheduled within the fitting period to assess the vision and the fit of the lenses. If it is felt that the lenses are not fitting ideally then the Optometrist will re-order the lenses taking into account any adjustments that may need to be made. Orthokeratology is a precise science and changes as small as one hundredth of a millimetre can affect the final result.

The Optometrist will also determine the most appropriate wearing schedule, which may be every night, every second night or in some cases every third night. If the lenses are not worn your eyes will return to their original prescription.

The lenses will have a prescription to allow you to see clearly whilst the lenses are worn. This is important because it allows you to leave the lenses in if your sleeping schedule has been disrupted and you are forced to wake earlier than expected. The lenses may then be removed after the normal wear time.

How much does it cost?

A full breakdown of costs is available from your optometrist on request; however as a guide you should allow approximately $915 per eye. Some consultation fees may be covered by Medicare and some lens costs may be claimed from your health fund.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia refers to the condition where the eye loses its ability to focus on objects up close. It is a normal ageing change. The early signs of presbyopia, which are usually noticed in one’s forties and fifties include eyestrain, difficulty seeing in dim light and problems focusing on small objects and/or fine print. It is due to a natural hardening of the crystalline lens inside the eye, which is responsible for altering the visual focusing distance.

For more information on prebyopia or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Pterygium

A pterygium is a wing-shaped growth of vascular tissue which occurs commonly on the nasal side of the white part of the eye. It is most commonly due to UV damage, but is also exacerbated in windy and dusty conditions. While many pterygia stay stable over time, some may grow onto the cornea (the clear part of eye which covers the coloured iris), distorting vision.

The use of sunglasses or protective eyewear, as well as dry eye drops, helps to prevent the initial occurrence and/or progression of pterygia.

For more information on pterygia or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.

Spots and Floaters

Floaters are deposits of natural materials that are present within the eye’s vitreous humour. The vitreous humour is a clear jelly located inside the eye that is attached to the retina. Floaters typically increase in number as we age however they also may be present from birth or caused by injury. Floaters are visible because of the shadows they cast on the retina. They may appear as spots, threads, or fragments of cobwebs, which float slowly in the patient’s visual field.

For more information on spots and floaters or any other eye disorder, contact your local EyeQ Optometrist.