General Eye Conditions
We treat patients with a diverse range of eye conditions. The more common ones include:
Blepharitis is a common eye condition where the rims of your eyelids become inflamed, red and swollen. It can cause itchy, sore, red eyelids, crusty eyelashes and a burning sensation in your eyes. It can occur at any age but is more frequently seen in young children and people over 50. For most people, blepharitis is a long-term condition with repeated episodes followed by periods with no symptoms.
The cause of blepharitis is often unknown, but it can be due to: a reaction to the bacteria that usually live on your eyelid skin, a skin condition called seborrhoeic dermatitis, or a blockage of your Meibomian glands. A daily eyelid-cleaning routine is normally recommended to help control your symptoms. If you have a severe case of blepharitis then antibiotics may be advised.
Dry eye syndrome is an eye condition that we frequently see. It occurs when your eyes don’t make enough tears, or your tears evaporate away too quickly. This disruption in tear production usually affects both of your eyes and makes them feel dry, scratchy, uncomfortable and gritty, and this can lead to them becoming red, swollen and irritated. There are many reasons why dry eyes happen including; a hot or windy climate, wearing contact lenses, having a medical condition such as blepharitis, medication side effects, and hormone changes.
Treatment options include; eye drops to lubricate your eyes, medication to reduce inflammation, treatment of an underlying condition and, if these don’t work, surgery. Dry eye surgery usually prevents your tears from draining away so that your eyes can remain moist.
Your body produces tears to keep your eyes lubricated, and to help remove any foreign bodies. Watering eyes happen when you produce too many tears or your tears can't drain away properly. This results in constantly watering eyes that can cause blurred vision, sore eyelids and sticky eyes.
Watery eyes are most often caused by your Meibomian glands in your eyelids not working properly and leaving dry and sore patches on your eyes, and extra tears are produced as a reflex. Other causes include; lower eyelid sagging away from your eye (ectropion), eyelids rolling inwards (entropion), blepharitis, blocked or narrowed tear ducts, eye irritation, an allergy or infection.
Your eye surgeon will look for blockages in your tear ducts by: inserting a tiny probe into your drainage channels on the inside of your eyelid, injecting fluid into your tear duct, or placing special dye in each eye. They may request scans of your tear ducts to help pinpoint the location of the blockage.
Lubricating eye drops, medication for an allergy or infection, or surgery may be recommended. A blocked tear duct can be treated with surgery, known as Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). It creates a new channel from the tear sac to the inside of your nose so that the blockage is bypassed. Your surgeon will talk in detail if this is a suitable treatment option for you.
Refractive errors are very common and occur when the shape of your eye stops light focusing directly on your retina. Your eye cannot clearly focus images if you have a refractive error.
The most common types of refractive errors are:
- Myopia (near-sightedness) – near objects are seen clearly but faraway ones are blurry, as light focuses in front of your retina.
- Hyperopia (far-sightedness) – distant objects are seen more clearly than nearby objects.
- Astigmatism – images may be blurry and stretched out as your eye does not focus light evenly onto your retina.
- Presbyopia – difficulty focussing on close objects clearly. Generally age-related.
Eye glasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery, such as LASIK surgery and phakic lens implant surgery, are treatment options for refractive errors. Your eye doctor will discuss your suitability of treatment options with you.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease found in people who have diabetes. High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak or they can close and stop blood passing through. Scar tissue and new blood vessels may also develop in your eye. These changes can cause blindness if untreated.
If you have diabetes you should have regular diabetes eye screening as symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are not normally noticed in the early stages. The main treatments for advanced diabetic retinopathy are: laser treatment, medication eye injections, or an operation to remove blood or scar tissue that has formed on your eyes.
Uveitis is a rare eye condition that happens when the middle layer of your eye, called the uvea or uveal tract, becomes inflamed. It can cause eye pain and changes to your vision. Treatment for uveitis is generally more successful if given early. Additional problems can develop if uveitis is not treated quickly including; glaucoma, cataracts, cystoid macular oedema, detached retina and posterior synechiae.
If you have persistent eye pain, redness, and changes in your vision such as sensitivity to light, blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and/or a loss of peripheral vision (the ability to see objects at the side of your field of vision), then you may have uveitis and it’s advisable to see your doctor. You may have further tests if you are diagnosed with uveitis, including eye scans, x-rays and blood tests, to help establish the cause of your uveitis and appropriate treatment. Uveitis is usually treated using steroid medication (corticosteroids) to help reduce inflammation inside your eye. It can be administered by eye drops, injections, tablets or capsules.
Your cornea is the clear dome-shaped window at the front of your eye. If you have keratoconus your cornea progressively thins at the centre and bulges outwards in an irregular cone shape. This can make your vision blurry and distorted as light being focused by your cornea forms an unclear image on your retina at the back of your eye. The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown. It is usually diagnosed in teenagers and young people. Mild keratoconus can be treated with glasses and contact lenses. In the early stages, glasses may help correct your vision. Contact lenses may continue to help when glasses no longer do.
There are some keratoconus treatments that prevent your sight from getting worse or that try to improve the shape of your cornea to give better vision. Collagen cross-linking can help to slow down the development of keratoconus and can give good sight using glasses or contact lenses. Corneal implants can also try and improve the shape of your cornea to give better vision with contact lenses.
If your keratoconus has got to a stage where contact lenses are no longer working, then a corneal transplant may be recommended to improve your sight to a good level again. This can involve transplanting the full thickness of the cornea or sometimes it’s possible to only transplant part of the cornea.
Retinal detachment is a rare eye condition that occurs when your retina begins to pull away from the blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients. Without a blood supply, your nerve cells die, and this causes a loss of sight.
You should seek immediate treatment if you experience retinal detachment symptoms as without treatment sight in the affected eye will deteriorate rapidly and lead to blindness.
- Floaters (black dots, specks or streaks drift across your field of vision) suddenly appear usually in one eye.
- A cobweb of lots of little floaters or a single large black floater.
- Sudden flashes of light in the affected eye lasting no more than a second.
- Blurred and distorted vision.
If retinal detachment is diagnosed by your ophthalmologist then surgery will be recommended to reattach your retina. There are a number of different types of surgery and your ophthalmologist will discuss the most appropriate one for your individual needs.