Most people experience vision problems at some point in their life, which can range from minor refractive errors to complete blindness. The Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey in 2017 estimated that over half of Australians live with chronic eye conditions.
Given that there are so many common eye conditions, it is essential to be aware of the symptoms and visit your optometrist regularly to help maintain the quality of your vision. Unfortunately, some conditions of the eye have no clear symptoms in the early stages and can only be detected before they become serious through eye examinations.
The list of eye conditions is extensive, and only a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist will be able to accurately diagnose eye issues. However, these are some of the most common eye diseases and conditions experienced by Australians.
Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye conditions that can affect people’s quality of life. Some examples of symptoms of dry eye include grittiness, burning or sensitive eyes and intermittent blurry vision. The impact of the dry eye varies from mild irritation to reduced or avoidance of some everyday activities such as wearing contact lenses and reading.
As dry eye disease can impact your everyday life, it is important to see an optometrist to discuss your dry eye symptoms and treatment, which may include eye drops and in-office treatments.
Refractive errors are some of the most common and well-known eye conditions, with millions of Australians impacted by myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
Also known as shortsightedness, myopia affects over 6.3 million Australians. People with Myopia struggle to clearly see objects that are far away. There are a variety of potential causes for myopia, including genetics, environmental conditions, screen time and extended close-up activities.
For people with minor myopia, eye tests may be the only way to know for sure that you have a vision problem. It is usually a slight inconvenience that can be easily corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery. However, myopia at a higher level may also increase your chance of having other serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. It is therefore paramount to detect myopia early in children to implement treatments to slow down its progression.
Hyperopia is more commonly known as farsightedness. People with hyperopia may find objects nearby appear blurry or they need to strain their eyes more to see close objects clearly. With 7.2 million farsighted Australians, it is the most reported chronic eye condition.
Hyperopia symptoms include difficulty focusing on nearby objects, eye strain, blurry vision, difficulty reading and headaches after doing close-up tasks. Like myopia, this condition can be corrected with contacts, glasses or surgery. It can affect how children develop their “eye-teaming” skills and a checkup with an optometrist can help decide whether they need to be treated.
Another common refractive error is astigmatism, which causes blurred vision regardless of distance. Astigmatism is often present from birth, but it can also be caused by an eye injury or excessive eye rubbing. Thankfully, like other refractive errors that cause vision problems, it can be corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery.
Cataracts are generally known as one of the more common eye problems in elderly people, but they can occur at any age and even be present from birth. Cataracts involve the clouding of the lens inside your eyes and are the most common cause of blindness.
The change in vision caused by cataracts is reversible with cataract surgery. You will need an eye check up to diagnose the issue properly. Once diagnosed, surgery can be arranged to help improve your vision.
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that, when left untreated, can cause vision loss. It is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve and it commonly involves an increased level of fluid pressure in the eye. Open-angle glaucoma progresses slowly, with symptoms often difficult to notice. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs suddenly and is often very painful, causing vision loss quickly.
Symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma include severe headaches, red eyes, poor vision, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and rainbow-coloured halos surrounding lights. You should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible, if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Although anyone can experience glaucoma, it is more likely if the condition is present in your immediate family. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, most people respond very well to the current treatments and vision loss can be slowed or prevented when glaucoma is treated at an early stage. An eye test can definitively determine the presence of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is another common eye disease in elderly people. It causes issues with central vision and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss for people aged 60 and over.
Although macular degeneration cannot be cured, catching it early will allow important lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet or treatments to be introduced timely to reduce the chance of vision loss.
Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration are usually not noticeable to people until the advanced stage, hence it is important for the elderly to have regular eye tests to detect any early macular changes.
When Should I Visit the Optometrist?
To maintain the quality of your vision and treat or monitor serious eye diseases, it is important to have regular eye checks at all stages of your life. When it comes to conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, early detection is critical to preventing permanent sight loss.
If you feel that something is not right with your eye health, it is always best to visit an optometrist.
Bayside Eyecare can assist with all your sight needs and has experienced optometrists who check the vision of children and adults. To book an appointment with our friendly optometrists, give us a call on (03) 9909 5329 or complete our online booking form to hear back from us soon.