WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes mellitus or `sugar diabetes’ affects about one person in twenty in the UK. This means that the body cannot cope normally with sugar and other carbohydrates in the diet.

Diabetes can start in childhood, but it often begins later in life. It can cause complications, which affect different parts of the body. There are two types of diabetes mellitus but they both affect the eyes in the same way.

If you have diabetes this does not necessarily mean that your sight will be affected, but you are at higher risk of complications. If your diabetes is well controlled then you are less likely to have problems, or they may be less serious. However if there are complications which affect the eyes, then this can result in loss of sight.

WHY ARE REGULAR EYE TESTS ARE IMPORTANT?

Most sight loss from diabetic retinopathy can be prevented. But it is vital that it is diagnosed early. You may not realise that there is anything wrong with your eyesight, and so regular eye checks are extremely important.

HOW CAN DIABETES AFFECT THE EYE?

Your eye has a lens and an aperture (opening) at the front, which adjust to bring objects into focus on the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is made up of a delicate tissue that is sensitive to light, rather like the film in a camera.

diabetes can affect the eye in a number of ways. These usually involve the fine network of blood vessels in the retina -hence the term diabetic retinopathy.

It can also be associated with earlier onset of cataract.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the fluctuation of the prescription and therefore blurred vision, If you have any concerns about your vision or diabetes and its effect on your eyes speak to your optometrist or GP

WHAT IS BLEPHARITIS?

Blepharitis is the term used to describe the inflammation of the eyelids. It is often a persistent condition that can be easily treated and managed, but not cured. Eyesight is rarely affected.

WHAT CAUSES BLEPHARITIS?

The exact cause is not known. It tends to ‘flare-up’ and then ease off in severity. If you have blepharitis, it tends to reoccur and rarely disappears completely.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR BLEPHARITIS?

There is no one-off cure. However, symptoms can usually be managed with regular treatment

REGULAR EYELID HYGIENE

This is the most important part of treatment and prevention.

Bathe and gently press on the eyelids with a clean flannel (facecloth) soaked in very warm water (boiled first and then cooled) for 5-10 minutes This softens the skin and any crusts attached to the eyelids. Keep re-heating the flannel in warm water if it cools.

Then massage the eyelids -gently roll your first finger on the eyelids (like a rotary action). This helps to push out any of the mucus-like fluid from the tiny eyelid glands.

There are specially formulated preparations which can be used for eyelid hygeine. Please ask your optician which would be the most suitable for you.

WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

If you have been told that you have a cataract, don’t be alarmed. Over half of those over 65 have some cataract development and most cases can be treated successfully with surgery. Despite what you may have heard, a cataract is not a skin that grows over your eye. A cataract is a clouding of part of your eye called the lens. Your vision becomes blurred or dim because light cannot pass through the clouded lens to the back of the eye.

THE LENS

The lens is a transparent body behind the iris, the coloured part of the eye. The lens bends light rays so that they give a clear image to the back of the eye -the retina.

WHAT CAUSES A CATARACT?

Cataracts can form at any age, but most often develop as people get older. In younger people they can result from an injury, certain drugs, long-standing inflammation or illnesses such as diabetes.

SOME SYMPTOMS

‘I’m not seeing as well as I used to’ -You may notice that some things seem blurred round the edges, or that your glasses seem dirty or scratched.

Seeing double -The cloudiness in the lens may occur in more than one place, so that the light rays which reach the retina are split, causing a double image.

Poor vision in bright light -You may find that bright light or very sunny days make it more difficult to see.
Change of colour vision -As the cataract develops its centre becomes more and more yellow, giving everything you see a yellowish tinge.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP?

The most effective treatment for cataracts is a small operation to remove the cloudy lens. This cannot be performed by laser, although laser treatment is sometimes needed afterwards. Diets or drugs have not been shown to slow or stop the development of the cataract.

WHAT IS GLAUCOMA

Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged at the point where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information from the light sensitive layer in your eye, the retina, to the brain where it is perceived as a picture. Your eye needs a certain amount of pressure to keep the eyeball in shape so that it can work properly. In some people, the damage is caused by raised eye pressure. Others may have an eye pressure within normal limits but damage occurs because there is a weakness in the optic nerve. In most cases both factors are involved but to a varying extent. Eye pressure is largely independent of blood pressure.

WHAT CONTROLS PRESSURE IN THE EYE?

A layer of cells behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye) produces a watery fluid, called aqueous. The fluid passes through a hole in the centre of the iris (called the pupil) to leave the eye through tiny drainage channels. These are in the angle between the front of the eye (the cornea) and the iris and return the fluid to the blood stream. Normally the fluid produced is balanced by the fluid draining out, but if it cannot escape, or too much is produced, then your eye pressure will rise. (The aqueous fluid has nothing to do with tears.)

WHY CAN INCREASED EYE PRESSURE BE SERIOUS?

If the optic nerve comes under too much pressure then it can be injured. How much damage there is will depend on how much pressure there is and how long it has lasted, and whether there is a poor blood supply or other weakness of the optic nerve. A really high pressure will damage the optic nerve immediately. A lower level of pressure can cause damage more slowly, and then you would gradually lose your sight if it is not treated.

REMOVAL OF FOREIGN BODIES?

A ‘foreign body’ could be any type of material that blows, drops or lands in your eye.

Some objects like grit or paint may blow or drop onto the front of the eye or under one of your eyelids. These ‘superficial’ foreign bodies need to be removed to make sure they do not become embedded or to prevent irritation that may lead to a painful corneal abrasion or infection.

Activities such as hammering or grinding carry a risk of tiny pieces of metal entering your eye at high speed. They can cut through the outer layer of your eye (called the cornea) and can be extremely dangerous. If left untreated this could cause eye infections or loss of vision and may require surgery.

If you think you have a foreign body in your eye, you need to be checked and treated as soon as possible. You can request a private emergency appointment at a convenient time. Just ask any of our team for details.
In an emergency we recommend you attend;

The Eye Casualty (BMEC) City Hospital on Dudley Road
Tel : 01215543801

WHAT ARE ‘FLASHES’ AND ‘FLOATERS’

Spots or floaters are small, semi transparent or cloudy particles within the vitreous, which is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. They are quite common and usually, but not always, harmless.
Appearing as specks, threadlike strands or cobwebs, floaters are most visible when you look at a light background, such as the sky.

Floaters can be caused by:

• Deterioration of the vitreous fluid, which is part of the natural ageing process.
• Certain eye diseases or injuries.
• Small flecks of protein or other matter trapped during the formation of the eye before birth.

Seeing flashes or streaks of light can mean that the vitreous is detached from the back of your eye. Vitreous detachments are common are rarely lead to serious eye problems.

Although flashes and floaters are usually harmless, you should see your optometrist for a thorough eye examination when you first begin to see them or when you notice changes in them, as they can be symptoms of a retinal detachment which, although rare, requires urgent treatment.

The optometrist can determine if what you are seeing is harmless or the symptom of an eye problem which requires referral.

In case of Emergency we recommend you attend;

Birmingham Eye Hospital, Dudley Road, Winson Green, Birmingham B18 7QU
Tel : 0121 554 3801

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