There are two types of Glaucoma: Acute Glaucoma and Chronic Glaucoma.
Acute Glaucoma or Angle Closure Glaucoma is caused by a blockage in the drainage channels of the eye causing a sudden build-up of pressure within the eye. Symptoms would be pain, blurred vision, red eyes, haloes around light sources and possibly total loss of vision. With immediate treatment at hospital this can be reversed.
Chronic Glaucoma is the most common type and predominantly affects older people. The drainage channels in the eye become silted up and cause a slow rise in the pressure of the eye, causing irreversible damage to the nerve at the back of the eye. This type has no initial symptoms and can only be detected by regular eye examinations. If untreated it causes loss of peripheral vision and eventual blindness, however early treatment means good vision is retained and damage minimised.
A cataract is the partial or complete loss of transparency of the lens within the eye. This may occur as a result of ageing, injury, other conditions (diabetes), exposure to UV light or can simply be inherited. There are many different forms of cataract, senile cataract is the most common and will affect most elderly people.
When the vision is significantly impaired, treatment would be the removal and replacement of the lens. This is performed on the NHS as well as privately, is done under local aesthetic and normally takes 30 minutes. It is the most commonly-performed operation in the world and has the highest success rate.
Dry Eye is a common condition, which typically affects people as they get older. It is characterised by itchy, gritty eyes that may also be red. It is often made worse by working in warm and dry environments as well as air conditioning. Confusingly, one of the most common symptoms of dry eye is that the eye waters excessively, especially in windy conditions.
There are a number of causes and an optometrist can advise you on the best course of treatment for your individual case.
Flashes and Floaters
These are a symptom rather than a condition, but are of particular note as they are a common symptom presented to us in practice. They can be the first sign of a retinal detachment, although most of the time they are not. As a result it is vitally important that they be examined as soon as possible. In the uncommon event that it is a detachment, by obtaining rapid treatment sight can be restored almost back to normal.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is currently the leading cause of sight loss in the western world, and is becoming more of a problem as we continue to live longer. There are two types of AMD, Dry AMD is a very slow progressive condition whereas Wet AMD is much more aggressive and affects the vision greatly very quickly. Dry AMD accounts for about 90% of cases, there is little to no treatment for Dry AMD but the progression of the condition can be slowed. Wet AMD on the other hand can be treated and if diagnosed quickly vision can be restored to manageable levels. One of the noticeable symptoms of AMD is a distortion to the central vision, if you feel you have this then visit an optometrist as soon as possible.
A Sub-conjuntival Haemorrhage is a very common cause of red eyes. It is caused by a sudden spike in blood pressure, most commonly caused by stress, both physical and mental. They are generally painless and most people do not notice they have one and somebody else often points it out. The occasional Sub-conjuntival Haemorrhage is nothing to worry about, but if they are occurring regularly it is best to seek advice from a professional.