The eye is an incredible organ – it has many intricate structures, each with its own function to help you see clearly. Some of the more common conditions which may affect vision or eye health are described below.
Clear vision generally refers to the ability to see clearly at any distance without the need for glasses or contact lenses. It is common to have some level of prescription however it may be low enough for you to function well without any assistance.
Myopia, or short-sightedness as it is commonly known, is an eye condition where you do not see distant objects clearly. Glasses or contact lenses can be used to correct Myopia. This condition usually begins in school-age children and can continue to progress into adulthood. In children and teenagers with progressive myopia there are many treatments available to slow the progression.
What causes myopia?
Myopia develops when the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, is too curved or your eye is too long, therefore the light that enters your eye will not focus correctly. Studies of myopia indicate myopia is caused by both hereditary and environmental reasons. Environmental factors like staying indoors and excessive amounts of near work are linked to myopia.
Research suggests that children need to preferably spend at least two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia from developing. Near work on screens may not itself cause myopia but screens are responsible for children spending more time indoors than in previous years. Get outside and give your eyes a break from digital devices.
Can myopia be cured?
There is no cure for myopia. Properly prescribed glasses or contact lenses will help you to see clearly but will not cure your short- sightedness. Laser surgery to reshape your cornea and refocus light can correct myopia in some people and eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Will I have to wear glasses?
Your optometrist will tell you if you need to wear glasses full-time or part-time to enable you to see clearly. Sometimes you will need them only for some activities such as driving, going to the movies or in the classroom. Many short-sighted people use both glasses and contact lenses to help them see clearly. Contact lenses are great for people with an active lifestyle.
How can I tell if I am short-sighted?
Short-sighted people will see distant objects as a blur. Some people do not realise that they cannot see clearly but an eye examination by an optometrist will test for myopia. Optometrists use an eye chart to gauge how well you see in the distance, and place different lenses in front of your eyes to find the lenses that give you the clearest vision. Using these results and other tests, your optometrist can tell if you are short-sighted.
How can I tell if my child is short-sighted?
An eye examination is the only sure way of determining whether your child is short-sighted. Some clues to myopia in a child are:
» Squinting or screwing up their eyes to see distant objects
» Difficulty reading the board at school
» Lack of interest in playing outdoor games
What can optometrists do to help prevent my child’s myopia from getting worse?
Currently, there are a handful of treatments which show promise in slowing the progression of myopia in children and teens. These include atropine eye drops, orthokeratology (“ortho-k”) and multifocal/bifocal glasses or multifocal contact lenses. These treatments can induce changes in the structure and focus of the eye to reduce stress and fatigue associated with the progression of myopia. It is important to chat about these myopia control options with your child’s optometrist. It is important for parents to be aware of these different treatments because slowing the progression of myopia in children may prevent the development of severe myopia (or high myopia), which can cause serious eye health problems in adulthood. High myopia can increase risks of cataracts, glaucoma and serious retinal problems later in life that can cause permanent vision loss.
Hyperopia may also be called long-sightedness or far-sightedness. In most cases it causes blurry vision or eye strain when focusing on anything nearby, however, those with significant longsightedness will find all distances blurry. In children it may cause a lazy or turned eye. Hence it is important to have children’s eyes tested.
People who are long-sighted often experience eyestrain and headaches and may feel tired at the end of the day. Hyperopia is a very common eye condition affecting almost half of the Australian population.
What causes hyperopia?
The size and shape of your eye is largely responsible for this condition which is usually hereditary. If the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, is not sufficiently curved or your eye is too short, the light that enters your eye will not focus correctly.
Can hyperopia be cured?
Hyperopia cannot be cured but properly prescribed glasses or contact lenses will make tasks much easier by improving how clearly you see and making it more comfortable for your eyes.
Will I have to wear glasses?
Your optometrist will tell you if you need to wear glasses full-time or part-time to help you see clearly. You are likely to need to wear glasses when you are reading books and magazines, using computers and performing other tasks that require you to focus up close.
Glasses are a good option for vision correction. They make a fashion statement and come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Contact lenses worn on the eyes are also a great option and may provide better vision, particularly if you lead an active lifestyle.
How can I tell if I am long-sighted?
People with hyperopia can often see clearly when looking at distant objects and may not realise they need glasses. It is important to have an eye examination by an optometrist who will be able to test how well you see up close by placing different lenses is front of your eyes. Using this information and other tests, the optometrist can tell if you are long-sighted and prescribe lenses that give you the clearest and most comfortable vision.
How does hyperopia affect me?
If you have mild hyperopia, you may not notice any problems but in other cases your optometrist may prescribe glasses or contact lenses that will help enhance your vision.
Astigmatism is a common eye condition which causes fine detail, at any distance, to appear smudged, ghosting or doubling. People who are long-sighted or short-sighted often also have astigmatism, or astigmatism can occur by itself. Some symptoms of astigmatism may be eyestrain, headaches or feeling tired at the end of the day. In most cases glasses or contact lenses can correct Astigmatism. Rarely if astigmatism is caused by an eye disease, surgery may be necessary.
What causes astigmatism?
Astigmatism occurs due to the cornea or lens, the parts of the eye that are responsible for focusing light, having a different curvature in one direction compared to the other. If the curve of the cornea or lens is not perfectly round but is shaped more like a football, astigmatism will result and the eye will not be able to focus light accurately onto the retina. This is called a refractive error.
Will wearing glasses make my eyes worse?
Wearing glasses or contact lenses to correct astigmatism will not weaken your eyes.
Will contact lenses correct astigmatism?
While prescription glasses are the primary choice of vision correction for astigmatism, contact lenses can also be used and are a great option for active adults and children.
Can astigmatism be cured?
Properly prescribed glasses or contact lenses will make tasks much easier by improving how clearly you see and making it more comfortable for your eyes but astigmatism cannot be cured and is usually caused by something you inherit from your parents.
Will I have to wear glasses?
Your optometrist will tell you if you need to wear glasses full-time or part-time to help you see clearly. If you have mild astigmatism you may not need glasses at all. Otherwise, you may need glasses part- or full- time when reading books, using computers, driving, going to the cinema and performing other tasks that require you to see fine detail clearly.
How can I tell if I have astigmatism?
People with astigmatism may see clearly when looking at objects and may not realise they need glasses. It is common for people with astigmatism to have difficulty seeing clearly at all distances and they may develop eyestrain and headaches.
It is important to have an eye examination by an optometrist who will be able to test how well you see by placing different lenses in front of your eyes. Using this information and other tests, the optometrist can tell if you have astigmatism and prescribe lenses that give you the clearest and most comfortable vision.
How does astigmatism affect me?
If you have mild astigmatism you may not notice any problems but in other cases your optometrist may prescribe glasses or contact lenses that will help enhance your vision.
Prescription glasses are a good option for vision correction. They are considered a fashion statement and come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Contact lenses worn on the eyes are also a great option and may provide better vision, particularly if you have an active lifestyle. Your local optometrist can provide you with more information and help you select the treatment that meets all your eye care and lifestyle needs.
Presbyopia causes difficulty with near vision. It is the gradual reduction in flexibility of the lens of the eye with age. A normal part of aging, presbyopia usually becomes noticeable between the ages of 40 and 50. People who first experience presbyopia often find they have to hold things further away to be able to see them clearly. Presbyopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
What causes presbyopia?
Inside the eye there is a lens about the size of a pea. To focus clearly on close objects, such as when you read, special muscles in the eye change the shape of the lens to provide clear focus. With age the lens becomes less flexible and the muscles can no longer change the shape of the lens to provide clear focus on close objects. This is a completely normal change that occurs in all people.
At what age does presbyopia occur?
There is no age when presbyopia begins. Generally, the changes to the lens that cause presbyopia occur from childhood but presbyopia is most commonly apparent to people around 40 years of age. Some people may notice that presbyopia develops suddenly while others say the changes are gradual. Presbyopia cannot be prevented and everyone experiences the symptoms of presbyopia.
How will I know I have presbyopia?
You may have presbyopia if you find yourself holding near objects at arm’s length to see them clearly, near print becomes blurry, or you find your eyes become tired very quickly when reading. It is important to have an eye examination with an optometrist who will test how well you see up close by placing different lenses in front of your eyes. Using information from this and other tests, your optometrist can tell if you have presbyopia.
Can presbyopia be cured?
No, but properly prescribed glasses or contact lenses will make seeing clearly up close much easier.
Why do I need a new prescription every two years?
Once presbyopia begins, the lens continues to lose flexibility. Between the ages of 40 and 60 years, you may need to change your prescription every few years to ensure that you are able to see as well as you always did.
How does presbyopia affect me?
Your optometrist will tell you if you need to wear glasses to help you see clearly. You are likely to need to wear glasses when you are reading books and magazines, using computers and performing other tasks that require you to focus up close. Often, prescription glasses for reading are prescribed first. These give excellent vision for reading but are blurry if you look through them into the distance and you have to take them off to walk around. If you need clear distance and near vision at the same time, talk to your optometrist about bifocals or multifocals, which are great options for vision correction. Contact lenses are also a good solution and may provide better vision, particularly if you lead an active lifestyle.
Visual Fatigue generally refers to the symptoms caused by focussing disorders. These can be due to screen use, eye muscle abnormalities or not wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses when they’re needed. In some cases focussing disorders can be managed with an updated pair of glasses or contact lenses and some guidance to best setting up your working environment. For more information on visual fatigue from digital eye strain, Laura, one of our Optometrists, has written articles you can access here and here.
Will computers damage my eyes?
This is a common myth, and there is no evidence that using a computer can cause damage to the eyes. While there are theories that excessive close work and eyestrain in children can increase the risk of being short-sighted, the symptoms of computer vision syndrome are temporary and can be treated by visiting your optometrist for an eye examination.
Will wearing glasses when using the computer help?
Prescription glasses are used to correct an underlying vision or focusing problem. Your optometrist will examine your eyes and inform you if you need prescription glasses for computer use.
How far away from the screen should I be?
Sitting at a distance of about one arm’s length from the screen will provide the most comfortable viewing distance.
What is computer vision syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome is the name for a group of eye and vision symptoms that might be experienced as a result of viewing a computer screen.
What are the symptoms of computer vision syndrome?
More than 50 per cent of computer users will experience discomfort and vision problems when using a computer for long periods. The common symptoms include eyestrain, blurred vision, dry and irritated eyes, headaches and general discomfort when viewing the screen. These can be caused by an uncorrected vision problem, improper viewing distances, poor posture, or environmental factors such as poor lighting and glare from the screen. Small levels of short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism can often cause problems if uncorrected.
What causes computer vision syndrome?
For most of us, our eyes prefer to focus further than six metres away, so viewing a computer screen forces our eyes to work harder. Viewing a computer screen is also different from reading from a printed page. Often the type we are viewing is not as clear and perhaps there is glare reflecting off the screen or we are spending many hours at our desks. The combination of all these unique characteristics and our eyes having to work harder can often lead to difficulty.
Who gets computer vision syndrome?
Anyone who uses a computer, tablet or hand-held device may experience the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. If you view a screen for excessive periods without regular breaks or have an underlying vision problem, you are most likely to experience eye and vision symptoms when using the computer.
How can my optometrist help?
To help you see clearly, your optometrist may suggest eye drops, regular breaks or prescription glasses if you have an underlying vision problem. Glasses are used to correct vision but also make a fashion statement, and come in a large range of shapes, sizes and colours.
To see clearly and without confusion at close distances, the two eyes must be aimed precisely at the object you are trying to see. Unfortunately not everyone develops this ability in childhood. Inaccurate alignment of the eyes can result in visual fatigue, blurred or double vision, poor judgement of depth, eye ache, headache and mental fatigue.
Convergence excess is a condition in which a child’s eyes have a tendency to aim closer than at the object that the child is trying to see. It is possible to achieve correct aim only by exerting extra effort and prolonged periods of close work can cause considerable discomfort.
Many cases of convergence excess are due to long-sightedness. When long-sighted people require extra effort to focus (accommodate) to see clearly at close range, it causes their eyes to turn in too far, which creates the convergence excess. Convergence excess affects about 10 per cent of schoolchildren. In cases where convergence excess causes symptoms, it can be treated with reading spectacles or bifocals that relax the convergence and focusing systems, removing the need for extra effort. This often allows longer and more efficient concentration on close tasks.
Eye exercises usually are not successful in treating convergence excess.
Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes have a tendency to aim farther away than the object at which they are supposed to be pointed. Correct aim can be achieved only through extra effort. Convergence insufficiency affects about five per cent of children and up to 10 per cent of adults.
Convergence insufficiency is perhaps the simplest and most successfully treated eye coordination problem. Eye exercises are employed to train the eyes to aim efficiently without excessive effort. Normal convergence is usually attained after three or four weeks of daily exercises. Spectacles may be a useful aid to treatment, especially when there is also a focusing problem involved, although on their own they will rarely solve the problem.
Your Eye Health
As part of a comprehensive consultation we examine and assess your eye health. Some eye conditions may be hereditary or vision affecting, some may not. Additionally some conditions are age-related or caused by systemic diseases or medications.
Cataracts occur when the normally clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. Having a cataract, or cataracts, causes blurred and reduced vision. While most cataracts are found in people aged over 50, cataracts can also occur at younger ages. Cataracts can be removed with surgery and clear replacement lenses are inserted in their place.
When is my cataract ‘ripe’ enough for surgery?
This is a common myth. The decision to have your cataract removed is based on how much a cataract is interfering with vision, and not on waiting until a cataract gets worse.
Are cataracts removed with lasers?
Yes. You now have the choice to have your cataracts removed using the latest laser technology, known as Laser-assisted Cataract Surgery.
Do cataracts grow back?
No. However, very rarely a different secondary cataract may develop following surgery. The good news is this can be fixed easily by your eye surgeon with a painless and quick procedure.
What are cataracts?
When the normally clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy, this is known as a cataract. Having a cataract is like looking through a dirty window. They range from very small to large cataracts that can cause vision loss.
What causes cataracts?
Most cataracts are a normal change due to advancing age but they can be caused by eye injuries, toxic chemicals or diseases like diabetes. Smoking and exposure to ultraviolet light are also risk factors that contribute to the development of cataracts.
Who gets cataracts?
While most cataracts are found in people over the age of 50 years, cataracts can occur in those younger than 50.
How will I know if I have cataracts?
In their early stages, cataracts may develop in one eye before the other, without pain and with little effect on your vision. Signs of advancing cataracts include blurred vision, sensitivity to light especially at night, and a feeling of looking through a film.
How does an optometrist diagnose cataracts?
As part of your eye examination, your optometrist will check the health of your eyes. This includes using a special microscope to look at the lens inside your eye for any sign of cataract formation. Using these results and information from other tests, optometrists are able to tell if you have cataracts.
Can cataracts be treated?
Many people with small cataracts that are not advancing can be helped with new prescription glasses and a regular eye health examination. When cataracts begin to affect your vision, interfering with your ability to work or drive, your optometrist will talk to you about the benefits of referring you to an ophthalmologist, or eye surgeon, to consider surgery to remove the cataracts. This operation is generally uncomplicated and has a very high success rate although, like all surgery, complications can occur.
How will I know when I need to have cataracts removed?
Because cataracts often progress slowly, you may not know you have a cataract or whether your cataract is making your vision worse. The best way to monitor your cataract is with a regular eye examination with your optometrist who will help you to maximise your vision, make sure your vision is safe for driving and talk to you about the right time for surgery to have the cataract removed.
Macular degeneration, also known as age related macular degeneration (AMD), is the leading cause of legal blindness in Australia, responsible for 50% of all cases of blindness. It is possible to reduce the risk of losing sight from AMD by adopting a healthy lifestyle and regularly having your eyes tested.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly damaged, causing a loss of peripheral vision. Glaucoma Australia reports that the disease affects 300,000 Australians, however due to glaucoma having little to no symptoms, half are not aware that they have the disease. Glaucoma is often nicknamed the ‘silent thief of sight’ because peripheral (side) vision loss occurs at such a gradual pace, it often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Glaucoma detected early and treated reduces damage and loss of vision. Click here for more information on Glaucoma.
Floaters are small, dark, shadowy shapes that float within the eye and are seen in the field of vision. They occur when the clear jelly inside the eye, known as the vitreous, breaks down. Floaters are very common and after some time are easily adapted to. Flashes of light in your vision may happen alone, or with floaters, and are a warning sign of possible retinal issues. If you notice flashes or floaters for the first time, or a change in the number or size of the floaters you normally see, you should have an eye exam urgently, contact us or book an appointment online.
Most people have experienced the feeling of dry eyes at some time. The condition can range from a mild irritation to a long-term condition associated with great discomfort or pain, and can affect your vision. Dry eye is very common but people who suffer from it shouldn’t think they just have to live with it, as there are several treatment options. Click here for more information about Dry Eye Treatment.
A red, sore, watery, painful and light sensitive eye, or eyes may indicate an eye infection or inflammatory event. Infections and inflammatory events may be caused by contact lens wear, a systemic condition or without a known cause. If you have an acute episode of any of the above symptoms please contact us to book an eye examination urgently.
Diabetes may have an effect on the eyes, in particular in the form of Diabetic Retinopathy. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. All people with diabetes are at risk of vision loss and blindness, especially those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. With timely detection and treatment, 98 per cent of vision loss from diabetes is preventable. Click here for more information on Diabetic eye disease.
Colour Vision Deficiency is a condition where some colours appear duller or a different tone entirely, making it sometimes difficult to identify particular colours correctly. It is commonly hereditary and occurs mostly in males. It is usually diagnosed in childhood so particular career advice can be given, hence it is important for children to have regular eye tests.