Eye health care has advanced hugely over the years which means we can access state-of-the-art treatment for eye conditions, leading to excellent visual outcomes.
Here, leading specialist eye hospital group Optegra gives an overview of the range of treatments available for various common eye conditions; and provides advice on symptoms to look out for.
Leading treatments for common eye conditions plus expert top tips
One of the main eye conditions which affects one in three adults is cataract.
Regular eye tests are vital as they can spot early signs of cataract – and other sight-threatening eye conditions.
Cataract is a natural, age-related clouding of the lens in the eye. It can lead to blurry or compromised vision such as faded colours; and many cataract patients notice glare around lights.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed elective surgery across the NHS in the UK.
Contrary to popular belief, a cataract can be removed as soon as it starts to affect your vision – you do not have to wait for it to become ‘ripe’.
Optegra Eye Health Care is supporting the NHS in providing cataract surgery at hospitals and clinics across the country free of charge, to tackle the post-Covid waiting lists for eye surgery.
Standard cataract surgery – available privately or on the NHS at Optegra – uses a monofocal lens to replace the clouded cataract lens. This means you will continue to need your glasses if you are short or long-sighted.
However, as you can only have cataract surgery once, it’s important to understand the options available, especially around advanced cataract surgery or ‘refractive cataract surgery’ – which is where the advanced intraocular lens implant which can be used instead of a standard lens.
This multi-focal lens means you can have your cataracts removed and also improve your day-to-day vision (if you are short or long sighted) for the rest of your life, all in one procedure. This will minimise the need for ongoing use of glasses or contact lenses.
Vision Correction Surgery
Many of us are short or long sighted or have astigmatism which affects the shape of the eye – all of which affect our eye’s focusing power and can lead to us being dependent on spectacles or contact lenses.
While some are content with glasses or contacts, for others they are keen to have their vision corrected so they can have 20/20 vision unaided.
This could be because of day-to-day frustration with glasses on and off, or glasses getting in the way for work or hobbies, or due to the way glasses make you feel or change your appearance.
Just as there are countless reasons why people want to be free of glasses, there are many treatment options too. Here are some of the most popular laser eye surgery options available.
Laser eye surgery – LASIK, LASEK
These traditional and long-standing laser eye surgery treatments both work by changing the shape of the cornea, the front clear window of the eye, so that focus is modified and perfected.
LASEK is generally suitable for people with less serious eye focusing problems, thin corneas, or dry eyes.
Total time spent in the laser treatment room is around 10 minutes. The actual time the laser takes to do its job is no more than one minute, with results lasting decades – so patients can enjoy improved distance vision well into their 60s.
93% of LASK and LASEK Optegra patients achieve 20/20 vision without glasses after laser eye surgery.
ReLEx SMILE is the most advanced and minimally invasive laser eye surgery treatment. It is a bladeless procedure so there is no flap and recovery is speedy.
The procedure takes a matter of minutes, and vision is 80 per cent better within a few hours. After a few days, the vision is excellent, and it reaches 100 per cent within a few weeks (According to trials conducted on over 1,000 patients between the UK, Germany, France and Denmark).
100% of Optegra patients achieved driving standard or better after SMILE laser eye surgery
Implantable contact lens
For those with myopia (short-sight) and who are not suitable for laser eye surgery, perhaps because their prescription is too strong, an alternative is to place a soft contact lens within your eye – either between your natural lens and the iris, or between iris and cornea
This is a particularly good alternative for those under 40 because the natural lens of the eye, and its capacity for close-up vision, is retained.
100 per cent of all eyes treated at Optegra reached ‘driving test’ level and 99 per cent reached 20/20 “perfect vision”
Presbyopia – age-related need for reading glasses
Many of us hit our 40s and notice we have to hold our phone or book at arms length in order to read clearly. This is presbyopia, where the natural lens of the eye hardens and changes focusing power.
There are two options for treatment:
Presbyond is one of the most recent forms of laser eye surgery. It is a form of wavefront laser treatment which blends vision for distance and near between the dominant and non-dominant eye, reducing or eliminating the need for glasses.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) or Lens Replacement Surgery
Similar to cataract surgery where the natural lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens, refractive lens exchange uses a replacement lens tailored specifically to your needs and so you can be free of glasses or contacts after a 20-minute procedure. And as the lens is now synthetic, you will never get a cataract!
Eye symptoms to look out for
If you are experiencing problems with your eyes, Optegra’s simple guide to common eye conditions below may help you to understand what is wrong. However, you should always seek advice from your optician if you have any concerns.
- Colours hard to distinguish – can be early sign of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
- Dry eyes – may be dry eye disease, a common condition which can be treated with eye drops to make day-to-day life more comfortable
- Rainbow circles or haloes around lights – can be early sign of a type of glaucoma
- Straight lines appear wavy – can be early sign of AMD
- Irritable, sore eyes and itchy eyelids – could be blepharitis, a common inflammation of the eyelids
- Eyelid lumps – if persistent, changing or growing could be an indication of a tumour, seek referral from your GP or optician.
- Sudden drooping of the eyelid / double vision – may be a sign of neurological disease and needs urgent referral.
- Severe pain within the eye, for example, enough to cause vomiting/nausea – may indicate high eye pressure and angle-closure glaucoma
- Dark circles – can be hereditary but also a sign that you’re overly tired. Try to catch up on some sleep
- Frequent mild headaches – may be a sign of eye strain or sensitivity to light which can be managed with spectacles and sunglasses
- Severe and persistent headaches – could be a symptom of an issue within the brain and needs investigation.
- Flashing lights and floaters – can be a sign of a retinal tear, which is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment. Go to A&E if optician not available
Optegra’s five top tips for looking after your eyes:
1. Have your eyes checked regularly every two years by a healthcare professional. A lot of issues that can affect vision and eye health happen very slowly, so spotting them early can prevent long-term adverse effects on vision
2. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of coloured vegetables and oily fish
3. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays – if you would wear sun cream then wear sunglasses as this protects your eye and also the eyelids.
4. Take regular breaks from screen usage especially mobile phones and computers – follow the 20:20:20 rule, where you look 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, to give your eyes a rest and chance to refocus.
5. Wear protective eye wear when playing fast racquet sports like badminton and squash
For more information please visit www.optegra.com