Blog | Smithdown Eyecare Ltd.


188, Smithdown Road, Wavertree, Liverpool L15 3JT
0151 280 7777 • info@smithdowneyecare.co.uk
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Welcome to our knowledge centre.

Here you'll find a lot of answers to questions that are asked about your eyes, eye conditions and much more, but if you can't find the answer here please feel free to call us on 0151 280 7777 or send an e mail to us at info@smithdowneyecare.co.uk or just call in to the shop for a chat!
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Low Vision is a condition in which vision cannot be corrected by glasses, contacts, surgery or medicine. People who have vision loss are said to be visually impaired or to have Low Vision and their vision loss is usually caused by an underlying eye disease such as:
  • Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Other eye diseases and conditions

Those with Low Vision typically have difficulty reading, writing, watching television, recognizing people’s faces or engaging in other daily living tasks.
Low vision aids help visually impaired patients maximize their remaining vision. These aids are usually issued after an evaluation of the condition and the use of solutions/low vision aids that include both magnification devices and non-optical products such as updated lighting.
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Cataracts cause glare and haloes around lights, night driving problems, blurred, cloudy, filmy or fuzzy vision. It is normal for the lens inside the eye to change with age. With most people, the lens gradually becomes less clear and not as much light is able to pass through.

This is one of the reasons why people often need stronger light for reading as they become older. Because of this, more light is scattered within the eye which can result in greater sensitivity to bright light. The lens can even become cloudy, which is known as a cataract.

Cataracts are mostly found in people over the age of 70. Hundreds of thousands of people undergo successful treatment each year for cataracts. Treatment is not always necessary and usually depends on how much the cataract is interfering with your vision.
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Glaucoma is a gradual loss of peripheral vision leading to tunnel-like vision and even blindness. It causes damage to the optic nerve where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain.

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness. When left untreated, most types of Glaucoma progress towards a gradual worsening of irreversible, visual damage, often without any warning or symptoms.

Up to 50% of affected people are not even aware they have it. There are actually several types of glaucoma but the vast majority of cases are termed ‘primary’ as they occur without a known cause. Some forms do occur at birth but it generally appears in people aged 40 and over and it frequency increases with age along with other risk factors such as racial ancestry, family history and high myopia.

Although irreversible, early treatment or surgery can halt or slow down the disease and early detection is therefore essential. Regular eye exams are recommended and a family history of glaucoma will entitle you to a free NHS test if you are over 40.
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Blepharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelids. Oils and other products normally secreted by the eye and eyelids build up on the lid surface and eyelashes resulting in eye irritation and often redness. It’s a common disorder and occurs in two forms:
  • Anterior Blepharitis - this is when the inflammation affects the outside front edge of your eyelids, where your eyelashes are connected. Two possible causes are bacterial infection and dermatitis.
  • Posterior Blepharitis - this is when the inflammation affects the inside front edge of your eyelids, where they come into contact with your eye. This is caused when something affects the glands that are found at the rim of your eyelids, for example skin conditions such as dermatitis or acne rosacea.

Signs & Symptoms
Regardless of which type of blepharitis you have, you will probably experience such symptoms as eye irritation, burning, tearing, foreign body sensations, crusty debris (in the lashes, in the corner of the eyes or on the lids), dryness and red eyelid margins.

How can eyelid hygiene help?
Developing a regular routine of eye hygiene is essential in the treatment of blepharitis as it tends to recur and rarely disappears completely. It is important that you clean your eyelids every day, whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms. You should consider it part of your daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. Daily eyelid care helps prevent the build up of oils and crusted matter around the eyelid and lash area.

Treatment
Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis you have. Visit our specialist dry eye clinic for more information. Your treatment may include applying warm compresses to the eyelids, cleansing them, using an antibiotic and massaging the lids. If your blepharitis makes your eyes feel dry (usually because your tears evaporate more quickly) you may be recommended to use a dry eye treatment as well. The warm compresses are designed to both loosen crusts on your eyes before you cleanse them and make the tear secretions more liquid and less greasy.
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Dry Eye means that your eyes may not be making enough tears, that the tears which are being produced are of poor quality or that the tears that are produced evaporate away. The normal function of tears is to keep the surface of the eye wet and lubricated so any shortage of tears or reduction in their quality can produce a gritty, burning sensation of the eyes and can also disturb vision.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Dryness, burning or itchy eyes. Gritty eyes, irritation from wind or smoke. Blurred or smeary vision, tired, irritated or red eyes. Watery eyes, sensitivity to light or contact lens discomfort.

What are the causes of dry eye?
  • Ageing
  • Blepharitis
  • Dry environment and pollution
  • Computer use
  • Contact lens wear
  • LASIK surgery
  • Preservatives
  • Hormonal changes, especially in women e.g. menopause

Dry Eye may also be caused by general health problems or disease e.g. people with arthritis are more prone to Dry Eye (Sjogren's Syndrome = arthritis + Dry Eye + dry mouth)

Certain types of medications (anti-acne, some beta-blockers, oral contraceptives, antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants, alcohol & anti-depressants…) CAUTION: do not alter or adjust your prescribed medicines without discussing with your Doctor.
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In some cases patient's symptoms can be relieved simply by altering the external influences above. Environmental factors can be helped by making simple changes – for example avoidance of dehydrating environments such as air conditioning; if your job involves lots of computer work take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Protecting the eye from dehydrating influences such as a cold wind by wearing spectacles or sunglasses may also help.

Tears must be distributed efficiently, replaced or conserved in order to provide relief. As Dry Eye syndrome is caused by an imbalance of tears on the eye's surface the most logical way to treat the problem is to artificially replace the tears and by so doing improve both quantity and quality. Surprisingly, having a watery eye can actually be caused by a lack of tears. This results in dry patches which the eye tries to correct by a flood of watery tears. Sometimes too much tear flow just needs better lubrication; think of a car engine with water in it, it will be wet but will not be well lubricated. There are a variety of artificial tears available and you will be advised the best option for your particular problem and how to use your treatment.
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Smartphones, computer screens, eBook readers, smartwatches. On average, people own 4 digital devices and spend 60 hours a week accessing content on them.

The prolonged, everyday use can lead to digital eye fatigue, the ocular discomfort and visual disturbance that occur after 2 or more hours of digital device use. The most common and bothersome symptoms of digital eye fatigue are tiredness and dryness. Nearly 70% of adults report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain. Adults in their 20s are the hardest hit, with 73% of them reporting symptoms.

Tiredness and dryness
Although the number of hours a person spends using digital devices certainly plays a role (30% of adults spend more than 9 hours a day using digital devices!), the types of screens and switching among devices may also pose problems for many users. For instance, reflections and glare may cause users to squint or partially close their eyes to reduce the discomfort.
Glare, reflections, and luminance variations lead to blinking issues that ultimately contribute to tear instability and dry eyes. Evidence shows that concentrated computer screen use results in reduced blink rates, disrupting the normal distribution of tears and increasing corneal exposure.

But it’s not just the number of blinks that matter. The completeness of those blinks also affects tear stability. Inadequate blinking not only fails to coat the ocular surface sufficiently, but it may also reduce visual acuity and cause blurred vision.
Contact lens wearers feel this dryness more acutely than spectacle wearers. Up to 85% of contact lens wearers using digital devices experience at least one dryness-related symptom, compared with 71% of non-wearers.
Because 90% of patients don’t talk about the ocular discomfort they experience from using digital devices, many may assume that nothing can be done about it.
  • What types of digital devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) do you use?
  • How many hours a day do you use your digital devices?
How do your eyes feel after looking at digital devices for long periods of time or after a long day of using digital devices?
Some relief can be gained by blinking more frequently, taking regular short breaks from the digital screen to look at distance objects (the 20/20/20 rule), increasing the size of digital text, or adjusting the distance from their workstation. However, this seems to have limited success.

The better option is to book an appointment with us and we can discuss all the options available to you such as filters, computer specs, anti-fatigue lenses or contact lens updates.
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This condition occurs when the support cells that help the light sensitive cells at the macula function effectively become less efficient. This leads to a build up of waste materials at the macula, which can eventually affect central vision.

What is the macula?
The macula forms part of the retina, which is a layer of nerve cells that lines the inside of the eye. The macula is located at the back of the eye and is made up of many light-sensitive cells. These cells produce our vision and help us to complete detailed tasks such as writing and looking at photographs.

‘Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness in those over the age of 65 in western countries.’

Are there different types of age-related macular degeneration?
There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration. The main difference between the two types is that one involves the growth of new blood vessels behind the macula, and one does not.
‘Wet’ macular degeneration occurs when leaky new blood vessels develop. This can result in rapid loss of central vision, although peripheral or side vision is not affected.

‘Dry’ macular degeneration results from slow progressive age change. A person could have the early stages or dry macular degeneration and not notice any problems with their vision. Gradually, over many years, the central vision may start to deteriorate, although this may not occur in both eyes.

If a person has dry macular degeneration, they are more likely to go on to develop wet macular degeneration than someone who has no macular degeneration at all.

Who is at greater risk of age-related macular degeneration?
• People over 65 years of age
• People who smoke
• People without a balanced diet
• People who suffer from obesity

These are only general guidelines, and so it is important for everyone to have regular eye tests. When you go for an eye test, your optometrist will check the health of your eyes, including the retina and macula. He or she will be able to pick up signs of age-related changes and let you know about them.

People between the ages of 18 and 70 should normally have an eye test every two years. People aged over 70 should have an eye test annually. We will let you know if, for any reason, you should have your eyes examined more frequently than this.
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Diabetes can harm your eyes. It can damage the small blood vessels in your retina which is at the back of your eye. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also increases your risk of having glaucoma, cataracts, & other eye problems.
If you have diabetes, make sure you attend regular screening and get checked regularly at an opticians to take good care of your eyes.
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If you’re suffering from frequent headaches, ask yourself, “When was my last eye check?”
A routine eye exam can turn up a variety of issues that may be causing headaches. Astigmatism, long-sightedness, or presbyopia ( the need to wear reading glasses). These types of eye conditions can usually be corrected with the use of contact lenses or glasses. In some cases staring at the computer screen for too long, or working on overly bright or dim light may be the culprit. Adjusting workplace lighting, or remembering to take a break ( the 20 20 20 rule- see separate section on digital eye fatigue) to give your eyes a rest can remedy those problems. However, other things can cause headaches for example;
ear problems, jaw problems, sinus problems, arthritis, or high blood pressure.
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Astigmatism (some people say they have a "stigma" in their eyes) – This is when the cornea ( the front surface of your eye) or the crystalline lens ( the lens inside your eye) is an irregular shape, causing objects to appear blurry. A person with this condition may then squint in order to focus on what they are trying to see, which can contribute to the onset of a headache. Astigmatism is easily corrected in most cases with spectacle lenses, or contact lenses.
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The clinical term for long-sightedness is hyperopia. Here, an image is focused in effect somewhere behind the eye instead of on the retina ( the back of the eye) . Near objects, phones, tablet screens or other reading materials then appear blurry, meaning a person tends to squint in order to focus on them, which, again, can cause headaches. This is easily correctable with specs or contact lenses.
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Short or sometimes called Near-sightedness ( technically called myopia) is an eye condition where light focuses effectively in front of, instead of on, the retina ( the back of the eye). This causes distant objects to be blurry while close objects appear normal. Other symptoms may include headaches and eye strain. Severe near-sightedness is associated with an increased risk of retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma.
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