Abi Jackson looks at four common eye conditions.
CHANGES in your eyesight might not be the only reason for visiting an eye specialist.
Anything from pain and irritation to excessively watery eyes could indicate a need to get things checked.
Here, optometrist and dry eye specialist Sarah Farrant, talks us through some of the most common eye health symptoms...
1. Eye pain
It’s not unusual for eyes to ache if you have a bad cold or haven’t been sleeping well — but pain limited to the eyes can occur too, and it’s best to get it checked.
“Pain in the eye can be associated with numerous causes, so it’s important not to ignore it,” says Farrant. “If the pain is mild, but presents regularly as irritation or discomfort, the most likely cause is dry eye disease/syndrome, or blepharitis which causes inflammation of the eyelids.”
If you’re having day-to-day symptoms of redness, a gritty feeling in the eye and soreness, an optometrist is the best port of call.
And any sudden, severe eye pain and vision changes? Head to hospital, advises Farrant.
2. Watery, irritated eyes
Despite the name, watery eyes are actually a key symptom of dry eye syndrome. “Dry eye disease can manifest in lots of ways, with the most common symptoms being redness, burning or stinging, blurred vision, a gritty sensation or even, paradoxically, excessively watery eyes.
A lot of people confuse this with tiredness, so a good way to check is to stare straight ahead at something for as long as possible. If you feel discomfort, or need to blink before 10 seconds is up, it could be dry eye,” says Farrant.
“There is no cure for dry eye, but luckily there are lots of things we can do to manage it effectively.”
3. Bloodshot eyes
Hangovers and sleepless nights aside, are bloodshot eyes a cause for concern? “Bloodshot eyes can be a normal sign of ageing or caused by eye fatigue, contact lens wear, allergies, computer vision syndrome or dry eye disease, all of which an optometrist can help with,” says Fararant.
“If the redness is significant, it could be a sign of something more serious so shouldn’t be ignored, especially if it’s uncomfortable.
Some of the most common culprits are infections like conjunctivitis. Red eyes can also be indicative of serious issues such as corneal ulcers or ocular herpes, which can cause scarring on the eye. If you’re worried about your bloodshot eyes, make an appointment with your optometrist.”
4. Temporary visual disturbances
Strange, short-term changes in vision — possibly including partial or complete blindness for a brief period — might be due to ocular/retinal migraine, which can be very distressing.
“One in five people that suffer with migraines experience ocular migraines, so they are fairly common and usually cause vision problems in both eyes simultaneously,” says Farrant.
It’s important to get symptoms properly checked. “Ocular migraines aren’t always associated with a headache, so they can be difficult to recognise if you’re not used to them.
“If you’re not sure whether it is a migraine, you should seek advice from your GP or optometrist who can check your eyes for other potential issues, as similar symptoms can also be caused by mini strokes, or a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), and it’s important to catch these early.”
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