Eye DiseasesFinding the right eyewear for you

Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudy patches that develop in the lens of your eye and can cause blurred or misty vision. They are very common.

The lens is the transparent structure that sits just behind your pupil. It allows light to get to the back of your eye (retina).

In some people, cataracts develop in the lens as they get older, stopping some of the light from reaching the back of the eye.

Over time, the cataracts become worse and start affecting vision. Many people with cataracts will eventually need surgery to remove and replace the affected lens.

Symptoms of cataracts

Cataracts develop over many years and problems may at first be unnoticeable. They often develop in both eyes, although each eye may be affected differently.

You will usually have blurred, cloudy or misty vision, or you may have small spots or patches where your vision is less clear.

Cataracts may also affect your sight in the following ways:

  • you may find it more difficult to see in dim or very bright light
  • the glare from bright lights may be dazzling or uncomfortable to look at
  • colours may look faded or less clear
  • everything may have a yellow or brown tinge
  • you may have double vision
  • you may see a halo (a circle of light) around bright lights, such as car headlights or street lights
  • if you wear glasses, you may find that they become less effective over time

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition which can affect sight, usually due to build up of pressure within the eye.

Glaucoma often affects both eyes, usually to varying degrees. One eye may develop glaucoma quicker than the other.

The eyeball contains a fluid called aqueous humour which is constantly produced by the eye, with any excess drained though tubes.

Glaucoma develops when the fluid cannot drain properly and pressure builds up, known as the intraocular pressure.

This can damage the optic nerve (which connects the eye to the brain) and the nerve fibres from the retina (the light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye).

Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. But early diagnosis is important because any damage to the eyes cannot be reversed. Treatment aims to control the condition and minimise future damage.

If left untreated, glaucoma can cause visual impairment. But if it’s diagnosed and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be prevented.

Attending regular optician appointments will help to ensure any signs of glaucoma can be detected early and allow treatment to begin.

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that generally leads to the gradual loss of central vision but can sometimes cause a rapid reduction in vision.

Central vision is used to see what is directly in front of you. In AMD, your central vision becomes increasingly blurred, leading to symptoms such as:

  • difficulty reading because the text appears blurry
  • colours appearing less vibrant
  • difficulty recognising people’s faces

AMD usually affects both eyes, but the speed at which it progresses can vary from eye to eye.

AMD does not affect the peripheral vision (outer vision), which means it will not cause complete blindness.

Macular degeneration develops when the macula (the part of the eye responsible for central vision) is unable to function as effectively as it used to. There are two main types of AMD, called ‘dry AMD’ and ‘wet AMD’.

Dry AMD

Dry AMD develops when the cells of the macula become damaged as a result of a build-up of waste products called drusen. It is the most common and least serious type of AMD, accounting for around nine out of 10 cases.

The loss of vision is gradual, occurring over many years. However, an estimated one in 10 people with dry AMD will then go on to develop wet AMD.

Wet AMD

Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula and damage its cells (doctors sometimes refer to wet AMD as neovascular AMD).

Wet AMD is more serious and without treatment, vision can deteriorate within days.

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