“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry-David Thoreau

How true is this age old saying from Henry? Having perfect sight is such a privilege. We often take it for granted and it is only when we lose our sight or part of it that one realises the importance of clear vision.

October is Eye Care Awareness month in South Africa. The theme of this year is: MAKE VISION COUNT and we thought that it would be a good idea to base our newsletter this month on general eye conditions and diseases. We will discuss the signs and symptoms and some treatment options that are available.

With the technology that is available to us, early diagnosis is important and treatment of eye conditions can start early to reduce any long-term effects. At De Jongh Optometry we keep up with this ever-changing technology to ensure that our patients get the best eye care. We have a very good working relationship with the Ophthalmologists, General Practitioners, and Occupational Therapists in our area to make sure that our patients are treated holistically.

According to the National Eye Institute, the following are the most common refractive problems:

NEAR-SIGHTEDNESS / MYOPIA

What is near-sightedness?

Near-sightedness, also known as myopia, is a common type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, but distant objects appear blurry.

How does near-sightedness develop?

Near-sightedness develops in eyes that focus images in front of the retina instead of on the retina, which results in blurred vision. This occurs when the eyeball becomes too long and prevents incoming light from focusing directly on the retina. It may also be caused by an abnormal shape of the cornea or lens.

Who is at risk for near-sightedness?

Near-sightedness can affect both children and adults. Near-sightedness is often diagnosed in children between 8 and 12 years of age and may worsen during the teen years. Little change may occur between ages 20 to 40, but sometimes near-sightedness may worsen with age. People whose parents are near-sighted may be more likely to get the condition.

What are the signs and symptoms of near-sightedness?          

Some of the signs and symptoms of near-sightedness include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty seeing distant objects, such as highway signs

How is near-sightedness diagnosed?

An eye care professional can diagnose near-sightedness and other refractive errors during a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People with this condition often visit their eye care professional with complaints of visual discomfort or blurred vision.

How is near-sightedness corrected?

Near-sightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct near-sightedness. Your eye care professional can prescribe lenses that will correct the problem and help your eyes see at their best.

Contact lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses may provide clearer vision, wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. However, contact lenses may not be the best option for everyone. If you perhaps suffer from certain eye conditions you may not be able to wear contact lenses. Discuss this with your eye care professional.

Refractive surgery aims to permanently change the shape of the cornea, which will improve refractive vision. Surgery can decrease or eliminate dependency on wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses. There are many types of refractive surgeries and surgical options should be discussed with an eye care professional.

FARSIGHTEDNESS / HYPEROPIA

What is farsightedness?

Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, is a common type of refractive error where distant objects may be seen more clearly than objects that are near. However, people experience farsightedness differently. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. For people with significant farsightedness, vision can be blurry for objects at any distance, near or far.

How does farsightedness develop?

Farsightedness develops in eyes that focus images behind the retina instead of on the retina, which can result in blurred vision. This occurs when the eyeball is too short, which prevents incoming light from focusing directly on the retina. It may also be caused by an abnormal shape of the cornea or lens.

Who is at risk for farsightedness?

Farsightedness can affect both children and adults. People whose parents are farsighted may also be more likely to get the condition.

What are the signs and symptoms of farsightedness?

The symptoms of farsightedness vary from person to person. Your eye care professional can help you understand how the condition affects you.

Common signs and symptoms of farsightedness include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Blurry vision, especially for close objects

How is farsightedness diagnosed?

An eye care professional can diagnose farsightedness and other refractive errors during a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People with this condition often visit their eye care professional with complaints of visual discomfort or blurred vision.

How is farsightedness corrected?

Farsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct farsightedness. Your eye care professional can prescribe lenses that will help correct the problem and help your eyes see their best.

Contact lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses may provide clearer vision, wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. However, contact lenses may not be the best option for everyone. If you perhaps suffer from certain eye conditions you may not be able to wear contact lenses. Discuss this with your eye care professional.

Refractive surgery aims to permanently change the shape of the cornea which will improve refractive vision. Surgery can decrease or eliminate dependency on wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses. There are many types of refractive surgeries and surgical options should be discussed with an eye care professional.

ASTIGMATISM

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common type of refractive error. It is a condition in which the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

How does astigmatism occur?

Astigmatism occurs when light is bent differently depending on where it strikes the cornea and passes through the eyeball. The cornea of a normal eye is curved like a basketball, with the same degree of roundness in all areas. An eye with astigmatism has a cornea that is curved more like a football, with some areas that are steeper or more rounded than others. This can cause images to appear blurry and stretched out.

Who is at risk for astigmatism?

Astigmatism can affect both children and adults. Some patients with slight astigmatism will not notice much change in their vision. It is important to have eye examinations at regular intervals in order to detect any astigmatism early on for children.

What are the signs and symptoms of astigmatism?

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Distorted or blurred vision at all distances
  • Difficulty driving at night

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your eye care professional. If you wear glasses or contact lenses and still have these issues, a new prescription might be needed.

How is astigmatism diagnosed?

Astigmatism is usually found during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Being aware of any changes in your vision is important. It can help in detecting any common vision problems. If you notice any changes in your vision, visit your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye examination.

Can you have astigmatism and not know it?

It is possible to have mild astigmatism and not know about it. This is especially true for children, who are not aware of their vision being other than normal. Some adults may also have mild astigmatism without any symptoms. It’s important to have comprehensive dilated eye exams to make sure you are seeing your best.

How is astigmatism corrected?

Astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Individual lifestyles affect the way astigmatism is treated.

Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct astigmatism. Your eye care professional will prescribe appropriate lenses to help you see as clearly as possible.

Contact Lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses provide clearer vision, a wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. However, contact lenses are not right for everyone. Discuss this with your eye care professional.

Refractive surgery aims to change the shape of the cornea permanently. This change in eye shape restores the focusing power of the eye by allowing the light rays to focus precisely on the retina for improved vision. There are many types of refractive surgeries. Your eye care professional can help you decide if surgery is an option for you.

PRESBYOPIA

Better known as ‘short-arm- syndrome’. Age related eye condition that is caused by the ageing fibres of the eye’s internal lens. Reading and near tasks are difficult to perform – especially in low light conditions. Distance objects remain clear and comfortable to see. Affects mostly people over the age of 40. Treatments include: reading spectacles, bifocals, multi-focal or contact lenses.

PTERYGIUM

Very common vascularised growth onto cornea and is most commonly seen on the inside of the eye.  High UV exposure and dry, windy climates cause it. Mostly treated with ocular lubricants to reduce the symptoms of dryness and discomfort. If the pterygium causes visual disturbances, surgery is indicated.

CATARACTS

Very common in patients over the age of 50. It is a cloudiness of the internal lens and risk factors include age, smoking, diet, medication, and general health. Most common symptoms include blurred vision, haloes, and glare with night driving. Replacement of the lens is indicated as soon as visual quality is affected. One of the most common eye operations done today by Ophthalmologists.

GLAUCOMA

Increased intra ocular pressure that if left untreated can cause blindness. The pressure causes damage to the optic nerve which takes information from the eye to the brain. Risk factors include age, smoking, hypertension, family history of glaucoma. Depending on the type of glaucoma that is diagnosed, different treatment options are available. Most common treatment is eye drops that lower the eye pressure. Symptoms include blurry vision and if left untreated, tunnel vision.  Glaucoma is also known as the silent thief of vision because majority of cases have no symptoms.

AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION

Painless eye condition that causes irreversible loss of central vision. Central vision is important for reading, writing, and driving. It does not affect your peripheral (side) vision and you would not go completely blind by it. It mostly affects the elderly and has a big genetic component. Cigarette smoking is the only modifiable risk factor. Early diagnosis is very important and the sooner it is identified the better the treatment options, which include: supplemental antioxidants / vitreous injections.

STRABISMUS

Better known as a squint, this condition is a misalignment of the eyes. Often seen in young children. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical. If left untreated amblyopia (eye laziness) can develop. Treatment options include spectacles, visual therapy, or surgery.

At De Jongh Optometry we have a passion for helping patients that struggle with daily tasks due to loss of vision. We have an expert low vision unit in our practice that specifically helps patients with magnifying or electronic devices to improve their quality of life and daily activities by enhancing the vision that is left.

We also make sure that during your yearly eye examination the eye is thoroughly examined. Giving spectacles is only a small part of the comprehensive eye exam. Eye health evaluation is critical and very important to detect diseases early.

Early diagnosis gives our patients the opportunity to receive treatment as quick as possible and it improves the vision quality for longer. Don’t be fooled by a quick vision screening when you go for your driver’s license renewal. Although everything might appear normal there are numerous eye conditions that do not present with specific symptoms until a later stage of development.

Make your appointment at De Jongh Optometry today – our friendly and professional team will ensure that your eyes are very well cared for!