Our eyes are one of the most-used organs in the entire human body. From the minute you wake until you go back to sleep, your eyes are constantly taking in and processing a huge amount of information.
Unfortunately, with the aging process, our eyesight can gradually worsen through the natural wear and tear of everyday use. However, just like most medical problems, early diagnosis and treatment is by far the most successful remedy for the majority of eye complaints.
The importance of regular visits to your optometrist
The bulk of age-related eye diseases (AREDs) and complaints tend to manifest themselves as minor annoyances; for example, losing the ability to focus on near or distant objects or perhaps a thinning of the eyelashes. However, often other, more serious problems can go undetected by the sufferer—sometimes resulting in permanent damage or even a complete loss of sight.
Visiting an optometrist is the best way to prevent serious conditions developing. A skilled eye specialist can make an early diagnosis of emerging issues and prevent them developing into more significant problems further down the line.
As the majority of eye problems come with age, regular visits to an optometrist increase in importance the older we get. As a general rule, you should arrange to visit an optometrist once in your 20s, twice in your 30s, and also when you reach 40 (thereafter you may be advised to make more regular appointments depending on the condition of your eyes). By the time you reach 65, you should arrange to see an eye specialist every 1-2 years.
Problems going undetected. Why suffer in silence?
Common eye complaints such as glaucoma or cataracts can often develop without the sufferer even realizing there is a problem. It’s very common for sufferers to just put up with worsening eye conditions, downplaying the seriousness of failing vision. Yet, treatment can, in many cases, be very simple—you shouldn’t suffer in silence.
For example, the surgery to treat cataracts is a relatively minor, simple operation involving the replacement of the damaged, original lens with a new, artificial cataract lens. In most cases, it can be performed in around an hour, with startlingly high success rates.
Warning signs of bigger issues
Clearly, eye problems and diseases vary in severity, however, if you experience any of the following symptoms, it can be a sign of more serious underlying problems and you should contact a doctor or eye specialist immediately:
- Irises changing color
- The appearance of a dark spot in your field of vision
- Crossed eyes
- Problems focusing on objects (near and far)
- Double, triple (or more) vision
- Itching or burning from dry eyes
- A cloudiness in your vision
- New or excessive discharge
- A bump on the eyelid
- Experiencing halos around bright lights or objects
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Having trouble or an inability to close an eyelid (or eyelids)
- Finding you’ve lost your peripheral vision
- Redness or swelling around the eye (or eyes)
- Spots, dots, or floaters in your vision
- Suddenly losing your sight
- Difficulty adjusting your focus in a darkened room
- Abnormal light sensitivity
- Lines you know should be straight appearing wavy or crooked