Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual loss in older patients. It causes bleeding and leakage at the centre of the retina (macula), which can blur the central vision. There are now treatments for the “wet” form of AMD.
Diabetic retinopathy can occur to anyone who has diabetes. The blood vessels at the back of the eye can leak or bleed, causing blurring or loss of vision. It is painless. All patients with diabetes require lifelong monitoring of their eyes. If they develop diabetic retinopathy, this can be treated in many cases if not left too late.
A retinal vein occlusion occurs when a vessel draining blood away from the eye (vein) is blocked. It is similar to having a stroke in the eye. They can cause blurring of central vision and are painless. It’s important to treat the cause (e.g. high blood pressure) as well as the eye.
Central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC) is a condition where a blister of fluid develops underneath the centre of the retina (the nerve tissue lining the back of the eye). It typically occurs in young to middle-aged males but can occur in anyone. A major risk factor is steroids, which sometimes may have been prescribed by your doctor. In many cases CSC will resolve by itself, but if it doesn’t then treatment with laser may be required.
Flashes are when one sees flashing lights in their vision. Floaters are seen as small specks or spots in one’s vision most obvious when one looks from side to side or at a white wall. Flashes and floaters require an eye check to exclude any retinal tears or detachment. If there is no retinal tear or detachment treatment is not usually required, although treatment is possible for some patients with very persistent annoying floaters.
The vitreous is the jelly that fills the back of the eye, similar to egg-white inside an egg. A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) occurs when this jelly separates off the retina (the nerve tissue lining the back of the eye). It is very common to develop a PVD with age. It can present with flashes and floaters and is painless. Often it is not dangerous, but it is important to get an eye check to ensure there are no retinal tears or detachment (see the videos on retinal tears and retinal detachment).
Retinal tears are breaks in the retina, or nerve-tissue lining the back of the eye. They usually just develop due to aging and are more common in people who are very short-sighted (myopic). They can present with flashes and floaters and are painless. Retinal tears require urgent treatment with laser or cryotherapy to prevent the retina detaching and vision loss (see the videos on flashes and floaters and retinal detachment).
A retinal detachment occurs when the retina, or nerve-tissue lining the back of the eye separates off the wall of the eye. They usually just develop due to aging but are more common in people who are very short-sighted (myopic). They can present with flashes, floaters, or a dark curtain in the vision. They are painless. Retinal detachment requires urgent treatment with surgery to re-attach the retina.
An epiretinal membrane is a scar tissue that grows on the surface of the retina. It usually just develops due to aging but sometime can occur due other eye diseases. It can gradually cause blurring of vison and distortion (when straight lines appear crooked) but is painless. If severe enough, surgery to peel off the epiretinal membrane is required.
The macula is the centre of the retina (the nerve tissue lining the back of the eye). A macular hole occurs when there is a full-thickness defect of the macula. Usually this just develops due to aging. It is also more common in short-sighted (myopic) people and can occasionally occur after trauma. Patients will notice blurring of their central vision and/or distortion (where straight lines appear crooked). It is painless. Most macular holes will require surgery to close the hole.
The vitreous is the jelly that fills the back of the eye, similar to egg-white inside an egg. Sometimes this starts to pull on the retina (the nerve tissue lining the back of the eye). This is called vitreomacular traction syndrome (VMTS). Patients will notice blurring of their central vision and/or distortion (where straight lines appear crooked). It is painless. If severe enough, surgery is required to remove the vitreous jelly from the eye.
Cataract is a common cause of visual loss in older patients. It occurs when the lens in the front of the eye changes from being clear to cloudy. It can cause blurring of vision, haloes around lights and a brown discolouration of vision. Cataract surgery fixes this, by removing the lens and replacing it with a new, plastic lens.
Glaucoma refers to damage of the optic nerve. Usually this is due to raised eye (intraocular) pressures. This causes painless loss of peripheral vision, but sometimes won’t have symptoms earlier in the disease process. Glaucoma is treated with eye drops, laser or surgery.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid margin. It can cause red, sore, itchy and dry eyes. It is managed by daily eyelid cleaning.
Now that you have had your cataract surgery, watch this video for “dos and don’ts” after the operation.
Now that you have had your retinal surgery (vitrectomy or scleral buckle), watch this video for “dos and don’ts” after the operation.