What is diabetic retinopathy and who is at risk? What is macular degeneration and how do you treat it? To maintain the health of your eyes, a comprehensive exam (including a retinal photograph) are important. These allow for the early detection of various eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Since many of these conditions develop without symptoms, they are often first discovered during a comprehensive eye examination. With early detection and appropriate treatment these and other conditions may be corrected or minimized with any potential sight loss reduced.
Learn more about the following conditions:
Age-related macular degeneration
A leading cause of blindness in older people is a condition called age-related macular degeneration. The macula is located in the centre of the retina (back of the eye) and is responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to see straight ahead. Aging can cause the macula to slowly degenerate and reduce central vision in people over 50 years of age. It is estimated that 8.5% of individuals between 43-54 years and 36.8% of those over 75 years have some degree of macular degeneration. For more information see NHS Choices.
Over 2.5 million people in the UK have diabetes, which is a leading cause of blindness, and there are more than half a million people with diabetes who have the condition and don’t know it. Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels supplying the retina and bleeding inside the eye may be the first sign of its presence. Vessels can become blocked, leaky or grow haphazardly. If left untreated, they can damage vision. For more information see NHS Choices.
Glaucoma of some type is found in about 2 per cent of the population over the age of 40. Sadly, approximately half of these people don’t know they have the disease. Almost every case of glaucoma develops without symptoms. Long-standing glaucoma without treatment can lead to severe vision loss. Early detection and treatment can prevent significant sight loss. For more information see NHS Choices.
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, a retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. Anyone can get a retinal detachment; however, they are far more common in nearsighted people, those over 50, those who have had significant eye injuries, and those with a family history of retinal detachments. For more information see NHS Choices.
Melanoma is a cancer that usually occurs on the skin. It develops from the cells that produce the dark-colored pigment melanin, which is responsible for our skin’s coloring. These cells, called melanocytes, are also found in other places in our bodies, such as our hair, the lining of our internal organs, and our eyes. So while most melanomas do begin to grow in the skin, it is possible for a melanoma to begin in other parts, including the eye. When melanoma does occur in the eye it is called ocular melanoma. For more information see NHS Choices.
The term ocular hypertension usually refers to any situation in which the pressure inside the eye, called intraocular pressure, is higher than normal. Eye pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal eye pressure ranges from 10-21 mm Hg. Ocular hypertension is an eye pressure of greater than 21 mm Hg. For more information see NHS Choices.