Five things not to ignore about your eyes

Eye problems don't conveniently disappear in a lockdown. Although most eye problems will be mild and not need urgent attention we feel it's important our patients are aware of the distinction between urgent eye problems and those that can wait for a routine appointment when we reopen.

Below we have summarised 5 things not to ignore about your eyes. If you are experiencing any of these problem please get in touch ( and we can triage you to another local optometrist who will be able to see you and refer to an ophthalmologist if necessary.

Five things NOT to ignore about your eyes
If this raises any concerns then please get it touch and we can triage you to a local eye specialist

1. Distorted central vision

One of the first signs of macular degeneration is distorted vision.

The macula is part of the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye called the retina and it works in much the same way as a film in a camera. The macula is the name given to the central part of the retina. It is a very important area as it is here that the light sensitive cells are most densely packed. If you again think of a camera it is the macula that has the most pixels and the best resolution, therefore it is responsible for our precise, detailed central vision. If the macula was damaged, you would find it hard to read or recognise faces but walking around would be manageable as we mostly use our peripheral vision for this.

In the early stages of macular degeneration fluid or blood leakage can build up under the macula, which can distort its layer of light sensitive cells. If the macula is distorted the vision also appears distorted. Often people report that a lamp post looks like it has bend or bulge in it. Others may notice a blob in the central vision. If this is left untreated it can cause permanent damage to the light sensitive cells at the retina, leading to permanent visual loss.

It is therefore very important that if you notice distortion in your central vision to speak to your optician immediately or go to the nearest eye department A&E.

2. Double Vision- One image on top of the other

Double vision is normal. We may not notice it but when we look at an object everything in front and behind it is double. Try it now; hold one finger in front of another and you will notice the finger you are not looking at is double. We may also notice double vision when we are tired or perhaps when we have had a few drinks! The important thing about this natural double vision is that the images are side by side or horizontal. What is also important is that you can control it and it doesn't happen all of the time.

However, what is not normal is vertical double vision, when the images are one on top of the other. If you notice vertical double vision the reasons behind it need to be investigated. There are many possible causes, such as conditions that effect the eye muscles. These include myasthenia gravis, thyroid disease and diabetes, which can all affect the nerves and muscles that control vision. In addition, stroke, aneurysm, brain tumour and swelling of the brain will also need to be ruled out. So DON'T ignore these symptoms. Speak to your optician or doctor straight away.

3. Sudden increase in floaters and/or flashes in your vision

People who have healthy eyes see floaters. They appear as spots, lines or cobwebs, usually when you look at a plain surface such as a white wall or a clear blue sky. They are caused by particles literally floating in the jelly (vitreous) of the eye. Longstanding stable floaters are a normal part of most people's vision.

Sometimes the vitreous jelly shrinks a little and tugs on the retina (the light-sensitive layer) at the back of the eye. This can cause flashes of light at the edge of the vision. If the vitreous pulls too hard on the retina it could cause a hole or tear on the retina and at the same time release many more floaters into the vitreous. If a retinal hole is left untreated then the retina can peel away from the back of the eye. This is known as a retinal detachment and will cause permanent visual loss.

You should contact your optometrist immediately if you notice:

-a sudden increase in floaters in your vision

-flashes in your vision

-a curtain or veil over your vision

4. A sudden change or loss of vision

When we need new glasses, changes in our vision happen gradually over many months or years. Therefore a sudden change in our vision is unlikely to do with a simple specs update and more likely associated with an active pathology or condition of the eyes. It could be caused by the aforementioned retinal detachment or macular degeneration but could also be due to other eye conditions like damage to the blood flow to the eyes, pressure on the optic nerve or damage to the cornea (the surface of the eyes.)

So, if you wake up one morning and your vision is much worse than it was the day before you must not ignore it and immediately speak to your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

5. Painful eyes

Mild eye conditions that can be self-managed like conjunctivitis and seasonal allergies are irritating and itchy but not painful. If your eye becomes painful then you should not ignore it and see eye an eye specialist immediately. Painful eye conditions like corneal ulcers can often be confused with conjunctivitis as both conditions present with a red eye. However, a corneal ulcer is much more serious and if left untreated can cause scarring on the surface of the eyes which could in turn effect your vision. So never ignore or self-manage a painful eye - you should it always seek the attention of an eye specialist.

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