Thousands of people across Ireland have missed out on vital eye tests during lockdown, potentially putting their eyesight and wider health at risk, warns local opticians Specsavers Bandon.
Specsavers optician and Bandon store partner Marie Burke says: “Fifty percent of sight loss is avoidable with early detection, however, during the pandemic many people may not have had access to these diagnostic tests. Not only does this mean their eyesight is at risk but potentially other aspects of their health too.
“That’s because while there are several changes we may notice in our vision which could be a sign of a wider health condition, there are also some things that can only be detected during an eye test.
“It is important to make an appointment with your optometrist if you are seeing certain things, such as persistent floaters, or notice changes with your eyes such as blurred vision or yellowing of the eyes. However, it is also important to keep up your regular eye checks – even if you don’t think there is anything wrong with your vision – because something could be happening which you are completely unaware of.’
One of these conditions is glaucoma. Often called the ‘silent thief of sight’ due to its gradual onset, the number of people suffering with Glaucoma in Ireland is predicted to increase by 33 per cent over the next decade due to the growing and ageing population. Yet, because it’s often symptomless 50 per cent of glaucoma cases go undetected. Many don’t realise they have the condition before it is too late, which is why regular eye tests are so important.
“At Specsavers Bandon we use advanced diagnostic equipment called OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) to examine the eye in more detail and are able to pick up any damage to the optic nerve which is typical of glaucoma,” commented Ms Burke.
Local expert optician Marie has shared five changes you may notice in your eyes and what they mean:
Five eye health signs
to look out for:
Red spots/blood vessels
While in most cases red spots are nothing to worry about, if your eyes remain red for some time it is important to get them looked at as it could be an indication of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can mean you have a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke and it can also lead to complications with your vision.
Floaters are spots in your vision and usually look like black or grey specs or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes. Most people will experience floaters in their vision at some point in their life however if you notice more eye floaters than usual, a sudden onset of new ones, flashes of light in the eye or darkness on any side of your vision, you must get it looked at immediately as it could signify a tear in your retina or injury in the back of your eye. In some cases, it can also be a symptom of diabetic retinopathy or high cholesterol.’
Some people may notice a blue-tinted ring appear around their iris, particularly as they age,’ says Ms Burke. ‘This is caused by cholesterol deposits in the eye. They are more common in those aged 60 and above and aren’t usually something to worry about. However, if these develop in the under 40s, there may be a greater risk of developing heart disease.
Typically, yellowing of the eyes is caused by jaundice. The condition occurs when haemoglobin (part of the blood which carries oxygen) breaks down into bilirubin, which isn’t then cleared from the body. It is meant to move from the liver to the bile ducts, but if this doesn’t happen yellowing of the skin – and the eyes – can occur and could signify there is a problem with the liver, gallbladder or pancreas.
Blurred vision can be caused by many things and it is vital you get it checked out. Diabetes raises the risk of experiencing diabetic retinopathy where high blood sugar levels damage tiny blood vessels in the eye that sense light which can result in blurry vision.
The sudden onset of blurry vision could also be a sign of stroke, particularly if combined with some of the other key signs such as slurred speech and dropping of the face. Blurry vision could also indicate other eye conditions such as cataract or age-related macular degeneration too.
Specsavers Badon is urging anyone who is experiencing issues with their eye health such as persistent floaters, blurred vision or yellowing of the eyes to make an appointment with their local Specsavers store.
At Specsavers, customers are always guaranteed expert eye care and hearing services, exceptional choice and outstanding value for money.
For more information or to request an appointment Specsavers Bandon call (023) 882 0382 or visit www.specsavers.ie/stores/bandon.