Focus on sight

We value our sight more than any other sense, yet two-thirds of us put up with poor vision and half struggle to even see the TV or read a book

We all take a whole bunch of things for granted in life, but our sight ranks right up there at the top as being among the most neglected. Which is odd, because we are all so much more aware of looking after our health and fitness these days. It seems though that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really is how we treat the health of our eyes. Figures from the College of Optometrists reveal that more than 60 per cent of people have poor vision with 50 per cent suffering to the point that they can’t manage basic things like seeing the TV or reading a book. And despite what you may believe, it’s not just the older generation that are struggling! We asked Daniel Calladine, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Spire Eye Centre, Little Aston Hospital, to give us the lowdown on better eye care, the most common eye complaints and the treatments available.

COMMON CONDITIONS

“Cataracts are a really common condition that tends to affect people as they get older,” he said. “The lens in your eye becomes cloud – as though you are looking through a fogged up window. You may find your glasses prescription changing and you experience glare at night from headlights or difficulty reading in dim light.” If the cataracts begin to affect your lifestyle you can have them removed during a routine operation. The cloudy cataract lens is replaced with a clear synthetic lens that also has the benefit of correcting your glasses prescription. The procedure only takes 10 minutes and patients can be home within the same day. The other condition most will have heard of is glaucoma. It is painless and causes no symptoms in the early stages, so regular eye examinations are important to spot the condition. It is usually caused by high pressure inside the eye that causes damage to the delicate nerve. “If left untreated, glaucoma can cause a reduction in your peripheral vision and in severe cases can restrict you from driving,” said Daniel. “However with the correct treatment and monitoring your vision will normally be protected.”

SYNTHETIC LENS

More than 60 per cent of us wear glasses or contact lenses but there is an alternative – short and long-sighted corrective surgery. “One of the growing trends at the centre is our treatment designed for patients needing glasses for reading or who wear bifocal or varifocal glasses,” explained Daniel. “The technique replaces the lens with a multi focal synthetic lens that is able to work at different distances.” There are also treatments for short-sightedness (problems with seeing over a longer distance), using refractive surgery employing a state of the art laser to change the shape of the cornea at the front of the eye. “Patients usually get a very rapid improvement in their vision and only require a few days off work to concentrate on their post-operative care,” said Daniel.

EYE-OPENING FACTS

1. More than 22 million 18 to 60-year-olds in the UK (that’s 65 per cent) wear some form of corrective eyewear, according to the College of Optometrists.

2. The vast majority of the population, 86 per cent, value sight more than any other sense.

3. Yet nearly one in five (more than seven million people) has either never been for a sight test or to an optometrist in the last five years.

4. More than 40 per cent of adults now work with visual display units for more than five hours a day.

5. Only 28 per cent of computer users know that they are entitled to an eye examination paid for by their employer.

Short or long-sighted and thinking about corrective surgery? Daniel Calladine is hosting a free information evening, 7-9pm on 16 March at the Spire Eye Centre, Spire Little Aston Hospita. For more details, call 0121 580 7171.