Eye Health

Eye Health

The health of you eyes is as important to us as it is to you. The experienced optometrists at Smart Eyes can not only test your vision and prescribe corrective lenses, they can also thoroughly examine your eyes to check for a number of possible eye problems including Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Cataracts and Presbyopia. Regular eye examinations can also help diagnose other health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholestorol and diabetes.
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Deteriorating eye health and increasingly poor vision are a fact of life for many of us from middle age onward.
Most people over the age of 40 experience Presbyopia, our lenses lose their flexibility. By age 50, most of us require reading glasses and we have to hold reading materials further and further from our eyes. 
The ability of the lens to alter its shape in order to focus on objects brought close to the eye is called "accommodation". The ability to accommodate is a basic, but important "biological age" test bio-marker.
Modern living re-enforces this age-related tendency of the lens to lose its ability to accommodate. Only recently have most of us performed sustained near vision tasks for year after year beginning at a young age.

Here are five ways to know if you have Presbyopia:

You find that you are holding a menu or other reading material at arm's length in order to focus and read it. This is usually one of the first signs that people identify with the condition.
Headaches and fatigue are other signs that may indicate you have Presbyopia. The strain that is put on the eyes as you struggle to see things at close range can often lead to headaches and fatigue.
You find that while spending time writing, crocheting or doing your other typical up-close activities, you struggle to see, experience blurred vision and have a headache when you are finished.
Most department stores sell non-prescription reading glasses. Take a book with you to the store and try a pair on. If you can hold the book at a normal reading distance and read just fine with the glasses on, then it is a good indication you have some level of presbyopia.
To really know if you have the condition, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with an optometrist.

Glaucoma Facts

  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world wide.
  • One in 10 Australians over 80 will develop glaucoma.
  • First degree relatives of glaucoma patients have an 8-fold increased risk of developing the disease.
  • At present, 50% of people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed.
  • Australian health care cost of glaucoma in 2005 was $342 million.
  • The total annual cost of glaucoma in 2005 was $1.9 billion.
  • The total cost is expected to increase to $4.3 billion by 2025.
  • The dynamic model of the economic impact of glaucoma enables cost-effectiveness comparison of various interventions to inform policy development.
Glaucoma is a disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, leading to progressive, irreversible loss of vision. It is often, but not always, associated with increased pressure of the fluid in the eye.

The nerve damage involves loss of retinal ganglion cells in a characteristic pattern. There are many different sub-types of glaucoma but they can all be considered a type of optic neuropathy. Raised intraocular pressure is a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma (above 21 mmHg or 2.8 kPa). One person may develop nerve damage at a relatively low pressure, while another person may have high eye pressure for years and yet never develop damage. Untreated glaucoma leads to permanent damage of the optic nerve and resultant visual field loss, which can progress to blindness.

Glaucoma can be divided roughly into two main categories, "open angle" and "closed angle" glaucoma. Closed angle glaucoma can appear suddenly and is often painful; visual loss can progress quickly but the discomfort often leads patients to seek medical attention before permanent damage occurs. Open angle, chronic glaucoma tends to progress at a slower rate and the patient may not notice that they have lost vision until the disease has progressed significantly.

Glaucoma has been nicknamed the "silent thief of sight" because the loss of vision normally occurs gradually over a long period of time and is often only recognized when the disease is quite advanced. Once lost, this damaged visual field cannot be recovered. Worldwide, it is the second leading cause of blindness. It is also the first leading cause of blindness among African Americans. Glaucoma affects 1 in 200 people aged fifty and younger, and 1 in 10 over the age of eighty. If the condition is detected early enough it is possible to arrest the development or slow the progression with medical and surgical means.

How's your Macula?

Macular Degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness in Australia, affecting central vision. MD is primarily age related and most frequently affects people over the age of 50. One in seven people over the age of 50 are affected by the disease and the incidence increases with age. It is sometimes referred to as Age Related Macular Degeneration or 'AMD'.

Age related macular degeneration is a medical condition which usually affects older adults that results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in "dry" and "wet" forms. It is a major cause of visual impairment in older adults (>50 years). Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.

Macula DegenerationThe inner layer of the eye is the retina, which contains nerves that communicate sight; behind the retina is the choroid, which contains the blood supply to the macula (the central part of the retina). In the dry (nonexudative) form, cellular debris called drusen accumulate between the retina and the choroid, and the retina can become detached. In the wet (exudative) form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow up from the choroid behind the retina, and the retina can also become detached. It can be treated with laser coagulation, and with medication that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels.

Although some macular dystrophies affecting younger individuals are sometimes referred to as macular degeneration, the term generally refers to age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD).

Age-related macular degeneration begins with characteristic yellow deposits in the macula (central area of the retina, which provides detailed central vision, called the fovea) called drusen between the retinal pigment epithelium and the underlying choroid. Most people with these early changes (referred to as age-related maculopathy) have good vision. People with drusen can go on to develop advanced AMD. The risk is considerably higher when the drusen are large and numerous and associated with disturbance in the pigmented cell layer under the macula. Recent research suggests that large and soft drusen are related to elevated cholesterol deposits and may respond to cholesterol-lowering agents.

Smart Eyes invests in the most modern technology to assure you of the highest level of care. We have invested in a Kowa Digital Imaging System. We can now photograph your retina which allows us to keep a photographic record of your eye health and identify very early stages of glaucoma and macula degeneration.
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