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An Insight into Common Eye Conditions

An Insight into Common Eye Conditions

Our health deteriorates as we grow older and our eyes are no exception. Singapore has one of the highest myopia rates in the world with 83% of citizens being myopic by the age of 18. Besides myopia, diabetic retinopathy is another common eye condition that has caused vision loss in working adults. A 2015 study by the Singapore Eye Research Institute revealed that over 600 Singaporeans have lost their sight, 8000 lost an eye and 17,500 were left visually impaired due to diabetic retinopathy. 

 

Singaporeans aged 50 and above are 15 times more likely to become blind. The most devastating effect of aging on our senses is sight loss, as it increases our risk of becoming depressed, falling and can even cause premature deaths. Due to the prevalence and severity of eye diseases, it is important to keep ourselves informed of common eye conditions and visit an eye specialist clinic in Singapore should we suspect ourselves of contracting it.

Cataracts

Do you experience haziness in your vision, making it difficult for you to do simple everyday tasks such as reading or driving? This could be a symptom of cataracts. Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of your eyes which are normally clear. Most develop cataracts around the age of 40, however, since they develop slowly and will not impair your vision until a much later stage, most people only start experiencing symptoms after age 60. Therefore, regular eye examinations are important to detect such conditions before they worsen. 

Cataracts can result from injuries, ultraviolet exposure or protein deterioration. Smoking, drinking, and diabetes may increase the rate of which cataracts develop. People diagnosed with cataracts may sometimes complain of hazy or blurred vision, or a yellowish tinge over everything. Fortunately, if your symptoms are mild, a new prescription for glasses or contacts may do the trick. Depending on the degree of degeneration over time, your eye doctor in Singapore might recommend surgery. 

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors are visual conditions that make it difficult to focus on images clearly. They occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing properly on your retina. There are four common types of refractive errors – myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia. As mentioned above, myopia is the leading eye disease in Singapore and makes objects that are far away appear blurry to the viewer. Hyperopia, in contrast to myopia, makes near objects look blurry instead. Astigmatism makes both far and near objects look blurry or distorted, while presbyopia or more commonly known as ‘lao hua’ affects most elderlies, making it difficult for them to see things up close.

Having a family member who requires glasses or contact lenses increases your risk of refractive errors. They can be caused by an increased eyeball length, warped cornea shape or the ageing of our natural lens lens. Double or hazy vision, squinting, halo around bright lights and trouble focusing when reading or looking at a computer are all common symptoms. Eye doctors can help you correct this problem with glasses or contacts. However, depending on your preference and condition, you can also talk to your eye doctor and opt for laser eye surgery which changes your cornea shape.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus can be characterised by the thinning of your cornea, causing it to gradually bulge outward into a cone shape. This blurs the vision and creates sensitivity to light and glare. The causes of keratoconus remains to be further researched upon, though genetic factors are often correlated to this eye disease. Around 1 in 10 people with keratoconus also have a parent with the condition. Eye rubbing and age (often discovered in teenage years) have also been found to be associated with keratoconus.

Typically, your eye doctor will recommend spectacles as the first step in treatment. Cornea collagen crosslinking (a minimally invasive procedure that uses ultraviolet light and eye drops in order to strengthen the collagen fibres in the cornea) and intacs (implants placed under the surface of the cornea to reduce the cone shape and improve vision) can also help slow the progression. A cornea transplant is the last resort. 

Diabetic retinopathy

Caused by prolonged high blood sugar correlated to diabetes, diabetic retinopathy damages the retina. High blood sugar levels can alter blood vessels in the retina, preventing it from receiving the nutrients it needs. The type and severity of diabetes, frequency of blood glucose fluctuations, and an individual’s level of control all impact one’s risk. Diabetic retinopathy symptoms are not obvious in the early stages, therefore, regular eye examinations are required. In its later stages, you might experience transient to sudden vision loss, floaters or blurred and patchy vision.

Diabetic retinopathy treatment is only required if a screening at your eye specialist clinic reveals significant problems that put your vision at risk. In more advanced cases, laser surgeries such as a laser photocoagulation procedure can seal or destroy blood vessels that grow or leak in the retina.

These are just some of the common eye diseases. Should you experience any of the above symptoms, do visit an eye specialist clinic immediately. Ultimately, it is still recommended to go for regular eye examinations to detect conditions without visible symptoms early.  

Nova Eye Centre is an eye specialist clinic in Singapore, providing a suite of eye treatment solutions from cataract surgery to laser vision correction. Contact us today for more information. 

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