Minor Eye Conditions

Read about the symptoms and treatments of some minor eye conditions including flashes & floaters, dry eye and blepharitis

Flashes & Floaters

Often, people who have healthy eyes see floaters. They appear as spots, lines or cobweb effects, usually when you look at a plain surface such as a white wall, screen or a clear blue sky. They are usually caused by cells clumping together in the clear jelly in the main part of your eye and casting shadows on your retina – the light-sensitive layer of the eye. Most of the time floaters are harmless.

Sometimes the jelly inside your eye shrinks a little and tugs on the retina (the light-sensitive layer) at the back of your eye. This can cause flashes of light at the edge of your vision and is more common as you get older. This is different from the disturbance of vision that can happen with a migraine.

The sudden appearance of new floaters and flashes and may be caused by the jelly shrinking and can sometimes mean there is a tear in the retina, which if left undetected and treated can lead to a retinal detachment.

It is important to seek advice promptly should you experience

  • A sudden increase in floaters, particularly if you also notice flashing lights
  • A new or large floater
  • A change in floaters or flashes after you have had a direct blow to the eye
  • A shadow spreading across the vision of one of your eyes.

If you have new symptoms of floaters you should contact your Optometrist urgently. If you cannot contact your Optometrist you should seek urgent attention from your eye casualty department at the hospital.

How is retinal detachment treated?

A tear may be treated by using a laser. If treated quickly you may have a better chance of full recovery. However, if your retina has become detached, you will need surgery. The operation may restore most of your vision but may come too late for a full recovery.

Dry Eye

People with dry eye either don’t make enough normal (lubricating) tears or the ones that they make are of poor quality, causing the tears to dry up too quickly and the front of the eye to become dry and irritated.

People with dry eye may get some or all of the following symptoms.

  1. A sandy or gritty feeling
  2. Sore eyes
  3. Uncomfortable and sometimes painful eyes
  4. An itching or burning sensation
  5. Short-term blurred vision
  6. Watery eyes, as if you are crying (having watery eyes can mean you are producing poor-quality tears and actually have dry eyes)

Dry eye doesn’t tend to cause serious damage to the eyes, but it can be very uncomfortable. Severe cases do have a risk of causing long-term damage, but fortunately these are rare.

Dry Eye Risk factors

Dry eye is much more common in people over the age of 50. Some general health conditions can cause dry eye as a side effect, such as autoimmune diseases and hormonal changes. The condition is also more common in windy, cold, dry and dusty conditions.

If you’re concentrating on your computer or smartphone for long periods of time without a break, this may also make your eyes feel dry.

Air conditioning and central heating can make dry eye worse too, as can some medications and general health problems.

Smoking has also been linked to dry eye as it may both cause the condition and make it worse.

Dry Eye Treatment

Most cases of dry eye tend to be a long-term condition, meaning that you’ll need ongoing treatment.

There are lots of different types of drops and gels that can help your eyes feel more comfortable. The best ones don’t have preservatives in them, or if they do they contain very gentle preservatives, which helps to reduce irritation. They may also contain an ingredient called sodium hyaluronate, known to be very effective in treating the condition.

It’s important to use the correct type of drops. The wrong drops are unlikely to cause any harm, but they won’t help as much. If you need any advice or guidance on eyedrops please call us to discuss your dry eye treatment options with our Optometrists.

Call us today to book your dry eye assessment.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. It can make your eyelids red, eyelashes crusty and make your eyes feel irritated and itchy.

Other symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Soreness

Symptoms tend to be worse on waking and you may find your eyelashes stuck together.

It is a long term condition and normally affects both eyes.

Treatment of Blepharitis

It is possible to treat the eyes so that they feel more comfortable if you have blepharitis but it is not possible to cure blepharitis. You may need treatment for months and you may find it reoccurs even after treatment.

We usually recommend one or all of the following:

  1. Warm compresses- the most effect form of hot compress we have found with our patients is an Eyebag which is a reusable warm compress that can be heated in the microwave. You can purchase your Eyebag from us. Instructions on how to use it and how often to use your warm compress can be discussed with your Optometrist but this is usually every other day.
  2. Lid cleaning. You can buy specialist wipes or solution from us to clean your eyelids. Alternatively you can make up a solution of baby shampoo and cool boiled water (1-part baby shampoo to 10 parts water). Using a cleaning wipe or a cotton bud with the solution you have made up clean the edges of your eyelids near your eyelashes. Repeat this twice daily and reduce to once daily as the condition improves
  3. Lubricants-if you have dry eyes you can use gels or drops to lubricate them. Please discuss with your Optometrist as to which drops are most suitable to you and how frequently they need instilling.
  4. Antibiotics-occasionally if the above treatments do not work you may be prescribed antibiotics. Your Optometrist will be able to advise you whether this may be necessary.