A vast majority of persons within the local community have missed out on vital eye tests during lockdown, potentially putting their eyesight and wider health at risk, warn Specsavers Ireland.
In Ireland, with eyecare so accessible, many people to take their eyesight for granted. However, in many countries eye care is not widely available, so Specsavers Ireland, together with The Hope Foundation, fund the running of an eye clinic in Kolkata, India.
As part of The Hope Foundation partnership a team of Specsavers optometrists and dispensing opticians visit Kolkata to run an intense week-long mobile eye clinic each November where Specsavers employees tend to thousands of patients who never have even had an eye test.
Through October, Butlers chocolate bars will be available for sale in Specsavers Ireland, Golden Island Shopping Centre Athlone. The money raised from the sales of each chocolate bar will go towards supporting eye clinics in Kolkata.
Specsavers is urging anyone who is experiencing issues with their eye health to make an appointment with their local Specsavers store.
Eye health signs
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.
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.
Some people may notice a blue-tinted ring appear around their iris, particularly as they age. 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.
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.
Concerns your optometrist can spot
Glaucoma is often symptomless as it develops so gradually. That’s why it is often referred to as the silent thief of sight. It is one of the leading causes of blindness, however, if it is identified in its early stages it can be successfully managed. Regular eye examinations are key to detecting it and are so important to those at greater risk of the condition due to their older age or family history.
In its early stages diabetic retinopathy usually doesn’t pose any noticeable symptoms, so an eye test can pick it up before you do. As the condition affects small blood vessels in the eye, damaging the retina, your optometrist can look for early characteristic changes, such as tiny leaks from these damaged vessels.
High blood pressure
During an eye test, your optometrist might spot signs of high blood pressure, through observing the eye’s blood vessels to see if they have narrowed or started leaking. Patients with high blood pressure can develop a condition called hypertensive retinopathy which sees the walls of blood vessels thicken, narrow and restrict blood flow. In some cases the retina also becomes swollen and the blood vessels can leak.
As well as causing inflammation of the joints, some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause inflammation in the eyes. This inflammation usually leads to dry eye but occasionally it can cause more serious conditions like inflammation of the iris.
While an eye test can look for any cancers of the eye such as melanomas, it will sometimes reveal signs of possible brain tumours. Swelling in the optic nerves can be visible during an eye test and can sometimes indicate that a brain tumour is present.