Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects one in five people at some point in their life. Symptoms of hay fever can include itchy, red or watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing.
Affected people may experience hay fever symptoms if they have an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen is fine powder released by plants and when these tiny particles come into contact with your eyes, nose, mouth and throat, they can trigger an immune response causing the body to react with swelling, irritation and inflammation
Some people’s eyes can be particularly sensitive to pollen. Our body’s natural response is to wash the pollen out, which is why some people end up with watery eyes. They can also become red, itchy, and sticky as the immune system reacts.
There is no cure for hay fever, but many people find their symptoms improve as they get older. Symptom relief treatment is available to use during the pollen season.
You can treat your hay fever symptoms with over-the-counter medications from your local pharmacist. Anti-histamine nasal sprays and/or tablets are one of the best ways to relieve symptoms and should be taken before the hay fever season starts for the best results.
Eye drops containing antihistamine are also available from your pharmacy. These should reduce the inflammation in your eyes and relieve the itching. Sometimes, allergic reactions may need review by an eye specialist and treatment with medication that dampens down the immune reaction such as steroids.
Badrul Hussain, consultant eye surgeon, gives his top tips for reducing hay fever symptoms
Yes – but your laser eye surgeon will emphasise that your squint (which is a ‘turn’ in one eye, usually present from childhood and treated with patching or eye surgery) will remain unchanged and will appear just as it does when wearing the correct spectacle or contact lens prescription. In other words, laser eye surgery should be considered equivalent to spectacles or contact lenses – it’s a third alternative – but it can’t be expected to cure your squint.
Because of a tendency to ‘squint’ some patients need an optical element termed a ‘prism’ built into their spectacles to achieve visual comfort. Laser eye surgery cannot copy the effect of this prism and therefore you may still require spectacles (of a much lower power but including your prism) after the treatment.
The same applies to treating a patient with a ‘lazy eye’ from childhood. If one eye has never seen as well as the dominant or leading eye (with the best spectacle or contact lens prescription the optometrist can supply) then it will not be improved beyond that level with laser eye surgery.
The laser cannot restore vision that wasn’t there in the first place – it can only provide the equivalent of the best vision possible with spectacles and/or contact lenses prior to the treatment.
Yes – but your laser eye surgeon will take into account the type of diabetes you have, how successful its management has been, and how long you have been diabetic. Particular attention will be paid to the stability of your spectacle prescription, as this can change with fluctuations in your blood sugar. In other words, poor diabetic control can affect the accuracy of your treatment.
Careful examination of the natural lenses in your eyes for any evidence of cataract, which can occur early in diabetics, and your retinas for any signs of damage to the blood vessels at ‘the back of the eye’, will be carried out. Skin layer healing can be slowed down in diabetes.
Any concerns about the healing of the specialised layer of skin at the front of the eye (corneal epithelium), might lead your surgeon to advise LASIK rather than a surface laser treatment like LASEK or TransPRK. This is because surface treatments are more reliant on healing than LASIK in which the corneal epithelium is kept intact using a thin protective flap.
The risk of infection, which is extremely rare in laser eye surgery, is very slightly greater in diabetics. This can usually be treated successfully with timely diagnosis and tailored antibiotics.
Laser eye surgery normally leaves you with life-long freedom from spectacles for sport and socialising. But your eyes are not made of plastic, and natural changes in your spectacle prescription can occur at any age. If you experience a shift in your vision after laser eye surgery, there are normally good repeat treatment options for every age group.
How vision changes affect people in different age groups
If you have short sight (myopia) corrected in your early 20s, and particularly if you have a higher level of short sight, it is more common to need repeat treatment after a few years. This is because the level of short sightedness may not stabilise until your mid or late 20s. We like to see that your spectacle prescription has been stable for two years before we go ahead with laser eye surgery in younger patients, but if you do have a natural shift in your prescription, even many years later, repeat laser eye surgery can usually be performed safely.
If your vision has been corrected in your 20s or 30s, you will start to need reading glasses from your mid-40s onwards. This is a normal age related change caused by stiffening of the natural lens in the eye (presbyopia).
Loss of focus flexibility affects all of us, with or without laser eye surgery. Long-sighted (hyperopic) people are most affected. This is because they are already using up at least some of their diminishing reserve of focus flexibility in order to compensate for being long-sighted. If you have long sight, you lose your reading vision first, and then find yourself dependent on distance glasses as well. For this reason, many long-sighted people end up wearing varifocal glasses.
Vision correction for the over 40s
Laser eye surgery works particularly well if you are in the 40+ age group, whether you have long sight, short sight, or astigmatism. But rather than aiming for a clear distance vision in both eyes, if you are over 40, we normally offset the focus in one eye to sharpen the near range.
Although distance vision will normally remain good after laser eye surgery with this approach, you may notice a gradual decline in clarity for the sub-50cm range, particularly in poor light, as you get into your 50s. This is because the natural lens stiffens up completely as we get towards our 60s.
Read More: Is there an age limit to laser eye surgery?
For many of us, the natural lens, which is the part of the eye most affected by aging, will start misting up in our 60s and 70s. This misting in the eye is called a cataract when it starts to interfere with our vision. The next stop for patients having laser eye surgery in their 40s or 50s, who are troubled by the loss of reading clarity, is a version of cataract surgery called refractive lens exchange (RLE), in which the natural lens is exchanged for a lens implant. Modern laser vision correction systems produce a more natural focusing shape in the cornea. This combines well with newer extended depth of focus lens implants if RLE or cataract surgery is required later in life.
When you go for an eye test, you end up being given a set of figures known as a prescription. The test is called a refraction, and the results are expressed in a standard format:
Refraction testing measures the strength of spectacle lens needed to give you a clear distance focus.
If you need spectacles or contact lenses, the power of these lenses is measured in units called dioptres, usually expressed as “D” in the prescription. There is a range of lens powers and lenses can either increase or reduce the focusing power of the eye.
If you are hyperopic or “long-sighted” you need extra focussing power. Lenses which increase the focusing power of the eye are convex in shape and have a plus (+) sign before the number, saying how strong they are.
If you are myopic or “short-sighted” you need to reduce the focussing power of the eye. Lenses which reduce the focusing power of the eye are concave and have a minus (-) sign.
Most eyes are not perfectly spherical but have a degree of irregularity called astigmatism. This is often compared to the difference between a football which is spherical and a rugby ball which has two different curvatures. The amount of long or short sight is measured in the first (X.XX) number of your spectacle prescription, and the amount of ‘rugby ball shape’ or astigmatism is measured in the second number.
To correct astigmatism, the rugby ball shape lens has to be in the right orientation in your glasses. This orientation is expressed in degrees (0-180°) and is the third number (xZZ) in your spectacle prescription.
Most young people have enough natural additional focusing power for near vision. This flexibility of focus is called accommodation, and is based on flexibility of the natural lens within the eye.
If you are in your mid-forties or older, you will start to need additional (+) focusing power to help bring near objects into focus. This is because older people have a less flexible lens in the eye, and a less flexible focus. The strength of the extra (+) lens is called the reading addition. The reading addition can either be put into the bottom segment of bifocal or varifocal glasses, or worn separately as a dedicated pair of reading glasses.
At Moorfields Private, we offer the full range of laser and implant techniques for correcting your spectacle prescription. Whether you are younger or older, short-sighted or long-sighted, have astigmatism, or need reading glasses, we will be able to advise you which treatment will safest and most effective for you.
It’s estimated that more than four million people in Iran wear contact lenses to correct their vision, with many viewing them as a convenient alternative to glasses. However, bad contact lens habits and poor hand hygiene can lead to infection and, in some cases, serious eye damage. Follow these five golden rules for safe contact lens use to keep your eyes healthy and reduce the risk of picking up infections.
(Most users have broken one of them at least once…)
1. Never swim in contact lenses
Wearing contact lenses while swimming or doing water sports increases your risk of eye infection, as both swimming pools and beaches are full of bugs, chemicals and other harmful substances – so be sure to remove them before doing any of these activities. Also, avoid wearing contact lenses in the shower or hot tub.
2. Never sleep while wearing contact lenses
Sleeping without first removing contact lenses increases the risk of infection, and can lead to serious eye problems. This habit can cause ulcers to form on the front part of the eye as it deprives the cornea of oxygen – which then increases the risks of developing an infection. Although the risk is higher with soft contact lens users, this can occur with all types of contact lenses so it is important to avoid sleeping with your lenses.
3. Always use lens solution to clean contact lenses
Contact lens solutions, as advised by your eye care practitioner, should always be used for cleaning and disinfecting your lenses if you use re-usable soft lenses such as bi-weekly or monthly disposables. Tap water may be safe to drink, but it is not sterile and therefore not suitable for cleaning or storing your contact lenses – so it is important not to expose your lenses to tap water. Note that sterile saline should not be used as a disinfecting or long term storage solution as it will not prevent bacterial growth. If you need to remove a lens unexpectedly, because of dust or irritation, avoid using saliva to clean it, as this exposes the eye to bacteria found in saliva. If you wear daily disposable soft lenses, it is important that you dispose of the lenses every day and do not reuse them.
4. Follow the usage advice for your contact lenses
Don’t wear lenses beyond the time limit recommended by your eye care practitioner. Wearing contact lenses for prolonged periods may cause your eyes to become red, sore and more prone to infection.
5. Don’t ignore warning signs
If you experience blurred vision or sore, red or swollen eyes then you should see an eye doctor straight away. A white or yellow spot visible in the coloured part of the eye should also be immediately checked as this is often an early sign of infection. Seek medical advice if your lenses look or feel wrong. It is important that you attend regular contact lens check-ups with your eye care practitioner, even if you aren’t having problems.
The retina is a thin layer of nerves that line the inside of the eye. It is sensitive to light and you need it to be able to see. When tears form in the retina, the mechanism that holds it in place is disrupted and detaches from the eye wall. This is a bit like when a bubble forms under wallpaper and separates it from the wall.
How a retinal detachment occurs
The retina is torn when a normal, age-related process goes slightly wrong. This process is the natural separation of the vitreous humour (a colourless, jelly-like substance) from the retina. Once the retina is detached from the nourishing tissue underneath, it can cause rapid sight loss if it isn’t detected or treated quickly.
Who is at risk?
As this condition usually occurs as part of the eye’s natural ageing process, anyone can develop a retinal detachment. However, you’re at higher risk if you’re short sighted, have had cataract surgery or recently suffered a severe direct blow to the eye.
Warning signs of a retinal detachment:
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important that you are seen by an eye specialist as soon as possible; ideally within 24-48 hours.
What is the treatment for a detached retina?
If you’re found to have a detached retina, surgery will probably be required to repair it. If the detachment can be diagnosed and treated quickly and successfully, most of your vision will be restored.
Experts in the treatment of retinal detachment
At Moorfields Private, highly experienced specialist vitreo-retinal consultant eye surgeons perform the procedure – which involves sealing the holes in the retina and reattaching it. Our patients are treated in dedicated private theatres and the consultant surgeon is backed up by a specialist team of nurses and support staff.
Once the surgery is complete you will recover in a comfortable private room, in our brand-new admission suite. You’ll usually be able to return home the same day and the eye will take about two to six weeks to heal. Your surgeon will make an appointment to see you for a check-up, usually within seven to 14 days of your operation. Over the next few months, your sight will continue to improve.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that can cause permanent sight loss by damaging your optic nerve – the high-speed cable that sends information from the eye to the vision centres in the brain. It is usually caused by increased pressure within the eye.
Types of Treatment
For years, eye drops have been the primary way of managing age-related glaucoma and they often need to be used for life to prevent damage to your sight. However, only one in three people with glaucoma use their eye drops correctly, and in some cases, surgery will be required.
The most common type of surgical treatment for glaucoma is called trabeculectomy, which lowers the pressure in the eye. It involves removing part of the eye’s outer coating to allow fluid to drain more easily.
Laser treatment breakthrough
Laser treatment is an effective new option for patients who have open-angle glaucoma (the most common type) in the early stages. In this condition, internal eye pressure is increased by a gradual clogging of the eye’s drainage canal
A team at Moorfields Eye Hospital recently led the largest ever UK trial looking at new ways of treating glaucoma. It found that using a laser treatment (selective laser trabeculoplasty) early on could keep people with glaucoma off eye drops for many years and there was also a lower requirement for glaucoma surgery.
The laser treatment is available on an outpatient basis at Moorfields Private and takes approximately 15 minutes, meaning you will be able to return home on the same day after recovery and final checks. It is an option for patients who have early stage open-angle glaucoma. The effects of the procedure may wear off over time, but the treatment can be repeated if this happens.
Laser treatment is not suitable for everyone and the treatment recommended for you by your consultant will depend on the type of glaucoma you have.