5 eye symptoms that really matter
Eye health is so important to us all, which is why you should be aware of what symptoms to see your GP about. Candis health editor Karen Evennett outlines some red flag symptoms to be aware of…
Blank spots when you look through one eye with the other covered can be a sign of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), which comes in two forms – wet and dry. They are called wet and dry because of what the doctor sees when examining the inside of your eye, not because of how your eye feels. Both types have similar symptoms – such as the inability to see fine detail because of deterioration of the macula at the centre of the retina.
Dry AMD is the more common type and never leads to total blindness. Wet AMD (caused by abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid and pushing the retina away from its blood supply) can come on quite quickly, but regular eye tests will pick up any early risk factors, and it can be treated with injections to shrink the blood vessels.
2. Misty vision
This is a telltale symptom of cataracts. Nearly everyone gets them in old age but if you take steroid drugs for a chronic health problem, or you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop cataracts earlier. Fortunately the treatment – where your cloudy lens (the cataract) is replaced by a clear lens implant – is spectacularly successful, with only a few patients suffering complications.
3. Blind spots or halos around street lights at night
These are classic signs of glaucoma. Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common – it’s painless and comes on slowly, usually affecting one eye first. It’s even possible to lose sight in one eye without noticing while the other eye does all the work, but it can be treated with eye drops to prevent further damage. Acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG) – more likely if you’re Asian – is caused by a very sudden blockage and causes pain, misty vision and a red eye, and can only be treated with laser surgery. Whichever type you have, early diagnosis is important, as damage to the eyes can’t be reversed.
4. Straight lines looking wavy
This can be another sign of wet AMD but it is also a symptom of a hole in the macula. Straight lines looking wavy are an early sign and can move on to a small blank patch in the central vision at later stages – but surgery may stop the sight from becoming any worse.
5. Light sensitivity
Pain when looking at bright lights can be caused by a wide range of conditions from eyestrain to glaucoma, or cataracts. Check it out with your optometrist in case there is an underlying problem needing treatment – but some people can be sensitive to light without a physical cause.