What can I do about my vision problems?
There are many different types of vision problems that can affect your eyesight and how clearly you are able to focus on different objects. It is vital to see an optometrist if you notice any changes in your vision or experience any unusual symptoms, so that any problems can be identified as early as possible. Here are some types of vision problems and what can be done to treat them.
Your peripheral vision is what you use to see anything that's not directly in front of you. It is commonly used for detecting colour and movement. Sometimes people experience a type of tunnel vision where they can see clearly in front but anything at the sides or outside of this spectrum is dim or blurred. Another peripheral issue is hemianopia, characterised by reduced sight or even permanent vision loss in one half of your visual field. This is caused by damage in your optic pathways to the brain, which are essential for processing and sending visual information. Blind spots are another peripheral problem and can appear when the retina (the area at the back of the eye which sends visual signals onto the brain) is missing some photoreceptor cells, or have become dysfunctional due to certain disorders. If your peripheral vision is affected it can have serious consequences for your safety as well as your eyesight. Some low vision aids may help, while surgery may be required if the underlying cause is a condition such as glaucoma (damage of the optic nerve).
Near vision problems
If you have trouble focusing and looking at things close up this could be a symptom of presbyopia. This is a result of the natural ageing process and will cause blurred vision when looking at things closer to you. Problems with your near vision can also point to hyperopia or longsightedness. This occurs when light rays aren't able to focus properly through the eye, so you can see objects in the distance but have more difficulty when they're close up. Longsightedness can be corrected using the right glasses or contact lens, while bifocal lenses have two points of focus to enable those with presbyopia to see in all situations. Presbyopia will worsen as you age so your prescription will likely change over time. Some forms of surgery are also available. It's important to see your optometrist regularly so that you can be rest assured your prescription is correct. If you find you have trouble focusing after concentrating intensely on something for long periods, try to give your eyes a break. However, if the symptoms persist you should see your optometrist. Most eye problems occur gradually but sometimes symptoms can appear suddenly. If you find that you are getting unexpected bursts of blurred or distorted vision, this could be a side effect of another health problem such as migraines. You should still get an eye test done to rule out any other causes as well. On the other hand, if you have trouble focusing on distant objects after a lot of close up work this is often a natural result of the shift in focus your eyes have to go through. An incorrect prescription can make this worse, so make sure to have your eye tests regularly to avoid this.
Low vision is characterised by a loss of eyesight, making it more difficult for you to carry out your everyday tasks. Macular degeneration can cause low central vision and is typically age-related, but there are other causes as well such as a brain injury or cancer of the eye. It can also be caused by eye diseases such as glaucoma (damage of the optic nerve behind the eye). Your optometrist will diagnose low vision through an eye examination. There are some low vision aids designed to improve eyesight which can make things appear bigger and brighter. Deteriorating or variable visionIf you notice your eyesight deteriorating at all it is important to see your optometrist, so you can find out if anything more serious is at fault or whether you will simply need some form of vision correction. Sometimes you might notice yourself having to strain when looking at a computer screen as opposed to a book. This is because the glare of the screen and other factors require your eye muscles to focus in a different position than they would for normal reading, which can cause eye strain and variable vision. Treatment may be as simple as giving your eyes a break, adjusting your screen or adding an anti-glare coating to your glasses to reduce the harshness. However, you may also need vision correction which your optometrist will diagnose. If you have trouble focusing or are dealing with blurred vision in just one eye, this could be a sign that there is something in your eye that needs to be rinsed or washed out. A more serious cause could be an underlying health condition, in which case it's best to see your healthcare professional for a check up. It may also be an indication that one eye needs some slight vision correction, but you should see your optometrist first to confirm this.
Cloudy or misty vision
When vision becomes cloudy or misty, this is a sign you are losing your visual acuity - the sharpness or clearness of your eyesight. This can affect one or both eyes and may also cause glares or 'halos' to appear around lights and faded colour perception. Diabetes, optic nerve disease or macular degeneration can cause cloudy vision, as can cataracts (loss of transparency in the lens inside the eye) or damage to the cornea. Sometimes a change in your prescription can treat it, but other times a form of surgery may be required.
If you see flashes in your vision it may not be a cause for concern. It generally won't harm your vision, but you should see your optometrist if it occurs more frequently as it could be a sign of something more serious.