The three eye diseases that we see more than any others are Cataract, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration. All three are more likely to develop with age, although Cataract and Glaucoma can be present in one form or another at birth.
We also find quite a lot of patients with changes to the blood vessels at the back of their eyes as a result of raised blood pressure and of arteriosclerosis. We’d be happy to show you how your blood vessels are looking on the images that we take during your next exam – just ask. There is no better place than the eye to have a really good look at blood vessels because, for most of us, the parts of the eye between the retina and the outside world are clear and allow a really good view.
Diabetes, which particularly affects small blood vessels and capillaries, consequently can cause lots of changes at the back of the eyes and for this reason all diabetic patients are encouraged to have at least a photographic screening of their retinas every year. As a result of treating conditions shown up by these regular screenings the number of cases of diabetic patients developing sight threatening disease has dramatically reduced.
When I was a student we were told that if we saw a diabetic patient who had had the disease for over twenty years and we couldn’t detect any changes at the back of their eyes we weren’t looking hard enough – there definitely would be some.
In my next few posts I’ll be talking about the most common eye diseases, starting with Cataract.