Common causes of vision loss

In Australia, three quarters of vision impairment results from 5 conditions most of which are either preventable, treatable or correctable. The LEHP –Australia program addresses 3 eye disorders which cause vision loss but through early intervention, this vision loss can be avoided. The eye disorders addressed in the LEHP-Australia program are:

Glaucoma

Diabetic Retinopathy

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Click on an eye disease above and find out more information on each eye condition. 

 

Glaucoma


Normal vision

Example of vision affected by glaucoma

 


 


 

What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly damages the fine nerves that connect the eye to the brain. For most people this damage occurs when the pressure in the eye is too high. It is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight” because most of the time, it shows no symptoms until there is irreversible vision loss.

If glaucoma is left untreated it can lead to blindness

What are the risk factors?
It is estimated that 300,000 Australians have glaucoma and half don’t know they have it. You have a higher risk of developing glaucoma if you, have a family history of glaucoma or are aged 50 or over.
One in eleven Australians will eventually develop glaucoma.
Can vision loss from glaucoma be prevented?
Vision loss or blindness can be prevented if detected and treated early. Regular eye examinations are essential. An eye examination for glaucoma will usually include an eye pressure measurement, visual field test and an optic nerve examination.
 

What treatment available?
Glaucoma can be treated if detected early. Although there is no cure for glaucoma it can usually be controlled and further loss of sight can be prevented. Treatment may include eye drops, laser surgery or surgery.
Regular use of drops is essential if prescribed by your eye doctor.

Can vision loss from glaucoma be prevented?
Vision loss or blindness can be prevented if detected and treated early. Regular eye examinations are essential. An eye examination for glaucoma will usually include an eye pressure measurement, visual field test and an optic nerve examination.

Driving
Some studies suggest that people with glaucoma have an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. This may be due to the reducition of visual fields which can make it more difficult to detect hazards such as pedestrians stepping out onto the road, cars and other objects.
 

Take home messages
If members of you family have glaucoma, your risk of developing glaucoma is at least 4 times higher. Glaucoma can be controlled but it cannot be cured. If you are in a high risk group it is important to have an eye examination every 2 years.

Further Information
For more information please speak to your family doctor, an eye care professional or:
Glaucoma Australia, 1800 010 234, www.glaucoma.org.au
Lions Eye Health Program - Australia, 1800 010 234, enquiries@lehp.org.au

 

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Diabetic Retinopathy


Normal vision

Example of vision affected by diabetic retinopathy 


 


 


What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a term used for the visual complications that result from diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels that nourish the retina, the seeing part at the back of the eye.

These changes can result in vision loss and blindness. 

What are the risk factors?
It is estimated that 300,000 Australians have diabetic retinopathy. All people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Poor control of diabetes is a major risk factor. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol are other important risk factors.

Symptoms
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy are painless and don’t affect vision. Late-stage symptoms may include blurred and patchy vision.
 

Special Groups
Children with diabetes should be screened for changes in the eyes at puberty. Women with diabetes who become pregnant should be screened in the first trimester. Diabetes is more than twice as prevalent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Eye screening on an annual basis is recommended for all indigenous people.Treatment
Laser is used to treat retinopathy. Laser treatment is very effective at maintaining vision but it cannot restore vision that has already been lost.

Detection
Screening involves the examination of the back of the eye through dilated (enlarged) pupils or through the use of a special camera. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, your family doctor or a health worker can conduct eye examinations.

Take home message
Eye examinations when your are first diagnosed with diabetes and then at least every 2 years are essential.

Further Information
For more information please speak to your family doctor, an eye care professional or:
Diabetes Australia, 1800 640 862, diabetesaustralia.com.au
Lions Eye Health Program - Australia, 1800 010 234, enquiries@lehp.org.au

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Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

 


Normal vision

Example of vision affected by AMD

What is Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes poor vision by affecting the area responsible for central vision (macula). It does not usually effect peripheral or side vision. However, reading, watching TV, driving, recognising faces and colour discrimination become very difficult.
 

If any treatment is possible, the sooner you seek help - the better the outcome.

Types of AMD
There are two forms of AMD:
‘Dry’ AMD develops slowly and results in gradual vision impairment. It is the most common form of AMD.
‘Wet’ AMD develops more rapidly and occurs when abnormal vessels develop beneath the retina and bleed.
Slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light. Blurred or distorted vision. Difficulty discerning colours. Reduced central vision.

Symptoms
Slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light. Blurred or distorted vision. Difficulty discerning colours. Reduced central vision.

Amsler Grid
The Amsler Grid can assist you to monitor your central vision. Wear your reading glasses and hold the grid at reading distance. Cover one eye at a time and focus on the central area or dot. If the straight lines appear distorted, or blurred - see a specialist for a eye examination.

Statistics

AMD is most prevalent after the age of 50 years. About 30% of the population is affected by AMD. Two out of three people over 90 will develop AMD and one in four in that age group experience significant loss of vision from it..

What to Do
Check your family history as AMD can be inherited. Smoking is a known risk factor. Quit! Have a comprehensive eye examination.

vision

Further Information
For more information please speak to your family doctor, an eye care professional or:
Diabetes Australia, 1800 640 862, diabetesaustralia.com.au
Lions Eye Health Program - Australia, 1800 010 234, enquiries@lehp.org.au

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