Most of us take our sight for granted — until we begin experiencing problems with it.
It is estimated that just over half of Australians experience a long-term eye problem, making them one of the most common health issues of our country. For those over 45 years, the incidence jumps to 87 per cent.
Common eye problems and how to recognise them
According to Optometry Australia, the most common eye problems in Australia relate to focusing. These are also known as refractive errors. There are four main types of refractive errors:
- Myopia — short sightedness
- Hyperopia — long sightedness
- Astigmatism — caused by the shape of the cornea or a tilting of the lens inside the eye
- Presbyopia — a normal part of ageing and usually noticeable between 40 and 50 years.
You may suffer myopia if you:
- screw your eyes up to see objects at a distance
- have trouble reading a blackboard or whiteboard
- need to sit close to the TV
- need to hold iPads or other electronic devices close
- hold a book or newspaper very close while reading it
- have trouble playing ball games.
You may have hyperopia if you:
- see close objects as blurry
- experience eye strain or headaches when doing ‘near work’ such as reading or writing
- experience trouble with your studies.
You may suffer from astigmatism if you:
- find all objects blurry, whether close or distant
- your eye has trouble focusing
- you experience headaches, fatigue or reduced concentration.
You may have presbyopia if you:
- hold reading matter further away to make it clearer
- experience headaches, sore eyes or fatigue after periods of close work (i.e. reading and writing).
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or have noticed any change to your vision, make an appointment with a registered eye care practitioner (optometrist or ophthalmologist).
While it can be worrying to notice changes in your eyesight, glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery can correct all of the above conditions.
Why you need regular eye checks
You may think you do not need regular eye checks until you are older, or until you begin experiencing problems. However, some eyesight problems may be related to eye diseases, which can lead to vision loss. Early detection and treatment of these conditions can help prevent permanent eye damage or slow the progression of the disease.
If you are free from eye diseases or specific risk factors, it is recommended that you have your eyes tested with a registered eye care practitioner every two years.
However, if you notice any changes to your vision, do not wait until your next scheduled appointment. Get your eyes checked. Detecting vision problems early is a key component of preventing loss of sight.