Important eye symptoms & what to do

Double Vision
If you are experiencing recent double vision either intermittently or permanently then this should be investigated as a matter of urgency. This symptom can be of sudden onset and more noticeable when looking up, down or to the side.
This is usually caused by an upset to the muscles that move the two eyes together and can be caused by either a blood vessel leakage, such as in diabetes or a stroke, trauma to the head causing nerve damage or by ocular side effects of general health conditions such as hyperthyroidism or multiple sclerosis.
If you experience double vision then you should seek an urgent appointment with your optometrist.

Sudden Loss of Vision
This is a very worrying symptom and obviously needs an emergency appointment for an eye examination. This can be caused by a number of conditions such as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and stroke.
This symptom can be intermittent lasting a few seconds, many minutes up to many hours and can be caused by blockages called ‘emboli’ within the eyes blood vessel system. These need to be medically investigated to prevent blockages within other parts of the body which could cause more severe risks to health such as a heat attack or stroke.

Sudden Onset Eye Pain
Eye pain comes in a range of guises. It can be a sharp stabbing pain caused by stimulation of the corneal epithelial nerves at the front of the eye such as in an abrasion of the surface of the eye, a dull ache as in an eye infection or inflammation through to an excruciatingly painful red eye as in closed angle glaucoma.
Any signs of ocular pain should be investigated at an eye examination as a matter of urgency but especially if accompanied by other signs such as ‘misty vision’, eye redness or the pain is increased by looking at bright light.
Ocular pain can be intermittent or constant and most commonly occurs in external eye infections such as bacterial conjunctivitis, where it is accompanied by a thick ‘pus’ discharge or viral conjunctivitis where mild ocular pain is additional to a ‘watery’ discharge.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be self limiting but may need antibiotics where viral conjunctivitis is most commonly left to run a course of 7 to 10 days and the bodies own defense mechanism kills the virus.

Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes
Eye floaters are tiny spots, specks, lines or shapes that enter into your field of vision, appearing to float in front of the eye. They may seem like distant objects, but they are actually the shadows of cells and fibers inside the vitreous, or gel-like portion of the eye. Floaters are most often isolated occurrences that are a perfectly normal part of vision. However, if they become more frequent, and are accompanied by eye flashes – bursts or streaks of light similar to the “stars” you may see after taking a blow to the head – this may be a sign of an impending retinal detachment. This is very serious and should be brought to the attention of an eye care professional.

What Causes Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes?

The vitreous gel may shrink, forming tiny clumps in the eye. These clumps cast shadows onto the retina, and the resulting forms and shapes are referred to eye floaters. Sometimes during the process of the vitreous shrinking, it remains partially attached to the retina, and tugs on it. The resulting movement of the retina’s nerve cells can cause eye flashes. Symptoms of Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes
Eye Floaters:
• Visible appearance of black shapes such as a small ‘tadpole’, ‘spiders web’ or ‘fly
• Usually solid wisp-like shapes that move within your field of vision Eye Flashes:
• Visible bursts or streaks of light seen at the side of vision, especially at night
• May be one burst in one area, or several over a wide area

Treatments for Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes

Most of the time, eye floaters are not a sign of anything harmful but, if they are recent or sudden onset, we would advise you to make an appointment for an eye examination as a a matter of urgency.
If they are accompanied by eye flashes, it may be a sign of a retinal break or tear, a serious condition that can lead to severe visual loss. For this reason, it’s recommended that anyone who experiences eye flashes schedule an exam with their optometrist immediately.


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