Looking after your eyes

Doing all you can to look after your eyes, together with regular check ups, will help preserve your sight.

What can I do to help keep my eyes healthy?

The answer is a great deal! To protect your eyes from ultraviolet damage wear sunglasses and a cap.  Always use protective goggles for DIY and sports like squash. Watch your diet – eat less red meat, eat plenty of dark leaved vegetables and carrots, eat at least one portion of oily fish such as salmon or trout each week, and avoid excessive alcohol which can precipitate cataracts. Avoid smoking which can cause cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and skin laxity, and exacerbates diabetic retinopathy and thyroid eye disease.  Regular check-ups with your optician can detect problems at an early stage.

What can be done to treat eye conditions?

Much can be done to control or cure conditions affecting your eyes.  Conditions commonly affecting older people include cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.  Younger adults who require glasses or contact lenses may consider laser vision correction.


Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed operation, and is mostly successful, but is not completely risk-free.  It can be undertaken once symptoms (blurring, glare, dimmed vision) become troublesome.  The power of the implant inserted can be adjusted to correct pre-existing short or long sight.  Astigmatism can also be treated at the same time, with special corneal incision(s) or a premium (toric) implant.  Other premium implants can block harmful blue rays, with some implants (focussing or multifocal IOLs) capable of giving both distance and near vision without glasses.


It is often possible to treat glaucoma with eye drops alone, and few patients require laser or surgical treatment.  The aim is to lower pressure levels within the eyes.  Glaucoma patients require life-long follow up, and need regular tests for eye pressure, visual field tests and inspection of the optic nerve heads.

Macular degeneration:

Significant advances have been made in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.  Diet and lifestyle changes should be adopted as soon as possible.  Dietary supplements such as Preservision tablets help reduce the risk of progression of macular degeneration.  More severe disease needs to be investigated with intravenous injections of dyes and flash photography of the back of the eye to detect leakage.  Another investigation called optical coherence tomography (OCT) complements these photographic techniques.  Wet type macular degeneration can now be treated with injections of anti-VEGF agents (e.g. Lucentis or EyLea).  Cases that cannot be helped this way may benefit from optical aids.

Refractive errors:

Laser vision correction has come of age, and can predictably correct a wide range of short and long sight, and astigmatism.  Those out of range can have lens-based refractive surgery.  However not everybody is suitable for laser vision correction and it is important to be assessed by a skilled practitioner.  A surgeon certification process (the Royal College of Ophthalmologists Certificate in Laser Refractive Surgery) has been in operation since 2007.

Who’s who in eye care?


One often thinks of an optician (otherwise known as an optometrist) performing sight tests and providing glasses, but in fact they also help look after patients with glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. An optometrist, either directly, or via your general practitioner, can also refer you to an ophthalmologist (also known as ophthalmic surgeon or oculist) for further assessment and treatment of more serious eye conditions.  A consultant ophthalmic surgeon is medically qualified (i.e. a doctor), and has undergone many years of further specialist training to deal with the whole spectrum of eye disease and surgery.

Should I consider private ophthalmic care? 

The advantages of “going private” include no wait, being able to see a consultant of your choice, seeing the same doctor each time, ample time at each consultation, and having no constraints regarding choice of treatment, be it premium implants for cataract surgery or anti-glaucoma eye drops.  There are also some treatments such as refractive surgery (laser vision correction, etc.) and cosmetic eyelid surgery which are not available under the NHS.

When to seek help?

We advise seeking urgent help, initially from your GP or optometrist or your local Eye Hospital casualty department, for any of the following complaints:

•Children with a squint, white pupil or droopy lid

•Eye pain, blurred vision and excessive sensitivity to light

•Double vision




European Corneal Conference

European Corneal Conference, Brighton, Friday 17th to Sunday 19th June 2016

European Corneal Conference