myopia control

Be on the look out for buzzing insects, blobs of ink and shooting stars in your vision!

These symptoms, known as ‘flashes’ and ‘floaters’ can be a sign of an ocular emergency. ‘Floaters’ are drifting shapes in the vision, which people describe as buzzing insects, drifting spots, or blobs of ink or jelly. ‘Flashes’ are light effects that appear briefly, and can look like a shooting star or arcs of light, generally in the peripheral vision. For most people these symptoms come on quickly, generally just in one eye, and are more obvious when looking at a blank background like the sky or a wall, or when the light is dim.

A representation of the symptoms of floaters and floaters.

The cause of these symptoms is because the vitreous humour, the collagen gel that fills the eyeball, becomes more liquefied as we age, and eventually collapses. This process is called a posterior vitreous detachment. Clumps of vitreous debris can form that cast a shadow on the retina – creating ‘floaters’. When this gel gently tugs on the retina (the light sensitive nerves of the eye) a signal is created which the brain sees as ‘flashes’. These symptoms eventually decrease with time, generally because gravity drops the debris out of your line of sight, or more commonly the brain learns to ignore them! This can take many months, and sometimes they may never disappear completely.

Diagram of the eye showing the vitreous humour, the jelly that fills the eye. Sadly if the vitreous pulls on the retina causing a tear or detachment it can be anything but humorous.

Unfortunately approximately 1 in 10 people that experience these symptoms suddenly will have more serious issues in the eye including holes, tears or detachments of the retina. These conditions are more common in people with short-sightedness, or myopia (one of the reasons we try to limit the level of myopia in our kids as they grown older - more info here) and require urgent surgical repair to avoid the risk of permanent vision loss. Results following surgery are better with early detection.

Our optometrist Alex has been unfortunate enough to have three retinal detachments already in his life, but fortunately these were picked up very early and emergency surgery was able to save his sight. The only symptoms Alex noticed were subtle arcs of light in his peripheral vision the day before. The next day he started losing peripheral vision in one eye so rushed himself to the hospital knowing that due to his high myopia that it was highly likely he had a retinal detachment!

So if you notice new ‘floaters’ or ‘flashes’ see Alex at Bay Eye Care promptly for a thorough retinal examination. This will done with the help of eye-drops that dilate your pupil to allow Alex the best view of the peripheral retinal areas. If retinal damage is found then Alex can swiftly arrange a referral to his eye surgeon colleagues for treatment.

Slow your child’s short-sightedness early to prevent blindness

Around the world more of our children are becoming short-sighted (myopia). This means they have difficulties seeing clearly in the distance and require glasses or contact lenses to see. It is thought that a combination of genetics (if a child’s parents are also myopic) and environmental factors (including lack of outdoor light exposure and increased device usage) are leading to this rising tsunami of myopia.

Wearing glasses to see clearly is an inconvenience. However many people do not realise that there is an increased risk of blinding eye disease associated with short-sightedness. Scarily conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract and macular degeneration are more common the more short-sighted we become. This is because in myopia the eye grows longer and become structurally weaker. Due to his own myopia our optometrist Mr Alex Petty has already had three retinal detachments requiring emergency surgery to save his sight!

Normal glasses or contact lenses do nothing to slow the progression of myopia in children and teenagers. Fortunately these days optometrists have access to specialty myopia control treatments (including specialty contact lens options and therapeutic eye drops) which are proven to slow eye growth by at least 50%. This will decrease the risk of blinding eye disease later in life.

If your child is not yet short-sighted it is recommended they spend at least an hour of outdoor time a day, and have regular breaks from digital devices, to prevent the onset of myopia.

Book a myopia control assessment at Bay Eye Care sooner rather than later to limit your child's risk of ocular disease later in life.

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Short-sightedness is a problem for children in Australia too.

A recent news article on Australian TV highlights some of the risks of short-sightedness (myopia) in children and discusses the treatments to slow this condition. At Bay Eye Care we employ all the treatments mentioned to help control myopia in NZ kids.

View the short segment here: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2017/s4629501.htm