Laser Eye Surgeon Professor Dan Reinstein’s Eye Health Q&A– Part 3

Here is the third and final instalment of Professor Dan Reinstein’s Q&A session on the importance of looking after the health of our eyes.

What have been the most important technological developments in terms of looking after our eyes?

“Technology is extremely important, and there are too many great machines to list them all! For example, the development of OCT (optical coherence tomography) has been very important in allowing us to look at the layers of the retina in much more detail, so we can diagnose problems at the back of the eye more quickly. The Fundus camera – which allows pictures to be taken of the retina through an undilated pupil, can be very helpful for screening for diabetic eye disease. Slit-lamp microscopes can now magnify detail up to 40 times – which is a significant development in terms of the detection and treatment of eye conditions.”

Do you have any advice for people who have existing eye conditions?

“In general, people with existing eye conditions will need to see their optometrist / ophthalmologist more frequently than usual, for eye examinations. Treatment will, of course, vary depending not only on the condition, but also on the patient and their lifestyle. Some conditions (for example, cataracts) can be cured with surgery, while for conditions like glaucoma, treatment tends to focus on slowing the progression of the condition, and preserving the remaining sight. If you have an eye condition which causes significant vision loss, the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) is a really great source of information and support.”

Are there any aspects of eye health that you wish people knew more about?

“I would encourage people to learn more about some of the most common eye conditions. For example, a lot of people think that glaucoma is to do with having high pressure in the eyes but, in reality, you can have glaucoma with a low pressure in the eye. Of course, this emphasises the importance of regular eye examinations, to allow for detection by examination of the optic nerve at the back of the eye. Inflammatory diseases are also prevalent in the developed world; arthritis is common, and this can cause inflammation of the eyes – sometimes a serious condition called iritis. If you have an inflammatory condition, it is especially important to have regular eye exams.

Of course, as a refractive surgeon, some of the most common misconceptions I have to deal with are surrounding the relative safety of contact lenses vs Laser Eye Surgery. Laser Eye Surgery with an expert surgeon using today’s advanced technology is extremely safe. In fact, the safety of modern Laser Eye Surgery surpasses the safety of wearing contact lenses. Ironic that some people feel that they’re choosing the safer option by sticking to their contacts!

Finally, one of the things that most concerns me is that people might ignore a serious eye problem, for fear of making a fuss. Broadly speaking, any sudden significant change in vision, including sudden onset double vision, seeing increasing flashing lights and ‘floaters’, or loss of vision in one or both eyes, should be a cause for concern. People experiencing any of these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention, to rule out potentially serious ocular and general health conditions.”

Read part one and part two of this series again.