ASSESSMENTS FOR CATARACTS, MACULA DEGENRATION &

GLAUCOMA

All three of these conditions become more prevalent with age which is largely why the Medicare rules changed recently to allow over 65 year olds to have a full Medicare rebate for a comprehensive eye exam every year.

Cataracts are a change in the clarity of the lens in the eye ( the same one that hardens to make reading difficult) The two main types of cataract are a yellowing which doesn't usually affect sight until it is quite advanced. It is important to have this checked though because as it changes, the lens becomes more brittle and eventually becomes much more difficult for the surgeons to remove so it is important to be referred to an ophthalmologist at a suitable for time for what should be a straightforward procedure.

The other common type of change is a white clouding, often in pockets of the lens. This can develop relatively quickly and usually causes more sight and glare sensitivity problems.

A painless check behind the microscope can monitor the progress of cataract and a referral will made at the appropriate time.

Macula Degeneration (MD) is very common in the elderly but some people have early signs at a younger age. Prevention is the best option with supplements to slow down the progression recommended when appropriate. A particular form of MD called “wet” MD is best treated by an ophthalmologist and early detection is very important to achieving the best outcomes. A thorough assessment of the macula can be made anytime by the optometrist with immediate referral for treatment as required. An “Amsler Grid” chart, which we supply, can be a very useful self-monitoring tool.

Glaucoma is a condition where the optic nerve at the back of the eye is damaged by internal eye pressure.Eye pressure is tested quickly and easily at the optometrist and the normal pressure range is 10-20 mmHg. Any significant difference in eye pressure between the eyes or an increase from one visit to the next is considered suspicious and further testing at our practice can confirm whether the earliest signs of glaucoma are needing referral for treatment.

Nerve damage is permanent and causes loss of peripheral vision giving glaucoma the reputation of a “silent vision thief” as patients are only aware of any vision changes when it is already very advanced. Early detection is therefore very important.

Treatment is usually by drops that reduce the pressure and is nearly always very successful in preventing further nerve damage.

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