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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

Common eye diseases that affect young and old

While many of us take our sight for granted, a large percentage of the world’s population experiences sight problems, and most of us won’t be able to escape vision loss in our lifetime. We take a look at some of the major eye diseases and vision loss conditions that affect the quality of life in both adults and children.


People who can see clearly at short distances, but have trouble focusing on objects far away may have myopia or nearsightedness. There has been a significant increase in myopia in children due to increased screen time and less time spent outdoors.

Symptoms of myopia include:

· Objects in the distance appear blurry.

· Headaches and eye fatigue as eyes strain to focus.

· Sitting too close to the television or computer screen.

· Squinting or tilting the head.

The treatment of myopia includes wearing eyeglasses/spectacles or contact lenses, LASIK surgery, an intraocular lens implant or vision therapy. Myopia management and preventative care to slow down the progression of myopia is possible with lifestyle changes, specialised spectacle lenses or contact lenses such as Miyosmart or Misight lenses.


Today 20 million people world-wide are blind due to cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs the eye’s ability to see clearly. It occurs with old age, long-term exposure to UV radiation and the use of certain medications. People with diabetes are also at risk.

Signs of cataracts include:

· Blurred vision far and near with glasses.

· Light sensitivity.

· Glare with night vision.

· Changes in colour vision.

· Cloudy, blurry or filmy vision.

· Frequent changes in spectacle prescription.

· The pupil or the centre the eye appears white.

The only way to cure the vision problems related to cataracts, is to remove them through cataract surgery. This entails removing the clouded natural lens with cataracts and replacing it with a permanent intraocular lens. Refractive surgery with intra-ocular lenses can correct your vision by using multifocal, single-vision or mono-vision intra-ocular lenses.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that affects the eyes of people with diabetes. Damage to the blood vessels in the retina leads to vision loss. It is the leading cause of blindness in the USA and affects millions of people world-wide.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

· Blurred vision.

· Fluctuating vision.

· Dark spots and shadows.

· Vision loss.

The treatment of diabetic retinopathy may vary from laser or injection therapy to surgery, close monitoring and diabetic retinopathy screening programmes. People with diabetes should have their retinas examined annually by an optometrist or ophthalmologist to detect early retinal changes to preserve their vision and to prevent further vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that affects your central vision. As it progresses with age, it will become increasingly difficult for a person to see fine details and colours.

Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration include:

· Blurred or distorted vision in the centre of the field of view.

· Difficulty reading or doing other tasks that require fine vision.

· A dark or empty area in the centre of vision.

· Straight lines appear wavy or distorted.

· Difficulty adjusting to low light.

Dry macular degeneration is the most common form and entails the gradual accumulation of yellow deposits in the macula of the eye. While there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, one can slow the progression of this eye disease by eating a diet rich in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruits and leafy greens, avoiding smoking, wearing UV-protective sunglasses, and taking vitamin and mineral supplements high in antioxidants, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin.


Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world and affects millions of people every year.

Symptoms of glaucoma include:

· Gradual loss of peripheral vision.

· Tunnel vision.

· Blurred vision.

· Seeing halos around lights.

· Eye pain.

Treatment of glaucoma includes medication like eye drops, laser surgery, conventional surgery and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery which helps lower eye pressure.

In summary

Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression, or even cure a variety of eye diseases and vision loss conditions. If you suspect that you, your child or a loved one have the symptoms associated with any of these conditions, be sure to consult with your optometrist or an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Book an appointment with us

Tomlinson Optometrists is equipped with the latest technology and equipment, including a fundus camera to perform diabetic eye screenings and monitor your ocular health, a non-contact tonometer to measure your intra-ocular pressure and detect glaucoma and other ocular anomalies that cause elevated eye pressure.

Esna van der Walt is also a paediatric or behavioural optometrist assisting children with reading and learning difficulties to reach their full potential.

Get in touch with us on WhatsApp:

Book an appointment online:

Phone 021 797 7291, email or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.

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