Living in a world that is becoming more digitalised by the minute makes it fairly difficult for us to put down our digital devices. Computers, phones and tablets are becoming mainstays in our lives, and while they do offer a plethora of social and information benefits, excessive use may spell bad news for our eyes.
Every optician will advise their patients to get eye tests at least once a year. While there may be no underlying issues that you notice, opticians and ophthalmic specialists will be able to spot anything out of the ordinary that may not be immediately apparent. This is especially important in cases like glaucoma, where it can be incredibly difficult to spot any symptoms in the early stages.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, with over 64,3 million people living with the condition. It affects the optic nerve and retina of the eye over time, ultimately causing you to lose your vision. While a permanent cure has not yet been discovered, there are several ways to help prevent the condition from worsening.
Having regular eye exams will help identify any glaucoma-related symptoms and therefore, have the potential to stop the condition from worsening. The earlier the condition is spotted, the easier it is to stop it from developing.
“In 2013, the number of people with glaucoma worldwide was estimated to be 64,3 million, increasing to 76 million in 2020 and to 111,8 million in 2040."
In most cases, the service is run by three ophthalmic specialists. During the screening, you will undergo a series of tests, including:
- Visual fielding tests – these tests evaluate sight loss, specifically focusing on whether you're suffering from any side vision issues.
- Digital imaging – this test focuses on assessing the appearance of the optic nerve located at the back of your eye. Glaucoma disrupts the optic nerve of the eye, so this test will be able to identify whether there are any underlying symptoms that may be associated with glaucoma.
- Tonometry – this checks the pressure within your eye. Glaucoma is caused by a build-up in fluid within the eye, which in turn, leads to a build-up in pressure. If the fluid within your eye is not drained, the pressure has no way of leaving your eye, which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent vision loss.
Once the test has been completed, they will be reviewed, and the results sent to your GP, who will provide the necessary information and steps to take going forward.
One of the main issues that is commonly overlooked regarding eyecare is lighting. Alongside our excessive use of digital technology, it's equally important to ensure our homes and workplaces adhere to lighting regulations, as this can negatively impact your eyesight.
Gokulan Ratnarajan (an ophthalmic specialist based at The McIndoe Centre), issued a statement on the importance of lighting and its relationship with glaucoma:
"Glaucoma is one of the biggest causes of falls, and poor lighting certainly exacerbates this. The optic nerve and retina are damaged in glaucoma, meaning less light is transmitted to the brain and therefore the images produced are darker and lack contrast.
Furthermore, people with glaucoma often have cataracts and this makes things significantly worse. Patients with glaucoma should definitely optimise lighting conditions and check to see if they also have cataracts."
Having regular eye checks will greatly increase your chances of identifying glaucoma early, if you have it. If you find that you are straining at work or home, do not hesitate to ask your optician or ophthalmic specialist. It's likely they will recommend 'warmer' lights and advise you to stay away from fluorescent bulbs, as these produce the most flare. The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) discovered that constant exposure to fluorescent lighting (such as living in or working in a room with fluorescent lighting) saw a 12% increase in eye conditions.
Something that is becoming increasingly common is people reading off a phone, tablet or laptop before bed, usually in poor lighting conditions. It's thought that reading off a mobile phone is the most damaging to your eyes, as the harsh blue light found within these phones impacts your melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that essentially instructs your body when to sleep and when to wake up. At night, your melatonin levels will increase, allowing you to sleep easily, phone lights jeopardise this as it makes your body think it's light when it isn't.
However, now that companies have been informed of their phones disruptive light levels, many have introduced 'night mode', which essentially causes the display to produce a 'warmer' colour and background. While it's still not advised to read late at night, or in poor lighting conditions, the warmer display certainly feels easier on the eyes.
RetinaLyze System A/S has launched a new software, named RetinaLyze Glaucoma, which makes the process of screening for glaucoma much faster, more secure and more efficient. The algorithm uses machine learning (AI) to assess the damage to a vital part of the eye (the optic nerve head) to deduce if a patient should be referred to a manual assessment for glaucoma by an ophthalmologist. This innovative screening method is available at select optometrists and ophthalmologists.
RetinaLyze System A/S is a medical technology company established in 2013, which is represented in 35 countries all over the world. The company delivers groundbreaking decision support tools to eye-screening professionals to enable efficient, accessible and fast eye-screenings. All our algorithms and services are CE-marked, clinically validated and patented.