Eyes can become red and sore simply from working too long on a computer; or they could become red and itchy from allergies. If redness and itching persist, an anti-allergy eye drop can help reduce these symptoms. Artificial tears may help to bathe the eye and reduce itching, while antihistamine eye drops may reduce the allergic reaction.
However, several more serious conditions are common in SA, and these need urgent attention to prevent further deterioration and loss of vision. These include:
Glaucoma is the build-up of pressure inside the eye, which can cause permanent damage if left untreated1. Worldwide, about 66 million people are affected by glaucoma, and around 10% of these people become blind due to glaucoma. In SA it is estimated that about 200 000 people are affected1. Glaucoma is most often seen in older adults, and because it is often painless, many people delay screening and treatment. Symptoms include reduced areas of vision and blurred vision. People over the age of 40 should have their eyes tested routinely every two years, and people over the age of 60 should have their eyes tested every year, to detect signs of glaucoma early. Once diagnosed, treatment helps to prevent further progression of the disease and further loss of vision.
Cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, leading to a decrease in vision in one or both eyes. It is a common cause of blindness in SA, and can develop due to ageing, certain medical conditions, or trauma to the eye. Cataract is responsible for 51% of world blindness, which represents about 20 million people2. Surgery has been proven to be effective in treating cataracts.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition affecting older people and involves the loss of the person's central field of vision. It occurs when the macular (or central) retina develops degenerative lesions. Around the world, AMD ranks third as a cause of blindness after cataract and glaucoma3. AMD cannot be cured, but it can be treated to keep it from getting worse.
- South African Glaucoma Society FAQs https://www.sags.co.za/
- WHO Priority Eye Diseases – Glaucoma
- WHO Priority Eye Diseases – Cataract