Eye Health

Your eyes are more than just the windows to your soul; they are give fantastic insight into your health. A routine examination can detect both visual problems and systemic diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure and genetic disease. At Cooper & Lourie, we recommend a full checkup at least once every two years regardless of the clarity of your vision.

This page explains common eye conditions of interest to patients.

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors are vision conditions where the light entering the eye does not accurately and comfortably focus on the retina, similar to an out-of-focus camera. Refractive errors can be corrected with spectacles and/or contact lenses. These visual errors include:

Myopia – commonly known as ‘short-sightedness’, where sufferer is unable to clearly distinguish distance objects because the eye focuses light in front of the retina rather than on the retina. It is a very common condition affecting about one in four Australians. Without regular examination, many children and even some adults are not aware of their myopia since changes are slow and difficult to detect without a point of comparison. Uncorrected myopia may lead to poorer performance compared to others at school, work and sport.

Hyperopia/Hypermetropia – commonly known as ‘long-sightedness’, where suffers find it difficult to maintain clarity up close. Hyperopia occurs when the eye focuses light behind the retina rather than on it. Where the hyperopia is low, some young patients can use eye muscles to physically pull their focus onto the retina and achieve clarity. This is not without consequence however, as maintaining clarity over long periods may result in eye strain, fatigue and clarity that vary over time. Asking a hyperope to maintain clear vision while reading is similar to asking him or her to hold a weight for an extended period of time – while it may be possible, it is certainly not comfortable. Uncorrected hyperopia may lead to a lack of interest for near tasks. Prolonged non-correction may lead to physical changes in the muscles of the eye as they adapt to compensate for the error.

Astigmatism – astigmatics notice a distortion or doubling of their vision at all distances. The condition is caused by an irregular shape of the optical surfaces of the eye, such as the cornea or lens, and can lead to visual discomfort and headaches. It is a very common condition and the need for correction will be determined based on a number of factors. Astigmatism may change over time and can occur as a result of some eye diseases.

Presbyopia – presbyopes inevitably notice that their arms aren’t quite long enough to read clearly around the age of 40-45 years. The difficulty of near vision for tasks such as reading newspapers or telephone directories occurs as a natural result of the gradual stiffening crystalline lens within the eye. Presbyopia is corrected with a prescription to help with reading which may require strengthening every few years. Presbyopia is not a disease, it is not correctable or preventable, but it can be delayed by a healthy diet and wearing sunglasses from an early age.

Cataracts – a cataract is a clouding of the natural crystalline lens within the eye over time. The sufferer may notice a gradual increase in sun glare and decrease in night vision. Although the pace of clouding can vary, it is often slow and stays in a form that does not require treatment. Your optometrist will discuss the risks, benefits of surgery when the time is appropriate and provide a referral to an ophthalmic surgeon. You can delay the onset and progression of cataracts with a healthy diet and wearing sunglasses from an early age.

Macula Degeneration – macula degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia, it is primarily related to age and affects one in seven people in Australia over the age of 50. It is sometimes referred to as age-related macula degeneration (ARMD). The macula is the most sensitive area of the retina responsible for clear central vision. While ARMD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, smoking and a family history of the disease greatly increase this risk. Early detected of ARMD is crucial to save the remaining sight.

Glaucoma – glaucoma is a disease causing death to the nerve fibers which carry information from the eyes to the brain. This can occur as a result of increased pressure within the eye or increased sensitivity of nerve fibers as a consequence of other conditions such as diabetes. Glaucoma is a silent thief of sight as peripheral vision is affected first and not usually noticed by the patient. Early detected of glaucoma is crucial to save the remaining sight.

Vision Loss, Flashes and Floaters, Eye Pain – Unusual symptoms should not be left unchecked. Delayed in detection and treatment can result in irreversible damage. Your optometrist is highly trained to diagnose the full range of ocular conditions and provide treatment or referral where necessary. Please convey the urgency of your symptoms to our receptionist so that we can make time to see you as soon as possible.