What you need to know about Cataracts…

What is a cataract?

Within our eyes, we have a transparent disc, called a crystalline lens. This lens transmits and focuses incoming light towards the back of the eye, the retina, to help us develop an image. When this lens becomes cloudy it is called a cataract.

As a cataract grows larger over time, and affects more of the lens, it can make it harder for you to see clearly.

How do cataracts develop?

The most common cause of cataracts is age. As we get older, the proteins in our lenses start to break down, clump together and cause cloudiness.

Other reasons for developing cataracts include prolonged UV damage, a family history of cataracts, certain systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and autoimmune disease, trauma to the eye, certain medications, smoking, and congenital conditions.

Cataracts most commonly develop gradually but can rapidly progress over a short period of time. A cataract may develop in one eye at a time or both simultaneously.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

Early symptoms of cataracts are generally mild and most commonly related to your vision.

You may experience changes in you vision such as blurriness, double vision, ghost images or halos, being extra sensitive to light and glare (for example, oncoming headlights while driving at night), having trouble seeing well at night, needing more light when you read, and seeing bright colors as faded or dull.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

Cataracts are diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam, often with the use of retinal photos and pupil dilation.

Learn more about our comprehensive EYE EXAMS here.

Cataract Treatment

In the early stages, your optometrist may prescribe an updated glasses or contact lenses prescription to give you the sharpest vision possible.

In the later stages, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist who may recommend surgical removal of the cataracts.

Anything to prevent?

There are a few things you can start doing today to help slow the development and progression of cataracts:

  • Protect your eyes from the sun, wear sunglasses with UV400 protection and a hat to prevent harmful UV rays from reaching your eyes. Consider UV protection for your eyes on overcast days as well, though UV rays may not be as strong, damage is still possible.
  • Quit smoking or don’t start.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet full of antioxidants from berries, leafy greens, nuts and beans. Leading a healthy lifestyle to avoid the development of systemic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension is also helpful.

Going for a comprehensive eye exam regularly is important even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. Your optometrist will help monitor your overall eye health, including the development and progression of cataracts.

Depending on your age and health history, the Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends adults have an eye exam every 2 years and children and seniors have an annual eye exam. Not sure when to have an eye exam? Click here to learn more from the CAO.

Book an EYE EXAM today!

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration, often indicated as AMD, is an eye disease that affects your central vision.

The macula is the central part of the retina located at the back of the eye. It is responsible for detailed vision. With macular degeneration, you will lose the ability to see things directly in front of you. Daily activities such as reading, driving, and recognizing people’s faces require seeing detail and are therefore most affected.


There are two types of AMD:

Dry AMD is most common and accounts for 90% of all cases. It develops when tiny clumps of protein, called drusen, form under your macula. These protein deposits can thin your macula. Dry AMD is considered milder and generally develops slowly over time.

Wet AMD is less common but more serious. It’s characterized as scarring caused by bleeding of weak blood vessels or growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. This form of age-related macular degeneration can quickly lead to central vision loss.

Dry AMD can develop into wet AMD at any time.


What are the symptoms of AMD?

Patients don’t experience pain with AMD. Symptoms most commonly include vision changes and may progress slowly or quickly.

In the early stages of AMD, you may be symptom-free. AMD can only be identified by having a comprehensive eye exam.

AMD is a progressive disease. Initially, symptoms may include blurred central vision, dark spots or missing areas in your vision, and straight lines appearing wavy or distorted.

In the late stages of AMD, you may experience a complete loss of central detailed vision.


Who’s at risk of developing AMD?

Age is a risk factor for this disease. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in North American adults over the age of 50.

Other risk factors include smoking, extensive UV light exposure, a family history of AMD, and cardiovascular disease.


Diagnosing AMD

A comprehensive routine eye exam is essential to detecting age-related macular degeneration. A dilated check of the person’s eye health using a special microscope allows the optometrist to look directly into the back of the person’s eye to observe for signs of AMD.

To retrieve detailed images of the back of the eye, OCT, optical coherence tomography, may be utilized. OCT imaging will help the optometrist identify and monitor any changes to the macula.

Along with an Amsler grid, a visual field test may be conducted to detect the extent of functional vision loss, a symptom of AMD.


Can you treat AMD?

In the early stages of AMD, the optometrist may recommend dietary supplements, self-monitoring of vision at home with an Amsler grid, and routine eye exam to monitor progression as treatment options.

In the later stages of AMD, treatment options may include eye injections to prevent further leakage of blood vessels to minimize vision loss.


How can AMD be prevented?

By implementing certain habits, you can slowly and potentially prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration:

  • Wearing UV 400 protective glasses and sunglasses when you’re outdoors (even in low light conditions)
  • Living a healthy lifestyle, including routine exercise
  • Keeping your blood pressure under control and reducing the intake of fatty foods
  • Consuming a nutrient-rich diet, including healthy eye foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and #, zinc, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include dark leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, and fish.
  • Routine comprehensive eye exams are essential for early detection and prevention.

AMD and Low Vision

Low vision is the loss of eyesight that makes everyday tasks difficult. As AMD progresses, low vision aids can help patients maximize their remaining vision. Your optometrist can prescribe magnifiying devices to help your distance and near vision. While these aids will not restore sight, they can improve functional vision to help people go about their daily activities.

To learn more about low vision rehabilitation, schedule an appointment with Dr. Camorlinga, who specializes in low vision.


Click here to easily book your appointment online!

How do I know if I have Glaucoma?

You may have heard of glaucoma but are you aware of how glaucoma affects your eye health and vision? Over 450,000 Canadians are affected by glaucoma and it is one of the leading causes of blindness. Known as ‘the silent thief of sight’, glaucoma can progress without symptoms or loss of vision during the early stages. Read further to learn more.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by a degeneration of the optic nerve.

The optic nerve, at the back of the eye, carries visual information to the brain. The amount and quality of this information decreases as the fibres that make up the optic nerve are damaged. This can cause vision loss.

What is the cause of glaucoma and who is affected?

The exact cause of glaucoma is not known.

If you have any of the following, then you may at an increased risk of developing glaucoma: elevated eye pressure, are over the age of 40, have a family history of glaucoma, have physical injury or surgery to the eye, cardiovascular conditions (such as high blood pressure, low blood pressure, heart conditions, etc), certain eye-related conditions (such as decreased optic nerve tissue, retinal detachment, eye tumour, eye inflammation, etc.), or diabetes.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma is often referred to as ‘the silent thief of sight’ because there are no symptoms in its early stages.

Depending on the type of glaucoma, symptoms may include blurry vision, eye redness, eye pain, light sensitivity, halos around lights, tearing, nausea, vomiting, headache, and rapid progression to vision loss.

The different types of glaucoma

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma often develops painlessly and gradually with no early warning signs. This type of glaucoma accounts for approximately 90% of all glaucoma cases and can gradually destroy your vision without you knowing it.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma may have symptoms such as nausea, eye pain, red eyes, blurred vision, and haloes around light. This condition can occur chronically or acutely.
  • Normal-tension glaucoma is the term used for people who have developed glaucoma but have ‘normal’ eye pressure.
  • Secondary glaucoma can form when an injury, infection, or tumor in or around the eye causing the pressure inside the eye to rise.

How does glaucoma affect my vision?

As glaucoma progresses, people may experience the loss of side vision or peripheral vision, eventually progressing to tunnel vision. Central vision loss takes place during the late stages of the disease. The loss of vision may interfere with daily tasks such as driving.

If left untreated, permanent vision loss can occur.

How is glaucoma detected?

As glaucoma can progress with or without symptoms, having a comprehensive eye exam is essential.

Early-stage glaucoma can be detected through a routine eye exam. Early detection and treatment are crucial in preventing the progression toward vision loss.

During an eye exam, the eyes’ internal pressure is measured using a painless procedure called tonometry. Our optometrists will also look directly inside the eye to inspect for any damage to the optic nerve and retinal layers. Your field of vision or peripheral vision will be measured; this can aid in diagnosing glaucoma.

Learn more about having a comprehensive eye exam at Oak Bay Optometry.

Further imaging and testing may be conducted to measure functional vision loss and structural changes in the eye.

How is glaucoma treated?

Treatment will depend on the severity and progress of the disease. It cannot be cured, but rather controlled. Medication, generally in the form of eye drops, can be prescribed to reduce elevated eye pressure. Several surgical procedures are available to reduce eye pressure if treatment with medication is not enough.

Once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be restored. Since the disease can progress and change silently, routine eye exams and compliance with treatment are essential.

If you have further questions regarding glaucoma or your eye health, it is best to visit your optometrist.

What does an optometrist do?

Your optometrist is your primary healthcare provider regarding your eye health and wellness.

In Canada, they’re the eye-care professional responsible for testing your visual acuity and prescribing corrective eyewear such as glasses and contact lenses.

According to the BC Doctors of Optometry, your optometrist will:

– Provide an optometric eye exam
– Examine, assess, measure, and diagnose disorders and diseases within the human eye such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration
– Recognize and co-manage related systemic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and brain tumours.
– Test visual acuity and prescribe corrective eyewear such as glasses and contact lenses.
– Remove foreign bodies from the eye
– Provide referrals to secondary specialists, such as ophthalmologist, for treatment of systemic disease or eye surgery when necessary
– Co-manage pre and post-operative care for laser vision correction and ocular diseases with ophthalmologists.

Regular visits to your optometrist are important to monitor your eye health and help you experience crisp vision. A comprehensive eye exam is recommended annually if you’re under the age of 19 or over the age of 65. For adults aged 19 – 64, an eye exam every two years is recommended.

Book a comprehensive eye exam today!

You can also contact an optometrist if you’re experience a sudden change in vision, eye pain, redness, or have a foreign body in your eye. Your optometrist will help asses your condition and offer management options. Depending on the severity, you may be referred to a secondary specialist, such as an ophthalmologist.

At times, it can be confusion to navigate our healthcare system. If you’re unsure whether you need to see an optometrist or have questions about having a comprehensive eye exam, please contact us.

Ask yourself, “How are my eyes?”

Take a moment to ask yourself, “How are my eyes?”.

How are they feeling? Do you experience eye pain or fatigue? Sensitivity to light? Dry or itchy eyes? Does your family have a history of eye disease?

Now ask yourself, “How is my vision?”.

Do you experience blurry vision or problems focusing? Maybe the small print isn’t as easy to read as it once was? Do you find yourself squinting to see images clearly? Is driving, particularly at night, difficult? Have you noticed flashes or floaters in your vision?

And finally, “When was your last eye exam?”.

If you’ve answered yes to any of the questions above, it’s time to visit your optometrist.

If you haven’t had an comprehensive eye exam in the last 2 years, it’s time to schedule an appointment.

Even if you’re not experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, having a regular comprehensive eye exam is important as a preventative measure. During your eye exam, the optometrist will check you visual acuity and the health of your eyes.

Many eye diseases, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration show no symptoms at first. These eye diseases can go unnoticed if you’re not having a regular eye exam.

Show your eyes the love they deserve (they’re an essential part of your vision after all). Book a comprehensive eye exam with one of our optometrists today!