What we test for
These are some of the conditions we'll test for when you get a comprehensive eye test with us.
Presbyopia (Age-related long sightedness)
If you’re over 40 years of age and notice that it’s becoming difficult to read the menu in a low-lit restaurant, or if you have to extend your arms when reading a book or sending a text, you’re probably suffering from presbyopia. This is a natural part of growing older and occurs when your eyes lose their ability to bring close objects into clear focus.
What symptoms will I have?
- Difficulty seeing objects up-close
- Blurred vision at normal reading distance
- Eye strain or fatigue when reading
What causes Presbyopia?
When we’re younger the lens of the eye is soft and flexible, which means it can easily change shape and focus on objects up-close and far away. But as we get older the lens loses elasticity and becomes harder and less flexible.
It makes it harder for the eyes to focus on things close to us.
It happens to all of us with age, but medical conditions like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or heart disease, may increase your chances of presbyopia at an earlier age (before 40).
Can Presbyopia be treated?
Presbyopia can’t be reversed or cured, but there are plenty of options to help correct your vision. Your optometrist can talk you through these after a routine eye test. If you don’t have any other vision problems, reading glasses might be all you need. However, if you have myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) or astigmatism you might benefit from wearing multifocal lenses.
Myopia (short sightedness)
If you can see close objects clearly but have trouble focusing on objects in the distance, you’re probably short sighted or have myopia. You may find it difficult to read signs, watch television or recognise people walking down the street towards you.
Ask our optometrists about new treatment options available to slow down the progression of myopia.
It may be struggling to read something far off or you might notice kids sitting too close to the TV. Either way, myopia can also cause:
- Eye strain
- Eye fatigue
Myopia / short-sightedness is a structural problem in the eye where there’s too much of a curve in the cornea or crystalline lens - or the eyeball is too long. This means light focuses in front of the retina in the back of the eye, instead of directly onto it, making objects in the distance appear blurry.
It’s not totally clear what the underlying cause is, but research suggests short-sightedness runs in the family. It’s also interesting to note that spending too much time inside or focused on objects up close (like books, screens, etc) can be a contributing factor.
How is myopia diagnosed?
It’s actually a pretty straightforward eye test that lets your optometrist know if you’ve got myopia symptoms. Using an eye chart, your visual acuity will be checked – and other instruments can pick up if someone’s short or long-sighted.
It’s often picked up in childhood, but if it’s not treated it tends to get worse until after the teenage years – that’s why early detection is really important. The good news is that there are strategies that can significantly reduce the rate and degree of deterioration.
There’s no cure for myopia, but glasses or contact lenses can correct your vision. It’s important to get in as early as possible. A tailored management plan (taking into account your age, prescriptions and lifestyle needs) with your optometrist can really help reduce the speed or severity of vision problems.
Keep having regular eye tests - it’s also important to ensure you don’t develop complications like glaucoma, cataracts or other eye conditions.
Hyperopia (long sightedness)
Your distance vision is good, but you have trouble with closer objects, which appear blurred. Other symptoms include eye fatigue, headaches and aching eyes, especially after reading or working on a computer. Finding it difficult to see characters when texting may also be a sign of hyperopia.
Hyperopia is caused by the shape of the eye - the eyeball is slightly too short. It is corrected by spectacles or contact lenses with lenses which are 'plus' or convex in shape. If you are long sighted, your prescription will have a plus lens power eg +2.50D.
Astigmatism (irregular shaped eye)
Most people don’t have a perfectly shaped cornea. However, an irregularly curved cornea can sometimes cause blurred vision and this is known as astigmatism. This is very common and is not a disease.
What are the symptoms?
- Blurred, distorted or ‘double vision'
- Fatigue and eye strain
- Short-sightedness (myopia) or long-sightedness (hyperopia).
How can you treat it?
The good news is astigmatism is easy to diagnose during a routine eye test and rest assured, it’s also easy to correct with glasses or contact lenses and in some cases laser surgery. Your optometrist will recommend the best option for you.
For most people, cataracts occur naturally through the process of ageing. A cataract clouds the lens of your eye, making it look milky, and the condition becomes worse over time. Symptoms include hazy vision causing blurred or distorted images, colours that appear more yellow and needing more light to see clearly.
When do cataracts usually develop?
Most cataracts develop just with age. They tend to affect people over 65, but it can vary – with some affected earlier and some with no issues until their 70s. Most of us will have some form of cataract development by around 80.
It’s worth noting that aside from age, other risk factors include long-term exposure to sunlight, smoking, diabetes and family history.
What will I notice if I’m developing cataracts?
You might not notice much at all early on, but as they progress they can cause cloudy, blurred or dim vision. Some people say it’s like looking through a dirty window.
It’s also quite common for people to feel sensitive to glare - especially on a bright sunny day or when driving at night on artificially lit roads. If you need to change glasses or contact lens prescriptions more frequently, that can be a sign too.
What can I do about it?
Short term, you can often get some relief with a new glasses prescription. But the most effective way to get relief is to have them surgically removed. The good news is it’s pretty straightforward and is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. If you don’t have any other eye conditions, your vision should significantly improve after surgery.
While you can’t do much to prevent cataracts, wearing good sunglasses can help. Smoking’s a risk factor too, so quitting is the best way to take that risk out of the equation.
Having a regular eye test with your optometrist, especially if you’re over the age of 65, can help with early detection and treatment of any eye conditions.
Glaucoma affects your peripheral vision slowly and may not be noticeable until it’s advanced. The disease affects the nerve fibres at the back of your eye. Once the fibres die, you experience loss of vision and, potentially, blindness so it’s really important for us to diagnose this condition early.
What should I look for?
If you’re noticing any of these symptoms, get in to see your optometrist as soon as you can:
- Blurred vision
- Seeing rainbows, or halos around lights
- Vision loss
How is glaucoma treated?
Treatment for glaucoma includes eye drops, medication, laser surgery and other procedures to lower the pressure inside the eye. It’s really important to get in as early as you can to prevent further loss of vision.
Any loss of eyesight is irreversible – but early detection through regular eye tests and treatment can make all the difference in slowing the progression of the disease.
Am I at risk?
Glaucoma doesn’t discriminate – you can start developing it at any age. The risk is higher if you’re older, and if someone in your family has it your risk is ten times higher too. All the more reason to stay ahead of it and have regular eye tests.
Risk factors include:
- a family history
- short-sightedness (myopia)
- a history of eye injuries
- elevated blood pressure
- use of steroid drugs
- ethnicity (Asian or African background are at increased risk)
Dry eyes occur when your eyes aren’t lubricated enough, the chemical composition of your tears is not balanced or you don’t produce enough tears. It can lead to uncomfortable sensations such as scratchy, itchy or tired eyes. You may also experience burning or red eyes and blurred vision. Strangely enough, dry eyes may sometimes be watery too.
What are the symptoms?
- Your eyes might feel irritated, scratchy, itchy, watery or as if they’re burning
- The feeling of having something in your eye
- Blurred or fluctuating vision
What causes dry eye?
- Age – we’re more likely to have dry eyes as we get older
- Gender – it’s more common in women than men
- Some medications, like antihistamines
- Medical conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis
- Your environment – including if it’s windy or you’re using air conditioning
- Too much time in front of a computer and using other screens
- Other factors like contact lens wear, ocular surgery and wearing a face mask
How can a face mask cause dry eye?
Wearing a face mask is an important factor in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, however you may experience a few side effects like foggy glasses and dry eyes caused by air travelling out the top of the mask and over the surface of the eyes.
Is dry eye curable?
Unfortunately not – but there are treatments to help with symptoms. Even changes like turning down the air conditioner, making more of an effort to blink regularly or turning off your devices for a while can help.
Your optometrist will also suggest the best treatment options if you’re diagnosed with dry eye. Sometimes over-the-counter eye drops ointments and sprays are the best way forward. Other treatments – like heat and steam goggles, lid wipes or prescription eye drops might be advised.
Macular degeneration, also known as age related macular degeneration (AMD), is the leading cause of legal blindness in Australia, responsible for 50% of all cases of blindness. It is possible to reduce the risk of losing sight from AMD by adopting a healthy lifestyle and regularly having regular eye examinations.
What is the macula?
The macula is part of your eye, a small spot about 0.5 cm wide. It sits in the very centre of the retina at the back of the eye. When light travels through your pupil it's focused onto your retina, which then sends signals to your brain that are interpreted as vision.
It is responsible for your detailed central vision, the ability to see what’s directly in front of you, and most of your colour vision. You are reading this text using your macula.
What is macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless, degenerative condition that more commonly affects those over 50 years of age. It causes progressive loss of central vision, affecting your ability to read, distinguish faces, drive a car, and perform other activities that require fine vision.
Macular degeneration affects the layer of cells under the retina, known as the Retinal Pigment Epithelium, or RPE. The RPE and the underlying layer of blood vessels (called the choroid) helps provide nourishment to the retina, and to remove the waste products produced in the retina.
In macular degeneration the RPE function is reduced, leading to a build-up of waste product under the RPE. The waste products form yellow spots, called drusen. If left untreated, it could lead to eventual death of the RPE.
Macular degeneration could initially present in one eye, while the other still have normal vision. It’s important to keep checking both eyes if you have it in one eye, because over a 5 year period there becomes a 50% chance of developing it in your other eye.
What are the different types of macular degeneration?
In the early and intermediate stages of AMD, drusen first appear due to the progressive build up of waste material under the retina. You might not realise anything is wrong, and you may still have normal vision. Some people notice vision changes but put it down ageing.
In the later stage of AMD, vision loss occurs because the RPE cells die or fail to prevent blood vessels from the choroid from growing into the retina.
There are two main forms of late-stage macular degeneration:
Dry (neovascular) macular degeneration
Dry AMD is the most common type. Death of RPE cells leads to death of the retinal cells above them. The result of this is patches of ‘missing’ retina, which can cause gradual loss of vision, often over the course of 5-10 years, though some people experience a slower deterioration in sight.
If you know you have dry AMD and you experience any sudden change in vision, it’s likely that you could develop the ‘wet’ form too. It is critical that you see your eye care professional urgently.
Wet (atrophic) macular degeneration
Unlike the 'dry' form, wet AMD occurs more rapidly and is a more severe form of disease. In this form, RPE cells fail to stop choroidal blood vessels from growing under the retina. Rapidly growing choroidal blood vessels are fragile and have leaky walls which causes them to ooze fluid and blood, hence the term 'wet'. If left untreated, it usually leads to scarring of the retina and eventually permanent loss of vision.
Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration
AMD often affects both your eyes although it may affect one eye before the other. You may not notice at first as the ‘good’ eye compensates for the ‘bad’ eye. This can mask any deterioration in vision.
AMD isn't a painful condition. Symptoms may happen slowly, but sometimes they develop more quickly. They include:
- distorted vision – straight lines become wavy or objects appear to be the wrong size
- blurry central vision
- colours seem less bright
- a sensitivity to light
- seeing dark patches or empty spots (‘blindspots’) in your central vision
- difficulty reading, recognising people's faces, driving, looking at small objects and watching television
Complications of age-related macular degeneration
AMD doesn't usually lead to complete blindness. You still have your peripheral vision, the ability to see to the sides. However, it can lead to substantial vision loss if it's left untreated. This is why it's very important to visit your GP or optometrist if you have any symptoms.
Causes of age-related macular degeneration
No one knows exactly what causes AMD although the strongest risk factors for AMD are:
- older age
- family history
Other risk factors include:
- poor diet
- high blood pressure
- cardiovascular disease
- being obese (body mass index of 30 or higher)
This is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Poorly controlled blood sugar is a risk factor. Early symptoms include floaters, blurriness, dark areas of vision and difficulty perceiving colours.
It’s about your circulatory system
When you have diabetes, there’s a higher risk of having trouble with your eyes. If this is left untreated it can lead to poor vision and blindness. Diabetes is a disease of the circulatory system – and since the eyes are home to a complex network of blood vessels, high blood sugar can cause damage.
There’s good news though
98% of serious vision loss can be prevented with regular eye tests and early treatment – so it’s a great reason to keep up those regular eye checks as part of your diabetic management plan. Early detection is always better.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
When your blood sugar is high over a long period of time, it can increase the risk of serious eye conditions in people with diabetes, like cataracts, glaucoma and macular oedema. But diabetic retinopathy is the most common ocular condition caused by diabetes.
This affects the retina of the eye (the light sensitive portion at the back of the eye) and is caused by damage to the small blood vessels that nourish the retina. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive disease – the better the blood sugar control of the diabetic, the less likely the disease is to progress.
It’s worth noting though that anyone who has diabetes (type 1 or type 2) can develop diabetic retinopathy, even if your blood sugar is well-controlled.
Regular checks are important
Diabetes-related eye complications often have no signs or symptoms right away, and there may be no obvious vision troubles until the condition is quite advanced. It’s highly recommended that you have regular eye exams every 1 to 2 years. Your optometrist will likely dilate your pupils to ensure your they have the best view of your retina.
A healthy lifestyle and the right medication combined with medical check-ups can help keep your blood sugar under control – meaning you’re looking out for your eye health too.
Spots and Floaters
Floaters earn their name by moving around in your eye. They tend to dart away when you try to focus on them. They come in many different shapes:
- Black or grey dots
- Squiggly lines
- Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
Once you get them, they usually don’t go away. But you usually notice them less over time.
What causes floaters?
Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen. They’re part of a gel-like substance in the back of your eye called the vitreous.
As you age, the protein fibres that make up the vitreous shrink down to little shreds that clump together. The shadows they cast on your retina are floaters. If you see a flash, it’s because the vitreous has pulled away from the retina. If the floaters are new or dramatically changed or you suddenly start seeing flashes, see your optometrist immediately.
These changes can happen at any age, but usually occur between 50 and 75. You’re more likely to have them if you’re nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.
It’s rare, but floaters can also result from:
- Eye disease
- Eye injury
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Crystal-like deposits that form in the vitreous
- Eye tumours
Serious eye disorders associated with floaters include:
- Detached retina
- Torn retina
- Bleeding in your vitreous
- Inflamed vitreous or retina caused by infections or an autoimmune condition
- Eye tumours
Something that might resemble a floater is the visual aura that can come with a migraine headache. It could look like what you see when you put your eye to a kaleidoscope. It might even move. It’s different from the floaters and flashbulb type “flashes” that come with other eye problems. This usually lasts a few minutes and may involve the vision in both eyes. But then it completely resolves unless you have another episode.
The next time you get ready to head to the beach or ski slopes without protective eye gear, take a moment to remember that eyes can get sunburned the same way skin can.
Protecting your eyes from UV rays is the only way to avoid getting them sunburned. Over time, too much sun exposure can cause specific types of eye diseases to occur. These include:
- age-related macular degeneration
- eyelid cancer
When your eyes get too much exposure to UV light, temporary sunburn or permanent damage can occur in several areas, including:
- the thin, surface layer of the cornea
The conjunctiva is a thin, mucus membrane comprised of two sections. One section covers and protects the whites of the eye (bulbar conjunctiva). The other section covers the inner surface of the upper and lower eyelids (palpebral conjunctiva). Either or both sections can become sunburned.
As with skin, eye sunburn can vary in intensity. The longer your exposure to UV rays, the more intense your symptoms are likely to be. The symptoms of photokeratitis can be uncomfortable. They include:
- gritty feeling, as if you have sand in your eyes
- eye pain
- twitching sensation in the eyelid
- blurry vision
- sensitivity to bright light
- seeing halos
- constricted, pinpoint pupils (miosis)
- temporary vision loss or colour changes in your vision (these symptoms are rare)
Photokeratitis usually resolves on its own within one to two days. Treatment for this condition typically centers around reducing symptoms so you can feel more comfortable. If you suspect that you have sunburned eyes, your doctor may recommend pain relievers or antibiotic eye drops.
You can also try a few at-home treatments for symptom relief:
- Remove contact lenses. This should be done immediately to let your eyes heal.
- Resist the urge to rub your eyes. This will not provide relief and could further irritate the eye.
- Use a cool compress. Place compresses over closed eyes and rest.
- Try medication. Over-the-counter pain medication for headache relief could help.
- Always have your sunnies. Make sure to wear your sunglasses to reduce the impact of bright light.
- Get eye drops. Use artificial tears to lubricate eyes.
- Skip the makeup. Using makeup and false eyelashes can further irritate the eyes.
- Talk to your doctor. If you wear eyelash extensions, ask your doctor if it’s better to have them removed or to leave them on while your eyes heal.
- Keep eyes clear. Avoid getting salt water or chlorinated water in your eyes. If you swim, protect your eyes with airtight goggles.
UV Impacted Eyes
Sunlight is an important source of vitamin D, but excessive exposure can also have a harmful effect on the human body. The effects of sunburn on the skin are well-documented, but the UV rays can also damage the delicate eye area.
The damage caused by UV rays is often irreversible and your most delicate skin is around the eyes making it the most susceptible to sun damage. Whilst the eyelid is designed to protect the eye, its skin is exceedingly thin and contains many fragile tissues that may be injured by UV light.
A sensitivity to light can be a trigger for migraine headaches. To combat this problem, you can try wearing tinted lenses to lessen the effect of the UV rays hitting your face. Dark sunglasses can be helpful for wearing outdoors to protect your eyes from the direct effects of the sunlight, while lighter tinted glasses can be useful for indoors. You can also ask your optometrist about photochromic lenses, which are designed to change the level of tint according to the intensity of light. This can save you the hassle of having to swap out a particular pair of tinted lenses for another as you move throughout the day.
Macular degeneration is an age-related condition that causes a gradual loss of the central vision in your eyes. Unfortunately, it can also be exacerbated by exposure to UV rays. The ultraviolet radiation can damage cells in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye. If you have macular degeneration, it's essential to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes while outside. Certain types of coloured lenses (such as yellow, orange and brown) can help improve your contrast vision. Always look for lenses that that offer 100 per cent UV protection and are polarised to protect against the glare of reflected sunlight.
If you're looking to trial contact lenses, you will still need to wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes from the UV rays. There are many different types of contact lenses you can try, including Bailey Nelson’s own brand contact lenses and Acuvue Moist. You'll need to test out the brand and fit that feel the most comfortable for you. Water content isn't the ultimate indicator of comfort as some of the most oxygen permeable lenses today still have a low water content. Ask your optometrist about doing a trial.
Sunglasses are the ultimate summer fashion accessory, keeping you looking cool all summer long whilst protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
All our sunglasses have 100% UV protection so you can be confident in keeping your eyes thoroughly protected all summer long. All our prescription sunglasses are created to your personal prescription, and ease the squinting and sun glare you might encounter when wearing traditional glasses or contact lenses.
Everyone is at risk for eye damage without the proper precautions, so you should wear sunglasses even on cloudy days. Polarised lenses also help reduce the glare reflecting off other surfaces, and you can opt for prescription sunglasses if you need vision correction as well.
Tinted, polarised, transitions - the choice is yours. We’ve got options to meet a variety of vision needs. You can choose from options such as polarised lenses, Transitions®, different tints, even contact lenses to reduce the impact of UV radiation on your eyes.
UV protection blocking. All clear optical lenses 1.5 index prevent 94% of UV from penetrating. 1.6 and above is 100% (protect those peepers!)
Here are some of the ways you can keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
Give your eyes a break
Spending long periods looking at computer, phone, or tablet screens can strain the eyes. Using the 20-20-20 rule can help to prevent this problem. For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, a person should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is a great way to reduce eye strain caused by looking at digital screens for too long.
Eat a healthy diet
Make sure you’re eating a wide range of healthy foods like vegies and fruit, grains / cereals, lean meats and dairy. This is good for your whole body – and that includes your eyes.
Nutrients like zinc, copper, vitamin C and E, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are found in foods like fruit and veg, oily fish, beef and eggs – and all help to keep eyes healthy.
We know regular exercise keeps our body healthy, but did you know it’s also a great way to look after your eyes?
Studies show exercise can reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise can also help prevent or manage type two diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure.
Quit smoking for good
Smoking can lead to vision loss and blindness – another reason to get rid of that habit for good. If you smoke, you’ll be at greater risk of conditions like age related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Manage diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol
It’s important to stay on top of diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol diagnosis, because if they’re not managed they can cause sight threatening eye diseases. Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the country.
Get a good pair of sunglasses
It’s no surprise that our eyes are as affected by sun exposure as our skin is. UV exposure can cause eye problems like cataracts and pterygium and can damage the cornea and retina. Larger frames and wrap around glasses offer the best sun protection.
Wear eye protection
Your eyes are sensitive so it’s important to protect them from dust, airborne objects, bright lights and chemicals.
Safety glasses are standard personal protective equipment for most people working in construction or on mine sites, but it’s also recommended people wear safety glasses while mowing the lawn, whipper-snipping or using power tools at home.
Have regular eye tests
Just like seeing a doctor for a check-up, an eye test is an important part of looking after ourselves.
As well as measuring and correcting any vision problems an optometrist will also look at the overall health of your eyes.
Vitamins for eye health and vision
What foods are good for our eyesight?
Vitamin A for great vision
Vitamin A and vision make potent allies. Carrots contain lots of beta carotene and Vitamin A, which can contribute to your eye’s health and may provide a fantastic source of eye vitamins for macular degeneration and cataracts.
Good sources of Vitamin A and rhodopsin are also abundant in carrots. Rhodopsin is a purple pigment that helps us see in low light situations. Without enough rhodopsin, we wouldn’t be able to see very well at night, even with a cloudless sky and bright full moon.
Vitamin C for eye health
Vitamin C is a health powerhouse. You can find it in fruits like oranges, kiwi, and strawberries, as well as vegetables like broccoli, mustard greens, and peppers. In addition to providing antioxidants, it can also help slow cataracts and provide needed eye vitamins for macular degeneration.
Vitamin E for eye health
Depending on which study you read, Vitamin E may serve as a great antioxidant and agent against cataracts and macular degeneration as well. You can find Vitamin E in many nuts, like almonds, peanuts, and pine nuts, along with dried apricots and sunflower seeds.
Lutein for ageing eyes
Lutein is a nutrient found in kale, spinach, and turnip greens. It’s also found in our retinas, so it’s an important part of healthy vision. Eating carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin (yes, that’s a mouthful!) provide you with great antioxidants and may help against age-related vision problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
As we’ve seen, eating the right vitamins for eyesight can provide an excellent defence against vision problems that often arrive later in life.