As long as they’re working well, we don’t pay much attention to our eyes. Even those of us who wear glasses and contact lenses are often pretty complacent about any issues we might have with our vision. But there are actually a lot of things that can go wrong with our eyes – luckily, a lot of the problems have solutions…

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Colour blindness

This affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women across the world and is often a genetic condition that occurs when the colour cones in the eyes aren’t working properly. The most common form of colour blindness is not being able to differentiate between colours that have some element of red and green. You can’t fix this issue, but special contact lenses and glasses can help.

Red eyes

If your eyes look bloodshot and red, that’s probably because the blood vessels on the eye’s surface have expanded because they’ve become irritated, maybe by eyestrain (see below!) or not getting enough sleep. This should clear up by itself if you get a good night’s sleep and if you rest your eyes. If it doesn’t clear up, get checked out by your doctor – you may have conjunctivitis.

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Eyestrain

This is a very common condition that occurs when your eyes are strained from overuse, often from using screens at work. Symptoms can include headaches, blurred vision, watery eyes, and an increased sensitivity to light. You can help clear this up by resting your eyes. If this is happening to you frequently, make sure you take breaks from the computer and research eye exercises.

Floaters

These are small spots that float across your vision. Although they usually don’t mean anything and are a reaction to light, they can be a sign of retinal detachment. If there are any sudden changes in the floaters you see, go to see a doctor.

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Corneal injuries

Your cornea is the dome at the front surface of your eye, and although it’s tough, it can be affected by disease, infections or injuries. Sometimes corneal scars may be left behind that you require treatment for. Corneal transplantation surgery is one treatment for deep scarring, but laser surgery is also a possibility.

Presbyopia

This is part of the ageing process and often begins at around 40, when people experience blurred near vision, which can affect them reading and using the computer. If this happens, go to an optician and get your eyes tested – you’ll probably be given a prescription for glasses.

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Cataracts

This is a clouding of the lens which leads to decreased vision, with risk factors including diabetes and smoking. Cataracts mean that light can’t pass through the lens to the back of the eye effectively. They form slowly, and can usually be repaired through surgery.  

Glaucoma

An eye condition in which the optic nerve is damaged, usually because the eye fluid can’t drain properly so extra pressure is put on the nerve. Symptoms include a gradual loss of peripheral vision that can eventually lead to blindness. Although it’s not possible to reverse the effects of glaucoma, treatments including eye drops, laser treatments and surgery can stop it getting worse.

Make sure you take care of your eyes by quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses that will protect your eyes from UV rays, and going to the doctor if you notice any changes.