In National Eye Health Week, we spoke with Blackpool Teaching Hospital Trust’s Ophthalmic Consultant, Mr Ahmad Khalil to discuss some of the many different eye conditions he might encounter in his daily rounds.
Whilst we might think that eye problems are restricted to the elderly or those who have to wear glasses, Mr Khalil is quick to dispel that myth and in fact suggests that most casualties in the hospital are related to the eye.
“Just imagine many tiny particles gone in the eye, eye-lashes going in is a problem, ladies going to the beautician and getting glue in the eye, children walking and going to the beach, dust in the eye is a casualty. These are only simple examples,” Mr Khalil says.
From these so-called simpler concerns to more worrying conditions, Mr Khalil goes on to reveal that some of the most common conditions and diseases can be first diagnosed through issues with they eye.
“The eye is the only structure in the body through which we can see inside and we can diagnose so many things.
“Diabetes, high-blood pressure, strokes and even arthritis can all be diagnosed through eye problems, as well as more sinister infections such as HIV, syphilis and tuberculosis.
“I’m not trying to scare you, because you asked the question, but the eye is a very complicated structure.
“From the age of 50 we start to get wear and tear of the eye and then once we get beyond our 60s, eye issues can be a problem. So cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), these degenerative conditions can be more and more common.”
Mr Khalil reveals that he dedicated his life to ophthalmology after seeing his own father suffer with glaucoma. Today, the technology in an opticians can detect early signs of glaucoma, and Mr Khalil suggest that anyone who has a problem with their eyes should book an eye-test at their local optician in the first instance, rather than visit their GP or coming in to A&E.
“I think due to Covid many people prefer to go to an optician than visit their GP, and that would be my advice as an optician has the technology to perform a test.
“Unless they have severe eye-trauma please don’t come to our emergency department as they are very busy dealing with strokes, accidents and serious incidents.”
According to the Vision Matters website, two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, that is severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives. Half of this sight loss is avoidable. For healthy eyes, please eat well, don’t smoke and wear eye-protection in bright sunlight.