Eye Health

At John Caulfield Opticians we detect eye disease, injuries and disorders of the visual system as well as identify systemic related conditions affecting the eyes. The most common eye conditions we detect are noted below.


Cataract is a very common eye condition which affects most people at some point in their lives. Contrary to popular belief, cataract is not a film or skin growing over the eye. Cataract occurs when the lens inside the eye gradually gets more cloudy with age. Cataracts usually slowly get worse so your sight gets less clear over time but they can usually be removed by surgery and replaced with an artificial lens to enable you to see normally again. Most cataracts are age related and occur after 50 years of age.  However some children can be born with cataract, some people develop cataract due to injury or some medications cause cataract as a side effect.


Glaucoma is a common eye condition typically affecting 1-2% of people over the age of 40 and the risk of glaucoma further increases over the age of 70. Glaucoma essentially means " damage to the optic nerve" caused by pressure within the eye. We now know that the pressure within the eye doesn't necessarily need to be high for people to develop glaucoma and it can develop in people with normal pressure. The treatment of glaucoma is carried out by the Ophthalmologist within the hospital environment and involves either medication, laser or surgery depending on the type of glaucoma.

Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK. There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet. Both typically happen later in life and are rarely under the age of 50.
Dry macular degeneration causes a gradual deterioration of the macular, usually over many years, as the retinal cells die off and are not regenerated. The name ‘dry’ does not mean the person has dry eyes, just that the condition is not ‘wet’ macular degeneration. The progression of dry macular degeneration varies but in most people it develops over many months or years. Macular degeneration affects a person's central vision. Gradually, over time, tasks such as reading can be become more difficult. If you have macular degeneration in one eye it may affect the other eye within a few years.

Wet macular degeneration causes vision loss in the centre of your field of vision. Wet macular degeneration is generally caused by abnormal  blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the region of the macular. Wet macular degeneration can develop quickly and can now be treated if diagnosed promptly. Any patient with suspected wet macular degeneration will be referred to Dumfries Opthalmology for urgent diagnosis and treatment by the Opthalmologist.

Diabetic Retinopathy

All people with diabetes are at some risk of getting diabetic retinopathy, whether their diabetes is controlled by diet, tablets or insulin. Diabetic retinopathy is caused when diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy progresses with time but may not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced and close to affecting a person's sight.

You are at greater risk if you:

  •     Have had diabetes for a long time
  •     Have poorly controlled diabetes
  •     Have high blood pressure

The following can help reduce your risk of sight-threatening eye changes:

  •     Aim to control your blood sugar levels as well as possible
  •     Make sure your blood pressure is regularly monitored
  •     Go for regular diabetes checks
  •     Attend your diabetic eye screening appointments
  •     Take regular exercise.
  •     Take your medication as prescribed

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a very common condition, affecting up to 40% of the population at some time in their lives. It is particularly common in those over 40 and is more common in women than men. The condition causes symptoms such as gritty irritated eyes, burning, itching, blurred vision and watery eyes. The excessive watering is caused by the tears evaporating too quickly. The eye naturally produces more tears in order to try and combat the increased evaporation and this can lead  to over tearing. This can be a problem for most people on very cold windy days, but those suffering from dry eye, experience it more often. Dry eyes can be affected by many factors including environmental, occupation, age, laser surgery, hormones and the weather.

Dry eye can be sub-divided into either a lack of tear production such as in sjogren's syndrome or when the tears produced are not of a good quality. Conditions such as blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.


Blepharitis is a condition where the edges of the eyelids become red and inflamed. It can develop at any age but is common in people over 40.

Signs of blepharitis can include:

  • Itchy and sore eyelids
  • Eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open, particularly when you wake up.
  • Eyelashes that become crusty and greasy.

Blepharitis can be caused by an infection with Staphylococcus bacteria, or as a complication of a skin condition, such as seborrhoeic dermatitis or rosacea.Blepharitis is usually a long term condition and most people experience repeated episodes seperated by periods without symptoms.Blepharitis cannot usually be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine that involves applying a warm compress – gently massaging your eyelids and wiping away any crusts – can help control the symptoms. More severe cases may require antibiotics that are either applied to the eye or eyelid directly, or taken as a tablet.