Mr Venki Sundaram
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
MD FRCOphth MRCOphth BMBCh BSc

General eye complaints

The eye can be affected by many conditions which can cause a range of symptoms and complaints. Assessment by an Ophthalmologist is generally advised as there may be a number of conditions that can lead to similar symptoms, which may only be diagnosed and managed with specialist examination, assessment and treatment.

Sudden loss of vision

This is a loss vision that occurs either immediately or within a few minutes. This acute loss of vision is usually due to a problem with the blood supply to the retina and occurs in conditions such as Central Retinal Artery Occlusion, Central Retinal Vein Occlusion, Wet AMD. Sudden loss of vision can also occur to following a blockage of blood supply to the optic nerve.

Gradual loss of vision

This is a loss of vision that typically occurs over several weeks to months. The most common cause is a cataract, but can also occur in Dry AMD.

Flashing lights and floaters

A sudden episode of brief flashes of lights and floaters is usually caused by a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). This is a natural, age-related process in which the vitreous jelly separates from the retina. Occasionally this process can lead to a retinal tear or retinal detachment occurring.

Red eyes

This is a common complaint an can be caused by eye infections (e.g. conjunctivitis), any injury or irritant to the eye, inflammation of the eye or sometimes burst blood vessels on the surface of the eye. In contact lens wearers, a serious cause is a corneal ulcer that needs to be treated promptly.

Double vision

This most commonly occurs when there is a problem with the blood supply to the eye muscles that control the eye movements, and are called nerve palsies. Thyroid problems or inflammation around the eyes can also cause double vision. Occasionally, patients complain of double vision which is only present when 1 eye is open and this can be caused by a specific type of cataract.

Watery eyes

This is a common complaint and can be due to allergies, dry eyes (which stimulate an over production of tears), irritants on the eye, abnormalities of the eyelids and problems with the drainage of tears from the eye.

Painful eyes

This usually cause by an irritation or injury to the cornea (which has many nerve endings) through foreign bodies, trauma and dry eyes. Inflammation within or around the eye in conditions such as iritis and scleritis can also cause painful and red eyes.

Eye conditions