Glaucoma affects around half a million people in the UK. This common condition causes damage to the optic nerve, leading to potentially significant issues with eyesight. Typically occurring due to a build-up of fluid, the condition can have a drastic impact on quality of life.

While there are effective ways to treat glaucoma that help patients regain normal vision, they can be invasive. However, according to various studies there could be an alternative treatment option in the form of cannabis.

So, could cannabis really help treat glaucoma? Find out everything you need to know below…

Studies into cannabis and glaucoma

A variety of studies have been carried out to determine the effectiveness of cannabis to treat glaucoma. So far, results have been positive, showing the herb can help to reduce the pressure within the eye. However, there are conflicting opinions, with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) advising against its use as a potential treatment.

The reason there are conflicting opinions is down to the size of previous studies. They have so far been small, which means there is limited data available to back up the claims.

In the US, some patients are already taking medical cannabis to help treat their glaucoma. Some claim it helps, while others haven’t experienced any benefits at all.

There is a need for additional research before it can be recommended as a viable treatment option. However, initial results from research carried out do show promise it could work.

Using cannabis to treat glaucoma

According to initial results, cannabis presents a number of benefits when it is used to treat glaucoma. These include:

  • It can potentially reduce Intraocular pressure (IOP)
  • It may promote blood flow to the eye

The goal of any glaucoma treatment is to reduce IOP. This helps to decrease the risk of the condition, as well as ease the symptoms. Cannabis, or specifically CBD, has shown in some studies to reduce IOP, helping patients to find relief from the symptoms.

Studies carried out on animals have also shown that cannabis can help to promote blood flow to the eyes. This can help to prevent nerve damage, as well as reduce the negative impacts of the condition.

However, it is important to note that there are risks and side effects associated with taking cannabis to treat glaucoma. For example, it could even worsen the condition. So, until there is further scientific evidence to support its use, it is better to consider other treatment options.

Glaucoma can co-exist with cataracts – but special consideration would be needed when treating both conditions. Importantly, there is no scientific evidence that cannabis has any influence on cataracts, and surgery remains the best treatment option.

What current glaucoma treatments are available?

CBD has only recently been made legal to treat certain conditions in the UK. However, it isn’t widely available, especially in the treatment of glaucoma. Patients with the condition are advised to speak to an experienced eye specialist. Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Mr Zaid Shalchi can discuss your options with you.

Treatments currently available to patients include eye drops, laser treatment, and surgery. The type of treatment required will depend upon the severity of the condition. Keep in mind that when left untreated, glaucoma will worsen.

To ensure you receive the correct treatment, book a consultation with Mr Zaid Shalchi today.

Are you more at risk of developing cataracts if you have diabetes? According to numerous studies the answer is yes, having the condition does increase the likelihood you’ll develop cataracts too.

To coincide with Diabetes Awareness Week, in this blog we explore the link between cataracts and diabetes. We look at what studies have revealed, as well as ways to reduce your risk of developing cataracts if you do have diabetes.

How are cataracts and diabetes linked?

There are a number of reasons why diabetes can increase the risk of cataracts. Due to high blood sugar, the blood vessels in the eyes can become damaged over time. This too is caused by high blood sugar.

Several studies have shown that younger patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing cataracts early on. Older patients aged over 65 who have the condition, are also twice as likely to develop cataracts than someone of the same age without the condition.

Can you reduce the risk of developing cataracts?

While anybody with diabetes is at risk of developing cataracts, there are some increased risk factors to be aware of. These include:

  • You have had diabetes for a long period of time
  • Older age
  • Decreased metabolic control

The longer a patient has diabetes, the higher the chance they will experience cataracts. So, while older age is a risk factor, young patients diagnosed with the condition are still at an increased risk of developing cataracts.

As high blood sugar contributes towards cataracts and vision issues, learning to manage the condition is pivotal for reducing the risk. For a better idea of how to prevent cataracts when you have diabetes, talk to your doctor. They will be able to advise you on the best ways to reduce the risk.

How are cataracts treated in diabetic patients?

Cataract surgery is a common and effective procedure used to treat the condition. However, in diabetic patients, there are some additional complications that can occur. The most common treatment types available include intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medications, macular laser therapy, and intravitreal steroids.

Surgery remains the most popular option, but it does increase the risk of vision-threatening complications such as diabetic retinopathy, infections, and macular oedema. However, there is research that shows earlier cataract surgery leads to better visual outcomes.

Diabetic patients who have developed cataracts can find out which treatment option is right for them by booking a consultation with Mr Zaid Shalchi today. After assessing your condition, he will be able to advise you on the safest and most effective form of treatment to help you.

A new study has revealed that eye health plays an essential role in helping to meet sustainable development goals (SDG). After reviewing 226 studies, researchers discovered direct connections between eye health and poverty, education and equality, and economic productivity. It even showed that good eye health reduces the number of traffic collision incidents.

Here, we will look further into what the study found and reveal how cataract surgery helps to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Understanding the latest research

The new research was carried out by the International Centre for Eye Health, located in the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The team of researchers analysed 226 studies that focused on the relationship between eye health services and outcomes related to SDGs.

The services included in the study were free cataract screening, rehabilitation services, trichiasis surgery, and cataract surgery. Several connections were revealed between good eye health and SDGs, including:

  • Better educational outcomes
  • Increased equality
  • Better general health
  • A reduction in road traffic collisions

A total of 27 studies revealed that eye health services had a positive impact on at least one SDG. The study revealed that spectacles and cataract surgery made the biggest differences in a patient’s life.

Ultimately, only a small number of the 227 studies revealed a direct link to better SDG outcomes. However, there is growing evidence to support the positive effects cataract surgery and other eye health services provide.

How cataract surgery helps to achieve sustainable development goals

The latest study revealed that cataract surgery had one of the biggest impacts on SDGs. According to the findings, cataract surgery helps to:

Boost productivity and reduce poverty – A variety of studies have shown that interventions with eye health lead to increased productivity and reduced poverty. One study in the Philippines showed that those who underwent cataract surgery saw an increase in household per capita expenditure.

Improve equality – Cataract surgery has been shown to improve income equality and reduce gender inequality in terms of treatment. By training eye health volunteers in rural communities, alongside offering cataract surgery, it reduces gender inequality in treatment and attendance.

Reduce the number of road traffic collisions – Those who have cataracts are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in a road traffic collision. However, studies have revealed that undergoing cataract surgery can significantly reduce the risk.

These are just some of the ways cataract surgery helps with SDGs. Cataract surgery has helped millions of people regain their eyesight and their independence. If you are currently living with cataracts, book a consultation with Mr Zaid Shalchi today. Find out if cataract surgery could help you.

Cataract surgery is a common procedure that is carried out on approximately 330,000 people each year in England alone. Over the years, it has become a safe and highly effective procedure for helping patients regain their eyesight and independence. Now, new research suggests that the surgery could also help prevent dementia in patients.

The latest study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, shows patients who undergo surgery for their cataracts are 29% less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t. Here, we will look at what the latest study found and how cataract surgery may help prevent dementia.

Understanding the latest study

The latest study assessed just over 3000 patients to see whether cataract surgery had any impact on the risk of dementia. The patients had each been diagnosed with either cataracts or glaucoma. They discovered that cataract patients who had the surgery were at a 29% lower risk of developing dementia than those who didn’t have the surgery. Patients with glaucoma had the same dementia risk whether or not they underwent surgery to correct it.

The results of the study aren’t likely to have been influenced by access to healthcare or a difference in health. The researchers factored these in and didn’t identify any changes in the results.

These latest findings are compelling, though further research does need to be carried out on a more diverse range of patients. Over 90% of the study participants were white, and they each had access to healthcare such as cataract surgery.

Why might cataract surgery prevent dementia?

While the latest research shows cataract surgery can reduce the risk of dementia, it didn’t reveal why. There are some theories, however, including:

  • Depression
  • Limited physical activity
  • Sensory deprivation hypothesis

When there is reduced sensory input to the brain, it can lead to sensory deprivation hypothesis. This in turn reduces brain stimulation, leading to decreased brain function. After surgery, MRI scans have shown an improvement in brain function.

Patients with cataracts can find it difficult to keep up with physical activity when their vision is impaired. A lack of physical activity can cause havoc with our physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of dementia.

Finally, some experts believe that depression may play a role. When patients start to lose their vision due to cataracts, it can lead to depression. This in turn increases the risk of dementia.

These are just some of the theories that link cataracts and dementia. Whatever the connection is, this latest study shows that cataract surgery can help to reverse the risk.

Am I suitable for cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a common, effective procedure to restore vision loss and improve quality of life. However, it might not be the best option for everyone. There isn’t an upper age limit on when the surgery can be performed, and the surgery can be carried out during the early stages of the condition.

To find out if cataract surgery could be the best option for you, book a consultation with Mr Shalchi today.

World Glaucoma Week runs from 6 – 12 March and is about raising awareness of the importance of catching the disease early. Unlike cataracts that can be reversed with surgery, glaucoma can cause irreversible sight loss.

It is possible for cataracts and glaucoma to co-exist. But patients that experience these together require special considerations. While treating both conditions at the same time can be highly successful, there are increased risks that need to be considered.

Here, we will look at the special considerations patients with cataracts and glaucoma require.

Combining cataract and glaucoma surgery

Cataract and glaucoma surgeries can be combined in some cases to treat both conditions at once. Patients who are undergoing a cataract procedure can also undergo several types of glaucoma surgery. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Trabeculectomy
  • Endocyclophotocoagulation
  • MIGS (Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgeries)

MIGS tend to be the most common procedure combined with cataract surgery. This is because they can be performed through the same incision site. The only downside with this is that the majority of MIGS procedures rely on the natural drainage system of the eye. This means they may not be able to reduce eye pressure as much as trabeculectomy.

When searching for the right surgical combination, your age, the stage of glaucoma, and general health will be considered. It is also worth noting that in some cases, cataract surgery by itself can help to treat both conditions. For patients with ocular hypertension, or mild open-angle glaucoma, cataract surgery can reduce the need for glaucoma surgery.

What are the risks of cataract surgery in glaucoma patients?

Patients with glaucoma who undergo cataract surgery do have specific risk factors they need to be aware of. Those who have pseudoexfoliation glaucoma are at the highest risk of developing complications. These patients have weaknesses within the natural structure of the lens which leads to an increased risk of complications.

Certain types of new intraocular lenses can also cause issues due to glare, or reduced contrast sensitivity. Those who have underlying glaucoma are at greater risk of pressure spikes within the eye after undergoing cataract surgery. A transient rise in eye pressure can also cause glaucoma patients to experience damage to the optic nerve.

These are some of the main risks associated with cataract and glaucoma surgeries combined.

Determining the right treatment for you

If you have cataracts and glaucoma, Mr Shalchi will be able to determine which treatment option is right for you. While a combined surgical approach could prove effective, in many cases single cataract surgery is the best option. Single procedures produce fewer risks, but they may not be effective in some patients.

To determine which type of treatment method is right for you, book a consultation with Mr Zaid Shalchi today. He will talk through your options, alongside any potential risk factors you need to be aware of.

A new study has revealed that dried goji berries could help to protect against AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).
Vision loss is common in older age, with many elderly patients requiring prescription glasses or contact lenses to see clearly. An estimated 170 million people worldwide develop AMD, and it can cause a range of health issues.

So, could goji berries be the answer to preventing this common condition? Here we will look at what the study found and explain the different types of AMD.

Could goji berries help protect against AMD?

Researchers from the University of California have discovered that goji berries boost the density of the protective pigments within the eye. The small study followed 13 healthy participants who were aged from 45 to 65.

These participants ate 28 grams of dried goji berries five times a week for a period of 90 days. An additional 14 participants took an eye health supplement. Results showed that those who ate goji berries saw an increase in protective pigments, while those who just took the supplement saw no change.

The protective pigments are known as Lutein and Zeaxanthin. They help to filter blue light which can be harmful to our eyes. They are also a source of antioxidant protection. This small study has provided a clear link between dried goji berries and good eye health. The results were published within the Nutrients journal and could help with the development of future preventative treatments.

What is AMD?

AMD affects the macula part of the retina located at the back of the eye. The condition causes the macula to change, causing issues for your central vision. The eyesight will become blurry or distorted, and some patients may develop blank patches in their line of sight.

The condition doesn’t impact the peripheral vision, so it won’t lead to full vision loss. However, it can cause problems for patients in their day to day lives.

There are two main types of AMD that patients can experience, wet and dry AMD. Below, you’ll discover a brief overview of each type.

Wet AMD

Wet AMD is the lesser common type, occurring in approximately 10%-15% of cases. This can develop quickly and lead to significant vision problems in just a few days.

This type of AMD develops when there is an issue with the macula. As it stops working properly, the body starts to grow new blood vessels to fix it. Unfortunately, these often grow in the wrong place, causing bleeding and swelling beneath the macula.

Wet AMD should be treated quickly to stop the growth of additional blood vessels and prevent permanent scarring.

Dry AMD

Dry AMD is the most common type, and it tends to occur gradually. Patients experience a gradual change in their eyesight, often over a period of years. In its final stage, patients will start to develop blank patches of vision.

AMD and Cataract Treatment

Both dry and wet AMD can be successfully treated when detected early enough. However, macular degeneration can often coexist with cataracts, and often a cataract can mask the development of AMD. Because of this, sometimes the vision distortions that a patient has from AMD can only be noticeable after cataract surgery. Mr Zaid Shalchi is a macular degeneration specialist, and he will carefully assess all retinal issues in your consultation.

If you suspect you may have AMD, book a consultation today with Mr Zaid Shalchi. If wet AMD is diagnosed, treatment can be started immediately.

It’s common to protect the skin in winter, but did you know your eyes can suffer in the colder weather too? The winter months can impact your vision in a variety of ways, as well as cause any existing eye conditions to worsen. If you want to ensure that you are looking after your eyes in the cold weather, check out some of the best tips you can follow in this blog.

Limit the heat in your home

As the weather gets colder, it’s tempting to whack the heating up full blast in the home. However, doing so could lead to dry eyes. If you already suffer from this condition, the extra heat is going to exacerbate it.

So, instead of having the heating on maximum, turn it down a few degrees to keep the eyes protected. You could also use a humidifier to provide more moisture into the air. However, if you suffer from dry eyes, it is important that you speak to your optometrist to help determine the cause so that you have the correct treatment.

Protect your eyes from the sun

The UK might not get much sunny weather in winter, but when we do it can cause a host of problems for your eyesight while driving. Wet and icy roads can reflect the sun, making it difficult for drivers to see. This is especially true if you have a dirty windscreen.

To limit issues while driving in winter, make sure your windscreen is clean and clear. You should also consider wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun. You will find polarised sunglasses work best at protecting the eyes from direct sunlight.

Use extra light where needed

During winter, there is less natural light. This can make some everyday tasks more difficult such as reading. Unless you take preventative measures, you could suffer from eye strain.

Using additional light in winter can help to alleviate this problem. Use a lamp for reading and to carry out other close tasks.

Consider wearing glasses

Even if you don’t need them, it is worth wearing glasses throughout winter if you suffer from watery eyes. The cold air and wind can cause the eyes to water more often, but glasses will protect them from the elements.

Take breaks when using devices

Did you know that spending time staring at a screen will also cause problems for your eyes this winter? As we spend more time inside the home on colder days, it is common to turn to smartphones, tablets, televisions, and video games to keep us entertained. The trouble is the increased use of screens can cause a variety of eye issues.

When you are using devices, be sure to rest your eyes every 20 minutes. That means, focusing on something at least 20 feet away before returning to using the device.

These are just some of the ways to protect your eyes in the cold this winter – although it is best to get your vision checked regularly to look after your eye health properly. If you do experience any eye concerns, book a consultation with Mr Zaid Shalchi today.

A new lens that can improve surgery outcomes for cataract patients has been developed in the US. Researchers have been trying to develop an Intraocular lens to correct Presbyopia for years, and now they have made a breakthrough. The new lens aims to correct the full range of vision, helping cataract patients to avoid needing glasses after surgery.

Here, we will look at the new lens being developed, alongside existing lens options patients have right now.

Understanding the new Intraocular lens

The new Intraocular lens is known as Tecnis Synergy and it combines a couple of Presbyopia-correcting technologies. These include extended depth-of-focus and multifocal technology. They work together to recover a full range of vision. It was created by Johnson & Johnson, approved by the FDA in May 2021.

In the study, visual outcomes were compared in patients who received a monofocal intraocular lens and the new Presbyopia correcting lens. A total of 272 patients were included in the study. It revealed that 3% of those who had a monofocal lens didn’t need to wear glasses after cataract surgery. Meanwhile, 88% of patients who received the Presbyopia lens after surgery didn’t need glasses.

This shows how effective the new lens is compared to existing options. It is an exciting development that could help to drastically improve surgical outcomes for cataract patients.

What existing lens options do patients have?

While the new lens is an exciting development, it is currently still in its testing phase. However, patients do have a number of existing lens options available. Let’s look at a couple of the lens choices you have when undergoing cataract surgery.

Monofocal – This is the most common lens to be implanted in patients after cataract surgery. This type of lens focuses on correcting just one issue. They are most commonly used to gain better distance vision. Many patients will still require reading glasses after the procedure.

Multifocal – One of the more recent types of lens to be introduced is the multifocal lens. Different parts of the lens feature differing optical strengths. This allows them to almost fully correct the vision. If you suffer from Presbyopia, this is one of the most effective lenses on the market.

These are the main two types of lenses used in cataract patients. However, other options are also available. Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon Mr Shalchi specialises, particularly in cataract surgery. In your consultation, he will discuss with you the different options that are best suited to your individual needs.

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a condition that causes you to lose the ability to focus on nearby objects over time. Most patients notice it in their mid-forties when it starts to gradually worsen until you reach your mid-sixties.

The condition can be diagnosed with a basic eye examination and it is typically treated with glasses or contact lenses.

If you suspect you are suffering from Presbyopia, book a consultation with Mr Shalchi today. During your consultation, you will discover which type of lens is right for you. Cataract surgery is a common procedure, and choosing the best lens option will greatly improve the outcome.

Could too many tech gadgets be ruining our eyesight? According to numerous studies, the worrying answer is yes. Blue light emitted from our screens is known to cause a range of problems for the eyes including blurry vision, irritated and dry eyes.

Here, we will look at how tech gadgets damage our eyesight as well as provide some top tips on avoiding screen-related eye strain.

How are screens causing eye strain?

When our eyes look at digital screens, they need to work harder to process information. There can be glare from the screen, and letters on a device aren’t as defined or crisp as they are when printed in physical publications.

Another way screens impact our eyes is through the viewing angle we look at them. If the screen is too far away, it can cause the eyes to squint and strain. We also spend a lot of our time using screens with very few breaks. For example, you may work on a laptop or computer all day, then switch to watching television at night, alongside checking your smartphone. This gives the eyes very little break from digital screens.

Eye strain caused by overexposure to technology is a particular problem for the younger generation. The US trade group, The Vision Council, have recently carried out a survey that revealed 73% of adults aged under 30 are experiencing eye strain.

Why the increase in eye strain cases?

An additional study found that eye strain became an increasing problem during the pandemic. This was revealed to be down to an increase in online classes for students and increased gadget use. A total of 941 people participated in the study, including 688 students, and 45 teachers.

It is no surprise that the study revealed an increase in gadget use throughout the pandemic. As the world shut down, our smartphones and gadgets were the only way to stay connected to our friends and family. It also forced more people to work from home, spending more time on the computer.

Eye strain caused by digital screens is becoming a big problem. Without treatment and reducing strain on the eyes, it can lead to several vision issues.

Protecting the eyes from digital screens

The good news is there are a lot of ways to protect your eyes while looking at digital screens. Some of the top tips to follow include:

  • Take regular screen breaks
  • Make sure you are using the screen at a comfortable distance
  • If your eyes become dry, use eye drops
  • Turn the contrast of your screen up
  • Treat any underlying vision problems

The above are some of the best ways to protect your eyes when using tech gadgets. Of course, you can also try cutting down on your use of these gadgets too.

If you are suffering from eye strain, it is important to take steps to address it right away. If you don’t, it could lead to additional problems further down the line. If you are at all concerned about damage to your eyes, get in touch to arrange a vision check with eye expert Dr Zaid Shalchi.

A new survey has revealed the impact the pandemic has had on eye health. As the UK went into lockdown, everything was put on hold – including eye appointments.

Here, we look at what the recent survey revealed, and the impact COVID has had on the nation’s eye health.

What did the study find?

The new study surveyed 2000 adults in a bid to understand the nation’s current eye health. It discovered that 44% of them were worried about their eyes. Worryingly, 17% also reported that vision problems were preventing them from living their lives to the full.

Those aged 25 to 34 worry that technology is causing issues with their eyes. It is no secret that we use more technology now than ever before. During the pandemic, people spent a lot more time looking at screens. This has understandably contributed to poor eye health.

Eye strain and cataracts cases on the rise

Opticians are seeing a rise in cases of eye strain and cataracts. The recent survey showed that 19% of respondents had suffered eye strain due to spending too much time looking at screens. This is obviously something that can be prevented, but more awareness needs to be given to the dangers of too much screen time for our eyes.

The pandemic has also led to a rise in cataract cases. The condition isn’t directly linked to the pandemic, it is more that appointments have been missed, bringing down the rate of diagnosis. Those who have been diagnosed with cataracts have still faced a lengthy wait for treatment. As the NHS deals with a huge backlog, cataract patients have been left with no idea when they will get treated.

An extra £5.4 billion has been promised to NHS England to help them deal with the ongoing backlog of patients. Approximately £1.5 billion of this is going into addressing the elective surgery backlog. In the meantime, the private sector has seen a huge rise in patients looking to get their eye problems treated quickly.

The importance of looking after your eye health

Although the pandemic has made it harder for patients to get the help they need, things are slowly starting to improve. Taking care of your eyes is crucial to your overall health. This means regular eye tests are necessary to identify any potential problems early.

The private sector is now fully open and ready to welcome patients who need immediate treatment. Despite the current worries highlighted in the recent survey, 31% admitted they hadn’t undergone an eye test. Now that backlogs are starting to be cleared, it is the perfect time to book yourself in for a consultation with an eye expert to address any issues you may be experiencing.

Get in touch to arrange a consultation with Mr Zaid Shalchi.