Frequently Asked Questions
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When is laser treatment used for eye conditions?
Laser is commonly used to treat the following conditions:
– Refractive error: LASIK / PRK
– Diabetic retinopathy
– Posterior capsule opacification after cataract surgery
– Glaucoma
– Retinal tear

Different types of laser are needed for different types of treatment e.g. Argon laser, YAG laser and excimer laser.

Not all eye conditions can be treated with laser. It is a common misconception that lasers are used to remove cataracts. This is seldom true. Phacoemulsification, which is the most commonly used technique in the developed world to remove cataracts, uses ultrasound energy, not laser, to break the lens into smaller pieces for easier removal.

What does the Eye Chart measure?
An eye chart measures the central vision of a patient. The first line can be seen by people with normal vision at 60m (200ft), the second line can be seen at 36m (120ft) and so on. A person with normal vision standing at a distance of 6m (20ft) from the chart should therefore be able to see the 6m (20ft) line. This is known as 6/6 (20/20) vision.
How do I instil eyedrops correctly?
Eye drops are frequently not applied correctly.
– Firstly, wash your hands properly.
– Avoid touching the dropper tip against your eye, eyelashes, hands or anything else. This will help to keep it sterile.
– Tilt your head backwards. Pull down your lower lid with the tip of your index finger.
– While looking up, drop a single drop into the pocket made in your lower lid.
– Keep pulling the lower lid down for a few seconds after the drop has gone in, to avoid a reflex blink that may squeeze most of the eyedrop out of your eye!
– Then close your eye gently for a few minutes. Try not to squeeze your eyes tightly.
– Replace the lid of the dropper bottle immediately.
– Store the eyedrops in a cool place, or in the refrigerator, if indicated on the label or package insert.
– Never use someone else’s eyedrops without first consulting your eye doctor.
– Do not used expired eyedrops or eyedrops from a bottle that has been open for more than 30 days.
What are the visual requirements to qualify for a driver's licence in South Africa?
A visual acuity of at least 6/12 in both eyes; or
if you have poor vision in one eye, it must be at least 6/9 in the other eye; and
a minimum visual field of 70 degrees temporally in both eyes, or where the minimum visual field in respect of one eye is less than 70 degrees temporal, or where one eye is blind, a minimum total horizontal visual field of at least 115 degrees is required.

These visual requirements may be achieved with or without spectacles.

Tests are done at the traffic department, but may also be done by a registered ophthalmologist or optometrist prior to your visit to the traffic department.

What does the Eye Chart measure?
An eye chart measures the central vision of a patient. The first line can be seen by people with normal vision at 60m (200ft), the second line can be seen at 36m (120ft) and so on. A person with normal vision standing at a distance of 6m (20ft) from the chart should therefore be able to see the 6m (20ft) line. This is known as 6/6 (20/20) vision.
What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?
An ophthalmologist has first trained as a medical doctor and then spent a further 4 years specialising in diseases and surgery of the eye. An ophthalmologist is trained to diagnose and treat eye conditions and perform eye surgery.

An optometrist has been trained to diagnose refractive error in patients and treat them with spectacles/glasses and contact lenses. They are trained to recognise eye conditions and refer more serious problems to an ophthalmologist for further assessment.

When should adults' eyes be routinely checked?
Laser is commonly used to treat the following conditions:
– Refractive error: LASIK / PRK
– Diabetic retinopathy
– Posterior capsule opacification after cataract surgery
– Glaucoma
– Retinal tear

Different types of laser are needed for different types of treatment e.g. Argon laser, YAG laser and excimer laser.

Not all eye conditions can be treated with laser. It is a common misconception that lasers are used to remove cataracts. This is seldom true. Phacoemulsification, which is the most commonly used technique in the developed world to remove cataracts, uses ultrasound energy, not laser, to break the lens into smaller pieces for easier removal.

When should children have their eyes checked?
All children should have their eyes examined at birth and again at 6 weeks of age, usually by a paediatrician or other suitably trained healthcare professional.

Children should have their eyes checked again at pre-school and again at school.
Any squint (strabismus) or other abnormal appearance of the eye must be reported to your doctor immediately, as delayed diagnosis and treatment in childhood may have serious consequences.

What is a floater?
Floaters are little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. If you have a sudden increase in floaters, especially if it is accompanied by flashes of light or a loss of vision, you should seek medical help urgently as it may indicate that there is a retinal detachment.
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