- Eye health and eye care
- Parents of Children with Vision Impairments
- Friends and Relatives
- Education professionals
- Academic Examinations for Students with Sight Loss
- Finding Out About Sight Loss Education Booklet and CD
- Guidelines for teaching students with sight loss at third level
- Integrating students with sight loss at third level
- Planning for a pupil with sight loss
- Practical tips for primary schools
- Services available to professionals working with pre-school children with sight loss
- Support services for class teachers and special needs assistants
- The eye and eye conditions
- Things to know about sight loss
- Third Level Staff
- Health professionals
- Architects & Engineers
- Students and Researchers
- Ways you can assist a person with sight loss
- Best practice guides
Summary: Find out more about how the eye works and common eye conditions in Ireland.
The eye is made up of three parts.
- The cornea and lens focuses light on the front of the eye.
- The retina is a light-focusing film at the back of the eye.
- The optic nerve connects each eye to the brain.
How your eye works
The front skin on your eye is called the cornea. Its job is to focus light onto the front of the eye. The light passes through your pupil. The iris, the coloured part of your eye, is a round muscle that surrounds the pupil. The lens focuses the light to the back of your eye, called the retina. Tiny light-sensitive photoreceptors at the back of the eye send signals down fine wires to the brain. The wires joining each eye to the brain are known as the optic nerves.
In Ireland, only a small number of babies are born with sight problems. Some people develop an eye condition as a result of an illness or accident but most people with sight loss are those whose eyesight has reduced as they get older. The most common eye conditions are macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
Compare this image of what someone with 20/20 vision might see to the others below, which represent some eye conditions.
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of sight loss in Ireland, and usually occurs among people aged over 65 years. This condition causes a reduction in vision in the centre of the eye. The person’s side vision usually remains but they may have difficulty with seeing enough to see their watch, read and write, distinguish colours, or recognise people’s faces. People with macular degeneration almost never lose all of their sight.
Glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa (RP)
Glaucoma and RP can cause tunnel vision. The person’s side vision is reduced but they may retain a small central area where they can still see enough to read and do fine work. Moving around can be very difficult, especially at night when vision is even more reduced.
Most people with cataracts will regain most or all of their vision. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. For a person with cataracts, everything looks blurred and misty.
A person with diabetes has a higher chance of having diabetic retinopathy. People with diabetes need to have their eyes checked regularly. Damage to the back of the eye can often be repaired if detected at an early stage. Diabetic retinopathy causes blurring or patchy loss of vision.
All images courtesy of the National Eye Institute.