Eye health, eye matters

We all need to be aware of changes in our vision. Learn about common eye conditions and discover how to keep your eyes as healthy as possible

Common eye conditions

Age-related macular degeneration

Macular degeneration occurs when a small area at the centre of the retina called the macula becomes damaged. The macula is responsible for what we see in front of us, our central vision, and allows us to see colour and fine detail. So people who have macular degeneration often see a dark spot in the centre of their field of vision or the vision in the centre is blurred, distorted or missing.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the UK's leading cause of sight loss and can change your life. Sheila was diagnosed with AMD when she noticed a difference with her sight and visited her GP. She found it difficult just after diagnosis, but has found RNIB’s services very helpful. She was afraid that she was going to be isolated and alone. RNIB’s Talk and Support service ensured Sheila was able continue with an active social life and helped her to remain independent. Find out more about age-related macular degeneration.


Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions which cause optic nerve damage and affect your vision. It is often triggered by raised pressure in the eye when too much fluid is produced or can’t escape properly through the narrow drainage channels near the iris. Glaucoma affects your peripheral vision (around the edge of what you are looking at) and at its advanced stages it is like looking through a long tube.

Arnold, 80, was diagnosed when he was 31 by which time his peripheral had deteriorated considerably. “My story illustrates the need for regular eye tests and for younger people to be aware of the symptoms," he says. 'I gave up driving at 31, but continued to work fulltime until I was 70. Presently I have manageable sight in the mornings and after midday it is poor but I can still manage to get around in my local area.” Find out more about glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy

One of the most serious eye conditions caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which affects the network of blood vessels in the retina and worsens over time.  It can cause damage to the macula and cause a loss of sight in the centre of vision or it can cause scarring which distorts the retina resulting in blurred and patchy vision.

Joanna, 28, has lived with diabetic retinopathy for 12 years. Despite laser treatment to help the condition, Joanna now has no sight in her right eye and deteriorating sight in her left eye. "Losing your sight has a massive impact on your life," she says. "I definitely think there are things I have missed out on because of losing my sight.  My social life suffered and I had to change career. But I'm now studying Business Administration at a residential college for the blind and have made lots of new friends and regained my confidence.” Find out more about diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions related to diabetes.


3 top tips for healthy eyes

Stop smoking Did you know smoking can double the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration? In fact, the link is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer. Speak to your GP about stopping smoking. Find out more about smoking and sight loss.

Eat healthily It's important to maintain a healthy weight as a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, may help delay the progression of cataracts and AMD, while oranges, kiwis, nuts, seeds and oily fish may also help slow down some eye conditions, too. Read more on nutrition and the eye.

Protect your eyes in the sun UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can increase the risk of cataracts and AMD. Wearing sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses with built in UV filter will protect your eyes. And remember to buy sunglasses that have a CE mark, or carry a British Standard BSEN 1836:1997 stamp of approval.

Want more tips on keeping your sight healthy? Check out our page on looking after your eyes.