July 19, 2024

August is Sight Saving Month. The sense of sight is important for our health.
A study conducted in the United Kingdom showed that it is the most valued sense among the general population. Studies have shown that errors in refraction (astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness) affect one’s daily activities and work, and are associated with depression.
Common causes of blindness are cataract, infection, diabetes mellitus, macular degene-ration, glaucoma, and injury. Cataracts – more common among older persons – can be ma-naged with surgery and lens implantation. Infection can be prevented and is treatable. Loss of vision due to uncontrolled diabetes can be prevented or slowed down with adequate blood sugar control.
Loss of central vision due to macular degeneration is a common eye disorder among persons over the age of 50 years. While the specific cause is not yet known, it has been linked with genetic predisposition, smoking, overweight, poor diet, heart disease, hypertension, and other factors.
Infection of the sinuses and teeth, seeding from the bloodstream, or infection that sets in after an eye injury can lead to infection of the bony cavities that protect the eyes. This so-called orbital cellulitis can lead to blindness.
Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the thin structure that covers the eyes. It may be due to allergy, viral infection, or bacterial infection. Treatment depends on the cause. Corticoste-roid eyedrops may be used for inflammation due to allergy but should be used with caution if the probable cause is viral infection. Antibiotic eyedrops and ointments are used for bacterial infection. It is important to remember that eye drops differ in their contents and it is not safe to just use any type of eyedrops when we get the “red eye”.
Cataracts develop from exposure to radiation, strong sunlight or some drugs, or in a hyperglycemic milieu. The lens of the eyes become opaque so that light entering the eyes cannot pass through. There is painless loss of vision.
Visual impairment due to diabetic retino-pathy occurs as a result of damage and thickening of the walls of tiny blood vessels inside the eyes. These walls slowly become deformed and they become leaky.
In glaucoma, the pressure inside the eyeball becomes elevated. The cause is not known but it can be genetic in origin. Early consult and early treatment can prevent loss of vision.
When you have visual problems, see your family physician or ophthalmologist right away. Avoid using eyedrops or eyeglasses without prescription as these may delay proper treatment that can prevent blindness. Errors of refraction need to be differentiated from presbyopia associated with aging.
Regular eye checkup is recommended for everyone.