A good vision is equally necessary for a good life as good health. Just as it is crucial to keep our body healthy, we should also encourage some daily practices that keep our eyes healthy.
We have five primary sense organs, and the eyes are one of them. Most of the things we feel are because of our vision.
Our eyes’ can participate in many functions:
- Eyes provide us with a sense of vision
- They allow us to learn more about our surroundings
- Because of our eyes, we can see and analyze the shape, color, and depth of different objects.
- Our eyes have specialized cells (rods) that help us see things in the dark.
- Our eyes work like a lens in the camera. They enable us to have a sharp and clear focus on one particular object.
- Our eyes coordinate with vestibular and musculoskeletal system receptors and help our body balance.
What are the common eye problems?
Regardless of how much you take care of your eyes, there are times when you can suffer from one or more of the following eye problems:
- Strained and tired eyes
- Watery eyes
- Red and itchy eyes
- Allergic conjunctivitis: It is inflammation of the inner lining of the eyes (conjunctiva). Inflammation may occur due to allergens such as dust, pollens, mould spores, chemical perfumes, animal dander, or allergy to certain medications.
- Blurred vision: In blurred vision, we may lose the ability to see the fine details of an object. It can be due to any reason such as age-related, crying, deteriorating eyesight, cataract, or can be a symptom of serious illness (diabetes, concussion, eye infections, migraine, detached or torn retina, optic neuritis, or stroke).
- Refractive error: Vision impairment or refractive errors can be:
- Myopia or near-sightedness
- Hyperopia or far-sightedness
- Astigmatism or deformed vision in all directions
- Presbyopia or age-related loss of ability to read or see near objects
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): It is an age-related eye disorder that results in the damaged central vision of our eyesight. AMD affects the macula responsible for the fine detailing of the objects.
- Cataract: It is the leading factor of blindness globally. In cataracts, clouding on the lens results in blurry vision. It develops slowly and does not affect eyesight initially. But over time, vision becomes blurry.
- Amblyopia or lazy eye: It is the most common cause of vision impairment in children. In amblyopia, eyesight in one of the eyes becomes low due to poor coordination between the brain and the eye.
- Glaucoma: It is a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve of our eyes. Optic nerve damage in glaucoma can lead to vision impairment and ultimately blindness.
- Diabetic retinopathy (DR): As a complication of uncontrolled diabetes, it may affect both eyes simultaneously. DR causes progressive damage to the blood vessels of our retina.
- Night blindness: In nyctalopia or night blindness, the patient suffers difficulty seeing at night or in poor light. Damage to the rod cells of the retina may result in night blindness.
- Color blindness: It is a hereditary disease in which a person cannot differentiate between some colors (mainly shades of red and green).
- Eye cancer: When the cells of the eyes start proliferating in an uncontrolled manner, it leads to cancer formation. Melanoma is the most common adult eye cancer. Retinoblastoma is the most common childhood eye cancer.
How to take care of your eyes
Healthy eyes are an integral part of our health. There are many things we can do to keep our eyes healthy:
- We should eat a healthy and balanced diet that promotes good vision. Including fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 rich fish in our diet helps keep our eyes healthy.
- We should include exercise in our daily routine. Exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure levels, and high cholesterol problems. These conditions can lead to a vision problem.
- We should maintain a healthy body weight to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Having diabetes increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma in a person.
- We should protect our eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Too much sun exposure can raise the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataract. So, before heading out, protect our eyes by wearing sunglasses.
- We should try to protect our eyes from injuries during sports, factory works, construction works, or other repair works. We should wear protective eyewear to shield our eyes from such eye injuries.
- If you have a family history of any eye disease, consult your ophthalmologist for proper care.
- Quit smoking: Smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage.
- We should be aware of our risk factors such as aging, continuous screen viewing, chemical exposure while working, dust, and pollution. It is better to take preventive measures at the appropriate time to reduce the risk of getting eye problems.
- If you wear contact lenses, you should follow proper instructions to avoid eye infections.
- Before touching eyes, eyeglasses, and contact lenses, wash your hands thoroughly to keep dirt and bacteria at bay.
- Do not put any eye drops without consulting your ophthalmologist.
- While working on computers, tablets, or mobile, we should rest our eyes in-between to reduce eye strain.
We should take eye screening annually to check any possible error. If we practice these eye care habits daily, our eyes become healthy with good vision. This World Optometry Day let’s celebrate optometrists and eye care professionals worldwide and work together to improve our eyesight.
Better eye health may translate into a good quality of life.
Dr. Gaurav Jain | Consultant – Internal Medicine | Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi