Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eye Care

I recently had a request to blog about eye health. Today’s health and beauty buzz is on taking care of your eyes.
We have all heard the sayings “If looks could kill” and “the eyes are the window to the soul”. The eye is the window through which we view the world. It is the most sensitive and delicate organ that we possess. Other than the brain, the eyes are also the most complex. Looking someone straight in the eye may or may not reveal their honesty, but it can often give an indication of their overall health.  Medical problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, heart disease and signs of stroke may be diagnosed through an eye examination.
How often do we need an eye exam:-
Most doctors will recommend a yearly eye exam. In some cases, eye exams may be more frequently performed than annually if there are conditions that warrant it.
Adults with no family history of eye disease and who have good vision should have their eyes checked every 2 or 3 years until age 40.
At age 40, early signs of disease may sometimes be detected and changes in eye site may occur. If you are healthy and have no family history of eye disease, eye exams are recommended every 18 months up to age 60, irrespective if glasses are worn or not. Contact lens users should have annual exams.
At around age 60, yearly exams are recommended.
What happens during an eye exam:-
An eye exam should take round 30 to 60 minutes.

  •       The test chart- you are asked to read a wall chart of varying sized letters ranging from largest to smallest to check vision.
  •       Pressure inside of your eye will be measured. A puff of air is directed into the eye and the pressure is measured by the eye’s resistance to the air. This gives the optician valuable information about the health of your eye.
  • ·An autorefractor is used to examine how the eye processes light. This is used to determine prescription along with other tests.
  • The retinoscope is used to also determine final prescription. It is used to observe how the eye processes a beam of light.
  • The retina at the back of the eye is examined. This determines the condition of blood vessels and the head of the optic nerve. Underlying diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and macular degeneration may be diagnosed using this test.
  •  Fixation test is done to determine whether your eyes are working well together.
  • The outer surface of the eye is checked for scratches and abnormalities which is particularly import for contact lens users.
  • The visual field is tested to find any blind spots.
  •  Ability to focus on both close up and distant objects is tested.
  •  Pupil dilation is done to examine the eyes internal structures. Drops are put into the eye which take 20 to 30 minutes to work. Eyes will be sensitive to light and vision blurred. The effect can take some time to wear off so make sure you have someone to drive you home if you are undergoing this test and bring sunglasses with you. Patients at high risk for disease should undergo dilation as it allows for the most thorough evaluation of the health of the inside of the eye.
Eye problems:
  • Floaters-These appear as specks and they move as your eye moves and disappear as you try to look at them directly. These are often the result of injury, aging or eye disease. They are usually not harmful, but an eye specialist should be consulted.
  • Reading glasses are needed when small print becomes blurry, but there is no problem seeing distant objects. This is a normal condition related to age. Your optometrist should advise you as to whether you need prescription glasses or if over the counter glasses will suffice.
  • Diabetes-High glucose levels can weaken and damage the tiny blood vessels next to the retina. If you are diabetic, regular eye exams are required as recommended by your doctor.
  •  Macular degeneration-: The macular is located at the back of the eye. It enables us to see fine detail and color. Sometimes abnormal deposits are deposited under the retina making it uneven. Over time the retinal cells degenerate and die causing site loss. There are 2 types of macular degeneration. Treatments may include an injection directly into the eye to decrease leakage from the blood vessels, intravenous injections activated by using special laser light and different types of laser surgeries.
  • Dry eye is a common condition caused by the evaporation of tears. Dry eye is a irritating, itchy, burning and gritty feeling in the eye. It is usually treated with over the counter lubricating drops or ointments.
  •  Glaucoma is when the optic nerve is damaged. There are 4 types of glaucoma. 5 % of people over 65 are affected with glaucoma and risk increases with age. If left untreated, it will result in blindness. Glaucoma often has no symptoms and although damage done by glaucoma cannot be repaired, with early diagnosis it can be kept to a minimum. People with a family history should notify their optometrist and undergo regular testing. Testing is done by putting yellow eye drops into the eye- This is not pupil dilation. It is numbing agent with a yellow dye that glows under a blue light. The doctor will touch the surface of your eye with a meter to measure your eye pressure.
  •  Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer which affects children under 5 years of age. It is treatable but must be treated quickly. Some signs to watch out for include a white reflection in the pupil, squinting where one eye looks in or out, change in color of the iris, absence of red eye in photo’s where one eye has it and the other does not and deterioration in vision. All the above can be symptoms of other conditions, so a doctor’s opinion should be immediately sort.
  •  Night blindness is poor vision when it is dark or experienced when moving from a brightly lit area to an area with dim light. People with night blindness find it difficult to drive at night. This may be caused from poor nutrition, cataracts or problems with the retina. I have suffered from night blindness since childhood but it is not related to any of the above.
  • Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is not spherical in shape.  This is not noticeable by looking at a person and can be easily corrected with prescriptive lenses.
  • Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye and can occur in one or both eyes. Vision is blurred, bright lights are unusually blinding, double vision and changes in color vision may occur.
  • Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” is inflammation of the thin layer that covers the white of the eye. It may occur in one or both eyes. The eyes are red and there is discharge from the eye. It is highly contagious and should be treated immediately. There are over the counter medications obtainable from your pharmacy or in severe cases, a prescription might be required.
  •  Myopia/short sightedness or near sightedness. This is clear vision when looking at items close to you but difficulty in seeing items in the distance. It is easily corrected with prescription lenses which should be worn whilst driving.
  •  Presbyopia is when the eye progressively fails to focus on objects that are near to you. It is a natural and gradual process of ageing. This is caused by deterioration of the elasticity of the lens. This is corrected with prescription lenses, bi focal, trifocals or glasses specifically for reading and different glasses if required for long distance vision. 
 Take care of your eyes:  

1. Wear protective eye wear when working with chemicals or toxic substances.
2. Wear goggles when there is a chance dust or dirt particles may enter your eyes such as when mowing the lawn or using a leaf blower.
 3. Wear UV protective sunglasses when outdoors and whilst driving. Rays reflect off snow, sand and water. UV light is responsible for cataracts and macular degeneration.
 4. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables especially ones containing beta carotene.
 5. Do not wear contact lenses for prolonged periods. Change them when scheduled to, keep them clean and disinfect well after removal. 
6. Don't rub or scrub at your eyes.
7. Remove all eye make up thoroughly before bedtime. Change your mascara every 3 months, use eye pencils you can sharpen as opposed to the self sharpening kind as this will help to disinfect them and never ever share eye makeup products with anyone. Do not use department store testers on or near your eyes.
 8. Don't wipe your eyes with communal towels in the bathroom. Use clean paper towel which can be discarded.
 9. Rest your eyes. Eye strain from reading,working on the computer, constant use of the iPhone or it's equivalent, sewing or work that requires extreme eye concentration can make the muscles around the eye tired. Close your eyes periodically to rest them for awhile.
Interesting eye facts
The average person blinks 12 times a minute.
Sailors once thought that wearing a gold earring would improve their eyesight!

Something fun- What does your eye color say about you?
No two people have the exact same eye color- The eyes show anger, fear, love, sadness and many other emotions so perhaps they are “windows through which others see us.”

There are basically 3 eye colors- Brown, blue and green.  Other colors such as grey, violet and hazel are variants due to the different ratio of pigments in the iris.
  •  Black-black is a mysterious and absolute color. Black eyes indicate a deeply intuitive, secretive and sensual person.
  • Blue- blue eyes indicate a forceful and direct person who has vitality and a gift for incite and observation. Blue eyes are the most desirable color and are becoming rare due to the recessive gene.
  • Brown- brown eyes indicate a strong and independent person who feels a deep connection to nature and the earth.
  • Grey- grey eyes indicate a subtle and sensitive person, flexible and attuned to the unseen.
  • Green- green eyes indicate a youthful- seeming and compassionate person, immensely creative and energetic with the gift of healing. True green eyes are the rarest eye color.
  • Hazel- hazel is a mixture of brown and green and indicates a combination of inner strength and independence with the healing qualities of green.
  • Violet- violet eyes indicate a refined and noble person who is a natural leader and seeker of truth.

Some studies suggest that vitamin C from supplements help prevent cataracts if taken long term (10 years or more). Shorter than 10 years, showed no benefits- Dose used in the study was 150 to 250 mg per day.

Keep healthy, happy and safe.
*Do not take any medications including supplements without first consulting your doctor. Do not self diagnose any medical condition.

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This policy is subject to change at any time.



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