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EYE HEALTH An Overview.

Byline: Dr M. A. Wajid - Email: foundationforprogress@yahoo.com

Dear Readers! They say your eyes are the windows to the soul. They are also the windows to your health because they allow your eye doctor to see what's going on inside you.

Do you know that your eyes are the only part of your body where eye doctors can look directly at internal, functioning blood vessels? These offer clues and warnings of serious diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, and even some types of cancer. Good eye health and eye care are crucial to protect your sight, prevent common eye disorders, and treat eye problems early.

Ask your Eye Doctor

Even if you don't have any vision problems, it is important to schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams with your eye doctor. This is an easy step you can take to help protect your vision and overall health. A Comprehensive Eye Examination includes dilated retinal examination.

Understanding Vision Problems - the Basics

What are Vision Problems? Your eyes are your body's most highly developed sensory organs. In fact, a far larger part of your brain is dedicated to your vision than to those of hearing, taste, touch, or smell combined! We tend to take eyesight for granted, yet when vision problems develop, most of us will do everything in our power to restore our eyesight to normal.

Reflective Errors: The most common forms of vision impairment are errors of refraction - the way light rays are bent inside the eye so images can be transmitted to the brain. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are examples of refractive disorders and often occur when the eyes are otherwise healthy. Refractive errors are correctable usually with glasses or contact lenses.

Other Vision Problems: May be related to eye diseases, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and glaucoma are disorders of the functional eye and its processing units. These problems can lead to blurry or defective vision. The goals of treatment are to halt vision loss and preserve remaining eyesight.

Here are descriptions of common vision problems.

* Nearsightedness, or myopia, affects about 40% of the population. It is the result of images being focused in front of the retina rather than on it, so distant objects appear blurred. An uncorrected nearsighted person holds a book closer to the eyes when reading and has to sit in the front of the classroom or movie theatre to see clearly. The condition runs in families and affects men and women equally, usually appearing in childhood and stabilizing in the 20s.

* Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is the opposite of nearsightedness. The hyperopic eye focuses images slightly behind the retina, making nearby objects appear blurry. Children may outgrow mild farsightedness as they mature and the eyeball reaches adult size. Do you know that the eye grows during childhood? The length of the eye (from front-to-back) elongates nearly one-third between birth and age five, and the volume of the eye nearly doubles!

* Astigmatism often combined with nearsightedness or farsightedness, occurs when the clear cornea has a non-round curvature - more like a teaspoon. Because of that, the eye lacks a single point of focus. People with astigmatism may have a random, inconsistent vision pattern, wherein some objects appear clear and others blurry. The next time you hold some shiny silverware, compare your reflection in a soup spoon to that produced by the teaspoon - that's astigmatism! Astigmatism is usually present from birth but is typically not recognized until later in life. Most astigmatism is fully curable. It neither improves nor worsens over time.

Eye Examination

To maintain good eye health and vision, it is important to see an eye health care provider at least once every couple of years if you are over 40, or immediately if you have any degree of sudden vision loss, eye pain, or irritation. Most eye diseases can be found during a routine eye exam and treated when found in an early stage. If you have health problems such as diabetes, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently to detect any complications.

What is 20/20 Vision?

20/20 vision is your visual acuity, or the sharpness of vision at 20 feet from an object. Having 20/60 vision means that you must be at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 60 feet. 20/20 does not translate into perfect vision and does not indicate other important aspects of sight such as peripheral vision, the ability to see colours, or depth perception.

Options for Correcting Impaired Vision

There are many safe and affordable choices available for those in need of vision correction. These include:

* Eyeglasses. Perhaps the most traditional form of vision correction, eyeglasses improve vision by bending light. They are practical, affordable, and safe.

* Contact Lenses. Contacts are more suitable for people with an active lifestyle. They work the same way as eyeglasses, but stay in place better during physical activities. Being outdoor also means being in the sun, and contacts allow you to wear sunglasses at the same time. There are many different brands, colours, and materials, so it is best to shop around to find the contacts that work best for you.

* Corrective Surgery. Vision correction surgery improves sight by changing the refractive, or light bending, properties of the eye. Refractive surgery is not cosmetic, but is functional because it restores a person's ability to see at a moderate visual acuity, meaning a person may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses.
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Publication:Hilal
Date:Oct 31, 2011
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