Early detection can ensure healthy eyes
There’s an adage that states: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” You may interpret this any way you choose. Taking it literally, in this instance, any ailment causes a darkness in the body but, as we are focussing on eyes, common eye disorders will be highlight.
- macular degeneration
It is unfortunate that the majority of people pay not enough attention to eye health. It’s important to remember that your optometrist can detect diseases of the eye before they become serious, so regular eye examinations are imperative.
Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, is inflammation of the membrane that lies over the white part of the eye and inside the eyelid. The conditions include eyes that either itch and burn or feel dry and heavy. Although easy to treat, it is highly contagious – so a person suffering this complaint should ensure strict hygiene practices such as:
- keeping hands clean
- using their own towel, only
- keeping their fingers away from their eyes.
It’s unlikely that conjunctivitis will damage vision if treated promptly, and with correct treatment it clears up quickly.
The causes of this eye disease include:
- viruses, including that which causes the common cold
- bacteria, spread through contact with infected individuals, exposure to contaminated surfaces or through sinus or ear infections.
- irritants that could include shampoo, soap, dirt, smoke, pool chlorine
- allergic reactions such as pollen and dust.
- fungi including amoebae (the smallest of living creatures, consisting of only one cell, and found in water or soil) and parasites (that live on or in another organism, causing it some harm)
- sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea that can lead to vision loss if not treated and chlamydia
Cataracts, associated with aging, cause a sensation of the clouding of the lens of the eye. This is a painless condition, but blurred vision can be irksome. Eye injuries and eye diseases can cause cataracts. They, however, are surgically removed with ease, and with little discomfort to the patient.
Macular Degeneration can also be a result of aging – or genetic predisposition. The macula, part of the retina, is at the back of the eye and if it becomes damaged the centre of images can become blurry, making close work such as reading, difficult. An eye examination can catch macular degeneration in its early stages. Treatment is available. It may slow disease progression, preserve existing vision and, if started early enough, recover some lost vision. Your optometrist will advise the way forward.
Entropion is the name given to the condition when the inner edge of the eyelid and eyelashes curl into the eye and cause an irritation to the cornea – your eye’s clear, protective outer layer. It can permanently impair your vision. Causes include an eye injury or post-operative complications. The treatment for entropion is surgical correction. Transparent tape on the eyelid to turn it the right way, lubricating eye drops, a soft contact to protect the cornea from being scratched or irritated by the eyelashes, gives temporary relief.
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness happens when the pressure from the eye’s own aqueous humor (the clear fluid filling the space in the front of the eyeball between the lens and the cornea) builds up in the eye. Loss of peripheral or side vision is probably the first sign of this condition that can destroy the optical nerve and lead to blindness.
A trip to your optometrist will ensure early detection. Damage caused by glaucoma can’t be reversed, but treatment prescribed by your optometrist and regular examinations can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if you catch the disease in its early stages.