Eye Health

INTRODUCTION  

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The eyes are truly amazing instruments and vision is the most important component of our sensory system. How well we see can change our way of life and affect one's survival.

Up until two centuries ago and throughout human history, eyesight and vision totally dictated what people did to secure a living and conduct their everyday business. Those who were able to see well at distance survived the early days of man by seeing and evading their predators much faster and later on in history, tended to become soldiers, scouts and hunters. Those who could only see well at near, excelled at such professions as teachers, philosophers, painters and etc.

The human eye and the visual system can manifest inherent flaws including Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness), Astigmatism and Presbyopia. A Myopic eye is generally an eye that is too long, causing the light rays to focus in front of the retina. Hyperopia involves an eye that is essentially too small, causing the light rays to focus in the back of the retina. Astigmatism usually is caused by the ovality of the Cornea (the clear front layer of the eye) and causes the rays to focus at two different areas. Presbyopia happens as the lens of the eye ages and becomes less flexible, making it more difficult for people over forty to focus simultaneously at far and near.

Some of the most common eye diseases are Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and retinal detachment. Cataracts occur when the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque with aging of the eyes, therefore, making the vision cloudy even while wearing spectacles. With modern techniques and instrumentation, cataract removal and artificial lens implantation is one of the most successful of all eye surgeries and generally provides immediate clearer vision post-removal.

Glaucoma is the central atrophy of the optic nerve, generally due to elevated eye pressure, causing visual field defects which if left untreated, may lead to blindness. Modern medicine offers special eye drops to lower the insider pressure of the eye to slow down or halt the degeneration of the optic nerve, therefor, preserving the vision.

Macular degeneration is the atrophy of the Macula (the center of our vision where the majority of the Cone Cells are) due to aging and other physiological factors effecting the person's general health. Once the macula is diseased and degenerated, it cannot be restored and the vision will eventually be partially or totally lost. Although this condition cannot be successfully addressed yet, there are new injectible and laser treatments available that may offer some improvements in vision.

Retinal detachment can occur in any individual but a highly nearsighted person may be a more potential candidate for this condition. A myopic retina is normally stretched more to accommodate the larger eye; consequently, presenting a higher incidence of tears in its matrix. This condition is not limited to myopes, as hyperopes could experience a hole or a tear in the retina as well. Seeing numerous and large floaters (floating cells and ocular debris), flashing lights and a hazy curtain clouding one's vision are among the most common symptoms of retinal detachment. Seeking immediate help is imperative in order to prevent permanent vision loss. Visual acuity can be regained best when treatment is undertaken within 24 hours following the detachment. Re-attachment of the retina can be done by fastening the torn retina back to its base by surgery.

In addition to traditional spectacle and contact lens vision correction, current technology offers us a truly revolutionary method called Laser Vision Correction. The most popular laser corrective surgery is called LASIK. It involves cutting and folding the top layer of the cornea, shaving off a limited amount of the mid section via laser and finishing off by replacing the corneal top cap back on. The resulting corneal scar heals over time without any sutures. Although this procedure may carry some risk and there may be some regression, the vision improvement is almost immediate and permanent.

In order to preserve and protect our precious gift of sight, its important to have regular eye examinations and to seek prompt treatment when needed. After all, it is said that the human eyes are the windows to the soul; without them, the World would be a very difficult place to navigate.

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