According to the World Health Organisation, around one billion people in the world have an eyesight problem which can be prevented or treated easily. However, eye health still remains a neglected sector of healthcare that requires urgent attention.
In order to draw attention towards blindness and vision impairment, the second Thursday of October is observed as World Sight Day. This year, World Sight Day is being observed on 8 October and the theme for this year is ‘Hope In Sight’, which aims at finding solutions so that everyone, everywhere has access to sight. Let’s address some of the common eye problems and the ways to prevent them.
Common eye problems
Some of the most common eye problems, that can be managed effectively, are as follows:
1. Refractive errors: Refractive errors, commonly presented as blurring of the eyesight, are the most common eye problems seen in people. Refractive errors may present as myopia (near-sightedness), hypermetropia (far-sightedness), astigmatism (completely distorted vision) and presbyopia (unable to focus up close after the age of 40 or 50 years). Refractive errors can be corrected easily with the help of powered eyeglasses, contact lenses or minor surgery.
2. Macular degeneration: Also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), macular degeneration is an eye disease where the person loses sharp and central vision with age as the central part of the retina (macula) gets damaged. This can be managed with the help of anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medications, photodynamic therapy or laser therapy.
3. Cataract: Cataract is the term used for clouding of the eye lens, which can occur at any age and can be present since birth. However, it can be treated easily with the help of cataract surgery.
4. Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve of the eye gets damaged, resulting in permanent vision loss and blindness. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, vision loss can be prevented.
Simple ways to maintain eye health
Following are the simple ways in which you can ensure that your eyes are healthy:
1. Add healthy fats and vitamins in your diet
Choose foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as they clear oxidative stress from the body, thus preventing macular degeneration. Vitamin A, C and E rich foods along with omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zinc help in warding off age-related vision problems and cataracts. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce overall inflammation in the body, thus alleviating dry eyes. You should add green leafy vegetables, carrots, oily fishes (salmon and tuna), eggs, nuts, beans, citrus fruits or juices, walnuts and flaxseed in your diet.
2. Wear glasses
People with refractive errors must consult an ophthalmologist and get powered eyeglasses to prevent further worsening of the eyesight. When going out in the sun, you must wear sunglasses that block the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, as too much UV exposure can increase your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Wear helmets with protective face masks or sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses to shield your eyes while riding a motorcycle.
3. Protect your eyes from digital screens
If you work continuously on a screen, take a break after every 20 minutes. You must follow the 20-20-20 rule, where after every 20 minutes, you look at something that’s about 20 feet away for twenty seconds.
You can also use anti-glare glasses or screen shields to protect your eyes from the blue light, which is emitted from all digital screens and can damage eyesight.
4. Prevent your eyes from drying out
To maintain the moisture of your eyes, do not forget to blink, especially while working on a screen. You can also do warm compresses on your eyes by soaking a towel in warm water and then gently massage the eyes with it in a straight motion. This will relieve inflammation from the eyes and would promote the production of tears. You can also use a humidifier during winters to prevent drying of the eyes.
5. Get a regular eye checkup
Everyone, especially young children, must get their eyes checked regularly to prevent any damage to the eyesight. Eye exams are necessary as they can help find diseases like glaucoma, which may not present with any symptoms but, if not treated early, can result in permanent vision loss.
For more information, read our article on How to improve eyesight.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.