Eye care is for everyone and can help ensure you enjoy good vision throughout a lifetime. Please consider the following facts about eye health:
• Many people think of eye problems as something that happens to older people, but in fact, there are many conditions that can affect people in all stages of life—even childhood
• Some of the eye conditions that can threaten a child’s vision are hard to detect, so children should have an eye and vision screening in infancy and in toddler age, but at least before age 5.
• Early detection and treatment of childhood eye conditions such as strabismus and amblyopia can help ensure a lifetime of good vision.
• Most young adults have healthy eyes, but accidental injury is one of the leading causes of vision loss in this age group.
• Sports, yard work, harsh chemicals—even jumpstarting a car—can be hazardous to the eyes. Make sure that you always wear the appropriate protective eye wear during these activities.
• Many of the eye problems that harm the vision of older people actually start much earlier. Many of them can be effectively treated and vision preserved if discovered early enough. Ask your Ophthalmologist if you may be at risk for problems like glaucoma or diabetic eye disease, and how often you should have an eye exam.
• Some vision changes are natural as we get older. Most of these can be adequately corrected with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. However, sudden or frequent changes may signal a problem and should prompt a visit to the Ophthalmologist.
• Because seniors are at increased risk for serious eye problems, they should have more frequent eye exams. Please check with your Ophthalmologist about a schedule that is right for you.
• In general from ages 40-64 you should have an eye exam every 2-4 years. After age 65 you should increase that to once every 1-2 years and even more frequently if your Ophthalmologist recommends it.
• People sometimes accept eye problems like decreasing or cloudy vision or dry and teary eyes as an unavoidable condition of aging. Most of these problems however can be corrected and improved with the right treatment.
• Even if poor vision can’t be improved you can still enjoy an active and independent lifestyle. Many Ophthalmologists offer low vision rehabilitation or can refer patients to these services.
Health tips for Healthy Eyes.
Most people realize that a healthy lifestyle promotes a healthy body but have you ever considered the idea that a healthy lifestyle also is good for the eyes? It’s true! A nutritious diet and regular exercise may help slow or prevent certain eye conditions, such as macular degeneration and cataracts. To ensure your families good health please start adopting good habits and visit your Ophthalmologist on a regular basis.
Healthy habits may also help prevent diabetes – A serious disease that affects the whole body and often leads to the eye disease diabetic retinopathy. Due to poor diets and sedentary lifestyle diabetes is beginning to strike people at a younger age sometimes even before adolescence.
Please consider the following tips for a healthier lifestyle:
• Don’t smoke. Studies suggest that smoking might contribute to macular degeneration. Smoking robs the body of essential nutrients and a lack of certain vitamins and minerals could be contributing to this eye disease.
• To supply your body with an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals eat a variety of fruit and vegetables a day (3-5 servings).
• Keep you diet low in Sugar, Sodium and Carbohydrates.
• Wear sunglasses when outdoors. Too much sunlight could lead to cataracts and other eye surface conditions.
• Make sure that lenses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
• Don’t drink alcohol excessively.
• Exercise daily. You do not have to run a marathon to get the benefits of exercise. About 30 minutes of low impact aerobic activity a day such as walking briskly or bicycling will do just fine.
• Make sure you are a good example of a healthy lifestyle for your children.
• Encourage them to adopt these healthy habits as well and get your eyes checked on a regular basis by an Ophthalmologist.
Protecting your families vision:
With children: Pay attention to their age and maturity level when buying toys and games. Avoid projectile toys such as bows and arrows, darts and pellet guns and make sure that children have protective eyewear when playing on the field, in the yard or in the court.
In the house: When using household chemicals read instructions and labels carefully, work in a well ventilated area and make sure to point spray nozzles away from you. Many chemicals are extremely hazardous and can burn your eyes’ delicate tissues.
In the workshop: Think about the work you will be doing and the appropriate protective eyewear to shield your eyes from flying fragments, fumes, dust particles, sparks and splashing chemicals. Many objects can fly into your eyes unexpectedly and can cause an injury.
In the garden: Put on protective eyewear before you use a lawnmower, power trimmer or edger and be sure to check for rocks and stones because they can become dangerous projectiles as they shoot from blades.
In the workplace: Wear appropriate safety eyewear for your job. Many of the thousands injured each day didn’t think that they needed eye protection or wore eyewear that was inappropriate for the job.
Around the car: Battery acid, sparks and debris from damaged or improperly jump-started auto batteries can severely damage your eyes. Keep protective goggles in the trunk of you car.
Prevention is the first and most important step in avoiding serious eye injuries so be sure to protect your eyes with appropriate protective eyewear. If you do experience an eye injury see your Ophthalmologist or Physician promptly.
When should you see an Ophthalmologist?
If you have any of these risk factors for eye problems, you will need to see your Ophthalmologist more often than recommended below:
• Family history of eye problems
• Have diabetes
• Personal history of eye injury
Before age 5:
Since it is possible for your child to have a serious vision problem without being aware of it, your child should have his or her eyes screened at age 3 and 5 by an eye care professional, primary care provider, family physician, pediatrician or trained screener for eye conditions such as:
• Strabismus (crossed-eyes)
• Amblyopia (lazy eye)
• Ptosis (dropping of the upper eyelid)
• Refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism.)
If there is a family history of vision problems or if your child appears to have any of the above conditions speak to your Ophthalmologist promptly about when and how often your child’s eyes should be examined.
Puberty to age 39:
Most young people have healthy eyes but still need to take care of their vision by wearing protective eyewear when working in dangerous areas, playing sports, doing wood work or yard work, working with chemicals or taking part in other activities that could cause eye injury.
Have a complete eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29 and at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39. You should also be aware of symptoms that could indicate a problem. See an Ophthalmologist promptly if you experience any eye problems such as:
• Visual changes or pain.
• Flashes of light
• Seeing spots or ghost like images
• Dark spot appears in vision.
• Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy.
• Dry eyes with itching and burning.
Even the young adult and middle age groups can be affected by eye problems so preventive measures should be taken to protect eyes from injury and detect disease early.
Schedule a comprehensive eye evaluation with your Ophthalmologist every 2-4 years.
Over age 65:
Seniors 65 and older should have comprehensive eye evaluations by their Ophthalmologist every 1-2 years to test for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
Know your eyes
Are your eyes normal and healthy?
Have you ever considered that your eyes may not be normal?
Are you one of the thousands of people living with an undiagnosed eye condition?
Symptoms that may not be ignored!
The following are emergencies and require urgent attention from your general practitioner or ophthalmologist.
· Sudden blindness or very poor vision lasting longer than half an hour.
· A curtain in front of the eye.
· Severe pain in one eye with a simultaneous headache on the same side.
· Any (serious) eye injury.
· Alkaline or acid-burns of the eye.
The following symptoms require a normal routine visit to your family doctor or ophthalmologist.
· Gradual deterioration of vision in one or both eyes.
· Eye/ Eyes that water constantly.
· Discharge from the eye.
· Painful eye/ eyes.
· Persistent red eye / eyes.
· Periodic blurred vision.
· Poor vision in bright or dim light.
· Floating objects, which appear to move in front of the eyes.
· A distorted pupil.
· A “white” pupil.
· Eyes that do not open or close properly.
· Eyelids that appear abnormal.
· Prominent swelling around the eye.
· Protrusion of the eye / eyes.
· Poor vision that cannot be restored to 100% by the prescription of glasses.
Children and their eyes.
· All children should undergo a routine ophthalmologic examination at 3 years of age and again just before starting school.
· Thereafter routine examinations should follow ever 5 years.
· Children under the age of 8 years should only be examined and treated by a medical doctor or by a non-medical eye care practitioner in close collaboration with a medical doctor.
· Children under the age of 8 years, with minor symptoms, may in fact have a serious eye condition, and should consult an ophthalmologist.
· Strabismus (crossed eyes) in children under the age of 8 years, may result in blindness, these children must consult an ophthalmologist.
· Children under 8 years of age may suffer Vision reduction from an incorrect pair of spectacles.
· Healthy children on a normal diet require no additional vitamins for their eyes.
Adults and their eyes.
· Up to the age of 40 you should visit your ophthalmologist every 5 years for a routine examination.
· Any person over 40 can have increased eye pressure without being aware of it in any way.
· From the age of 40 to 65 routine examinations are advised every 3 years.
· Everyone over 65 should visit their ophthalmologist every year or at least every two years.
Who and what is an ophthalmologist.
An ophthalmologist is a medical eye specialist. Ophthalmologist are thus medical doctors who have undergone further specialist training to diagnose and treat all eye diseases and dysfunctions. Should you not know your nearest ophthalmologist, kindly ask your family doctor.
Who can refer you to an ophthalmologist?
You may visit your ophthalmologist without a referral – OR:
You may also be referred by:
· Your family doctor or a general practitioner.
· Other medical specialists.
· Optometrist (tests and supplies glasses and contact lenses)
· Othoptist (assists ophthalmologist with squint cases)
· Optical dispenser / optician
· Ophthalmic medical assistant.
· Occupational therapist
· Registered nurse
Competency of an ophthalmologist
An ophthalmologist provides complete eye care and is specially trained to, inter alia:
· Detect and treat diseases that may cause blindness
· Perform eye operations.
· Treat eyes with laser equipment
· Test eyes for spectacles and supply contact lenses.
VDU – Screens & phones
Why protect your eyes?
We all know the importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but what about our eyes?
Sunglasses have two prime functions:
• To protect from ultraviolet and visible light toxicity and,
• to protect the eyes from impact injury.
Since sunglass wearers have the same potential exposure as everyone else to the impact of an airbag or an unexpected fall, all sunglasses should have polycarbonate lenses.
It’s important to protect your eyes when UV light is most intense.
· Generally, UV light is most intense at midday (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.), but you need to protect your eyes whenever you’re outside for a prolonged period, even when it’s gray and overcast.
· Reflected sunlight (for example, off water and snow and glass windows) can be the most dangerous type of UV light, because it is intensified.
· Your eyes can be harmed by UV light sources other than the sun, such as welding lamps or tanning booths, so always wear eye protection when using these or when you are exposed other sources. And remember, tanning booths are just as dangerous for your skin as worshiping the sun is.
Remember: Similar to a skin burn, eye surface burns usually disappear within a couple of days, but may lead to further complications later in life so PROTECT YOUR EYES!
To protect your eyes, wear a wide brimmed hat and the right kind of sunglasses when you are going to be exposed to UV light.
· Make sure sunglasses block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
· If you spend time on the water or in the snow, consider purchasing goggles or sunglasses that wrap around your temples because they do not allow the sun’s rays to enter from the side, offering better protection.
· Remember sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to offer the right kind of UV protection. Even inexpensive glasses can protect your eyes if they offer 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection.
• Don’t forget the kids. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Active people should NEVER wear sunglasses with glass lenses. These can shatter, lacerating eyes, with impacts from e.g. volleyball, frisbee and airbags.
In addition to the damage caused by repeated sun exposure over time, you need to protect your eyes from acute damage caused by a single day in the sun.
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light reflected off sand, snow or pavement can burn the eye’s surface. The same UV-A and UV-B rays that can damage your skin can harm your eyes as well. When you protect yourself from the sun, don’t just think sunscreen – think sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.
· Excessive, prolonged UV exposure may be linked to the development of eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
· Extensive or intense exposure to UV rays can cause “sunburn” on the surface of your eye. Similar to a skin sunburn, eye surface burns usually disappear within a couple of days, but may lead to further complications later in life so protect your eyes.
Recent studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays without protection may cause eye conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. The more exposure to bright light, the greater the chances of developing these serious eye problems.
Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat is the best defense system for your eyes. To be effective, both must be worn every time you’re outside for prolonged periods of time, even when it’s overcast or cloudy.
But what type of sunglasses should you buy?
The most important thing is to purchase sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Don’t be misled by the color of the lens or the price tag dangling from the frame. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens. UV protection comes from a chemical coating applied to the lens surface. With expensive sunglasses, you’re paying for style, frame quality and options such as scratch-resistant coatings, not protective ability.
Polycarbonate lenses are the lenses of choice and is the most shatter-resistant lens material currently available. It also filters 100% of UV, and even un-tinted polycarbonate gives adequate UV protection. To filter out bright light, especially in the “blue hazard” range, you should not get a blue lens which transmits the potentially harmful blue light wavelengths. Neutral gray is a good choice because it does not change color values. Lenses tending towards amber are effective at filtering out blue light. People who wish to avoid glare, in sports such as fishing, can have the lens custom made with a polarizing filter.
If sunglasses are desired for use in sports, look for a good plano product with excellent wind protection. For people that wear prescription eyewear, polycarbonate lenses can be placed in frames that pass standards appropriate for the intended use. Over-the-glasses polycarbonate sunshields are also available.
An estimated 90% of all eye injuries could be preventable and 45% of them tend to occur around the home. One should always be aware of ways to protect your vision, whether at work, school, home or play.
Proper first aid in the case of an eye injury is vital to preserve sight in the involved eye. Eye injuries, preventable as they are, do occur frequently and anywhere—in more than a million people every year.
The true severity of the eye injury is difficult to determine for the average person. Even an eyelash or a grain of sand under the eyelid can cause severe discomfort (but relatively little damage) due to the intense pain sensitivity of the cornea. An ophthalmologist or medical doctor should examine the involved eye after first aid is given.
Prevention of eye injuries:
• Some games and toys become hazardous when incorrectly used or abused.
• Select toys and games for appropriate age and responsibility levels.
• Projectile toys, e.g. pellet guns and darts should best be avoided as choices. These are usually thrust into another child’s eyes from a distance.
• Children should be supervised when they are allowed to play with hazardous toys and games.
• Ideally, children should be educated how to use potentially dangerous items safely, e.g. pencils, scissors, rulers etc.
Around the home:
Every day used products and solutions could cause severe chemical damage to an eye.
• Extreme care should be taken to protect eyes when working with drain cleaner
• Instructions printed on the labels of detergents, cleaning fluids, ammonia or other chemicals, should be read carefully. Hands must be thoroughly washed after handling these substances.
• Spray-can nozzles should be directed away from your face before the handle is pressed down.
• Special goggles should be used to shield your eyes from the fumes of powerful chemicals.
• Grease shields on frying pans will reduce splattering significantly.
• Opaque goggles reduces or avoids burns from sun beds / sunlamps.
The workshop environment:
Many objects can fly unexpectedly into the eye to cause damage.
• Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
• Read instructions thoroughly and observe the recommended precautions when using tools and chemicals in the workshop.
• Avoid flying fragments, dust particles, sparks, fumes and splashed chemicals, and protect your eyes when these entities are not avoidable.
Many outdoor accidents are caused by garden tools and chemicals.
• No one should be allowed around a moving lawn mower.
• Avoid going over rocks and stones with a lawnmower, to avoid these being thrust by the rotary blades and even re-bounding off nearby walls, side walks or curbsides.
• Avoid low hanging branches.
• Palm leaves and similarly shaped plant branches are notorious for causing penetrating eye injuries.
• Pesticide spray-can nozzles, should be directed away from the face before activating the spray.
• Avoid skin contact with pesticides.
Battery acid can cause serious eye damage and sparks can ignite fumes to explode rapidly.
• All cigarettes and matches should be put out in the vicinity of the car.
• Use a flashlight (not the lighter or match) to illuminate the battery at night.
• Protective goggles should be available and used when using jumper cables.
• Protective goggles are essential when metal body repairs are done, including grinding and striking metal with metal.
Sports injuries of the eyes:
These have increased significantly over the last several years.
• Safety glasses should be used for sports such as racket ball, squash, tennis, baseball, basketball.
• Protective caps, helmets and face protectors are essential in sports such as Ice Hockey, Baseball, Cricket.
• Sunglasses should be worn whenever practical for outdoor sports, e.g. golf, bowls, sailing, etc. to reduce ultraviolet exposure.
Handling fireworks are potentially dangerous, irrespective of the age of the user.
• Explosive types of fireworks should best be avoided.
• Children should not be allowed to ignite fireworks.
• Light fireworks away from other people or crowds.
How and Where should eye injuries be treated?
Hospital emergency rooms see and treat patients with eye injuries and provide the emergency medical care needed. Emergency room personnel and doctors will refer the patient with an eye injury to an ophthalmologist whenever complications are suspected. Ophthalmologists specialize in eye diseases and disorders and emergency treatment of eye injuries and its complications.
Following an eye injury: FIRST AID
Immediate and correct treatment can prevent or reduce loss of sight. Seek medical help as soon as possible, to determine the severity of the damage, and commence appropriate treatment without delay. An ophthalmologist or your family physician should be called immediately, or otherwise the patient should be taken to the nearest emergency department without delay.
Specks/ dust in the eye:
• The eye should NEVER be rubbed.
• The upper eye lid could be lifted and pulled over the lower eye lid so that the lower lid lashes could brush off the speck/dust from the inside of the upper lid. Blinking several times could let the eye move the object out. If it does not come out, the eye should be kept closed and medical help should be sought.
A blow to the eye:
• Pain and swelling around the eye can be reduced with a cold compress for about 15 minutes. Avoid pressure onto the eyeball during this time.
• Blurred vision or a black eye might indicate the presence of internal eye damage. Your ophthalmologist’s help should be sought without delay.
Eye lid cuts and penetrating eye injuries:
• A light eye bandage should be applied avoiding any pressure on the eyeball.
• No attempt should be made to wash the eye or remove a foreign object that is stuck into the eye.
• Avoid rubbing the eye or applying any pressure to the eye or eye lid.
• Immediate medical attention is vital.
Chemical burns / injuries:
• Flush the eye with water directly and use fingers to open the eye widely.
• Use a water tap / faucet or bottle or similar container with clean water.
• This flushing should last at least 15 minutes in a gentle but continuous way.
• Let the patient roll around the eye ball during the flushing process, to wash out the eye. An eye cup is inappropriate, and not advisable.
• Do not bandage the eye.
• Take the patient to an ophthalmologist or a hospital emergency room with out delay
• Take the empty container or label of the involved chemical container with the patient, so that identification will assist in appropriate treatment chosen.
• An eye injury necessitates immediate help and attention, especially when there is reduced vision and / or pain present. First aid given correctly can save vision or limit vision loss. Medical attention should not be delayed.
The most important treatment for eye injuries is prevention and attention given to safety practices is a vital way of saving your eye sight