Cataracts


The term cataracts refers to a clouding of the eye's lens that is located behind the iris and pupil. This particular lens operates by focusing light on to the retina, much in the same way as a camera lens. The lens affected by cataracts is also involved in the eye's focus.


This lens consists of protein and water.  This protein is precisely arranged for optimum functioning.  However, during the natural aging process, these proteins can become clumped together and cause the eye to cloud.  This cloud is what is known as a cataract and will most likely get larger as time progresses if left untreated.  Your eye doctor will probably want to wait until the cataract interferes with your eyesight before opting to remove it.

There are three different types of cataracts you should know about:  

Cortical Cataracts:  This type of cataract is formed in the cortex of the lens.  Over time, a cortical cataract will extend from the outside of the lens to the center.  This type of cataract is common to diabetes sufferers. 

Nuclear Cataracts: Nuclear cataracts are the most common type of cataracts. Forming in the center of the lens, this type of cataract is caused by the normal aging process. When this cataract first forms, you may even experience improved vision.  However, this effect will not last long.  from farsightedness, you may be susceptible to supcapsular cataracts. 

Fortunately, all three types of cataracts can be removed with eye surgery.  Today's surgeons implement the use of lasers and other innovative technology to remove a patient's cataracts with a minimum of risk or discomfort.  Some cataract surgeries will involve removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear plastic lens called an intraocular lens. While cataract removal surgery is relatively safe, you may experience a few side effects such as swelling, bleeding or discomfort.  Your eye doctor will advise you on the steps to take during recovery to aid proper healing. 

Nutritionists are currently studying the role diet plays in the prevention of cataracts. Research has shown a favorable link between antioxidants and the prevention of cataracts. Antioxidants are vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E that work to fight harmful free radicals in the body.

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Glaucoma

Glaucoma develops at a different rate for every individual, meaning that one individual might experience nerve damage from a relatively low amount of pressure, while another individual might have noticeably higher pressure and yet be able to withstand it for years without developing any damage.

There is several different types of glaucoma with the most commong type being: primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). POAG is dubbed the “the sneak thief of sight” because it typically has no symptoms. Another type of glaucoma is acute angle-closure glaucoma, which is commonly characterized by an acute rise in the intraocular pressure. Acute angle-closure glaucoma occurs in eyes that are vulernible as the pupil dilates, thus blocking the flow of fluid through it. Acute angle-closure glaucoma will generally cause pain and blurred vision, and in more extreme cases leads to irreversible visual loss within a short time. In such cases immediate treatment is required. 

Some symptoms of the disease are: halos around bright lights as well as the loss of sight(slowly or rapidly). If you suspect that you or someone you know is affected with glaucoma it is extremely important to have it checked out by an eye doctor immediately because untreated glaucoma can result in total loss of sight.

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Macular Degeneration


What is macular degeneration?


This is an eye condition that affects the central (reading) part of sight. It is the most common cause of poor eyesight in the people aged over 60. It never leads to complete sight loss, because it is only the central vision that is affected. However, in many cases, it is difficult or impossible to treat.


It is caused by disease changes at the most highly developed part of the retina (the macula), which is made up of millions of light-sensitive cone and rod cells. The macula is situated at the centre of your retina at the point where most of the light rays coming into the eye focused. It is responsible for your central vision, for detailed visual activities, such as reading and writing, and your ability to appreciate colour. In macular degeneration the highly specialised photoreceptor cells in the macula stop functioning, either partially or completely. Macular degenration usually affects both eyes, although it tends to be asymmetrical - meaning that it affects on eye more that the other.


Monitoring macular degenration

The dry form of macular degenration usually progresses gradually and the eyesight is never lost completely as peripheral vision is retained. It is possible to monitor the condition by assessing changes in the symptoms, especially your close-up, or reading, vision. More formal monitoring of distance and reading sight can be done by your optometrist and/or ophthalmologist who can also chart changes in your retina. However, regular monitoring by the hospital specialists is not normally required.

A special chart is available from the eye consultant to help you monitor your eyesight (an Amsler chart), An example is shown above (instructions for its use). The chart is particularly helpful in recognising the onset of distortion in the central vision. To use it, you need to wear reading glasses and test each eye separately (with your other eye covered with the palm of your hand)

The Amsler chart consists of a black central spot surronded by a grid of horizontal and vertical black lines. 

Concentrate on the central black spot and assess whether any of the grid lines are distorted or any part of the image on the chart is missing.


Causes of Eye Allergies

An allergic reaction to the conjunctiva is popularly known as allergic conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye.’ It varies from soft irritation of the eyes to severe itching, which leads to corneal scaring. Direct contact with the allergen is the main cause of eye allergies.The contact can happen through air, hands and from materials used to rub the eyes
Pollens, spores, pet dander, hair, dust, grass, mold, weeds, certain plants, nail polish, certain medicines and secretions like saliva are some of the most common allergens. The conjunctiva when comes into contact with an allergen produces a chemical called histamine, which causes the symptoms associated with eye allergies.
Cigarette smoke, wind, perfumes, air pollution, diesel exhaust also creates irritation to the conjunctiva but this is not included in eye allergies. 

Symptoms of Eye Allergies

Itching is the most important symptom of eye allergy. Redness, watery discharge, swelling of the eyeball, tearing, burning sensation, pain while opening eyelids after sleep, blurred vision, pus formation and the feeling of an alien body in the eye are some of the common symptoms. People wearing contact lens will have discomfort in wearing it. Eye allergies mostly affect both the eyes. Dry eye and tear duct obstruction are sometimes confused as eye allergies. These two types of ailments have similar symptoms to eye allergies. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by bacteria and viruses. 

Eye allergies rarely cause vision impairment. Itching is the most vital symptom of allergic eyes.
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Eye problems and injuries in Adolescents

Every year more than one million people get eye injuries, out of which ninety percent are preventable if safety eyewear is used. One hundred and twenty five thousand eye injury cases are caused by household products.
It is a good habit to wash hands regularly, especially after handling household chemicals. When using detergents and hazardous solvents, the handler must wear chemical safety goggles. Also, no children must be around while handling chemicals. While spraying, the nozzle must be turned away from the face. Fertilizers, pesticides and paints must be stored away from reach. While doing household activities proper protective gears such as goggles, gloves, boots and helmet should be worn, if required. The house must be illuminated adequately to avoid accidents in the dark. Stairs should also be illuminated and the rails must also be installed. The instructions for opening the tops of bottles must be read carefully to avoid them from popping and injuring other people. Children and adolescents should read instructions before handling operating equipment before playing games. All power equipment must be installed with guards. While playing outside, the eyes must be protected by UV protective goggles and it is a bad idea to look at the sun directly.

Precautions should not only be taken indoors, but outdoors too. This is because; more than forty thousand people get eye injuries outdoors. Ninety nine percent of the injuries are caused while playing sports. So it is necessary for the youngsters to wear protective eyewear while playing sports or when involved in outdoor recreational activities. A special helmet is designed with wire shield or polycarbonate face mask which is not only safe, but comfortable, too. Protective eyewear should also be worn while performing experiments in science lab. Fireworks must only be handled by adults.

Because of increasing use of computers, more and more youngsters are getting eye strains. The symptoms of eye strain caused by computer are red & watery eyes, focusing problems, aching & tired eyelids, eye muscle spasm, backache and headache. In such an environment, eye exercise must be done regularly. The eyes must be made to focus on distant objects and should be rotated from side to side. It is extremely important to give ample rest to the eyes. Glasses with UV shield must be worn when looking at the computer screen. Eye strain can be avoided by increasing the distance from the monitor.  

Eye hazards are also caused when cosmetics are used improperly by contact lens wearers. Some of the adverse reactions are injury, eye irritation, allergy, dryness, infection, and lens deposition. That is the reason why adolescents must be made aware of the risk they will face when opting for contact lens. Girls should understand that they should buy hypoallergenic cosmetics and especially the non-scented variety, manufactured by big brand names. Cosmetics should not be shared with anything else. The applicator brushes must be washed regularly and old mascara must be disposed and not refilled. Eye shadows which are glittery, pearlized, frosted or iridescent contain ground tinsel or oyster shell, which should be always avoided. Eyeliner should not be applied in the inner lid edge. Loose powder should be avoided. Cream should not be applied near the eyes. The wearer should wash hands while handling contact lens. No crying, washing of face or bathing should be done with the contact lens on.