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Tips for your Eye Health -The Don’ts

In our last edition, we considered “THE DOS” if we must maintain good eye health. In this write-up we shall review the “THE DON’TS”.

Here are a few simple tips to maintain good eye health: “THE DON’TS”

  • Don’t assume that all red eyes are “Apollo”. It may be the beginning of a blinding eye disease. So visit your eye doctor.
  • Don’t apply self prescribed drugs, herbs, salt, sugar, urine, breast milk, balms or any concoction directly onto your eyes as these may worsen or even cause blindness to your eyes.
  • Don’t use other people’s eye drops or medications for your eyes as they may not be the ideal treatment for you even if your symptoms are similar to theirs. Always consult your eye doctor for your eye conditions.
  • Don’t read or strain your eyes in poor dim light. Always do your visual tasks under good and adequate illumination.
  • Don’t drive at night if your eyes can not see well or without your prescriptions to avoid endangering your life and those of other road users.
  • Don’t help someone by lending him/her your eye medications or glasses. Help them to get help instead from the eye doctor
  • Don’t allow your children, family members, friends and neighbors to play with sharp objects like broom, stick, pencil, knife etc. These can cause injuries that may lead to blindness.
  • Don’t be deceived, a simple eye operation (like cataract surgery) can restore sight to that blind child, parent, friend, or neighbor. Take an active role in preventing blindness around you and consult your eye doctor for guidance
  • Don’t lose hope until you have visited your eye specialist as there are low vision aids and magnifiers available for people with visual impairment or legal blindness that can enable them maximize their functional vision and still lead independent lives.
  • Don’t visit quacks. It is costlier on the long run and unbeneficial.

It is possible to enjoy good vision throughout your lifetime, so do the needful by doing an annual check with your eye doctor.

Dr Ukachukwu F. U

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UV EYE SAFETY

We protect our skin with sunscreen, but what about our eyes? Most of us are aware of the dangerous effects ultraviolet (UV) rays have on our skin but few of us realize the danger imposed on our eyes. UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or artificial UV rays can damage the eyes surface tissues as well as the cornea, lens and retina. Also, UV radiation can burn the front surface of the eye, much like a sunburn on the skin.

Scientific studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over a period of many years may increase the chance of developing a cataract and may cause damage to the retina, which is the nerve rich lining of the eye that is used for seeing. This damage to the retina is usually not reversible. Cumulative damage of repeated exposure to UV rays may contribute to chronic eye disease, as well as increasing the risk of cancer around the eyelids.

Long term exposure to UV light is also a risk factor in the development of pterygium (a growth that invades the corner of the eye) and pinguecula (a yellowish, slightly raised lesion that forms on the surface tissue of the white part of your eye).

Each time we are out in the sun without protection, we are increasing the risk of UV damage which contributes to our risks for these serious disorders. People of all ages should take precaution whenever they are outdoors. UV blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats are highly recommended outdoors.

Uche Agenmonmen (O .D)

Optometrist.

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Tips for your Eye Health -The Do’s

It goes without saying that the eye is an important part of the body and how we care for it determines the length of time both pairs will last us during our life time.

Here are a few simple tips to maintain good eye health: “THE DOS”

  • Do eat balanced diets and food high in antioxidants like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc and vitamins A, C, E. These nutrients help in reducing cataracts, macular degeneration and other age-related vision problems. Green vegetables, beans, nuts, green vegetables and fruits like carrots, oranges etc are good sources of these nutrients.
  • Do maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercising helps the heart, maintains healthy weight reducing the risk of conditions like hypertension, obesity and diabetes which are leading causes of blindness. Smoking and excessive alcohol intake also predisposes you to vision problems.
  • Do apply only medications and use spectacles/contact lenses that are prescribed by your eye doctor.
  • Do protect your eye with safety eye wears such as protective goggles when handling potentially hazardous objects and engaging in certain sporting activities.
  • Do protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays of sunlight by wearing UV blocking sunglasses to prevent cataract, pterygium and retinal damage.
  • Do wash your hands always especially after using the toilet and direct your children to wash their hands also after playing because dangerous germs can be transferred to the eyes from the environment.
  • Do a rough eye test for yourself by closing one eye after the other and compare how the two eyes see as one eye may not be seeing well and so may go unnoticed.
  • Do apply only clean water as first Aid to your eyes when you feel a foreign body sensation and go to the nearest eye hospital for medical attention.
  • Do regular eyes check annually even if you do not have any complains. This is important to detect certain eye conditions (like glaucoma) that are hereditary and may even be asymptomatic. Also people that are 40 years and above should note that many eye problems such as presbyopia, cataract etc manifests around this time.

In our next edition, we shall consider the “DON’TS’’ in maintaining good eye health.

It is possible to enjoy good vision during your lifetime, so do the needful by doing an annual check with your eye doctor.

Dr Ukachukwu F. U

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SAFE EYES FOR THE YULETIDE

Hurray, the yuletide is here again! It’s the season of celebration for families and friends marked with several memorable activities the world over. As always, preparations have begun in earnest for most people with the usual decorations that colour our streets, offices and houses making them look glamorous for the season. In the usual fashion, this yuletide would be laden with displays of Christmas trees, lights and its attendant decorations; gifts and presents, foods and drinks, fireworks, outings and activities to make the season worthwhile.

As we bask in the euphoria of the celebration of the yuletide, it is pertinent we remind ourselves of the safety of our eyes and indeed our health. Studies have shown that a significant amount of eye injuries happen during the festivities hence, the need to be cautious as we celebrate in this yuletide.

Here are a few tips for safe eyes during this yuletide:

  • Do use eye protective wear when setting up your Christmas tree to avoid irritation from dust, or tree fragments that may cause infection or lodge as foreign body in the eye.
  • If you plan to have a big Christmas tree, ensure the ladder is firmly held to the ground while climbing to avoid falling into the tree or away from the tree which either way poses a risk of injuring your eyes.
  • Do ensure that decorations with glass ornaments should be carefully done with materials that are without cracks and kept at a position outside the reach of children to avoid any injury from the materials.
  • Watch out for the tree pine (sharp) needles during decoration of the tree and be careful not to place gifts too far under the tree to prevent the eyes from being scratched or pierced in the bid to reach out for these gifts.
  • Be careful when opening your drinks or popping champagne to avoid spraying it on yourself or others and the crown cork from targeting your eyes rather point the bottle away from yourself and others.
  • Watch the kind of toys you buy for your children that they are age appropriate and do not have sharp edges or any harmful parts. Some toys such as pellet guns should be used with caution and under supervision.
  • Ensure that you use protective eye wear if you must use fireworks (“knock outs or bangers” in local parlance). If children must use fireworks, it must be thoroughly supervised by an adult and done in a secure environment to avoid endangering others
  • Sunglasses with ultraviolet ray blocking properties should be worn when outdoors during the yuletide to protect your eyes from harmful rays of the sunlight
  • Ensure you eat and drink right during the yuletide to stay healthy. Over indulgence in alcohol and poor diet would create more health problems when the celebrations are over
  • Ensure you have an eye examination if you have not had yours this year.

Safe eyes are a possibility this yuletide if you can apply these simple but important tips during this yuletide celebration. However, if any eye injury or casualty is recorded, please seek prompt medical attention and visit your eye doctor.

Wishing you a happy yuletide celebration!

Dr Ukachukwu F. U

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RED FLAGS OF POOR VISION IN CHILDREN

According to John F. Kennedy, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” Sadly, many children who perform poorly at school are wrongly labeled as learning disabled when indeed it is attributable to poor eye sight. These children are however not aware of how poor their vision is since that has been how they know the world to be. Children with undetected vision difficulties may have been programmed to fail educationally, athletically, socially and emotionally. Therefore, failure to identify and treat a vision problem early in school age children can lead to poor grades, low self-image and a negative school experience.

Oftentimes parents erroneously associate eye examination with eyeglasses or blindness thereby denying their children the benefit of a timely and professional eye examination. From my experience, many children that present to the hospital for eye related problems are mostly those identified by their observant teachers who notice certain abnormal visual habits displayed by these children in school. Quite sadly, they may have developed conditions like crossed eye, amblyopia among others which may not readily respond to routine treatment because of late presentation to the eye doctor.

Parents and guardians should watch out for certain abnormal appearances and visual habits that are red flags of poor vision in children. Below is a list of some of them:

APPEARANCE: On observing the child’s eyes and you notice that lids are crusted, red-rimmed, or swollen; styes (‘’boil”) occur frequently, eyes water or appear bloodshot, eyes are crossed or turned

BEHAVIOR: when a child holds work too close or too far, asks for special seating, seats very close to the television set, thrusts head forward to see distant objects, holds body tense when reading or looking at distant objects, frowns or squints when reading, attempts to brush away a blur, rubs eyes frequently, blinks continually when reading, tilts head or covers one eye.

COMPLAINTS: when a child complains of itchy eyes or sensitivity to light, images appear blurred or doubled, letters and lines run together, words seem to jump and frequent headaches.

PERFORMANCE IN ACADEMICS: when a child exhibits slowness in learning to read, short attention span, poor achievement demonstrated by reduced quality or quantity of work and slow rate of learning.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: when a child performs poorly at games, exhibits poor eye-muscle coordination, stumbles or trips over small objects

All these are strong indicators for a child to see an eye doctor. Early detection is key to ensuring good vision, healthy development and better learning experiences for children. A careful observation of children would not only encourage early discovery of those with visual needs, but would ensure they present early to their eye doctor which would increase the chances of improved vision of the children. However, pre-school eye screening and regular eye examination remain the best strategies for eliminating avoidable blindness in children and will guarantee them a visionary future.

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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that lead to irreversible damage of the optic nerve (nerve of the eye that carries visual information to the brain) resulting to permanent loss of vision in the affected eye(s). In many cases, this damage occurs when eye fluid (aqueous) builds up, raising the eye pressure (intraocular pressure). Normally this fluid flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel called the anterior chamber angle. An imbalance in the production and drainage of this fluid arising from over production or channel blockage, builds up fluid, causing glaucoma. In other cases, some people may have ‘normal’ or ‘low’ tension glaucoma in which optic nerve damage and vision loss have occurred despite a normal eye pressure . Also, the term ‘ocular hypertension’ is used for cases having constantly raised eye pressure without any associated optic nerve damage and they are referred to as glaucoma suspects. Worldwide, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and is sometimes referred to as the “silent thief of sight”.

Two main classification are Open angle and Closed angle glaucoma.

Open angle (chronic) Glaucoma: the commonest type is painless progressing slowly and unnoticed until side vision has drastically reduced as a result of eye pressure build up despite an open drainage channel.

Closed angle (acute) Glaucoma: a sudden and painful build up of eye pressure occurs from blockage of the drainage channel. An ocular emergency, the other eye is often at risk of an attack if one eye is affected. Symptoms may come and go at first, or steadily become worse.

Sometimes glaucoma is present at birth (congenital) while at other times it is due to secondary causes such as agents like corticosteroids, eye diseases such as uveitis, systemic diseases etc.

CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS: Apart from a raised IOP, other predisposing factors include:

1) Heredity/Family history: a higher risk of having glaucoma exists if a member of your family has it. 2) Age: most often occurs in adults over age 40, but it can also occur in young adults, children, and even infants. 3) Race: Africans and African-Americans are at an increased risk compared to Caucasians. 4) Medical conditions: like diabetes and hypothyroidism. A number of studies also suggest a possible correlation between hypertension and the development of glaucoma. 5) Refractive error(s): like shortsightedness (myopia). 6) Prolonged steroid use (steroid-induced glaucoma) especially if eye drops. 7) Other eye conditions: including severe eye (blunt or chemical) injury, retinal detachment, eye tumors, some eye infections and inflammations, certain eye surgeries, conditions that severely restrict blood flow to the eye, such as severe diabetic retinopathy and central retinal vein occlusion (neovascular glaucoma); and uveitis.

SYMPTOMS: include one or more of these including loss of peripheral or side vision, sudden eye pain, headache, decreased/cloudy vision, appearance of rainbow-like halos around lights, redness, feeling of swollen eyes and a fixed, mid-dilated pupil, eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants), nausea or vomiting, and sudden onset of poor vision especially in low light.

TESTS: usually painless and take very little time, includes measurement of the intraocular pressure via tonometry (often the first line of screening for people with glaucoma), fundoscopy (examination of the optic nerve to look for any visible damage), drainage angle examination (gonioscopy), visual field measurement and a whole lot of others.

MANAGEMENT: Glaucoma has no cure. The key is early diagnosis and management to lower eye pressure, prevent/minimize damage to the optic nerve, preserve visual field and enhance the total quality of life for patients. Regular eye examinations with an eye doctor including glaucoma screening can save your sight.

Dr Ukachukwu F.U

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Digital Retinal Examination-2

It is no longer news that the sectors operating on analogue technology have been encouraged to upgrade to digital technology. This is for obvious advantages of greater efficiency and to guarantee best results.

Imagine the marked difference seen between photographs taken by an analogue versus a digital camera! It is most likely the digital one would be preferred.

Eye care has advanced in instrumentation with sophistication in diagnostic tools. One of such advancement is in the novel introduction of digital retinal examination! This simple, painless and non invasive procedure gives a photo documentation of the retina (back of the eye that makes you see) reflecting a wider view of certain landmarks in the interior of the eye that is not possible with conventional methods.

The photo documentation of the retina can be used to screen and diagnose conditions like retinal tear/detachment, or even eye diseases like glaucoma, hypertensive retinopathy, and diabetic retinopathy amongst others. Furthermore, it can be referred to in subsequent examinations to compare, monitor progression of an eye disease and manage your eye health effectively to ensure that no condition goes undetected. Additionally, it aid patients in understanding the condition of the eye when reviewed with their eye doctor and can be made available to a specialist at another location anytime (even electronically) should the need arise.

It is therefore pertinent to note that digital retinal exam is an essential part of your comprehensive eye exam and is recommended for all patients at least once per year.

So when next you make that visit to your eye doctor, request for a digital retinal exam!

DR FAITH UKACHUKWU

OPTOMETRIST

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Computer Vision Syndrome Part 2

Tired looking office worker

Tired looking office worker

In our previous write-up, we discussed the meaning of computer vision syndrome (CVS) and the symptoms that accompany the condition. In this concluding part, we look at practical ways to manage computer vision syndrome.

SIMPLE WAYS TO MANAGE COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME

  • POSITION OF COMPUTER/SMART DEVICE SCREEN: Place monitor directly in front of you, not off to one side. It should be about 20 – 28 inches away from you, placed not too high or blow preferably 15 – 20 degrees below eye level
  • CONTRAST: Adjust contrast between the background and characters on the screen and even brightness
  • REFERENCE MATERIALS: Place materials above the keyboard and below the monitor/screen so you do not move your head to look from document to screen. Get a document holder that is well lit beside the monitor
  • LIGHTING: Use fewer bulbs, fluorescent bulbs or bulbs of lower wattage in addition to window blinds or drapes to reduce glare from overhead lighting or windows
  • ANTIGLARE: Use antiglare screens for monitors that are compatible or special lenses from eye doctor. Sunglasses not ideal!
  • SEATING POSITION: Good seating position with back straight and shoulders back. Right chair height and adjusted so that your arms are parallel to the floor when you type. Feet should also be flat on the floor or on footstool.
  • REST BREAKS: Rest eyes for 15 minutes after 2hours of continuous computer use. Alternatively, for every 20minutes of computer viewing, focus on an object 20feet away for 20seconds (the 20-20-20 rule)
  • BLINKING: Blink regularly to avoid dry eyes
  • Regular visits with an eye doctor for your eye and visual needs: Even if you don’t need glasses or contact lenses for daily activities, you may need them for computer or device use. An eye checkup to get the right prescription can help prevent pain in the neck, shoulders or back that results from contorting your body to see the screen.

In conclusion, aside from the physical discomfort you may experience from the symptoms, computer vision syndrome (CVS) can have a lasting effect on your vision even after stopping work at a computer. The time to act is now!!!!!!!!

Dr Ukachukwu F.U

Optometrist

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Computer Vision Syndrome Part 1

Computer-Vision-SydromeCertain expressions like JET AGE’, ‘INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)’, and ‘GLOBAL VILLAGE’ may sound familiar. One thing that is common with these expressions is COMPUTER! Only recently, there has been a high enthusiasm for the use of smart devices such as tablets, I pads and phones howbeit at the expense of our eyes. The use of computers and smart devices are not without consequences.

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a group of eye and vision-related problems arising from prolonged and extended period of computer use and by extension smart devices. It has also been dubbed “digital eye strain” in some quarters. According to statistics, 90% of people who spend an average of 3 or more hours on the computer experience computer vision syndrome. Obvious differences exist between reading a book and viewing a computer. In contrast to reading a book, there is glare and reflections, reduced level of contrast, increased viewing distance (and angle), and letters/characters are not precise or sharply defined on the computer screen. All these place additional visual demand on the user of the computer and smart devices.

Symptoms experienced by people with CVS includes one or more of the following: headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, irritation of the eyes, dry eyes, double vision, neck and/or shoulder pain, fatigue, light sensitivity, burning eyes, difficulty refocusing the eyes etc.

Certain eye and environmental/office conditions can contribute to the development or even aggravates CVS. The eye conditions includes uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, aging changes of the eyes e.g. presbyopia. Environmental/office conditions include improper viewing distance, improper light conditions (overhead lighting or glare), improper seating posture, air moving past the eyes e.g. from vents or fan etc.

In our next write-up, the management of computer vision syndrome (CVS) will be addressed.

Dr Ukachukwu F. U

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