With eye care awareness month coming up and World Sight Day rapidly approaching as well, it is only fitting to take a moment to think about vision in a broader sense. So much of our daily tasks revolve around our ability to see clearly that it is easy to forget that by the World Health Organisation’s estimates, 285 million people worldwide are currently visually impaired. This figure includes 39 million blind people. Sadly, the main cause of moderate to severe visual impairment, however, stems from refractive errors (easily corrected by spectacles), closely followed by cataracts- both conditions which are considered preventable. It is estimated that 80% of ALL visual impairment can be completely prevented or cured if detected at an early stage. It is thus of utmost importance to regularly check the health of your eyes to determine any changes that occur as soon as it appears. This allow health care practitioners to manage and treat potential problems before permanent changes in our day- to- day vision manifests.
In our offices, Pterygiums have become an almost daily occurrence (almost as common as a wandering donkey in Grahamstown). Pterygiums for those unfamiliar with the term, is a raised growth found on the outside of the eye and often caused by chronic ultra-violet (UV) light exposure. The sun, revered and even worshipped for millennia, is best known these days for its causative effect on sunburn and skin cancer. UV light have been linked to various sight threatening diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and a host of other conditions often seen later in our lives. We regularly hear about the many dangers sunlight pose to our skin, but seldom stop to reflect on just how serious these same rays can be for our eyes and the surrounding structures.
Curiously we see that most people try to avoid excessive sunlight between 10am and 2pm to guard their skin, but few know that our eyes receive far more UV and blue light exposure early in the morning and later in the afternoon (when our brows/ eyebrows offer far less protection from these rays). These damaging rays are cumulative in nature which means that the sinister natures of it, as well as the destruction it causes to cells, only fully become apparent when it’s all added together.
It has been estimated that the regular use of quality sunglasses could postpone the onset of cataracts and other age-related ocular diseases by up to 20 years! This would effectively eliminate conditions such as cataracts, which occur in almost 25% of people by age 75. So who is at risk for developing sight- threatening conditions from the sun? The answer is: we all are! Thus, to help jumpstart your lifelong investment in healthy eyes, start wearing high quality sunglasses, UV blocking lenses or light-filtering lenses today and read this article again at the age of 92!
Amazing Facts about our eyes:
Eyes are composed of more than 2 million working parts.
The average person blinks 12 times per minute – about 10,000 blinks in an average day
Eyes can process 36,000 bits of information every hour.
They are the equivalent of 576 mega pixel cameras.
Only 1/6th of the eyeball is exposed to the outside world.
The corneas are the only human tissue that does not require blood.
Eyelashes have an average life span of 5 months.
The eyeball of a human weighs approximately 28 grams.
Your eye will focus on about 50 things per second.
About half of our brain is involved in te seeing process. Humans are very much visual animals.
Under the right conditions, the human eye can see the light of a candle at a distance of 14 miles.
The external muscles that move the eyes are the strongest muscles in the human body for the job that they have to do. They are 100 times more powerful than they need to be.
Is the only part of the body that does not need rest. It can function entirely at any moment, day or night (your eyelids and external muscles require rest, and eye lubrication have to be replaced, but the eye itself in no way has to rest).
Contributed by the EyeStore Optometrists