How to prevent blindness

Have you ever made a conscious effort to close your eyes for one minute? If yes, it is almost certain you didn’t wait for a minute before you opened them.  Reason?  The few seconds you had your eyes closed would have appeared as a long while, hence the belief that it was already a minute. If you find it hard to close your eyes for one minute at a stretch, then imagine how you will feel if you have to close them for, say, 30 minutes, one hour, three hours, an entire day, a whole week or even a lifetime.

Research has consistently proved that sight is the most valued of all the senses. Findings show that two thirds (68 per cent) of people value eyesight above other senses.

Nonetheless, more than a third (36 per cent) of these people admit having eye problem for over a month- and in some cases (13 per cent) years- before seeking help, even after noticing that their eyesight is deteriorating.

Over 53 per cent said in a survey that they sometimes struggle to see what is on TV and a further 50 per cent struggle to read books.

But how soon should one visit an eye care provider after noticing certain abnormalities? According to Dr Camillus  Asumu, the founder of Sight Foundation, Ibadan, there’s  the need for people to visit the eye care provider every six months,  even when there are no symptoms suggesting any problem. He said: “It is imperative to visit the eye doctor every six months for thorough examination of the eyes because certain eye diseases do not present any symptoms until it is too late for remedy and  this should start. This goes to suggest that one must visit the eye clinic as soon as one notices any eye problem.”

Speaking further, the ophthalmologist disclosed that  “the two most common eye defects are cataract and glaucoma. But unlike cataract, glaucoma can occur at any age- and it usually does not start with symptoms.”

Cataract, on the other hand, he said, is mostly age-related. While there are other forms of cataract which are not linked to age like the traumatic cataract (which occurs when a hard object hits the eye)  and drug-related cataract, the medical expert asserted  that advancement in age is a major factor in degenerating eyesight.

“The eyes degenerate as one gets older, which usually starts from age 35. As one gets older, many changes begin to occur, like dryness of the eyes.”

He added that old age is also a major cause of blindness. While old age, untreated or poorly managed eye diseases can lead to blindness, blindness can also be self-inflicted, according to Dr Asumu.

“When some people are afflicted with common eye problems like Apollo, instead of visiting the eye expert for the right medication, they resort to things like battery water, breast milk, etc which worsen the situation because they make the eyes more conducive to the growth of the organisms causing the eye infection.”

He added: ”Many times, when an eye care expert prescribes  medicated glasses  for a child  to correct certain refractive errors in the eyes, the parents are often not well disposed to such a development. Blindness, however, is both reversible and irreversible.”


Tips on how to care for your eyes

Wash your eyes two times a day- morning and night- to make the eyes free of dirt that causes eye infection.

Quit smoking or never start. Smoking is bad for the eyes and the rest of the body. Studies show that smokers are at increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

Eat right: Vitamin deficiency can impair the functions of the retina. Carrots can improve vision because of its carotene content. Fruits and vegetables, especially the dark leafy ones, should also be an important part of your diet. Researchers have found that diets with high level omega-3 fatty acids as it is found in some fishes like “Titus” is also important in keeping your eyes healthy.

Know your family history: Many eye diseases have been found to be genetic in nature. Knowing your family history, therefore, helps you to  know the eye diseases you are at an increased risk of having.

Eye protection: Sun glasses protect the eyes from direct sunlight and help delay the development of cataract since sunlight hastens its development. Sun glasses also prevent dust and other forms of dirt from getting into the eyes to cause infection or other forms of damage. They also protect the delicate eyelid skin and prevent both wrinkles and skin cancer around the eye and both cancerous and non-cancerous growths on the eye. There are also special eye protectors to prevent eye injury, especially during sports like swimming and hockey. Sports eye protection should meet specific requirements of the sport which are certified by the sport governing body.

Early intervention: Most serious eye defects like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can be treated easily and successfully with early diagnosis. Left untreated, they can cause vision loss and blindness.

Give your eyes a rest: If you spend a lot of time staring at the computer or any other thing, your eyes are likely to get fatigued. Try looking away from these objects every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.

Practice workplace eye safety: If your job involves wearing protective eye wears, make a habit of wearing them.