Millions of Ugandans experience problems with their vision, but don’t feel threatened.
Some of these may lead to impaired vision or cause permanent blindness. Information from the National Union of the Blind website indicates that across the country, nearly one in 10 people are visually impaired and more than one million people are blind in both eyes.
There is a gamut of factors that influences eye health, including genes, ageing and poor lifestyles. John Ssebayiga, an ophthalmic assistant at the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UMPB), says there are many pointers that one’s eyes may reveal about their health, some discernable by just looking into the mirror.
“When the glassy part of the eye medically known as the cornea has a wound, it is probable that one is suffering corneal ulcers and this may manifest as a painful red eye with mild to severe eye discharge,” Ssebayiga says, adding that it is mostly caused by infections but is also attributed to eye injuries.
He lists other pointers to poor eye health including: reddening of the eyes which may point to the fact that one may be suffering conjunctivitis, a condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye (the conjunctiva) itchy eyes, indicator of allergy and continuous tearing of the eyes which may point to poor growth of one’s nerves.
Others are: yellow eyes indicating jaundice or sickle cell anemia blurriness, a sign of reduced sight and painful eyes which may point to photophobia.
“Photophobia may cause considerable pain to one’s eyes especially when exposed to too much light and symptoms include squinting of the eyes, excessive tearing and burning of the eyes,” Ssebayiga explains.
According to him, the commonest eye conditions affecting Ugandans are: near and far sightedness cataracts – a clouding of the lens inside the eye, which leads to a decrease in vision glaucoma, a condition affecting sight because of buildup of pressure within the eye and diabetic neuropathy.
The latter is a series of nerve disorders caused by diabetes mellitus, which affects the pupils of the eyes, making them less responsive to light changes. Consequently, a person may have trouble driving at night.
FOUR STANDARD MEASURES
Ssebayiga told The Observer that there are four measures used to determine whether one’s eyes are healthy or ailing:
Visual acuity – This is the sharpness of vision, which is the ability to recognize small details. Usually when one is conducting an eye test, a letter chart is used to determine acuity.
Peripheral awareness – This is sometimes called side vision. Ssebayiga says that it enables one monitor what is happening on your sides without detracting focus from what is in front of you. It is the opposite of having tunnel vision.
Eye coordination – According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), eye coordination is the ability of both eyes to work together as a team.
“Good eye coordination keeps the eyes in proper alignment when looking at a particular image whereas poor eye coordination may result into double vision, difficulty in reading and concentrating, eye and body fatigue and irritability,” an article on eye coordination on the AOA website partly reads.
It adds that poor eye coordination is often successfully treated with eye glasses or vision therapy.
Depth perception – This is the ability to determine distance between objects. Without it, Ssebayiga says, one wouldn’t know how far away a wall is from you or how far an oncoming car is. It also helps one determine how fast an object is coming towards you. People with poor depth perception have trouble judging how quickly an object is coming towards them.
HOW TO PROTECT THE EYES
Get them tested
This remains the yardstick in determining whether one’s eyes are healthy or not. A professional medical examination is aised whenever one feels his or her eyes have a problem and a re-examination after two years is recommended.
“Don’t buy eye drops over the counter (self-medication) unless prescribed by a specialist as it may worsen the eye condition,” Ssebayiga urges.
Eyes require specific vitamins, particularly Vitamin A to stay healthy. Vitamin A is found in certain fruits such as mangoes, tomatoes and watermelon and foods such as liver, sweet potatoes and pumpkins.
“Vegetable wise, carrots and green leafy vegetables such as doodo and spinach are recommended and so is drinking plenty of water, which helps in hydration of the body thus reducing eye dryness,” he says.
Avoid shades amp contact lenses
Ssebayiga says shades are not aisable because they contain permanent tint, which does not change according to light intensity, which may strain the eyes. Recommended are glasses with an anti-glare effect (tint that changes according to light’s intensity). He also cautions people on the use of contact lenses, which require dust-free environments which is not the case with Uganda.
Owing to the fact that computers have a certain amount of radiation, Ssebayiga says it is important to insulate them in order to reduce strain on the eyes and its associated problems such as migraines and blurred vision.
Additionally, the article ‘How to protect your eyes when using a computer’ on www.computerhope.com aises people to keep monitors 20 to 30 inches away from one’s face in order to reduce eye strain use font sizes that are easy to view periodically dust the screen and ensure proper lighting in the room and computer screen as overly dim or bright lighting may cause strain to the eyes.
Studies show that eyes need about five hours of rest in order to replenish, without which one may have consequences such as popped blood vessels in the eye due to the strain of the eye. It also contributes to the dry eye syndrome characterized by inadequate tears to lubricate the eyes. Those suffering from dry eye syndrome often experience pain, redness, itching and even blurred vision.
Wear eye protection equipment
This is most aisable when operating electric tools such as welding machines or when fixing electric wires. It is also aisable to protect the eyes when handling toxic chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides.
Source : The Observer