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Common Eye Conditions You Should Be Familiar With

18 April 2017 No comments

Don’t be blurry about these common eye conditions

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Your eyes are your body’s built in super megapixel camera. The vital structures you see on the front of your eye (iris, cornea, pupil, and lens) focus and capture the image on your retina. The retina is equivalent to the camera film. If any of the structures in front are defective (affected by eye conditions), seeing will be difficult or even lost in worst case scenarios. So don’t take your eyes for granted. They’re not just there to make you beautiful; they’re also there to serve a more essential function…seeing.

Some eye conditions aren’t serious and don’t take that long to heal. Still, you should familiarise yourself with the more common ones. Here they are:

Eye Condition Short Description Causes and Risk Factors
Acute red eye The most likely diagnosis for acute red eye is conjunctivitis which is very common in the general population. Can be caused by a virus, bacteria or foreign body in your eye. In some cases the cause may be unidentified.
Glaucoma Your eyeball experiences intense pressure which could lead to blindness. Can be caused by mechanical compression or decreased blood flow to the nerves supplying your eyes. People older than 50 years of age are at risk. If a family member has glaucoma, there’s a chance you could also develop it.
Cataracts Clouding in the lenses of your eyes as you age.  It’s a part of aging, the wear and tear of your eyes. It’s treatable! Relax.
Macular Degeneration Your eye has difficulty capturing and sending CLEAR images to your brain. The exact cause is unknown. Related to the aging process.
Strabismus (crossed eyes) Your eyes aren’t aligned with each other producing double-vision. Nerves controlling the muscles moving your eyeball may be responsible.
Low Vision Several types are known. Best to see have your eyes checked out if you have poor vision. Can be caused by a variety of conditions like macular degeneration, aging, injuries, etc.
Diabetic eye diseases (retinopathy, macular oedema, cataracts, and glaucoma) People with diabetes should have their eyes checked regularly because these eye diseases manifest slowly over a long period of time. Uncontrolled soaring blood glucose levels are the main culprit destroying the blood vessels in the retina of the eyes.
Sty A small painful, red bump or lump on the edge of the eyelid.  Usually styes form on the outside edge of eyelid but they can also form inside the eyelid. They are caused by the blockage of an oil gland in eyelid which then becomes infected. May be caused by a Staphylococcus aureus infection.
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Now that you know some common eye conditions, it’s justifiable that you learn how to take good care of your eyes to help prevent developing some of them.

  • Apply the 20-20-20 rule. This is especially useful while reading using your tablet. Take a break from reading every 20 minutes. Look at something 20 feet away (it can be anything other than what you’re reading) for 20 seconds. This simple rule prevents eye strain and relaxes tired eyes.

  • You can stare all you want, but don’t forget to BLINK! Blinking clears the surfaces of your eyes of debris and dust while flushing fresh fluids over them. It also delivers nutrients to the structures there. Why wouldn’t you want to blink? Healthy blinking ranges from 7 to 10 blinks per minute. Practice!

  • Try to minimise exposure to blue light. An example would be when you use your laptop at night. There are some applications you can install which act as eye filters to minimise strain and harm on your eyes. Read more about blue light here. Also, when reading, use the correct type of lighting. If your lighting produces shadows, fix it. Use a reading lamp with a bendable neck.

  • Shield your eyes from foreign objects and UV rays. Foreign objects can range from flying debris to fast moving insects or dust. Use protective eye wear at work if the situation warrants it. Wear your sunglasses when you go to the beach. Believe it or not, your constant grimacing and frowning when trying to shield your face from the sun can also give you a headache. Let’s not forget the actual UV rays damaging your eyes. These rays can cause corneal sunburn and certain types of cataracts.

  • Drink enough fluids to hydrate your eyes. Like the wipers on your car, you need water to lubricate, clean, and hydrate the structures in the front of your eye so you can see clearly.

  • Keep an eye out for the following herbs:
Herb What it does to your eyes
Eyebright (Euphrasia rostkoviana)
One study found that this herb worked well for inflammatory conjunctivitis when used as eye drops.
Bilberry (Vacinium myritillus)
Rich in anthocyanosides and vitamin C both of which have powerful antioxidant properties to protect against cellular damage to the eyes.
Ginkgo biloba
Improves blood flow to your eyes. A study on normal tension glaucoma showed improvements with this herb.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis)
Rich in antioxidants that are absorbed into the eye tissue to fight free radical damage.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Its active ingredient, silymarin is not just good for your liver; it also helps to target free radicals in your eyes and particularly helps to prevent eye damage in diabetes mellitus.
Grape seed extract (Vitis vinifera)
Important for vascular health throughout the body and has powerful antioxidant actions. One study found that it may help prevent diabetic eye problems.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and helps to reduce inflammation. May help to prevent eye damage in diabetes.
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  • Your eyes require nutrients to function optimally. Load up on these. Check out the table below:

Nutrients Common Food Sources Comments
Omega-3 fatty acids especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) Salmon, sardines and other fish. Needed for optimal eye development and supports eye health.
Astaxanthin Shrimp, crab, lobster, wild salmon and krill oil. Potent antioxidant to fight free radical damage in the eyes, particularly in relation to harmful light exposure.
Beta-carotenes (including zeaxanthin, lycopene, and lutein) Carrots, spinach, red peppers, and broccoli. Antioxidants that helped to slow age related macular degeneration when combined with vitamin C, E, Zinc and copper.
Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols) Almonds, beef, egg yolks, sunflower seeds, other nuts and wheat germ. Another great antioxidant which when combined with other nutrients like vitamin C, beta carotene, zinc and copper may help to slow damage from age related macular degeneration.
Vitamin D Fish liver oil, tuna, egg yolks, milk. Helps with keeping eyes moist and preventing the eye condition known as dry eye.
Vitamin C Citrus fruits, blackcurrants. Antioxidant that reduces risk of cataract formation.
Flavonoids Citrus fruit, tea, apples, grapes and berries. Work synergistically with vitamin C and also have antioxidant properties.
Vitamin A Fish liver oil, beef liver, lamb liver, carrots, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables. Needed for pigment production and healthy vision. Keeps eyes lubricated.
Selenium Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, eggs, fish, organ meats, garlic and onions. Useful in preventing eye problems secondary to a hyperactive (overzealous) thyroid gland.
Zinc Oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds. May prevent further progression of damage caused by age related macular degeneration.
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Feeling overloaded? Don’t be. Just remember to have regular eye checkups as eye conditions don’t always present themselves with symptoms. Sudden changes in your vision and eye pain warrant immediate medical attention. Follow the tips outlined above to prevent future eye problems. Take good care of your eyes, you only have two of them after all.

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