The visual system is not as we often hear just an eye, it is part of the central nervous system that is used to interpret the outside world. “The eye is a very complex structure which can originate different pathologies in its different layers, but also in its relationship with the central nervous system”, explained the ophthalmologist.
Sometimes taking a break from the screen isn't enough when you start to feel that something is wrong. As we will see in this article, there are many different eye disorders that require treatment, as they can bring a lot of discomfort to a patient.
In addition to the more serious and complex pathologies that directly interfere with the patient's quality of life and can pose a real threat to vision, such as cataracts, corneal and vitreoretinal pathology (such as epiretinal membranes, macular holes or retinal detachment) there are several other types of health disorders that you should be aware of.
There are three main refractive errors that can cause vision loss, also known as vision impairment, such as myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia.
Myopia is a condition in which patients have difficulty focusing on distant objects. Astigmatism is a condition that makes it difficult for the patient to focus, and hyperopia causes difficulty in seeing objects up close and also in distance depending on its severity.
What is a refractive error? It is an eye disorder, which depends upon several anatomical characteristics (such as, surface of the eye, cornea, lens, eye length and the ocular globe format), and occurs when the eye cannot focus images, resulting in blurred vision, which can cause visual impairment, depending upon the level of refractive error.
Dry eyes and the 20-20-20 rule
Along with refractive errors, a very common pathology is dry eye syndrome, which occurs when tears are unable to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes. In other words, there is a reduction in the quantity, or an alteration in the quality of the tear.
There are potentially several factors at the origin of this problem. “Dry eye has to do with many factors, such as the weather, not just outdoors but also indoors (for example, A/C and a dry environment can damage the surface of the eye) as well as sunlight. For your protection, sometimes you just need to wear a hat or sunglasses. Then, there are more risk factors associated with systemic diseases, or with a specific medication that the patient is taking”, said the doctor.
The most common symptoms are burning, itching, pain and a foreign body sensation inside the eye, such as gritty feeling, occasional red eyes, watery eyes, and episodic blurred vision. Also, in a patient with dry eye syndrome, it is easier to get conjunctivitis.
Spending hours looking at a screen without breaks is also a well-known risk factor, “as staying focused for too long on the computer or reading decreases the frequency of blinking and if we blink less, our eyes will dry out more. All of these can contribute to dry eye”, explained the doctor.
It is of the uttermost importance to use artificial lubrication (“as much as needed”) to try to control the symptoms associated with dry eye, as is also important to remove/reduce the causative factors that contribute to the aggression of the ocular surface and to dry eye syndrome. In this case, one of the strategies to improve comfort is to use a built-in blue filter on the patient's glasses, which is a filter that protects against the damaging effects of what is commonly known as blue light (HEV – High Energy Visible), from the increasingly surrounding artificial light. However, “if someone spends 12 hours in front of the screen, feeling tired is normal, we must respect our limits.”
Therefore, the doctor recommends: “For every 20 minutes looking at the screen, look at an object 20 m away for at least 20 seconds to rest your eyes a little and take breaks”.
Eye disorders affecting more and more kids
When was the last time you took your kids for an eye exam? From the first day of school, children must undergo an eye screening, even if they do not reveal symptoms, they must be examined anyway.
“Although, for example, strabismus is clearly seen, there are many other disorders that are not noticeable without screening, but that need to be identified early because up to the age of 12 is usually when an important part of the development of vision ceases. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the child has the best vision possible, with or without glasses, to avoid for example a lazy eye ”, he told The Portugal News.
According to the doctor: “The lazy eye can occur when there is an asymmetry between the eyes (when one eye does not offer the brain a vision as good as the other eye) and, for that reason, the vision of the eye that doesn't offer the best image quality will never develop, even at a later stage, if we don't identify this problem early in life”.
Aging as a risk factor
The doctor explained that, from 40/42 years old onwards and up to 56/58 years old, there is a normal alteration that the eye suffers that ends up in a loss in the ability to see up close, developing what is called presbyopia, a natural and physiological, often annoying part of aging.
Perhaps you are wondering: what can we do to avoid this happening? Unfortunately, the answer is nothing!
“All adults will pass through this. There comes a time in life when everyone will need something external (glasses) to minimize the impact of vision impairment. However, there are people who will need more and earlier and others who will need less,” he explained.
Glaucoma is an eye disorder that damages the optic nerve, silently. In general terms, there is impairment between the production and the drainage of the fluid that the eye produces, which ends up usually in an increased intraocular pressure. There are several risk factors that are associated with the condition, being some of the most common the anatomy of the eyes, aging and hereditary factors.
In relation to the treatment, “the goal is to prevent the disease from progressing, basically what we want is to stabilize the disease and this is done through the control of the main risk factor – high pressure in the eye, which we try to reduce through eyedrops that reduce intraocular pressure”.
For many different reasons, please don't forget regular eye check-ups. At the HPA Health Group, the entire medical community is very happy to take good care of your visual system and to welcome you in their medical facilities.