The human eye is a very complex organ and also a delicate one. It is complex because normal eye function requires all its intricate parts to come together and work in harmony. However, it is fragile because it can very easily be damaged, even from the slightest impact. The eye is made up of several parts including the cornea, tear ducts, iris, lens, retina, optic nerves, and more.
Although research seems to vary, there are statistics that suggest nearly half of the world’s population lives with some kind of eye defect. For some people, these defects are temporary and will either go away on their own or can easily be treated without any extensive procedures.
Others are, however, not so lucky. In some cases, there are no signs or symptoms, and the patient does not know there is a problem for a long time.
Let’s look at some of the most common eye defects:
The optic nerve is located at the back of the eyeball. It connects the eye to the brain and is the channel through which visual signals are carried. The brain processes these signals or data into what we perceive as eyesight.
Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged due to an increase in the pressure of fluids inside the eye, i.e., a build up of pressure within the eye. This interferes with normal function and can eventually result in blindness if left untreated.
The most common glaucoma treatment procedure is a type of eye surgery called trabeculectomy. The surgeon drains some fluid from the eye, which eases the pressure on the optic nerve.
According to medical professionals at Guy’s And St Thomas Private Healthcare in London, people with a family history of glaucoma should have regular checkups because they have a higher than average risk of developing the condition.
A cataract is a lens clouding that causes blurry and cloudy vision. It can also distort a person’s perception of colours. Some patients say they can see a halo around things, especially at night.
Cataracts affect older people more than young adults, children, or babies. The condition typically gets worse with age. However, some children and babies are affected, but the incidence is significantly lower.
If the cataract is not very advanced, better glasses may help, as can brighter reading lights. However, as the condition is progressive, most people eventually need surgery to replace the affected lense. Surgery for cataracts is a simple procedure, and in most cases the patient goes home on the same day.
Also called amblyopia, this is a childhood condition where the person’s eyesight does not develop as it should. The eye cannot build a strong link to the individual’s brain. The condition rarely affects both eyes.
Children with amblyopia rely on their ‘good’ eye to see things properly. According to the UK’s National Health Service, approxiamtely one in every fifty children develops amblyopia.
Most cases of lazy eye are treatable. If there is a caract in the lense, the patient will require treatment to remove it. If the eye has a vision or eyesight problem, such as myopia (short sightedness), hyperopia (long/far sightedness), or astigmatism, wearing proper glasses will correct the eye’s focus.
It is important to encourage the child to use the weaker eye as much as possible. Sometimes they will have to wear an eye patch over the ‘good’ eye. Applying eyedrops to the stronger eye is also possible – the drops blur the eye’s vision.
It is important to follow the treatment through right to the end, otherwise any improvement will soon reverse.
Astigmatism, myopia, and hyperopia are the most common causes of blurry vision. If you have perfect eyesight, your eye will be shaped like a ping-pong ball. The eye of people with astigmatism has more of a rugby ball shape, which results in light focussing in two or more places within the eye.
People with astigmatism are more susceptible to eye strain and headaches. The cheapest treatments for astigmatism are specially made glasses or contact lenses. Other options include lens or laser eye surgery.
These are just some of the many eye defects that some people have to live with.
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