Non-communicable DiseasesPublished Stories

Treat your eyes right, they’ll never be out of sight

Emotions can be seen in eyes.

Warmth can be felt through the eyes too.

Eyes carry life.

The eyes have also been described as the passage to the soul.

They make the face an open book.

But did you also know that the eyes are composed of more than two million working parts and that in a lifetime, an individual’s eyes will see 24 million different images?

Photo by Prince Akachi on Unsplash

Each eye is around 2.5cm in diameter and the primary function as a sensory organ is to receive light and convert into electrical signals for transmission to brain. The optic nerve is THE GREAT MESSENGER and serves as  high-speed telephone line connecting eye to tbrain.

When you see an image, your eye “telephones” your brain with a report on the image and the brain translates that report into either a car, door or whichever image that is before your eyes.

However, sometimes the images may not be as sharp because your eye is not able to focus on it  from where you are due to refractive errors. This is also described as short sightedness, long sightedness or astigmatism.

Dr Michael Gichangi, Head of Ophthalmic Unit, Ministry of Health

Dr Michael Gichangi, the Head of Ophthalmic Unit at the Ministry of Health defines refractive errors as an eye disorder that occurs when the eye cannot clearly focus the images from the outside world.

Dr Gichangi notes that refractive errors can affect anyone but it also runs in families especially if a close family member wears spectacles.

The World Health Organisation estimates that globally, at least one billion people could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

“A refractive error normally starts as blurred vision,” said Dr Gichangi.

The World Health Organisation lists the following as the triggers of poor vision;

  • Diseases like diabetes that lead to diabetic retinopathy that affects the vessels in the eye that cause vision problems that could also render an individual blind.
  • Trauma to the eyes,
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Infectious diseases of the cornea and trachoma.

According to Dr Gichangi, the refractive errors are corrected by glasses, colloquially referred to as spectacles, refractive surgery or contact lenses.

These refractive errors include;

  • myopia (nearsightedness): difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly;
  • hyperopia (farsightedness): difficulty in seeing close objects clearly;
  • presbyopia: which leads to difficulty in reading or seeing at arm’s length. This eye condition is normally linked to aging.
  • Astigmatism- a person’s vision is clear except for a blurry portion

How are the refractive errors diagnosed?

Dr Gichangi points out that in children, the parent, guardian or teacher can notice a tendency in the child often holding objects close to their eyes, moving in a clumsy manner or they do not notice things happening at a distance.

A diagnosis is done through an eye test where the eye specialist known as an ophthalmologist takes the individual through a series of reading of numbers and alphabet of different sizes and shapes.

“Normally, a value of 20/20 is considered perfect vision. If you do not achieve this score, you could have a refractive error which means  that the light is not bending properly when it passes through the lens of your eye.

In adults, Dr Gichangi says some of the symptoms to look out for are;

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Headaches, squinting and eye strain
  • Difficulty reading
  • Double vision
  • ‘Halos’ around bright lights
  • Haziness

When should you have an eye test?

Dr Gichangi advices that healthy adults who do not have vision problems should be tested once every two years whereas children should have had a test by their third birthday and once every 24 months thereafter.

For adults with diabetes, eye tests should be done annually.

Dr Gichangi further warns on over-the counter purchase of glasses and sunglasses or sharing.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can also cause sunburns on the eyes and over time, Dr Gichangi added.

“Prescription sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun by blocking 100% of the sun’s UV rays.  The prescription sun glasses provide eye protection, reduced glare and better contrast to improve performance in a range of outdoor conditions,” Dr Gichangi said.

For that picture perfect moment, take care of your eyes.

Let your story be told in the hue of your eyes.

From the light brown eyes to the grey irises and the darker ones too.

Your eyes are the place your soul finds nirvana.


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