We load them with make-up, use them to stare incessantly at screens and relish this wonderful world through them. So, why do we not give our eyes the same tender loving care as the rest of our bodies, ponders Behnaz Sanjana.
We often read and hear about the importance of regular health check-ups as a way to prevent and control illnesses. But the majority of people, both men and women, tend to ignore their eyes and their eyesight, taking this delicate and intricate body part completely for granted.
It would hardly be an understatement to say that we rely on our eyes to savour almost all of life’s experiences. It is thus important to pay attention to our peepers and occasionally give them some much-deserved attention.
Pushpita Sengupta Patel is a professionally qualified optometrist and contact lens specialist who heads the retail operations at Optica, Bahrain’s well known eyewear boutique. She strongly recommends that all of us get an eye exam at least once a year. She says: “This is very essential, since it allows us to monitor any changes in refractive status or vision changes in the eye; as well as detecting early signs of any other ocular diseases.”
For those who don’t remember the last time they visited an optometrist, a typical routine eye exam with an eye care professional starts with lifestyle questioning, analysing visual demands in different everyday situations, and also takes in distance and near sight correction and a colour vision test. An experienced optometrist will be able to make lifestyle-based recommendations for optimal vision correction and train customers on the correct and safe use of, and adaptation to, eyeglasses and contact lenses.
So, I was curious to know the most common issues people face with their eyesight. Pushpita says: “Apart from the typical refractive errors that we come across every day, we frequently encounter an increased number of individuals suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and Digital Eye Strain (DES) nowadays. The demands of the digital world today have a lot of adverse effects on the human eye. Increased strain on eyes, caused by continuous usage of digital gadgets, is leading to complications such as CVS and DES, where people experience tired, watery or dry eyes, blurred or double vision, headache, sore neck, shoulders or back, increased sensitivity to light, difficulty in concentrating, a feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open, etc. At Optica, we do special CVS/DES counselling and recommend specialised lenses to treat the same.”
There are times when we experience discomfort in the eye, but we tend to ignore the niggle, hoping it’ll disappear on its own. “If you experience blurred or double vision, general eye fatigue, headaches or increased light sensitivity, it is important to immediately consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist,” says Pushpita.
On the subject of optimal eye health, Pushpita has some simple advice. “Good eye health starts with healthy eating. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E are essential in our everyday diet. Smoking affects eye health and, hence, quitting has an overall health benefit, not just on the eyes. Besides the essential regular eye check-ups, at least once every year, it is also important to use the right eye shades to protect eyes from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays,” she says. Doctors cannot stress the importance of shielding one’s eyes from the sun enough, as over-exposure to UV rays can cause serious eye problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. They recommend that sunglasses or tinted lenses carry the UV400 mark. Pushpita also says those who work in a potentially hazardous environment must protect their eyes by wearing safety eyeglasses.
If you have already been diagnosed with less than optimal vision, wearing the right refractive correction glasses, as per the optometrist’s recommendation, is mandatory. Pushpita suggests taking frequent short breaks from digital devices, as well as doing some eye exercises as advised by your eye-care specialist.
She also emphasises the need for protection from ultraviolet rays for children. “Kids spend much more time outdoors than most adults do; sunglasses that block 100 per cent of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are extra important for children.
“In fact, because children spend significantly more time outdoors than most adults, some experts say that up to 30-50 per cent of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by the age 18,” she reveals.
She continues: “Children’s eyes are more susceptible to UV and High Energy Visible (HEV) radiation than adult eyes, because the lens inside a child’s eye is less capable of filtering these high-energy rays and thus more vulnerable. This is especially true for young children, so it’s wise for kids to start wearing protective sunglasses outdoors as early in life as possible.”