One of the greatest gifts we as human beings receive in our lifetimes, is the gift of sight.
The human eye itself is a miracle of nature. The precise manor in which it processes information is intriguing. Light from an object enters the eye through the pupil. The iris then adjusts the size of the pupil according to how bright the light is. The lens then focuses the light onto the back of the eye, namely the retina. The photoreceptors (light sensitive neurons) then change the light signals into electrical ones.
With all of these working parts, it is vitally important to take careful care of your peepers. As with anything consisting of many working parts, many potential problems may arise. Many of which can be diagnosed, treated or even prevented by visiting the correct eye care specialist at the correct time.
So who are these vision professionals?
An optometrist is an eye doctor who studies eyes for both vision and health problems. Their job is to prescribe glasses and contact lenses in order to correct refractive errors. Their qualifications include the Doctor of Optometry (DO) Degree.
An ophthalmologist specialises in eye and vision care. He/she is a medical doctor (MD) or an osteopathic doctor (DO) whose duties include performing eye exams, diagnosing and treating eye diseases, prescribing medications and performing eye surgeries. Writing prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses also fall under their jurisdiction.
Opticians are a key part of an eye care team, despite not being an eye doctor themselves. Prescriptions written by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist are used by opticians to fit and sell contact lenses, eyeglasses and other eyewear for customers.
Now that you understand who is out there to help you with any eye problems you may have, let’s take a look at a handful of common problems and conditions which exist.
This condition is often only identified later on in life. It is the gradual process of losing one’s ability to clearly see objects that are close or small print. Presbyopia is often corrected with reading glasses or bifocals. The sooner the condition is treated, the sooner strain is lifted off the eyes.
In a healthy eye, the lens is clear, thereby allowing light to pass through it to the retina at the back of the eye where the images are processed. When someone suffers from cataracts, cloudy areas develop on the lens, obstructing this process. This leads to vision impairment. Unless left undiagnosed for far too long, cataracts can usually be effectively treated with lens replacement surgery.
When the water like fluid in an eye cannot drain properly, an excess of fluid pressure inside of the eye occurs. This may not sound like much, however if not treated promptly, this can lead to permanent vision loss and in some cases, blindness. Major eye infections, inflammatory disorders, blood vessel blockages and certain eye injuries are lesser causes of glaucoma. Oral medications, prescription eye drops and surgery are the most common treatments. Due to a lack of early warning signs, having regular eye tests is the most effective way to ensure you don’t contract this condition.
The retina is located at the back of the eye. It is a thin lining of cells which gather visual images and pass them directly to the brain. When one suffers from these disorders, an interruption in the transfer of images occurs. These disorders include retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. If one is to maintain their vision, early diagnosis and treatment of these conditions is essential.
There is a transparent membrane which covers the eyeball and inner eyelid called the conjunctiva. Inflammation of this membrane can occur for various reasons including allergies, infection and chemical exposure and may cause your eye to discharge, itch, burn, tear up, redden or feel like there is a foreign object in it. When treated in a timely fashion, conjunctivitis usually clears up over a few days and will not cause any permanent damage to your vision.
There are scores of eye conditions over and above the few mentioned. Many of them are far worse in nature and can cause severe pain, vision impairment and even blindness. The benefits of visiting an eye care specialist are painfully obvious. Is it really worth risking the loss of one our greatest gifts through neglect? Be smart. Look after your eyes.