Eyesight plays the most important role among all senses in our day to day life, visual impairment hampers the ability to perform daily chores independently, most of the causes for visual impairment are avoidable, unfortunately, general public awareness about prevention and early detection is very low.
Today is world sight day, dedicated to global awareness, WHO theme for 2020 is ‘hope in sight’, it is being observed that 1 billion people around the world have a preventable visual impairment or one that has yet to be addressed. The majority of people with vision impairment or blindness is above the age of 50, the most common causative factors are cataract, refractive error, or glaucoma, these are uncontrollable, however; regular ophthalmologist consultation can identify reasons behind visual impairment at the appropriate time and prevent further deterioration before its too late and irreversible.
COVID pandemic has changed the entire world like never before, with the number of casualties and infections, it is understandable that most of the people aren’t ready to come out of the house unless its a life or livelihood threatening situation, however; one must understand that certain eye conditions need immediate attention to prevent permanent damage.
At first, pain or sudden vision loss is too startling and no individual ignores them, such patients usually seek immediate care and attention, this can happen in conditions like corneal infections, retinal detachment, however; some slowly developing conditions are easily ignored, a slow peripheral or side vision loss can be indicative of glaucoma, in glaucoma, pressure in the eye increases to more than normal scale resulting in permanent vision loss.
Diabetic patients need a regular examination of the eye, they are susceptible to retinopathy wherein eyesight is gradually lost because of bleeding into the eye cavity, this can only be detected through ophthalmic examination, long-standing diabetic patients are at high risk and must undergo regular check-ups.
Although; cataract surgeries are not an emergency; prolong delay causes increase in hardness of cataract and impair sight to an extent of disability, matured cataract makes surgery more complicated and yields suboptimal results with delayed recovery, moreover; the risk of extreme sight loss can increase accidental falls that could be determinential in elderly patients.
There is a condition called “ age-related macular degeneration” in this condition, elderly patients slowly lose sight at the center of the visual field, this condition is very common in smokers, a diet deficient in antioxidants and some hereditary factors, unfortunately, many times this condition is irreversible, however; early doctor consultation can help to prevent further deterioration.
Another important factor for avoidable blindness is delayed consultation in eye infections, fungal, bacterial, or viral infections cause corneal ulcerations, sometimes, it can happen with retained foreign body struck to the cornea, it is a very painful condition, a delayed presentation can cause permanent scarring of cornea that can be treated only through corneal transplantation.
The key to healthy eyes are a balanced diet, avoidance of smoking, regular checkups, and most importantly ‘no to self-medication’.
Dr.Bhanu Prakash.M is M.S. Fellow (Cornea), Faico (Refractive Surgery), FICO Senior Consultant, Cataract, Cornea and Refractive Surgeon at MaxiVision Super Specialty Eye Hospital, Hyderabad