By Dr. Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
A lot of people take their eyes for granted. Perhaps if we list down all the beautiful things we will miss if we lose our eyesight then we can appreciate our eyes better. Think about the sunset, the trees, your spouse and kid’s faces, the beach, and reading your favorite newspaper.
Let’s learn about some common problems with the eyes and how we can overcome them:
Twitching of the eyelids.
This is a common and harmless condition. Some people are afraid that this might lead to a stroke but there’s no need to worry really. It’s due to fatigue. Just rest your eyes and stop working. Sleep it off and it’ll be gone in the morning.
Blurred vision in the morning.
During a long night’s sleep, sometimes we do not fully close our eyes. This results in dehydration of the cornea (the hard front part of the eye). To remedy this, just blink your eyes several times to stimulate tear formation. With blinking, a tear film forms that is equally distributed throughout the eye. Your vision will return soon once the tears rehydrate your cornea.
Fleshy protrusion grows near the colored part of the eyes.
This is called a pterygium and it often occurs in people exposed to dust, smoke, and other fumes. What happens is that the cornea gets irritated and a fleshy part grows out. It’s really not harmful as long as it does not impinge on your vision. However, if the pterygium becomes larger, it can be surgically removed. To prevent getting this, avoid dust and pollution from vehicles.
Sore eyes (also known as pink eye).
This is a condition wherein one or both eyes become reddish. Medically, it’s called acute conjunctivitis, which may be caused by an inflammation of the eyeball or due to a bacterial infection. Sore eyes (the bacterial type) is characterized by redness, itchiness, presence of eye dirt and a feeling of “sand” in the eyes. Sore eyes is contagious and can easily be passed on to other persons. Treatment is with an antibacterial eye solution.
However, there is a supportive home remedy using salt, water and cotton balls. Mix distilled water with a pinch of salt. Place the cotton balls in the solution. Close your eyes and place the salted cotton balls on top of the infected eye. Remain in this position for about five minutes. Allow the salted water to slowly penetrate through the eyelids of your eyes. This will hurt a bit but some experts say that this can speed up the healing process.
Floating debris seen when looking at a bright area.
These are called floaters and can be an alarming experience the first time it happens. You might see little dots and other floating objects. These are actually little specks that float inside the gelatinous fluid inside your eyes. Don’t worry because floaters are usually harmless and may be due to some form of previous trauma, or just part of the aging process. Just a precaution: If these floaters increase in sizes and frequency, you should see an eye doctor.
After 40 years old, you develop blurred vision when looking at near objects.
This is called presbyopia, which is due to the difficulty of our eye lens in focusing at near objects. As we get older, our eye muscles are not as strong as before and can’t focus on closer objects. Visit your optometrist and try some reading glasses.
Eyebags in the morning.
For this common beauty problem, here are some remedies that may help. Wash your face with cool water in the morning. You may try using ice to reduce swelling. Alternatively, soak cotton balls in ice water or use cold slices of cucumber and place them over the eyes for 15 mintues.
Dry eyes for older people.
This is a common problem in the elderly because of reduced production of tears. Older people need to apply artificial tears several times a day to lubricate their eyes. A product like Tears Naturale can be costly in the long-term. For those with budget constraints, you can mix your own artificial tears. Take an ounce of clean distilled water. Place a tinge of salt and mix it well. Place in a clean bottle with a dropper. It’s not an ideal solution, but it may help.
When your car’s windshield gets wet with rain, you can’t quite see through it. In a similar way, when the lens of your eye gets cloudy, this is what happens with a cataract. Factors that can give rise to cataracts include exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke and diabetes (high blood sugar). The cloudiness of the cataracts usually gets worse with time to the point that you might become blind. However, the good news is that the eye lens can be surgically removed and replaced with a new one. It’s called a cataract operation. Don’t believe claims of certain eye drops that can cure cataracts. There’s no such thing yet.
With glaucoma, the drainage of the eye gets clogged up and the pressure inside the eyeball increases. This can lead to headaches, vision problems and may cause blindness. We are still unsure why glaucoma occurs, however, many experts believe that smoking, high blood pressure and genetic factors play a role. Treatment is with a combination of eye drops, laser and occasionally surgery. One study shows that 30 minutes of exercise can lower your eye pressure by 20%. Deep slow breathing can also increase the drainage in the eye and help lessen glaucoma. Consult your eye specialist.
By now, you’ve probably learned that the eye is like any organ connected to your body. Your lifestyle habits play a major role in your eye’s health. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Stay away from too much meat, fat and salty foods. Treat your other medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Simply put, take care of your health and you take care of your eyes, as well.