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Save your eyesight with these tests

Save your eyesight with these tests

Friday 11 October 2013

Our eyes are one of our most vital organs and shouldn’t be neglected. The theme for this year’s World Sight Day is ‘Get your eyes tested’. Dr Prakash Nayak, a renowned ophthalmologist tells us why it’s vital to get regular eye check-ups:

Routine eye exams are important regardless of your age or physical health. Most people live under the impression that an eye check-up should be done only when you need a prescription for glasses or lenses. A regular eye check-up is vital to see if you are suffering from any common eye diseases, whether your eyes are coordinating together properly and also to evaluate your overall eye health. Adults should get regular check-ups to keep their prescriptions updated and to check for early signs of eye disease. For people suffering from diabetes or hypertension, it’s even more important because both these ailments can affect your eyes.

Children too should get regular check-ups to ensure normal vision development, since their academic work is greatly affected by their eyesight. Children with undetected vision problems often will have trouble with their schoolwork. Many times, you do not see them complaining of vision problems simply because they don’t know what ‘normal’ vision looks like.

When should you get an eye check-up?

Your first eye check-up should be done when the child starts going to school and then once a year if any refractive error is detected. If the child doesn’t have a refractive error, he/she should be tested every three years till the age of 20. From the age of 20 till 40 you should have them every two years. Here are some common types of ailments that your eye doc will check:

Refractive errors

The most common refractive error that people suffer from is myopia or nearsightedness. People suffering from this ailment are unable to see clearly after a distance. Another common refractive error which older people suffer from is hypermetropia where you can see clearly in the distance but things up close appear blurry.

Two other common refractive issues are presbyopia which afflicts one in three adults over 40 who have trouble reading small print or focussing up close and astigmatism – a condition that causes blurred vision because of the shape of the cornea resulting in distorted images. (Read: 10 tips to chose the right glasses for your eyes)

Another common eye problem people suffer from is squints. These are the different kinds:

• Esotropia – one or both eyes turn inward toward the nose

• Exotropia – one or both eyes turn out; also called wall-eyed

• Hypertropia – one or both eyes turn up

• Hypotropia – one or both eyes turn down

If detected early in life, a squint can be treated and even reversed. If left untreated, it can cause amblyopia. Amblyopia is a result of the brain and the eyes not working together. The brain ignores visual information from one eye, which causes problems with vision development. In the long run, it can cause vision loss by damaging the optic nerve. People don’t usually notice a problem until some vision is lost.

Age-related eye conditions


A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. It often leads to poor vision at night, especially while driving, due to glare from bright lights. Cataracts are most common in older people, but can occur in children and adults as well. A check- up once a year above 50 years is the best solution. Diabetic retinopathy (DR)

Common among diabetics, this ailment is caused by damage to blood vessels it the back of the eye. People may not notice this until the damage to the eyes is severe. There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy. During the first three stages of DR, treatment is usually not needed. To prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy, people with diabetes should control their levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol. For the fourth stage of DR, called proliferative retinopathy, there are treatments that reduce vision loss, but are not a cure for DR. Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy includes blurred vision, gradual vision loss, floaters, shadows or missing areas of vision, and difficulty seeing at night.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision needed to see straight ahead. It affects the part of the eye macula that is found in the centre of the retina. It is of two types—dry and wet. The dry form is more common and leads to gradual progressive loss of vision over few months to few years. The wet form, though rarer, is more aggressive and leads to sudden loss of vision due to a sub-retinal bleeding. You should get an annual check-up after the age of 50 to rule out the condition and have periodic check-ups if the condition is detected.

According to the WHO, 80% cases of low vision or blindness can be avoided by proper eye check-ups. Be vigilant and keep your eyes safe.




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