The saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” is true when it comes to ocular manifestations of health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol and stroke, just to name a few. These eye health conditions can be detected by having the pupils dilated with drops during a regular eye exam.
Our eyes are complex organs, an extension of our brain. They first develop in the womb like other organs of our body, but our vision continues to develop after birth. When babies are born their eyes are closed. As they open their eyes, visual input from their environment stimulates further development of their vision. Childhood eye disorders, such as strabismus (eye turns) and congenital cataracts, can impede visual development by reducing or preventing visual input, causing amblyopia (lazy eye). Therefore, regular eye exams are important starting at a young age to ensure proper visual development.
Adults need good and comfortable vision to perform various tasks such as working on computers, driving, reading and sports. Visual problems in these areas can indicate the need for glasses or contact lenses with specialty prescriptions, dry eye or allergy issues that need to be addressed, or refractive surgery such as LASIK as an option.
Good vision does not indicate the absence of eye health problems. Glaucoma, for example, is an eye disease that does not seem to affect vision in the early stages, but it can cause peripheral vision loss as it progresses. This loss is irreversible, so early detection and treatment are important.
Mature adults need good vision to enjoy their retirement years and to continue caring for themselves. The onset of cataracts and macular degeneration can eventually make simple daily tasks such as driving, reading and cooking difficult. A cataract is the clouding of the crystalline lens in the eye. The cataract can be removed and replaced with an artificial lens to restore good vision. Macular degeneration is an age-related degradation of the central vision. Treatments are available depending on the type and degree of degeneration, and nutritional supplements can help maintain macular health. High-powered magnifiers, telescopes and CCTVs can be prescribed to enhance vision and rehabilitation is necessary for patients to effectively use these devices.
Many patients have expressed to me that losing their sight is probably one of the worst things that could happen. Early detection and treatment usually can prevent blindness, although there are some eye diseases that have no treatment at this time. Eye research is advancing in the area of nerve regeneration that could in the future help certain patients who might otherwise lose their sight.
Dr Fanny Chan, OD, is the owner of 20/20 Vision. She has been in private practice in northern Nevada for 15 years and is certified in the treatment and management of ocular diseases. Her practice includes both pediatric and geriatric patients as well as the general population. For more information, visit www.2020vision.biz.