The human’s body consists of five different sensory organs. One of the five is the eyes — the sensory organ that allow us to perceive images from our surrounding. Just like the other sensory organs, the eyes are an important part of us.
A sense that we value the most
When the eyes see a light, the clear layer behind the eyes, known as the cornea helps focus the light. Once the light pierces through the different layers of the eyes, it enters the centre of the eyeball to the retina. When it reaches the retina, the light will be converted into neural signals sent to the brain for visual recognition.
However, over time, our optical performance may decrease. This can lead to complications in the future. A recent webinar (web seminar) was organised by Vista Eye Specialist to shed some light and send awareness regarding eye care.
Among the invited panellist were senior consultant ophthalmologist, cataract & refractive surgeon Dr Alan Koh Kok Khiang, and consultant ophthalmologist, cataract & refractive surgeons Dr Anson Teh Yeong Han and Dr Vienne Tai Pih Yih.
Starting the webinar, Dr Vienne talked about ‘Digital Eye Strain’ — how our eyes react to prolonged screen time and the negative effects.
According to her, with more than two hours of screen time everyday, individuals may suffer from effects such as eye strain, headache, low vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain. Other symptoms also include a burning sensation, and tearing — the two symptoms of dry eye.
Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance and tear film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface.
Apart from digital eye strain, other causes of dry eye are ageing, dry environment, usage of contact lens, post LASIK, lacking omega-3, medical condition, inflammation of the lid margin and consumption effects of certain medications. Dry eye is also more common to the female population.
When a person has dry eye, he or she will suffer the following symptoms: gritty, burning sensation, stinging, irritation, redness, tired eye, intermittent blurry visions, sensitivity to light, itchy and watery eyes.
According to Dr Vienne, to avoid dry eye, we need to practise the 20 20 20 rule. “After 20 minutes of reading, or screen time, stop for 20 seconds and look at an object 20-feet away to relax our eyes.”
Apart from that, the ophthalmologist also advise individuals to blink more often if they spend a lot of time on the computer, adjusting the screen brightness, encouraging the usage of artificial tears, clean the eyelids and to do a warm compression on the eyes. “However, if none of these helps, please seek your doctor’s consultation,” she said during the webinar.
As an experienced ophthalmologist, Dr Vienne said that the three main ways to control dry eye are “Environment, dietary and medication adjustments.”
Elaborating, she said that in terms of environment, a person with dry eye can avoid dry environment and reduce screen time. In terms of dietary, one should increase water intake and Omega-3 intake. “Meanwhile, patients can consult their physician on certain medications that may cause dry eye.”
Another eye disease that is harmful is cataract. According to Dr Alan, cataract is the number one cause of blindness in Malaysia and the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40. Cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. Cataract often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. It is most commonly due to ageing but can also cause or progress rapidly due to external factors such as medical condition, medication, accident, congenital or other eye diseases.
The symptoms of cataract are sensitivity to strong light, blurred vision, double vision, colours becoming dull, frequent change in eyesight prescription, poor night vision and glare/halo.
Dr Alan added that the most effective way to deal with cataract is through a 10 to 15 minutes surgery under local anaesthetics. He also stresses that the risk of delaying surgery could lead to blindness, increased risk of surgery complications, risk of road accident, loss of independence and self-esteem, glaucoma and other eye diseases, and also depression.
“Surgery is needed especially when the patient suffers from the inability to see properly — interrupting and affecting his/her daily activities — gradually increasing blurry vision and the frequent change of glasses due to power increase,” said Dr Alan.
As an ophthalmologist with years of experience, Dr Anson urges individuals to consult an eye specialist urgently if they have sudden and persistent visual loss or change, severe eye pain, eye trauma and injuries. “If there are any uncertainties, make an early appointment to see an eye doctor rather than wait.”
He concluded, “Every common eye symptom can be related to wide-ranging causes, from mild to severe disease. It is important that we tend to the symptoms as quickly as possible. Seeing is a sense we value the most.”