Between working from home and the digitisation of the work force, we’ve been seeing (pun intended) a lot of our device screens- a large majority of work gets done sitting in front of a screen for 8 hours (or more) at a stretch and lot of in-work communication is handled via smart phones. Small wonder, then, that our eyes get tired! Held in conjunction with World Sight Day 2021, the latest Work Different session focused on 2 things- types of common eye problems, and some simple remedies, with Dr. Inthirani Kumar.
Common Eye Problems
Taking into consideration the theme of this year’s World Sight Day “Love Your Eyes”, Dr Inthirani spoke on some common eye conditions experienced by the general public and how to gauge their severity. This began with a brief anatomy lesson on the eye, following which she explained that eye issues could affect anyone, at any age, at any time and were seen almost daily in primary care.
Eye problems can be categorised by the affected areas, namely:
- Potential issues affecting the eyelids include;
- blepharitis (crusting at the base of the eyelid),
- pterygium (abnormal growth over the cornea),
- Styes; or
- drooping of the eyelids.
Symptoms of these issues can include: pain, itching, tearing and sensitivity to light. More severe symptoms include drooping eyelids, blinking spasms, or inflamed outer lid edges near the lashes. These issues can be treated with proper cleaning (with a sterile saline solution), medication or (in extreme cases) surgery.
Potential issues affecting the eyeball directly can include:
- Red eyes, caused by inflamed vessels on the surface of the eye and can often be mistaken for conjunctivitis.
- Conjunctivitis (categorised into infective conjunctivitis allergic conjunctivitis, contact lens conjunctivitis and sub conjunctivital haemorrhage), caused by infection or exposure to chemicals and irritants)
- Dry Eyes, which occur when the tear glands are unable to make enough tears or produces poor quality tears.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis can include excessive eye discharge, which in turn causes redness, itching, burning, tearing, as well as the sensation of there being something in the eyes. Dry eyes can be identified by an itching/ burning sensation in the eyes and (rarely) loss of vision. Another contributor to this includes foreign bodies, I.e. objects such as an eyelash, dried eye mucus, or sand, dust or grit which slips or gets blown into the eye. The main symptoms include irritation of the eye, pain and tearing. More severe symptoms include sudden blurring of vision/ vision loss, blood layering, flashes of light or the sudden onset of floaters (small spots or flecks which float across the field of vision). (Note: the last symptom could signify retinal detachment which requires immediate attention.)
- Eye Lens
Potential issues which can affect the eye lens include:
- Cataracts, which are cloudy areas that develop within the lens.
- Glaucoma; increased pressure on the eye, which damages the optic nerves and limits the field of vision.
Symptoms of cataracts include reduced or blurry vision, or dispersed light (normally when driving). Glaucoma symptoms can include very red eyes, accompanied by cloudy cornea and enlarged pupil. One can also suffer from pain and intermittent vomiting. In both cases, the best remedy is to visit an eye clinic as soon as possible, and( in the case of cataracts), an operation is the only remedy.
Potential issues affecting the retina include:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal detachment
Age related macular degeneration is usually caused by old age, while diabetic retinopathy can be identified by gradual blurring of vision, with occasional bright lights and an increase in floaters (caused by bleeding in the retina)
This (VERY) informative session was wrapped up with Dr. Inthirani answering questions from the audience. With these tips and bits of knowledge, we’ll hopefully manage to give our eyes the care and treatment they deserve!