Eye health generally deteriorates with age but the ages at which people are suffering from many eye conditions are decreasing.
There are many factors that can cause damage to the eyes and lead to eye conditions such as myopia and cataracts. As such taking action to prevent, diagnose, and treat eye conditions helps prevent the eyes from aging prematurely and ensure their continued good health.
Here are 3 common eye conditions and what causes these conditions.
The lens of the eye mostly consists of water and protein. The protein is arranged such that the lens is kept clear to let light pass through. With age, some protein may clump, clouding part of the lens and forming a ‘Cataract’, which may get larger over time. The lens thus loses its transparency, causing vision to be blurred.
Cataracts may also refer to a discoloration of the lens, usually to a yellowish or brownish color that causes vision to be tinted. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes, but they cannot spread from one eye to the other. They are the main cause of impaired vision worldwide. Women are more likely to suffer from cataracts.
In addition to dietary factors, old age (especially for those age above 50), a family history of cataracts, long-term corticosteroid. usage, smoking, Myopia, eye injuries, overexposure to sunlight, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity increase cataract risk.
The lens of the eye bends (refracts) light to reach the back surface (retina) of the eye. Myopia can be caused by excessive refraction by the lens, or longer axial length. This refraction causes distant objects to appear blurry while nearby objects are clear, pretty much like the bokeh effect effects that you see in photos.
The more severe the Myopia, the shorter the distance at which things can be seen clearly. Besides affecting sight, Myopia may lead to complications such as retinal detachment, eye floaters, glaucoma, cataracts, blindness, and other eye problems.
Heredity is a major risk factor for Myopia. Pathologic Myopia, for example, is largely inherited and progresses regardless of environmental factors. Research has shown that children with two myopic parents were 6.42 times as likely to become myopic as children with one or no myopic parents!
The modern lifestyle, which includes unhealthy habits such as spending long hours watching television or using a computer or smartphone, is also a major contributor to the rapid increase of people suffering from Myopia.
Myopia has reached epidemic proportions in Asia where in East Asian locations such as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, 80% – 90% of school-leavers are myopic. Of that myopic population, 10% – 20% of these Myopia sufferers have severe Myopia.
It is possible for people of all ages to develop Myopia. However, children are especially susceptible because their eyes are in the developing stages and are vulnerable to abnormalities in eye growth.
While most cases of Myopia are permanent, some Myopia is temporary. Pseudomyopia is Myopia that occurs after long periods of near work such as watching television, reading, and using the computer. Nocturnal Myopia occurs in low light. Induced Myopia occurs due to medication.
Research has also shown that a shortage of time spent outdoors is associated with a higher risk of Myopia. Thus, in addition to heredity, environmental factors also contribute to Myopia risk.
Around 75% of people who use computers at work have Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) may be caused by improper viewing distances, poor sitting postures, and glare from computer screens. Common symptoms include fatigued eye muscles and aching in parts of the body such as the neck.
Because the eyes and head share some sensory nerves, Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) can also include headaches. Other symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) include fatigue, blurred vision, red eyes, eyestrain, dry eyes, stinging eyes, and double vision.
Some eye conditions arise due to problems with other organs, such as the heart and liver or they may be symptoms of other diseases.
According to Chinese medical theory, a healthy liver helps to ensure healthy sight. An unhealthy liver lowers the body’s ability to clear toxins. When toxin levels in the blood rise, free radicals attack and damage the macular region and healthy tissues in the retina.
This leads to acquired night blindness, cataracts, and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The WHO ranks Age-related Macular Degeneration as the third major cause of blindness worldwide and the number one cause oF blindness in industrialized countries.
Sight is closely related to heart health. For example, enlarged capillaries in the eyes are a warning sign of death from heart disease. Those suffering from retinal diseases may have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to the average person. High blood pressure and heart disease can cause optic nerve stroke and AMD. Complications related to diseases like diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy, can lead to retinal damage and impaired vision.