We often don’t think about our eyes until something goes wrong. When you learn more about your eyes you see just how amazing they are. Here are ten facts about your eyes that you probably never knew, with tips on what you can do to minimize or seek treatment for common eye problems.
1. Your Eyes Can Get Sunburned (&Get Skin Cancer, Too)
You already know that you can get a sunburn any time of the year. Your eyes are just as susceptible as your skin, and people usually do not provide enough protection for them. Photokeratitis is the accumulation of too much ultraviolet exposure in your eyes. It can even make you temporarily blind.
You can easily avoid this problem by wearing sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays. If you do not wear sunglasses, you do run the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that most commonly occurs on lower eyelids. Start these preventative measures for kids; they tend to spend more time outside. Start them young wearing sunblock and sunglasses so it becomes a natural habit.
2. Your Tears Do More than Show Your Emotion
People sometimes make fun of others who seem to cry at the drop of a hat. However, if you lose your tears, you have a much bigger problem. The loss of tears is commonly called “chronic dry eyes” and has a wide variety of causes. Dry eye symptoms include:
• not enough tears
• dry, itchy eyes
• blurred vision
• red eyes
There are two different glands that control your tear production: the lacrimal glands and the meibomian glands. Problems with the lacrimal gland mean you will not have enough tears, while meibomian gland issues make your tears evaporate too quickly. A number of products are designed to relieve dry eye symptoms. However, those who need dry eye treatment need to seek help from a professional to identify any underlying conditions causing dry eyes.
3. The Process to Fix Cataracts Is Like Science Fiction
As people get older, the risk of developing cataracts is greater. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens focuses light into the retina to create vision. As such, if the lens becomes very cloudy, that vision starts to become blocked out. While age is the most common factor in the development of cataracts, having diabetes or a smoking habit increases that risk even more.
There are two common types of cataract surgery, and laser cataract surgery is one of them. During this procedure, your doctor cuts a tiny incision in your cornea, the dome-shaped tissue protecting the eye lens. Then the surgeon quickly and carefully removes the lens. The doctor may then place an intraocular lens into one or both eyes as needed to replace the lens and correct vision problems.
4. The Right Diet Can Improve Your Eyesight
There are many nutritional foods that help overall eye health. Eggs are a great start. They have plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin, which work like antioxidants to protect your eyes from all kinds of problems. Eggs also have zinc, which help the body produce melanin, giving you those fabulous baby browns and blues. Several other foods are great for eye health including leafy green vegetables, oily fish, and nuts.
5. Blindness Is a Broad Spectrum
If a person has generally good vision, it can be hard to imagine what it’s like to have severe vision impairment. Plenty of people are considered legally blind but can still read and go about their daily business. Average vision is labeled at 20/20. A person with 20/30 vision sees at 20 feet what others see at 30. While most people with mild vision problems have vision of 20/30-20/60, for some people, the classification goes up to 20/1,000 or even higher. Anyone whose vision cannot be corrected to at least 20/200 in his/her best eye is diagnosed as legally blind.
6. Your Good Vision Will Probably Not Last Forever
Once people get to their mid-40s, they often start to notice their visionis not what it used to be. For reasons scientists are just starting to understand, Baby Boomers are actually more likely than their still-living parents to have age-related vision problems, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD makes it more difficult to focus on things close-up. The incidents of age-related vision troubles are poised to double by 2030.
It’s important to resolve vision problems sooner rather than later. You can expect nearsightedness or farsightedness to become more pronounced in the next decade or two, so take advantage of services from a LASIK vision center or get Visian ICL to correct myopia.
7. Eye Color Can Be a Good Predictor of Your Overall Health
People like to speculate about what your eye color says about your personality. However, researchers are only starting to discover the relationship between eye color and overall health. People with light-colored eyes, such as grey, blue or green, run a higher risk of certain types of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.
Eyes can also change color over time, particularly as a result of a health concern like diabetes. While some people are born with each eye a different color – a condition called heterochromia – this can be a sign of a serious health problem such as pigmentary glaucoma. This condition causes the pigment of the iris to shed into nearby tissues, aggravating eye pressure.
8. Need Major Eye Surgery? There’s a Specialty for That
Beyond having LASIK eye surgery or a contact lens implant, there is a wide world of potential eye surgery types that people need at some point. People sustain serious injuries to their eyes and eye sockets every day.
Oculoplastic surgery is a specialty that provides treatment for the entire orbit of the eye, including, eyelids, eye socket, tear ducts and face.
These procedures are often cosmetic in nature, designed to reconstruct the face after injury or health problems cause damage to the eyes. For example, repairing eyelids is more than just a common cosmetic procedure. Heavy eyelids make it harder to see. Eyelids also turn in or out as people age, which is uncomfortable. Oculoplastic surgeons treat these and many other conditions.
9. Your Skin Can Regenerate Your Retina
Macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness worldwide, may eventually become a condition of the past.
For years, scientists have been using the stem cells of embryos to create retinal tissue for a retinal transplant. Using embryonic cells to heal people is loaded with controversy, however, and researchers have looked for alternatives. Late last year, doctors in Japan were able to grow retinal tissue for a patient using stem cells scraped from her arm. Those doctors used genetic manipulation to make the skin cells grow retinal tissue. They grew the new tissue in a petri dish and used it to replace the patient’s retina. Researchers claim that this treatment for AMD could become mainstream as soon as 2020.
10. There’s No Such Thing as an Eyeball Transplant
People designate themselves as organ donors and that includes the eyes. But organ donation recipients do not receive an entire eyeball, but usually the cornea.
Doctors use the eyes of willing donors to help others. Those with serious vision loss can receive corneal tissue from a donor. Most people who need corneal transplant surgery have a damaged or diseased cornea, which causes them pain or vision loss. Despite minor risks, there are many benefits to corneal transplant, including:
• restored vision
• resolution of glaucoma
• elimination of astigmatism and other eye conditions
Complications are minor and rare, and most corneal transplants are successful in healing the patient’s eye concerns.
It’s hard to think people lose the ability to see a beautiful sunset of the face of a loved one. Routine work done every day to prevent age-related vision loss, minimize dry eye symptoms, and to overall protect eyes from environmental elements has a lasting impact.
You only get one set of eyes. Take the time to protect them now, while you can.
For more information about general eye health, LASIK eye surgery, or Visian ICL, reach out to one of our eye care specialists at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center.