How to Care for Your Eyes


William Blake described the eyes as the "windows of the soul." Practically speaking, our eyes are the windows through which we view the world around us. Either way, there's no question that we place great value on our eyes and our vision. Surveys have shown that of the five senses, sight is the one that people fear losing the most.

Given the important function our eyes perform for us, it would seem to follow that we'd give them the best care possible, but sometimes we get too busy or we forget to do a few simple things that can keep our eyes healthy. Well, in this article, we will give you all the eye care tips you need over the course of the following sections:

  • Protecting Your Eyes The first part of taking care of your eyes is to make sure they do not get injured in the first place. First, we will show you how proper nutrition will keep your eyes strong and healthy. Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you that carrots would improve your eyesight? Well, she might be right. Next, we tell you how to prevent eye injuries whether you're playing sports or doing household chores. We will also tell you when to wear safety glasses and what kinds will work best for you.
  • Preventing Eye Problems Your daily habits could be seriously injuring your eyes. Without you knowing or feeling it, your eyes could be slowly deteriorating from abuse. First, we will tell you about ultraviolet light, the damage it can cause, and why you need the UV protection from your sunglasses. We will also tell you about eyestrain and whether or not it's true that sitting too close to the TV will harm your eyesight. We will also give you special eye care tips for diabetics and tell you why you should be diligent about your eye doctor appointments.
  • Congenital Eye Disorders In a certain sense, some people are just born with defective eyes. Like other congenital disorders, there are many eye problems that are encoded into the individual's genetics. There disorders can include fairly simple problems like near sightedness or far sightedness, or they can be debilitating problems like glaucoma. In this section, we will tell you the symptoms of these disorders and the available treatments. We will also let you know what over-the-counter help you can get for failing vision.
  • Temporary Eye Conditions Even with the best care, eye problems will eventually crop up. Whether it is just a pesky infection, or blurriness caused by overuse, there are many temporary eye conditions that can be quite frightening. In this section, we will cover all the major eye problems like pinkeye, dry eyes, red eyes, and sties. We will also let you know about the danger of babies and pinkeye and give a guide for how and when to buy eyedrops.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Protecting Your Eyes

To keep our eyes working at their best, we need to give them a little attention -- and avoid hazards and careless acts that can do our eyes harm. First, let's learn how nutrition can help fortify your eyes.

Nutrition

Vitamin A -- For generations, mothers have told their children to eat their carrots to see better at night. Well, maybe so, maybe not. Actually, this bit of folk wisdom is a slightly distorted version of a known scientific fact. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, and one of the early symptoms of a deficiency of this nutrient is night blindness. That's not the same, however, as saying that eating carrots will make normal night vision even better.

But there's no refuting that vitamin A is essential to healthy eyes and normal eyesight. Chronic, severe vitamin A deficiency causes a condition called xerophthalmia, or drying of the eye. It affects the cornea, the transparent covering that allows light to enter the eye. In xerophthalmia, the normally clear and glistening cornea becomes extremely dry. If left untreated, this condition can lead to blindness. Xerophthalmia afflicts some 3 million children each year in developing countries. Up to 250,000 of them end up permanently blind -- a tragedy that could be prevented by an adequate diet or supplementation with vitamin A.

Antioxidants -- Antioxidants are much in the news these days because of evidence that they may prevent some of the biological deterioration that comes with aging. Researchers believe antioxidants benefit the body by preventing cell damage caused by oxidation. (Oxidation is a natural process that occurs as part of normal cell functioning. The process is similar to the browning effect that happens to cut fruit left exposed to air too long.)

Besides reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, antioxidants -- along with zinc -- may help protect against macular degeneration, a serious eye disease associated with aging. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) by the National Institutes of Health found that high levels of antioxidant vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E significantly reduced the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in those already at high risk for advanced disease. However, the study did not produce evidence that antioxidants are protective against the development of cataracts.

Minerals -- In addition to antioxidants, certain minerals are also thought to be connected to eye health. Zinc, for example, has been shown to help reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that taking high levels of zinc, along with high levels of antioxidant vitamins, reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25 percent.

Avoiding Dangers and Accidents

Eye injuries can happen most anywhere. Experts say that 90 percent of eye injuries could be prevented. What it takes is a little extra vigilance in situations that make your eyes vulnerable. Here are a few of them:

At play -- Whether it's an errant fishing line, a bouncing ball, a recoiling bungee cord, or flying campfire sparks, recreational settings present serious eye-injury risks. The best way to play it safe is to be alert. Pay keen attention to what you're doing and what's going on around you.

Sports-related eye injuries number at least 200,000 a year, with baseball, basketball, tennis, squash, and hockey players being the most susceptible. When you're on the field, court, or rink, wear protective glasses that protect you from the front and all sides. Glasses made of polycarbonate or another sturdy plastic are best.

In the home workshop -- Flying wood chips, ricocheting nails, splashing paint thinner -- these are but a few of the dangers posed by do-it-yourself jobs at home. Wearing protective eyewear may seem like a hassle, but it also might save your sight. Here is some of the gear to choose from:

  • Safety glasses. These cost only a few dollars and offer protection when you're hammering or using hand tools or slow-moving electric tools. Look for a logo that indicates the glasses have passed safety tests. Those made from polycarbonate will be the most impact resistant. Be sure the glasses have side shields, too, to deflect objects coming at you from the sides. If you need to wear prescription eyeglasses, you can also get prescription safety glasses.  
  • Safety goggles. These protect you from debris flying at you from all directions. Thus, goggles give you the most all-around protection when you're working with tools, chemicals, and so on.
  • Full-face shields. These are a good idea when you're using a lathe or router, for instance. If you're welding, be sure the shield has special shading to protect your eyes from the bright light. Because a shield doesn't protect against heavy impact or from objects that might fly up or around the shield, you should always use safety glasses or goggles under the shield.

Yardwork -- Many people have discovered the hard way that even a simple chore such as mowing the lawn can lead to eye injury. Thousands of eye wounds result from stones or twigs being spit out by lawn mowers. So it's a good idea to wear goggles to ward off flying debris. The same holds when you're trimming hedges; branches can snap back and hit you in the eye. And when you're using a chain saw, both a face shield and safety goggles are essential.

Other home or fix-it chores -- Lots of other home-related jobs merit wearing eye protection, too. For instance, goggles can protect your eyes from falling grit when you're working under your car, from splashing chemicals when you're cleaning, or from dripping paint when you're painting a ceiling.

Blunt trauma isn't the only way to damage your eyes. There could be small, seemingly harmless, things you do each day that could result in serious eye problems. For some tips on preventing eye injuries, move on to the next section.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Preventing Eye Problems

Regular eye checkups can help prevent a serious problem.
Regular eye checkups can help prevent a serious problem.

While your eyes are amazingly intricate and resilient, there is only so much abuse they can take. Over the course of many years, simple day-to-day actions can damage your eyes. Here are some dangers to avoid.

Ultraviolet Exposure

Sunglasses are much more than "cool shades." They're protective barriers that cut down exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, a portion of the sun's rays that can cause such eye diseases as cataracts and macular degeneration.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you protect your eyes whenever you're in the sun long enough to get a suntan or sunburn. Wearing a brimmed hat cuts sunlight exposure to your eyes by about half. Sunglasses will further boost your protection. The sun's rays can also reflect off of water, sand, and snow, so it's advisable to wear sunglasses in addition to a wide-brimmed hat in these environments.

You can get good UV blocking even with inexpensive sunglasses. Recommendations are that no more than 30 percent of sunlight should reach your eyes. In bright conditions, such as on sunlit ski slopes or the beach, it might be better to wear sunglasses with a transmission factor of only 10 percent.

Keep in mind, too, that dark glasses with no UV blocking give you no protection whatsoever. In fact, they boost your risk of eye damage because they dilate your pupils. That lets more light in without blocking the harmful UV rays.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when you're buying sunglasses:

  • Lens color has no bearing on level of UV protection.
  • Polarized lenses are not necessary for UV protection, but they do cut glare from reflective surfaces.
  • Sunglasses that are darker on top and gradually clearing toward the bottom don't shield your eyes well enough when you're out in the open sunlight, such as on the beach or ski slope. They're fine, however, when you're driving in a car.
  • Test nonprescription sunglasses for distortion by holding them a few inches in front of your eyes. Look through the glasses to focus on some rectangular shape, such as a window frame. Move the glasses slowly from side to side, then up and down. If straight lines look squiggly, the lenses are poor quality.
  • Be sure the sunglasses feel comfortable; otherwise you won't want to wear them for long periods of time.
  • Be sure the sunglasses are labeled as providing protection from ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) radiation.
  • Remember that price is not a good indicator of sunglasses' protective quality. Some very expensive designer sunglasses do not provide very good protection.

Eyestrain

Eyestrain, such as from reading or sewing, doesn't really injure the eyes, but it makes them tired. To be exact, it isn't really even the eyes that get tired or strained but the muscles around the eyes.

The best cure for eyestrain is to give your eye muscles a rest. Take a break from what you're doing. Close your eyes and give them nothing to look at for a while, or stare off into the distance for a moment. Also, having sufficient light to read or work by helps prevent eyestrain in the first place. An adjustable gooseneck lamp lets you concentrate light where you most need it and not where it will irritate your eyes. Remember, the finer the task, the more light required.

Although eyestrain doesn't harm your eyes, it can cause discomfort, such as watery or dry eyes, difficulty focusing, fatigue, and perhaps an accompanying headache. Also, although eyestrain itself isn't serious, it can be one symptom of serious conditions, such as glaucoma. If you're bothered by long-lasting, frequently recurring eyestrain, you should see an eye-care professional.

Diabetic Eye Care

People with diabetes need to be particularly concerned with protecting their eyes. The complications of diabetes pose several serious threats to the eyes. The major eye-disease risk for people with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, in which abnormal blood vessels grow across the retina, damaging and sometimes permanently destroying vision. Diabetic retinopathy afflicts about one-third of people with diabetes, typically after they've had diabetes for at least a decade. About 5 percent of people with diabetes end up losing their sight because of retinopathy. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in people younger than 60 years old in the United States and Canada.

Diet, medication, and exercise are key to controlling diabetes and reducing the risks of retinopathy. High blood pressure increases the chances of developing retinopathy. Keeping close control of blood sugar levels is known to decrease a person's risk of progressive retinopathy. Anyone with diabetes who's at risk should be screened at least yearly for this eye disease, even if there are no vision symptoms. If caught early, advancement of retinopathy can sometimes be halted by laser treatments. Those recently diagnosed with Type II diabetes should have an eye exam soon after the diagnosis is made. It's common to have diabetes for some time before being diagnosed, and eye damage may already have occurred.

Regular Checkups

True to human nature, most of us wait until our eyes are bothering us before we get a checkup. The problem with that approach is that we could have an eye disease without knowing it. By the time we get to an eye-care specialist, we might have lost some valuable time for treatment -- and some vision capability. Catching an eye problem early boosts the chance of successfully treating it.

So your best bet is to get a checkup every two to four years between the ages of 40 and 65 and every one or two years after age 65. If you have diabetes or a family history of conditions such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, get a checkup once a year. Blacks and people with severe shortsightedness are also at increased risk of glaucoma and should consider regular screenings.

What sort of eye specialist should you visit? Both ophthalmologists and optometrists are trained to evaluate eye problems. In most places, only ophthalmologists -- who are medical doctors -- can prescribe medications to treat eye diseases. And they are the only ones who can do eye surgery. A third kind of eye specialist, an optician, is trained only to make and fit prescription eyewear.

If you are concerned that you may have a serious eye defect, we list and explain some of the serious eye disorders on the next page.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Congenital Eye Disorders

Astigmatism is caused by a defect in the curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye.
Astigmatism is caused by a defect in the curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye.
2006 Publications International, Ltd.

Unfortunately, there are some eye disorders that people are born with, and there is no amount of prevention that will prevent the symptoms. Here are a few of the major ones:

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a type of distorted vision caused by a defect in the curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye. Most people with astigmatism can see clearly those objects directly in front of them, but their peripheral vision -- perhaps above and below, or to the right and left sides, or diagonally -- is defective.

Usually, prescription eyewear corrects the problem. Most people with astigmatism were born with the tendency, but it can also be caused by eye disease or injury. The latter type is more difficult to correct. Regardless of the cause, early treatment is crucial. Children, in particular, might be at risk of permanently defective vision if astigmatism isn't corrected early.

Cataract

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that results in obscured vision. People with this defect see their environment as if they were looking through a waterfall -- hence the name of the disease. Other symptoms include

  • sensitivity to light and glare
  • fading or yellowing of colors
  • poor night vision
  • halos around lights

The exact cause of cataracts is unknown. Aging probably plays a role. About half of Americans between ages 65 and 74 have cataracts, with that portion jumping to 70 percent in people older than 75. But cataracts can also occur in young people, even newborns whose mothers contracted German measles during pregnancy.

There is ongoing research to determine whether certain vitamins and minerals might help prevent or slow down the development of cataracts. Injury to the lens, prolonged use of corticosteroid drugs, and high doses of radiation (such as X rays) may also trigger the condition. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays, a part of sunlight, also boosts the risk of cataracts.

Although usually curable, cataracts can lead to blindness if untreated. When necessary, surgical treatment restores vision in 95 percent of cataract operations. The procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis. Surgery is performed, however, only when the cataracts are interfering with daily living.

Years ago, patients had to wear special glasses with thick lenses after cataract surgery -- no longer. Now surgeons usually implant an intraocular lens, a tiny lightweight plastic disk, that produces an undistorted image. There is one shortcoming: Because it's not a natural lens, it can't adjust for focusing on near and distant images. Doctor and patient must decide before surgery which correction to choose.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disorder caused by increased pressure within the eyeball, which builds up because fluids are unable to drain normally. The disorder is most common in people over 40 years of age; it's a leading cause of blindness in people over 60.

About 90 percent of glaucoma is the chronic form, in which pressure builds gradually, undetected for years. In a much rarer type, acute glaucoma, pressure mounts suddenly, bringing severe pain and abrupt vision blurring.

Vision deterioration in chronic glaucoma is so gradual and painless that it's been termed the sneak thief of sight. Sometimes loss of peripheral vision slowly progresses, while central vision remains normal. Other later symptoms include

  • foggy or blurred vision; peripheral vision is usually affected first
  • difficulty in adjusting to brightness and darkness
  • slight pain in or around the eye
  • a halo effect around distant lights

But by the time symptoms appear, chronic glaucoma may already have done permanent damage. That's why regular screening after age 40 is essential to identify the disease early. Early treatment can slow damage to the eyes and prevent further vision loss.

You are at higher risk for glaucoma if you

  • are black
  • have diabetes
  • have had a previous eye injury
  • have a family history of glaucoma
  • have been a long-term user of corticosteroid drugs

People at high risk should get an exam at least once every two years. Others should be examined every three to five years.

If detected early, glaucoma usually can be controlled with eyedrops, which sometimes have side effects of drowsiness, blurry vision, headache, or changes in heart rate. Laser surgery can be used when medications don't work well, but a 1996 study concluded that laser surgery, as a first-line therapy, works as well as eyedrops and has fewer side effects. However, the effect of laser surgery can wear off with time, and additional treatment may be necessary.

Myopia

When the eyeball is too long from front to back or the cornea is too curved, the result can be myopia, better known as nearsightedness. People with myopia can see close objects clearly, but objects at a distance look blurry. In normal vision, the image of a distant object gets focused on the retina, but in myopia, because of the greater length of the eyeball, the focused image falls short of the retina. The result: a fuzzy image.

Myopia tends to be hereditary, developing at around age 12 and progressing until about age 20. Rarely does the condition get any worse after age 30 and, in fact, sometimes it improves after that age.

Eyeglasses or contact lenses easily correct nearsightedness. People who don't want to bother with either types of eyewear might consider radial keratotomy. This is a surgical procedure that involves cutting a number of spokes into the corneal surface, thus altering the shape of the cornea and correcting nearsightedness.

In 1994, ophthalmologists released the first long-term study on radial keratotomy, funded by the National Eye Institute. Results showed that 70 percent of people who'd had radial keratotomy didn't need to wear corrective lenses 10 years after surgery.

Radial keratotomy doesn't work for everyone, and there are risks, such as poor reading vision or poor night vision. People who are the best candidates for the procedure are those who are only mildly nearsighted. Anyone considering the surgery should fully discuss the expected results and possible complications with an ophthalmologist. A new procedure, called photorefractive keratotomy, is also available.

Most eye problems, thankfully, are only temporary, and they will clear up with the proper treatment. For more information on temporary eye conditions, turn to the next section.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Temporary Eye Condtions

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. An allergy to eye makeup may cause blepharitis.

Sometimes even the best prevention efforts can't stop a problem from cropping up. The following are some of the most common eye problems, how to recognize them, how to deal with them, and how to keep them from coming back.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the edges of the eyelids, causing redness and thickening. Scales and crusts or shallow ulcers (eroded areas) may also appear. The disease is common, especially in children, and often affects the upper and lower eyelids of both eyes. There are two types: ulcerous and nonulcerous. Infection of eyelash follicles and oil glands cause ulcerous blepharitis. The nonulcerous variety, which is more common, can be caused by an allergy or seborrheic dermatitis, which is an inflammatory scaling of the scalp, eyebrows, or ears. Lice can also sometimes cause the nonulcerous type.

Symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • itching, burning, red-rimmed eyes
  • swelling of the lids
  • loss of eyelashes
  • irritation of the underside of the lid (as if dirt or sand were underneath)

ConjunctivitisConjunctivitis, also called pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a delicate membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the exposed surface of the eye. Children are more commonly affected than adults.Bacteria and viruses are the usual causes of conjunctivitis. Allergies, chemicals, dust, smoke, exposure to chlorine in swimming pools, and foreign objects that irritate the conjunctiva may also lead to this condition. Occasionally, a sexually transmitted disease can cause pinkeye.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • edness of the eye
  • a grating sensation
  • burning
  • itching
  • light sensitivity

Detached RetinaNormally, the retina is firmly attached to the choroid, an underlying layer of tissue that is rich in blood vessels. If sufficient blood or other fluid collects between the retina and the choroid, the retina can become partially or totally detached. Initial symptoms of a detached retina include seeing floating dark spots or streaks of light and experiencing blurring of vision. This can occur suddenly or gradually. As the condition progresses, a curtain or veil seems to fall over part or all of the field of vision. To safeguard your sight, you should seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms develop.

Cataract surgery, severe nearsightedness, and injury can cause retinal detachment. Conditions that heighten susceptibility to this condition are inflammation or tumors of the eye, high blood pressure, and hemorrhaging (bleeding) inside the eye.

Treatment procedures include, among others, laser fusion and surgery. Left untreated, detachment may worsen and eventually lead to blindness.

More Temporary Eye Conditions

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of central-vision loss among people over age 60.

Dry Eyes

When your eyes don't tear properly, they can sting, burn, and itch. These are the symptoms of dry eyes, a condition most common in women after menopause. Antianxiety and sleeping medications, antihistamines, decongestants, and some arthritis and high blood pressure medications also can cause or worsen dry eyes. Sometimes an allergic reaction to eyedrops or an infection that blocks the tear ducts can result in dry eyes, or the condition may, in rare cases, be the result of Sjögren syndrome -- a chronic connective tissue disorder. Dry eyes often accompany blepharitis.

See your doctor for a diagnosis. Artificial tear preparations can help relieve the symptoms. Avoid over-the-counter eyedrops that contain vasoconstrictors; these may cause further drying. Other steps to take:

  • Avoid tobacco and other air irritants.
  • Don't aim hair dryers toward your eyes.
  • Wear glasses to protect your eyes from wind.
  • Wear goggles while swimming.
  • Keep the relative humidity of your home and office between 30 and 50 percent.

Eye RednessRed eyes can signify a variety of troubles, from lack of sleep or a minor medical condition to a major vision-threatening illness. If sleep deprivation isn't the problem, your red eyes might indicate:

  • a small problem that will heal itself, such as a rupture of the tiny blood vessels of the conjunctiva possibly caused by hard coughing or sneezing
  • an allergic reaction
  • a bacterial or viral infection of the conjunctiva
  • the onset of a sty
  • iritis, an inflammation of the uvea, the layer of the eye that includes the iris (Iritis may require drug treatment.)
  • a trauma, such as a foreign object in the eye, which may require first aid and possible professional medical attention

To get rid of redness, you can use decongestant eyedrops available over the counter. But don't overdo them. Also, before using drops, check with your doctor to be sure your eye redness isn't a symptom of something serious.

Also, any time you have red eyes along with pain, significant eye discharge, blurred vision, or severe sensitivity to light, see your doctor. These symptoms could indicate an inflammation on the inside of the eye, an ulcer of the eye, or even glaucoma.

You should never rub irritated eyes. If a foreign object is in your eye, you could cause serious damage.

Macular Degeneration

In this condition, deterioration occurs in the macula, the small central part of the retina. This deterioration leads to blurring of central vision, while peripheral vision remains intact. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of central-vision loss among people over age 60. It usually doesn't lead to total blindness, but it severely restricts activities relying on central vision, such as reading and driving. Risk factors for macular degeneration include smoking, age, family history of macular degeneration, and being a white woman.

There are two types of macular degeneration: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is the most severe type and causes the most visual loss, but it accounts for only 10 percent of all cases of macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is more common, accounting for 90 percent of all cases, and tends to progress more slowly. In all cases, visual loss is progressive, but the rate varies with the type and stage of the condition. There are many new treatment options that can slow its progression, although they cannot cure the disease. If you're diagnosed with an early stage of the disease, talk to your doctor about taking high doses of vitamins A, C, and E and the mineral zinc. These have been shown to help slow progression of the disease. Smokers, however, should not take formulations that contain beta-carotene, as this increases the risk of lung cancer. More advanced stages of macular degeneration can be treated with various types of laser therapy or with injections of a drug directly into the eye(s) that interferes with the mechanism that causes the condition.

Night Blindness

A person with night blindness can see fine in good light but not in dim or fading light. Causes of night blindness include either a severe vitamin A deficiency, or an inherited degenerative disorder of the retina called retinitis pigmentosa. In the case of severe vitamin A deficiency, treatment would be administration of the vitamin. A physician's care is crucial, however, to be sure that night blindness is, indeed, the problem and that the doses of the vitamin are safe.

Retinitis

Inflammation of the retina, or retinitis, can have many causes, ranging from hereditary conditions to infections. Various forms have many of the same symptoms:

  • night blindness
  • inflammation of the retina
  • tunnel vision
  • loss of sense of body movement

StyAlthough it's only about the size of a pimple, a sty can be extremely annoying and painful. This inflamed or infected swelling can be the result of an infected follicle (the canals from which hairs sprout), or it may be from a blocked gland in the eyelid. Sties are sometimes, but not always, related to blepharitis.

At first, a sty feels like a foreign object in the eye. Tearing, redness, swelling, and tenderness soon follow. The eye may be sensitive to light and touch, and pus may form inside the pimplelike bump, which may burst.

A sty will go away on its own, although you might have to live with it for a week or so. Applying warm, moist compresses several times a day may encourage the sty to burst and then begin to heal. DO NOT, however, squeeze a sty. You risk making it much worse. If the sty doesn't improve, see your doctor. An antibiotic ointment or, rarely, surgical removal may be in order.

Our eyes are extremely intricate yet delicate apparatuses. Since they are such a vital part of the way we interact with the world, don't they deserve the best care possible?

©Publications International, Ltd.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.