All About Eye Health

It is often said that your eyes are a window into your soul.  This phrase has different meanings for different people but most everyone can agree that eyes are a very important part of our bodies.

How the Eyes See

The American Optometric Association explains how the eye works:

When light rays reflect off an object and enter the eyes through the cornea, you can then see that object.  The cornea bends, or refracts, the rays that pass through the round hole of the pupil. The iris opens and closes, making the pupil bigger or smaller. This regulates the amount of light passing through.

 

The light rays then pass through the lens, which changes shape so it can further bend the rays and focus them on the retina. The retina, which sits at the back of the eye, is a thin layer of tissue that contains millions of tiny light-sensing nerve cells. These nerve cells are called rods and cones because of their distinct shapes. Cones are concentrated in the center of the retina, in an area called the macula. When there is bright light, cones provide clear, sharp central vision and detect colors and fine details. Rods are located outside the macula and extend all the way to the outer edge of the retina. They provide peripheral or side vision. Rods also allow the eyes to detect motion and help us see in dim light and at night.

 

These cells in the retina convert the light into electrical impulses. The optic nerve sends these impulses to the brain, which produces an image. (Click on the link at the beginning of this section for a complete diagram on this process)

 

The importance of Eye Exams

Eye exams at every stage of life can help keep your vision clear and strong.  Many people only go to the eye doctor when they notice things aren’t as clear as they once were. Noticeable lack of vision is only one of many reasons that regular eye exams are important to eye health. Regular eye exams can spot many diseases early on and with proper treatment can even help preserve your eyesight.

The CDC states that “Eye diseases are common and can go unnoticed for a long time—some have no symptoms at first. A comprehensive dilated eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist is necessary to find eye diseases in the early stages when treatment to prevent vision loss is most effective.

During the exam, visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception, eye alignment, and eye movement are tested. Eye drops are used to make your pupils larger so your eye doctor can see inside your eyes and check for signs of health problems. Your eye doctor may even spot other conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, sometimes before your primary care doctor does.”

Some of the common eye issues mentioned further in this article include cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and aged related macular degeneration.

Tips for Better Eye Health

The National Eye Institute, provides some simple ways in which you can help protect and save your eyesight.

  • Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam
  • Know your family’s eye health history
  • Eat right to protect your sight
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Wear protective eyewear
  • Quit smoking or never start
  • Be cool and wear your shades
  • Give your eyes a rest
  • Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly
  • Practice workplace eye safety

Following these simple tips can go a long way toward preserving your eyesight as you age. Don’t forget to check out this week’s sunglasses sale. Afterall, even the National Eye Institute advises to be cool and wear your shades.

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