What is to be blind?
Society, at large, considers it as living in darkness.
It is to not see the luxuriant colors of a sunrise or a sunset, of the shimmering full moon, of the countless twinkling little stars on a cloudless night.
It is never being able to appreciate the blueness of the ocean, the multi-colored butterflies in your garden, or the richness of nature around you.
It is to grope your way around your own home, never seeing the beauty of your loved ones, and many more.
That is blindness for most of us – total darkness.
To be legally blind, however, is something else.
A person is legally blind if his visual acuity is 20/200, or worse, in his better eye while wearing corrective lenses.
Note: 20/200 visual acuity means that a person is expected to see at 20 ft. what a person with normal vision sees at 200.
A legally blind person is limited (if not prohibited) by law to do certain activities, like driving, for safety reasons.
The National Federation of the Blind has a broader and less judgmental view of blindness.
It encourages people to consider themselves blind if their eyesight is bad enough – even with corrective lenses – that they must use alternative methods to engage in any activity that a person with normal vision can do with their eyes.
There are no accurate data on how many Americans are legally blind. What is certain is that science says that legal blindness does not often result to total blindness.
The questions that probably nag you now are: Am I legally blind? Will I ultimately become totally blind, and, why the heck does eyesight deteriorate with age?
Blame it on Presbyopia:
Presbyopia is the medical term for farsightedness and is caused by the hardening of the elasticity of the lens of the eye, occurring typically at middle age.
It gets worse as you get older resulting to the need of glasses to compensate for your vision loss.
This age-related deterioration of your vision, however, does not necessarily result to eye problems. It does not make you legally blind unless you get any of these eyes diseases common among seniors.
1. Macular degeneration occurs when the retina (the light-sensing nerve tissue at the
back of the eye) deteriorates. If not treated timely, macular degeneration can cause severe vision loss.
A study done on the prevalence of age related macular degeneration (AMD), shows that 17.6% of the respondents (60-89 yrs old), is afflicted with the disease.
The occurrence is more pronounced among smokers.
Early onset of AMD is not easy to detect, therefore it is necessary to have regular eye checks to be certain.
2. Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerves get damaged, leading to a progressive, and
irreversible loss of vision. It is the second leading cause of blindness, worldwide.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), there is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be slowed down with treatment, or surgery. Sadly, about 10% of people with the disease will get blind.
3. Cataract is a medical condition where the lens of the eye becomes progressively
opaque resulting to blurred vision.
It is either caused by genetics, aging, or injuries that change the tissue that makes up your lens.
There are no specific figures about its prevalence among the elderly but it is best to have a regular eye check to nip it in the bud. It is treatable at its early stage.
4. Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at
the back of the eye (retina) is damaged by diabetes.
It is the most common cause of blindness among diabetics and the most common cause of blindness among-age adults.
The problem with these eye illnesses is that they are difficult to detect in their earlier stages and the only way to pre-empt them is to do these five simple eye-care tips.
5 Simple Eye Care Tips:
1. Visit your doctor regularly:
The American Optometric Association warns that certain eye diseases can strike with little or no symptoms, especially among seniors aged 60, above. And even if we detect some vision deterioration, we simply take it as age related.
Don’t take chances, visit your doctor immediately, In fact, most experts suggest an eye exam once or every three years – depending on age and other risk factors.
2. Take regular breaks from the computer:
I confess to be guilty of this. There are nights when my eyes seem to fall off from their sockets for staying too long in front my monitor.
Some studies show that 50 to 90% of people using computers have eye problems like blurred vision, twitching eyes, and redness or dry eyes.
So even if the latest computer monitors that are not as harmful as the old CRT screens, you must still take 10 to 15 minutes break every hour.
3. Eat eye-healthy foods:
Eat lots o beta carotene foods like carrots, tomatoes, and those with high vitamin C, E, and omega-3 fatty acids like spinach, eggs, berries, salmon, soy, and avocados.
There’s no point in trying to be physically healthy if you bump into a wall for poor vision.
4. Exercise your body, as well as your eyes:
The importance of exercise could never be over-emphasized. Its health benefits are well-documented the Internet is practically full of it.
For example, aerobics lowers blood pressure around the eyes. And a simple side-to-side, up-and-down rolling of the eyes is often enough to give your eye muscles the flex they need.
5. Protect your eyes from the sun when outdoors:
Both the lens and the cornea are transparent and serve as UV filters. But they can both be damaged through years and years of use – typically among elderly people.
The lens, specifically, can turn yellowish through constant and prolonged UV light absorption.
To minimize possible damage, always use UV-light protected sun glasses when staying outdoors. Not only that, have a wide-brimmed hat on in case a shade is not available, like the beach, for example.
Harsh sunlight is as bad to your eyes as a computer monitor.
Do you think these tips are superfluous? How about going blind?
Our eyes are one of the most precious gifts given us at birth. While some were born without them, or were taken away at some point in their lives, you should not take yours for granted.