Blog – AMARA MEDICARE | Dental, Eye & ENT Specialists

28/Oct/2021

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss, affecting about 3 million people in the United States.1 But this potentially blinding eye disease does not affect all people equally. During Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, AMARA MEDICARE and the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging people to be screened, especially if you are at increased risk of glaucoma.

Who is at risk?

  • African Americans are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than white Americans. Blindness from glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than white Americans.2
  • People with diabetes are 2 times more likely to get glaucoma than people without diabetes.2
  • Also at risk are people over age 40, those who are severely nearsighted, and those who have a family history of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits visual information to the brain, allowing us to see. Because glaucoma often progresses slowly, affecting just peripheral or side vision, people with glaucoma can lose most of their vision before they even experience any symptoms. Central vision, the vision used to read, drive or watch TV, is unaffected until the disease is advanced.

“Just because you think you can see well, doesn’t mean all is well,” said Dianna Seldomridge, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Once vision is lost to glaucoma, it can’t be regained. That’s why regular screening, especially among those at higher risk for glaucoma, is absolutely vital. When caught early, glaucoma can be treated with eyedrops or an in-office laser treatment. But in advanced cases, surgery may be required to slow the vision loss and prevent further damage.”

AMARA MEDICARE provides comprehensive management of Glaucoma at its offices in Ikoyi, Ajah and Sangotedo.

 

For more information about eye health and how to protect your eyes, visit the Academy’s EyeSmart website.

 

1 The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Cost of Vision Problems. Prevent Blindness. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.preventblindness.org/sites/default/files/national/documents/Future_of_Vision_final_0.pdf

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/features/glaucoma-awareness/index.html

Quigley HA, West SK, et al. The prevalence of glaucoma in a population-based study of Hispanic subjects. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119:1819-1826.

 


28/Oct/2021

Why should I go for an eye examination when I do not have any symptoms?

Regular eye exams are the only way to catch “silent” eye diseases such as Glaucoma in the early stages, so they can be treated before permanent vision loss occurs. In addition, several underlying medical conditions (including diabetes, brain aneurysms, thyroid malfunctions etc ) could be detected through routine eye examinations.

What is low vision?

Low vision is not blindness but is a level of vision below normal (20/70 or worse) that cannot be corrected with conventional glasses. Low vision can interfere with a person’s performance of daily activities, including reading or driving.

What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors that have received specialist training in eyecare. They provide comprehensive eye care including medical, surgical and optical care.  The training program includes six years of medical school, one year of internship and five years of post-graduate medical training in eye care.

Optometrists are medical professionals that are trained to diagnose and treat some eye conditions but are not licensed to perform surgical eye treatment procedures. Optometrist training include six years of optometry school and one year of internship.

When should my child’s eyes be examined?

It is recommended that the first vision screening be conducted for a new-born baby prior to being discharged from the hospital. Visual function will be monitored by your child’s paediatrician during well-child exams (usually at two, four and six months of age). If there are any signs of an eye condition, your child may be referred to an ophthalmologist. Beginning at three years of age (and yearly after five years of age), amblyopia (poor vision in an otherwise normal appearing eye), refractive and alignment screenings should take place. If you notice any signs of decreased vision or misalignment of the eye, please contact your ophthalmologist for a complete eye examination.

When should an adult’s eyes be examined?

Specific eye care needs vary depending on the age and risk profile of the patient. Below is a chart with a recommended time line of how often an adult should receive an eye examination.

Ages 20-39 – Every three to five years.
Ages 40-65 – Every two to four years.
Ages 65 and older  – Every year.

Is poor vision hereditary?

Yes, poor vision can be directly related to your family’s history of eye health. It is important to see an eye care professional at the first sign of poor vision.

 Will working at a computer screen hurt my eyes?

No, there is no evidence that working at a computer can damage the eyes. However, low light, glare on the monitor, or staring at a computer screen too long can cause the eyes to become fatigued. It is recommended to take frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest.

Is conjunctivitis (Apollo) contagious?

Yes, conjunctivitis is very contagious. To help prevent spreading conjunctivitis, avoid touching your eyes with your hands, wash your hands frequently, do not share towels, and avoid work, school or day care activities for a least five days or as long as discharge is present.

 Are sunglasses good for my eyes?

Wearing UV protective lenses can be beneficial in protecting your eyes from cataract formation. Surprisingly, clear UV coated lenses may offer more protection than darker lenses because they allow the eyes to be exposed to more light causing the pupil to constrict more, which ultimately prevents more light from getting to the eye.

 What are the warning signs that a child might need glasses?

Common signs that a child has a vision problem that requires corrective eyewear include:

  • Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close;
  • Using a finger to follow along while reading;
  • Squinting;
  • Tilting the head to see better;
  • Frequent eye rubbing;
  • Sensitivity to light;
  • Excessive tearing;
  • Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better;
  • Avoiding activities that require near vision, such as reading or homework, or distant vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities;
  • Complaining of headaches or tired eyes;
  • Receiving lower grades than usual.

28/Oct/2021

 

Image of Myopia
Image of Myopia

During forced home confinement, we should deliberately keep child eye health in perspective. With a shifting trend towards online school and study this becomes more imperative. Myopia also termed nearsightedness or shortsightedness is a refractive error typified by one’s inability to clearly see objects at a distance. Symptoms of myopia in children include:

  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Holding books, homework or screen devices like tablet close to the face
  • Squinting or closing one eye to read
  • Frequent headaches
  • Excess watering of the eye
  • Rubbing eyes

Refractive errors such as myopia, if uncorrected, can affect school performance, limit occupational choices for the child, and impair quality of life. Myopia, especially progressive myopia increases the risk of developing potentially blinding eye conditions like glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment, maculopathy, retinal bleeding etc.

Age of onset is an important predictor of high myopia in later childhood. Thus, children with early onset myopia are at higher risk with longer duration of the disease, higher chances of disease progression and consequent ocular complications. Prevention, early detection and timely intervention is therefore vital in children.

Risk factors for developing myopia include:

  1. Genetic predisposition: family history of myopia.
  2. Lack of outdoor activity: spending little time outside. Studies showed that sustained hyperopic defocus (i.e. lack of viewing objects at distances) which is generated indoors, predisposes to myopia.
  3. Prolonged near work: Holding books too close to eyes; prolonged periods of exposure to screen time, hand-held devices and television may eventually lead to reduced ability to see things at a distance.
  4. Constricted living space may be an environmental threat for myopia development in children (we cannot help this in some areas in Lagos).
  5. Low blood vitamin D concentrations has been implicated in myopia. However, the use of vitamin D supplements has not been confirmed as being helpful.
  6. Some congenital and systemic diseases are also implicated in myopia.

How can we curb/control early onset of myopia?

  1. Increase outdoor activities: This has been proven to be the strongest environmental factor that can delay myopia onset. Randomized Control Trials showed that increased outdoor activities inhibits myopia progression in children aged 6 to 7 years by as much as 30% in 1 year. Exposure to outdoor sunlight, increases dopamine receptors in us and provides vitamin D. This also activates genes that help release the right amount of dopamine required to regulate adequate eye development. Before 10am and after 4pm is a good time to enjoy time outdoors. Vieing distances are much greater outdoors, during this period, caregivers can find creative, safe ways to increase outdoor time for the children e.g. take them outside for multiple short breaks or for supervised walks in your immediate environment. You can deliberately create games like ‘spot the bird on that tree’ or ‘I can see that star’ which encourages the child to focus on distant objects. In between online classes children should be allowed short breaks outdoors to combat hyperopic defocus.

 

  1. Reduce screen times: Whilst there are many resources being promoted for online learning, consciously ensure that the child is given time off these online tools.
  • do not overload them with online schoolwork, take short breaks in between subjects;
  • find creative ways around the home to teach them outside of these online resources.

Note that the effect of near distance activities on onset of myopia and its progression is typically higher in younger children, therefore stricter control on the use of these devices/screens among pre-school children is wise.

The Canadian pediatric association reported recently that, ‘early learning is easier, more enriching and developmentally more efficient when experienced live, interactively, in real time and space, and with real people’. [More information on this can be found on https://www.cps.ca/documents/position/screen-time-and-young-children]

  1. Reduce game/movie time: Engage children in more enriching games like scrabbles, monopoly, chess which teach these children very valuable life skills, while promoting family bonding. Human contact like hugging your child can increase their dopamine levels which is good for the eyes, so more bear hugs please!!!

 

  1. Healthy diet: Other conditions that have been associated with increased myopia include high body weight, and westernized dietary habits. Therefore, healthy diet is very beneficial for eye health in children in addition to boosting their immunity against virus infections. Fish, leafy green vegetables, eggs, carrots, berries, citrus fruits, nuts, beef, red oil etc. Less of processed foods, snacks/ drinks and more of freshly squeezed fruits etc. is beneficial for children.

If you notice any symptoms, please contact your eye specialist.

References

  1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123:1036–42.
  2. Grzybowski, A., Kanclerz, P., Tsubota, K. et al.A review on the epidemiology of myopia in school children worldwide. BMC Ophthalmol20, 27 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12886-019-1220-0.

 

 

 

 


AMARA MEDICARE

AMARA MEDICARE is a patient centric healthcare company focused on the ophthalmic, ENT and dental segment.
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1. Ajah/Lekki - 08150376696
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3. Sangotedo - 08150376698

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