In the Family Way

Elvie Ancheta

Our senses are the most precious gifts of our human existence.

Imagine if you can’t see your loved one’s faces, smell the aroma of coffee, hear a beautiful music, or fell the touch of a baby.

The thought of losing my sight alone was frightening. With our face coverings, our eyes is literally the windows to our soul and we interact with each other. Even with our masks on, your eyes will show if you are sad, angry, scared, or joyful.

We often take our eyes for granted. But even the healthiest eyes need maintenance care. The eye is pretty amazing!

It’s about as big as a ping-pong ball and sits in a little hollow area in the skull. It has its own protection mechanisms.

The eyelid protects the front part of the eye and keep the eye clean and moist by opening and shutting several times a minutes. Yes, this is called blinking.

The eyelids shut automatically to protect the eye from an approaching danger. And if you step into a bright light, the eyelids squeeze together tightly to protect your eyes, until they can adjust to the bright light. The eyelashes work with the eyelids to keep dirt and other unwanted particles out.

The sclera is the white outer coat of the eyeball. The cornea is a transparent dome that sits in front of the colored part of the eye, the iris.

The cornea helps the eyes focus as the light makes its way through. In the center of the iris is the black pupil.

The pupils constricts and dilated in response to light and other body conditions.

After light enters the pupil, it hits the lens. The clear and colorless lens sits behind the iris. The lens’ job is to focus light rays on the back of the eyeball — a part called the retina.

The light goes through a powerful lens, which is focusing the images onto the screen, so you can see the movie clearly in front of you.

In the eye’s case, the film screen is your retina. The retina is the very back part of the eye. It holds millions of cells that are very sensitive to light.

The retina takes the light the eye receives and changes it into nerve signals so the brain can understand what the eye is seeing.

June is Cataract Awareness month. Cataracts are clouding of the lens of the eye. When the lens becomes opaque, you do not see clearly.

Though cataracts may occur in children, they are usually related to the aging process. Cataracts may also develop after eye injuries, inflammation and some other eye diseases.

According to the latest assessment of the World Health Organization, cataracts are responsible for 51% of world’s blindness, which represents about 20 million people.

It remains the leading cause of blindness. As people in the world live longer, the number of people with cataract is anticipated to grow.

Cataracts cause low vision in both developed and developing countries.

There is no known absolute prevention for the occurrence of cataracts. Studies have shown that reduction of cigarette smoking and ultraviolet light exposure may prevent or delay the development of cataracts. Diabetes and high body mass index are identified as additional risk factors.

The treatment of cataracts is surgical removal. It is a very common procedure with a very successful result of restoring sight.

The opaque lens is removed and replaced by an artificial intraocular lens. In many remote parts of the developing world however, people remain blind from cataracts, due to lack of access to this common intervention.

Take good care of your precious eyes:

• Avoid rubbing your eyes to prevent infection and irritation

• Wash your hands regularly to keep bacteria at bay.

• Protect your eyes from the sun with UV protective eyeglasses

• Stay hydrated  to help prevent eye dryness

• Keep a balanced diet to maintain eye health

• Get enough sleep to keep your eyes revitalized and healthy

• If you work with computers all day, give your eyes rest by looking away from your computer monitor every 20 minutes.

Prevention is always better than cure. Do what you can do to protect your vision. It is the least we can do to keep our precious sight.

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