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Research shows that 10 million Poles wear glasses, and one million wear contact lenses. As much as 46 percent high school students have visual impairments, especially nearsightedness and dry eyeball. The elderly often suffer from glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Why does modern man have more and more problems witheyesight , we ask Dr. n. med. Piotr Fryczkowski, ophthalmologist.
» Why do we see worse than our ancestors?
Dr. med. Piotr Fryczkowski: I would rather say that we expect more and more from our eyesight. We are a civilization of the written word. We spend many hours reading and writing. And yethuman eyesare not adapted to close-up vision. Rather, they were supposed to look out for game, perceive the danger, that is, see well from a distance. And now we are mainly staring at the numbers, letters and pictures on the monitor.
» Whateye defectsdominate among young people?
P.F: The most serious ophthalmological problem in adolescents is myopia. It is estimated that every fourth young person suffers from it. Although there is no research on the subject, it is likely that the cause of widespread myopia is overloaded eyesight from close-up. Another problem, also related to overexploitation of eyesight, is the drying of the eyeball. Sitting 10 hours in front of the computer, in an air-conditioned room, often in smoke, forgetting the need to blink, is enough to keep the eyes poorly moistened and the eye muscles very tired due to the constant tensioning of them.
» What eye problems do the elderly have?
P.F: This is macular degeneration, which is also associated with straining eyesight when looking closely, glaucoma, as well as cataracts and dry eye syndrome. Among seniors, sight defects are often the result of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. Vascular problems are also the cause of vision impairment. You may have a retinal vein thrombus, retinal artery embolism, medical conditions that lead to blindness or severe visual impairment. It is worth remembering about eye cancer - although it is not very common, it does happen. The most dangerous of them - melanoma - is most often the result of excessive sun exposure to the eyes.
» Can you inherit eye diseases?
P.F: You can. One such disease is glaucoma, which is one of the leading eye diseases in middle-aged people. Although, to be precise, we inherit a predisposition to eye disease, not the disease itself. In nearsighted families, it happens that children also have this defect, but often to a much lesser extent than their parents.
» Contemporary ophthalmology has made great progress.
P.F: We are definitely good at optics. What do I mean by that? Well, when nothing is broken in the system transmitting signals from the retina to the brain, the replacement of the cornea (in the case of corneal endosperm or keratoconus) allows to restore visual efficiency. Very good therapeutic results are achieved with corneal transplantation. This is the most promising type of transplant, we still do not perform enough such procedures. There is one reason - there are no donors. We achieve excellent results by replacing the lenses, e.g. in the treatment of cataracts. We are good at removing vitreous haemorrhages.
» However, there are still areas where there is little you can do as specialists.
P.F: When the retina of the eye is damaged, i.e. when we are dealing with macular degeneration, or when there is an embolism or blood clot in the vessels of the retina - we are often helpless. We cannot repair damage to the optic nerve or effectively treat glaucoma. In the case of macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa (retinitis pigmentosa), high hopes are raised by the use of sub-and epidural implants to replace damaged photoreceptors, i.e. those cells of the retina that convert visual signals into electrical signals read by the brain. The plate with photosensitive diodes, connected to the camera placed in the frame of the glasses, is implanted on or under the retina. The patient is equipped with a computer that converts the stimuli picked up by the camera into electrical impulses. The device uses the undamaged part of the retina to send signals to the brain. This is a great hope for people, for example, with macular degeneration, where the photoreceptors are damaged, or in some genetic eye diseases involving the degeneration of the retina.
» Many problems result from exhaustion …
P.F: Yes. Working at the computer, fluorescent lighting destroys eyesight. I often hear from patients that their eyesight has improved after their vacation. No wonder, he corrected himself as his eyes rested. Just being in the air, moisturizing the eyes naturally, and looking into the distance have a healing effect.
» What to pay attention to so as not to miss the expandingvisual impairment?
P.F: The eyes are similar to the hands, there is always one thing that dominates. In each of us, one eye is the main eye and the other is the companion. If there are lesions in the companion eye, we often do not know that something has happened. By chance we find out that we cannot see in one eye. I have many such patients who found out about the disease when the dominant eye was temporarily excluded from vision. An insidious disease is glaucoma, which slowly takes away the field of view. The most difficult thing to observe is the gradual loss of vision. Man quickly adapts to the fact that he sees worse. Even when only 10 percent of them see it. what he should do works well, so he doesn't visit an ophthalmologist. This is what happens with glaucoma or some forms of cataracts. Loss of distance vision is also difficult to capture. If we can read, fill in the forms, it does not worry us that we do not see the number of the approaching bus. I encourage you to visit an ophthalmologist once a year after the age of 40.
» Some people buy glasses at the bazaar. What do you think about it?
P.F: I wouldn't demonize it. Nobody with a serious vision defect will not buy glasses at the bazaar, because they will not choose the ones in which they will see better. With a slight visual impairment, the need to use reading glasses, if you really cannot afford decent glasses, you can use glasses from the bazaar. Besides, there is no evidence that glasses bought outside an optician's shop will deteriorate eyesight. But you have to be aware that poorly chosen glasses can cause headaches. However, I am definitely against buying sunglasses outside the optician's shop. Also, only the optician should buy lenses that change the appearance of the pupil and the color of the iris.
» How should people who do not have vision problems look after their eyes?
P.F: The eyes must have time to rest. Who works at the computer should look far, out of the window, into the far corner of the room every hour or two. When the eyes sting or stinging, it is worth making a tea, skylight or chamomile poultice, if you are not allergic. The eyes are extremely hardy but require care. It should focus on three activities. First of all, we should limit the access of harsh light, so do not look directly at the sun, wear sunglasses, because sunlight irreversibly damages the macula, which allows us to see details. The second thing is relaxation. When we look closely, the eye muscles are tense and relaxed when we look far. So let's relax your eyes, because they last a few minuteslooking into the distance allows them to regain full fitness. The third element of eye protection is moisturizing. When the eyes are dry, they should be moistened with artificial tears. Tears, although they do not run down the cheeks, are shed all the time. Thanks to this, the cornea is nourished and the eyelid does not touch the surface of the eye, but moves over the tears. Tears wash away dirt and act as a barrier to bacteria.
» You also need to light the workplace …
P.F: Lighting should provide comfort goodbye. And what clarity is needed is an individual matter. One needs full illumination, the other only needs a point light. The best lighting should resemble sunlight scattered evenly throughout the surroundings. When watching TV, it is worth lighting a small lamp so as not to strain your eyesight.
» Does diet affect the eyes?
P.F: Yes. Ophthalmologists recommend a lot of greens, yellow and orange vegetables, blueberries, i.e. products with a lot of vitamins A, E and C, with lutein and zeaxanthin. We deliver zinc by eating lean meat, poultry, fish, groats, whole grain bread, and molybdenum - buckwheat, whole grain products, legume seeds, green leafy vegetables, red cabbage, as well as meat, milk and cheese. A glass of red wine is beneficial because it contains resveratrol, a compound that oxidizes free radicals that damage eyesight.