We are approaching the year-end of 2022, and we have seen a lot through our eyes over the past 12 months. In 2022 we were still recovering from COVID-19, a slow economy, health care, and climate issues. December is ‘Prevent Blindness” month and everyone should think about the joyfulness of healthy vision and wonders, and be active in supporting eye-sight-saving services.
Prevent Blindness awareness focuses on enlightening people about eye vision and health by increasing community knowledge through education, advocacy, early detection, and research. Approximately 50% of all blindness is avoidable. However, there must be an active role of the individual.
The Anatomy Of The Eye
Each morning, we open our eyes and there is a treasure in the wealth of visual information. The eyes and the brain structures are complex systems that allow us to experience visual information from the surrounding world. It is easy to take clear vision for granted, but even subtle changes in the structure or functioning of the eyes can disrupt our sight. An eye care provider conducts a thorough eye exam to ensure that these components are functioning well together.
Our eyes sit in a bony protective socket, the orbit, which has six extraocular muscles in each eye. These muscles allow movement of the eye up and down, side to side, and eye rotation. The eyeball is not a single, spherical structure as is commonly thought. It consists of a smaller, curved portion called the cornea that attaches to a larger, roughly spherical structure called the sclera (the white of the eye). The eyeball contains a jelly-like substance called vitreous fluid.
Toward the front of the eye are three essential structures: the iris, pupil, and lens. The iris is the colored part of your eye – it can expand and contract to determine how much light to let in through the pupil, the black hole in the center of your eye. Finally, the lens is a flexible, convex structure that changes shape to direct light rays in different directions within the eye.
At the back of the eyeball is a layer of tissue called the retina. The retina consists of millions of photosensitive cells that react to certain types of light. Cone cells are clustered toward the center of the retina and react to colors and details in bright light. Rod cells, which are spread toward the periphery of the retina, react to dim lighting conditions.
Key Facts About Vision Loss (Source: The Sight Center)
- Vision problems affect one in five preschool age children (ages 3 to 5) and 25 percent of school-age children (ages 6 to 17). (source #1, and source #2)
- Over one million Americans aged 40 and over are currently blind, and an additional 2.4 million are visually impaired. These numbers are expected to double over the next 30 years as the baby boom generation ages. (source)
- Seventy percent of severely visually impaired persons are age 65 and older. Fifty percent of that group is legally blind. (view source)
- Among adults who are 18 years and older, vision disability is among the top 10 disabilities. (view source)
- For people age 65 and older, the rate of legal blindness is 135 per 1,000. (view source)
- Legal blindness does not necessarily mean total blindness; 90 percent of people who are legally blind have some remaining vision. (view source)
- Only approximately 2 percent to 8 percent of people who are visually impaired use a white cane. The rest rely on their usable vision, a guide dog, or a sighted guide. (view source, view source #2, view source #3)
A healthy diet can do wonders for your health and vision. Foods that can help prevent blindness are:
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Some kinds of nuts
Ways To Enhance Your Vision Due To Vision Loss
There are several visual aids that can improve both eyesight and the overall quality of life for many people. These aids are:
- Telescopic Glasses
- Lenses That Filter Light
- Magnifying Glasses
- Hand Magnifiers
- Closed-Circuit Television
- Reading Prisms
Ways to Protect Your Eye Health
- Get A Yearly Eye Exam
- Use Sunglasses
- Wear Protective Eyewear
- Healthy Eating and Maintaining a Healthy Weight
- Stop Smoking
You can play a significant role in maintaining your eye health. Contact your optometrist to schedule an eye examination. Your vision is irreplaceable.