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Do You Care for your eyes?

Updated on January 5, 2017
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Ian is a Senior Orthopedic Officer currently working with Fort portal regional referral hospital - Fort portal western Uganda


Why we need eyes

Our eyes 'make life come to Life'. With them we are able to observe and appreciate our surroundings, find the way through rocky ground without stumbling, and also express our deepest emotion. But above all they add that million dollar value to any smile.

To make a complete list of the importance of our eyes is to write this article until the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Good news is that most of them are obvious and need not be mentioned. Interestingly however, they are kept in the sub conscious with the exception of one : Beauty. Until one gets a defect in sight, the visual significance of the eyes is often ignored and all focus placed on beauty. Male or female, beauty is of paramount importance and the eyes play a major role in the matter. However beauty without eye sight may not be as admirable. So as you prepare for that long awaited public appearance, it is wise to take good care of your eyes, in order to preserve both beauty and sight.

Common Habits That Put the Eyes at Risk

Quite often care for the eyes is limited to a simple morning wash just after bed. While to other people this basic principle of primary health care is a luxury for some reason. Clearly this is not sufficient to achieve the desired glamour. You may be surprised to know that many people, including those who form today's socialite, knowingly or unknowingly indulge in habits that expose their eyes to risk. Such habits are avoidable and include those listed below;

1. washing with inadequate clean water. Eyes require periodic cleaning with plenty of clean water. A twelve hourly interval is recommended. This will wash away irritant residues such as dust and thus reduce risk of of infection such as trachoma and other forms of bacterial conjuctivitis by up to 75%.

2. Picking the eyes with dirty fingers.This is the commonest vice and non, not even one is innocent from this. As a result of the numerous activities that engage the fingers, they harbor a significant quantity of pathogens. Contact of the eyes with bear fingers can cause considerable exposure to these pathogens leading to infection. A clean handkerchief should be used to pick the eyes whenever necessary. Using the same handkerchief for the eyes and nose exposes the eyes to nasal flora which may be pathogenic to the eyes.

3. Living or working in a dusty, smoky environment. Various daily activities expose the eyes to foreign bodies. If it is inevitable to work in such an environment, protective gargles should be used to protect the eyes from associated injuries. Avoid the use of deceptive non UV light protected sunglasses. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light causes damage to the sensitive retina and may impair vision in the long term. You need to ensure that your sun glasses are actually protecting you from UV light

4. Candlelight reading. This is common in communities where electric power supply is unreliable, and for students who are under crush examination schedules. Although there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that this can affect eye sight in the long term, this habit can strain the eyes and can cause them to appear red or blood shot the following morning. If whatever you are reading is not that urgent, you might want to postpone it and catch some sleep instead.

5. Inadequate sleep. Many people in the world today are constantly under pressure to beat deadlines in order to compete favorably in the fast moving world, thereby spending much less than the required eight hour sleep time. This is harmful to the general well-being of the body, and the effect from this is quickly exposed by the eyes.

Other habits include, sharing cosmetic eye tools, drug abuse such as excessive alcohol consumption as well as cigarette smoking and poor diet especially that deficient in Vitamin A.

A stye on the edge of the eyelid
A stye on the edge of the eyelid
Bacterial conjuctivitis
Bacterial conjuctivitis

Habits that should be avoided in order to prevent common eye disorders

1. Washing with inadequate clean water

2. Picking the eyes with dirty fingers

3. Using the same handkerchief for both nose and eyes

4. Sharing cosmetic eye products

5. Sharing prescription eye drops

6. Living or working in dusty/smoky environment

7. Reading in dim light

8. Abuse of drugs such Alcohol and some NSAIDs

9. Failure to have enough sleep/rest

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Eye Disorders that May Arise From these Habits

Blood shot eyes.(red eyes). These are caused when small blood vessels at the surface of the eyes become enlarged and congested with blood. This occurs as a result of insufficient oxygen supply to the cornea. Unless associated with pain or impaired vision , they shouldn't raise concern. Blood shot eyes can occur at any time of the day but are more likely to occur after engaging in activities that strain or irritate the eyes such as; prolonged computer use, reading under inadequate light, sleep deprivation, alcohol hang over and cosmetic products used over night. Environmental toxins, exposure to the sun and cigarette smoke can also lead to blood shot eyes. Drinking plenty of water, eating fresh fruits as well as foods rich in vitamin E, and C such as vegetables legumes and fish will give a clear appearance to the eyes.


A stye is a small red, tender lump or swelling filled with water and pus usually near the edge of the eyelid, although it may also develop inside the eyelid. They are not known to have any lasting damage and because they are localized to the eyelid, the eyeball will be safe. The bacteria can however spread to cause a potential conjuctivitis if the lump is forcefully ruptured. Although they may not affect sight, they do affect beauty and can be excruciatingly painful. They are notorious for recurrence. The best way to prevent recurrence is to practice better eye hygiene.This includes regular eyelid scrubs to remove excess cellular debris and bacteria. It's also advisable to avoid sharing cosmetic eye tools and to wash off make up every night before sleeping to a void blocking the oil glands in the eye lid.(don't forget to keep your cosmetic tools clean). Remember to have proper hand hygiene as clean hands will save you from many other health issues. You might need to see a doctor if the styes keep recurring despite proper hygiene.

Bacterial conjuctivitis

Also known as bacterial pink eye, the condition is a type of infection to the outer most mucous membrane of the eye called the conjuctiva, characterized by quick redness of the eye, eyelid swelling as well as mucopurulent discharge which may at times be greenish or yellowish in color. There may be mild pain and/ an itchy feeling and trouble opening the eyes especially in the morning as a result of the discharge crusting over the eyes. A pink eye may also be caused by a virus, or allergic reaction. It is therefore important to visit a doctor for proper diagnosis and adequate management. Bacterial pink eye is contagious and therefore requires good hygiene for prevention and to minimize spread from one person to another.

Kerato conjuctivitis (commonly called dry eye syndrome), results from deficiency from any of the tear film layers. Symptoms include gritty foreign body sensation, burning ,photo phobia and reduced visual acquity. Some medications like Ibuprofen (NSAIDS), Atenolol(Beta blockers) and Thiabendazole can cause dry eyes. It is therefore important to avoid self medication or abuse of prescription drugs as they may affect your health in unwanted ways. Always notify your health care provider in case these symptoms occur as a result of your medication.

Remember to seek professional medical advice for proper diagnosis and proper management in case you notice any of the symptoms mentioned here.

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