Global statistics show that approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from a visual impairment, of which at least 1 billion could have been prevented.
The challenge is unprecedented among developing and impoverished nations and Kenya is one of them with a high prevalence of vision impairment, according to the National Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
How can you take better care of your eyes? We got a specialist to take us through a few steps.
- Don’t skip eye check-ups: Dr Cliff Muturi Mwangi, an experienced ophthalmologist, says most patients skip check-ups assuming their vision is normal or that their condition is minor.
“Some of these conditions of the eyes are very silent. Until you see an ophthalmologist, you may never really know that your eyes have a problem.”
He advises having regular visits with an ophthalmologist, at least once a year.
- Take breaks from screens: One common concern is dry eye syndrome, which can be caused by prolonged screen time or environmental factors. For patients who live in hot, less humid areas, dryness is also a common occurrence.
For elderly patients and patients with diabetes, there’s also a lot of dryness, according to Dr Muturi. Symptoms include excessive tearing, burning and foreign body sensations.
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To relieve dryness, Dr Muturi suggests utilising lubricating drops and taking breaks from screens, environmental modification and, in severe cases, prescription protective glasses.
“You can’t change your profession as easily as you want just based on the number of hours you spend in front of the screen. So you have to also try to modify the environment,” he says.
“Some children will spend 6-8 hours with the screen, just barely 30 centimetres in front of their eyes,” he says.
To avoid irreversible harm, Dr Muturi emphasises the significance of early intervention for children with vision problems.
- Take nutrition seriously: Encouraging a balanced diet rich in Vitamin A and other micronutrients is vital for overall eye health, particularly for the young and elderly.
“Copper, zinc and many other micronutrients are equally important,” Dr Muturi says adding that one can seek the help of a nutritionist.