According to World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 285 million people worldwide suffer from low vision and blindness. Out of these, 39 million are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment.
Dr Ashwin Sainani, Consultant Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Squint Specialist, P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC warns, “We often harm our eyes due to some old mythical practices. Some people use rose water routinely in their eyes and others open and close their eyes in a cup of cold water. There are no scientific studies to back the advantages of this practice and thus need not be done. Just cleaning the eyes with wet hands is adequate. In case of redness and discharge from the eyes, we should not use rose water, human breast milk, or a water bath when an infection is suspected. See an eye doctor when you have redness of eyes because the treatment will be based on the cause of the redness. A common mistake is to pick up eye drops over the counter for common eye symptoms. Use eye drops only prescribed by the eye doctor.”
Dr Anita Sethi, Director & HOD, Ophthalmology, FMRI, Gurgaon adds, “In case something goes into the eyes, like an insect, dust particle etc, rubbing the eyes must be avoided at all costs because that can lead to a corneal injury. Wash with clean water a couple of times and if the discomfort persists, please see a doctor. Another mistake which is potentially very dangerous, is sleeping while wearing contact lenses. Students sometimes fall asleep while studying and can forget about their lenses- this must never be done!”
Most often children get eye injuries due to sharp objects carelessly lying around. Dr Suma Ganesh, Volunteer Faculty, Orbis International and Pediatric Ophthalmologist says, “We often get children with abrasions or injury to the cornea or lids because of objects like paper clips, scissors, knives, hangers or other sharp objects. It’s best to keep them away from children.” Even adults should be wary of sharp objects lying too close to the eye.
EYE ISSUES IN KIDS: Hyperopia and myopia
Farsightedness or hyperopia can cause crossing of the eyes, blurred vision or discomfort and nearsightedness or myopia is when distance vision is blurred. Eye rubbing is also common in such cases.
Dr Anita says, “A lot of children nowadays are are found to be near-sighted (Myopic). Some of the children are predisposed, in others, excessive use of smart devices (Phones, IPad, video games etc) can aggravate the condition. Parents should try to restrict the amount of ‘screen time’ for their children. They should also be encouraged to inculcate good reading habits such as not reading in poor light or while lying down, or in a moving vehicle. A balanced diet is to be encouraged, especially including a portion of vegetables (the more coloured vegetables, the better!) and fruits every day. Junk food should be restricted as the effects of preservatives and colouring agents, though unproven, has not been found to contribute positively to the health of the growing child.”
Dr Sainani adds, “The bottom line is that this condition often shows no symptoms and will be detected only on a routine eye examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist. Thus, it is essential for every child to have a routine eye exam by 4 years of age. Early testing should be done if there is a family history of needing glasses or if the parents notice a squint. The commonest myth is that my child can see very well and is performing well in school so he doesn’t need glasses.”
EXERCISE FOR HEALTHY EYES
Hot and cold compress:
Soak one towel in hot water and one in cold water. Place the warm towel on your face such that it covers your eyebrows, eyelids and cheeks. Then replace with cold towel. Repeat few more times and end with cold compress.