Eye Care Awareness Month is commemorated from 21 September to 18 October to raise awareness about the importance of eye health, specifically around the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness. 75% of all cases of blindness is avoidable either through prevention or through treatment – which is why it is important to get your eyes tested at least once per year. (South African Government: 2020
Major eye problems
Sudden symptoms and those that last for more than a couple of days should be checked by an eye doctor as some serious eye diseases often have sudden symptoms. The following is a list of common eye problems and their possible causes (Bedinghaus & Watt: 2019).
Many people have experienced eye twitches. An eye twitch is an involuntary movement of the eyelid and is often due to stress or fatigue and might not be serious. The same applies for itching eyes, but if it lasts for longer than a week it is recommended to rather see an optician. (American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Is an Eyelid Spasm or Twitching Eyelid? 2019)
Spots and Floaters
If a person sees spots and/or faint strands floating around that seem to move away when he/she is looking, it is better to consult with an optician. Sometimes a large floater can appear out of the blue and can be worrisome
(Bergstrom, Vitreous Floaters. [Updated 2019 Jun 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470420/). Spots and floaters may occur with the following conditions: retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, posterior vitreous detachment, and stroke.
Blurry vision is another annoying eye problem. We can all expect a bit of blurring as we get older, as focusing becomes more difficult as our eyes age. But sometimes blurred vision can signal more serious eye problems. The following eye problems can also cause blurry vision: near-sightedness, presbyopia, astigmatism, cataracts and glaucoma amongst others.
Age-Related Eye Problems
Many eye problems can occur as we get older. Besides losing our ability to bring small objects into focus or see things clearly at a distance, our eyes become vulnerable to diseases and complications as we age (Chader, Taylor, Preface: The ageing eye: normal changes, age-related diseases, and sight-saving approaches. Invest Ophthalmology Vis Sci. 2013; 54(14): ORSF1–ORSF4. Published 2013 Dec 13. doi:10.1167/iovs.13-12993).
They help you navigate the world and require little in the way of daily maintenance, but when one or both of your eyes begin to bother you, it can become a major distraction.
So how can you tell which eye issues are no biggie and which ones indicate serious trouble?
Over 60% of the world’s population or over 4.5 billion people require corrective lenses or procedures for eye and vision problems.
The world is a blurry place for almost half a million young South Africans. This is according to a new Youth Explorer portal launched by the University of Cape Town on Youth Day. It shares crucial data on issues affecting the youth of our country‚ and it reveals that around 450‚000 South African youth are having trouble seeing‚ even when using glasses. At 4%‚ visual impairment is the biggest problem in the category of general health and functioning – compared with the second-biggest categories which are at 1% and include problems with walking‚ communication‚ hearing‚ and self-care. According to the portal‚ the country has around 10 million youth between the ages of 15 to 24. Of those 10 million youth living around the country‚ 4% of youth in Mpumalanga‚ Western Cape‚ KZN and Eastern Cape have trouble seeing even when wearing glasses.
Blindness prevalence rates vary widely but the evidence suggests that approximately 1% of Africans are blind. The major cause is cataract; trachoma and glaucoma are also important causes of blindness. The bulk of blindness in the region is preventable or curable.