Thursday, February 24, 2011

Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Your Eyes

Few people could argue that without our 5 senses life would be pretty dull. All our senses are extremely important but I think if you asked most people which sense would they least like to lose they would probably say their vision. As with most of our abilities, our vision is something that many of us take for granted. If you stop and think for a moment, you will realize that just about everything we do in our day to day life involves our vision. During this article I am going to try and see if I can get you to start thinking a little bit more about your eyes. Listed below is my top 10 list of weird and wonderful things you didn’t know about your eyes

10.  Everyone needs reading glasses as they get older

This is assuming that you already have perfect distance vision. If you are currently reading this article and are under 40 years of age with perfect distance vision, I can say with absolute certainty that you will need reading glasses at some point in the future. For about 99% of the population the age that you will first start needing reading glasses is between 43 and 50 years old. This is because the lens in your eye slowly loses its focusing ability with age. In order to focus things near to you, your lens has to change from a flat to a more spherical shape and it loses the ability to do this as you get older. As you get to around 45 years old you will start to hold things further away from you to keep them focus.

9.  The lens in your eye is quicker than any camera lens

Just behind the pupil sits the eyes natural lens, whose function is to focus on the object you are looking at. Just take a minute to glance around the room and think about how many different distances you are focusing at. Every time you do this, the lens in your eye is instantly changing focus without you even being aware of it! Compare that with a camera lens which takes a few seconds to focus between one distance and another. Just be thankful that the lens in your eye is as quick as it is, otherwise things would be continually going in and out of focus.

8.  Your eyes are fully developed by the age of 7 years old

By the age of 7 years old our eyes are fully developed and are physiologically the same as adult’s eyes. It is for this reason that it is vitally important to pick up a lazy eye before we reach this age. The earlier a lazy eye is diagnosed, the greater the chance it will respond to treatment, as the eyes are still developing and capable of an improvement in vision. Beyond 7 years old no amount of treatment will result in any improvement in vision.

7. You blink approximately 15,000 times each day

Blinking is a semi- involuntary function meaning we do it automatically, but can also choose to blink if we so require. Blinking is an extremely important function of your eyes as it helps remove any debris on the surface of your eye, by spreading fresh tears over them. These tears help to nourish your eyes with oxygen and also have important anti bacterial properties. You can think of the function of blinking as being similar to the action of the windscreen wipers on your car, cleaning and removing everything to keep you seeing clearly.

6.   Everyone gets cataracts as they get older

People don’t realize that cataracts are just a normal consequence of getting older and everyone gets them at some point in their life. You can think of cataracts as being similar to getting grey hair, in that it is just a normal natural age change. The average age people first get cataracts is about aged 70 years old and by 80 years old you are guaranteed to have cataracts. In the same way that you could not find any aged 80 years old without grey hair, it would be equally impossible to find anyone over 80 years old without cataracts. Cataracts refer to a gradual clouding of the lens in your eye and typically take about ten years from onset to them needing treatment.

5.  Diabetes is often first detected during an eye test

People who suffer from type 2 diabetes (the type you develop later in life) are often symptom free, meaning they often don’t even know that they have it. This type of diabetes is commonly picked up during an eye test as it can be seen as tiny hemorrhages from leaking blood vessels at the back of your eye. This certainly is good reason to get your eyes tested regularly.

4.  You see with your brain and not your eyes

The function of your eyes is to collect all the required information about the object you are looking at. This information is then passed from your eye to the brain via the optic nerve. It is the brain (visual cortex) where all this information is analyzed to enable you to ‘see’ the object in its finished form. This is not to say that your eyes don’t play an important role as they certainly do.

3. Your eyes can adapt to blind spots in your vision

Certain eye conditions such as Glaucoma and certain general health conditions such as having a stroke, can lead to you developing blind spots in your vision. This would be extremely debilitating if it wasn’t for your brain and your eyes ability to adapt to make these blind spots disappear. It does this by suppressing the blind spot in your affected eye and letting your other good eye ‘fill in the gaps’. It is adaptation like this that makes your eyes so resilient.

2.  20:20 vision is not the best vision you can have

When people hear the phrase 20:20 vision they assume that this is the best vision possible. However this is not true as 20:20 vision refers to what the average adult should be able to see. If you imagine a typical eye test chart the 20:20 vision is probably only the line second from the bottom. The line below it is even smaller than 20:20 vision and would mean you have 20:16 vision. So don’t be so impressed next time someone tells you they have 20:20 vision!

1. Your eyes water when they are dry

I know this might sound crazy but this is one of strange facts about your eyes. Your tears are made up of 3 different components and they are water, mucus and fat. If these 3     components are not in exactly the right quantities, your eyes can become dry as a consequence. Your brain responds to this dryness by producing extra water and hence your eyes water.

Monday, February 21, 2011

          Three years ago I was struck down by a stroke. Three years later I am still stricken with the malady. In the beginning, I asked doctors about the condition and was told that there is no cure for stroke. Period. I asked about the symptoms and was told there are no symptoms meaning a stroke will attack a person suddenly, without warning. That is bad news, very bad news.
         Following my own advice, I did not believe that. So, I thought back to my experiences and I found that there are plenty of signs that a person is susceptible to an attack of the deadly stroke. Hah! If you cannot cure it at least you can prevent it. That is what we should all do. We must choose to avoid the stroke or be condemned to consuming tons of pills whose veracity is questionable. How do we go about that, how can we prevent stroke. Will it be expensive? Will it be time consuming? Before we go into details let us first recognise the symptoms, the signs if you like.
          More than thirty years ago, while reversing my car, I suddenly found that I could not move my right leg. It simply refused to obey me. I went to see a doctor immediately and all I got was two days medical leave. That was the first sign that I was heading for a stroke. After two days rest, I was back on my feet as if nothing had happened. I just put it down to work stress and physical and mental exhaustion. When I was afflicted with the stroke and certain parts of my body refused to obey me I realised that I had experienced that feeling before.
          I will now endeavour to put down on paper, for you, the other signs so that you may recognise a potential victim before the stroke strikes and be able to take evasive steps to prevent it  happening. These signs will be presented  randomly as they come to mind.
1.  When walking you stumble even on  level ground.
2. You kick the legs of chairs and tables when you usually walk pass them effortlessly.  1 & 2 is because your legs are not as strong as they used to be although you do not realise it. 
3.  You sometimes find you  cannot pronounce the 'ar' sound and it comes out as 'el', your speech is slurred and sometimes you drool.

4. The pen you are holding slips from your fingers. Holding up the newspaper can be a problem because your fingers have lost their flexibility. You think it is clumsiness when in truth it is not. It is caused by your muscles having lost their strength. 
5. After sitting for some time you find that you cannot stand up as usual. You lose your balance and fall back onto the seat. 
6. You also lose your balance when you squat and may find yourself sitting instead of standing up. 
7. You are always sleepy even after a good night's sleep. This sleepiness is quite diferrent from the usual tiredness you experience after a restless or late night.
8. Urinating has become a problem. Instead of a strong stream what you get is a trickle and this causes you to go to the toilet often.
9. Constipation becomes more frequent as your rectal muscles do not work well anymore. 
10. Sometimes you will find you are forgetful and  mental activities become difficult as your brain weakens through lack of nourishment. Blood is not getting through to your brain quickly enough.
          Some of these signs will come and go, so much so that you do not take them seriously when they do occur. You tend to pass them off as signs of physical and mental stress and fatique or in certain cases of aging. Since there is no pain you do not think it necessary to see a doctor. Anyway, the signs come on only momentarily and disappear almost at once. So that you think it is not anything serious and a visit to a doctor is out of the question, until it is too late that is. Then, it is the doctor who has to come to you. Another thing, the signs are similar to many other diseases and illnesses which are quite common. Seeing a doctor would be rather pointless, as far as a stroke is concerned, as you would only describe the symptoms you are experiencing at that particular moment.
          Now we come to the important part of this discourse, how do we prevent stroke. What can we do or rather what should we do when these signs appear one by one. Let it be known that I am  not a doctor and never in my dreams do I even pretend to be one. So what I am about to tell you is mostly from my own experience.
Firstly, when you find that your body is not functioning as it should, that some parts are slacking and not obeying your brain as it normally does, you should start exercising. Go for long walks.
Incidently, you will experience immediate benefits even while exercising, such as clearer vision and mental alertness. Make it a habit to go for walks at least three times a week. Do not stop. I did go for walks but then I stopped when the symptoms disappeared. I made the mistake of not exercising for far too long and then it was too late. The stroke struck!
Remember, regular exercise is very important in promoting blood circulation. Of course, other forms of exercises will be just as good for you. One word of advise, exercises performed with the use of machines are not necessarily the best and that is why I advocate free hand exercises like walking, jogging and swimming.
Drinking lots of water helps immensely. Drink two glasses of water first thing in the morning every morning. Then drink one or two mouthfuls every half hour or whenever thirsty. This is to provide the blood stream with a regular supply of fresh water as our body gets rid of water all the time. We lose water when we breathe, sweat and urinate. Lack of water means poor blood circulation which can lead to stroke.
Eating proper foods is also important and I mean greens and fruits on a daily basis. Everything else can be enjoyed in moderation. A monk who practises healing advised me on certain foods to take to prevent the occurence of stroke. It is my pleasure to be able to share it with you here. He said that to prevent stroke I should drink a soup made of one cucumber and one red tomato. Boil them together, strain and drink one or two glasses daily. That will help prevent the blood from coagulating (or is it congealing?).
Stroke affects the brain and the best remedy for it is egg yolk. The monk suggested I take the yolk from  free-range chickens leaving out the white. The egg must be hardboiled. Consuming egg yolks is also recommended for elderly people as well as school children because it helps to nourish the brain and thus improves memory.
         What do we do when someone is suddenly seized by a stroke?  Chinese physicians will use a pin to prick the ends of the fingers and toes, all twenty of them, and squeeze out a few drops of blood from each prick. The logic is that by drawing blood one is stimulating the flow of blood. Think of it as unlocking a traffic jam. The needle must first be disinfected by putting it over a flame and wiped clean with tissue paper. Everyone and anyone can do this because there is absolutely no danger whatsoever. Wait, not everybody can do that. Oh?  Yes, those people who are afraid of blood, else we will have two patients instead of one.
          Okay, you are now as expert as I am in the matter of strokes. Share the information herein with anyone and everyone who is willing to lend you their ears. Perhaps, there will be less people afflicted with the dreaded stroke (slight shiver).