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Eye-gazing: the new astrology?

WORLD SIGHT DAY 8 OCTOBER 2015

Poetic licence has it that eyes are the windows to our soul and tell us about our personality and character. They can certainly identify who we are but what we are may be a stretch.

Certainly our eyes offer a unique identity code which makes them ideal for security purposes since they are as individual as fingerprints. It is this singular characteristic that prompted researchers some years ago to attempt a correlation between patterns in the eye and personality characteristics. Much like star signs can tell us the future. A nice thought, but . . .

The romantic notion that eyes reflect our personality is based on the structure of lines, dots and colours in the iris. This is the most noticeable element of our complex eye structure which regulates the amount of light reaching the retina by controlling the size of the pupil.

The eye-gazing researchers suggested that eye structure and personality could be linked because the genes responsible for the development of the iris also play a role in shaping part of the frontal lobe of the brain, which influences personality.

That’s some interesting conjecture but what is indisputable is that the eyes provide a directory of our body health. Ophthalmologists can detect chronic systemic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure when examining eyes and this makes regular eye checks an important part of a sensible approach to our general health.

Eye checks should be part of our life progression. As children, routine checks can help ensure normal vision development which can facilitate or hinder academic achievement. Children with undetected vision problems can frequently experience difficulty with their schoolwork.

It is important to understand that youngsters cannot ask for help with their sight because they don’t know what they don’t know: they have no understanding of what “normal” vision is.

Not all eye checks are the same. The basic tests conducted when we go for a driving licence renewal, for instance, are very basic and will not tell us anything about our health. An optometrist can detect problems with vision and offer solutions such as glasses or contact lenses to make life easier.

But only an ophthalmologist, as a trained medical doctor with many additional years of specialised study of the eye, can diagnose diseases.

RANZCO recommends that we should have at least one full eye exam in our twenties and two during our thirties. As we get older it is a sensible precaution to increase the frequency of eye check-ups rising to a regular schedule in our forties and fifties and at least annually or every two years into our sixties and beyond.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Below are some common conditions that can be detected as part of a comprehensive eye check.

Strabismus.
 Often known as crossed or turned eyes which cause problems with depth perception and can trigger amblyopia.

Amblyopia occurs when the eyes are turned or when one eye has a much different prescription than the other. To manage this, the brain shuts off the image from the blurry eye but this can stunt development of that eye leading to permanent vision impairment. The brain will “shut off” the image from the turned or blurry eye. Left untreated, this condition can result in permanent vision impairment. Amblyopia is often treated by patching the stronger eye for periods of time.

Refractive errors cover a number of conditions including astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. Refractive errors are corrected with eyeglasses, contacts or refractive surgery.

Eye teaming problems. Even if eyes appear to be properly aligned, it’s possible they do not work together efficiently as a team. Such binocular vision problems can cause headaches, eye strain and other problems that can affect reading and other near vision tasks.

Focusing problems. These problems can range from incompletely developed focusing skills in children to normal age-related declines in focusing ability among older adults.

Eye diseases. Many eye diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms in their early stages. An eye check by an ophthalmologist will determine the health of eyes, inside and out, for signs of early problems. In most cases, early detection and treatment of eye diseases can help reduce risk for permanent vision loss.

Other diseases. Ophthalmologists can detect early signs of some conditions and diseases by looking at an eye’s blood vessels, retina and other elements. This can provide indications of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other problems.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Emma Carr or Josie Faunce at RANZCO on 02 9690 1001 and media@ranzco.edu

Last updated: November 29, 2018

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