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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Five + 1 Things your ophthalmologist should tell you


Five + 1 Things your ophthalmologist should tell you (while they don’t usually)

Revelations of common myths about your eye

It has been five long years that I am bespectacled and every time I visit my eye doctor, I come home with a disappointment. No matter how frequently or how infrequently I get my eye checked up, it always turns out that I need more powerful glasses. Being a girl I hate the fact that I have to wear specs the rest of my life. More heart rendering is the fact that instead of recovering, the ability of my eyes to see clearly is decreasing every day. (Will I get blind one day?) I wanted to know why and ended up having an hour long chat with an eye surgeon who lives nearby my place.  After the chat I feel like never visiting my old ophthalmologist again. I hate her now. I am already suffering with eye problems but I don’t want others too. So here I am, sharing the knowledge I gained, so that you know what to ask for while getting your eye checked up. The following are the myths I had or my friends had and the truths as told by my new neighbour – Dr. Bhattacharya. (Now if you never had the myths that I had, don’t look at me in disgust, people may think silly at times)

1.       We go to visit the eye doctor usually at an older age and end up saying –“Playing too much video game ruined my eyes” or “I used to watch TV from the chair closest to it, now I am ruined for the same” or “The teacher’s bad handwriting ruined my eyes”. Well, no way can the above sentences be true. As the doctor said, and as we all had studied in class VIII physics that we have eye problems because the images which were supposed to be formed on the retina (imagine it to be like a tiny curtain within the eye ball)  get formed in front of it or behind it but not on it. And that’s why we see the stuffs as smaller or larger but not as their actual size. (See your old science book for further details, don’t expect me to explain any further as I am only here to clear the myths and not the concepts :-P ) . Now this is a syndrome that can’t be created by itself after watching much TV or playing much e-games or even studying too much. If you are myopic or hypermetropic it’s because you were born that way.

Parents usually don’t realize that their kids might have eye troubles. When kids insist to get a closer view while watching TV, parents think that they like it that way. The kids never realize because they think everyone else sees the world like they do. It’s when they get their usual seats rotated in the classroom that they realize that they can’t see the written words of the blackboard clearly when they sit either on the first bench or on the last bench. That’s why it takes us from 7-15 years or so to tell our parents that we need to get our eye checked up. If your kid has a similar problem, you better take them to an eye clinic.

Now don’t feel bad and think that you are “defective by default”. You are not. Bhattacharya Sir explains this quite in a funny way – “An Ostrich’s egg and a Hen’s egg may be larger and smaller respectively than a Duck’s egg, but nevertheless they are eggs. “

2.       Every time I used to go to my previous Ophthalmologist she used to say, “You need so much power, I am afraid, I suggest glasses of lower power, so that you can adjust with it from the first day itself”. Now this is where she was wrong, as said by Dr. Bhattacharya. As a result I adjusted with my new glasses pretty well at the end of the day but my eyes still could not see things clearly (I need cylindrical power too) and faced stresses. Consequently I ended up needing more power on my next visit. She again decreased it and the cycle continued. Recently I realized that in one year the power I need increased a lot. Now a fluctuation (increase or decrease) of 0.75 is considered normal by doctors. Unfortunately mine wasn’t.

Moral of the story: Next time your doctor says the same way mine did; tell him/her to prescribe you 6 by 6 power. Now 6 by 6 is a ratio which means the power you need to see things just like anyone else with normal eyesight does. (It is called 6 by 6 because it enables you to see the alphabet chart in the eye clinics clearly from a distance of 6 ft.)

Unfortunately I was given 5/6 so I still have problems while trying to read words on the class blackboard.
3.       Eyelid swellings (called sty when it is major) is a problem I started having from a few months. I had eyelid swellings thrice or four times in a period of six months. Doctor said it’s because I need more power. Friends said it is infectious and I should wash my hands with sanitizers before touching anyone.
Uncle Bhattacharya says, “It’s so not.” It is not infectious and is a characteristic of a person just like his/her soft skin or thick hair etc. It is not directly related to the power you need but indirectly it holds true. When you have trouble seeing with your eye or you have dirt in your eye you rub it. You rub it so hard that it leaves your eyes red and the eyelids lose their outer skin (epidermis, if I am not wrong). Now when new skin is formed they might be formed in a slightly larger amount than required. As a result a tear gland is blocked and you have eyelid swellings.
Moral of the story: You should wash your eyes regularly not to let dirt stay. Massaging eyelids softly can open blocked pores if any.

4.       Eye Surgery: For squint eye if you undergo a surgery, all they do is cut and loosen the muscle tissues holding your eye ball so as to bring the black part of the eye ball (pupil) to the middle position. Scary.
Scarier it is if you want a laser treatment (LASIK) for your eye, to adjust your power permanently. While doing that they cut a tiny part of your cornea. Then they expose your eye to laser beams which cut the lens inside your eye ball tangentially at parts so that (fills me with dread even while writing this) the image formed falls on the retina. The cut part of the cornea is again fitted into its place. (Ewww!)

5.       Contact lens are advised for cosmetic purpose (i.e. if you want to look good, and avoid the marks of your spectacles) and for comfort too. While wearing specs you have to lift your head or turn left and right to see things clearly that are not in front of you. This is because spectacles are so made that the area near its boundaries doesn’t have the same power as the middle portion. But contact lens covers the whole cornea and as a result you can just roll your eyes in whichever direction and see things clearly. Advantages are many but their disadvantages are that you can wear them continuously for maximum 8 hours. They come costly for those who have cylindrical power, and they are to be changed every year. They are to be kept in a liquid solution which doctor gives you.
Common myth is that if you wear contact lens your eyes will itch. It only itches if dirt gets its way in and this is because spectacles protect your eyes to some extent from dirt or any other particles that, in its absence, would have hit they eye directly while it ain’t so in the case of contact lenses.

6.       Tear glands are located behind the outer part of each upper lid too along with the corners near the nose.
There is no moral to this point. I didn’t know this, wondered if you do.


This is all I understood in an hour of time while talking to the first doctor I liked. Correct me if I am wrong. I am all ears (read: eyes). J