Taking care of the window to the soul

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THE eyes are the window to the soul. Sadness and happy feelings are reflected in the eyes. We recognize all sorts of forms, colors, beauty and the like through the eyes. The eyes are indeed a blessing from God, but not many people take good care of them. Hence, various diseases that start from blurred vision, which, if not properly treated, can lead to blindness due to cataracts or glaucoma, for example.

A regular eye checkup is absolutely necessary as a preventive step. However, not many people realize they should regularly get their eyes checked. Even in a developed country like the US, for example, one out of five people failed to have their eyes checked in the past two years, while based on surveys conducted by the American Optometric Association, 81 percent of the US population wear either spectacles or contact lens. “Many people often forget that prevention is better than cure, although today’s doctors can cure almost all eye diseases,” said Dr. Iwan Subijantoro, an ophthalmologist at the Jakarta Eye Center.

Most people say they have no problem with their vision and their eyes are fine. In fact they do not realize there are quite a number of eye diseases that do not have early symptoms, for example glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve and narrows the vision. Generally, by the time one realizes there is a blind spot the damage is quite extensive, while if the entire optic nerve is damaged then total blindness is unavoidable.

Glaucoma, one of a number of serious eye diseases, damages the optical nerve, which carries light messages to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve is caused by excessive liquid in the eyes. The liquid produced by the tissues carry nutrition for the cornea and lens. The liquid also maintains the pressure so that the eye remains in good form. The pressure produced by the liquid is called intraoculer pressure.

An excess in liquid is due to overproduction or less flow into the blood vessels. When excessive liquid accumulates it creates pressure not only on the optic nerve but also on the eye itself. The excess liquid eventually causes pressure in the retina and damages the optic nerve, rendering it unable to send messages to the brain. This results in impaired vision, and if not treated properly, irreversible blindness.

Medically, glaucoma can be overcome with medicine or an operation. Before resorting to surgery, treatment through medicine is usually given. The prescribed medicine reduces the intraoculer pressure and in turn decreases the liquid and boosts the outflow to the blood vessels. However, the medicine may have side effects, such as an allergic reaction, hazy vision, headaches, inflammation, lowering of blood pressure and heartbeat and negative effects on the kidneys. Alternatively, glaucoma can be cured through vitamins and minerals that can reduce the intraoculer pressure, such as vitamin C, B1 (thiamin), chromium and zinc.

While eye diseases attack mostly adults, prevention is also important for children. Thus regular checkups are recommended as today’s sophisticated and modern medical sciences can cure most eye diseases.

At Jakarta Eye Center, for instance, thousands of patients have been treated through its unique One-Stop Services located centrally with six eye health centers. Meanwhile, the Siloam Eye Clinic with its highly sophisticated equipment is ready to help patients with eye problems, including early detection from childhood, general eye checkups for adults, various therapies and eye surgeries.

The Siloam Eye Clinic handles a range of eye treatments, starting from early detection of eye problems in children, general eye checkups for adults, therapy for general eye problems, micro-eye surgery, treatment with laser and other eye treatments. “Our service priority is developing good relations between eye specialists at Siloam Eye Clinic and patients and families of patients in solving patients’ eye problems,” said Dr. Endang M. Johani, Siloam Eye Clinic Siloam. (Reyhan Fabiano)

The Jakarta Post, August 26, 2009

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