Vision and evolution
Sight is by far our most important sense, thanks to which we receive about 80% of the information about the world around us. With the help of sight, we can find food and water, as well as assess the safety of their sources. It also helps us to protect ourselves from natural enemies and last but not least – to find a partner. We are usually able to tell in just a few seconds whether someone we see for the first time is nice to us or not. Love “at first sight” is possible, not only because of the existence of romance but also because of the enormous capabilities of the visual analyst, which processes exceptional amounts of information in a minimum of time.
Evolutionarily, the ability to see far away was crucial – so prehistoric people found food and protected themselves from dangers. Nowadays, with the exception of some activities, such as driving, for example, almost all the objects with which we interact in our daily lives are at our fingertips.
That is why we lose our ability to see well in the distance, but we begin to see better near, ie. we develop myopia or in medical language – myopia. According to some, it is a disease, and according to others – the result of adaptation to the modern lifestyle.
How to protect your eyes
The eyes have rather complex anatomy and their different parts can be damaged by various factors.
Posterior eye segment and retina
The retina contains the cells that convert light waves into a nerve impulse, which is then perceived as an image in the cerebral cortex. The retina is made up of cells of neuroepithelial origin known as rods and cones. Their highest concentration is in the so-called macula – the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision. Strong light stimuli, especially from the blue light spectrum, can damage these cells. How to protect yourself and what are the sources of these irritations?
First of all – different screens that we stare at every day, starting from the smartphone display, through the computer, to the TV. The easiest solution seems to be to reduce your time in front of the screen, but this is not always easy, and for some people, computer work is directly related to their profession. One way to protect yourself is to use special goggles. Even if you have normal vision, these can be just glasses without diopters, but with the necessary filters, incl. blue light filter. Probably most of us do not realize, but electronic screens are a source of strong light and a large part of it is with such a wavelength (around the blue color), which is known to most damage the retina. It is no coincidence that a number of applications have been developed for all types of devices, which aim to “muffle”, i.e. to filter the blue light (which could cause damage) from the screen.
Sunlight can also be quite intense, and not just on hot summer days. In winter, when there is snow, due to its enormous reflectivity, we are again exposed to strong light from the visible and invisible spectrum, which can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina.
That is why it is recommended to use sunglasses that you are sure to provide protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Wearing dark glasses without protection is dangerous because when darkening, the pupil of the eye opens wider and if we do not provide adequate protection, a wider beam of light will enter, respectively – damage most of the retina.
Driving, especially at night, can also put your eyes at risk. As already mentioned, in a darker environment, the pupil dilates (visual adaptation) and this is the reason why the headlights of oncoming cars irritate you, and sometimes there is “blinding”. The latter, in addition to a direct danger to the road, also creates a higher risk of retinal damage. There are various filters (for glasses, for the car windshield) that can help in such situations.
Anterior eye segment – cornea, conjunctiva, and their hygiene
In front of the eyeball is the cornea (from the Latin – cornea), which is the most refractive medium of the eye. The eyeball itself as well as the inside of the eyelids are covered with a thin membrane called the conjunctiva. The eyes are very vulnerable and we must take care to protect them. In case a foreign body gets into the eye, we should try to wash it very carefully with water or saline solution – preferably sterile. Squeezing and rubbing should be avoided, as even small dust particles could injure the conjunctiva. When practicing various sports, especially those related to chlorinated water, wind, and/or high speed, the risk of getting a foreign body in the eye is many times higher – it is recommended to use special goggles tailored to the sport.
People who wear contact lenses should take care of their cleanliness and follow the instructions for use. Cosmetics applied to the area around the eyes could also be a source of irritation – try to use quality and tested products, as well as those that you have already used and known that you tolerate well. Many people suffer from allergies to various agents – plant pollen, house dust, etc., and these reactions can affect the eyes – causing redness, tearing, irritation.
Here are some basic rules that can help in such cases:
- Wash your hands and face regularly, especially after being outdoors and at bedtime
- Keep the windows closed during the active flowering of the pollen to which you are allergic. The best hours for ventilation are in the evening between 19 and 24hand in the morning between 6 and 8h.
- When driving – keep the windows closed and change the interior air filter regularly
- Clean the filters of your vacuum cleaner regularly
- Replace carpets with flooring that retains less dust – laminate, parquet, or tile.
Eye lens and accommodation
The eye lens is also located in the anterior segment of the eye and is another refractive medium through which light rays pass. There are muscles in the eye (ciliary muscles) that can change the shape of the lens capsule, thus the lens itself swells or slaps into the anterior-posterior axis. This property is called accommodation and allows us to focus on objects located at different distances from us. In young people, the lens is more “plastic” and accommodation is faster and more effective, and with age, the chances of changing the diameter of the lens decrease. A common problem, especially when working with close objects, is the so-called spasm of accommodation. Due to the prolonged contraction of the ciliary muscle, it becomes spastic and cannot be easily relaxed.
This severely impairs vision at a distance because the lens cannot relax and reduce its anterior-posterior size. There are various exercises that can help us prevent spasm in accommodation, and a key recommendation is to avoid monotonous activities without rest.
There are many different techniques we can use to keep our eyes in shape. One of the well-known rules is 20/20/20 – when working with a computer or reading – every 20 minutes to look at an object at a distance of 20 meters for 20 seconds.
Here are some other tips and tricks:
Fast (fluttering) blinking
Suitable for prolonged staring and when you feel tension and fatigue in the eyes. Blink lightly and quickly at least 15-20 times in a row, without squeezing the eyes, try to keep the facial muscles as relaxed as possible. Then close your eyes briefly and relax. You can repeat several times or set an alarm and do it periodically while you work. This exercise helps to moisturize the eye surface and evenly distribute the tear film, preventing the development of dry eye syndrome. If you do it while driving, however, stop briefly and stop the car in a suitable place.
Eye closure (palming)
This is another technique by which one can assess the fatigue in one’s eyes and help oneself in overcoming it. The name palming comes from English. – palm – palm. It is covering the eyes with the palms, and the goal is to keep no light from reaching them – we know that even through closed eyelids, light still passes. Under normal circumstances, in this situation, you should “see” just a black field. Often, however, people continue to see different stripes, dots, spots, and more. These visualizations are the result of a tense nervous system and are generated by the visual centers in the brain – their presence is a sign of fatigue. If you regularly provide your eyes with such a “rest” – seconds in which they do not receive any information, you should reach a state in which you will feel only deep darkness when palming
There are various methods for moving these important muscles – in some, movements are simply performed in all directions, according to some experts – only the eyes should move, without the head, and in others, it is good to move both. You can set a goal to follow the contours of an object or move your gaze in different mental forms – spiral, circle, arc, and more.
Relaxation of accommodation
In addition to periodically looking as far away as possible to maintain the tone of your ciliary muscle, you can do exercises in which you focus on nearby objects. A fun way is to use the finger of your outstretched hand as a close object, as when you focus far away, your finger “splits” and when you focus on it, the far object splits in turn. If you find it difficult to change your focus fast enough, you can help yourself by blinking between staring at different objects.
10 rules to remember about the health of our eyes
In summary: the eyes are our most important sensory organ and their protection is key. To this end, it is important to follow the following recommendations:
- Do not expose your eyes to excessive light stimuli – wear sunglasses outdoors, and in front of the screens – protective ones
- If possible, reduce the time spent in front of a monitor and screen with its own light
- Include in your diet enough antioxidants, vitamin A, zinc, as well as foods containing the visual pigments lutein and zeaxanthin
- To keep our eyes clean if we use contact lenses – to take care of their adequate maintenance
- Do not use irritating and/or allergenic cosmetics
- To take enough fluids, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids to ensure normal tear film composition
- To avoid excessive use of air conditioners, including in the car and other appliances that strongly dried air
- To provide rest to the eyes at their increased load, as well as enough sleep
- To make a habit of doing exercises that allow the eye to regain its capabilities and not get tired
- Let’s not forget that in the presence of a more serious problem it is best to seek medical help from a specialist. If we suffer or are at increased risk of any eye disease – to do preventive ophthalmological examinations.
Name- Samdeesh Puri
Bio- Samdeesh is the owner of Divine Life Science, Divine Life Science is a pharmaceutical company that produces a herbal uterine tonic for women’s health.