Level of education is more decisive than intelligence for the development of short-sightedness

Environmental factors such as education and leisure activities have a greater influence on the development of short-sightedness or myopia than the ability to think logically and solve problems. Myopia and the so-called “fluid intelligence” of a person are certainly related, but only indirectly through the duration of education. This is the conclusion of researchers at the Mainz University Medical Center involved in the study “Myopia and Cognitive Performance: Results from the Gutenberg Health Study.” The results of the study appeared in the October issue of the specialist journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

Myopia, also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, is the most common disorder affecting the eyesight and the condition is on the increase. Severe short-sightedness is one of the main causes of impaired vision. In addition, it is closely associated with an increased risk of secondary complications such as retinal detachmentmacular degeneration, premature cataracts, and glaucoma. Because myopia can be easily treated in the early stages, although it cannot be fully cured, insight into the causes of the disease is of central importance.

“We know from earlier studies that a higher level of education frequently goes hand-in-hand with the development of short-sightedness,” said Professor Norbert Pfeiffer, Director of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Together with Professor Alireza Mirshahi, Director of the Bonn Dardenne Eye Clinic, and Professor Josef Unterrainer, who heads the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Freiburg, Pfeiffer was in charge of the study “Myopia and Cognitive Performance: Results From the Gutenberg Health Study,” which was the subject of the recent publication. The core question being considered is whether short-sighted people are not only better educated but also more intelligent.

Based on their findings, the research team lead by Pfeiffer, Mirshahi, and Unterrainer have come to the following conclusions: Considered in isolation, cognitive ability and, thus, intelligence apparently plays a significant role in the development of short-sightedness. But when the researchers took into account already identified potential influencing factors, they discovered that the number of years over which an individual received education exhibited a more direct and closer relationship with short-sightedness than cognitive ability. This means that it is only through educational attainments that cognitive ability is linked to myopia. In other words, the level of education rather than intelligence is more decisive for development of short-sightedness. In the case of two equally intelligent people, it is thus most probably the one who attended school for longer and has the better educational qualifications who will become myopic and experience more defective vision.

For their study, the research team analyzed data collected within the framework of the Gutenberg Health Study conducted by the Mainz University Medical Center. This is one of the largest population-based research studies in the world. The sub-cohort consisted of some 4,000 subjects aged 40 to 79 years. The researchers used the Tower of London (TOL) test to measure cognitive functioning. The 20-minute test assesses cognitive ability by mentally planning ahead and problem solving. In order to diagnose myopia, the researchers examined the refractive power of the eyes of subjects, thus determining how much their eyes had to adjust to produce a sharp image. Short-sightedness is characterized by negative diopter values. In the study, myopia was diagnosed when the identified diopter value was less than or equal to 0.5.


Are your eyes looking worse for wear this winter?

Winter can be harsh on our eyes. From the damaging reflection of sun on snow and ice to the discomfort of dry eye, our most precious sense is often under attack during the winter season. Check out our top tips for warding off eye health problems as the cold starts to bite.

Protection against UV rays
Snow and ice are reflective, meaning the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can reach your eyes from below as well as above you. If snow has fallen in your area, or if you’re off on a skiing holiday, you should be considering wearing protective glasses to reduce the damage that can be caused by the sun’s reflection. UV exposure is cumulative so although you may not feel any immediate effects, you could be putting yourself at risk of long term damage to the retina and lens of the eye by increasing the risk of developing conditions such as cataracts and possibly AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) over time.
The glare of a low-lying sun on icy roads can also cause difficulty for drivers, even for those with good vision so it’s really important to make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out. It’s useful to have a pair of sunglasses in the car to help with this. If you wear spectacles, sunglasses can be made to your prescription, including bifocals and varifocals.
If you are venturing off to the ski slopes then buy good quality, specially designed sunglasses or goggles. Check for confirmation that they comply with the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013, or are made by a reputable manufacturer and have a CE mark. The CE mark is the manufacturer’s assurance that they meet European safety standards.

Dry eye
Dry eyes can cause itchiness or scratchiness, as well as blurred vision. The condition is not usually serious, however there are some rare cases where severe untreated dry eye has led to scarring of the eye’s surface. Dry eye may be caused because your eyes do not produce enough tears, or because the tears that you do produce evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly across the front of your eye. The treatment depends upon the cause, so it is important to speak to your optometrist if your eyes feel dry. If your eyes are dry because they do not produce enough tears you may find eye drops, gels or ointments that contain ‘tear substitutes’, helpful. These are designed to lubricate your eyes and are available from many optometrists or from a pharmacy without prescription.
There are some simple steps you can take to minimise the discomfort caused by dry eyes:
• Lower the temperature in rooms – high temperatures make tears evaporate more quickly
• Blink more – many people find that their dry eye gets worse during tasks such as reading or computer work because we unconsciously blink less when we are doing anything that needs lots of visual attention
• Use a humidifier at work and at home – this will help moisten the surrounding air. If you cannot afford a humidifier, lightly spraying your curtains with water several times a day can help keep the air moist. Opening windows for a few minutes on cold days, and longer in the spring and summer, will also help to keep the air moist.

Watery eyes
In cold and windy conditions, many people complain of their eyes watering more than normal. Typically, the symptoms of watery eye are excessive tearing which is made worse by being outdoors. Wearing spectacles will provide protection against the wind, even if you don’t usually wear them outdoors. In some cases, excessive watering of the eyes may be a sign of blocked tear ducts or infection of the eye. If you are concerned about the health of your eyes, then visit your optometrist who will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Tired eyes / eye fatigue
People often find doing tasks such as reading, writing and sewing more difficult in the winter because there is less natural light available. There is little evidence to suggest that this causes our eyes any long-term damage, however if our eyes are having to work harder to focus then this may lead to eyestrain. It is normal to find that it is easier to see things when the light is good, so we would recommend having an angle-poise lamp or similar, whilst under taking near vision tasks, as this will help. Your optometrist will be happy to recommend suitable lighting.


What is Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which is located behind the iris and pupil.
Cataracts are the most common cause of visual loss in people over the age of 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.
In fact, there are more cases of cataracts worldwide than there are of glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined, according to a recent study.
Types of cataract include:
  • A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high dosed of steroid medication have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
  • A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts are usually associated with ageing.
  • A cortical cataract is characterised by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the centre in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the lens nucleus.
Cataract signs and symptoms
blurry-vision-cataract
Cloudy, blurred vision can be one of the first symptoms of a cataract. A cataract may make light from the sun or a lamp seem too bright or glaring. Increased glare from on coming headlights may be noticed whilst driving at night and colours may not seem as bright as they once did.
the type of cataract present will determine the symptoms presented.
If you suspect that you may have a cataract, it is wise to have an eye examination to investigate this further.
What causes cataracts?
The lens inside the eye works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina for clear vision. it also adjusts the eye’s focus, enabling clear vision both up close and far away.
The lens is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. However as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. this is cataract and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens making it harder to see.
Besides advancing age, cataract risk factors include:
  • Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and other sources.
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged us of corticosteroid medications
  • Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Significant alcohol consumption
  • High myopia
  • Family history
One theory that is gaining favour now, is that oxidative changes within the lens cause cataracts. Nutritional studies would seem to support this, with an inclusion of anti oxidant rich fruits and vegetables in the diet to counteract the damage, being recommended.
food-plate-cataract
Studies have shown that higher dietary intakes of vitamin E and the caratenoids lutein and zeathanthin from food and supplements were associated with significantly decreased risks of cataracts.
Good food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds and avocados. Good sources of lutein and zeathanthin include spinach, kale and other leafy green vegetables.
Other studies have shown antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids may reduce cataract risk.
Another important step in preventing cataract formation is the use of protective sunglasses that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays when outdoors.
Cataract treatment
Initial symptoms may be improved with spectacles or a change in prescription. Appropriate magnification and lighting may also help.
Surgery can be considered when the cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair vision and affect daily life.
Cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.During surgery, the surgeon will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL).
For more information or for a full eye examination, contact us.

Eye Conditions explained- Conjunctivitis

This common eye problem is typically easily treated and, with a few simple precautions, can often be avoided.

Anyone can get conjunctivitis, but nursery and school children, students and teachers are particularly at risk for the contagious types, due to their close proximity with others in the classroom.

istock_photo_of_woman_holding_tissue_to_reddened_eye

What is conjunctivitis?

It is an inflammation of the thin, clear covering of the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelids (conjunctiva).

Although the conjunctiva is transparent, it contains blood vessels that overlay the sclera of the eye.

Anything that triggers inflammation will cause these conjunctival blood vessels to dilate. This is what causes red, bloodshot eyes.

What causes conjunctivitis?

The primary types of conjunctivitis, based on cause, are:

  • Viral. Caused by a virus, like the common cold. This type is very contagious, but usually will clear up on its own within several days without medical treatment.
  • Bacterial. Caused by bacteria, this type of conjunctivitis can cause serious damage to the eye if left untreated.
  • Allergic. Caused by eye irritants such as pollen and dust  among susceptible individuals. Allergic conjunctivitis may be seasonal (pollen) or flare up year-round (dust,  pet hair).

Signs and Symptoms

  • Viral. Watery, itchy eyes; sensitivity to light. One or both eyes can be affected. Highly contagious; can be spread by coughing and sneezing.
  • Bacterial. A sticky, yellow or greenish-yellow eye discharge in the corner of the eye. In some cases, this discharge can be severe enough to cause the eyelids to be stuck together when you wake up. One or both eyes can be affected. Contagious (usually by direct contact with infected hands or items that have touched the eye).
  • Allergic. Watery, burning, itchy eyes; often accompanied by stuffiness and a runny nose, and light sensitivity. Both eyes are affected. Not contagious.

Treatment 

  • Viral. In most cases, viral conjunctivitis will run its course over a period of several days and no medical treatment is required or indicated.
  • Bacterial. Your GP will typically prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • Allergic. Allergy medications often can help prevent or shorten bouts of allergic conjunctivitis. Sometimes these medications must be started before allergy season or allergy flare-ups begin. Ask your doctor for details.

Often it can be difficult to tell the type of conjunctivitis you have by symptoms alone (or if some other eye problems or underlying health conditions are causing your symptoms).

Conditions associated with conjunctivitis include other eye infections, dry eyes and blepharitis. Also, bacterial conjunctivitis sometimes can lead to very serious eye problems such as a corneal ulcer, potentially causing permanent vision loss.

For these reasons, anytime you develop red, irritated eyes, you should seek medical advice.

If you wear contact lenses, remove your lenses and wear your glasses until the sypmtoms have cleared. Also, discard any eye make up used leading up to the infection.

Prevention

Here are 10 simple precautions you can take to significantly reduce your risk of getting conjunctivitis:

  1. Never share personal items such as flannels, hand towels or tissues.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid rubbing or touching your eyes.
  3. Never share your coloured contact lenses or special effect contacts with friends.
  4. Wash your hands frequently, especially when spending time at school or in other public places.
  5. Use a hand sanitiser regularly.
  6. Frequently clean surfaces such as countertops, taps and shared phones with an appropriate antiseptic cleaner.
  7. If you know you suffer from seasonal allergies, ask your doctor what can be done to minimize your symptoms before they begin.
  8. If you wear contacts, be sure to follow your optometrist’s instructions for lens care and replacement, and use contact lens solutions properly or consider switching to daily disposable contacts.
  9. When swimming, wear swim goggles to protect yourself from bacteria and other microorganisms in the water that can cause conjunctivitis.
  10. Before showering, remove your contact lenses to avoid trapping bacteria between your eyes and the lenses.

 
Wash your hands often, to keep viral Conjunctivitis from spreading.

washing-hands

If your child is affected, tell his or her teacher about the infection so extra steps can be taken to sanitise the classroom. Also, keep your child home until the contagious stage has passed.

Conjunctivitis can be a symptom of many different types of eye problems — some that can be quite serious — make sure you consult with your optician.

source : All about vision


Eye Allergies: How To Get Relief From Itchy, Watery Eyes

Eye allergies — red, itchy, watery eyes that are bothered by the same irritants that cause sneezing and a runny nose among seasonal allergy sufferers — are very common.

If you think you have eye allergies, here are a few things you should know — including helpful tips on how to get relief from your red, itchy, watery eyes.

women with watery eyes

What Causes Eye Allergies

Normally harmless substances that cause problems for individuals who are predisposed to allergic reactions are called allergens. The most common airborne allergens that cause eye allergies are pollen, mold, dust and pet dander.

Eye allergies also can be caused by reactions to certain cosmetics or eye drops, including artificial tears used for treating dry eyes that contain preservatives.

Food allergies and allergic reactions to bee stings or other insect bites typically do not affect the eyes as severely as airborne allergens do.

Eye Allergy Relief

To get relief from your eye allergies and itchy, watery eyes, you can take a few approaches:

Avoiding allergens. As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The best approach to controlling your eye allergy symptoms is to do everything you can to limit your exposure to common allergens you are sensitive to.

What is the pollen count in your area of the country?
For example, on days when the pollen count is high, stay indoors as much as possible, with the air conditioner running to filter the air. Use high quality furnace filters that can trap common allergens and replace the filters frequently.

When you do go outdoors during allergy season, wear wraparound sunglasses to help shield your eyes from pollen, ragweed, etc., and drive with your windows closed.

Removing your contacts. Because the surface of contact lenses can attract and accumulate airborne allergens, consider wearing only eyeglasses during allergy season. Or consider switching to daily disposable contacts that you discard after a single use to avoid the build-up of allergens and other debris on your lenses.

Over-the counter eye drops. Because eye allergies are so common, there are a number of brands of non-prescription eye drops available that are formulated to relieve itchiness, redness and watery eyes caused by allergies.

If your eye allergy symptoms are relatively mild, over-the-counter eye drops for allergy relief may work very well for you and may be less expensive than prescription eye drops or other medication. Ask your optician to recommend a brand to try.

Prescription medications. If your allergy symptoms are relatively severe or over-the-counter eye drops are ineffective at providing relief, you may need your eye doctor to prescribe a stronger medication.

Prescription eye drops and oral medications used to relieve eye allergies include:

Antihistamines. Part of the body’s natural allergic response is the release of histamine, a substance that dilates blood vessels and making the walls of blood vessels abnormally permeable. Symptoms caused by histamine include a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Antihistamines reduce allergic reactions by blocking the attachment of histamine to cells in the body that produce an allergic response.
Decongestants. Decongestants help shrink swollen nasal passages for easier breathing. They also reduce the size of blood vessels on the white (sclera) of the eye to relieve red eyes. Common decongestants include phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. Combination drugs are available that contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant.
Mast cell stabilizers. These medications cause changes in mast cells that prevent them from releasing of histamine and related mediators of allergic reactions. Because it may take several weeks for the full effects of mast cell stabilizers to take effect, these medications are best used before allergy season starts as a method to prevent or reduce the severity of future allergic reactions (rather than to treat acute allergic symptoms that already exist).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAID eye drops may be prescribed to decrease swelling, inflammation and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, also called hay fever.
Steroids. Corticosteroid eye drops are sometimes prescribed to provide relief from acute eye allergy symptoms. But potential side effects of long-term use of these medications include high eye pressure, glaucoma and cataracts, so they typically are prescribed for short-term use only.
Immunotherapy. This is a treatment where an allergy specialist injects you with small amounts of allergens to help you gradually build up immunity.

EYE ALLERGIES SELF-TEST
3 images of pollen, a dog and mold.

Common allergens include pollen, animal dander and mold.

Take this quiz to see if you might have eye allergies. Always consult your optician if you suspect you have an eye condition needing care.

Do allergies run in your family?
Do your eyes often itch, particularly during spring pollen season?
Have you ever been diagnosed with “pink eye” (conjunctivitis)?
Are you allergic to certain animals, such as cats?
Do you often need antihistamines and/or decongestants to control sneezing, coughing and congestion?
When pollen is in the air, are your eyes less red and itchy when you stay indoors under an air conditioner?
Do your eyes begin tearing when you wear certain cosmetics or lotions, or when you’re around certain strong perfumes?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then you may have eye allergies. Make an appointment with an optometrist to determine the best course of action.

STRATEGIES FOR YOU
8 Tips For Eye Allergy Sufferers

  1. Get an early start. See your optician before allergy season begins to learn how to reduce your sensitivity to allergens.
  2. Try to avoid or limit your exposure to the primary causes of your eye allergies. In the spring and summer, pollen from trees and grasses are the usual suspects. Ragweed pollen is the biggest culprit in late summer and fall. Mold, dust mites and pet dander are common indoor allergens during winter.
  3. Protect your eyes from airborne allergens outdoors by wearing wraparound-style sunglasses.
  4.  Don’t rub your eyes if they itch! Eye rubbing releases more histamine and makes your allergy symptoms worse.
  5. Use plenty of artificial tears to wash airborne allergens from your eyes. Ask your optician which brands are best for you.
  6. Cut down your contact lens wear or switch to daily disposable lenses to reduce the build-up of allergens on your lenses.
  7. Shower before bedtime and gently clean your eyelids to remove any pollen that could cause irritation while you sleep.
  8. Consider purchasing an air purifier for your home, and purchase an allergen-trapping filter for your heating/cooling system.

Source: All about vision Author Gary Heiting