As we continue to celebrate #GoBlue, we will be sharing a few of the campaigns articles here. Allison Deysel, Hospital Manager of Pietermaritzburg Eye Hospital, shares in this article why it’s worth investing in your eyes:

Microchiroptera (insect-eating bat of KZN) and Christine Lagarde (president-elect of the European Central Bank) don’t often appear in a single article, especially related to eye care.

Appreciate who you are, at every age!

Richard Dean Anderson (age 69) played the highly skilled (and easy on the eye) character in the 1980s TV series “MacGyver”. When the news of his death broke on 2 September 2019, I thought it was the end of an era. Fortunately, the news was fake, and he is very much alive and still sharing his knowledge and tips to anyone who will listen. Richard Dean Anderson most certainly won’t be manufacturing explosives out of common household items to escape from captivity any more, but his tips and chemistry experiments will continue to be copied by many boys of our generation. In the same vein, on 1 November 2019 Christine Lagarde, at the age of 63 will take office as the President of the European Central Bank. She will advise European governments on monetary policy with the purpose of stimulating fiscal activity throughout Europe. She has not escaped criticism and judgement for some of her actions but has retained grace and dignity when being questioned. Both of these public figures have retained as much independence, influence, and knowledge as they have aged. Your age does not determine your value, does not determine your knowledge, nor removes your right to information and choice. Instead, your knowledge, influence, experience, and values will determine the quality of your life.

75% of all cases of blindness are avoidable

A health-conscious vegetarian who rarely drinks alcohol, Christine Lagarde’s hobbies include regular trips to the gym, cycling, and swimming. Now that certainly sounds like a New Year’s resolution, and could even be considered an extreme lifestyle but her message, however, is one of prevention being better than cure. Although regeneration of cells is much slower as one ages, it is still important to do as much as possible to protect what you have, so it can last you the rest of your life.

75% of all cases of blindness are avoidable, through prevention or treatment, which is why learning about how to care for your eyes and making time to prevent what you can is so important. Protect the windows to your soul, look after yourself – you’re worth it!

Prevention doesn’t have to be expensive. Self-care for eyes includes protecting your eye from the sun’s harmful rays by using UV A & B filtering sunglasses and wide-brimmed sunhats (CANSA approved are best!). These measures slow the formation of cataracts and pterygiums (whitish or yellowish growths of the covering of the inner area of the eye between the pupil and nose).

Please don’t avoid the sun altogether though! The body’s natural circadian rhythms (day/ night cycles) are positively influenced when the body is exposed to the earlier morning sun for an hour or two. This short term safer exposure has been associated with better daytime energy levels, sleeping patterns, and overall improved mood.

Beyond self-care, your optometrist plays a critical role in assessing your eyes to identify any changes or progression of conditions. Sticking with a healthcare professional you trust is particularly important for continuity of care so that they can compare the eyes to previous examination findings. For members of a medical scheme or life insurance policyholder, the cost of many screening examinations are allocated from a special fund and are not deducted from the savings portion of the fund.

Quality of life is maintained when you embrace the tools available

Sometimes deterioration, trauma, or disease can strike, no matter what we do correctly, potentially with major consequences on daily activity. The Microchiroptera species do not have functioning eyes. They use the clicking of temporal bones to send inaudible ultrasonic signals to echolocate their prey for survival. So too can the human senses adapt when one sense is compromised in some way. As the sense of sight naturally deteriorates (at variable speeds) so can the senses of sound, taste, touch and even memory be improved as a natural adaptation. When one’s eye is significantly compromised, the perception of depth and distance can be altered. This makes navigating up or down steps, pouring boiling water into a mug, and grasping items particularly challenging. We all would like to maintain our independence, but in these circumstances reluctance to ask or accept assistance may cause a serious injury.

Technologies have been developed and designs have been adapted for vision that changes with age. Smartphones, for example, have a range of settings to improve our lives including adjustable font size for easy reading, a torch for low light conditions and voice control and response. Watches still have clean faces with crisp numbers and are as elegant as they always were. Camera zoom lenses can bring an image so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it. Similarly, eye care technology and surgical procedures have vastly improved and expanded. There is so much more we can diagnose and treat now.

Contact the Pietermaritzburg Eye Hospital of you have any questions or would like guidance. Certain symptoms are considered an eye emergency and require the attention of an ophthalmologist. If you experience any of the following: vision loss, altered eye movements, eye pain, visual field loss or a bulging eye, contact an ophthalmologist or call Pietermaritzburg Eye Hospital for advice.

General well being and quality of life is maintained when you embrace the tools and use the resources that are available to keep safe, keep active and live life to the fullest.

The #GoBlue campaign, from 9 September to 13 October, needs YOUR help. It is designed to draw attention to the needs of seniors in the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands community. Sharing #GoBlue articles is one of the ways you can help. You can share it by forwarding this one via email, downloading articles from the PADCA website or sharing them on social media from PADCA’s Facebook page.