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What is vision impairment

Vision impairment means that a person’s eyesight cannot be corrected to a “normal” level.

Vision impairment may be caused by a loss of visual acuity, where the eye does not see objects as clearly as usual. It may also be caused by a loss of visual field, where the eye cannot see as wide an area as usual without moving the eyes or turning the head.

There are different ways of describing how severe a person’s vision loss is. The World Health Organization defines “low vision” as visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/400, with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. “Blindness” is defined as a visual acuity worse than 20/400, with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 10 degrees or less.

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Vision Impairment Statistics

Globally, 1 billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

In terms of regional differences, the prevalence of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions . With regards to near vision, rates of unaddressed near vision impairment are estimated to be greater than 80% in western, eastern and central sub-Saharan Africa, while comparative rates in high-income regions of North America, Australasia, Western Europe, and of Asia-Pacific are reported to be lower than 10% (2).

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Causes of vision impairment

Common causes that lead to vision loss or visual impairment include injury to the eye, inherited conditions, infections and so forth.

Injury to the eyes
Injury to the eyes while playing or at work or due to accidents may result in vision loss and impairment.Particularly injuries to the cornea are the commonest cause of vision loss.

Inherited conditions of blindness and vision impairment
Retinitis pigmentosa is the most common cause of inherited blindness.

Infections of the eyes
Sometimes if the mother has had a viral infection like German measles that is transmitted from the mother to the developing fetus during pregnancy the baby may be born with blindness or visual impairment.

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Causes of vision impairment II

This is basically impaired vision in one eye due to lack of its use in early childhood.This is seen in squint or “lazy eye” .

Clouding of part or the entire lens of the eye.Normally, the lens is clear to let in the light that focuses on the retina. Cataracts prevent light from easily passing through the lens, and this causes loss of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy
Diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina. When damaged this leads to impairment of vision.

This condition results due to raised pressure within the eyes. The increased pressure impairs vision by damaging the optic nerve.

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_Vision impairment prevention_

Preventive eye care is the first line of defense against vision problems. Early detection of vision problems may offer more effective treatment options:

Have periodic eye exams (every 2-3 years for healthy patients under 50, yearly for patients over 50 or those with known health risk factors).
Know your family’s history for any eye problems.
Follow a healthy lifestyle.
Eat a nutritious diet for eyesight.
Wear durable eye protection when involved in activities that could cause traumatic risk to your vision, such as sports, dealing with firearms, playing paintball. Occupations where hammering, cutting, sawing, drilling, or working overhead are other examples.
Avoid hazards such as fireworks, using harsh chemical like drain cleaners, and jumping car batteries (which do explode).

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_Healthy Eye Foods_

People often believe that failing eyesight is an inevitable result of aging or eye strain. In truth, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of eye health problems.

Many fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Oily fish are fish that have oil in their gut and body tissue, so eating them offers higher levels of omega-3-rich fish oil.

2. Nuts and legumes
Nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts also contain a high level of vitamin E, which can protect the eye from age-related damage.

3. Seeds
Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E.

4. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Just like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is recommended by the AOA to fight age-related eye damage.

Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits include:lemons, oranges, grapefruits

5. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin and are also a good source of eye-friendly vitamin C.

Well-known leafy greens include:spinach, kale, collards

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Healthy eye foods II

Carrots are rich in both Vitamin A and beta carotene. Beta carotene gives carrots their orange color.

Vitamin A plays an essential role in vision. It is a component of a protein called rhodopsin, which helps the retina to absorb light.

Sweet potatoes
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.

Eggs are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which can reduce the risk of age-related sight loss. Eggs are also good sources of vitamins C and E, and zinc.

It may come as no surprise that a fluid essential to life is also vital to eye health.

Drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration, which may reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.

Published by Stephen Ogweno

a global health practitioner, NCD advocate and mHealth Innovator

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