I’d like to start by sincerely thanking Siri for holding it down for me the past few days. My vision has been impaired and she has picked up the slack, tweeting for me and such.
What’s wrong with my vision? Well, I went to the eye doctor and learned that my eyesight is worse than it was the last time I had a check-up (and it wasn’t great to begin with). This comes in the midst of me trying to get a pair of backup glasses in my hard-to-fill prescription after my main pair broke and I ran out of contacts. Before that, I was so upset at the answers I was getting as I tried to transfer my ADHD medication prescription from New York to California, I began to cry and had a contact accident. Seriously!
Eyes in puddles from crying, the contact in my left eye perforated, split apart and rolled around toward the back of my eyeball. Looking one direction, I couldn’t feel anything, looking another I was in pain. It was truly scary and the only thing that allowed me to fish it out was producing more tears. After it was out, the scientist inside me got curious about how eyeballs actually work.
I did some research and learned that the way an eyeball functions is similar to how a camera operates.
Essentially, light comes in through the cornea, then passes through the pupil. The colored part of your eye, called the iris, regulates how much light gets through.
Once the light hits the lens of your eye, it focuses rays onto your retina, which is a layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye, captures light and sends the image to the visual cortex of your brain via the optic nerve. And that’s how we see!
What saved me from the split contact rolling all the way behind my eye and into my head was something called the conjunctiva, which is a mucus membrane that connects the eyelid to the sclera. Thank you, conjunctiva!
Turns out I’m not the only one who’s suffered a contact accident; in fact, mine wasn’t even that severe compared to a few others I learned about:
A few years back, a college student in South Wales dressed up like a cat for Halloween and put in some creepy novelty lenses to make her costume look more authentic. When she went to take out the contacts at the end of the night, one wouldn’t come out. After nearly an hour of attempting, she finally freed it from her eye, but ripped her cornea in the process. She had to be put on antibiotics, wear an eye patch temporarily and get tests to see if there would be long-term damage.
In another incident in Solihull, a woman went in for cataract surgery and learned she had nearly 30 contact lenses stuck in her eye. Wasn’t there discomfort, you may wonder? There was, but the patient just thought it was dry eye and her age causing it. Proof why we all should get regular vision check-ups!
Truthfully, the overall statistics on vision issues are troubling. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that, “At present, at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed.”
Furthermore, the economic impact of vision loss in the U.S. alone exceeds $50 billion, according to the CDC.
Setting aside the financial burden on society, other elements of people’s individual health can be at risk when their vision isn’t tended to. Preventative eye exams have been proven to detect all of the following:
High blood pressure
Various blood diseases
Yet many don’t make time to go to their bi-annual eye exam appointments because they don’t feel it’s as important as other health check-ups. Even more don’t go because they can’t afford the exam or the co-pay even if they’re insured. Plus, the expense of prescription glasses and contacts is significant, even for those with coverage.
Maybe our country should take a look at that economic impact a little closer and amend the systems in place, which prevent so many people from getting the vision care that they need?!
What’s easy to see is that the system for vision healthcare is broken.
Do you struggle with maintaining good vision and/or have you ever had an eye incident? Tell your story in the comments section.
Eyeball graphics: sourced from Pixabay.