An ophthalmologist has identified the top five eye problems in the region and the UAE over the last five years. Digital eye strain and dry eyes are two examples.
“I strongly recommend that refractive error corrections be included in insurance policies because refractive errors affect the quality of life as well as the productivity of everyone affected in their active years of life,” Dr. Mohammad Emad Alilo wrote in an email.
The corneal and refractive surgeon has 25 years of experience, including 15 years in his home country of Syria, two years in the United Kingdom, and eight years in the United Arab Emirates.
Alilo of the Medcare Hospitals in Sharjah and Dubai was interviewed after speaking about dry eye management at the recent “5th Al Qasimi International Ophthalmology Conference” in Dubai, which was organised by the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
In that conference, a female Emirati ophthalmologist from Abu Dhabi described how a medical team successfully treated the “optic nerve swelling” of a seven-year-old boy with Down Syndrome.
A female eye specialist from India discussed how a 24-year-old woman’s “drooping eyelids,” a condition she had had since she was six months old, was resolved.
The following are the top five eye problems in the Middle East and North Africa:
- Dry eyes as a result of almost all facilities’ use of air conditioning.
- Digital eye strain is a new concern caused by “extended screen usage via personal computers, laptops, mobile phones, and similar gadgets.”
- Refractive errors such as near/farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia, which are common in middle/old age due to the loss of the elasticity of the eye lens, affect expatriates in their 20s to 30s who return home for good once they are retire-able or retired.
- Conjunctivitis (pink/sore eyes) and allergic eye disease caused by dust and sandstorms, as well as excessive sun and ultraviolet ray exposure.
Alilo stated that his conference lecture was on dry eyes, and that because this is the most common condition in the region and in the UAE, where it can be severe, “new developments in technology and management” have been established.
“Cataract and diabetic eye disease have a low prevalence (due to) high health-care standards and the availability of cutting-edge technology (that has proven to be effective tools.”
All five, according to Alilo, are curable, and he offers the following general prevention advice:
- Avoid direct sun, dust, and chemical exposure. Wear sunglasses or eyeglasses.
- Modify the work environment to avoid prolonged exposure to air conditioning.
- Practice good eye hygiene, which starts with a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and Vitamins C and E.
Get plenty of rest and sleep.
- Have regular eye exams. Children under the age of four should be taken to see an eye doctor because they are unable to “complain” about potential eye problems. Those aged 50 and up should have comprehensive eye exams, especially if they have a family history of diabetes, hypertension, or glaucoma.
“Dry eyes can be managed by addressing the underlying pathology to determine the proper treatment, rather than relying on eye lubricants for an extended period of time. Conjunctivitis can be treated by determining whether it is viral or bacterial in nature. There are medications that can help. To prevent the spread of the infection, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes. Proper and correct eyeglasses, permanent laser vision correction, and the new premium intra ocular lenses are all available. Allergic eye diseases can be managed by avoiding allergens and using antihistamines and immune modulators to control the immune status of the ocular surface and prevent attacks.”
Taking breaks from continuous use of electronic digital gadgets, “intentionally increasing the eye blink rate” (average is between eight and 21 times per minute, which rises during conversations), and “enough sleeping hours” could help alleviate digital eye strain.
“Our eyes are the windows through which we see the world. Please keep them in good shape.”