LIFE CHANGING: Mamkhetheni Seku from Ntsongweni village in Libode is examined by Mthatha ophthalmic surgeon Professor Juzer Surka after successfully undergoing an operation to remove cataracts from her eyes. Research is on to develop eye drops to melt away cataract but if it’s an economical solution it won’t see the light of day! (Right) Dr Mukesh Batra

By Pankajbala R Patel

Windows of your soul and indicators of your health…

DO you know that the Indian Merchants Chamber runs a very useful Get Fit with IMC series in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry? Recently, it invited the South Africa-based Prof Juzer Surka (MBBS, DOM, MS-ophth, FCS-South Africa, OPHTH) for an interactive zoom talk session moderated by Dr Mukesh Batra who is the co-chair, IMC’s Health and Fitness Committee in Mumbai on Saturday, December 5, 2020. It was a most interesting and timely interaction for as Prof Surka observed the eyes are our only visible organs and we take them for granted more than we should!
Take care of your eyes for they are your windows to the world as also the windows of your soul as it is often said. The IMC interaction was zoomed at all IMC registered sites in Mumbai, New Delhi. It is indeed, high time we take our eyes seriously considering how much under strain they are nowadays, especially courtesy all the focusing we do almost around the clock on our smart phone and computer screens.
This has been more so than normal given this year terrible Covid-19 close down months when most of us were forced to stay indoors to be safe from the deadly Wuhan coronavirus contagion. Most everybody is urged to stay at home and work and this entails we’re constantly screening android powered smart phone and computer much of the day.
It is no longer news that the eyes of the younger generation are going for a toss earlier and earlier and gen next is going to be heavily taxed vis-à-vis eye care by the radiating microwaves of our hi fi technology, which we are also so obsessed with these days. Regardless of what our grandparents and parents may have to say!
Did it ever occur to you that our eyes are the only visible organs of the body? Since we are so overwhelmingly smart phone and computer screen bound it is not without reason that all kinds of precautionary advice is going out nowadays. According to Dr Mukesh Batra who is the country’s pioneering homeopath, it is useful to bathe our eyes with Euphrasia eye drops, commonly called eye bright and yes, take our eyes off the screen every 2 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds! This is the 20-20-20 rule – that after every 20 minutes of using a gadget, we take a 20-20-20 break by looking at something 20 feet away.
IN the Fit with IMC session titled `I for the Eyes’ it was not only the Gandhian adage of “An eye for an eye” which was discussed but a few tips on how we may actually protect our eyes. How can we prevent blindness? The eyes are highly developed sensory organs although they may occupy barely 2.5 cm of an inch of the body – as Dr Surka stressed, it’s foolish to take them for granted. Most of us take our our seriously only when we start losing our eyesight!
Eye strain is very common these days, he says, because we don’t use our common sense. Even in all these zoom meetings our eyes are digitally fixed and Dr Batra inserted that children are especially vulnerable. We see so many children nowadays with progressive short vision and younger and younger children are wearing thick glasses. It was never so before with the older generation who grew up mostly outdoors and were not constrained to stay indoors pouring over text books. The eyes pay a heavy price for all the bookish mugging up children do nowadays and now there is something recognized as “computer vision syndrome” or “digital addiction.”
It must be cause for concern for parents, educators, governments and others who frame education syllabus. Like adults children too are getting obsessed with games on their smart phones and computers and there is social media too which takes up so much of our time good, bad and ugly. Computer syndrome is very much a vision syndrome and results in blurring of the eyes, headaches, back and neck pain because of the bad postures we adopt for hours on end while on the computer.

PROGRESSIVE myopia is something we should study, take seriously and redress as soon as possible. Of course though now there are the laser surgeries which can correct long sight, short sight, many eye conditions caused by our lifestyles…but can these be long term solutions? In fact, observed Dr Surka, “The children in China, Singapore and elsewhere in the developed countries are worse off compared to our Indian children…when children spend too much time in dreary dark in doors the size of their eye lens adjust to the change.”
A study done on chickens kept indoors and outdoors proved that the chickens who were outdoors did very well with their eyes! The lesson is those who spend time outdoors use their eyes over varying distances and are less likely to develop myopia. Indoors is disastrous for it encourages myopia. Thus, spending time outdoors is important for the eyes and general health! Make a note of this. Studies have proved that those who stay outdoors do better with their eyes than those who stay indoors.
Then of course there are the age related eye problems of dry eyes which is quite common; we don’t blink enough indoors in our comfy air-conditioned indoors. According to the ophthamologists normally we should be blinking 17 to 20 times in a minute to moisturize the eyes. Dr Mukesh Batra inserted that tears are nature’s lotion! Eye drops may help but they have a temporary effect and we should not neglect dry eyes but have it checked it out for the eyes are the first to register what is going wrong in our body and your doctor can take stock of say diseases like diabetes or blood pressure by checking the eyes.
Also be alert to glaucoma, it’s something most people are not aware of, this is related to increased pressure in the eye and “this involved one million nerve fibers which connect eyes to brain.” Anything to do with the eyes must be checked out with the ophthalmologist; including perceived small problems like red eyes, itchy eyes, conjunctivitis. All in all Dr Batra concluded the interaction with the interesting observation that our eyes are useless if the mind is blind! On that note one must say that perhaps IMA Goa should also link up with the Mumbai IMA fitness series.

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