Literatus: Look after your eyes


THE International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) advocated Oct. 10 as World Sight Day, with a call to give high priority on preserving eyesight (“Vision First!”). It reported that three of four individuals around the world develop visual impairment that is avoidable if arrested earlier.

In its Vision Atlas, IAPB reported that the prevalence of moderate to severe visual impairment (MSVI) in the Philippines is 4.71 percent based on the 2015 data updated as of October 2017. This is among the highest globally, second only to Myanmar (5.78 percent) in the Asean region. It is bested by the rest of the Asean nations. MSVI has a visual acuity ranging from below 6/18 to at least 3/60. This means that 3.2 million Filipinos have impaired eyesight based on a country population of 100.7 million. Filipino males have an MSVI prevalence of 4.70 percent, or an estimated 1.5 million. Meanwhile, female Filipinos have an MSVI prevalence of 4.72 percent, or 1.7 million.

The prevalence of blindness among Filipinos is, however, one of the second lowest around the world. It is among its peers in the region except for Laos (1.59 percent). Blindness is defined as having a visual acuity of less than 3/60 in the better eye only. Overall, the prevalence is 0.89 percent affecting 535,098 Filipinos. Male blindness has a prevalence of 0.88 percent, affecting 236,394 Filipinos. Meanwhile, female blindness has a prevalence is very close to that of the males at 0.89 percent, affecting 297,704 Filipinos.

Mild visual impairment has a visual acuity of less than 6/12 or at least 6/18. So check with your optometrist for yours.

The U.S. National Eye Institute advises to eat dark, leafy green vegetables regularly, including omega-3-rich fish, such as halibut, salmon and tuna. Physical activity is encouraged to prevent health conditions that compromise the eyes, such as diabetes, hypertension and high bad cholesterol. Smoking can hurt the eyes too not just for the smoke.

Apart from eye protection, such as sunglasses and protective eyewear, regular resting of the eyes is also necessary to avoid tiring the eyes. A break from reading or watching material after every 20 minutes is recommended. It is also advised to look afar as far as 20 feet away every 20 seconds.


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