Our eyes play a central role in vision, allowing us to see colors, shapes and images. However, our eyes are complex and made up of intricate systems that work together to make sight possible. From the cornea to the iris to a crystalline lens, the anatomy of the eye has multiple components to ensure that it functions properly. These components can be damaged, though, by injury and sun exposure, so caution should be taken to maintain their health. Find out how our eyes work and what you can do to protect them for years to come with this guide!
Ours eyes are amazing organs that allow us to see and understand the world around us. Eyes are complex, though, and are made of multiple parts that interact with each other to make vision possible. Although eye anatomy is intricate and complex, the systems that work within it are fairly basic. To begin, the window of the eye is the cornea, which is the clear front surface of the eye that lets light in. The cornea refracts light in a way that allows it to pass through the pupil. The iris controls how much light gets to the back of the eye by adjusting the size of the pupil, similar to how the shutter on a camera can enlarge or shrink a captured image. As light passes through the iris, it reaches a crystalline lens. Once there, the lens focuses light in even more detail so that the eye can focus on near and far objects. These processes lead to the ultimate purpose-vision. The cornea and crystalline lens work together to get light to the retina, where optical images are transmitted into electronic signals that are sent to the visual cortex by way of the optic nerve. The retina captures all of the light that has entered the eye and sends them as impulses to the optic nerve where the brain can dissect the images it has received and interpret them. At this point, our brain helps us understand what we’re seeing and completes the process of sight and vision. Each time we look at something, the cornea, iris, pupil, crystalline lens and retina go through this exact same process so that sight is possible.
Unlike our bodies, once eyes are damaged, they’re damaged for good. For this reason, it’s of vital importance to protect your eyes so that you don’t suffer the consequences of damaged or injured eyes. The most common way that people damage their eyes is from sun exposure. Everyone knows not to look at the sun because of what it can do to the eyes, but the most harmful aspect of the sun is its UV rays that rain down on us whether it’s sunny or cloudy outside. UV rays easily reflect off of water, snow and glass, putting us at a higher risk for eye damage if we’re not wearing protective eyewear. A second cause of eye damage is alcohol consumption. While a few drinks here and there won’t do much harm, excessive drinking can lead to macular degeneration and optic neuropathy. Alcohol consumption can alter the way you see colors, as well, making it difficult to differentiate between shades of gray, blue or black. Alcohol can also affect how your liver processes Vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for eye health. Smoking is another contributor to macular degeneration and decreases the blood flow in the eye, which harms the optic nerve. You’re also putting yourself at-risk for cataracts if you smoke and your likelihood of experiencing dry eye or chronic red eye will increase, as well. Lastly, work or sports-related injuries to the eye can also permanently damage eyes and worsen vision. If you work in construction, workshops or play ball sports, your eyes have a higher chance of being hit and damaged. While an injury may not always occur, accidents happen and can partially or completely blind you.
You can’t predict when an eye condition will develop or an injury will occur, but you can do everything possible to protect your eyes so that when they do happen, you’ll be prepared. If your job puts you at risk for eye injuries, make sure that you’re wearing shatter-and-impact-resistant eyewear. You can buy performance or sport sunglasses that are sturdier than normal glasses, and they can be tinted to keep your eyes safe outside in the sun. You should be wearing some type of sunglasses anytime that you’re out in the sun, whether that be when you’re driving, sitting by the pool or watching a sporting event. Sunglasses will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and reduce glare from the sun. You can also opt for prescription sunglasses so that you can see and protect your vision at the same time.
When it comes to your diet, make sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin A each day to keep your eyes healthy. This is especially important for patients who have a family history of eye conditions or disorders, and it can greatly reduce your likelihood of experiencing these conditions early on in life. Foods like salmon, peppers, spinach and sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, and you can supplement if you have food allergies or aren’t getting enough in your diet.
At Peeper’s Optical, we care about your eye health. Whether you’re looking for prescription eyeglasses or eyewear that you can play sports in, we can help! Protecting your eyes should be a priority and we understand the importance of taking care of them now so that you can enjoy them in the future. Call our office today at (303) 333-2800 to schedule an exam and get your eye health back on track!