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9 October 2023

World Sight Day, 12 October 2023

How to protect your vision for World Sight Day.

World Sight Day takes place on the 12th of October and is an opportunity to focus the world’s attention on the importance of eye care.

Organised by The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), it focuses the world’s attention on the importance of eye care. Here at the Specialist Medical Clinic, we’re accepting the challenge to show the world how important it is to protect your sight, by sharing some important advice from our consultant eye surgeon Dr Keti Pachkoria.

We also want to invite you to join in, by pledging to get your sight tested and help the IAPB to reach their goal of 5 million sight tests pledged by World Sight Day. Click here to Make A Pledge and then share it on social media to encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Why is it important to look after your eyes?

We asked consultant eye surgeon Dr Keti Pachkoria to explain.

“Our visual system is extraordinary! It takes up more space in our brain than all other senses combined and uses more than 10% of our body’s energy, with some cells in the retina consuming more energy than heart cells.

However, there are a wide range of ways we can develop poor sight, from not wearing sunglasses, to wearing contact lenses incorrectly, smoking, deficiency of particular vitamins, poor diet, being overweight, staring at a computer, smartphones or other digital devices for long periods of time, unsafe use or self-administration of topical treatment, and much more.

You need to take care of your sight and give it some care and attention, because being able to see well is so important. According to a UK survey by City, University of London, sight is the most valued sense.

As human beings, we are highly sociable, we use all our senses to interact with each other. Sight, however, is one of the most valuable senses for our ability to navigate our surroundings, distinguish facial expression and body language and differentiate shade, light and colour.

Unfortunately, loss of vision can affect people of all ages and it’s a growing problem. Sight loss can develop gradually, without symptoms or pain and when noticed by the patient it could be too late. The number of people living with sight loss is expected to increase by over a third in the next decade, reaching 2.7 million by 2030.

The impact of sight loss is enormous, it is a disability. It is well known that it is associated with an increased risk of falls, depression, isolation, anxiety and mental health issues, as well as limiting education and career opportunities.

But don’t let that worry you – there are so many things you can do to protect your sight in your day-to-day life and half of the cases of visual impairment are preventable if diagnosed early and treated in a timely manner. This is why we are getting behind World Sight Day and encouraging all our patients to make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to check the health of their eyes.

Regular eye examinations ensure your vision remains good and most importantly, allows the doctor to diagnose and treat conditions which can cause blindness at an early stage. The majority of eye conditions can be cured and prevented. I encourage people to be proactive to book an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination”.

How can you protect your vision?

There are many ways you can protect your eyes and vision, but Dr Pachkoria stresses that the very best thing you can do is have regular eye tests.

“Regular eye exams are vital to maintaining your visual health.  When performing a comprehensive eye exam, an Ophthalmologist can check not only your eye health but is also able to diagnose many systemic medical conditions not yet known by patients.

It is recommended to have a complete exam with your Ophthalmologist once in your 20s and twice in your 30s. There are some exceptions:

  • If you are contact lens user
  • If you have high myopia
  • If you have diabetes
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If you have family history of eye disease (glaucoma, hereditary eye conditions, maculopathy, retinopathy, corneal dystrophy, etc)
  • If you have a red, painful eye, have sustained an eye injury, or developed sudden floaters and flashes

 

If you fall into any of these categories, your Ophthalmologist can advise how often you should have your eyes checked.

Vision loss after the age of 40 is common. One of the most prevalent reasons is an age-related change in our focusing which means we are not able to read small print easily without glasses (also known as presbyopia). However, there are more serious eye conditions which can lead to irreversible vision loss if not detected at an early stage.

You are ideal candidate for the comprehensive eye examination if you:

  • are over 40 years of age
  • have a systemic disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • have family history of glaucoma and/or macular degeneration
  • are highly short-sighted or long-sighted

In these cases, please request a state-of-the-art, advanced ocular imaging assessment, with consultant-delivered analysis and interpretation of the tests as part of a comprehensive eye health check-up.

Children also require regular eye screening as they grow. Childrens eyes can be screened by a Paediatrician, family physician, optometrist, Ophthalmologist and other trained health care providers.

At every visit, we check the basic indicators of eye health, eye development, eye alignment, etc. Screening also takes place at schools and other healthcare centres and is usually done by the optician or optometrist.  They can check vision and assess for refractive error and if required prescribe glasses to correct far or near sightedness

A child is referred to the Ophthalmologist if they:

  • are born prematurely
  • have signs of eye disease
  • have a family history of childhood eye disease
  • have misaligned eyes
  • have refractive errors, amblyopia
  • fail vision screening or vision screening is inconclusive or cannot be done
  • have underlying medical conditions such as Down Syndrome, a learning disability, developmental delay, behavioral issues, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, neurofibromatosis, etc.

The only sure way to diagnose eye conditions which may lead to blindness is with a comprehensive eye examination performed by an eye doctor.

Comprehensive eye tests detect any early signs of eye disease, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy, small intraocular tumors etc. before they start to cause permanent damage to your sight. Early diagnosis and treatment can save your sight, so don’t underestimate the need for an eye check-up.

You should also react quickly and seek help as soon as possible if you notice a sudden loss of vision, sudden distorted central vision, a red, painful eye, sensitivity to light, sudden floaters and flashing lights or loss of field of vision in one or both eyes to avoid unnecessary damage.”

The IAPB adds that you should also –

  • Give your eyes regular breaks when using a screen
  • Ensure children spend at least two hours a day outside to help their eyes develop properly
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays
  • Beware of expired makeup and dirty, old makeup brushes to avoid eye infections
  • Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet
  • Stop smoking, as it massively increases your risk of developing eye conditions

Leading causes of vision impairment

  • Uncorrected refractive errors
  • Cataracts
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Corneal opacity
  • Trachoma

We are lucky that many of these can be easily treated. However, if left untreated, conditions such as glaucoma, the wet type of age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy can cause irreversible sight loss, so need to be caught early.

Protecting your child’s eyes 

Sadly, eye injuries are a common cause of vision loss in children and about half of these occur in the home.

Many toys and novelty products can cause eye injuries. Watch out for silly string and party foam, toy fishing poles, guns that shoot projectiles (including soft darts), water balloon launchers and water guns, toy wands, swords and laser pointers. These are all commonly bought for young children, but can easily cause serious damage to their eyes and vision.

It’s also about education and knowledge. Teach kids not to stick things in their eyes and not to point laser pointers at each other, teach them to be aware of the dangers of cleaning products and chemical products that can irritate the eyes.

Lastly make sure they are wearing eye protection during high-risk sports such as hockey, archery, cycling and racquet sports.

How can we help you to look after your eyes and improve your vision?

At the Specialist Medical Clinic in Gibraltar, we offer a consultant eye surgeon led ophthalmology service and an ophthalmology clinic twice a week.

This is led by Dr Keti Pachkoria, a specialist with extensive training and experience in the UK and Spain, including fellowship training at Moorfields Eye Hospital. She offers medical and surgical eye care to her patients in Gibraltar.

She can diagnose, manage and treat the leading causes of vision impairment such as Cataracts, Uncorrected Refractive Errors, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy.

Dr Keti provides treatment to save patients’ sight to ensure patients remain as independent and healthy as possible.

What is the difference between going to an optician versus getting an eye check from an Ophthalmologist?

An Ophthalmologist-led check-up goes far beyond a typical eye examination with your local optician. The comprehensive eye examination performed by the Ophthalmologist is designed to complement the typical vision test with spectacle or contact lens assessment that you might already be undergoing with your local optometrist.

When you undertake a Comprehensive Eye Check with Dr Keti Pachkoria, her expertise and experience will enable her to answer your questions and concerns comprehensively. She will also be able to provide you with a customised treatment plan (if needed) to optimise your visual health and outcomes.

What are the next steps after the Comprehensive Eye Check?Image of Dr Keti Pachkoria

After your eye assessment and tests are completed, your Consultant Ophthalmologist will review the results with you and provide a personalised treatment plan to optimise your visual health and outcomes.

Do I need to bring anything to a Comprehensive Eye Check?

Please bring the following:

  • A list of any medications you are taking
  • Your prescription for glasses or contact lenses

Contact us to arrange an appointment at the ophthalmology clinic or find out more about the service.