Eye – sensory organ and mirror of the soul

Eye – sensory organ and mirror of the soul

Most perceptions reach our brain through the eye – conversely, we send messages to our environment through our eyes. Our eyes communicate this to the other person whether we are sad, happy, scared or angry. Statistically, half of all people have a visual impairment – ​​in addition, many diseases such as diabeteshigh blood pressure or migraines also affect the eyes.

Layout and function

The eye is often compared to a camera, and this comparison is also very helpful in understanding the structure and function. From the outside, the first thing you see in the eye is the iris,  which has a different colour in every person. Newborns often have blue eyes, and the eye colour changes in the first 12 months.

Light enters the eye through the iris, where it meets the lens. This contracts by itself or is pulled apart by an acceptable apparatus – depending on whether we are looking far or near. It transmits a sharp image to the retina, which lines the inside of the eyeball.

“Seeing” on the retina is carried out by two different types of sensory cells, the photoreceptors: the cones and the rods. Cones are in colour, and rods are in black and white. The retina does not have the same number of rods and cones distributed everywhere, but there is a spot of sharpest vision (the yellow spot, the macula) with many cones and areas around it where the vision is blurred.

At one point, the blind spot,  you can’t see anything at all. That’s where the optic nerve (optical nerve) moves in the direction of the brain, where the sensory impressions are processed.

 

discomfort in the eye

Eye problems can occur on the outside or inside of the eye. Common external complaints are itching or burning, a watery, red or dry eye, or the feeling that a foreign object is stuck between the eyelid and the conjunctiva or cornea. Other “internal” complaints are visual disturbances from double vision to loss of vision, pain, the pressure inside the eye or the feeling of having dirt moving.

investigation methods

There are many different methods of detecting eye complications:

  1. anamnesis
  2. inspection and palpation
  3. smear
  4. ophthalmoscope
  5. Visual acuity and visual field test
  6. Electrophysiological Studies
  7. X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

These research methods are presented in more detail below.

 

  1. Anamnesis: ask about medical history 

All complaints can be narrowed down further by asking specific questions. A watery eye can itch and burn simultaneously, or the symptoms can only occur seasonally (e.g. with a pollen allergy ).

Visual disturbances can occur together with other illnesses. Photophobia and optical hallucinations have been described in migraines – and a minor “stroke” in the eye can be the first warning sign of an imminent cerebral infarction.

These distinctions show the doctor which clinical picture is behind the symptoms.

 2.Inspection and palpation: viewing and palpation

In the case of conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis), the conjunctiva is often visibly reddened, and the eyes water profusely. A trained doctor can use a spatula to fold over the upper eyelid to reveal a foreign body or change under the lid.

An eye deformity is checked by asking the patient to follow the examiner’s finger with both eyes. In this way, a squint can be uncovered. A bruise, increased intraocular pressure due to too much eye water or – fortunately rare – tumours lead to a tensioned eyeball, which is particularly noticeable when comparing the sides.

3. Swab with a swab

If an infection of the outer layers of the eye is suspected, some eye fluid is absorbed with a swab, which is then examined for germs in the laboratory.

 

4. Eye mirroring for deep insights.

With the ophthalmoscope, it is possible to look through the lens at the retina – small bleedings, as they occur in the diabetic eye, and a detachment of the retina from the back wall of the eyeball becomes visible.

5. Visual acuity and visual field testing through tests

Who doesn’t know them, the boards in the doctor’s room or the opticians with the many letters or numbers? Depending on your eyesight, you can decipher the bottom row – if not, this indicates short-sightedness or far-sightedness. Colour recognition tests show colour blindness or colour vision deficiency.

The field of view is checked with the perimeter. The patient stares straight into the device and, from the corner of his eye, sees small lights flashing. The fewer lights he sees, the worse his field of vision is – like glaucoma. Imagine the consequences of a visual field restriction when driving!

6. Electrophysiological investigations

The activity of the eye muscles and the retina can be measured – with small electrodes attached in the corner of the eye or as a contact lens on the eye.

 

7. X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging

If there is a suspicion of a tumour or an inflammation that is taking place inside the eye, imaging procedures are used – especially after traffic accidents; it must be clarified whether the bony border of the eyeball is still intact.

In addition to conjunctiva infections, which can occur in all age groups, some eye diseases are more likely to be found in children. In contrast, others appear in adults due to wear and tear or chronic diseases of the entire human system. Eye injuries are independent of age, for example, in car accidents or if something gets into the eye through play or work.

eye problems in children

In hay fever, joint involvement in conjunctivitis is present in many childhood diseases ( measlesrubellachickenpox ) or watery eyes. Even with a long-lasting sinus infection, the eyes should be checked because of the proximity to the nose.

Squinting is an eye deformity that usually occurs in early childhood and can be successfully treated. The rare but malignant retinoblastoma – a type of cancer that occurs in early childhood – must be removed as soon as possible.

eye problems in adults

Many diseases that damage the entire organism also affect the eye. A typical consequence of diabetes is diabetic retinal damage (retinopathy) – the retina is also affected by high blood pressure, and high blood pressure also promotes the development of glaucoma (also known as glaucoma).

With advancing age, the elasticity of the eye lens decreases. It has a more challenging time adapting to near or far vision – and then you need reading glasses.

Clouding of the lens, which can develop into a cataract, is also common. The eyesight deteriorates noticeably until the relatively harmless cataract operation becomes necessary.

Another reason for vision loss can be age-related macular degeneration, a familiar yet little-known retina disease that can lead to blindness. Eye symptoms are also common in migraines: sensitivity to light and flashes or circles in front of the eyes are not uncommon.

 

Regularly to the doctor

Many eye diseases could be treated better if everyone considered going to the ophthalmologist every year and did not only go there when they had symptoms. In addition to prescribing glasses or contact lenses, the doctor can correct ametropia with laser correction or an implant. It is decided individually whether the operation can be performed on an outpatient or inpatient basis.

Of course, there is a particular procedure for medication or surgery for every illness – you will find this in the respective disease. The German Blind and Visually Impaired Association (DBSV) offers many tips.

Sunglasses protect the eyes.

The sun is good for the soul, but direct sunlight damages our eyes. Conjunctivitis or corneal inflammation have immediate consequences, while cataracts and age-related blindness due to macular degeneration have long-term consequences. Good sunglasses are helpful as a preventive measure. The point of night driving glasses, however, is more than questionable.

If ozone levels are high, you should be careful not to engage in sporting activities outside the home, as ozone irritates the eyes. If you exercise, remember your glasses – otherwise, you only increase your risk of injury.

You can do something specifically for relaxed and beautiful eyes – especially after working on the screen; your eyes will be happy about an extra portion of attention. When we think of foods rich in vitamin A, many of us immediately think of carrots, but other foods like tuna, lettuce, or milk contain vitamin A and its relatives, such as lutein.

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