The eye is a unique body organ made up of different components that work together to provide vision. The eye has an outer layer called the white layer or sclera. The white layer is relatively tough for protection. The sclera is covered by another thin transparent membrane known as the conjunctiva. The membrane also covers the moist part of the eyelids and eyeballs.
Understanding the Parts of the Eyes
The cornea is the clear layer covering the pupil and iris, allowing light into the eye. The cornea also protects the eye while at the same time focusing light at the back of the eye (retina). The pupil is the black spot in the middle of the eye through which light travels into the eye. The iris surrounds the pupil and controls the light that goes through the eye. It does so by adjusting the size of the eye. In a bright environment, the pupil iris contracts/constrict to limit the light entering the eye. In a dark environment, the iris will expand to allow more light into the pupil. These functions are performed by the dilator and sphincter muscle of the eye.
The eye's lens is behind the iris, and its function is to focus light into the retina. The lens works by focusing on objects at different distances. For nearby objects, the lens thickens. When focusing on distant objects, the lens gets thinner. Ciliary muscles control the thickness of the lens.
The retina, located at the back of the eye, contains photoreceptor cells that sense light and blood vessels that supply them with blood. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina. It contains closely packed photoreceptor cells (cones). Cones make the image more detailed by providing a high resolution. Each photoreceptor cell is connected to a nerve that forms the optic nerve when combined. Photoreceptor cells convert images into electrical signals transmitted to the brain by the optic nerve. There are two types of photoreceptor cells: cones and rods. Cones provide colored, detailed, central, and sharply focused images, while rods are useful in peripheral and night vision.
The eyeball has two fluid-filled sections, namely the anterior and posterior segments. The fluid contained in the eyeball gives it its shape. In addition, the eye has a set of protective features that help prevent injuries.
The eye is contained in a bony structure that goes beyond the surface of the eye. This bony structure (orbit) protects the eye while allowing free movement.
The Eye Lashes
These are short hairs growing on the upper and lower edges of the eyelid. The hair protects the eye from the entry of foreign particles such as dirt and insects.
These are thin covers of the eye made of skin and muscle. The eyelids blink at the slightest sensation to protect foreign objects from entering the eye.
The moist covering membrane of the eye covers the eye while protecting the sensitive tissues beneath. In addition, it covers the eyelids and eyeballs.
Tears are made of salty fluid that bathes the eye while nourishing the cornea, which lacks blood vessels. The components of tears include water, oil, and mucus. Tears ensure the eye is moist and sweep away dust and dirt particles that accidentally enter the eye. Blinking helps in transferring moisture to the outer parts of the eye. An oily substance produced in the eyelids keeps the tears from drying. Tears also contain antibodies that protect the eye from infections. When the cornea dries up, it becomes infected, opaque, and injured.
Eye Injuries and First Aid
Eye injuries can result from industrial or domestic accidents. Thus, it requires medical attention. The eye is a sensitive organ, and any injury to the eye should be treated as an emergency to protect vision and prevent complications. There are different types of injuries:
- Foreign object
- Blow to the eye
- Puncture or cuts
Chemicals are often associated with ocular burns. Chemical splash into our eyes and are very painful. The most dangerous chemical burns occur from strong alkalis and strong acids. We should always wear safety glasses when handling abrasive substances and chemicals to protect our eyes from these injuries. Some substances likely to cause injuries include fertilizers, detergents, drain cleaners, motors, plaster, concrete, and lime products. Chemical burns on the cornea of the eye can result in scarring, infection, perforation, and blindness.
When chemicals splash into our eyes, we should remain as calm as possible and keep our eyes open. Closing the eyes spreads and traps the chemicals inside. Flush the eye with water for 20 minutes. The eyes should remain open as you do so. Immediately seek specialized treatment. You should call the poison control centers for medical questions and to further assist and explain the type of chemical.
Foreign Object in the Eye
In most cases, the eye cleans out dirt and other small particles. When an object enters your eye, you should avoid rubbing, which results in further damage. Instead, lift the upper eyelid and place it over the lower one, then try to roll your eye around. With your eye open, flush the eyes with a lot of water. Repeat the procedure until the object comes out. Have a doctor check your eyes for any damage or remaining particles. The eye doctor will use a specialized light to assess injuries and provide the necessary treatment.
Do not attempt to remove an object that is stuck in the eye. Instead, cover the eye with a gauze or shield and rush to the hospital.
Blow to the Eye
Blows to the eye might be minor or major type of injury, depending on the extent of the damage. Minor injuries can heal on their own. However, you should monitor the injury for complications such as infection. If you suffer a blow to the eye, gently apply a cold compress on the eye for five to ten minutes. Allow the same amount of time, then apply gain. Do not apply directly on the skin. You can wrap the ice in a cloth and then apply it to the injured eye. Call the doctor for assessment. It is important to establish the extent of the injury and get the necessary medication. After 24 hours, use a warm compression on the eye to reduce the bruising. See a doctor if you notice any signs of infection. The treatment will depend on the severity of the eye injuries. The following are symptoms of eye infection:
- Drainage from the eye
- Persistent pain
- Change in vision
- Any visible change or abnormalities in the eye
Cuts or Puncture on the Eye
Minor eye injuries occur on the eyelid due to the reflex action of the eye to close to avoid injuries. Seek immediate medical care from an eye specialist or eye care professional if you suffer a cut or puncture to your eye. As part of first aid:
- Do not attempt to wash the eye with clean water
- Do not attempt to remove any sharp object stuck in the eye
- Wear eye shoes or improvise one (to improvise, split a paper cup and tape the bottom part over the injured eye).
Burns to the eye are treated as normal burns. Burns on the eyes are medical emergencies. Immediately call for emergency medical services. Remove the source of heat and move the eye injury patient to safety. Run cool water over the burn. Do not run water over major burns. Instead, seek immediate treatment from a doctor. Do not break any blisters, as they lead to body water loss and infections. Instead, place a clean bandage over the burn and seek specialized treatment.
How to Protect your Eyes From Common Eye Injuries?
The eye is a sensitive body organ. Injuries to the eye can lead to complications and blindness. To protect your eyes from damage and injuries:
- Avoid looking directly at the sun, especially during an eclipse.
- Take note of instructions before using machines or playing games.
- Wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays from the sun when going outside.
- Wear protective goggles and glasses during sporting activities and when using fireworks.
- Always wear a helmet with a face mask during high-impact activities and when around shooting devices.
- Wear protective goggles or a facial mask when cleaning or handling chemicals.
- Clean your hands thoroughly after touching chemicals.
- Be cautious when opening wine bottles and carbonated drinks.
- Always wear eye protection when using a weed trimmer and lawn mower.
- To avoid sports-related eye injuries, athletes who wear contact lenses must wear eye protection.
Eye care is important as blurry vision or, even worse, permanent vision loss can be traumatizing and life-changing. To ensure good eye health, we must eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. By maintaining a healthy body weight, we should also avoid diseases that affect our eyesight, such as diabetes and hypertension. We can do so through regular physical exercise and avoiding smoking.
Everyone should see an eye doctor and examine their eyes at least once a year. In addition, people with a family history of illnesses such as diabetes should get regular tests. If you are diagnosed with eye problems, always follow your healthcare provider's recommendation for treatment. Additionally, persons who wear prescription glasses should always follow the doctor's instructions, and athletes who wear contact lenses must wear eye protection to avoid sports-related eye injuries.