Eye-diseases hitting younger patients — Ophthalmologist

MIRI: Modern lifestyle, hectic working schedule and technology advancement like hand-held phones and tablets are causing the age of eye-disease patients to be lower.

In fact, cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment are the few of the cases that I had commonly treated.

Cataract, for example, which is usually diagnosed at the age of 50 years and above are now getting to patients who are 10 years younger. It has become worrying and if the particular patients fail to get help from ophthalmologists, it could lead to permanent loss of eyesight, ophthalmologist Dr Loh Boon Kwang told The Borneo Post in a special interview on the sidelines of the 17th Annual Scientific Meeting held by Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore recently.

Eye diseases like cataract and glaucoma could be due to higher visual demand as well as patients with systemic diseases.

They should not neglect the fact that our modern lifestyle is actually exhausting our eyes. People who use their eyes more often and pushing them into working hard are the high risk group.

Whichever the eye disease could be, early detection is vital to help nourish and restore its condition. Because even for a simple disease like cataract, late diagnosis can cause permanent blindness, he said.

One of the most common cases retinal detachment, Loh reiterated, has obvious symptoms but are often neglected by patients.

Black dots and curtain-like visual are the common signs of retinal detachment.

The risk factors include ageing (age between 50 and 60 years) and eye myopia or near-sightedness (any kind of short sightedness). For serious near-sightedness (more than 600 degrees), the risk would increase.

Meanwhile, individuals who have undergone eye surgery like cataract, suffered eye injury or have family history of retinal detachments must also take note of this disease.

Asked on how to prevent eye diseases, Loh reiterated that prevention is always better than cure.

Well, they must understand that eyes are not isolated from the body. They are part of the body which in fact are the most important part aside from the heart.

My advice would be try to practise a healthy lifestyle, eat colourful food because they contain the right carotenoid content that is good for the eyes, exercise more, no smoking as it has correlation with cataract as well as protect your eyes with sunglasses, he told The Borneo Post.

Though there are new advancements in treating these diseases, Loh urged the people to take care of their eyes as prime eye care is better than curing the diseases.

Instead of exercising your eyes which people are normally taught, I would rather suggest that it is best to have more eye break from all the reading (especially at high resolution and bright monitor) for at least 30 minutes and spend more time outdoors, looking at nature.

Dr Loh who specialises in general ophthalmology which treats both adults and children, also shared his experience in paediatric eye disease.

The public might not know but the cases of retinal disease could almost equal to that of the adults.

For children as young as pre-mature, they might have retinopathy of prematurity, a condition with abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye. The worst condition could result in premature retinal detachment, he said.

Other paediatric retina conditions, he shared, include familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (a hereditary disorder that can cause progressive vision loss), persistent foetal vasculature (a congenital defect that results when the foetal hyaloid vasculature fails to regress), coats disease (a rare eye condition that typically progresses to vision loss or blindness in one eye) and retinal detachment in children.