Frequently Asked Questions

When you are told your vision is 6/6 or 6/18 or less or more, this means they did an eye measure for you called visual acuity. The eye has many important measurements. Among the most important are the visual acuity, visual field, color vision and contrast. When they measure your visual acuity, they put a vision chart at a specific distance. The chart either has English E letters of different directions, or Latin letters or pictures of different sizes on it. Each size is kept on a line which holds a specific number. The number 6 is fixed and means that the exam is held on a distance of 6 meters. The second number; 18 in case of your vision exam is last size of letters you could recognize. You couldn’t recognize the smaller letter sizes of 12, 9 and 6. The size 18 means that a person with normal 6/6 vision can recognize it from 18 meters distance. So visual acuity test is indirectly comparing your eye to the eye of a normal person with 6/6 vision. Your score of 6/18 means at a distance of 6 meters you could recognize letter sizes that a person with normal visual acuity can see at 18 meters!

What is the difference between cataract and glaucoma?

Actually, these two diseases have no relation to each other in terms of etiology and mechanism of the disease. There will be no new water produced inside the eye in any color! It is only their name in Kurdish or Arabic making us imagine they are related to one another.

Cataract is the whitening of the proteins making the fibers of the eye lens. These fibers are transparent themselves. The mechanism of their whitening is the same as the whitening of egg white after boiling. The egg white is colorless but when boiled becomes white and hard. The proteins of the lens in the same way after decades of exposure to rays and light become white and harden; they are transparent and gel like initially.

On the other hand, glaucoma is the atrophy of the optic nerve cells when exposed to high intra-ocular pressure. If a soccer ball has low air pressure, it becomes saggy. If it has too much air pressure, it becomes rigid and under tension. The eye ball in the same way maintains shape and size; it has a pressure ranging between 9 to 21 mmHg. If pressure is higher than 21mmHg, the live content inside becomes under pressure. The optic nerve fibers are very sensitive to abnormal pressure and die if exposed to it. This is called glaucoma! Inside the eye there is a continuous production of water and drainage at the same time. Any imbalance to this production-drainage may cause abnormal high pressure inside the eye.

So why these two diseases have very close names in Kurdish and Arabic?

Both diseases cause the eye or a part of it to appear white or bluish-black especially at their end stage. In cataract, the whitish lens appears through the pupil and we can see it by naked eye at the end stage. In glaucoma, the high pressure stretches the sclera especially in children and let us see the choroid through the thinning points of the sclera.

Today, mobiles and tablets are becoming parts of our body. To decide if this phenomenon is right or wrong is another subject but as a phenomenon it is obvious out there! When we are looking at out mobile phones or tablets, our vision is set to near vision. In near vision, the process of eye accomodation is active. Accomodation needs the contraction of the intra-ocular and extra-ocular muscles. Also when we concentrate, blinking is reduced especially on near vision. Light hits the eye originating from the screen. This makes more contraction of the eye muscles. In addition to that, our posture during sitting, positionof head and chin adds to the extra burden. Our eyes needs to be continuously wet by tear through blinking. And our eye muscles are not made for continuous contraction. All this lead to tiredness and even strain of our eyes. A disease name today is given to this problem. It is called Computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. Although the individual will suffer from headache, eye redness and feeling gritty in the eye; maybe they will loose tolerance to even few minutes of watching any screen, but it will not lead to refractive errors if they are adults. In contrary, if children and adolescents are used to looking for long hours during the day to mobiles and tablets, it could lead to refractive errors and need of wearing spectacles in the futrue. Namely they might develop myopia. Myopic patients can't see well far objects; even a small degree of myopia causes a severe bluring of far objects. It is very important that parents and schools know this information and try to arrange so that children has minimum need to use mobiles and tablet screens. It is better to use desktop computers put in the range of intermediate vision. Children should play outdoors. This will stimulate near, intermediate and far vision in them. The answer: Yes, children and adolescents could develop refractive errors if they use mobiles and tablet for long hours every day. Adults won't develop such problems although might get annoying signs and symptomes form eye fatigue and strain.
A pediatrician can test vision as part of a child's medical examination. They may refer a child to an ophthalmologist (a medical eye doctor) if there is any sign of an eye condition. If a newborn is born at hospital, it is recommended that vision screening be done as part of discharge examination. Visual function (including ocular alignment, etc.) also should be checked by the pediatrician or family physician during routine well-child exams. If you suspect your child suffers from decreased vision - amblyopia (poor vision in an otherwise normal appearing eye), refractive error (nearsightedness or farsightedness) or strabismus (misalignment of the eye in any direction) - or if there are hereditary factors that might predispose your child to eye disease, please make an appointment with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. New techniques make it possible to test vision in infants and young children. If there is a family history of misaligned eyes, childhood cataracts or a serious eye disease, preterm delivery, low birth weight, or maternal disease during pregnancy, an ophthalmologist should begin checking your child's vision at a very early age. It is also recommended to arrange for an examination of vision with an ophthalmologist at preschool age (4 - 5 years) even if everything seems OK with the vision of your child.