An Eye Checkup is Not Just for Medical Reasons

An eye checkup is more than assessing the health of the eyes. It can also diagnose neurological and neurobehavioral disorders. Doctors don’t have to split your brain in half to examine your mental health or perform a series of tests on you. An ophthalmologist simply needs to take a peek at your eyes or examine it – no more, no less. It is a painless way to check your noggin without the eye-popping expenses.

Moreover, you can also evaluate a person’s true intentions by looking at their eyes or its movements. Our eyes are not just windows through our soul. Our peepers can reveal our personality and behavior. This is a bit of creepy in a way but it is awesome information nonetheless.

The movement of the eyes is one form of non-verbal communication. Other types are gestures, facial expressions and posture. Non-verbal communication co-exists with verbal communication; our body language should relate or match with what we are saying. Why is non-verbal communication important? According to an article in livestrong.com, it can be used “to express emotions, communicate interpersonal relationships, support verbal interaction, reflect personality and perform rituals.”

How? Well, it helps to

  1. Detect mental and behavioural disorders like:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

An investigation conducted at Tel Aviv University in Israel found out that “the rate of microsaccades is inversely correlated with the level of attention.” Microsaccades is the minute to-and-fro movements of the eyes, as defined by medilexicon.com. People with ADHD have higher rates of eye blinks and microsaccades, the investigation divulged.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Using a technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT), it can identify retinal thinning during an eye checkup which is one of the symptoms of having a MS, based on a study at Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Center at UT Southwestern.

Alzheimer’s disease

According to alz.org, a person with Alzheimer’s has four visual problems such as motion blindness (unable to sense movement); depth perception (3D objects appear flat); color perception; and contrast between colors.

  1. The slower the eye movement, the more fatigued you are. This is the result of this study after the researchers enlisted surgical residents on a 24-hour shift.
  1. Impulsive decision-makers create rapid eye movements, a study published on jneurosci.org reveals. This is due to the fact that “the cost of time may be shared between decision making and motor control,” the study explains. Time is the greatest enemy of impatient persons.
  1. It can reveal if someone is lying – or not really? Past studies shown the difference between left and right eye movements. In an article at Daily Mail, when a right-handed person’s eye goes to the left it means it recalls something, otherwise, it is visualizing an imagined event. You can detect a case of fibbing once the eyes move to the right because it means the person is trying to construct an imaginary event.

However, Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at University of Hertfordshire, told Daily Mail that there is no relationship between eye movements and lying based on their study published on plosone.org. How to catch one? Read this.

  1. It can show when you’re having a hard time solving a problem. This was discovered by a Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, who found out that the more difficult the problem is, the larger the dilation of the pupils.

In his research, he instructed subjects to memorize a series of numbers. He noticed that the subjects’ pupils dilate as the numbers were presented one-by-one and it contracts as they recited them.

They say “actions speak louder than words.” For this reason, non-verbal cues reveal our truest intentions than what we communicate verbally. All you have to do is to conduct a discreet “eye checkup.”

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Psychogenic Blindness: Eye-Poppin’ Mind-Bogglers

No need to rush for an eye checkup in case you’re seeing Tetris-like shapes or Tetriminos everywhere, even if you’re not playing it. You’re only experiencing the “Tetris Effect” and there is nothing to worry about it. So, moving on, we have another bizarre case to crack and we have to perform an eye checkup to solve it.

Here is the scenario. What if after being blind for years, you’re suddenly able to see on an occasional basis? Now you see it, now you don’t.

This is what happened to a woman in Germany, whom they called as B.T. At her 20s, she had gone blind because of an accident. In clinical terms, she suffered from cortical blindness. She was also diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder.

After a psychotherapy session with Dr. Bruno Waldvogel in Munich, one of her ten personalities was able to read a few words in a magazine’s title page. Her doctors later found out that she was only blind psychologically or she has what is called psychogenic blindness.

What is psychogenic blindness?

Instead of defining it, let us differentiate an organic or clinically blind person vs. someone with psychogenic blindness. This is a type of eye checkup you can absolutely do at home. However, an eye doctor or an ophthalmologist has the final say on this subject matter.

According to the study conducted by Dr. Neil R. Miller, M.D., entitled “Neuro-Opthalmologic Manifestations of Psychogenic Disease”, here are ways to test the visual acuity loss of a patient:

  • Look directly at the person

A person with organic blindness will look straight at you while a psychogenic blind person will often look at other direction.

  • Using a rotating optokinetic drum:

 

Rotate the drum in front of the patient who has both eyes open. Note that in this experiment only one eye has a problem. Cover the unaffected eye with the palm of the hand immediately. The eye that has psychogenic blindness continues to show a jerk nystagmus.

What is nystagmus? Based on the American Optometric Association’s definition, it is a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements, often resulting in reduced vision.

  • Using a mirror:

Place a large mirror in front of the patient and ask him to look ahead directly. Twist the mirror back and forth. The patient will show a nystagmoid movement in the eyes because they cannot avoid following the moving reflection of the mirror.

  • Fingertip touching:

Instruct the patient to touch the tips of their point fingers. This is not a vision acuity test but rather it tests the proprioception of the patient. An organic blind person can easily do this whereas someone with psychogenic blindness cannot.

  • Signing a signature:

Same as the fingertip touching test, a person with psychogenic blindness will have difficulty doing this and may produce a “doodled” signature. Otherwise, he can do this without difficulty.

  • Pupil reaction:

The pupils of a psychogenic blinded person still react to light simulation whereas a naturally blind person must not be affected.

  • Bonus trivia: Patients claiming complete or nearly complete blindness often wear sunglasses. Now you know where sunglasses for sale in the Philippines come in handy in other “ways”.

What happened to B.T.? Based on an article in nymag.com, “…she almost entirely regained her ability to see.” Thanks to the therapy she went through.

The Tetris Effect: Eye-Poppin’ Mind-Bogglers

No eye checkup could ever fathom this bizarre medical/psychological condition. It may be a trick of an eye or simple case of hallucination or mere illusion, yet it has some sort of scientific explanation. Or maybe it is all in the mind. Blame it to our brain’s plasticity, the ability to shrink and thicken in response to repetitive external stimuli. The brain is really the “control center” of our body because it can easily manipulate us even against our will and sometimes, even subconsciously.

Here is a condition those young at heart and kids who love to play video games will be curious about: the “Tetris Effect”.

Who among you readers aren’t familiar with Tetris? (Don’t you dare raise your hand.) Tetris is a popular game in the 80’s created by Alexey Pajitnov and its birthplace is in Moscow, Russia. How did he come up with such a name? Tetris.com says it is combination of “tetra” (the Greek word of “four”) and “tennis” (the inventor’s favorite sport). It is inspired by a mathematical puzzle game called Pentomino. This game made the Nintendo’s handheld gaming system Game Boy popular. Now it is made “new and improved” to invade the virtual memory of our smartphones and possibly the memory bank of our brains all over again.

tetris effect - eye
Tetris Blitz by Electronic Arts

The game is fairly simple. You have different colorful shaped blocks that you need to stack to one another in a way it would not overlap in order to “vaporize” the blocks in a single line. Academic experts categorize it as a visual-spatial problem-solving computer game, or a fancy name for “this game teaches you things without you knowing it”.

tetris effect - nintendo.png.jpg
Tetris Game Boy by Nintendo

But what in the world is the “Tetris effect”? Is it a post-game experience or the aftereffects of it? This somehow rings true. According to healthguidance.org, the “Tetris effect” occurs with any repetitive task that involves particular movements, shapes or colors. It is not just only Tetris, but it can also happen while playing Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and nightmarishly, Flappy Bird (gasp!).

Imagine seeing Tetriminos everywhere; those flying birds or the menacing piggies; those colorful candies; and that annoying red bird launching towards green obstacles. You can also apply it in everyday real-life situations like loading the dishwasher, organizing your shelves or you may check this out.

tetris effect - adult.png
weknowmemes.com

Even if you close your eyes or before visiting dreamland (the state of hypnagogic stage of sleeping), you may see behind your eyelids falling colorful blocks. (What a joy.) This is how you experience the “Tetris effect”.  And no, you don’t need to schedule for an eye checkup to make it go away.

Healthguidance.org explains that it is an unconscious effort of your brain to practice and master a repetitive task even when you’re not doing it. Yep, that is our brain, busy as ever. Our so-called “gray matter” is actually helping us to get better at gaming (i.e. Tetris).

Fortunately, the “Tetris effect” has a positive effect in our mental health. A study posted at biomedcentral.com, found out after their subjects practiced (played?) Tetris for 30 minutes a day, their brain had “thickened”. This is more likely a sign that their brains have improved its memory capacity. In addition, huffingtonpost.com says it also makes the brain more efficient and helps those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. So, annihilating those pesky blocks has a good outcome after all.

giphy
Aaargh! Eye checkup, now!

Wait for more strange medical conditions that our eyes or brains could trick us! The next will definitely need an eye checkup to decipher.

Other Interesting Topic:

 

Hi-Tech Inventions to Help the Visually Impaired this Christmas

Giving away a set of for sale sunglasses in the Philippines is a classy gift this coming Christmas. However, the summer season is yet to come and you probably will soon experience the “chill” of December. Feeling the yuletide breeze is not enough; you must see it, too. Putting on sunglasses could “block” you from seeing sparkling and twinkling decors hanging in every street or every house. It would be a dull experience to hide the wonderful colors splashed before your eyes, ceasing the “Christmas-y” mood altogether.

Wearing sunglasses is just a mere flaw (or not a flaw at all) but it is entirely different if the person “wears” the flaw right inside their eyes. You can easily take off your sunglasses and marvel at those wonderful Christmas decors. This is not the case for people with partial or complete vision loss and those suffering from eye-related diseases. They’ve gone through countless eye checkups. Had changed their eyeglasses frame into different styles and colors because they have no choice but to wear corrective lenses all throughout their lives.

Blindness doesn’t only take away someone’s vision but their independence as well. They are able to cope though, and adjust. Fortunately, external help is within reach and some of it can be accessed via smartphones.

Here are the amazing finds developed to solve vision problems:

PEEK (Portable Eye Examination Kit)
Eye checkup or eye exam is expensive. The Peek App fixes this. Now, eye exams can be done by peeking through the camera lens of a smartphone. It can detect cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Join their Indiegogo Campaign to make this a reality.

Google Chrome ReColor
It only started through a project of a 17-year old high school student in India named Animesh Tripathi. Color-blind persons can now adjust the hues on their screens by using this program. Another Indiegogo Campaign funded project.

Facebook Retina App
For someone who has a pair of normal and healthy eyes, it would be hard to imagine how it goes with a person with low-vision conditions. Novartis steps up by creating an app to raise awareness by letting an individual “see” the world of a vision-impaired person.

Be My Eyes App
A mobile app developed by Hans Jørgen Wiberg. According to their site, “it is an app that connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat.” As of now, it helped over 100,000 persons with vision difficulties to be able to see.

eSight

This one resembles sunglasses but with a pricey tag. eSight is a revolutionary gadget that allows the blind to see. It assists people with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, optic atrophy, and other eye-related diseases. The current cost is $15,000, so this is not an ideal Christmas gift for now. Moreover, it is only available in Canada and the U.S.

Sharing is caring. But giving with a cause is cooler. You don’t have to put on a for sale sunglasses in the Philippines just to project it to everyone; helping others is cool. This Yuletide season, don’t limit the gift-giving to your family and friends. Help those who are in need, especially those with vision impairments.

eye problems during rainy season

How to protect your eyes this rainy season?

The rainy season can make you excited because after the hot season, a cold season is now coming. But you should be aware that rainy season can cause different sickness and pay attention about “eye care”. This season your eyes are present in different infections. It is because of the air that contains moisture, which is spreading the virus.

Some of the eye problems may encounter this season are corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, irritation, and dry eyes. Some of them can affect your sight permanently, that’s why you should take of care your eyes especially this time. Below are some tips how to prevent eye problems during the season.

  • If you have conjunctivitis, wash your eyes gently, use cold compresses and consult your doctor if it get worse.
  • Wash your hand first before touching your eyes. Avoid touching it if your hands are dirty.
  • Don’t share or used towels with others to prevent getting infected and to avoid spreading the infection.
  • Use eye drops as your doctor’s advice. Avoid using over-the-counter medication.
  • Wear eyeglasses frame or sunglass to protect your eyes.
  • Irritation, itchiness and redness of eyes may experience more during the season. These may notice for the people who stay long staring at the computer and reading book. Always do the 20-20-20 rules. (See: Tips to protect your eyes from Computer Strain)
  • Don’t wear contact lenses when eyes are experiencing red eyes, irritation and other eye problem. It may add irritation.
  • Used only water proof makeup from reputed brands.

Consult your eye doctor for more information on how to treat your eyes. Protect your eyes during rainy season.

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eye protection

Tips to Protect your eyes from Computer Strain

The eyes are one most important part of our body, without this, you can’t see the beauty of the world. It is really important to take care of it, as early as now, till your eyes are not still damaged. It is hard to see beautiful things with a blurry vision.

Now a day, many of us are on the computer for the whole day – for works, past-time or games. Have you noticed that your eyes get teary and painful? It is because your eyes are getting tired. Too much staring at a computer screen can damage eyes. You should be aware about this.

Staring too long at a computer screen can cause eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, neck, back and shoulder pain. Once you are experiencing these take a rest or consult a doctor.

You can still prevent these to happen by protecting your eyes,

  1. Wear eyeglasses frame or contact lens that’s adequate for computer use.
  2. Sit far enough from the monitor screen, at least arm’s length.
  3. Place your computer or laptop 4 to 5 inches below eye level.
  4. Avoid sitting at the back of a window, sun’s ray can reflect to the screen.
  5. Blink to avoid of drying of the eyes.
  6. Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20 second break by looking 20 feet away from you.

Protect and love your eyes!