SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Kidz at Sea Foundation once again welcomed our sponsor, the Essilor Vision Foundation USA, who have been providing free eye exams on St. Maarten for the last three consecutive years.
During the last week of March, the Essilor Vision Foundation came with multiple doctors, and all the necessary equipment for vision testing. They worked diligently in conjunction with the SVOBE schools and management to ensure that as many school students could be examined during their three-and-a-half-day visit. 768 individuals were tested on St. Maarten and 238 on Anguilla for a total of 1006 patients examined. St. Maarten School age participants were organized via SVOBE management and the local school boards; the White & Yellow Cross, Sister Basilia Center on St. Maarten and the Blossom Centre in Anguilla also participated.
The contribution to the future success our student body is amazing as nearly all students examined required some sort of corrective eye wear. Participants ranged in age from 3 to 80; with all ranges of site. It just goes to show, how neglected eye care is in our society; with the damaging effects of the sun, diabetes and hypertension all taking their toll.
“Kidz at Sea is always thankful to have the support of Essilor and we are also extremely lucky to have the support of SVOBE team members under the direction of Wim de Visser both at MPC and Sundial who welcomed us onto their campuses with open arms to help the entire student body of St. Maarten. By working together our collective vision is always much brighter.” said Kidz at Sea President Lorraine Talmi.
In the hopes of spreading Eye Care awareness here are some key issues about eye health every resident of St. Maarten should know.
Non-aging causes of Eye Damage
From sun: Intense UV rays (ultraviolet) rays of the sun damage sensitive cells in the eyes which can affect vision. The effects of UV rays on the eyes builds up over the years and may increase the chance of developing eye problems later on in life, for example cataracts. Even short-term eye damage is possible with exposure to the sun such as photo conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the membrane outside the eye, commonly know as pink eye.
The highest UV radiation exposure for the eyes is in the morning and mid-afternoon.
Protecting children’s eye is very important as researches estimate that a significant amount of lifetime exposure to UV rays may occur by age 18.
To protect your eyes, choose sunglasses that limit transmission to no more than 1 percent UVB and 1 percent UVA rays; that have lenses large enough to cover the eye and prevent as much light as possible from entering (wrap-around sunglasses are the best), darker lenses and even gray lenses and wide-brimmed hats are always the way to go.
Related to diabetes: People who suffer from diabetes are also prone to diabetic retinopathy, which is progressive damage to the retina. This condition affects both eyes and the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. This is a very serious condition of diabetes and can lead to serious complications with eyesight with the extreme being blindness. There are things you can do if you are diabetic to help prevent or slow down the development of diabetic retinopathy such as: taking your medication as prescribed, sticking to your diet, exercise regularly, control high blood pressure and try to avoid alcohol and smoking.
Related to hypertension: Untreated high blood pressure can also affect your eyesight and lead to hypersensitive retinopathy. There are no specific symptoms other than headaches and vision problems as hypersensitive retinopathy can usually be discovered during a routine eye exam. The best way to treat this condition is to adequately control your blood pressure through diet and exercise and taking your high blood pressure medication as prescribed. Seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis for follow up care is also a preventive measure.
Related to use of technology: Research is still ongoing but some studies indicate that staring at the screen for too long can cause squinting, over-straining of the eye muscles and headaches. Laptops, smartphones and tablets are all part of our daily life, but there are some tips on how to preserve your eyesight while surfing the web… take regular breaks from the screen, do not spend too much time staring at a bright screen in a dark place, get your eyes examined, and if you have prescription eyeglasses, make sure to wear them.