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Doctor's Appointment | Watch out for your eyes

Published:Wednesday | June 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Senator Floyd Morris

Often taken for granted or given scant regard are our eyes, unless of course, there is some form of visual problem or crisis. This, ophthalmologist Dr. Leighton Maddan says should be taken very seriously.

A guest on Doctor's Appointment, the eye specialist based at Winchester Medical Centre in St Andrew noted that if one notices a change in vision, has difficulty reading or seeing objects either near or far, it is imperative to get your eyes evaluated.

Dr Maddan also identified some common eye problems with these symptoms:

Presbyopia - long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, occurring typically in middle and old age.

Eye Floaters - are spots in one's vision that may look to the affected individual like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs which drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

Dry eyes - is a common condition that occurs when an individual's tears do not provide adequate lubrication for the eyes.

Tearing - is a normal function of the eye. Excessive tearing however, or teary eyes that are not from normal crying, can be a sign of an underlying health condition or disease.

Cataracts - a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.

Glaucoma - Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to good vision. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye. World Health Organization estimates that 64 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma. In the Caribbean the numbers are higher per capita because of its prevalence amongst those of African descent.

Conjunctivitis - Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they're more visible. This is what causes the whites of your eyes to appear reddish or pink.

Astigmatism - An abnormality in shape of the eye which in turn affects the focusing power of the eye. This causes objects at a particular distance to appear blurred while edges of objects are not sharp. However, because perfectly spherical eyes are uncommon, most individuals will have some form of astigmatism to varying degrees. The disease however can be corrected by refractive eyewear be it glasses or lens.

Diabetic Retinopathy - One of the organs most affected by diabetes is the eye. As such diabetics are at higher risk of developing eye issues.




Special guest, Senator Floyd Morris, spoke to his own experiences. At the age of 14, he began losing his sight, and in six years, despite numerous interventions, he lost all vision.

The story begins at St. Mary High School which the former senator attended between the years of 1981 and 1986. While in grade nine (1983) he noticed he was not seeing the blackboard clearly after returning from summer break. Before this he had experienced no symptoms at all. The teacher allowed him to move closer to the front of the class and the school referred him to the optometrist.

During the examination the optometrist noticed what appeared to be a hole in the eye and subsequently referred the young vibrant student to an ophthalmologist. In the interim he was given glasses which led to slight improvement in his vision, however, overall his sight continued to degenerate.

It was after visiting the University Hospital of the West Indies that he was diagnosed with glaucoma. He underwent three different laser operations in an effort to control pressure within his eye and save his remaining vision. However, in spite of this he became totally blind in 1989.

Senator Morris explained that he does not see complete darkness but rather it appears as a cloud blocking his view.

Depression set in shortly after the loss of his sight, especially since he was in the primacy of his life. In high school he was severely limited in the activities in which he could participate, as he was unable to play most sports, "no cricket or marbles" he lamented, and now as a young adult the outlook looked bleak.

However, as a testament to how resilient the human spirit is, after two years Morris restarted his education as he did not want to be dependent on other family members. He first enrolled at the Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB) where he learned how to read and write braille, in addition to taking a refresher typing course. Thereafter he began courses at Mico Evening College garnering two 'A' level subjects.

The senator states that what was most instrumental was the orientation and rehabilitation training he received at JSB. In 1993 he started a degree programme at the University of the West Indies, where he gained a first degree in Mass Communication in 1996. After that he went on to attain a Masters in Phil in government in 2000. Presently Morris is completing his PhD.

Morris firmly believes that "With the use of modern technology someone with a disability can accomplish anything,"

Make eye Screening a part of your overall check-up

Eye screening should include evaluation of pressure in eye alongside an examination and evaluation of optic nerve. If there is a family history of the illness there should be regular screening for self and relatives. For those diagnosed with glaucoma it is critical to keep ocular pressure below point of damage.

Dr Maddan also warned that patients should not choose glasses without having had a thorough examination. This is dangerous, if lens are not of the appropriate strength it can result in strain on the focusing power of the eye.




It is recommended that one wears sunglasses with UV protection, as UV rays can lead to the development and acceleration of cataracts. If there is any astigmatism or any other ocular conditions these should be properly monitored and controlled with the use of refractive eyewear. Finally, take appropriate breaks and rest while reading for long durations.

Be proactive! Get your eyes tested today by expert eye specialists at any Courts Optical location and receive free blood pressure and sugar tests in a comfortable setting. Should you need glasses, Courts Optical offers a wide array of fashionable frame options at an affordable price. The best part is, you get up to 24 months to pay.

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