Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Causes of Harm to the Eye

The eye is truly a wondrous organ. The eye’s amazing complexity is perfectly suited for its sole purpose: to perceive light. After dissecting a cow’s eye and getting a first hand look at the intricacy of its structure I began to wonder, what happens when something goes wrong. There is a myriad of diseases, deformations, and malformations that can seriously impair the function of the eye. These conditions are not only attributed to the eye itself since vision is sense comprised of connections between the eyes, visual pathways and the brain.

Myopia, hyperopia, cataracts, and color blindness are just a few conditions attributed directly to problems with the eyeball itself. These conditions occur quite frequently and can be caused by many genetic and exterior factors. One very specific type of eye infliction that I found quite interesting is the “A-bomb cataract.” These cataracts are formed when one directly observes the blast of an atomic bomb without any type of visual shielding. The intense radiation from the blast ionizes the water in the victim’s eyes causing the formation of powerful reducing agents that damage the protein synthesis and DNA causing cataracts. The picture shown is an example of radiation cataracts. These types of cataracts were seen in some of the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in WWII. Victims developed the radiation cataracts after exposure to radiation from up to two kilometers from the blast. The development of the cataracts was not instantaneous though. Some patients were diagnosed with the infliction 25 years after the bombings.

While much can go wrong with the eye in its development or through its regular usage, it is comforting to know how much modern medicine can do to treat it. Now even the completely blind can see again by sending visual information through cameras directly into the brain, bypassing the eye and the optic nerve. I find the eye truly fascinating. The specialization of each individual part of the eye is perfectly developed so that we can accurately perceive our surroundings. This is why I am very grateful that modern medicine can protect our vision from the many things that cause it damage.





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