In A Nutshell
A lot of people look for a miracle cure to restore their eyesight to normal vision. According to a recent study, more exposure to sunshine can prevent, though not cure, myopia in children. Some people try relaxation exercises like the Bates method to treat certain eye conditions, although this type of method is not scientifically proven and has mixed anecdotal results. For a while, LASIK surgery was all the rage, but at least one former FDA regulator believes the risks were dismissed too casually. However, a Nepalese doctor has eclipsed them all by performing lightning-fast cataract surgery on poor people in the developing world who lack access to health care and lose their vision to preventable eye conditions. In just five minutes each, he has restored the sight of over 100,000 patients.
The Whole Bushel
A lot of people look for a miracle cure to restore their eyesight to normal vision. According to a recent study, more exposure to sunshine can prevent, though not cure, myopia in children. Myopia is also known as nearsightedness, the inability to see distant objects clearly. Although many parents think that too much reading or computer work causes their children to become myopic, scientists don’t believe that’s a specific risk factor. It’s all the time indoors that seems to be the problem.
“Data suggest that a child who is genetically predisposed to myopia [is] three times less likely to need glasses if they spend more than 14 hours a week outdoors,” said optometrist Donald Mutti of Ohio State University. “But we don’t really know what makes outdoor time so special. If we knew, we could change how we approach myopia.”
When a young child’s eyes are growing, doctors believe that outdoor light helps to keep the eyes shaped properly. Scientists are focusing their studies on how invisible ultraviolet B rays trigger vitamin D production to make the eye muscles work correctly. The other theory is that visible bright light, which is more than 10 times stronger outside than inside, causes more dopamine to be released in the eye, restraining eye growth.
Regardless of the cause, the “outdoor effect” is well known and may help to reduce the rates of myopia among children worldwide.
Whether for children or adults, some people try relaxation exercises like the Bates method to treat certain eye conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, strabismus (misaligned eyes), lazy eye, and more. However, this type of method is not scientifically proven and can have mixed results. Shunned by his peers who believed in treating eye conditions with glasses, Dr. William H. Bates was an ophthalmologist in the early 1900s who advocated a combination of eye exercises, eye relaxation, and reducing or eliminating the use of glasses. But it takes commitment and time. Some people have reported dramatic improvements in their vision while others don’t notice a significant change.
For a while, LASIK eye surgery to correct vision was all the rage, but at least one former FDA regulator believes the risks were dismissed too casually. Although most patients are satisfied with the outcome of this laser procedure to reshape the cornea, some people experience glare, halos, double vision, and more. Sometimes, the side effects disappear on their own, but not always. In some cases, the effects are so severe that people can no longer drive or work at their jobs.
Morris Waxler, who was once in charge of the FDA branch that reviewed LASIK data, believes the agency should have set stricter standards for LASIK results. He also feels that the medical community should disclose the risk of side effects more openly with patients.
However, a Nepalese doctor has eclipsed all of these methods by performing lightning-fast cataract surgery on poor people in the developing world who lack access to health care and lose their vision to preventable eye conditions. In just five minutes each, Sanduk Ruit has restored the sight of over 100,000 patients by removing their cataracts and inserting artificial lenses through small incisions in their eyes. “Some of our younger surgeons even do it faster than that,” said Ruit.
Over the last 30 years, Ruit has made it his personal mission to restore sight to poor people in Africa and Asia who would otherwise be unable to acquire treatment. In the mid-1990s, he and a colleague founded an eye hospital in Nepal that exports lenses to treat cataracts to over 30 countries. Ruit also uses mobile eye camps to help people in remote areas who can’t get to urban facilities easily.
To multiply the number of people who can be helped, Ruit has also instructed other doctors in his method in many different countries. Recent statistics show that over 30 million people worldwide are blinded by conditions that are either preventable or curable.
Ruit is driven by the memory of his sister, who died of tuberculosis when he was a teenager. Knowing that her disease would have been treatable if they’d had access to the proper medical care, he feels compelled to help others in similar situations. Not only are the moments that patients regain their sight especially moving, these people also regain their independence in many cases.
Show Me The Proof
ScienceDaily: Scientists study effects of sunlight to reduce number of nearsighted kids
Sydney Morning Herald: Scientists study effects of sunlight to reduce number of nearsighted kids
BBC News: To See Or Not To See
ABC News: Former FDA Regulator Says LASIK Side Effects Weren’t Taken Seriously Enough
CNN: Sight for sore eyes: ‘Maverick’ doctor who restored the vision of 100,000 people