Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

What is a microbiome?

A genome is the entire set of DNA instructions found in a cell. In humans, thegenomeconsists of 23 pairs of chromosomes located in a cell’s nucleus. A biome refers to the species that are present in a location.The ocular microbiome refers to the bacteria, fungi and viruses that are present in the eye.The microbes in a healthy ocular microbiome act like a barrier, preventing invasion by harmful pathogens.

The ocular microbiome is also significantly different in the conjunctiva (the thin, clear membrane that protects the eye) and the cornea (the outermost clear layer that helps in focusing and refraction of the eye) of patients with infectious diseases such as fungal keratitis when compared to healthy eye microbiomes.

Infection of the eye, and how to protect vision

Globally, about 135 million people have low vision. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 80% of this visual loss can be prevented or cured. Hence WHO has joined hands with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) for a programme called VISION 2020: The Right to Sight.

In India, 13 lakhs are born blind, and 76 lakhs are suffering from easily treatable methods. By setting up ‘vision centres’ in rural areas and towns, by setting up well-equipped ophthalmic hospitals with able ophthalmologists, these sufferers can have the Right to Sight. Indeed, this is happening across the country. In addition, some globally recognised ‘State of the Art’ eye institutions are actively working on Vision 2020, and it appears achievable.

In 2005, India had a population of 115 crores, and today it is 140 crores. Despite this increase, many eye care centres in rural India, more ophthalmologists in towns and cities, and eye research institutions in cities across the country have helped make India a votary of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight.

However, the prevailing levels of air pollution, due to very high amounts of dust all over the country, have made many people suffer from ‘pink eye’ (conjunctivitis), itching and swelling of the eye, and blurry vision (when the lens is affected), or sensitivity to bright light.

How does one cope with it?

The Cleveland Clinic in the U.S. has suggested several methods for this—use damp, warm or cool kerchiefs to make your eyes feel better; wear protective eyeglasses (spectacles); if you wear contact lenses, clear them; contact your eye doctor and have him/her prescribe appropriate lotions or pills.

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