It was the top of the 4th, one out and no one on base in the May 11 ball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees. The Rays were leading 2-0 when Yankee Brett Gardner hit a fly ball into left field. Rays outfielder Tommy Pham raced for the catch just as he lost his left contact lens. Without breaking stride, however, the ball landed neatly in Pham’s glove for the second out. Pham searched the ground for a moment, then reached into his back pocket, pulled out a compact mirror and spare contact lens to reinsert the lens on the field. Pham made it seem like no big deal.
Claude Monet, the father of impressionism, spent years studying the effects of light and color, then recreating those effects, rather than the objects, in his art. At about age 65, Monet noticed a change in his perception of color. Colors appeared less intense, and he began to replace whites, blues and greens with yellows and purples. These two paintings show the change in detail and palette. At age 72, Monet was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. Terrified of the results of surgery, he did not consent to an operation on the first eye until ten years later.
As Eye Care Practitioners (ECPs), we find ourselves in the position of “fixing” vision problems after they’ve been diagnosed. Glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy and more come out of our toolbox to help those who can no longer see clearly. But, with a nod to an old saying, what can we do to fix it before it’s broke?
Leonardo da Vinci made tremendous contributions, not only to art and science, but to optics as well. He foretold the invention of contact lenses when he had a visually impaired man open his eyes in a bowl of water and the man’s vision improved. Da Vinci also aggressively studied the nature of light and anatomy. According to Historian of Art, Martin Kemp, “He planned to make a glass model of the eye to confirm how it functioned. If he understood how optics worked in the external word, and how the eye functioned, he should be able to make paintings that looked like a ‘second nature.’ This means that naturalism is not the taking a kind of ‘photograph’ of nature but reconstructing and demonstrating how nature works.”
Vision is fundamental to children’s learning. About 80% of socio-educational development takes place through the eyes during the first 12 years of life, but changes in vision can take place without parents noticing. Working as an optician has helped me realize the importance of having our kids’ eyes examined every year. The discussion can start with vision screenings at schools or pediatricians, but we must add that it is not the perfect way to fully diagnose a vision problem.
It’s not all chocolate and flowers. There’s a vision connection to the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named. Writings about St. Valentine of Rome give accounts of two instances in which he restored sight to the blind. The first was the daughter of a judge who had arrested Valentine. The second was the daughter of his jailer, just before Valentine’s execution. Is it coincidence, then, that February is Low Vision Awareness Month?
The brutally cold weather that swept across much of the country recently may have affected more than your heating bill. Eyes are resilient in the extreme cold, but can still suffer negative effects. Patients may have some unusual complaints, so we must be alert, know the facts, and share the information with our patients.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. Have you finished your holiday shopping? I’ve barely scratched anyone off my list, but even if you’re ready to ‘wrap things up,’ there’s something to keep in mind if your gift list includes children. December is Safe Toys Month, and Prevent Blindness reminds us that each year, thousands of children younger than 15 suffer serious eye injuries from toys.