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Blindness as a Public Health Nursing Issue Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2022

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are key public health nursing issues that afflict many parts of the world. All diseases that do not spread from one person to another are called noncommunicable diseases (Basavanthappa, 2008). They include diseases such as cancers, diabetes, heart complications, injuries, and orodental ailments. Blindness also falls under NCDs because it cannot spread from one person to another. The International Association for the Prevention of Blindness describes total blindness as a situation where an individual possesses one twentieth of the normal eyesight, or when a person cannot count fingers that are one meter away from the person’s eyes (Basavanthappa, 2008). The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests a uniform measure for blindness and characterizes blindness as a visual perception that is lower than 3/60.

Several ailments are accountable for visual impairment including trachoma, malnutrition, and cataracts. A “cataract is the opacity of the crystalline lens or its capsules” (Basavanthappa, 2008). Opacity causes changes in vision and objects appear deformed. The changes in vision bring about a horrible glare. The development of cataracts yields no pain, but it changes the appearance of the pupil from black to grey and finally white. In India, cataracts are the chief cause of blindness, accounting for 50 to 70% of all blind cases. Trachoma is an extremely contagious ailment of the eyelids. It causes a slight itching and inflammation of the eyelids. Follicles subsequently emerge following a heightened inflammatory process. The resultant discomfort blurs vision and affects the upper palpebral conjunctiva (Basavanthappa, 2008).

Causes of blindness fall into two broad categories, which are acquired causes and congenital causes. Congenital causes include hereditary ailments and innate abnormalities, whereas acquired causes include trauma, infections, malnutrition, neoplastic among many others (Basavanthappa, 2008). Recent studies associate smoking with widespread sight-threatening eye problems (Thornton, Edwards, Harrison, Elton, Astbury, & Kelly, 2007).

Thorntorn et al. suspect that there is little information concerning the relationship between smoking and eye conditions (2007). They explore several avenues of creating a program, which aims at reducing the burden of eye infections related to smoking (2007). A thorough literature evaluation of published proof linking smoking to eye ailments reveals a causal relationship between smoking, age-related muscular degeneration, and eye conditions. Population attributable risk (PAR) techniques estimate about 53,900 British residents above the age of 69 years have a visual impairment due to age-related muscular degeneration (AMD) attributable to smoking (Thorntorn et al., 2007). Out of the 53,900 people, 17,800 are blind. Thorntorn et al. advocate for all ophthalmologists identifying smokers among their patients and providing smoking cessation advice and support (2007). In addition, they draw the attention of healthcare professionals, policy makers, patients and the public by creating awareness on the impact of smoking on eye health. They further advocate the addition of the warning message “smoking causes blindness” on all tobacco products.

This information is crucial to CHN because it equips a community health nurse to educate the community on healthy lifestyle choices. It encourages all people to quit smoking cigarettes to enhance the overall health of the eyes.

As a student, I can use this knowledge to educate my fellow students on the dangers of smoking to their lungs, muscles, and eyesight. I can also equip them with information on how to maintain proper eyesight by eating a healthy diet, and treating all eye infections promptly before they develop into blindness.

References

Basavanthappa, B. T. (2008). Community health nursing (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers.

Thornton, J., Edwards, R., Harrison, R. A., Elton, P., Astbury, N., & Kelly, S. P. (2007). ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’: A research-informed professional education and advocacy programme. Journal of Public Health, 29(2), 142–146. Web.

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