After the brain, the eye is the next most complex organ in the human body. It absorbs light from the objects around us and sends signals to the brain where an image is created, allowing us to see.
It can be difficult to maintain good eye health in modern life. Our eyes are affected by everything from air conditioning to computer screens, contact lenses, makeup and lack of sleep, as well as factors out of our control such as age and pollen.
To better understand the inner-workings of the eyes and the consequences of poor eye health, it’s helpful to understand the different structures of the eye and their functions.
The conjunctiva is the clear membrane that covers the front of the eye. It provides a protective layer to keep dirt and bacteria out of the eye. It needs to be well lubricated by tears and oils in order to fulfil this protective function. If you don’t produce enough tears, you may experience dry eyes, which can lead to a condition called conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by an infection or allergies.
The cornea is a clear, dome-shaped layer that covers the front of the eye. It provides a barrier against dirt, germs and other particles. As it has no blood vessels to deliver nourishment, it needs to be kept moist by tears to remain healthy. It also plays a role in focusing light into the eye. It’s responsible for about 70% of the eye’s total focusing power, a role shared by the lens. If the cornea gets damaged or infected, it can cause a condition called keratitis.
The lens acts much like a camera lens: it adjusts depending on the distance of the object you’re looking at, so that the object you see is in focus. A fault in the lens can contribute to vision problems. For example, farsightedness can be caused by the lens losing its elasticity with age. Both nearsightedness and farsightedness are caused when light passing through the lens is not properly focused onto the retina—it either focuses in front of or behind the retina, resulting in a fuzzy image.
The retina plays a vital role in vision. It sits at the very back of the eye and is made up of millions of light-sensitive cells. These cells are of two kinds: rods and cones. Rods make up most of the retina and are very sensitive to light. However, they’re not sensitive to colour—this is where the cones come in.
The macula is part of the retina. It’s about 5 mm in diameter and responsible for our centre of vision. Whatever object we are actively focusing on will be in the centre of our vision—everything else we can see but aren’t quite looking at makes up our peripheral vision. If the macula becomes damaged, it can cause a condition called macular degeneration.
The iris is the coloured part of the eye that surrounds the pupil. The pupil is the round, dark centre of the eye—in fact, it’s just the hole through which light enters the eye. The iris contracts and relaxes to allow the pupil to change size. It narrows in bright light to restrict the amount of light entering the eye and widens in dim light to absorb as much light as possible for clearer vision.
The optic nerve is the bundle of nerve cells at the back of the eye. This nerve carries impulses from the eye to the brain, where they are interpreted and turned into an image of what the eyes are seeing. The optic nerve can be damaged by a condition called glaucoma.
Small changes in the eye can often be an indication of a larger problem, such as an infection, allergy or irritation. If you’re wondering what your eye symptom could be caused by or might indicate, we’ve got pages covering dry, itchy, red/bloodshot and tired eyes.
Throughout these pages we recommend herbal and natural remedies to help ease your symptoms. However, if your symptoms are severe—if they include eye pain, bleeding of the eye or suddenly blurry vision—or if you suspect that you have a more serious condition, it’s important to consult your ophthalmologist or GP immediately.
Eye conditions include:
Wherever possible, we try to offer natural and herbal solutions so you can treat your condition or speed up recovery from home. However, it's important that you consult your GP or ophthalmologist in the case of serious conditions and follow their treatment advice, as some of these conditions can severely damage your vision if not treated properly.
We have two main products for maintaining eye health: A.Vogel Sharp Vision and A.Vogel Eye Drops.
A.Vogel Sharp Vision contains nutrients such as zinc, lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, all vital for maintaining healthy eyes and good vision.
A.Vogel Eye Drops are made from euphrasia, a herb that has been used for centuries to treat eye problems, earning its alternate name, eyebright. These eye drops are great for dry, irritated or tired eyes and can be used while wearing contact lenses.