London’s first eye show – showcasing industry innovation

This month I attended 100% Optical, the UK’s inaugural eye show at London’s ExCeL. Thousands of eye enthusiasts congregated for three days of displays, conferences, fashion events and workshops. Coinciding with London Fashion Week, the event showcased some of the most stylish eye wear brands. In addition, suppliers were proudly displaying their new products and innovations.

I was fortunate to be one of the speakers, taking the stage to discuss communication and contact lenses; both passions of mine. People can feel that they have been overloaded with information after visiting their optometrist. With numerous tests and options available, it is vital that communication is at the forefront of patient care. Good communication skills, in particular, having a caring and listening nature, don’t always come naturally but these are qualities I feel are essential to ensure a productive patient/optometrist relationship.

After my seminar in the ‘Lens Hub’ I was able to enjoy all the show had to offer. As many of you know I love embracing new technology and am proud that Cameron Optometry has some of the most advanced technology available to the industry. So, I particularly enjoyed exploring the 3D Frame Factory to see how the 3D printers work and how frames are then produced. The process first involves taking a 3D scan of your head. I, of course, was happy to volunteer to be a guinea pig! I was then able to see the frames being produced first hand, as well as trying out a few of those that had been ‘made earlier’. They don’t look anything special at first, with clunky bits of plastic, but the finished products are quite impressive. European designers such as Patrick Hoet and Monoqool are winning numerous awards for their cutting edge frames. I will watch with great interest to see if this trend takes off in the UK.

Scanned head

3D printer

One designer who has definitely taken off and is now one of the leading names in stylish eyewear, is Robert William Morris. It was a great honour to meet the man behind the global brand William Morris London. He established the brand some 15 years ago and now it is seen as one of the most stylish choices in eyewear, which we can testify to as it is one of the most popular brands that we stock.

Ian&Robert

It was a hugely successful event and has certainly left me feeling inspired with so many fantastic products and suppliers demonstrating the cutting edge nature of the industry.

A vending machine for lenses? No thank you.

Vending machines are great. You’re thirsty or desperate for a quick snack in the middle of a busy day and there in the corner of your eye is a vending machine. Ideal. A pound coin in, a can of juice out, problem solved. They are fit for this purpose. However, when Gillian was recently on holiday in Russia, she spotted a vending machine spouting out contact lenses.

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The first emotion is amusement – we’ve seen some other funny Russian customs in Sochi hitting the news recently. But the second emotion is worry. Eye care should not be dealt with on-the-go and I really hope never to see these machines in the UK. The concern is people will rely on these kinds of dispensers and forego a proper eye examination.

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CamOpt patients will know, the first half of your check up is spent looking at the suitability of your lenses. We look for any changes from your last appointment, talk about your lenses and whether they are still the best option for you, after all there are so many excellent options out there for each different individual. When it comes to eyes we are very individual so off-the-shelf and eye care shouldn’t even share the same sentence.

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After that section, we whip you off to check the health of your eyes with the scanner and the biomicroscope, then off to another machine to check your peripheral vision. All the while we are looking for any signs of disease and damage. Our technology allows us to spot issues early so we can devise a plan to hopefully cure and certainly manage the problem. If you forgo your appointment with us, you risk not only wearing the wrong lenses, but missing vital signs of eye ill health.

Lensplates now available in the UK

This is a one for all our optometrist readers. It’s one of those times when you think “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before now?”

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During contact lens exams when patients remove their contacts, where do you put them? Chances are they’ve forgotten their case (not Cameron Optometry patients of course.) so you open a trial pack of solutions, chucking away all the bits you don’t need or you buy a whole bunch of cases from a supplier for an extortionate price.

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I wanted a way to do it quicker, cheaper and better and came up with Lens Plate – single use disposable trays for temporary contact lens storage.

Take one off the stack, use it once and dispose of it – totally hygienic for patients. But remember you don’t have to be an optometrist to use them.

They are now available online at www.lensplate.co.uk

Contact lens specialist symposium 2013

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Cameron Optometry were invited to attend the first CLSS specialist contact lens symposium in London last weekend.

World leading experts , and great speakers such as Pat Caroline, Randy Kojima, and Eef van der Worp presented some of their most recent research , and clinical experience in the field of contact lenses. Covering Interesting topics such as myopia control in children and scleral lens fitting, the lectures did a brilliant job of condensing the most recent global research into highly relevant information for contact lens fitting.

My only improvement for next time would be the venue. As you’ll see from the photo we spent the weekend in what was essentially a war time underground bunker!

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Hidden benefits of contact lenses

With yesterday officially being the hottest day of the year so far, and dare I say it, the good weather predicted to last into August, It is perhaps the first summer in many that we have had to think about the effects of Ultra violet (UV) light on our body.

It is commonplace now to protect our skin with sun creams but what about protection for our eyes?

While our bodies are wonderful at repairing and replacing some damaged cells, the crystalline lens of the eye is an exception that is never replaced. Therefore gradual UV exposure over the years can lead to the early development of cataract, causing reduced vision.  Ocular UV related changes are not limited to cataract but have a role in the development of age related macular degeneration , photo keratitis, pterygium and can cause melanomas of the skin around the eye and eyelids.

Most sun damage is accrued during the early developmental years of life, perhaps only showing itself later in life. Therefore sun protection for children is vital.

So how do we protect our eyes from the harmful UV exposure? A good pair of sunglasses is a great start. These should offer protection to the level of UV 400. This means that 99-100% of harmful UVA and UVB wavelengths are blocked out. The style and fit of the spectacles can also make a difference. The larger the lens, or the more wrap around the style then the more UV light is blocked out.  Be very wary of cheap sunglasses without the UV400 protection. The dark nature of these lenses causes the pupil to get bigger behind the lens, allowing even more harmful light into the eye. Standard spectacle lenses do not offer UV protection.

A great benefit of many modern soft contact lenses and some RGP lenses is that they have a built in level of UV protection. This means the added benefit of year round UV protection as well as coverage of the whole eye.

Good nutrition is another way of protecting the retina from potential UV damage. Lutein is an antioxidant that protects the delicate cells at the macula. It can be found in many of the ocular supplements you find at the chemist or in health food shops and naturally in dark green leafy veg such as Kale, spinach and broccoli.

Sunshine in May means the B.C.L.A.

So goes the old optometrists’ wives tale meaning that May brings around the annual British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference which almost always combines with a good weather weekend.

This is the major contact lens conference in the world and is held over 4 days attracting over 1000 delegates (more than half from abroad) in various venues around the UK – this year we are in Manchester. Family commitments being what they are, Ian is only down for 1 night this year.

As a Fellow of the BCLA and recognised contact lens specialist, I’ve been asked to present an “interesting and challenging case” in the ‘Grand Rounds’ session. Not to give the game away, I won’t tell you what it’s about and it’s not too late to book in as a day delegate for tomorrow…my session is at 1.30pm in the main Exchange Auditorium.

As well as all the latest contact lens research from around the world, companies launch new products and it’s a chance to meet up with other specialists to discuss in nerdy detail all about contact lenses – just my cup of tea!

It’s easy to get too wrapped up in self importance at such conferences and it did me no harm to have a short taxi ride today where the cabbie asked why I was in Manchester:

“A contact lens conference” I say
“Really? Oh right…[Pause]…How long is it?”
“4 days” I reply
“4 days?!? What do you talk about????!”

Quite…

Another UK contact lens first

Cameron Optometry is one of the leading contact lens practices in the UK and as a result, we’re often among the first to get to try new lenses. Yesterday we became the first Private practice in the UK to be given access to the new ICD 16.5 lens.

This lens is really designed for people with unusual eyes and it quite cleverly vaults right over the top of all the central irregularities that normally cause difficulty in contact lens fitting and comes to rest gently on the least sensitive and most regular portion of the eye – the sclera.

I heard about these lenses at the recent AAO Meeting in Phoenix so it’s really exciting to get hold of this lens. It is mainly for specialist purposes like keratoconus, but they are suitable for people with regular shaped eyes too. This promises to be a fantastic addition to the range of lenses we can offer people especially people who have never been able to get contacts to fit previously.

Heather has already had a shot with one patient the day we got it, but Ian and Gillian are still waiting for a go!

Waterford round table meeting

A couple of weeks ago Ian took part in a round table discussion with industry leaders regarding a new lens from Bausch + Lomb in Waterford, Ireland – BioTrue.

Taking the same name as the popular solution, B+L have tried to a produce a lens that is built around the natural properties of the eye. For example the lens has the same amount of water in it as the cornea (the front of the eye, where the lens rests), 78%. The surface of the lens also mimics your eye’s own healthy tears to retain moisture and shape giving great comfort and long wearing times.

The lens proved quite popular with those who had tried it at the meeting and some of our patients have already moved on to it after liking the benefits.

If you wear daily disposables and aren’t get the comfort you need, we can send you a sample of this new lens to try. If you don’t wear daily lenses but fancy the convenience, then give us a call. At the moment the lenses are only available in minus powers (up to -8.00) but more will be coming next year.

Waterford was a interesting place to visit and we stayed in Waterford Castle situated on its own private island which is only accessible by ferry. Great fun but a bit of a hassle if this was your daily commute…

 

Advice about swimming in contact lenses

The risks of swimming with contact lenses are causing a stir in the media following the case of Jennie Hurst.

Jennie was featured in the Daily Mail talking about how she lost vision in her left eye after contracting Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) as the result of swimming in her lenses. AK is a very serious but thankfully very rare infection often related to swimming in contact lenses. As a result, the British Contact Lens Association have updated their advice about swimming in contacts and it’s pretty good so I’ve copied it here:

“The BCLA’s advice for contact lens wearers is to not wear contact lenses for swimming – or in hot tubs or whilst showering or participating in water sports – unless wearing tight-fitting goggles over the top. After swimming – or if lenses are removed and stored whilst swimming – contact lenses should be cleaned and disinfected in fresh solution before putting them back on the eyes.

The BCLA recommendation is that regular swimmers talk to their eyecare practitioner about being fitted with daily disposable lenses for use with goggles whilst swimming. Wearers of daily disposable contact lenses should always discard them immediately after swimming.”

Daily disposables are a great idea for swimming and are available so prescriptions between about +8.00 to -12.00, toric versions for astigmatism and presbyopic versions for folks who need reading glasses. Almost all prescriptions can now be catered for in dailes and having a small supply for swimming/travel as an addition to your regular lenses is a great way of minisming the risks of problems. Call us and we can send you a trial in your prescription.

Honey cures 8 year blepharitis

It’s hard to know how to respond to this one but apparently a 99p jar of honey from Tesco has cured an 8 year misery case of blepharitis.

Frank Dougan lost his left eye as a child to a nasty injury and so has been wearing a prosthetic eye ever since – often called a ‘glass eye’ although that is neither correct (as they are made of plastic) nor politically correct. Apparently some aspect of the prosthetic eye irritated his eye lids and led to blepharitis that could not be cured by any recognised treatment for over 8 years.

On holiday, he chanced upon some advice to try honey which is traditionally known for its antibacterial properties (true by the way) which he smeared on and the problems all went away. He now uses the honey regularly and he says he’s cured.

Far be it from me to rain on Frank’s parade but there seems to be a lot of confusion in this story – the bottom line is that if it works then great, but my sense is that the antibacterial properties of honey are probably nothing but a red herring. The most likely explanation for all this is that the prosthesis wasn’t fitting all that well, irritated the eyelids and the lovely thick honey acted like engine grease between the two and prevents the discomfort.

If you’re really keen, read our article on blepharitis which gives some background info about the condition but there is often confusion about blepharitis. It simply means ‘inflammation of the eyelids’ which people often take to mean ‘infection’. Now an infection of the eyelids will certainly cause inflammation but the opposite is not necessarily the case. I reckon Mr Dougan had inflamed but not infected, eyelids. But regardless, I wouldn’t have recommend honey. There is a medical lubricant called LacriLube which is more commonly used for this kind of heavy duty greasing.

We do a quite a lot of prosthetic eyes and they are very interesting and satisfying when they work well. Here’s a wee taster of a few I made earlier.

If you wear a prosthetic eye and its not comfortable, come and see us. There’s a Sainsburys just up the road too if you need a cure for blepharitis…

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