When a deal isn’t a good deal

After a frantic weekend of shopping for many, which kicked off with Black Friday, hoards of people have taken the quest for a deal to extremes. Now as we enter Cyber Monday, there appears to be little let up with footage on the news of people taking it too far shoving and scrapping for the latest deals on electrical goods and must-have toys for their little ones.

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It is understandable in times of austerity that people want to save money and when it comes to Christmas gift shopping, there are many deals to be had (whilst maintaining good old British etiquette of course!). However, contact lenses should not fall in to this “pile em high, sell em cheap” philosophy.

Last week Groupon found itself in hot water as it promoted a deal on contact lenses. This offer was swiftly removed as it contravenes legislation if the purchaser does not have a current prescription issued by a registered contact lens practitioner. The legislation is there to protect the consumer and try to stop people purchasing contact lenses without proper advice. They are a medical product after all and should be treated as such.

Ensuring you have the right lenses for your eyes is essential, as well as receiving the correct advice on how to look after them. If contact lenses become a commodity like TVs, then the number of cases of permanent eye damage caused by improper use, will rise.

Caring for your lenses

World renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital has recently launched a campaign to encourage contact lens wearers to ensure they take care of their eyes. The hospital has seen a marked increase in cases of eye infections relating to contact lens wear. Most worryingly an increase in an infection called acanthamoeba keratitis which can be extremely difficult to treat and in the most serious cases, can see the patient require a corneal transplant.

Tiny parasites called acanthamoeba can live in water so should your lenses come in contact with water the parasites can take up residence in your eye. If they aren’t killed through thorough cleaning, this serious infection can develop. This is a serious yet thankfully uncommon infection, however with cases of it on the increase, now is a good time to remind yourself of some basic guidance which applies to all lenses.

• Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses.
• After removing your lenses, clean them immediately. Don’t store them without cleaning them first. Cleaning will remove mucus, protein, make up and debris that naturally build up on the surface during the day.
• Never use tap water (or saliva!) to rinse your lenses or case. Microorganisms can build up in water, even distilled water, and can cause infections or even sight damage.
• Ensure your lens case is kept clean. Replace your case every time you open a new bottle of solution.
• Use clean solution every time. Don’t reuse or top up.
• Do not sleep in your lenses unless advised by your optometrist.
• Ideally lenses shouldn’t be worn when swimming but if you do wear them make sure you wear goggles to reduce the chance of contact with pool water.
• Follow the cleaning guidelines you were given, using the recommended products. Doing this will reduce the chance of picking up a nasty eye infection.
• Insert your lenses before applying make up.
• Have an up to date pair of spectacles on hand should you pick up an infection. Many treatments require you to stop wearing your lenses for the duration of the treatment so don’t be caught without a backup.
• Don’t use any eye drops without advice from your optometrist.

Remember these three simple questions:

• Do my eyes feel good with my lenses? You have no discomfort.
• 
Do my eyes look good? You have no redness.
• 
Do I see well? You have no unusual blurring with either eye.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, take out your lenses and consult us straight away.

Here’s a helpful video produced by Moorfields to guide you through the process for soft contact lenses and one for gas permeable lenses

A smart fit for diabetics

As many of you know, one of our specialisms here is contact lenses so when stories come out about new developments, we all gather round with our morning coffee to discuss. Yesterday’s news regarding the licensing of Google’s ‘smart lens’ to Novartis lead to one of those discussions.

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We see many patients with diabetes, managing the unique issues they face as a result of the condition. I know this story will be of particular interest to them. The smart lenses are designed to measure the level of glucose in the wearers tears so could eliminate currently invasive ways of testing glucose levels, whilst correcting vision at the same time. The licensing of this technology means the possibility of diabetics benefitting from it is now one step closer.

The lenses will probably fall under current contact lens regulation which means that they can only be fitted by a registered and qualified optometrist. As such we are likely to be fitting these ‘smart lenses’ when they eventually make it to market. That will be some years off, but we will follow the progress with great interest and the ‘smart lens’ is sure to be the basis of many more discussions around the coffee pot in the coming months and years.

Vision for the competitive edge

Watching the England vs. Uruguay match following the decisive goal from Luis Suarez I heard one of the commentators saying “Suarez sees things that bit quicker than anyone else.” Perhaps his competitive edge did in fact come from his eyes but over the last few days it’s become clear he can’t keep his temper under control properly.

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Whatever the sport, football, cricket, rugby or tennis, all participators want to see the ball first. Now teams are recognising that examining vision may help their players gain the edge over the competition. Specialists such as Sport Vision work with teams and individual competitors to maximise all aspects of vision. It isn’t just about having perfect eye sight, there are many factors that contribute to clarity of vision. Aspects like depth perception and having the ability to focus accurately, would also examined by these experts.

Not every aspiring sports person has access to these services and it is worth speaking to your own optometrist about your vision in relation to your sporting performance. We have a lot of experience in the practice working with top sporting professionals experience that you we would be delighted to share.

Choosing the right contact lenses is a good place to start. Some lenses have features that are especially beneficial to sportsmen and women. For example, custom tinted lenses can be selected to reduce glare when playing under floodlights or in bright sun, and may also improve reaction times. Custom tinted lenses can be worn purely for their tint even if no vision correction is required.

In addition, a trip to your optometrist should include a test of your peripheral vision using specialised technology. You might not notice any issues with your peripheral vision on a daily basis but in sport it could mean your opponent sees the ball that vital split second before you. And even for those who consider themselves to have 20/20 vision, the competitive advantage that could be gained by making even the smallest of corrections should not be underestimated.

Lenses for the smallest of eyes

Many of my patients will know contact lenses are a passion of mine. Most of my patients have straightforward prescriptions with some requiring more specialist products. However a small number of our patients are a little more complex still.

We are fortunate to work closely with the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and St John’s Hospital, taking referrals from them to provide specialist expertise in dealing with even the youngest of patients including newborns with congenital cataracts.

Babies who are born with cataracts (the clouding of the eye’s lens) are usually operated on within the first few weeks of their lives. For adults, following surgery the normal course is to be fitted with lens implants or where this isn’t possible they can wear high prescription glasses (around +15.00 or so)

Babies are different. After surgery to remove the cloudy lens they have been born with the eye is usually too small to support an implant until they are at least 2 years old. They can’t be expected to wear glasses as the prescription is as high at +35.00 and changes every few weeks as it reduces towards the usual +15.00 over the first year of life.

In fact a new study has found that wearing contact lenses for a few years before having implants fitted also gives better eventual outcomes. This is an area myself and my colleagues have a lot of experience in and it is encouraging to see further study supporting the treatment. For surgeons to get the prescription spot on for a small baby is very difficult. It is hard to judge the focusing power of the baby and the infant years are a period of rapid growth so the chance of the surgeon getting their lenses as near perfection as possible increases as the baby becomes a toddler. At this time testing is far more straightforward. The eyes have developed substantially and the child’s ability to communicate makes it easier to select the right permanent lens.

As you can imagine, it isn’t easy getting a baby to wear contact lenses, perhaps even harder a toddler, but like anything, they do get used to it and as this research reiterates, the long-term benefits are worth the short-term angst.

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.

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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.

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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.

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