Exam season: A for vision

study

Don’t let poor eyesight lead to poor exam performance.

Research clearly shows that uncorrected visual problems severely impact academic performance, self-confidence, sporting ability and even behaviour, at school. So with exam season almost upon us, now is a good time to get your child’s eyes checked to ensure their vision doesn’t hold them back when it really counts.

As a minimum, a child’s eyes should be tested once every year or two, however children are constantly developing so it is also worth familiarising yourself with some indicators to look out for which may suggest they should pay us a visit:

  • Headaches and sore eyes, especially after a long revision session
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Using fingers to track text or losing their place when reading
  • Having issues with coordination for example when playing ball games
  • Squinting or closing one eye when reading
  • Showing sensitivity to light or the glare from a screen

Many young people will be reluctant to visit an optometrist for fear that they need glasses. Should this be the case, often they will only need to wear them at certain times, for example when looking at a whiteboard, and they might be able to pack them away at weekends.

There is a fantastic range of children’s glasses available and many adult styles can be fitted to smaller heads. With many celebrities now making glasses their stylish accessory, our younger clients now seem happier to follow suit! You may also be surprised to hear that even young children can be prescribed contact lenses so they may choose to alternate between glasses and lenses.

We are passionate about providing the best possible eye care especially to children and young people in this crucial stage of life, so please get in touch to make an appointment to give your child the best chance in the examination room. All young people in full-time education are entitled to free eye exams, and they also receive a voucher towards the cost of glasses or lenses.

Time for style

I was pleased to read about The Bradley Timepiece being up for a design of the year award at London’s Design Museum. The watches I’ve seen before for those with visual impairments have been functional. They tell the time. They don’t look stylish! These days people wear watches like sunglasses, yes they serve a purpose, but they are also worn to add style. So why shouldn’t those with visual impairments be afforded the same luxury?

Bradley Timepiece watch

The Bradley Timepiece, named after a gold-medal-winning Paralympian swimmer who lost his sight in Afghanistan, allows users to not only see what time it is, but to feel what time it is. It is being recognised as a desirable watch, not just for those who are blind, with many being pre-ordered by those without visual impairments.

Hopefully this watch will pave the way for other designers to create good looking objects and accessories that combine the practical with the stylish. The view that blind people care less about their appearance is incorrect and unhelpful.

designmuseum.org

China raising the bar to improve eyesight

I’ve had quite a few short-sighted children come through the doors this month and it reminded me of an image of Chinese school children.

In China, some 41 per cent of children need glasses, whilst another study from 2011 found that 85 per cent of university students were short-sighted. This compares to around 20-30 per cent in the UK. Some Chinese schools have taken an interesting step to try to halt the increased incidence of short-sightedness in the country, putting bars on desks to prevent children getting too close to their books.

Improve Eyesight

Short-sightedness or myopia is known to run in families so genetics always play a part. However there are environmental factors such as intensive close work that are also known to impact on eye development. The Chinese continue to top the international educational rankings however the long hours spent studying could well be a contributing factor to their declining sight. Spending around 13 hours a day studying at school plus extra tutoring and homework, going to bed late and getting up early, could well be taking its toll.

Obviously we all want our children to learn but eyes need rest like all parts of our bodies. So, far from discouraging your studious child, do encourage them to take breaks, get them outside to give their eyes a rest. It could well help their sight in the longterm.

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.

The spread of infectious blindness must be halted

I was saddened to read this story yesterday about trachoma, the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world. The most upsetting thing is that this village, where half of the people are at risk of blindness, is not unusual. In fact millions are affected worldwide.

You may not have heard of it as it is unusual in the UK and a short burst of antibiotics usually sees it off. However in developing nations numbers with the disease are alarming.

Like bacterial conjunctivitis, the disease is most common in children between one and five years old. If you have children and spotted the symptoms of conjunctivitis you probably popped in to see me, the GP or your local chemist, to get a course of eye drops and that was that – trachoma is just as simple to treat. However the medical care in the areas worst affected is just not there and untreated trachoma infections cause the inside surface of the eyelid to become rough and then scar. The scarring causes the eyelashes to start turning inwards where they scratch the cornea with every blink making it eventually turn opaque causing blindness after years of pain.

WHO launched an initiative called “SAFE” which stands for Surgery for trichiasis (inturned eyelashes), Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement in the 1990’s. Since its invention it has administered over 50 million antibiotic treatments however, clearly so much more needs to be done. Hopefully raising awareness of the disease in developed nations will help raise vital funds in a bid to stem the spread of trachoma. Find out more about this condition here

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!

IMG_3121

 

 

Smartphone app for eye tests

My first mobile phone made calls, sent about 200 characters of text and weighed enough that to use the term mobile was a slight exaggeration. My most recent phone looks like it might be able to download an app that can do my job for me!

The app is currently being trialled in parts of Africa devoid of optometrists.Having had the opportunity myself to visit Africa as part of a Vision Aid Overseas team I met many people who were effectively blind due to not having spectacles. The statistics are quite staggering. Of the 285million people worldwide that the World Health Organisation suggests are visually impaired almost 230 million could be cured by spectacles alone.  

 Recently Vision Aid Overseas has realised the enormity of the problem and has focussed more of its work on educating and training local people to provide their own eye care services.

 Perhaps a tool for this in the future could be the PEEK mobile phone app recently reported on by the BBC. The app uses the phone camera to scan the lens of the eye looking for cataract, and by illuminating the retina with the camera flash it can look for disease at the back of the eye. A shrinking letter on the screen is used as a very basic vision test. The patients record and their exact GPS location is stored on the phone allowing the images to be e-mailed to doctors and the patients to be located should follow up be required.

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At the moment the app is being trialled on 5000 people in Kenya. With the image of their eye being taken by both the phone and standard retinal cameras that are being transported in the back of a van. Doctors at Moorfields eye hospital in London are comparing the ocular images to see how good a job the phone can do.

 While we are hoping to start sending out more communication to our patients via e-mails and mobile phones, we will not be using them for your annual eye exams ……. quite yet!

Glaucoma Simulator App

If you would like to appreciate for yourself the impact that Glaucoma can have on your vision then there is now a clever App that can simulate the progressive visual loss that can be caused by Glaucoma.

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Glaucoma affects around 2% of the white Caucasian population in Scotland with approx 80,000 people living with the condition.

In an attempt to increase awareness of the disease MSD UK, Moorfields Eye Hospital and the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) have developed a free app with 3 elements to it.

The app uses the photo facility on the phone / tablet to simulate how the photo could look if you had glaucoma. You can adjust the slider at the bottom of the photo  to simulate different severities of glaucoma. There are also imformation slides looking at the anatomy of the eye and explaining the disease process.

 

To download the app look for Glaucoma SIM or go to www.glaucomasim.co.uk for more information.

 

While Glaucoma can not be cured their are many treatment options available to prevent the development or progression of visual loss. The Early stages of disease are commonly symptomless so regular eye examinations for all are key. There is a higher incidence of glaucoma in those over 40 years old, with a close family history of Glaucoma, and in asian and afro carribean populations.

 

The OCT scanner that we have had in the practice for a number of years is proving to be one of the most effective ways available to detect the subtle , early eye changes of Glaucoma.

 

 

Ian’s photo shortlisted for award

A photo by Ian of a CamOpt patient’s eye has been shortlisted for the BCLA’s photographic competition 2013.

b- lens prolapse

This picture shows the natural lens of the eye (the crystalline lens which gets cataract as you get older) has fallen forward into the front chamber of the eye. It’s a wee bit hard to tell what’s going on unless you revise your eye anatomy, so here goes:

b- anatomy

The lens sits behind the iris, the coloured part of the eye and is attached firmly. In some conditions the attachments weaken. In 99.9% of cases the lens falls backward into the back chamber of the eye and you can’t see it, but in this case, it came forward, through the pupil and is quite visible. It’s amazing to see how sharp and neat a structure it is – it looks a like a man made contact lens.

Ian faces stiff competition from researchers and professional medical photographers, so we shall see. You can view the other entries here

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…

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