Support nystagmus awareness on ‘Wobbly Wednesday’

This coming Wednesday (4 November 2015), the Nystagmus Network is encouraging people to hold events to raise awareness of the condition that affects around one in 1,000 people in Scotland. ‘Wobbly Wednesday’ events will raise funds, but more importantly awareness and understanding, of a condition that is characterised by an involuntary movement of the eyes, which often results in seriously reduced vision.


We have many patients with nystagmus and are especially pleased to help raise awareness of the condition. A Wobbly Wednesday walkabout to a wobbly jelly afternoon tea, there are lots of easy ways to support this event.

The condition, which ranges in severity, can result in those with nystagmus being unable to drive or use a computer. Contact lenses and glasses can result in improved vision however will not reduce the uncontrolled to and fro eye movement.

Nystagmus and contact lenses

For a condition that affects an estimated 60,000 people across the UK, it always surprises us how low awareness levels are and those who are diagnosed with nystagmus can feel isolated and unsure of the best options available to them.

In our experience those with the condition usually do better with contact lenses. Soft lenses have the flexibility to move with the eye so they are always looking through the lens. This is especially true if their ‘null point’ (the angle at which the eyes move least) is off to the side, which it is in most cases. You might notice people with nystagmus turn their head to one side a lot – this is where their eyes move least and the vision is most stable and therefore best.

There is also some argument that wearing rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses provide physical feedback to the brain that the eyes are moving and may reduce the level of the ‘wobble’ – a benefit of them being rigid and less comfortable than soft lenses. This is an example of where a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. The majority of our patients find soft lenses to be the best solution, however a handful have found RGPs to be more effective in controlling their condition.

Nystagmus is often a symptom of other conditions such as albinism, aniridia or achromatopsia so the complete picture must always be considered before working with the patient to agree the most appropriate way to manage it.

For further information on how you can support Wobbly Wednesday and to access a range of resources visit Or to donate to the charity text WWNN15 £10 to 70070.

Will blue light damage your eyesight?

There has been some coverage in the media regarding an advert, which has since been banned, which highlighted potentially harmful effects of blue light. It is a topic that has received a lot of coverage as people become glued to their smart phones, morning, noon and night. The question is will blue light lead to irreversible damage to the eyesight?

Whether you use smart phones, tablets, computers or not, we are all exposed to blue light as it is present in sunlight and it is actually essential for the body to help regulate our sleep/wake cycle. However the strong energy emitted from blue light is known to cause fatigue to the eyes. It may also cause stress to the pigment cells of the retina leading to macular changes in some susceptible individuals.
At this stage there is insufficient evidence to prove a direct link between blue light and retinal damage. More research is needed to know exactly what the links are between blue light and macular degeneration. While blue light may be an element, the leading risk factors for this are still smoking and having a family history of macular disease.
While good sunglasses are still the best way to block out potentially harmful light form the sun, there are now blue light filtering spectacle lenses available to wear indoors. These block out the harmful blue rays and let the good blue in. The lenses can also be useful in reducing the fatigue experienced when spending a day at a computer or with hand held devices, so may be helpful from a comfort perspective, but although whether they protect the eyes from damage is still not proven.
If you are worried about the effects of blue light on your eyesight, please speak to your optometrist.

Eye examinations can uncover signs of brain tumours in children

Each week around 10 children are diagnosed with brain tumours in the UK. There are many symptoms that could indicate a brain tumour such as headaches, vomiting and difficulty with balance. There are also signs that can be picked up during a routine eye examination including abnormal and uncontrolled eye movements, blurred or double vision, deteriorating vision and swelling of the optic disc.


The majority of the time when a child presents any of these symptoms, the diagnosis is not a brain tumour, however an optometrist with the appropriate training will be able to make a judgment over whether more investigation is required and will refer the child accordingly. Having recently taken part in Headsmart training to increase our awareness of paediatric brain tumours, we have the expertise to know when we should refer a child or when there is another explanation to the presenting signs.

This is just another reason why we are so eager to encourage parents to get their child’s eyes examined regularly. A comprehensive eye examination will last around an hour, during which time numerous tests will be carried out in a bid to establish whether your child has any issues with their vision but will also look at some wider health conditions.

A recent study by Blind UK found that still approximately two million parents have never taken their child to an optometrist or optician, with many assuming children will have their eyes examined at school. This is not always the case and the basic test performed in schools does not include in-depth analysis of a child’s eye health as the optician will not have the equipment on hand for a comprehensive eye examination.

If you’re child hasn’t had their eye examined in the last two years, please book them an appointment today with a qualified optometrist.

Watch your step

Sadly as we get over the risk of falling increases. You are most at risk of a fall if you are over 75, female, are taking certain medication, have fallen before, and/or have conditions including Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, diabetes or dementia.


There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of falling. Here are some points to consider:

• Ensure you attend your optometrist regularly, at least once a year if you are over 65 and whenever you notice any changes to your vision.
• Have good lighting in the home. Ensure you have bright light bulbs that come on at full power, as opposed to taking some time to brighten up. Ensure you also have lamps where you need them, for example where you regularly sit to read.
• Also place nightlights in areas such as bathrooms, hallways and bedrooms if you get up during the night.
• Make sure your home is free from trip hazards, such as badly fitted carpets, and if you have rugs ensure they are secured to the floor.
• If you have been advised by your optometrist to wear glasses for distance (long-sightedness), ensure you wear them both in and out of your home.
• Wear suitable footwear both indoors and outdoors, ensuring all your footwear is sturdy with good grips on the soles.
• Where possible have a contrast in colour on your stairs, such as black edges, so they are easily definable. Fitting non-slip treads to stairs is also advisable.
• Wear sunglasses in bright light to avoid being dazzled by the sun.
• Use non-slip mats in baths and showers.
• Keep moving, ensuring you are physically active will improve strength and balance which will reduce you chances of falling.

If you are concerned about falling, please speak to your GP.

National Eye Health Week

As part of National Eye Health Week (21-28 September) we welcome guest blogger David Cartwright, Chair of the week, to discuss some of the concerning issues facing our country’s eye health.

Our ageing population and unhealthy lifestyles are fuelling a steep decline in our vision. Right now almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and forecasters predict a further half a million could lose their sight by the year 2020.

Focus on eye health

Poor eye health places a huge economic and social burden on the UK. In 2013 sight loss cost the economy almost £8 billion. Yet, according to research conducted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) half of all sight loss is avoidable.
By far the biggest risk to eye health is poor uptake of sight tests. Twenty million of us fail to have our eyes checked once every two years, as recommended, and one in 10 of us have never had an eye examination.

Essential health check

Sight tests are an essential health check. Not only can they assess your visual acuity and detect eye conditions, such as glaucoma, before they cause irreversible vision loss, they can also uncover signs of general health problems including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Getting your sight tested is easy – there are qualified optometrists on almost every high street and for many of us it’s absolutely free.
More than 30 million people in the UK are eligible for free sight tests paid for by the NHS, and millions more are entitled to tests paid for by their employer.
Regular sight tests are particularly important for children, the over 60s, people with a family history of eye disease, those with underlying systemic health conditions, such as diabetes and people of certain ethnic origins who have an increased risk of eye disease.

Lifestyle matters

Poor lifestyle choices pose another big threat to the UK’s eye health. Sight loss linked to obesity and smoking is a growing trend amongst younger generations.
A poor diet, a high Body Mass Index (BMI), failing to protect your eyes from UV and a sedentary lifestyle can all have damaging affect your eye health.
As can smoking – smokers have a substantially increased risk of suffering common sight threatening eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
For those whose sight loss is unavoidable there are some important medical developments on the horizon. Eye research charities like Fight for Sight and the National Eye Research Centre are funding pioneering research into some of the most common causes of sight loss whilst advances in stem cell therapies, laser treatments, ophthalmic drugs and lens technologies are all helping make sight loss a thing of the past.
Whatever you do this Week (21 – 27 September) make sure do something to ensure your eyes and vision stay healthy now and in the future.

If you make one change after reading this blog, please make it a commitment to having a regular eye examination.

Optometrist Gillian Bruce to compete in Great Ethiopian Run for Vision Aid Overseas

Gillian shares her motivations for competing for this invaluable charity

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Running is a wonderful sport. It requires little more than a pair of trainers and some get up and go. The World Athletic Championships will start later this month and when everyone lines up at the start line, what will inspire me, is the idea that no matter where they are from, or how wealthy they are, they are all on an equal playing field.

Sadly this equality is not present in all areas of life, in particular when it comes to health care. Thankfully charities like Vision Aid Overseas are helping to address the issue of inequality in eye care. I have been involved with the charity since I qualified as an optometrist and have been able to see first hand, the results of the great work they do. The charity is dedicated to transforming access to eye care in developing countries. They utilise optometry volunteers from the UK to provide eye examinations in health centres and rural settings. Latterly they have also been heavily involved in training local people in VAO health centres with the aim of eventually seeing the countries reach self-sufficiency.


The need for the charity is great with around 670 million people, 10% of the world’s population, disadvantaged by poor vision due to a lack of spectacles. That means 670 million people with healthy eyes, do not see, simply because they don’t have spectacles. If you wear spectacles you will appreciate just how challenging your day would be without them. Imagine the educational, occupational and social disadvantage that people with similar prescriptions face.
I have undertaken a number of sporting challenges before, ranging from endurance events such as Tough Mudder to the London Marathon. In November I will take on a new challenge: The Ethiopian Great Run, running at altitude in the highest city in Africa. A challenge I am taking on to raise essential funds for those in need of basic eye care.

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I have quite a substantial sponsorship target to reach and I would be thrilled with any donations people can afford to give. Thank you!

You can donate to Gillian by visiting her Just Giving page:

Signs of cataracts appearing earlier

There was a worrying article in this week’s Optician Magazine summarising research that has found that patients are developing cataracts at an earlier age. A third of British adults knew someone who had been diagnosed with cataracts in their 50s or 60s, much younger than a decade ago. Even those in their 40s are reporting signs of cataracts.


The impact of UV, trauma, diabetes and other eye issues, like high levels of myopia were highlighted as possible causes for this trend. The research by Optegra Eye Health Care also found that 12% were unable to identify any symptoms of cataracts, which include cloudy vision, glare, colours seeming faded, poor night vision and double vision.

Not to sound like a broken record, but this is yet another reason why regular eye examinations are essential, at least every two years and if you notice any changes in your vision you should book an appointment immediately. Cataract surgery is very successful and there is a window of opportunity to carry it out when the chances of success are highest – we can guide you on the right time to intervene so come and see us.

Cameron Optometry welcomes new screening specialist

We are delighted to welcome Andrea Salgado to the team at Cameron Optometry.

Before joining us, Andrea was an optometrist living and working in Madrid, specialising in contact lenses in particular Ortho-K lenses, which are worn overnight to correct short-sightedness. Andrea has been using theses lenses to successfully correct her myopia for over 10 years.

In her new role she is a member of the pre-screening department in the practice, performing a range of tests and scans to ensure the optometrists have a full picture of the patient’s eyes health. Using the most high tech equipment including the highly detailed Optos Daytona scanner, Andrea is the first port of call when patients arrive for an appointment.

Andrea is passionate about helping patients appreciate the value of looking after their eyes. On her appointment, she said, “In my opinion it is the leading practice in its field and it was exactly the kind of environment I was looking for in Spain. Cameron Optometry’s approach to eye health is the same as mine and the quality of care is exceptional. It is exciting to be part of such a practice.”

Managing director, Ian Cameron added, “We are delighted to welcome Andrea to the practice. Her role is essential in ensuring that we are able to develop a detailed picture of each patient’s eyes, which is essential for us in making any diagnoses. We are fortunate to have such a highly qualified individual in our pre-screening department, and her experience is hugely beneficial to our optometrists and patients alike.”


Short-sightedness in children must be managed

A study out this week has found that yet again the rate of myopia (short-sightedness) in young people is on the rise. Now more common between aged 25 and 29 than those aged 55 to 59, with as many as half of this age group suffering from the condition.

The research from King’s College London also found that those with a higher education are more likely to suffer from myopia than those who left school at 16. It is still not clear exactly why people develop myopia however, these findings further indicate that people who spend more time working on computers and reading, seem more likely to suffer the condition. The research also suggests another contributing factor could be the lack of time spent outdoors.

In response to research like this, Cameron Optometry is soon to launch a myopia control clinic that will work to halt the progression of myopia in young children. The use of contact lenses in childhood can make a real difference in a bid to ensure that by the time children become adults, their myopia has not deteriorated as it would if left untreated. Severe myopia can lead to more serious eye conditions such as glaucoma and retinal detachment reaffirming the need for myopia control.

Through a shark’s eyes

The Shark documentary on BBC 1 last night was fascinating (and a pleasant break from GE coverage!). Sharks have a bad reputation, not least as a result of the 1970’s blockbuster, Jaws. But actually they are a species that pose very little threat to humans and instead are truly majestic creatures.


You may think this is a little off topic. What do they have to do with the human eye? Well you might be surprised to learn that the shark’s eye structure is very similar to that of a human’s eye with a cornea, lens, retina, pupil and iris. In fact so similar that the shark cornea has been used in human eye surgery.

However the eye surround is very different. Many sharks don’t blink, they just use their eyelids when they need protection and rarely close their eyes. Some don’t even have eyelids, instead species like the great white roll their eyes into their head when they need protection, usually when feeding. They also have the ability to see in the dark due to the eye tissue called the tapetum lucidum which can lead to their eyes appearing to glow in the dark, much like the household cat.

From the goblin shark to the tasselled wobbegong, there is a lot more to the species than the great white which stole the show in the Steven Spielberg thriller. We need to preserve the lives and habitats of this remarkable predator.

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