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.

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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: https://www.justgiving.com/Gillian-Bruce1

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Ian Cameron named UK Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year

Pioneering work recognised at Optician Awards

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We are delighted to announce that managing director, Ian Cameron, has been named UK Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year at this year’s Optician Awards. Recognising the specialist work he performs on a daily basis, the award is an acknowledgement of his work supporting those with complex eye conditions.

A thrilled Ian said, “It is a great honour to receive this award, especially as the judging panel is made up of highly regarded optical industry experts. I am hugely passionate about the work I do and am always eager to help those with specialist eye conditions who had thought that they couldn’t wear contact lenses. Lenses have life-changing potential for some people, from babies who have had cataracts removed, to those who have complex conditions like keratoconus, it’s my job to find the right approach to ensure they can enjoy all the benefits that contact lenses can bring.

“We are soon to launch a specialist myopia (short-sightedness) clinic for children in a bid to stop their vision deteriorating throughout their childhood, through the use of specialist contact lenses. This is an approach that has shown great results but parents, and even some optical professionals, are unaware of the potential benefits of contact lenses in halting the progression of myopia.”

The award will sit alongside our Association of Optometrists (AOP) UK Practice of the Year award and Donald Cameron’s AOP Lifetime Achievement Award which he collected last year.

You only get one pair of eyes, so you really should give them the best possible care. That is what everyone at Cameron Optometry aims to do every time a patient walks in to the practice. It has been an incredible few years for the practice and we are confident the success will continue in the coming years with our fantastic team here.

 

Calls for tighter regulation on the laser eye industry

Further to a report calling for tighter regulations in the laser eye sector, Ian appeared as an expert guest on BBC Radio Scotland to discuss the procedure. At the moment anyone who is a qualified doctor, such as a GP, can perform laser eye surgery without any specialist eye training.The feature also follows protests this week by individuals who feel they have experienced ‘botched’ laser eye surgery, reiterating calls for tighter regulation.

Ian discussed what is involved in laser eye surgery, a process where the front of the eye is reshaped to change the prescription. In an industry that is currently booming, he pointed out that it takes regulators time to catch up and this is what is required in this case. He also discussed the lack of transparency in a sector where private companies are not obliged to publish their statistics so the estimate that around one in twenty people experience problems with the procedure, could in fact be higher.

The advice from Ian is to make sure you fully research your specific surgeon, not just the clinic. Check out their training, reputation and experience in the specific area and ensure that you are always treated by that individual. In addition, ask your own optometrist for a recommendation before undertaking a procedure, which if it goes wrong, could leave you with permanent eye damage.

Listen to Ian’s thoughts and advice here.

Don’t let the eclipse leave you with eye damage

As Friday morning’s celestial spectacle nears, people are flocking to Scotland for the best view of the first eclipse in over 15 years. Not to be the ones to spoil a party, we must take this opportunity to reiterate the words from the Association of Optometrists regarding the damage that looking directly at the eclipse could do to your eyes.A glance for even a minute could lead to you burning the back of your eyes.
Ensure you don’t look directly at the sun and please don’t see it as the opportunity for the perfect solar selfie. Doing so puts you at risk of blindness as you will undoubtedly keep looking up to see when your moment to snap is upon you.

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Binoculars and cameras are a no no as they will concentrate the already powerful rays into your eye. Leave the photography to the experts with the super solar filters.Pinhole cameras are another option if you can get your hands on one, or if you want to make your own Blue-Peter-style follow the steps in this BBC article. Specifically designed eclipse-viewing glasses are also available to buy quite cheaply. Sunglasses on the other hand will provide no protection.

For those of you stuck in the office, you’ll be pleased to hear that the safest way to view it is on TV or online. If you have a bit of time on your hands and want to learn all there is to know on the subject of eclipse viewing, the Royal Astronomical Society have a PDF you can download here.

Protect your eyesight

“Prevention is better than cure.” “You only get one set of eyes, look after them.” Just a couple phrases that any optical professional will say on a daily basis. So with that in mind, please take some time to read this article from the RNIB. Advice that we just can’t say enough.

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If you can’t follow all of our tips, make sure you do the most important thing: visit your optician and have an eye exam!

1. Wear sunglasses: Ultraviolet light from the sun can cause damage to your eyes. To reduce risks, when outside in the sun always wear sunglasses that have a UV factor rating and carry the CE mark.
2. Take regular screen breaks: If you use a computer, take frequent breaks from your screen – at least one an hour. Resting your eyes can avoid headaches, eyestrain, soreness and double vision.
3. Eat the right food: Foods containing either lutein or zeaxanthin can help prevent eye conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. They are found in many fruit and vegetables including: mango, squash, broccoli, green beans, and spinach.
4. Know your family eye history: Glaucoma is a condition which if detected early can be treated and controlled. It can be hereditary, so if family members have the condition you need to get your eyes tested more regularly.
5. Clean your contact lenses: Only use commercially prepared solutions for contact lens care. Never use tap or distilled water, or saliva. If you don’t stick to a strict cleansing routine your eyes can become infected and you risk corneal disease, or even the loss of an eye. You should never sleep in your contacts unless advised you can by the optometrist.
6. Wear safety glasses: Cleaning, DIY or gardening can be hazardous to your eyes as chemicals, garden debris, or nails and splinters can all cause injury. Consider wearing safety goggles.
7. Diabetics: Although the majority of people with diabetes don’t experience any eye problems, people who have diabetes are at risk of losing vision through a condition called diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes you should have an eye exam at least once a year.

Visit your optician: More than half of all sight loss is avoidable if the cause is caught early. A regular eye exam can identify any early indications of diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and age related macular degeneration. It can also identify other problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure for which the optometrist can refer you back to a GP. It is recommended that people have an eye test every two years but research shows that one in four of us fail to do this.

Advice from www.rnib.org.uk.

What do blind people see?

As part of Royal Blind Week at the end of last month, the charity challenged people to take some time out to experience what it is like to be blind, whether for an hour or a whole day. Those who took the challenge shared their experiences, talking of how difficult daily mundane jobs became and what they missed seeing, people’s expressions, scenery etc. But what did they see? Most probably they were wearing thick blindfolds so saw complete darkness and I think many would assume this is what a person who is blind would see. However this is rarely the case.

This was highlighted in a recent BBC article , ‘What people see instead of darkness’. One individual, who lost his sight in childhood, says the world is an array of luminous colours and light, seeing swirls of light, spinning circles of colour as you might see in a kaleidoscope.

The article was a follow up to an article by a journalist who lost his sight in his youth and he says one of the things he misses most since losing his sight is darkness. Even although he has had the cord cut between his eyes and his brain, his world still has colour and lots of it, moving, swirling, changing colours.

Some who have been blind since birth describe seeing nothing, no colours, not even darkness. Like what you see out of the back of your head or as another person said it as “like trying to see out of one’s foot”, you literally don’t see a thing.

If you are fortunate enough to have your sight, make sure you look after it.

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