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.

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.

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.

Blindness feared more than Alzheimer’s

Research out from the RNIB has found that adults in the UK are more afraid of losing their sight than any other age-related health condition. The survey of over 2000 people found nearly half (44%) feared blindness more than Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or heart disease. I have many patients who have said they feel the same.

Old age eye
Not all sight loss is preventable, but throughout your life there are steps that you can take to reduce your chances of losing your sight in later years.
• Starting from childhood,parents can ensure their children’s eyes are protected from the sun by wearing sunglasses and hats. Instilling these lessons in children early on will hopefully benefit them throughout their adult lives.
Diet is also something we have covered many times before and is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and will benefit your eyes.
• Studies have also identified that smokershave an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration.
• The importance of having regular eye tests is one that we tirelessly preach to anyone who will listen! With detailed eye examinations using the most advanced technology, we can pick up early signs of eye conditions that can then be treated or at least managed. We also take a full family history to identify where someone might have a higher risk of developing conditions such as glaucoma and manage their care accordingly.
Some degree of sight loss is usually an inevitable part of ageing, however following the above advice could make the difference between needing reading glasses and serious vision loss.

Could watching TV provide an accurate glaucoma diagnosis?

Sounds fanciful but recent research has found that watching how the eyes move when someone is watching TV could give an accurate indication of glaucoma and other neurodegenerative conditions.

An article published earlier this month in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, highlights the findings of research by Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. The studymonitored patterns of movement while a person watched TV and resulted in about three-quarters of people with glaucoma receiving an accurate diagnosis.The researchers used their technology to observethe eye movementsof the test group and this information was then processed in to maps that contained a signature of vision loss. Through data gathered from the study, researchers were able to distinguish between those with age-related neurodegenerative eye disease, such as glaucoma and those without.
Contrary to reports in some national newspapers, watching TV will not prevent these conditions developing, however this study could lead to new, non-invasive screening procedures for glaucoma and other age-related eye conditions. If you read the headline “Fancy an episode of Dad’s Army? How watching TV and films can save your eyesight,” I hope you did so with a large pinch of salt! That said, it is an interesting development relating to diagnosis, although a larger sample (the sample was of 76 older people) would be required for real conclusions to be drawn.

How ageing affects the relationship between the eyes and the brain

A study in the journal Current Biology goes some way to explain why thinking ability in some people decreases as they get older and the key factor was the loss of ability to process visual information quickly or ‘at a glance’.

ageing eye loses transparency

The study compared how quickly older people took in information at a glance and also their ability to perform more complex unrelated tasks. They found that these 2 skills were very tightly linked suggesting a possible link between quick visual input and retaining a sharp mind

This goes some way to explain why as people get older, they are less able to process information quickly from a fleeting glance and need to take more time to study before being able to digest the information, such as seeing a new face enter the room.

It would be interesting to further this study to see how much a decline in actual vision affects this process. At the moment the study looks at how the brain is digesting what the eyes are seeing. I would be interested to see if the findings varied according to the individual’s eyesight. After all the eyes have to see the information clearly to be given a chance to process it quickly and accurately.

We already know that a normal ageing eye loses transparency (you need about 3x as much light input aged 60 to see as clearly as you do at 20) even without any conditions such as cataract, all the more reason to make sure you are getting your eyes examined regularly and keeping you glasses or contact lens prescription up to date especially as you get older.

London Eye Pavillion utilising NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to benefit AMD sufferers

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched into orbit in 1990. It was initially flawed as images came back fuzzy however utilising some extraordinarily complex optical calculations, mirrors were used to correct the flaws and provide clarity to the images. This piece of NASA built technology has provided the basis for a new lens which could revoluntionise the lives of AMD (age-related macular degeneration) sufferers who also suffer from ‘fuzzy’ vision.


The implant inspired by the HST comprises of two lenses and is claims to be a real breakthrough although it isn’t the first miniature implantable telescope for AMD. However it does provide hope for over half a million people in the UK who suffer from the incurable eye disease, half of whom are registered blind.

Developed by the London Eye Hospital and a Spanish professor, the mini telescope is inserted in to the eye, magnifying images as well as redirecting the image away from the centre part of the eye (the macula) on to healthy sections.

We have many patients with AMD and this will be an encouraging development. The hope is that the lenses will be available on the NHS in under three years. We will be following their testing carefully and keep you up dated with how this progresses.

Gene therapy breakthrough could improve sight

After years of exploration, I was delighted to read that scientists at Oxford Uni have succeeded in restoring the sight in people with a form of degenerative eye disease.

Choroideremia affects about 1 in 50,000 people who see their eye sight deteriorating as the light-detecting cells in their eyes die, usually becoming completely blind during their mid-life – a disease not dissimilar to the more widely known retinitis pigmentosa. There has been lots of research in this area but this is the first real world example of success.

Whilst the long-term effects are still unknown, the fact that the trial has had such early successes is a huge step forward and will give real hope to those suffering from various genetic eye diseases.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are many diseases with genetic components that affect eyesight, such as glaucoma which a number of my patients suffer from, and I am hopeful that the same principle could be used to treat a raft of similar diseases in the future.

What is especially heart-warming, is that the research was funded by the Tommy Salisbury Choroideremia Fund set up by the parents of Tommy, a 13-year-old boy from Kent who was diagnosed with the disease eight years ago. Wouldn’t it be great if he reaped the rewards of the research?

Read more about it here

Contact lens specialist symposium 2013


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!




The cornea…but not as we knew it

Patients often tell us that at each visit we unveil some new exciting gadget or piece of technology for investigating the health of their eyes. It seems like that to us too! In this ever changing tecnhological world though, where our tools to image your eyes are constantly improving, what doesn’t usually change is our understanding of the structure of the eye……until now…


The transparent cornea at the front of the eye is merely 0.5mm thick , and has always been understood to have five distict layers. When you put your chin on the slit lamp during your consultation we can identify these separate layers which provides vital information as to the severity of your eye condition. However Prof Harminder Dua of Nottingham university has discovered a new layer in the cornea. At only 0.001mm thick the layer was discovered by experimentation on human eyes donated to research banks.

The implication of this discovering could be very important for corneal surgery and the understanding of eye conditions such as acute hydrops, descemeteocele and some corneal dystrophies effecting the deeper layers of the cornea.

During corneal surgery tiny air bubbles are injected into the corneal stroma. If these bubbles burst then damage is caused to the patients eye, but by injecting under the strong Duas layer we may reduce the risk of tearing and damage.

Prof Dua suggests that many of the eye conditions that we know to affect the back of the cornea could relate to the presence of this new found layer. Corneal hydrops is one such condition. It is a buildup of fluid in the cornea that is common in patients with keratoconus and might be caused by a tear in Dua’s layer.


Contact Us

What's on your mind?


Please enter the characters below

5 St. Vincent Street, Edinburgh EH3 6SW
0131 225 2235