The Blog

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.

The Eye Diet

Since the New Year every Sunday when I settle down with the weekend papers, there is an article on the ‘latest’ diet. Sugar seems to be the buzzword for 2014 and it is encouraging to see more focus on simple healthy eating than the usual range of gimmicks and fads from companies selling weird and usually not wonderful, diets.

Most people are inspired by their desire to lose some weight and look better. However few realise how beneficial a good diet can also have on eyesight. Here are some tips for a diet that will leave your eyes looking healthy.

Dark green, leafy vegetables
Eating spinach and kale for example, could help reduced your risk of macular degeneration. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two important nutrients that have antioxidant functions in the body and help prevent cell damage. Lutein also helps protect the retina.

Bright orange fruit and vegetables
The likes of sweet potatoes which have a rich source of beta carotene, a natural precursor to vitamin A, the vitamin most commonly associated with healthy eyes. And fruits like oranges are a great source of vitamin C which some evidence has suggested may slow the affects of macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts.

Beans
Adding zinc to your diet by eating zinc-rich foods such as beans, lentils, eggs and turkey will help the liver release vitamin A.

Oily fish
Fish such as salmon and tuna are rich in source of omega-3 which studies have found may also help protect eyes from age-related macular degeneration and dry eyes.

Wheat germ and sunflower seeds
Great sources of vitamin E which can help protect the eyes from free radical damage.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty fruit and veg of all colours will ensure your eyes receive the nutrients they require. Foods like those mentioned above will benefit you in many other ways too, so forget the fads, focus on foods packed full of nutrients and you will notice the benefits both inside and out.

No Smoking Day

Tomorrow (12 March 2014) is No Smoking Day. Smokers across the country are being encouraged to give up cigarettes for numerous health reasons. Many of the negative effects smoking has on the body are well publicised; heart, lung and mouth disease being some of the most common. However, few appreciate the effect smoking has on the eyes.

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Smoking is by far and away the most important modifiable factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the loss of central vision. ‘Modifiable’ means it’s something you can do something about about – i.e. by stopping smoking. There are other risk factors of some of which are modifiable (e.g. UV light exposure and diet) and others which are non-modifiable (e.g. family history). A series of studies have found a significant link between smoking and this form of eye disease.

Cataracts are another eye condition associated with smoking. Cataracts are cloudy patches in the lens which cause visual impairment and various studies have found a link between smokers and the chance of developing cataracts. Although most people get cataracts as the get older, smokers get them younger and they develop faster.

Less seriously, smoking can make your eyes dry and uncomfortable by affecting your tear film, the layer of liquid constantly covering the eyes. You should very quickly notice an improvement in dry eye symptoms if you give up smoking.

So when you’re considering quitting, give a thought to your eyes.

Spritz: transforming the way we read?

Earlier this month a new piece of technology was launched by Spritz which aims to dramatically change the way we consume printed content. The Spritz system basically fast-streams one word at a time so your eyes don’t have to flicker back-and-forth (movements called saccades) to find the point where your brain can properly process them. The app, which will be available on some smartphones, can be customised to suit your own pace displaying from 250 to 1000 words per minute.

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The key to the success of Spritz is to stop the eye wandering on the page. When you read, your eyes seek out the Optimal Recognition Point of each word (OPR). This technology works out the OPR and highlights this letter in red further assisting the word recognition process. According to Spritz, only 20 percent of our time ‘reading’ actually involves taking in content and during the other 80 percent our eyes wander around the page.

There are definitely downsides. Sneeze and you might miss five words! And it definitely takes some of the leisurely enjoyment out of reading. But I think it could well have a place and I could have probably used it to good effect in my student days. Imagine if you’ve got an English literature assignment due and need to read War and Peace in 10 hours? Spritz could make that happen.

Have a go and see what you think. www.spritzinc.com

Dame Judi Dench’s fading eyesight

I was very sorry to read of Dame Judi Dench’s declining vision. Up for an Oscar this Sunday, the 79 year old is suffering with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She has said she can no longer read and struggles to paint and watch films.

Judi Dench

Sadly the condition affects over 500,000 people in the UK to varying degrees, most of those being over the age of 60. The genetic element of the condition is well known and in Dame Judi’s case her mother also suffered from AMD. Visiting your optometrist regularly will ensure early signs are detected allowing the condition to be most effectively managed. Early signs can include blurred and distorted vision and straight lines looking wavy. Using our latest OCT scanners we are able to see cross-sections of the retina to find the earliest signs of AMD which helps us get you access to treatments as soon as possible.

Lenses and glasses will help, certainly in the early stages, and there are some medications and nutrients available that can also slow the degeneration, depending on which variety you have (wet or dry). Because the disease only affects the middle of the eye, sufferers will never experience total blindness. Dame Judi has said she has no plans of retiring, showing that even at its more advanced stages, the disease should not mean a complete change to current lifestyle.

Encouragingly there are many ongoing studies into the disease so we hope that some day soon a cure will be found.

www.macularsociety.org

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.

Sochi 2014: Jenny Jones Wins Historic First British Olympic Medal!

I was delighted to hear of the bronze medal won by Jenny Jones yesterday. The first medal ever won by Team GB on snow. The Winter Olympics will never have the hysteria of the London Olympics, but I’ve certainly seen a renewed flurry of Britishness.

JENNY-JONES

Over the past decade, a truly British style has evolved and British designers are taking the world by storm. We’re embracing this appetite and supporting British brands through our eyewear collections. None more so that the conservatively different William Morris London. If you were at our open day then you will have seen the whole range in its full glory. This range is not for those wanting their glasses to go unnoticed. They aren’t about blending in. These glasses are most definitely an accessory not just a necessity. Even some of our die hard lens wearers have decided to take the plunge with a pair of specs from the stylish William Morris London collection.

If you fancy brightening up your life and going British, come in and try out the range. Or why not bring a friend in for a second opinion to help you decide?

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

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