The Blog

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.

Omega-3: your eyes’ best friend

salmon

The world of dietary supplements is a confusing one. Every day we are told by numerous companies that they have THE perfect supplement for all our health needs. It is unsurprising that now many are tuning out. In our role as optometrists we focus on the scientific research so we can provide the best independent advice when it comes to supplements and eye health.

We have long promoted the benefits of omega-3 for the eyes and in light of numerous studies we believe that the evidence is firmly there to support this. It is especially recommended to those suffering from dry eyes and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids). Some studies also suggest essential fatty acids may help protect against macular degeneration. In addition, it is suggested that these fatty acids may help decrease the risk of glaucoma and high eye pressure as they assist in allowing fluid to drain from the eye. In addition, omega-3 has many other reported health benefits for the heart, brain and joints.

Omega-3 is found naturally in fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines as well as flaxseeds, walnuts and dark leafy vegetables. The NHS recommends eating at least two portions of fish a week to get a good source of omega-3. However, for those who want to guarantee they are getting enough of these valuable fatty acids on a daily basis, you may consider a dietary supplement.

We have spent time researching and sampling omega-3 supplements and are now supplying what we believe to be the best formulation of omega-3 on the market that has been created with your eye health in mind.

Please ask us about supplements to support healthy eyes when you are next in the practice.

Eye Infections – seek the right treatment

cold

As we enter the winter months, many will be stocking up on tissues, vitamins and cold remedies. Unfortunately with these nasty bugs comes the increased chance of picking up an eye infection.

Infectious conjunctivitis is the most common and usually results in red, itchy eyes with sticky discharge. It is particularly prevalent amongst young children but spreads quickly to other family members.

Treatment is usually very simple, however sometimes these same symptoms can be the sign of a more serious condition. That’s why we’re encouraging people to visit their optometrist when they experience the signs of an eye infection. Unlike GPs, we have all the technology to give your eyes a thorough MOT to ensure that you get the right diagnosis. We can then prescribe whatever treatment is required.

It is also worth noting that most over the counter eye drops require insertion up to six times a day, however there is now a new treatment available on prescription that only requires use twice a day. A lot less hassle, especially for parents with children who aren’t keen on drops.

If you have the signs of an eye infection this winter, give your eyes the best care possibly by making an appointment with your optometrist.

Article as featured in December’s I On Edinburgh magazine.

Are your eyes roadworthy?

driving-glasses

In light of recent research Ian was asked on to BBC Radio Scotland’s John Beattie Show to discuss driving and vision.

One of the statistics that stood out for us was that a worrying one in eight drivers who know they need glasses or lenses to drive, have driven without them in the past year. This could well be higher and it would be very easy to nip out and forget your glasses. We have a simple solution. Contact lenses.

We would suggest that if you need glasses for driving, you probably have difficulty seeing all manner of things on a daily basis, maybe you struggle to read the number of the bus you’re waiting to catch or the players on a rugby pitch. If you’re reluctant to wear your glasses fulltime perhaps you should consider trialling contact lenses to allow you to see clearly at all times?

There are still many misconceptions about contact lenses, in particular people who believe they would still have to wear reading glasses but nowadays there are lenses for almost everyone, even those who require varifocal lenses.

If you want to ensure that you aren’t that person who takes the risk on the roads, please ask about contact lenses at your next appointment.

GPs lack confidence when dealing with major eye conditions

ian

A recent survey found that GPs lack confidence in diagnosing major eye conditions. The survey found that just one third of the GPs questioned were confident in diagnosing symptoms or signs of age-related macular degeneration and only half were confident in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy. Our view is if you experience problems with your eyes, please visit your optometrist.

Worryingly only a quarter of respondents had been offered training on how to support patients who were blind and partially sighted. And although it is encouraging that the vast majority wished to enhance their knowledge through training, the experts on eyes will always be optometrists. GPs shouldn’t be expected to have the level of expertise in eye care that you will receive from your optometrist. They also don’t have the technology on hand to give your eyes a thorough examination to accurately diagnose an eye condition.

If you have toothache, you would visit your dentist and similarly if you have issues with your eyes, you should visit your optometrist.

 

When a deal isn’t a good deal

After a frantic weekend of shopping for many, which kicked off with Black Friday, hoards of people have taken the quest for a deal to extremes. Now as we enter Cyber Monday, there appears to be little let up with footage on the news of people taking it too far shoving and scrapping for the latest deals on electrical goods and must-have toys for their little ones.

contactLens

It is understandable in times of austerity that people want to save money and when it comes to Christmas gift shopping, there are many deals to be had (whilst maintaining good old British etiquette of course!). However, contact lenses should not fall in to this “pile em high, sell em cheap” philosophy.

Last week Groupon found itself in hot water as it promoted a deal on contact lenses. This offer was swiftly removed as it contravenes legislation if the purchaser does not have a current prescription issued by a registered contact lens practitioner. The legislation is there to protect the consumer and try to stop people purchasing contact lenses without proper advice. They are a medical product after all and should be treated as such.

Ensuring you have the right lenses for your eyes is essential, as well as receiving the correct advice on how to look after them. If contact lenses become a commodity like TVs, then the number of cases of permanent eye damage caused by improper use, will rise.

Donald Cameron receives Lifetime Achievement Award

donals

We are delighted to announce that former managing director, Donald Cameron, has been awarded the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Association of Optometrists (AOP) Awards ceremony, which took place last month. Donald is only the third person to receive the award and the first Scot.

The AOP Awards’ Lifetime Achievement accolade was established in 2012 with the aim of recognising a person who has dedicated their career to promoting and expanding the role of optics, or who has brought the benefits of optics to a wider audience’. The impact that Donald has made on the optometry profession in Scotland is remarkable.

With a career in optometry spanning over 35 years, Donald was a founding member of Optometry Scotland that aims to develop and represent the views of the optometry sector to the Scottish Government. The organisation has successfully lobbied the Government on a number of key issues resulting in a world-leading contract for eye examinations in 2006. Following on from that, the Scottish Government agreed to allocate £1m per annum to fund the development of an optometry education programme through NHS Education for Scotland, to which Donald was appointed programme director. He was also a founding director of Optometric Educators, an organisation that focused on high quality education in the profession and held the position of chairman of the AOP from 1999-2000.

On achieving this Lifetime Achievement Award Donald said, “It is a great honour to receive this award. I see it as recognition of not only the work I have done, but also the work of my colleagues and fellow professionals in Scotland, in particular Frank Munro and Hal Rollason, who have helped us move the industry on in the last 35 years.

“I have always felt strongly about the importance of education as the route to professional advancement and hope that the NHS Education for Scotland programme continues to thrive ensuring we carry on developing our expertise in optometry across Scotland. I believe this approach has helped change the way optometry professionals practise in Scotland to the benefit of the members of the public and their eye care.”

During his early years in the industry Donald developed a keen interest in contact lenses which went on to be his area of specialism. He worked closely with the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh, taking referrals from them for patients requiring specialist contact lenses. Cameron Optometry, formerly McGrath and Cameron, is currently the largest independent optometry and contact lens practice in Scotland and is now run by Donald’s son Ian Cameron who is also revered in the industry. Last year Cameron Optometry was awarded the title of UK Practice of the Year at the same awards.

Ian Cameron added, “On a personal level, my dad has always been an inspiration and someone I have greatly admired. I’m delighted that through this award his impressive career has been acknowledged. I have learnt a huge amount from him and through the establishment of the NHS Education for Scotland programme, many others will also benefit from his work in education for years to come.”

Thinner, lighter lenses for less

glasses

Thinner is usually considered preferable when it comes to lenses. We are offering an ‘index upgrade’ on all Nikon lenses until the end of December 2014.

The index is the density of the lens and the higher the number, the thinner and lighter the lenses for example, pay for 1.5 and get 1.6. It includes all types of lenses including varifocals. If you are looking to update your spectacles, come in and see us  before the end of November to benefit from this offer.

Smartphone scanner seeks to reduce preventable blindness

Since the launch of the first portable eye examination kit in 2013, many poorer countries have used it to great effect, diagnosing eye conditions in remote areas. The organisation behind it, Peek Retina, is now in the news looking for funding for its latest innovation – an adaptor which can be clipped on a smartphone, allowing health professionals to see inside the eye.

_79270262_retinalimagebypeek.jpg

It could become an invaluable tool help the millions people across the globe who suffer from preventable blindness. There is no need for retinal cameras to be so expensive and bulky when you are just screening eyes and this new scanner will allow non qualified staff to capture images which can be assessed by someone remotely. This could make a real difference for people living in isolated areas in poorer countries where the healthcare infrastructure is inadequate.

Our retinal scanners are large and very expensive, and they aren’t meant to be portable. The images they produce are incredibly detailed and cover the whole eye, surrounding nerves and blood vessels. So they give an incredibly detailed and accurate image of the health of the eye. This scanner is more comparable to a handheld direct ophthalmoscope and provides a good image of the optic nerve but does not cover the majority of the eye.
Sadly this app will never replace the high tech cameras we are fortunate to use in the UK, however it is a fantastic screening tool and I hope it gets the funding and is developed quickly as the battle to reduce the levels of preventable blindness in the world continues.

Changing to Avastin could save NHS £100m a year

The drug Avastin has been in the newscalling for its use in the UK in a bid to save millions each year.

eye-care

Popular in the US, Avastin is used for patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It has been on the market for years, gone through all the testing and has been proven to be as effective as Lucentis, the NHS approved drug for the same condition. The difference is cost. Lucentis typically costs around £700 per treatment, compared to Avastin which is about £70. Yet red tape seems to be halting its use.

It is currently unlicensed in the UK so should anything go wrong with its use, the practitioner may not be legally covered. However, in times of austerity and it is perhaps time for the NHS to move forward and license its use.

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