The Blog

Optometrists could ease pressure on GP practices

As pressure on GP surgeries mount and patient groups call for better access to doctors, pharmacists are being lined up to assist in relieving this pressure. Optometrists could also play a role in freeing up GPs. This article from the BBC states that pharmacists will need further training before this can happen. However, this is not the case with optometrists, as we regularly treat patients with eye ailments, prescribing medication where required. However what is required is education and communication.

When patients have eye ailments, they need to be encouraged to think optometrist not GP. We’ve covered this topic before in articles about how optometrists can alleviate pressure on A & E departments and we have highlighted how many GPs lack confidence in treating eyes.

I would like to see the optical industry putting similar proposals forwardin Scotland to encourage health professionals across the country to combine with the optical industry to ensure that when people have issues with their eyes, their first port of call is their optometrist.

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.

eclipse

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.

NHS_for eye problems

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.

Shortlisted for Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year award

We are delighted to share that Ian has been shortlisted for the Contact Lens Practitioner of the Yearaward continuing our amazing award-winning streak – Practice of the Year, then Lifetime Achievement Award and now this. The awards are run by Optician Magazine, the leading independent UK journal for eye care professionals. It really is a great honour to be recognised alongside some highly regarded optometrists in the industry. The awards dinner is on 18 April so fingers are already crossed.

Optician Awards Finalist 2015 Logo - Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year jpeg
We were also pleased to see many of our suppliers shortlisted as well. William Morris London, who produce some of the most stylish frames available are up for Frame of the Year. And we also stock many of the great products up for Contact Lens Product of the Year. Whatever the results, it’s sure to be a great night celebrating innovation and expertise in the optical industry.

Treatment could be avoided with early diagnosis, say 73% of optometrists

I received this infographic from Spectrum Thea,suppliers of eye drops and solutions. I’m not a huge fan of infographics but the info in this particular graphic was eye-catching. The statistics shouldn’t be a great surprise to my colleagues and me. As an industry, we know the issues, but when you see the figures presented like this, I still find it alarming.

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The most shocking statistic, for me, is that 94% of optometrists think as a nation we don’t take our eye health seriously. That is an enormous figure. And the fact that 81% of optometrists believe that people only get their eyes tested when they experience problems or symptoms is also seriously worrying. The issue with the latter is reaffirmed with 73% of optometrists believing that their patients could have avoided treatment with earlier diagnosis and 80% of optometrists believe many of their patients could have slowed their symptoms by taking preventative measures if they had been diagnosed earlier with more regular eye tests.
I could find an abundance of similar views and statistics from the eye industry. So why do people still fail to have their eyes examined regularly? I think it’s largely down to people believing that if they can see well, their eyes are fine. What they don’t realise is that good vision does not go hand in hand with good eye health. The eye industry has a huge mountain to climb in educating the nation to think about their eye health.
Give your eyes the same care and attention that you give the rest of your body, and make use of the NHS subsidies on eye exams. As far as medical examinations go, an eye test has to be one of the least intrusive. Patients even get decent coffee at Cameron Optometry! So if we haven’t seen you in the last couple of years, please make an appointment to get a thorough once over.

Demodex: a nasty little mite

This weekend I spoke at the 100% Optical event, one of the UK’s largest trade event for eye care professionals. The topic was not one to be relayed over the dining table; it definitely had the ‘eugh’ factor. Demodex are a form of eyelash mite, who get their name from the Greek ‘demo’ meaning fat and ‘dex’, a woodworm. These little mites take up home in eyelash follicles and are stubborn and hard to get rid of. They don’t cause serious harm, in fact many won’t even know they have them, however for some it can be very uncomfortable.

nasty little mite

A demodex infestation in the eyelashes can lead to blepharitis, a condition where the eyelids, can become inflamed, red and itchy. Or on the face they are linked with rosacea. It is a very common condition, although one that many probably choose not to share.

Unfortunately it is one of these conditions that is very hard to eradicate so during the workshop I discussed ways to manage it. Firstly I recommend removing as much of the crusty area around the eyelashes as possible, followed by a deep clean of the affected area. The next phase includes the use of tea tree oil. But before you nip out to the shops to buy some, please bear in mind that the concentration required to kill the mites could seriously harm the eye so this is best done by an optometrist who knows what they are doing. Then patients will be given a lid hygiene programme that may include various specialised wipes and products. The condition should then be continually monitored to ensure it does not become more severe and to gauge whether further deep cleaning is required.

Optometrists can alleviate pressure on A & E

In a week when the pressure on A & E departments hasn’t been out of the news, the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) has highlighted the role that optometrists and opticians could play in alleviating this pressure. It is estimated that over a quarter of a million people in England alone visit A & E with eye-related conditions, many of who could be treated effectively and quickly by their optometrist.

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With waiting times at their worst levels for a decade, it is especially worthwhile for you to consider your optometrist as your first port of call if you have an emergency eye condition.
This is something we have highlighted before in relation to GPs. And it isn’t just the waiting time that is the issue. Even many major hospitals (barring actual eye hospitals) lack the technology and expertise to accurately diagnose and treat an eye condition. GPs have openly stated that they lack confidence in dealing with eye conditions and will often direct patients to their optometrist. In the same way, in an A & E department, you could wait hours to be seen by a doctor, only to be told you will need to wait or go somewhere else to be seen by an eye specialist. Most optometrists offer out of ours appointments and should be able to prescribe any treatment you may need, making optometrists the best all round option for emergency eye care.

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.

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