The Blog

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.

Feast your eyes cookbook

As part of National Eye Health Week, which took place last month, the organisers created a cookbook containing a collection of recipes packed full of essential nutrients for good eye health. We have a pile of them in reception and it has been so popular I thought I’d share it. The super sight saver smoothie is a personal favourite and I’m looking forward to knocking up the sea trout with a crab cigar this weekend!

It is encouraging to see patients taking note of the fact that a good diet really can benefit not only your waistline, but your eyes too.

The recipes feature ingredients proven to help maintain good eye health including some of the following:

Dark green, leafy vegetables – Eating spinach and kale for example, could help avoid macular degeneration. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin; two important nutrients that have antioxidant functions in the body and help prevent cell damage. Lutein helps protect the retina, much like sunglasses.
Bright orange fruit and vegetables – The likes of sweet potatoes 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 and papaya are a great source of vitamin C which evidence has suggested may slow the affects of macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts.
Beans and eggs – 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, soy and sunflower seeds – Great sources of vitamin E, which can help protect the eyes from free radical, damage.

Please feel free to pop in to the practice to pick up a free hard copy of the cookbook before they are all gone.
As part of National Eye Health Week, a fellow independent optometrist who was a former Masterchef finalist, also created a range of recipes, from smoothies to fish dishes. Worth a watch if you’re looking for inspiration and a step-by-step guide.

World Sight Day calls for no more avoidable blindness

Thursday will mark World Sight Day, a global initiative co-ordinated by Vision 2020. This year the campaign will focus on avoidable blindness and the organisers have highlighted worrying statistics with approximately 285 million people worldwide living with low vision, 39 million of those are blind. Yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable, meaning it is treatable or preventable.

World Sight Day 2014

Cataracts and trachoma are the two main causes of avoidable blindness in the world. Thankfully in the UK trachoma is very rare and a course of antibiotics usually deals with it, however this bacterial infection remains the leading cause of infectious blindness worldwide.

Cataracts, however, are a very real problem in the UK. A condition that usually develops in older age, cataracts affect millions of people in the UK. Blurred or clouded vision is the most common symptom of cataracts, however an optometrist has the technology available to identify the very early stages of the condition even before the early signs noticed by the individual. This is one of the reasons we are so keen that people make a point of having a regular eye test. Even if you think your eyes are fine and your vision hasn’t changed, we encourage all our patients to make sure they see us at least every two years, ideally every year for those over 65.

The treatment of cataracts is usually a very straightforward operation however if they are left untreated they can result in permanent loss of vision.

We are very fortunate that we live in a country with very advanced eye care. So many in poorer countries do not have the expertise, diagnosis and treatment available. In the UK it is available so we need to make sure awareness improves so preventable blindness is prevented.

Police Scotland relax ban on officers with colour deficiency

Ian Cameron was asked on to BBC Radio Scotland to discuss Police Scotland’s decision to reverse its ban on recruiting officers with colour deficiency. The change in policy was a result of a legal bid by one potential recruit. You can listen to the piece here.

Ian discussed the eye examination that anyone entering the police force can expect to go through, including a test of visual acuity: how far you can read down standard chart, a visual field: testing peripheral vision, as well as a colour vision test. Ian highlighted that colour deficiency was a very hard condition to quantify as the test is not very accurate and there are such varying degrees of the condition.

Putting it in the context of the police force, Ian discussed how officers with colour deficiency, may find it harder to pick out an individual in a crowd based on the colour of clothes he was wearing. Their judgment may also be put under more scrutiny, say under cross-examination.

It is certainly an area that would benefit from more research that could result in better testing to identify a scale for the condition rather than relying on a degree of subjectivity.

Caring for your lenses

World renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital has recently launched a campaign to encourage contact lens wearers to ensure they take care of their eyes. The hospital has seen a marked increase in cases of eye infections relating to contact lens wear. Most worryingly an increase in an infection called acanthamoeba keratitis which can be extremely difficult to treat and in the most serious cases, can see the patient require a corneal transplant.

Tiny parasites called acanthamoeba can live in water so should your lenses come in contact with water the parasites can take up residence in your eye. If they aren’t killed through thorough cleaning, this serious infection can develop. This is a serious yet thankfully uncommon infection, however with cases of it on the increase, now is a good time to remind yourself of some basic guidance which applies to all lenses.

• Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses.
• After removing your lenses, clean them immediately. Don’t store them without cleaning them first. Cleaning will remove mucus, protein, make up and debris that naturally build up on the surface during the day.
• Never use tap water (or saliva!) to rinse your lenses or case. Microorganisms can build up in water, even distilled water, and can cause infections or even sight damage.
• Ensure your lens case is kept clean. Replace your case every time you open a new bottle of solution.
• Use clean solution every time. Don’t reuse or top up.
• Do not sleep in your lenses unless advised by your optometrist.
• Ideally lenses shouldn’t be worn when swimming but if you do wear them make sure you wear goggles to reduce the chance of contact with pool water.
• Follow the cleaning guidelines you were given, using the recommended products. Doing this will reduce the chance of picking up a nasty eye infection.
• Insert your lenses before applying make up.
• Have an up to date pair of spectacles on hand should you pick up an infection. Many treatments require you to stop wearing your lenses for the duration of the treatment so don’t be caught without a backup.
• Don’t use any eye drops without advice from your optometrist.

Remember these three simple questions:

• Do my eyes feel good with my lenses? You have no discomfort.
• 
Do my eyes look good? You have no redness.
• 
Do I see well? You have no unusual blurring with either eye.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, take out your lenses and consult us straight away.

Here’s a helpful video produced by Moorfields to guide you through the process for soft contact lenses and one for gas permeable lenses

Lenses for occasional wear

We’re supplying a patient with free lenses ahead of their participation in the Spartan Race in Edinburgh later this month. She’s running, as well as tackling various obstacles and mud, in aid of Downs Syndrome Scotland so we’re delighted to help out. She’s a glasses wearer but obviously glasses and muddy, wet obstacle courses don’t go too well together. The point of this blog is to highlight that lenses don’t have to be a fulltime commitment. You can dip in and out as you please.

The great thing about most lenses on the market is they don’t actually take much getting used to, especially daily disposables which are what we usually recommend for occasional use. Sometimes there is a bit of trial and error before we find you the perfect pair, but because we know our patients’ eyes so well we almost always find them the right pair first time.

Participating in a sporting event is an obvious time where glasses wearers can struggle. Whether on the ski slopes, to partake in some holiday snorkeling or when running a marathon, glasses are just not the practical option. Or maybe it’s a vanity thing – nothing wrong with that! You perhaps don’t want to wear glasses to attend a stylish black tie do. Occasional contact lens wearing is perfectly possible. Once you’ve tried them, you won’t look back.

Cameron Optometry on BBC Scotland following research on vision and driving

In light of research by charity Brake encouraging drivers to get their eyesight examined regularly, I was asked on to BBC Radio Scotland’s John Beattie Show to discuss the lifecycle of the eyes. Listen here:

The research found that almost nine in 10 (87%) are in favour of drivers having to prove they have had a recent sight test every 10 years, when they renew their licence or photo card. The survey also shows that a quarter of drivers admitted they have not had their eyes tested in more than two years.  A worrying one in eight drivers (12%) who know they need glasses or lenses to drive have driven without them in the past year.

I discussed the four stages that most people experience in their vision lifecycle. The developmental phase from birth until late teens, where a prescription is developing, followed by the stable phase from early twenties until late forties. People then enter the period in their early sixties where their vision may experience some decline as the eyes lose the ability to focus making near tasks, like reading, difficult. This is then followed by a phase of continual decline where people may experience conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

I finished off by highlighting that regular eye tests can also help avoid tricky discussions with loved ones! Rather than having to point out to a family member that perhaps they need to get their eyes tested as they strain to see the newspaper or don’t see a cyclist in the corner of their eye, an eye examination at least every two years, will pick up any signs of declining vision.

Independent opticians top Which? poll of where to buy glasses

which
It was fantastic to read, as we’d always suspected, that Which? has found that the best place to buy glasses is an independent optometry practice.

Independent practices were the only eye care provider to score top marks for product quality, timekeeping and the all important, customer service. We also shone when it came to staff skills. At Cameron Optometry we often talk about the expertise of our optometrists so it is encouraging that this is as important to clients as it is to us.

It is reassuring to see that clients aren’t being swayed by flashy advertising campaigns from big brands and they still value the expertise, quality, care and attention they get from their independent eye care provider.

The link between vision and hearing

hearing

How vision and hearing are inextricably linked. Make sure both are examined.

Age-related vision deterioration and hearing loss usually occur around the same period of life. This fact along with others has lead to the conclusion by scientists that hearing and vision are inextricably linked. An Australian study concluded that people with restricted eyesight were more likely to suffer hearing impairments and vice-versa. At birth, hearing and vision are tested at the same time however this is often where the joined up approach ends and the senses go their separate ways.

Nowadays you will see many opticians offering hearing tests. At Cameron Optometry, we believe in sticking to what we are good at, eyes. Instead we work closely with House of Hearing, who we believe are the best in their field, ears. Here Stephen Fairfield, Managing Director of House of Hearing shares the signs of possible hearing loss.

Hearing loss is often a very gradual process that may take place over a number of years with one in seven of the population experiencing some level of hearing loss at some point. Often, people do not become aware of any problem until their hearing loss has reached a level where its impact is felt in everyday communication. However, there are some early signs that you can look out for:

  • Do other people seem to mumble?
  • Is it sometimes difficult to hear other people’s voices in a noisy pub or restaurant where others seem to manage quite well?
  • Do you find other people’s TV or radio volume too low for you to hear clearly?
  • Do other people comment that your TV or radio is too loud for them?
  • Do you sometimes misunderstand what others are saying to you?
  • Do you find yourself ‘filling in the gaps’ when you have misheard what someone has said to you?
  • Do you often have to ask others to repeat what they have said to you?

With many types of hearing loss, the high frequency sounds are the first to go, which leads not to a lack of volume as such, but to speech sounding less distinct.So, while you may still hear someone talking, you may think they are mumbling and not be able to make out exactly what is being said. Increasingly finding yourself in such a situation can become difficult, and over time, you may withdraw and begin to feel isolated.

So if you, or a loved one would benefit from a hearing test, please visit House of Hearing on our recommendation where they offer a free initial hearing test.

Caring for your lenses

contact

Are you still looking after your lenses properly or is it time for a recap?

When you are prescribed your first pair of contact lenses you hopefully took on board all our tips on how to look after your lenses. You read all the information we gave you and meticulously cared for your new lenses. However after years of wear are you still treating them like you did during week one?

Different lenses require different care however, so please take some time to remind yourself of some basic guidance which applies to all lenses.

  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses.
  • After removing your lenses, clean them immediately. Don’t store them without cleaning them first. Cleaning will remove mucus, protein, make up and debris that naturally build up on the surface during the day.
  • Never use tap water (or saliva!) to rinse your lenses or case. Microorganisms can build up in water, even distilled water, and can cause infections or even sight damage.
  • Ensure your lens case is kept clean. Replace your case once a month.
  • Use clean solution every time. Don’t reuse or top up.
  • Do not sleep in your lenses unless advised by your optometrist.
  • Ideally lenses shouldn’t be worn when swimming but if you do wear them make sure you wear goggles to reduce the chance of contact with pool water.
  • Follow the cleaning guidelines you were given, using the recommended products. Doing this will reduce the chance of picking up a nasty eye infection.
  • Insert your lenses before applying make up.
  • Have an up to date pair of spectacles on hand should you pick up an infection. Many treatments require you to stop wearing your lenses for the duration of the treatment so don’t be caught without a backup.
  • Don’t use any eye drops without advice from your optometrist.

Remember these three simple questions:

  • Do my eyes feel good with my lenses? You have no discomfort.
  • 
Do my eyes look good? You have no redness.
  • 
Do I see well? You have no unusual blurring with either eye.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, take out your lenses and consult us straight away. We are the experts in eyes and are fortunate to have two prescribing optometrists so can write you a prescription should you require treatment.

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