The Blog

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.

Sights on the Commonwealth Games

Glasgow-Commonwealth
Cameron Optometry’s Gillian Bruce shares her experiences of working with the world’s finest athletes at the Commonwealth Games this summer.

Having volunteered at the Olympic Games in London I was selected as part of the team of eye experts for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. ! was part of the medical team which was made up of not just the obvious professionals like doctors and physios, but also podiatrists, sports massage therapists, dental teams, emergency doctors, crowd doctors, chiropractors, radiologists and of course optometrists.

In the build up to the Commonwealth games, I had spoken to many other volunteers, doing a wide variety of jobs at a whole host of venues, but I certainly felt I was the one who had landed the best role. Having the chance to work with athletes on a one to one basis in the Athletes’ Village was a real coup.

 

It is not fair to make comparisons between the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the London Olympics as they are different events with very different budgets but there was something very special about the atmosphere within the polyclinic in Glasgow. The four-storey purpose built clinic in London was replaced by a partitioned, one room, temporary structure. I’m spoiled with fantastic equipment at Cameron Optometry and it wasn’t quite that high tech but our area was still kitted out with everything we needed to provide first class eye care.

 

The eye care service was a scaled back version of the Olympic service that provided spectacles for huge numbers of athletes and officials. Our daily team consisted of an optometrist, dispensing optician and ophthalmologist. We were on hand for all emergency eye care that might be required, as well as testing some individual’s eyes for the first time in their lives as many were unable to access care at home. We also assisted with repairs and replacements of spectacles and contact lenses.

 

Unsurprisingly Usain Bolt didn’t come looking for an eye test but I was fortunate to chat with and treat, some truly inspirational athletes. I greatly enjoyed testing the eyes of a female badminton player from the remote Norfolk Islands who has to practice on the only court on the island. It is an adapted basketball court that is also used as a dance floor, requiring masking tape to draw out the badminton lines each time they play. I was delighted to test the eyes of a young triple jumper from Trinidad, and then watch her from my seat at Hampden the next day receive a bronze medal. My favourite moment though was my chance to share half an hour with Kip Keino. Now in his 70’s he was a double Olympic Gold medalist and world record holder, and continues to be an inspiration to Kenyans through his foundation and the orphanages he runs.

 

This summer I only had to travel 60 miles from my front door to feel like I’d experienced the sunshine and warmth of the entire Commonwealth.

Back to school eye exam

kids

Now is the time to book your children in for a back to school eye exam. Uncorrected visual problems can have a detrimental effect on academic performance so ensure your children have their eyes examined at least every two years.

Many young people are put off coming to see us because they are concerned they will be told they need glasses. However, more and more children and teens are opting for contact lenses. We will ensure they are shown how to look after them and they will quickly become part of everyday life.

 

So if your child is due a visit, please reassure them that, should they require a correction to their vision, glasses aren’t the only option. It’s never too early to fit contact lenses. We routinely fit primary school children and there is no minimum age requirement for contact lenses. Every case is different.

Worrying figures show reluctance to get an eye exam

Spectrum Thea produced an interesting piece of research which showed two thirds of optometrists have seen an increase in the number of younger patients presenting with eye problems. It points to the increased use of PCs and deteriorating health of a generation as possible factors. This is certainly something that we as an industry need to try to tackle, however the part of the research I found most worrying, was the fact that still one in ten would only have an eye exam if they were experiencing problems.

Cameron Optometry has a strong focus on expertise and the use of the most advanced technology. This isn’t because we like to show off with the latest piece of kit. It is because our technology allows us to pick up issues in the very early stages. At the point when we can hopefully do something about it, either with treatment to eradicate the issue or by devising a programme of treatment to ensure the progression of the condition is slowed. If we only see people when they identify issues themselves then it could well be too late to halt the condition’s progression.

Eye exams must be seen as part of maintaining general health and as such we must ensure people have their eyes examined at least every two years, more frequently if they have any vision issues.

I was also concerned to read that still two thirds of Brits would go to a doctor with an eye infection with only a fifth opting to visit their optometrist. Yet, it is an optometrist who will have the correct equipment to undertake a thorough eye examination required and a prescribing optometrist will also be able to give you an NHS prescription if required, same as a GP.

Another worrying figure was a massive 90% of optometrists surveyed felt that they don’t think people take their eye health seriously or look after their eyes as much as they should. In addition, less than half of patients say they would get checked out if they had blurred vision after spending time in front of a screen and a third wouldn’t visit an optometrist even if they were unable to read small print. Worryingly for road users only 55% of those surveyed would visit an optometrist if they struggled to read road signs.

Clearly as an industry we still have a battle on our hands when it comes to communicating the importance of looking after ones eyes. I would say that Cameron Optometry patients are generally better ‘trained’ in the importance of good eye care having had it drummed into them over the years but how many times do I have to say to people, you only get one set of eyes so look after them?

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.

Corrective tablet screens good news for some

Another BBC article that caught my attention this week, this time about a VDU that can correct vision problems to negate the need for glasses or contact lenses. In short, because it is very technical, the technology is powered by software and algorithms that change the light that a screen emits to distort the image a user sees to their prescription.

When the article talks about one in three people suffering from some form of myopia (short-sightedness), the fact is the vast majority of these people need corrective lenses or glasses for more than just using a tablet. For these people this piece of technology is unlikely to be of any use.

However, there is a very small group who could find this technology hugely beneficial. Even with the most sophisticated contact lenses or glasses, some people with conditions such as keratoconus still see halos and ghosting when looking at VDUs. My hope is that it is that this group that may benefit from this specialist technology. Keratoconus can affect people from a relatively young age, people for whom computers an integral part of their lives both in the work place and at home, so hopefully for this group, this technology could make a real difference.

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.

hubble-space-telescope

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.

Watch out for sun damage

I was pleased to read an article on the BBC website raising awareness of sun damage and the eyes yesterday. Rightly so, the importance of protecting the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays is well documented. People now take the issue seriously piling on sunscreen, ensuring everyone in the family is covered. However often the eyes are overlooked.

b- sunburn

Perhaps it’s the fact that you can’t see the burn. If you forget to wear sunglasses you don’t wake up the next morning with red, sore skin. But your eyes are also burning, you just can’t see it but the damage that is being done.

As discussed in the article, there are a number of serious conditions associated with exposure to UV rays like cataract and macular degeneration. All develop slowly over time and the effects will be felt as the body’s ability to repair diminishes. Ultimately in later years, the various conditions could cause serious vision problems and in some cases a total loss of sight.

Something that always surprises me is that parents don’t always think of sunglasses for their children. I think it’s an awareness issue. I know keeping sunglasses on a toddler is not easy but getting them used to wearing sunglasses and a hat from an early age, could help prevent them developing these serious eye conditions in years to come.

I wrote a blog back in May on selecting sunglasses. If you’re planning to buy a new pair, familiarise yourself with considerations when making your purchase.

When you think suntan lotion, think sunglasses as well.

New antibiotics make life easier

There’s been a lot of talk about increased resistance to antibiotics in the press recently with the Prime Minister himself calling for action to improve their effectiveness.

Fortunately, eyes are a special case. Drops used on the surface of the eye (termed ‘topical’ as opposed to ‘oral’ or ‘intravenous’) very rarely contribute to any resistance problems and in fact the main stay of infection treatment in eyes, chloramphenicol for bacterial conjunctivitis, has been heavily in use since 1950s and is still going strong.

One of the main issues with this drug is that it penetrates the eye pretty poorly so has to be put in quite often. A typical treatment does is every 2 hours for the first day then 4-6 times a day for 4 days. This is quite a burden if you are trying to put it in children or have trouble putting drops in yourself.

However there has now appeared a new drop called Azyter which is a drug called azithromycin. This was discovered in the 1980s and is widely used orally but is relatively new to use in the eyes. It has proven to be very effective and the dose is a much more manageable 2 times per day for only 3 days.

Because it’s much more powerful, Azyter is available only on prescription from an independent prescribing optometrist where chloramphenicol is available over the counter. Both Gillian and myself are qualified to prescribe this and Claire is undertaking the required training as we speak so you might well find us recommending this is you’ve got conjunctivitis.

Bear in mind there are many things that feel and look like bacterial conjunctivitis to the untrained eye that may require a different treatment so always come in and see us rather than your GP or just buying the drops from a pharmacy.

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