Achtober


So close but so far. Whoever invented that expression must have been talking about October. Or - as my friends and I like to call it - Achtober. Because ach, who's got the energy to pull through two more months until the end of the year? Now my friends and I are just a bunch of glasses (with a few sunglasses among the group). But we figure we understand how you feel. And so... If you're feeling bleary and grimy like a dirty lens, take some time out for yourself. You know, some Me Time (or in your case You Time... you know what I mean.) If you can't take a weekend away, go out for a night or spend an hour at the spa. My friend Sandra is a pair of old cats-eye glasses whose lenses hadn't been wiped in months. Just one rejuvenating treatment with a soft cloth and she felt brand new. If you feel like your arms and legs are falling off, take some time for exercise in between all the typing, driving and other draining activities. My friend Doug is a pair of wayfarers whose hinges almost came apart. He couldn't even fit properly onto his owner's face. Rest that weary body of yours. And - like Doug did - get your hinges adjusted as and when necessary. Maybe a yoga session is all you need. If you're generally feeling bent out of shape, you might require the likes of physio or even acupuncture (if...
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CURVES IN THE WRONG PLACES!


What Is Astigmatism? Astigmatism is the most common vision problem. It is caused by an error in the shape of the cornea or lens of the eye. Normally, the cornea and lens are smooth and curved equally in all directions, helping to focus light rays sharply onto the retina at the back of the eye. However, if the cornea or lens isn't smooth and evenly curved, it can change the way light passes or is refracted onto the retina, resulting in a so-called refractive error Corneal Astigmatism The cornea is a transparent layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye. A perfectly curved cornea bends, or refracts, light as it enters the eye so that the retina receives a perfect image. In a person with corneal astigmatism, the cornea is oval-shaped rather than perfectly round, with the result that the light rays will focus on two points on the retina instead of one. Lenticular Astigmatism Lenticular astigmatism, which is less common than corneal astigmatism, occurs when the lens has variations that cause images to reach the retina imperfectly. They may focus either in front of or beyond the retina, causing blurred vision of both far and near objects. Most people with lenticular astigmatism have a normal-shaped cornea. What Causes Astigmatism? It is not known what causes astigmatism, but it is thought to be an inherited condition. It is often present at birth, but may develop later in life, sometimes after eye disease, injury or surgery. Who is at...
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THE STORY OF THEMBI AND THE SINGING TREE


October 12th is WORLD SIGHT DAY, a day on which eye care awareness and universal eye health are emphasised. In South Africa, the theme of this year's World Sight Day is "Make Vision Count", and a number of community projects and awareness programmes are carried out. The story of "Thembi and the Singing Tree" is a moving account of the importance of drawing attention to the need for eye care awareness in children. Ken Youngstein is an American psychologist who spent many years in several countries in Africa working in the healthcare sector. In 1978 he set up a company with the aim of developing medical educational programmes for both professionals and patients. Based first in New York City and later in Zurich, he spent time each year providing these services to charities and government organisations throughout Asia and Africa. According to him, his greatest challenge was finding the right message and the right medium to reach each target audience, and to deliver information that was relevant and culturally appropriate for each group. In 2016, Youngstein met a man who worked for Orbis, an organisation which works with local partners to develop their capacity for accessible, high quality, sustainable eye-health services for all. By training doctors, nurses and community members, and conducting outreach services to communities, they act on their belief in "a world where no one is needlessly blind or visually impaired". Together they aimed to develop an educational toolkit that Orbis and their partner clinics could use to...
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WHEN SHOULD CHILDREN GET GLASSES?


Babies are not born with perfect vision. It is normal for them to be farsighted with some astigmatism until they are able to see well at about one year old as the brain and visual system mature. In children whose vision does not correct itself spontaneously with growth and maturation, the most common errors are refractive errors. These are caused when the shape of the eye does not correctly focus the light rays entering the eye. They include shortsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. With myopia, a child can see objects clearly close up, but has trouble seeing further away (like the classroom blackboard). Myopia is most commonly diagnosed in children between the ages of 8 and 12, usually gets worse during the teenage years, but stabilises in early adulthood. If the child is farsighted, words on a page will seem blurry, but distance vision is not as much of a problem. Hyperopia is particularly common in young children, but they may not notice any blurriness because their eyes can compensate by focusing. Astigmatism distorts or blurs vision for both near and far objects. It happens when the cornea is irregularly shaped, and is more like a rugby ball than like a soccer ball. Myopia and hyperopia can be combined with astigmatism, or astigmatism can occur on its own. Warning signs Most children should have their first vision assessment at 3 to 4 years of age, but a visit to the optometrist may be advisable earlier if there is a...
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ALL EYES ON SPRING


The sun starts shining and the flowers come out. You can't wait to drive into the countryside and frolic in a field of yellow. (Okay, I've never frolicked in my life but you know what I mean...) So you park your car on a green, green hillside and throw open the door. You take a deep breath, step onto the grass… and step right back into your car. Because your eyes are itching so bad it feels like there are baby ants dancing on your eyeballs. As if the season of blooming flowers isn't enough, spring also happens to be the season of love. So instead of leaving those blossomy irritants in the countryside where they belong, people pick them and sell them at a massive profit to lovers everywhere. You know how it works – supply and demand. The demand for romance is so high that suddenly the cities are full of flowers too. And no matter where you try to hide, that pollen will find you and work its special magic on your eyes. Then there's the all-too-famous red eye. Like I said, spring is the time for romance, which also means it's the time for romantic movies. So maybe your eyes are red because you've cried your way through a tearjerker starring Sandra Bullock. Not that you'd tell anyone that. The whole reason why cinemas are dark inside is so people can cry to their heart's content. So maybe the red-eye is from crying through a love...
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"Tis but a scratch!" - FOCUS ON EYEWEAR CARE


Glasses are an investment in time and money. You spend time choosing a suitable frame and discussing the most appropriate lenses for your vision needs with your optometrist. You wait for your new glasses to be made up and adjusted to fit correctly, and getting used to them may take a little while. They are not a cheap item, and you are unlikely to buy another pair for a while, so it is important to look after your glasses and keep them in the condition that facilitates optimal vision. Mid-September is the start of EYE CARE AWARENESS MONTH, when caring for your eyewear is as important as caring for your eyes. CLEANING YOUR GLASSES Washing you glasses at least once a day will keep the lenses in an optimal state, and avoid you having to strain to see through smudged or dirty lenses. Hold your frames by gripping the piece that crosses the bridge of the nose, rather than one of the ear pieces. This will prevent you from accidently bending the frame while you clean. Rinse with water before wiping and cleaning them. Particles of dust and dirt on the lens can be abrasive if you wipe over a dry lens. If possible, allow your glasses to air dry, which will prevent any abrasive materials from getting onto the lenses and scratching them. If you can't leave them to air dry, wipe them gently with a soft clean cloth; your optometrist may supply you with one. Wash the cloth...
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GLAUCOMA - A PERSONAL STORY


Why is award-winning actress, Emma Thompson, worried about losing her sight? Both her mother and her maternal grandmother, and probably her great-grandmother, have been affected by glaucoma, a hereditary eye condition which has sometimes been described as "the silent thief of vision". In the healthy eye, a clear fluid, aqueous humor, circulates in the eye. Constant eye pressure is maintained by a balance between the production of this fluid and its drainage from the eye. With glaucoma, the pressure gradually builds up, slowly causing damage to the optic nerve which sends signals from the retina at the back of the eye to the brain. Over time, the damage to the optic nerve results in irreversible vision loss. One sufferer from glaucoma commented that "sight lost really is hindsight"! Although the vision loss cannot be reversed, its progress can be slowed down or even stopped by timeous management of the condition. Unfortunately, because glaucoma develops slowly without obvious symptoms at first, many people are unaware that they have it until they notice changes, usually in their peripheral vision. At this stage, there is already some damage to the optic nerve. For this reason, it is essential that eye pressure is checked by your optometrist regularly, particularly if there is a family history of glaucoma, or other risk factors. These include extreme short-sightedness, previous eye injury, or health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Emma Thompson and her mother, Phyllida Law, reinforce the fact that early detection is the key to...
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NOT QUITE "IN THE PINK"!


Most of us have experienced "pink eye" or conjunctivitis at some time in our lives, either as children or adults, or both. We have woken up with red burning eyes that we struggle to open because of the discharge gluing them together. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin clear membrane over the white of the eye (sclera) and the inside of the eye lid. Not generally a serious health risk, it can be contagious, spreading easily from person to person. There are a number of different kinds of conjunctivitis, each with their own cause, symptoms and treatment, although the symptoms are sometimes similar regardless of the cause. BACTERIAL CONJUNCTIVITIS Bacterial conjunctivitis generally affects both eyes, or may start in one eye and spread quickly to the other. It is an infection caused by a bacteria which may come from the person's own skin or upper respiratory tract, or have been caught from another person with conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis is characterised by redness, itching and a discharge which crusts over the eyelids and lashes, particularly on waking from sleep. There is a feeling of grittiness in the eyes and may be an increased sensitivity to light. This type of conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotic drops or ointment, and should clear within a few days. Discharge and crusting can be cleaned with cotton wool dipped in cooled boiled water. Even if left untreated, most cases will clear up on their own within a couple of weeks. VIRAL CONJUNCTIVITIS This is...
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HER EYES


With Women's Month upon us, I gotta say something. If I ever find myself on a plane travelling through dark, stormy skies, I'd want a woman to be my pilot. Why? Because women's eyes are so much better than men's. I'm talking super-advanced exceptional vision. Think about it... A man looks for something three times, but he still can't find it. It could be a missing sock or a TV remote or one of his very own children. His wife looks and finds it first time around. In fact, she told him where to find it before she even started looking. And of course she was right (which he hates to admit). A woman's eyes can find a parking space from at least one hundred metres away. No matter how crowded the parking lot is, her laser eyes would put Superman to shame in their ability to seek out the free space. Her man would rather park in the first space he sees, which is exactly... you guessed it... one hundred metres from the mall entrance. And then he has to pretend he doesn't see the parking space right next to the entrance. You know, after he's just made his wife walk a distance of one hundred metres. A woman and a man have the same number of eyes. But a woman can use those eyes to watch three kids, a boiling pot on the stove and a TV show... all at the same time. For generations, moms have warned...
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WOMEN IN EYECARE


As Women's Day approaches on 9th August, it is an opportunity to commemorate the courageous deeds of women in history, as well as to celebrate the contributions made by women in all fields. One such woman is Patricia Bath, a pioneer in ophthalmology. Born in Harlem, New York, on November 4, 1942, Patricia Bath became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973, and to receive a medical patent in 1988. At the age of 16, Bath became one of only a few students to attend a cancer research workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The program head, Dr. Robert Bernard, was so impressed with Bath's discoveries during the project that he incorporated her findings in a scientific paper he presented at a conference. The publicity surrounding her discoveries earned Bath the Mademoiselle magazine's Merit Award in 1960. While pursuing a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University, her research led her to the development of a community ophthalmology system, which increased the availability of eye care to those who were unable to afford treatment. In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic human right." Its motto is "to protect, preserve, and restore the gift of sight". In 1981, Bath began working on her most well-known invention: the Laserphaco Probe (1986). Harnessing laser technology, the device created a less painful and more precise treatment of cataracts. She received a patent for the device in 1988,...
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