WHILE WE WEREN'T LOOKING


What a year it's been, huh? A rollercoaster in every sense of the word. There were sanctions and nuclear threats and discussions about refugees. Paris celebrated its victory at being awarded the 2024 Olympics, while we mourned the news that we won't be hosting a certain World Cup. But you know what? A lot of things went almost unnoticed while we had our eyes fixed on Brexit and an orange president who doesn't know when to stop tweeting. (Not to mention another president who threw in the towel after 37 years.) While all this was happening, most of us didn't even notice that other pretty amazing things were happening. While we had our eyes on Twitter and Trump, others used their eyes to make some incredible discoveries. Such as... a new species of orangutan was discovered in Indonesia this year. They say it was the first new ape species to be discovered in over a century. I don't know how they found it, but there it is. And if the discovery of a new orangutan is something special, how about the discovery of a whole new continent?! Yup, a new continent (which is mostly underwater) was discovered this year in the South Pacific. It's called Zealandia, and word is it'll soon be officially recognised as earth's eighth continent. So while we had our eyes on an assortment of Kardashians, someone was busy discovering a whole new land mass. And we all heard about the total solar eclipse in 2017. But...
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HOW ACCURATELY DO WE SEE OURSELVES?


The camera never lies. Or does it? Does the camera give a more accurate view of ourselves than a mirror does? Or is the image we see in the mirror a truer reflection of what we really look like? Does the image we have of ourselves match the way other people see us? We assume that the camera records exactly what our eyes see, but the truth is that, although there are some similarities, the camera and the eyes "see" differently. Both the camera and the human eye process light and record images, but the brain interprets and makes sense of what is seen.   Human Eye vs Camera As with a camera, light enters the eye through the front part of the eye, the cornea, is focused by the lens, and passes through the eye until it reaches the retina at the back of the eye. The pupil and the iris act like the aperture in a camera lens, opening and closing depending on the amount of light reaching the eye and the amount of clarity needed. The retina contains two types of light-sensitive receptors, rods and cones. Rods perceive light while cones are sensitive to colour. Once the eye captures an image, it is sent via the optic nerve to the brain, where the processing happens. Unlike the camera, which snaps a picture and that's it, our eyes receive a continuous flow of images, which the brain later processes into what we actually see. The eyes "look" while...
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I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW! (THE TREES HAVE LEAVES!)


"I think its time for this cataract to be removed." This observation by my optometrist did not come as a surprise! I had known for some time that I had cataracts in both eyes, and that the one in my right eye was considerably worse than the left one, but they were not posing any problems. YET!! Over the past year or so I had begun to notice changes in my right eye. My vision had deteriorated dramatically, to the point that I was unable to read the print on the TV screen, and my optometrist had to change my contact lens script every few months. Night driving had become increasingly difficult, the headlights of oncoming cars too bright, and haloes appearing around street lights and other lights. My left eye could compensate to some extent for activities such as reading and computer work, but distance vision had become a strain, even when I was wearing glasses or contact lenses. Reluctant as I was to have eye surgery, I was forced to agree with my optometrist that the time had come to make an appointment with an ophthalmic surgeon. Doctors have their individual styles, protocols and procedures for running their practices, and this was my specific experience with my particular ophthalmic surgeon, which may not be the same for another one. After taking a detailed health, family and vision history, she conducted a comprehensive eye examination. She started with a visual acuity test to measure the clarity of my vision...
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THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON THE EYES


As 2017 draws to a close, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a joyful, peaceful and safe festive season, and all the best for the coming year. Frequently called the "silly season", for good reason, the end of the year brings with it many occasions to celebrate, spend time with family and friends, and sometimes indulge in excessive consumption of alcohol. Moderate drinking may lead to some changes in vision, but these are usually short-term. Heavy drinking over an extended period of time often impacts the body and the eyes in a more serious way, and the effects can be more permanent.   Short-term visual effects Consuming alcohol in moderation is unlikely to have any lasting adverse effects on the eyes, and the symptoms usually disappear shortly after a drinking episode. The way the body responds to alcohol differs from one person to another. The way your body responds depends on the amount consumed and your tolerance threshold. Alcohol slows the pace of communication between neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that communicate information around the brain and to the body. The delay in communication between the brain and the eyes affects eye muscle coordination. This may result in distorted or double vision, difficulty with depth perception, difficulty judging distances, and decreased peripheral vision. It makes perfect sense, then, not to drink and drive! Excessive drinking decreases the reaction time of the pupils, which are unable to constrict or dilate effectively...
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WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND


I'm no fashionista. But every November I check out the fashion blogs and magazines to see what trends we can expect in 2018. And this year I thought they were getting mixed up - were they talking next year or were they talking fifty years ago?! Lemme explain what I mean... My friend Charlene is a pair of marble frames, and she hasn't seen the light of day in a while. But then she heard from her friend Lois that they're destined to make a big comeback in 2018. Lois saw something on the Fashion Channel, and now she's convinced all the major labels will try to do what she and Charlene were doing in the Seventies. My friend Jimmy is a pair of aviators. And according to him, his kind never goes out of style. (Trust a pair of aviators to say that. I mean, they're nice guys and all but super-confident if you know what I mean...) So anyways, Jimmy has been talking for years about how he doesn't need to make a comeback - because he's never really gone away. I was a bit suspicious when it came to Jimmy. Then I saw how many Hollywood celebs are wearing aviators, and now I think he might be onto something. After all, it only takes one movie star to set off an entire fashion trend. Speaking of which, I saw a magazine that said 2018 will also be the year of oversized sunglasses. You know... the Sophia Loren...
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A JUMBO-SIZED OPERATION!


Win Thida, a 45-year old Asian elephant in an Amsterdam zoo, suffered an injury to her cornea after what was thought to be a tussle with another elephant. She was obviously in pain and struggling to keep the eye open, so the zoo called in vet Anne-Marie Verbruggen, who decided to fit a contact lens to protect and soothe the eye. She had often fitted horses with contact lenses, but this was her first attempt with an elephant. Daily training sessions prepared the elephant for the procedure which took less than an hour. She had to remain standing during the anaesthetic, because elephants can't lie down for long as their immense weight hampers their breathing. As the vet climbed a ladder to reach her patient's eye, Win Thida remained calm and relaxed, was cooperative throughout, and was reported to be happier and more able to keep her eye open immediately after the operation. Protected by the contact lens, the wound on her cornea will now remain clean and be able to heal. Win Thida has resumed her position as the dominant matriarch of the Amsterdam herd of elephants, and a favourite among visitors to the zoo. While she may be the first of her species to be fitted with a contact lens, Win Thida is not the first animal to undergo such a procedure. The World Wildlife Fund has sponsored lens transplants for brown bears in a nature reserve in China, as it has been found that vision loss, often...
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EYES ON THE BALL


Sport is an important aspect of the South African way of life. Whether just enjoying playing with a ball in the garden, participating in team sports, or taking sport more seriously, vision plays a fundamental role, and there are a number of factors to take into account. These range from the necessary visual skills for sport to the importance of eye protection and the enhancement of sporting performance with different types of eyewear. VISUAL SKILLS FOR SPORT Dynamic Visual Acuity - This is the ability to see clearly objects that are moving fast at the same time as the player is moving. Visual Concentration - Our eyes normally react to what is happening around us and in our field of vision. Visual concentration is the ability to shut out distractions and remain focused on the activity. Eye Tracking - Eye tracking helps us to maintain balance while following a ball or opponent with our eyes, without movement of the head. Eye-Hand-Body Coordination - This is an essential element in most sports, affecting timing and body control. Eye-hand-body coordination is the ability of the hands, feet and body to respond to the information gathered through the eyes. Visual Memory - Using the skill of processing and remembering a fast-moving complex picture, the athlete with good visual memory always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Visualisation - Picturing yourself doing it can actually help you do it! Through visualisation, you see yourself performing well in your "mind's...
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EYES ON DIABETES?


A routine eye examination can show many things, from a minor change in a prescription or the need for a different contact lens solution, to a condition that may be life-changing or even life-threatening. One optometrist found this out first hand when he did what he does every day, an eye examination. But this was no ordinary examination. When he looked into his 48-year old patient’s eyes, he noticed that blood and other fluids were leaking out of the tiny blood vessels at the back of her eyes. He suspected that this was a sign of diabetes, referred her for further testing, and his suspicion was confirmed. Why are our eyes so vulnerable? Small blood vessels and nerves are very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels in the body. As sugar levels rise in the blood of someone with diabetes, nerves and blood vessels are damaged. While this happens everywhere in the body, it is not visible because skin and bones block our view. Our eyes, on the other hand, provide an unobstructed view where the damage done to the delicate blood vessels and nerves in the retina can easily be seen by an optometrist, who is often the first professional to notice these changes. Diabetic eye disease comprises a group of eye conditions that affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma, all of which have the potential to cause severe vision loss. Diabetic Retinopathy Over a prolonged period of...
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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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