EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

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VITAMIN D and YOUR EYES


For many years, throughout the world, we have received dire warnings about the dangers of exposing the skin to the sun. Ironically, by heeding these warnings and coating ourselves in protective sun screens, we are depriving our bodies of the essential benefits of vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to the rays of the sun; this is the primary source of vitamin D as very few foods contain it in a natural state. Certain health conditions and medications can interfere with vitamin D levels in the body. Medical researchers regard insufficient levels of this vitamin as pandemic. Why do we need vitamin D? Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and plays an important role in cell growth, neuromuscular function, reduction of inflammation in the body, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Specifically in relation to eye health, vitamin D enhances the protection of the cornea, is present in the tear fluid and gel within the eye, reduces inflammation and has been found to improve acuity in aging eyes. What can we do about it? Although vitamin D is not naturally found in most foods, it can be obtained in limited amounts from fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, as well as from some cheeses, egg yolks and beef liver. Certain foods are fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients. These include milk, yoghurt, some cereals, soy beverages and margarine. A wide variety of vitamin D supplements is available, in tablet, liquid...
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A LITTLE PUFF OF AIR!


One of the tests your optometrist may do as part of a thorough eye examination is to apply a tiny puff of air onto your eye. Why does he do this? What would the result tell him? The test is called tonometry, and is used to measure the pressure within your eyes. Raised pressure levels could be an indication of glaucoma , one of the major causes of blindness in adults. However, a definite glaucoma diagnosis can not be made without conducting other tests, too. These may include ophthalmoscopy, perimetry, gonioscopy and pachymetry, but tonometry and ophthalmoscopy are the two routine glaucoma tests. During tonometry, a small amount of pressure is applied to the eye by a tiny device or by a warm puff of air, and a pressure reading is obtained. Eye pressure is unique to each person. Ophthalmoscopy helps the optometrist examine your optic nerve for glaucoma damage. Eye drops may be used to dilate the pupil so that he can see through your eye and observe the shape and colour of the optic nerve, which carries messages to the brain. Perimetry is a test that produces a map of your complete field of vision. This test will help determine whether your vision has been affected by glaucoma, which develops slowly, usually from the outer towards the central field of vision. During this test, you will be asked to look straight ahead and then indicate when a moving light passes your peripheral (or side) vision. Gonioscopy helps determine whether...
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Lost Contact lens

On the lighter side! A teenager lost a contact lens while playing soccer in his driveway. After a fruitless search, he went inside and told his mother the lens was nowhere to be found. Undaunted, she went outside, and in a few minutes, she returned with the lens in her hand. "How did you manage to find it, Mom?" the teenager asked. "We weren't looking for the same thing," she replied. "You were looking for a small piece of plastic. I was looking for R1,000!" Progressive lenses A man went to an Optometrist to have his eyes examined and asked "Will I be able to read after I get my glasses?" "Yes, of course," said the Optometrist, "why not!" "Oh! How nice it will be," said the patient with joy, "I've been illiterate all my life."
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HOW DO GLASSES WORK?


If I wear glasses will my shortsightedness be cured? Will I need to wear glasses for the rest of my life? Why do my husband’s glasses not help me to see better? Why do my glasses need to be changed every so often? One patient asked his optometrist for new glasses because “the medicine in the old ones is finished”. Most people will need to wear glasses at some time in their life. Glasses are so common that we take them for granted, not always understanding why so many people wear them or how they work. To understand how glasses work we need to understand why people need them. Glasses are recommended for those who have trouble seeing up close, far away or both, or for people whose eye muscles do not work together efficiently. For people who have vision problems, the retina doesn't focus in the correct place. Glasses work by focusing the vision when the retina cannot, by bending the light. Because everybody’s vision problem is different, the type of vision problem determines the type of glasses needed, and no two prescriptions will be the same. When choosing the glasses which will give the clearest possible vision, an optometrist considers three main issues: the curvature, thickness and the index of refraction. Curvature depends on the person's eye condition. For example, a person who is shortsighted needs a concave lens. This type of lens curves inward to allow a person's retina to correct vision to see further away. In contrast,...
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SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES


We all know about the harmful effects of smoking on our over-all health, but eye problems and sight-threatening diseases as a result of smoking are generally less well-known and publicised less often. Tobacco smoke is composed of hundreds of compounds, most of which are toxic to the body, and of course to the eyes, whether the exposure is short or long-term. Smoking is known to play a significant role in the narrowing of blood vessels, the depletion of nutrients to the organs of the body due to decreased blood supply, the reduction of antioxidants, and the increase of free radicals in the body, all of which have an effect on general physical health as well as on the health of the eyes. Cataracts Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in the world. Some studies have shown that smokers double their chances of developing cataracts, and that they may develop them earlier than non-smokers. One of the reasons for this may be that smoking reduces the supply of antioxidants to the eyes. Macular degeneration Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the centre of the retina, which is responsible for sharp central vision needed for everyday tasks such as reading and driving. It is a leading cause of permanent vision loss among older people. The good news is that quitting smoking, even later in life, can significantly reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. Glaucoma Although there is no direct causal link between smoking and glaucoma (progressive tunnel vision), the narrowing of blood...
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Did you know? KNIGHTS OF THE BLIND

Since 1925 Lions have been responding to the challenge of Helen Keller to become “knights of the blind” and resultantly Lions Clubs worldwide are in the forefront of an international campaign to eradicate curable and preventable blindness. Today, in South Africa, Lions District 410A are one of only two community based organisations continuously committed to reducing the indigent cataract surgery backlog which is well over 15000 patients in the Western Cape alone. In Namibia there are an estimated 12000 sufferers. District Sight activities include bursaries for qualifying blind and partially sighted students at all education levels / assistance with school fees, books and clothing and clubs are involved in collecting used spectacles from the public as well as providing eye testing and low cost spectacles to indigents. Clubs generate their own income which is used to fund their community service projects as well as supporting core district projects like Cataract Surgery in the Lions Eye Health Programme.
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COMPUTER GAMES: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY


The computer gaming industry is a growing multi million dollar industry. The credit for this boom could be handed to our children. The graphics, sound and interactivity make computer games irresistible to the younger generation, and an aspect of the marketing strategy stresses their benefits. While there certainly are educational advantages to computer games, there is another side to the coin, and both parents and children need to be aware of both the pros and cons. Education Researchers have found that frequent game players score better at vision tests, and that computer games could improve children's logical thinking ability and problem solving skills, encouraging them to think strategically. They have also been found to be beneficial in the development of hand-eye coordination. While these benefits are acknowledged, it is felt that computer games stunt the imagination and creative ability of children. Watching a small child on a computer leaves no doubt about the value of becoming comfortable with computers as well as with the computer jargon and terminology which sounds like a foreign language to many of us! Health and Development Common complaints found among children obsessed with games are eye strain, headaches, as well as wrist, neck and back pains. Some specialists are concerned about bad posture as a result of prolonged time at the computer. A Scottish doctor reported a case of an eleven year-old boy who suffered from tendonitis following long periods of playing Nintendo, a condition that has come to be known as “Nintendonitis”! Excessive time spent...
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EAT YOUR COLOURS!


It is common knowledge that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables promotes good health. It is not as commonly known that the variety of colours in fruit and vegetables reflects the different health benefits we receive from them. We know that we need to eat a balanced sensible diet for general physical health and well-being, but there are specific foods that contain vitamins which promote eye health and may even help to prevent certain eye diseases. Bugs Bunny does not need to wear glasses! Does a carrot a day keep the optometrist away? The short and simple answer is yes, to an extent. The orange colour in carrots comes from beta carotene, and carrots also contain large amounts of vitamin A, both of which contribute to eye health and help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. The idea that carrots contribute to good vision goes back to World War II. At that time, most foods were in short supply, but carrots were not. The British Royal Air Force credited eating carrots with their pilots’ increased ability to see the enemy in the dark. A rumour was set in motion to motivate more people to eat carrots. Today, that view still exists, and there is some truth, as well as some exaggeration, to it. Power of Purple Rhodopsin is a purple pigment that helps us to see in situations where the light is low. This nutrient is abundant in carrots as well as in certain berries. Vitamin C Soldiers Vitamin C...
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Did you know? Vision in the Animal world

Horses have an amazing range of vision – that is, except for what is right in front of them. They literally can’t spot whatever is between their eyes and therefore directly ahead due to their binocular vision. This is why they so often look down as they walk. Old world monkeys and apes mainly see as humans do – they are trichomats, so they pick up red, green, and blue. But many new world monkeys do not. There is no real pattern among species. In fact, in the same family of monkeys there can be up to six different types of color blindness or vision. As with their human cousins, color blindness is more common in males than in females. Many birds can see differently. Pigeons, for example, can see literally millions of different hues and are thought to be among the best at color detection ability of any animal on earth. They have many more cones than humans in their eyes, thus accounting for the ability to see at least five spectral bands.
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GLASSES THROUGH THE AGES


In the 12th century, an Arab scientist observed that a round element could be used to make objects look larger. About a hundred years later, his work was translated into Latin and distributed amongst European scientists, who began to manufacture what was known as the “reading stone”. The reading stone was moved over text which was then magnified, but later flatter reading stones were developed which could be held directly in front of the eyes. The first recorded evidence of the use of reading glasses occurred in 1306, when two Italian monks documented that glasses had been manufactured twenty years previously. They copied a model of these glasses, and distributed them amongst the monks who were having difficulty reading and copying religious texts. It is not known who invented these early simple glasses, but is generally thought that they were the work of a Venetian craftsman. Because these first glasses would slide down the nose, glasses that fitted over the bridge of the nose were invented at the beginning of the 15th century. These were made of various unusual materials, including leather, whalebone, bronze and silver. However, they, too, were not comfortable to wear, which led to the development in the early 16th century of extended forehead glasses. These were attached to a long curved arm which would be placed on top of the head – not very attractive, but certainly more functional! In the 17th century, manufacture of glasses moved to England, where the quality improved greatly, thanks to new...
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