EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

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January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

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 educate...
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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 family...
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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 story....
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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 regularly....
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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 early...
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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 usually...
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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 kids...
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1098 Hits

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, becoming...
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FLOATERS AND FLASHES – THE INSIDE STORY


Do you ever experience specks, threads or cobwebs in your line of vision, only to see them disappear when you try to focus on them? Or do you see flashes of light or sparks flickering across your field of vision when there is nothing there? Both of these are common occurrences for many people, and, although they may be irritating or alarming, they are usually harmless. Although they seem to be outside the eye, they are actually coming from within the eye itself. FLOATERS, FLASHES AND HALOES Floaters are a common complaint, as are flashes, but to a lesser extent. The two may occur separately or together, depending on the underlying reasons. Haloes are less common. The small specks or threads drifting in the line of vision are called floaters. They may have different shapes, which move as the eyes move, and drift slowly when the eyes are still. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel floating inside the vitreous humor, the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. The vitreous humor is a clear jelly-like fluid with the consistency not unlike raw egg white. It fills the rear two thirds of the eye, providing a pathway to the back of the eye for light entering through the lens. It is contained within a fine membrane attached to the lens at the front of the eye and the retina at the back. As we age, the vitreous gel starts to thicken, shrink or become stringy, forming clumps or strands that...
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DON'T CRY! ITS BAD FOR YOUR EYES??


My grandmother used to tell me to stop crying because it was bad for my eyes. Crying, or to be more precise tears, are not only not bad for the eyes, but serve a vital function in eye health. They provide lubrication and moisture, helping to keep the eyes more comfortable and facilitating vision. When there is an imbalance in the flow or the composition of tears, dry eye syndrome can occur. What are tears? The eyes constantly produce tears, not only when we experience emotion. Healthy eyes are covered with a tear film, which prevents the eyes from becoming dry and enables clear vision. The tear film is made up of three layers, oil, water and mucus. The top layer, oil, comes from the melbomian glands which produce fatty oils. The oil lubricates the eyes and slows down the evaporation of tears from the surface of the eyes. The middle layer, produced by the lacrimal or tear glands, consists of water, salt, proteins and antibodies. Their function is to provide moisture to the eyes, cleanse the eyes of irritants, and prevent infection. The inner layer, mucus, enables the tears to spread evenly over the eyes. What causes dry eyes? Problems in any of the layers of tear film can lead to dry eyes. Inadequate oil levels can cause the tears to evaporate too quickly, causing dry patches on the surface of the eyes. Any condition that causes blocking of the melbomian glands can cause dry eyes. If the tear glands...
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