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

SMALL SCREENS BIG VISION PROBLEMS

newsletter 2017 may 05
Life without smart phones in unimaginable. We depend on our mobile devices for viewing and responding to emails, checking the weather, reading headline news, posting status updates on Facebook and a host of other daily activities. Recent research and reports by optometrists reveal that staring at those tiny screens can bring on a number of eye problems, including blurred vision, sore eyes, headaches, muscle strain and dry eye. It has also emerged that smart phones can affect balance, and that icons zooming in and out can lead to dizziness. Reading on a smart phone in bed can interfere with sleep patterns due to the blue light emitted from the screen. Our eyes were not designed to stare at small screens for lengthy periods of time. Most adults will admit that they spend too much time looking at their phones, and now there is a growing concern around the extended time spent looking at smart phones by teenagers and even young children. Dry eye disease, typically found in older patients, is now being seen more frequently in children, due to prolonged staring at the screen without blinking. Normally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this rate decreases by half when we are staring at our smartphones, causing the eyes to become red, irritated and swollen. As we squint to read these miniature screens, our facial, neck and shoulder muscles tighten, eyes become fatigued, vision can be blurred, and we may experience headaches. These symptoms, all related to digital eye strain,...
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KICK BUTTS!

newsletter 2017 may 01
ITS NEVER TOO LATE TO QUIT! As the well-known song says: “Smoke gets in your eyes”. True! It makes your eyes red, watery, burn and feel gritty. While these effects last only as long as we are exposed to smoke, there are far more serious long-term consequences that impact on general health, and have been linked to a number of eye diseases. Almost every chronic eye disease appears to have a connection to cigarette smoking, and since smoking decreases circulation and oxygen flow to the body and the eyes, it can also directly affect vision. Smoking can cause an existing vision problem to get worse, and can cause vision problems of its own. CATARACTS Research has found that compared to non-smokers, cigarette smokers have an increased risk for developing cataracts; in fact, the more you smoke, the higher the risk. Cataracts are an age-related condition which occurs when the eye’s naturally clear lens gradually becomes cloudy and less flexible over time, leading to blurred vision, faded colours, poor night vision and increased sensitivity to light. Some people have likened having cataracts to trying to see through a waterfall. It is believed that smoking contributes to cataracts by altering the lens through oxidation. Tobacco smoke reacts with substances in the body to produce free radicals, substances that can damage the cells of the body, including the lenses of the eyes. The good news is that quitting smoking can bring the cataract risk back down almost to the same risk level as people...
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MYTH OR MISSUS?


These days there's a lot of talk about the Easter bunny. I know, I know... it's that time of year. And while some people are talking about world politics and water shortages, there are people who actually spend their time debating about whether the Easter bunny exists. Is he real? Is he a myth? Is he even a he? Well, I don't have much to say on the subject. But it does remind me of all those crazy myths relating to people's eyes. Like I always say, I'm just an old pair of glasses so what do I know? But here are some eye myths that always make me laugh... Watching TV will give kids square eyes. Yeah. I know a lot of parents who say a lot of things to their kids to get them to do what they want. And this one is a classic... don't watch too much TV or your eyes will go square. Do I need to point out that this one's a myth? On the subject, sitting too close to the TV won't actually damage your vision. It might give you one serious headache, but that's about it. Same thing about reading in the dark. Sure, it might strain your eyes and you could find yourself with another headache. But your vision won't actually be affected if you read in the dark. So next time your husband doesn't want to see a foreign movie because he says reading subtitles will damage his eyes, you go...
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HELPING THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED "SEE"


Today's world is designed for those who can see. Having said this, over 300 million people in the world are partially sighted or blind. How do they cope with the daily tasks taken for granted by those who are sighted, tasks such as identifying everyday objects at home, while shopping or at work? How do they decipher specific details, like instructions on a ready-made meal or dosage directions on medication? Usually, a visually impaired person must rely on having sighted people nearby to help in these common situations. The problem is there is not always a sighted person around, and even if there is, the visually impaired person often feels uncomfortable to be constantly relying on other people.  One innovative solution to these issues is Be Specular, a mobile application that can enable visually impaired people (VIPs) to lead more independent lives. BeSpecular is a simple and quick way for a VIP to ask a question and have it answered within minutes by someone anywhere in the world. A VIP uses the app to make a request about an object or situation with which he needs help. He may send a picture plus a text or voice message, or upload a picture directly from the phone's gallery. A sighted helper (Sightling) receives a notification of the VIP's request, sees the pictures sent by the VIP, listens to the question, and replies via a voice or text message. If the Sightling is unavailable for any reason, he can let the query expire,...
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COULD MY MEDICATION AFFECT MY EYES?


Every year on April 25th, World Malaria Day, a spotlight is shone on this serious and sometimes fatal disease that plagues most tropical regions of the world. While it is potentially life-threatening, malaria is both preventable and treatable. The global theme for World Malaria Day 2017 is "END MALARIA FOR GOOD". Throughout the world, research is constantly being conducted to find high quality, effective and safe treatment and preventive drugs, with encouraging results. As effective as these medications are, they are not without side effects, and it is important to be cognisant of these. As well as antimalaria drugs, other medications have side effects, ranging from mild to quite serious, temporary to longer-lasting or even irreversible. These may be short-term drugs for specific illnesses or medications for chronic conditions. Some medications interact with each other, exacerbating the side effects or rendering each drug less effective. What is often overlooked in drug side effects is that the eyes are as vulnerable as the rest of the body. In most cases, eye problems clear up when the drugs are discontinued, or the symptoms can be treated in various ways. Drops can be used for many of these symptoms, but these sometimes mask the problem, not allowing for early detection, and possibly causing further damage. Acne Medications Adolescents who take certain acne medication have been found to face twice the risk of eye infections. The most common problem is conjunctivitis, an inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids. Other problems include styes,...
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CATARACTS

Cataracts
A cataract is a painless clouding of the internal lens of the eye. Light enters the eye through the transparent lens, and is focused onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina transmits the visual signal through the optic nerve to the brain where the image in interpreted. Because they block light from passing through the lens, cataracts make it difficult to see clearly and can even cause blindness over time. Cataracts are progressive, and are the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40, although sometimes they can be seen in younger people. Congenital cataracts can be present at birth or appear shortly after or at some time during infancy or childhood. How do cataracts affect vision? While cataracts are painless and not hazardous to the health of the person or the eye, over time they can interfere with day to day functioning. They develop gradually, often in both eyes but seldom equally. Because they develop slowly, most people are unaware of the vision loss at first, but as the clouding progresses, the person finds difficulty with distance vision, reading in low light or driving, particularly at night. Symptoms of cataracts The main symptom of cataracts is blurry or cloudy vision at any distance. Other problems with the eyes can also cause blurry vision, but cataracts produce certain characteristic symptoms, which may include worse vision in dim light, sensitivity to bright light or glare, even indoors, a perception that colours are faded or...
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THE EYES OF MARCH

newsletter January 2017
As we all know, March is Human Rights Month. So, which human are you? Are you the human who sits on a pair of glasses at least once a month? No? Then maybe you’re the human who’s left a pair of glasses at every restaurant in the city. Or could you be the human who sits on your glasses in a restaurant, and then leaves them behind in that very same restaurant? Speaking of restaurants, are you the human who’s too shy to wear a pair of reading glasses? Yup, you’re prepared to look silly by squinting at a menu or holding it ten feet away, but you won’t risk looking “silly” by wearing a pair of readers. (And admit it… you’ve ordered the wrong meal more than once because you couldn’t read the menu.) Or are you the human who wears sunglasses inside and outside, day and night? You think it fits with your “image” and gives you some “swag”. You imagine people think you’re pretty cool. Only you don’t know which people you’re talking to, because you can’t see them. Maybe you’re the human who loses your glasses and simply wears your prescription sunglasses all the time. You know who I’m talking about… the human who walks through the supermarket squinting through a pair of dark shades. I once met a human who lost one pair of glasses too many, so she learned to watch TV through her prescription shades. On the subject of viewing habits, are you the...
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SAFETY IN THE HOME FOR A PERSON WITH A VISUAL IMPAIRMENT

March17 10
As we get older, our senses begin to deteriorate, and many seniors choose to move in with a loved one or live in an assisted living facility before their safety becomes compromised. However, more and more seniors are choosing to age in place so that they can stay in their home as long as possible, and the good news is, with a few simple modifications, many homes can easily be prepared for an individual with a visual impairment. Having had the personal experience of having to modify an old farmhouse to accommodate a visually impaired relative, Jackie Waters shares her awareness of potential hazards. She offers useful practical suggestions on how to minimise obstacles and make a home as safe as possible for an individual with a visual impairment. The key is to make the space as functional as possible while maintaining safety; for instance, seniors are prone to falls, so floors need to be well taken care of and any clutter will need to be removed from walkways. Keeping a clean, open environment is one of the most important parts of making a home safe and livable for a senior with a vision impairment. Check the floors All floors throughout the home should be well-tended. Hardwood floors are best for seniors as they provide a good, sturdy walking surface, but if the home is carpeted, the carpet should be in good shape. Throw rugs should be fairly new and tacked down to the floor beneath to prevent a trip hazard,...
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662 Hits

SCHOOL HEALTH WEEK

March17 4
March 4th- 8th marks School Health Week, during which a School Health Screening Programme will be rolled out, bringing basic health screening to children at schools in areas that have been identified as priority health districts. The programme will test the eyesight, hearing and basic oral health of children in Grade 1 and the foundation phase. Children spend the majority of their week in their school environment, so schools play a big role in helping them learn the habits of a healthy lifestyle early on. Here is an opportunity to raise awareness of children’s health in all schools as well as at home. Concern is growing throughout the world as the incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children increases. These chronic diseases have far-reaching consequences beyond childhood into adolescence and adulthood, with effects ranging from cardio-vascular disease to visual problems. By teaching healthy habits from an early age, long-term health issues can be avoided. WHAT CAN SCHOOLS DO? With the challenges of both hunger and obesity in South African children, the types of food sold in school tuck shops have an important role to play. By offering healthier food options in tuck shops, children will learn to make healthier food choices. Provide a variety of opportunities for physical activity before, during and after school. Children should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Schools can add physical activity to their daily programmes, and encourage children to go outdoors and play during breaks. Immunisation is a...
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GLAUCOMA FACTS AND FIGURES

March17 1
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed, usually due to increased pressure in the eye, although it may occur with normal eye pressure. In some cases, the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Worldwide about 66 million people are affected with glaucoma. About 10 % of these become blind due to glaucoma. In South Africa it is estimated that about 200,000 people are affected. The shape of the eye is achieved through the circulation of a clear fluid (aqueous), which bathes and nourishes the eye, keeps it firm and gives the eye a certain pressure. High pressure left uncontrolled can lead to damage of the optic nerve and result in vision loss. Eye pressure varies from person to person - what is high pressure for one person may not be for another. Glaucoma is referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because it is a largely invisible disease of the eyes, and there are usually no symptoms, so it often goes undiagnosed until late in its progression. Glaucoma can present at any age, although the commonest type, primary open angle glaucoma occurs after the age of 40 years. Although rare, one can be...
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