EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

CONTACT LENSES ARE POLLUTING OUR WORLD


With the pollution of our planet very much in people's consciousness, we are starting to understand the impact of disposable contact lenses. Their popularity has grown rapidly over the past decades and one can understand why. However, just as usage of disposable lenses has increased over time, so has public awareness of the damage disposable goods can cause to the environment. Like most disposable goods, disposable lenses are usually made of non-biodegradable plastic, leaving them bad for both trash and compost. The blister packs in which they are distributed consist of foil and plastic, both of which create their own recycling problems.  It may seem like a small thing, but with over 45 million contact lens wearers in the United States and between 5% and 20% of the population of Europe wearing them, all that plastic adds up. We are talking about 22 metric tons of contact lenses being improperly disposed of every year in USA, unnecessarily adding to the hundreds of thousands of tons of microplastics floating in our oceans and wreaking havoc on our environment.  According to new research out of the American Chemical Society, 20 percent of people who wear contact lenses dispose of them by flushing them down the toilet or sink. As medical devices, contact lenses are specifically designed to withstand harsh environments, and therefore they don't biodegrade easily. An added concern is that their size and flexibility allow them to slip through filters meant to keep nonbiological waste out of wastewater treatment plants. The chemical...
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377 Hits

20/20 Hindsight


You know what they say about looking back in hindsight, how it's always 20/20 vision (or something to that effect). So as we wind down another year, it's easy to look back on certain things and wonder why we didn't see them coming.  We shoulda known petrol would go up and up and up. And that would mean the price of everything else would go up and up and up. Or maybe we did know and there was nothing we could do about it. But let's not get hung up on that...  We shoulda known all those scientific expeditions into space would bring home some big news. And they did. In July of 2018 it was discovered that there's water on Mars. There was great excitement at the announcement that there's a 20km lake up there, even though it's so cold that most of it is frozen. And with so many people eager to be part of the Mission to Mars, it seems like swimming season might be opening soon.  We shoulda known that the headlines would be dominated by a royal wedding. That was obvious from the moment Prince Harry popped the question. But little did we know we'd have two royal weddings, all thanks to Princess Beatrice. Gotta wonder how all those relatives felt about putting on their wedding outfits all over again and sitting through a second one. But in their polite English way they didn't seem to mind.  I wish I'd known those other royals were going...
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427 Hits

OLD WIVES' TALES OR FACT?


Old wives' tales abound about numerous topics including the eyes and vision. Some of them are clearly myths, often used by parents or grandparents to frighten or discipline children into behaving themselves. An example of this is if you cross your eyes and the wind changes, your eyes will remain crossed forever! Many other myths have some foundation in fact but are sometimes embellished with information or theories that may or may not be true.  SITTING TOO CLOSE TO THE TV IS BAD FOR THE EYES Watching too much TV or sitting too close to the screen may give you a headache or make your eyes feel tired or strained, but there is no evidence to suggest that it will harm your vision. In fact, children can generally focus up close with no eyestrain better than adults can, so they often develop the habit of sitting close to the TV without any ill-effects. Parents need to be aware, though, that needing to sit close to the TV may be an indication of shortsightedness which requires an eye examination by your optometrist. The same is true for children holding a book close to the face while reading. This may or may not be cause for concern but a visit to your optometrist will detect whether there is a problem or not.  COMPUTER USE IS HARMFUL TO THE EYES Electronic screens won't harm the eyes but staring at them for an extended period can increase dryness and eyestrain, partly because we tend to...
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359 Hits

GLASSES FOR AIDS


With World AIDS Day on 1st December, it is fitting to acknowledge a man who we don't usually associate with HIV and AIDS, but rather with music and his signature accessory, imaginative, often quirky and always flamboyant eyewear. Elton John, one of music's biggest stars for over five decades, was shortsighted for many years before he had his vision corrected, making a personal statement with the choice and sometimes invention of his glasses. As well as unusual shapes, sizes and colours, some of his more memorable creations include glitter, ostrich feathers, windscreen wipers on the lenses, and individual lights which lit up to spell his name. In 1975, when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, his obvious eyewear choice was star-shaped frames! With an estimated 250,000 pairs of glasses, Elton John has a walk-in closet in which to store them.  In 1985, Elton John had what he called a life-changing experience. He befriended a 13-year old boy named Ryan White, a haemophiliac who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. As there was little research about it at that time, Ryan spoke out about the misconceptions around HIV and AIDS. Ryan tragically lost his battle with the disease at 18 years of age, but his strength in dealing with it is believed to be the reason for Elton John establishing the AIDS Foundation in honour of Ryan and his family.  The Elton John AIDS Foundation is a nonprofit organisation established in 1992 in the United...
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275 Hits

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE


The sun supports life on our planet, but its life-giving rays also pose hazards. With the constant publicity around the dangers of ultraviolet rays for our skins most of us apply sunscreen with hardly a second thought. What we are generally less aware of is how ultraviolet light from the sun affects our eyes. While the body needs a certain amount of UV light for the production of vitamin D, an excessive amount can be harmful to the skin and eyes. There are three types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV-C is potentially the most dangerous, but almost all of it is blocked by the ozone layer – a situation that may change with ozone depletion, especially in countries like Australia and South Africa. However, UV-A and UV-B radiation can have long- and short-term effects on the eyes and vision. In low doses UV-B rays stimulate the production of melanin resulting in a suntan, but in higher doses they can cause sunburn and premature aging of the skin. UV-A rays have the lowest energy but can pass through the cornea, damaging the lens and the retina.  If your eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, you may experience photokeratitis. Like a "sunburn of the eye," its symptoms include red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Fortunately, these symptoms are usually temporary and rarely cause permanent damage to the eyes. The longer the eyes are exposed to...
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364 Hits

BALANCING ONLINE AND OFFLINE WORLDS


Digital technology has become an integral and inescapable part of our daily lives, providing us with information at our fingertips and access to connect whenever and with whomever we wish. As adults we have become more and more reliant on electronic devices, and they feature prominently in the daily lives of children at home, at school and socially. While the value of these devices cannot be underestimated, there is a growing awareness of the harm excessive exposure to them can do to children's cognitive, emotional, social and overall development and well-being. Research reveals that children start using digital devices as young as six months of age. By their teens, some children use screen-based media for up to seven hours daily.  Between birth and age three the brain develops quickly and is particularly sensitive to the outside world. This is known as the critical period because the changes that happen in the brain during these first tender years become the permanent foundation upon which all later brain function is built. The development occurs mainly through direct interaction with the environment. Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling are the primary ways we experience our world, so if we are not using these five senses, then we are not learning to the best of our brains' abilities.  According to one expert, too much screen time too soon "is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to...
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361 Hits

IMAGINE...


It's World Blindness Awareness Month. And it got me thinking about all the things I see that really annoy me.  For instance, someone cuts in front of you in traffic. You know, one of those people driving an off-roader 4x4 even though you know he won't be going anywhere more adventurous than to work and back home to his gated community. He doesn't even thank you but just pushes in front of you. And all the way to work you have to sit behind him and stare at his arrogantly personalised number plate.  But imagine a world where you couldn't see that number plate… or anything at all. Then again, you wouldn't be driving in the first place. You'd probably be calling an Uber – except you'd need your sight to do that too.  What about those annoying ads that come up before a YouTube video? The ones where you have to wait five seconds before you can skip them? What if the alternative to waiting five whole seconds is not seeing those videos at all? You wouldn't feel impatient to watch the video you want to see, because you wouldn't be able to see that either.  In fact, it's likely you wouldn't be sitting in front of a computer, unless it was specially enabled.  If you couldn't see anything at all, you'd be spared the sight of those gym bunnies who work out in front of the mirror. But you possibly wouldn't be in the gym to begin with. You...
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749 Hits

DON'T BE BLINDSIDED BY GLAUCOMA


There is a reason that glaucoma is known as "the silent thief of vision". According to the South African Glaucoma Society, 4 in 50 South Africans over the age of 40 suffer from glaucoma but approximately 50% of these don't know they have it! Glaucoma usually develops slowly with no obvious warning signs or symptoms at first and when these are noticed the disease may be fairly advanced. While glaucoma cannot be cured or the lost vision restored, the good news is that if it is detected and treated early, its progression can be delayed or even prevented. By means of a simple test your optometrist can pick up the signs of glaucoma and refer if necessary.    The healthy eye constantly produces a clear fluid called aqueous humor which circulates in the front part of the eye. As new aqueous flows into the eye, the same amount should drain out, maintaining a constant stable eye pressure, the intraocular pressure (IOC). The fluid drains out through an area called the drainage angle.    If the drainage angle is not functioning properly, fluid builds up and pressure inside the eye rises, gradually damaging the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a bundle of tiny nerve fibres which supplies visual information from the retina at the back of the eye to the brain where it is processed and interpreted. Over time, damage to the optic nerve results in irreversible vision loss.    TYPES OF GLAUCOMA There are five major types of glaucoma. The...
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993 Hits

MISTER SANDMAN BRING ME A DREAM


The magical character who sprinkles fine grains of sand into our eyes to induce sleep first appeared in a story by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. The Sandman occurs repeatedly in folklore across the world, interpreted differently from stories to word of mouth, literature to film, and even to popular songs. While Andersen's Sandman was kind and told beautiful stories to children as they slept, some other versions of him are more sinister. In 1993 Paul Berry's short film "The Sandman" was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. In USA, the Sandman was used in a TV advert to "hypnotise" people into buying mattresses. Legend has it that the sand prevents the eyes from opening until morning so that children will have a good night's sleep. Upon waking, many people need to wipe away the grit that is often left in the corners of the eyes, "proof" of the Sandman's night-time visit.  What is the substance that remains in the corners of the eyes and why is it there? It is called rheum, a thin mucous naturally discharged from the eyes, nose or mouth during sleep, and gathering as a crust in the corners of the eyes and mouth, and along the eyelids. Just like the mouth and inner nose, the outer layer of the eyes functions best when wet. The eyes are kept moist by a thin layer of tear film made up of water, mucous and oil produced by the meibomian glands in the eyelids. The...
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954 Hits

EVERYTHING LOOKS FUZZY!


Do you often find yourself squinting, blinking or rubbing your eyes to clear your vision because everything looks blurred or fuzzy? Blurred, unclear vision is a very common problem, with the causes ranging from the need for new glasses to a more serious health condition. It may be temporary or permanent and may worsen over time. Blurred vision is usually not of major concern and, depending on the cause, can be treated relatively easily. However, sudden changes in vision especially if they are accompanied by other symptoms may signal something more serious and should be dealt with immediately. It is always advisable to investigate blurred vision so that the cause, whether serious or not, can be addressed and dealt with.    REFRACTIVE ERRORS Refractive errors are the result of the eyes being unable to focus effectively and are the most common causes of blurred vision. Shortsightedness (myopia) is a condition in which one is able to see close objects clearly but objects further away appear unclear. With farsightedness (hyperopia) close objects are blurred while objects further away are seen clearly. Astigmatism is usually caused by an irregularly shaped cornea which does not allow light coming into the eye to focus in a single point on the retina, leading to blurred vision at various distances. Refractive errors are easily corrected by corrective lenses in glasses or contact lenses. As a more permanent solution refractive eye surgery is an option. Discuss the most suitable option with your optometrist.  Presbyopia is a naturally occurring...
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719 Hits