THE QUEEN, THE PREZ, AND THOSE UNDERPANTS


Quick disclaimer before we get started. This article will not feature any comments about having "20/20 vision" for the year 2020. My teachers always told us to avoid cliche. And if I play the 2020 card, all their hard work was for nothing.   What we can do is look back on the year that was 2019. And no doubt every person with a Facebook page will name our Rugby World Cup win as their best moment of the year. Some will say they saw it coming all along. Others will say we didn't stand a chance until crunch time came. Whatever your theory, the win was impressive. And if I ask you to name the most memorable image of the year, there's a good chance you'll think of Faf de Klerk and his proudly South African underpants. I'll bet Prince Harry will also put that on his list of 2019 faves.   Speaking of Prince Harry, he and Meghan rejoiced as 2019 was the year of Archie. Their firstborn was greeted with celebration in May. Maybe if he'd been born in November, he would've been christened Prince Faf. (Who knows?!) But either way, his arrival was a great moment for the royal family.   A less great moment for the royals was the time Mister President (the orange American one) messed up the Queen's lawn. The monarch complained that his helicopter scorched the lawns of Buckingham Palace. Quite a way to make an impression when visiting someone's home. Everyone with...
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EYES ON THE ROAD


The end of the year is here at last! Holiday arrangements have been finalised. Christmas shopping has been done. Plans have been made for looking after your home and pets while you are away. Your car has been serviced. Have you checked that your eyes are "roadworthy" for the trip ahead?   We rely on our eyes more than our other senses when driving, as the majority of decisions made while driving are based on information coming in through the eyes. The eyes are constantly in motion, focusing and refocusing on traffic signals and other cars, adjusting to glare from the sun or headlights of oncoming cars, needing to be aware of pedestrians, becoming strained and fatigued on long distances. A complete eye examination will rule out problems that may compromise safe driving and your optometrist will manage problems that are detected before you set out on your journey.   VISION AND DRIVING   Driving requires complex visual skills. Distance acuity, the ability to see clearly at far distances is crucial to safe driving. Have your prescription checked in case there have been changes since your last eye examination. Because the eyes should always be on the road, good peripheral vision is essential to enable the driver to see out of the corner of the eyes anything that is not directly ahead. The driver needs effective depth perception to be able to accurately judge distances, particularly between moving objects, and to safely change lanes. Accommodation is the ability to quickly and...
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MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO IS FAIREST OF THEM ALL?


The wicked queen in the fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" didn't always receive the answer she was hoping to receive when she posed this question. What answer do we expect to hear when we ask related questions? Which gives a fairer reflection of me, the mirror or the camera? Which is more accurate and closer to my actual appearance? Does my reflection in the mirror show me what I really look like? Which image matches the way others see me? The one in the mirror or the one in the photograph? As with the fairy tale queen, the answer is not simple.   While there are similarities in what we see in the mirror and in photographs, there are also some differences. The camera works very much like the human eye in that they both process light and record images, but while the camera is a tool for capturing the images, the visual system makes sense of what is seen. The eye transmits a message to the brain which has the power to process and interpret the information it receives but the camera cannot process or interpret what is captured. Unlike the camera which simply takes a picture, the eyes are constantly receiving a flow of images which need to be processed.   Vision is a dynamic complex process in which the brain uses a combination of information from different sources to generate and make sense of what we see. This includes past experience and expectations as well...
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MOVIE MAGIC


Three-dimensional stereoscopic films are films that enhance the illusion of depth perception. 3D movies have existed in some form or another since the 19th century, but they have had a roller coaster history, alternating between boom and bust. While they would hardly be considered 3D films by today's standards, the first patent for 3D film making was registered in the 1890s. Early 3D movies were typically in black and white, and the 3D movies made in the mid-20th century were generally horror movies. The first major 3D movie in colour, released in 1953, was "The House of Wax" which launched the career of horror movie actor, Vincent Price. The popularity of 3D films waned for some time, until its short-lived revival in the 1980s with the release of "Jaws 3D" and "Amityville 3D". As technology became more sophisticated, the early 2000s saw an explosion of successful 3D films, but it was James Cameron's award-winning "Avatar" that finally established 3D as a medium that is here to stay. Some studios are now converting 2D films into the 3D format.   The creation of the 3D effect in the making of 3D movies mimics the functioning of human vision. Human beings have binocular or stereoscopic vision, each eye seeing a slightly different image. These are fused by the brain into a single three-dimensional image. To create a similar effect, 3D films are captured using two lenses placed side by side about as far apart from each other as the human eyes, recording slightly...
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MY EYES ARE FINE; MY ARMS ARE TOO SHORT!


Out for dinner with friends one evening, one friend noticed that another was struggling to read the menu. Laughing, he said: "I see your arms have become too short. Would you like me to hold the menu for you on my side of the table?" Everyone at the table nodded and smiled, acknowledging that they were all in the same boat, all over the age of 50, and all experiencing presbyopia to some degree. "I manage to read the menu in a restaurant," commented one woman, "as long as the lights are bright enough and the print is a reasonable size." To save the embarrassment of being unable to read the menu, one man asked his wife to order his dinner. Another admitted that he always goes to the same restaurant and always orders the same meal. The conversation became more serious as presbyopia and its impact on daily life was shared.   "I can't read the labels on packets and cans when I shop." "Can you read the dosage instructions on medication?" "I often call or send messages to the wrong people because I can't read the numbers or names on my phone clearly." "I used to enjoy doing embroidery at night but now I just watch TV." While all these concerns may be signs of presbyopia, they may also be indications of more serious eye conditions like cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. Visit your optometrist regularly for a comprehensive eye examination to detect and manage problems and to discuss...
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READY FOR SCHOOL


With the start of a new year comes the beginning of a new school year. Many parents wonder if their child is ready to meet the academic and social expectations of grade one, the first step on the long journey of the school years. Feelings of anxiety are natural, and parents do not always have the objectivity or the knowledge to make this major decision but there are many experts in the field of early childhood development who can guide them.   Educational experts differentiate between a child's level of school readiness and the level of learning readiness. Although closely linked, these concepts are different. School readiness is based on the foundation of intellectual, motor, social, emotional and perceptual factors. To be learning ready the child needs to be able to sit still , have good listening skills, concentrate on tasks for a certain period of time, get along with others, show independence and a sense of responsibility, communicate effectively, and perhaps most importantly demonstrate an interest in learning. Learning readiness is influenced by the learning experiences to which the child has been exposed before going to school. A child may pass a school readiness test but not be ready to cope with the demands and requirements of the classroom.   No single factor determines whether a child is ready for school or not. Learning is a complex process requiring the integration and coordination of a number of skills, including physical development, cognitive abilities, communication skills, emotional maturity, hearing and vision....
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Halloween Hazard: Never Buy Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription


Written By: Dan T. Gudgel Reviewed By: Thomas L Steinemann MD Just 10 hours after she first put in a pair of colored contact lenses that she’d bought at a souvenir shop, Laura Butler of Parkersburg, W.Va., had "extreme pain in both eyes," she said. "Because I had not been properly fitted by an eye care professional, the lenses stuck to my eye like a suction cup." Colored contact lenses are popular year-round for people who want to change the color of their iris. But every year at Halloween there is a surge of people using colored contact lenses to enhance their costumes. However, few know the risks associated with these lenses. "Most people believe that decorative lenses do not require the same level of care or consideration as a standard contact lens because they can be purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet," says Thomas Steinemann, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "This is far from the truth." It's illegal to sell any contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. All contact lenses are medical devices that require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye-care professional. "Many of the lenses found online or in beauty salons, novelty shops or in pop-up Halloween stores are not FDA-approved and are being sold illegally," Dr. Steinemann said. Retailers that sell contacts without a prescription are breaking the law and could be fined for each violation. Never buy colored contact lenses from a retailer who doesn’t ask for a prescription. Even...
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SOMEONE ELSE'S EYES


Halloween has never been big in South Africa. The idea of dress-up and candy is an all-American tradition, and we just never caught on. Although, there's something to be said for putting on a mask and disappearing into a character. It's the one night of the year when everybody gets to be somebody else.   So if you could be anybody, who would you be?   Or to put it another way, whose glasses would you wear to see the world through different eyes?   It's been said that politicians have rose-coloured spectacles. So it would be a pleasant experience to put on a pair – you wouldn't see nasty little things like crime and unemployment. From the viewpoint of your government, those things just don't exist... right? (But enough about that...)   Try on the super-stylish titanium frames belonging to a seasoned investor. Maybe you'll see opportunity where others don't. Put on a doctor's glasses and you'll see how to fix people (although you probably won't be able to read your own awful handwriting). An accountant's glasses will show you the world as one giant balance sheet. And a developer's thick lenses (if you'll excuse the stereotype) will reveal the world as a giant matrix of zeros and ones.   If you really want to go deep and philosophical, put on the dirt-stained glasses of a grassroots community changemaker. Maybe you won't see the world as it is, but you'll see it as it should be.   Put on a...
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HEARING COLOUR, TASTING SOUND


Colour is usually experienced visually via the eyes, and sound is experienced auditorily via the ears. How then is it possible to hear colour and taste sound? Some people have synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to an automatic involuntary experience in another pathway; when one sense is activated another unrelated sense is activated at the same time. For example, when hearing music, patterns of colour are visualised. The exact incidence of synesthesia is not known but it is estimated that 3 to 5 percent of people have some form of it, many of them unaware that what they experience is unusual.   Artist Neil Harbisson was born with an extreme and rare form of colour blindness, achromatopsia, resulting in his inability to see colour at all, except in shades of grey. At the age of 16 he decided to study art because he wanted to understand what colour was. Although his first tutor had reservations, Neil was allowed to do the entire art course using only black and white. He discovered that throughout history there have been many famous people with synesthesia, many of whom related colour to sound. His life changed when he had an antenna surgically implanted in his brain, which transforms light waves into sound, enabling him to feel and hear colours as audible vibrations. Neil claims he can see 360 colours, including colours invisible to the human eye, such as infrareds and ultraviolets.   It took Neil a few...
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WHEN YOUR BRAIN CAN'T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!


Everything that enters the senses needs to be interpreted through the brain - and these interpretations occasionally go wrong. Optical illusions occur when our eyes send information to our brains that tricks us into perceiving something that does not match reality. There is a mismatch between our subjective perception and the physical reality of what we are observing. Although called “optical illusions” this is not entirely accurate because they have more to do with how the brain processes information than with the way the eyes take it in. An illusion is proof that we don't always see what we think we do because of the way the brain and entire visual system perceive and interpret an image. Illusions are more than parlour tricks; they are important tools that can offer scientists new insights on how vision and the brain work.   Optical illusions have been around a long time and are everywhere, even in nature. Centuries ago in ancient Greece, Aristotle noted that when he looked at a waterfall and then shifted his gaze to static rocks nearby, it appeared as though the rocks were moving in the opposite direction to the waterfall. The Op-Art movement in the 1960s and 1970s showcased a whole new series of illusions as fine art, using classic notions of apparent motion, twists of perspective and the visual influence of adjacent objects.   Not all illusions work the same way, and we are deceived by illusions for various reasons. Colour, motion, shape, perspective and the amount...
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