EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

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...
Continue reading
  353 Hits
353 Hits

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...
Continue reading
  580 Hits
580 Hits

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...
Continue reading
  339 Hits
339 Hits

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...
Continue reading
  31 Hits
31 Hits

BE SUN SMART


Thanks to widespread publicity on the damaging effects of ultraviolet light on the skin, most people are aware of this issue and responsible about protecting their skin and the skin of their children. Less attention is paid to protecting the eyes from the sun, particularly in children. Children receive more annual sun exposure than adults because many of their activities take place outdoors increasing their exposure to damaging ultraviolet (UV) light. Because children's eyes are not yet fully developed, they cannot filter UV light and prevent it from reaching their retinas as effectively as adults can, with the result that they are more susceptible to retinal damage.   Excessive exposure to UV light can lead to both short-term and long-term eye problems. In the short-term, exposure can result in bloodshot, swollen eyes and a hyper-sensitivity to light. Over a lifetime, damage from unprotected exposure to UV rays can lead to eye conditions that will affect the health of the eyes and vision. Unlike the short-term problems caused by UV rays, the long-term damage caused by repeated overexposure will not fade as the symptoms and conditions caused by repeated overexposure appear over a longer period of time. Because UV exposure is cumulative, it is important to begin protecting the eyes from a young age.   The solution for protecting children's eyes from UV exposure seems to be a simple one. Sunglasses! However, it is a little more complicated than this. When should children start wearing sunglasses? How do we select sunglasses that...
Continue reading
  257 Hits
257 Hits

TEAR JERKER


Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when tears are unable to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes, for various reasons. There may be insufficient tears or the tears that are produced may be of poor quality. The tear film has three basic layers, namely oil, water and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes or there may be an imbalance in the composition of the tears. Dry eyes feel uncomfortable and can make it difficult to perform certain daily activities such as reading or driving. Symptoms include a stinging, burning or scratchy sensation, stringy mucus in or around the eyes, sensitivity to light, redness, blurred vision and eye fatigue. A typical symptom of dry eyes is excessive watering of the eyes. This may seem like a contradiction but is in fact a reflex reaction of the eyes to the lack of moisture and feeling of eye irritation, causing them to send a message to the brain for more moisture. Although there is a flood of tears, they are mostly made up of water which is not able to prevent evaporation of tears and provide long term relief by lubricating the eyes effectively.   A number of factors can influence the development of dry eyes. Although it can occur at any age, it is more common in older people as tear production tends to decrease as part of the normal aging process. Women are particularly susceptible due to the hormonal changes that occur at certain times...
Continue reading
  535 Hits
535 Hits

EYES ON DIABETES


Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar levels. It can cause damage to many parts of the body including the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. The eyes are particularly vulnerable to diabetic damage because the tiny blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye are sensitive to fluctuations of the blood sugar levels in the body. The eyes provide an unobstructed view of the blood vessels on the retina and the damage that may be present due to diabetes. This view of the blood vessels is not visible in other areas of the body because it is blocked. During a dilated eye examination, optometrists are often the first professionals to detect blood vessel changes and suspect the presence of diabetes before symptoms appear. With early detection being the key to effective management, regular visits to your optometrist are important.   Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that can affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. Often there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease and no visual changes as the damage occurs gradually. Over time there could be vision loss and even blindness. When symptoms do occur, they may include blurry or wavy vision, frequently changing vision, dark areas in vision or vision loss, poor colour vision, spots or floaters, or flashes of light. If you have any of these symptoms make an appointment...
Continue reading
  360 Hits
360 Hits

VISIONARY WOMEN


This month we honour the strength, power and spirit of women. We celebrate the achievements of women throughout history, and their many contributions to the world.    Speaking of history, what if some of the world’s most legendary women had worn glasses? And speaking of legend, what if fairytale heroines had worn glasses too? Would the stories have been any different?    To start with Red Riding Hood, well… Without a full examination it’s difficult to say whether it was a case of short-sightedness or long-sightedness or possibly astigmatism. But seeing a wolf in a nightgown and believing it was her grandma? Getting lost in the forest in the first place is a sign that her eyes needed attention. Or maybe she just needed a better GPS.    Come to think of it, the course of all fairy tales could’ve been changed with just a few pairs of prescription glasses. Maybe Sleeping Beauty would’ve seen that spindle and avoided the finger prick. Maybe Cinderella would’ve left the ball in time, because thanks to a pair of glasses she would’ve read the clock on the wall and seen that it was almost midnight.    With an appropriate pair of glasses, that other princess could’ve found the pea under her mattress and got a decent night’s sleep – instead of doing nothing and complaining about it the next morning. If Jack’s mother had had a pair of glasses to correct her vision, she might’ve noticed that those beans were magic, and capable of...
Continue reading
  55 Hits
55 Hits

RED EYES RED FLAG?


Most people suffer from red or bloodshot eyes at some time or another. They occur when blood vessels near the surface of the eye become irritated, causing them to become enlarged and dilated. While red eyes are a common condition which generally does not “raise a red flag” to signal anything serious, the eyes are red for a reason, and there is a variety of reasons which may be responsible. Depending on the underlying cause, red eyes can be associated with other symptoms including burning, itching, watering, discharge, swelling of the eyelids and sensitivity to light. CAUSES OF RED EYES Dry Eyes A common cause of bloodshot eyes is dry eye syndrome, which occurs when there are not enough natural tears to keep the front part of the eye lubricated. When the eye becomes dry, it also becomes very red and irritated. Dry eyes may be the result of hormonal changes in the body, chronic medications, lack of sleep, wearing contact lenses for too long or extended periods of staring at computer screens. Lubricating eye drops, either bought over the counter or recommended by your optometrist, may be helpful. Take regular breaks from computer work and follow your optometrist’s instructions on contact lens wear. Don’t forget to blink! Pink Eye Conjunctivitis, commonly called “pink eye” is an inflammation or infection of the clear, protective layer that coats the front part of the eye. It may be bacterial or viral, causes the eyes to be red and is often associated with a...
Continue reading
  509 Hits
509 Hits

FALSE ECONOMY?


While travelling on the Gautrain recently, an optometrist overheard a conversation between two other passengers.    “I have just collected my new glasses from my optometrist,” said one of the men. “I can see clearly with them, but I find the glare really bothers me.”    “Didn’t you discuss that with your optometrist? Couldn’t he recommend something to deal with your problem?” asked his companion.    “He made a number of suggestions but none of them are covered by my medical aid, so I decided against them.”    Making a decision based primarily on what is covered by medical aid may be false economy. Glasses are often an expensive item but making a co-payment that will not be too tough on the pocket may be worthwhile in the long run. Lens coatings can improve the performance, longevity, durability and appearance of your glasses as well as providing necessary protection for both your lenses and your eyes.    At the very least one should consider a  hard or scratch-resistant coating . Scratched lenses interfere with the clarity of vision, often leading to eye strain or headaches. Sometimes excessive scratching necessitates replacing the lenses fairly frequently. While no lenses are completely scratch-proof, applying a scratch-proof coating makes them more resistant to scratching, reduces smudging and makes them easier to clean, prolonging the life of the lenses.    The man on the train would certainly benefit from an  anti-reflex coating  on his glasses. This virtually eliminates reflections on the front and back surfaces of...
Continue reading
  52 Hits
52 Hits