EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

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...
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1080 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...
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242 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...
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1102 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...
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218 Hits

AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION


Everything we look at directly is identified by the macula, the area on the retina at the back of the eye responsible for sharp central vision. When the macula is damaged in some way there is a gradual loss of central vision. Peripheral vision remains intact, but it becomes difficult to see fine details both close up and further away. This age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50. Because the vision loss is gradual, many people are unaware that they have macular degeneration initially. Your optometrist is usually able to detect the early signs, often before you experience visual problems, so regular visual examinations are important. TYPES OF AMD There are two types of AMD, dry and wet. Dry AMD is more common than wet AMD.    In most cases dry AMD is diagnosed when tiny white spots are noticed on the retina due to a thinning of the macula. These are called drusen (pebbles) and they represent tiny deposits of cellular waste products and immune system proteins. Over time the macula may become thinner and the drusen may increase in size or number, increasing the risk for the development of intermediate AMD. Although symptoms are not generally present at first, a blurred spot in central vision may begin to appear.    Wet AMD is less common but more serious than dry AMD. It tends to progress more rapidly and cause more severe vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when new,...
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349 Hits

HELLO SPRING, HELLO ALLERGIES


Spring is in the air! For some people it is a time to look forward to enjoying warmerweather, longer days and the beauty of blossoms, while for others it is a time to dread the discomfort of allergies with red itchy eyes and runny noses. While some people are packing away winter woollies, others are unpacking allergy remedies. Spring is typically the season for allergies to emerge, due to an increase in allergens in the air both indoors and outdoors. These allergens include pollens from grass, trees and other plants, dust, pet dander and mold. Allergic reactions to perfume, cosmetics or drugs can also cause the eyes to have an allergic response. Allergy to contact lenses, particularly hard contact lenses, can occur in some cases.    Eye allergies, also called  allergic conjunctivitis , are quite common. Although they tend to run in families, anyone can experience allergic reactions, which are essentially an over-reaction of the body’s immune system in response to an irritant. A substance called histamine is produced to fight off the allergen. As a result, the eyelids and conjunctiva become red, swollen and itchy, and the eyes tear and burn. The eyes are an easy target for allergies because they are directly exposed to the environment without the help of a filtering system such as the hairs found in the nose. Sometimes the eyes can react to allergens that do not necessarily come into direct contact with them, such as insect bites or certain foods.    The most common...
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333 Hits

WOMEN SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY


With August being Women’s Month it is perfect timing to examine the factors that affect women’s vision. As we get older, age-related health conditions occur, and the eyes are no exception. This is especially true of women, who tend to live longer than men and are more likely than men to develop vision problems. Cataracts are more common in women who are also at higher risk to develop age-related macular degeneration. While open angle glaucoma affects males and females equally, the less common and more serious closed angle glaucoma is two to four times more likely to affect women.    Vision problems occur for a variety of reasons, but an imbalance in hormone levels is often the underlying cause. Hormones are chemicals in the body that regulate important body functions. Often called the messengers of the body, they travel through the bloodstream and other fluids to organs and tissues coordinating and controlling major functions. From childhood to old age everyone experiences hormone fluctuations which can affect all parts of the body including the eyes. Changes in hormone levels generally occur more frequently in women during the specific life-changing milestones of their lives.    As children go through the hormone fluctuations of puberty, their bodies change and grow rapidly, and so do their eyes. If their eyes lengthen too much, this can cause or worsen short-sightedness, leading to blurred distance vision. For girls the onset of menstruation brings huge changes in hormone production and estrogen levels which is thought to be largely...
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684 Hits

SIX MONTHS IN


One moment you're hugging family and friends and setting impressive goals for the brand new year that's just minutes away. Next moment it's June and your list of resolutions, well... it's probably folded up somewhere but you're not sure where exactly.    Sound familiar?    We're officially halfway through 2019 and not all those big plans have quite worked out. We all had grand ideas before the clock struck midnight. So, how did it play out for you?    Maybe you were travelling to some exotic place for New Year, and you couldn't quite read the restaurant menu. (And yes, it was in English.) Those reading glasses suddenly weren't so effective, so you made the decision there and then. As soon as your plane touched down on home soil, you were going to make an appointment to get your eyes examined.    But maybe that wasn't you. Maybe you were on a beach somewhere in December complaining about your scratched old sunglasses. Maybe you grabbed a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve and made a decision to finally replace them. But then January came and went, and then February, and May...    Maybe you'd made a resolution to insure your glasses. To clean both sides of your contact lenses. To fix that loose temple on your glasses before it breaks off completely. And here we are, six months later. So, what do we do now?    Don't worry. I'm not here to nag you to do all the things you...
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1934 Hits

THE POWER OF PERSPECTIVE


Blindness or loss of vision is ranked as one of the most common fears related to health. While for many people this is perceived as debilitating, there are people who are blind or partially sighted, either from birth, disease or trauma, who refuse to see this as an obstacle to living a full rich life. The extensive list of people who have turned this everyday struggle into success includes writers, musicians, artists, scientists, lawyers, chefs, sportspeople and adventurers, one of whom reached the summit of Everest as well as conquering the Seven Summits. Many of them have become activists and advocates for the rights of others with visual disabilities.  YOUTH MONTH  is an opportunity to reflect on some of their stories as an inspiration to young people.    BLIND SURFER Derek Rabelo's father had always wanted his son to become a professional surfer, but it seemed that this was not to be as Derek was born with congenital glaucoma. After years of listening to waves crash on the shore of his home town in Brazil, Derek decided to pursue his own dream of becoming a big wave surfer. "I listen to the ocean and feel it. Every single part of the wave makes different noises, so I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards. If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself, and use your senses with passion and perseverance." Derek has shared his story with thousands of people around the world, inspiring young...
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1727 Hits

NOT CHILD'S PLAY!


The visual system is the most complex sensory system in the body, and yet is the least mature system at birth. As the visual system develops, infants need to learn to make the change from simply responding to brightness or contrast towards developing effective functional vision and applying meaning to their visual world. This progress from the blurry world of light and dark to the sophisticated ability to handle complex visual tasks is enhanced through play. By thoughtful selection of toys and activities, parents can stimulate this process of visual development while integrating it with the fun of play.    GENERAL GUIDELINES WHEN CHOOSING TOYS Walking into a toy shop can be overwhelming and quite daunting, particularly when it comes to selecting toys to facilitate development. There are certain guidelines to consider.    Toys Are Expensive  - Cost is not everything! Inexpensive toys and games at the age and interest level of a child can be just as stimulating and effective in fostering visual development as sophisticated costly toys.    Age-appropriate Toys  - Toys are made for every age group. By selecting something appropriate for the age of your child, you are making sure that, as well as providing fun, the toy will be right for a particular stage of development.    One Toy, Many Activities  - Choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways, sparking the child's creativity and imagination. Some toys are designed to grow with a child and be used in different ways at different...
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962 Hits