EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

"I'M JUST HERE TO HAVE MY EYES TESTED!"


When your optometrist shines a bright light in your eyes, he or she is looking for more than just vision problems. Your eyes can reveal a lot about your overall health, providing clues to conditions that may not manifest for years or even decades. One of the most potent risk factors to visual and general health is high blood pressure (hypertension), the effects of which can be seen in the eyes often long before they become evident in other areas. If there are signs in the eyes, it is likely to be affecting blood vessels in the rest of the body. Detecting hypertension as early as possible is crucial to managing it and minimising the risks to general and visual health. Optometrists have been described as being "in the front lines of the battle".    Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries, the vessels which carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It normally rises and falls throughout the day but if it remains high for a long period of time it can damage the heart and lead to health problems in other parts of the body. The excessive pressure on the artery walls can cause them to thicken, weaken or become narrower. People with hypertension often report feeling fine, but because it has a gradual cumulative effect, symptoms are experienced only later in life.    Optometrists have the unique opportunity to examine blood vessels on the retina at the...
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1212 Hits

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY...


So we finally emerge from Januworry and everybody stops thinking about money. Until we get into February and the month is all about... yup, money.    I mean, think about it...    You've just recovered from the admin of September tax season, and bam! It's tax time again in Feb. One day everyone's talking about how Joburg was fuller than usual over December. Next day all they can talk about is provisional tax.    And when they're not talking tax, they're talking budget speech. No matter who you talk to, everyone's got an opinion about the budget speech. It's all about what "he'll" say and what "he'll" do about the biggest problems in our country. We worry about how much will be allocated to service delivery. But we also worry about (let's face it) how much tax we'll have to pay on a bottle of wine or... (cue scary music) ...a box of cigarettes.    And then there's the petrol price. We all have that friend who's convinced it's a bad thing whether petrol goes up or comes down. If petrol goes up, we won't afford to buy anything anymore, because the price of everything will go up. If petrol goes down, it's "ja but just wait... just wait. It's only coming down so it can go up later in the year. And you betta be ready for that."    Not to mention: "I'm doing it, hey. This year I'm selling my car. It's just not worth it. Hello Uber."   ...
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383 Hits

TOO MANY CHOICES!!


Of course, the primary aim of wearing glasses is clear vision, but over recent years glasses have become a fashion must-have. In fact, it has been reported that in certain age groups people are wearing frames with blank lenses simply to make a fashion statement. Most of us are unable to have a variety of frames to accessorise different outfits for different occasions, and the selection of a suitable frame can be an overwhelming experience. Where to start? After checking with your optometrist what type of frame will best accommodate the lenses for your specific vision problem, follow the guidelines that will help narrow down your choice. Choose a frame which accentuates your best features, complements the shape and colouring of your face, and makes you feel confident and comfortable.    FACE SHAPE While everyone's face is unique, there are basically seven face shapes. Many faces do not fit clearly into only one specific type but have features that resemble two or even more types. To determine the shape of your face, brush your hair away from your face and look straight ahead into a mirror. Look at the outline of your face from your hairline down to your jawline. Determine if your face is more angular or soft. In many ways, this is more important than the exact shape of your face when it comes to choosing glasses. Choose frames that complement the shape of your face. In general, frames add the most visual interest when they are in contrast...
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207 Hits

SHEDDING LIGHT ON NIGHT BLINDNESS


Most people don't see well in the dark but some people have considerably more difficulty with it than others. Night blindness (nyctalopia) does not mean that one cannot see at all at night, but rather that vision is poorer at night. Night vision and day vision are naturally different. At night the eyes are essentially colour blind, seeing mostly black, white and grey. Visual acuity is reduced at night, the central field of vision is less clear, and moving objects are easier to see than objects that are stationary.    SYMPTOMS There are several common signs of night blindness, the main one obviously being difficulty seeing in the dark, but different degrees of difficulty exist. Driving at night can be challenging due to street lights, road signs and the intermittent headlights of oncoming cars. The eyes may adjust slowly to light changes, particularly when moving from a brightly lit environment into a dark area such as a movie theatre or restaurant, or even walking from room to room at home. People with night blindness often have trouble seeing stars on a clear night. More specific symptoms may include blurred vision at night, particularly with close work such as reading or sewing, haloes around lights, and sensitivity to light or glare.    CAUSES While all night blindness symptoms are related to poor lighting situations, there is a range of specific causes which may be easily treated or could be untreatable. Some of the eye conditions which can contribute to night blindness include...
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653 Hits

LIVING WITH GLAUCOMA


"I'll never forget the beautiful image of Earth as I looked from the Space Shuttle Discovery. If my glaucoma had not been caught in time, I never would have seen such a sight." These words by former astronaut John Glenn remind us that glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness, can be effectively managed if detected early.    Glaucoma is a group of visual conditions which sometimes sneak up on individuals without presenting any symptoms, so that almost half of the people who have it are unaware of it. Peripheral vision loss is usually the first sign, with gradual loss of vision as there is progressive damage to the optic nerve which transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. John Glenn and others who are raising awareness around glaucoma stress the importance of regular eye examinations as early detection and treatment can slow down and even stop the progress of the disease.    Glaucoma is generally associated with people over the age of 60, and subtle changes to vision may be ignored or put down to the aging process, but a visit to your optometrist will investigate and treat these visual changes. Glaucoma can occur in younger people and rarely even in infants. World-famous opera singer Andrea Bocelli was born with congenital glaucoma and went blind at the age of 12.    "My first exposure to glaucoma was becoming aware of my grandmother using eyedrops every single day. When I questioned her, she explained that she had glaucoma...
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519 Hits

CONTACT LENSES - SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION


Contact lenses are worn by millions of people around the world, enhancing their lives in many ways. As with any medical device using them correctly is important, but with the numerous myths surrounding their use it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction. Seeking accurate information goes a long way towards debunking some of the myths, and when in doubt consult your optometrist for guidance.    CONTACT LENSES ARE UNCOMFORTABLE Modern materials used in the manufacture of contact lenses nourish and allow oxygen to reach the cornea and other structures so that wearers are not even aware of wearing them. There may be some discomfort at first, but after an adjustment period they will be comfortable and non-intrusive.    CONTACT LENSES ARE DIFFICULT TO INSERT Like any new skill that needs to be mastered, learning to insert and remove contact lenses requires patience. The guidance of your optometrist and his or her staff will help.    CONTACT LENSES REQUIRE TOO MUCH MAINTENANCE It is essential to care for your contact lenses properly, but contact lenses are easy to clean and maintain. Follow the method recommended by your optometrist to avoid any problems. If you choose to wear daily disposable lenses, then no cleaning or special storage methods are required at all.    IF YOU RUN OUT OF CONTACT LENS SOLUTION, USE WATER OR SALIVA This is a dangerous myth! Contact lens solution is sterilised. Water and saliva, on the other hand, can contain bacteria which could cause infections if they infiltrate...
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687 Hits

HEALTHY KIDS LEARN BETTER


School Health Week in the first week of March is an opportunity to highlight the fact that "healthy kids learn better". Awareness is raised regarding healthy eating, healthy lifestyle habits, good oral health, as well as the importance of hearing and vision as the gateways to learning. While it is important to draw attention to these areas in school-going children and their parents, awareness and detection of problems should begin long before children start school. It is a well-known fact that early identification of problems leads to early treatment and usually a more positive long-term outcome. Healthy eyes and good vision are crucial to a child's overall development.    WHEN SHOULD CHILDREN HAVE THEIR EYES EXAMINED? Several eye conditions can affect children, and these can be detected at various stages of the child's development. Both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend certain ages and milestones at which children should have their vision checked.    Newborns, particularly high-risk and premature babies, should be examined for possible congenital eye problems such as retinopathy of prematurity and infantile cataracts. Congenital glaucoma is a rare condition which may be inherited. If there is a family history of genetic conditions which may affect the eyes, these should be discussed with an eye care specialist.    Between 6 and 12 months of age, children should have their first comprehensive eye examination. During the first year, problems with misalignment of the eyes, squinting and difficulty following a moving object with the eyes...
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410 Hits

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