EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

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...
Continue reading
  375 Hits
375 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...
Continue reading
  371 Hits
371 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...
Continue reading
  368 Hits
368 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...
Continue reading
  769 Hits
769 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...
Continue reading
  1014 Hits
1014 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...
Continue reading
  992 Hits
992 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...
Continue reading
  746 Hits
746 Hits

AN APPLE OR AN ORANGE A DAY?


The well-known adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" may have to share its place in the sun as new research indicates that oranges may have a role to play in reducing the risk of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a group of retinal eye diseases characterised by progressive loss of central vision eventually leading to blindness if not detected and treated early. It is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia analysed the relationship between diet and age-related vision impairment and found that regular consumption of oranges stood out as significantly helping to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. People who ate one to two servings of oranges a day had a 60% reduced risk of macular degeneration. While the research is still in its preliminary stages and needs to continue, these early findings are exciting.    Surprisingly, the researchers believe that it was not the vitamin C in the oranges that produced these results, but rather the flavonoids. Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals found in almost all fruits and vegetables as well as in other foods and beverages. They are powerful antioxidants which have been linked to anti-inflammatory boosts for the immune system and work to protect the eyes in the same way as they protect other areas of the body. Flavonoids are thought to fight the harmful free radicals which can damage a cell's DNA and may trigger a variety of diseases. Another...
Continue reading
  625 Hits
625 Hits

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY GLASSES?


Unless our glasses break or we notice changes in our vision, we wear the same pair of glasses for years without giving a thought to whether we need new ones. Although we think we can still see clearly, vision changes over time, typically becoming worse. There may be small and subtle changes so gradual that we are barely aware of them. So, how often should we have our eyes examined? How often is it necessary to consider new glasses? There is no simple answer to this question. Some people may have to change their prescription frequently, while others may not need to for many years. As a general rule, it is recommended that adults over 16 years of age have their eyes tested every two years and those over 70 once a year. Your optometrist is the best person to advise you and make a judgement as to whether your glasses need changing or not.  If you feel that you see perfectly with your current glasses and are not experiencing any problems, why is it necessary to visit your optometrist regularly? Prescriptions change over time. If you are wearing an outdated prescription you may be causing unnecessary eyestrain that could easily be prevented. Factors such as minor damage to the lens and misalignment of your glasses have a role to play in compromising your vision. Lens technology is constantly improving, offering better options for effective vision. Certain eye conditions develop gradually, with symptoms being noticed when the condition is quite advanced....
Continue reading
  651 Hits
651 Hits

STUFF GETS IN YOUR EYES


When was the last time you heard someone say they're gonna write a fun and interesting article about allergies? Probably... never. So I guess in my own weird way I'm making history. And why? Because August is regarded as our windy month. And we know how wind lifts all kinds of things and blows them straight into our eyes. I probably shouldn't have raised the bar too high by promising fun and interesting things. But it's too late to go back on it now. So here goes...  Did you know that allergies are caused by the immune system making a mistake? It thinks a harmless substance like dust is dangerous, so it sends the body's defences into overdrive. Cue violent sneezing, runny nose and... yup, watery eyes. So next time you can't see because your eyes are red and twitchy, just remember it's your immune system looking out for you because it cares (even though it has a funny way of showing it...)  But things could always be worse. For example, you could be living in Knoxville, Tennessee which, according to Discovery Magazine is the Allergy Capital of the United States. Scientists have awarded this auspicious accolade to the city based on pollen count and the number of people on allergy medication. In fairness, Knoxville is also home to the majestic Appalachians and a thriving country music scene. But I wonder how they get any singing or mountain-climbing done with all that sneezing going on.  And hey, if you think you're...
Continue reading
  348 Hits
348 Hits