EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

THE INSIDE STORY OF FLASHES AND FLOATERS


Do you ever experience small specks or threads in your line of vision? Do they disappear when you try to focus on them? Do you see sparks or flashes of light flickering across your field of vision when there is nothing there? These floaters and flashes are common occurrences experienced by most people at one time or another. They may appear separately or simultaneously, often depending on the underlying cause. They may be irritating or even alarming, but they are usually harmless.    WHAT ARE FLOATERS? Floaters are small shapes, which may appear as spots, strings or cobwebs floating in the line of vision. They drift when you move your eyes but seem to dart away quickly when you try to look at them directly. Floaters are most noticeable when you are looking at a plain bright background such as a blue sky or blank wall. While they seem to be outside the eye, they are actually inside the eye itself. Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills the inner eye. As we age, microscopic fibres within the vitreous tend to clump and cast tiny shadows on your retina. These shadows are what you experience as floaters.    WHAT ARE FLASHES? Flashes can look like flashing lights or lightning streaks in the field of vision and are particularly noticeable in dim light. Like floaters, they seem to be outside the eye but there is no external light and they are coming from...
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HAVE A GOOD CRY


A teardrop running down the cheek is a symbol of sadness, but people may also "cry" while cutting an onion or trying to blink out an eyelash or a speck of dust. Researchers are investigating the various reasons that people cry, as well as the physiological, psychological and social effects of shedding tears. For the most part, tears help maintain healthy eyes, but they also have other roles to play. As the children's song says: "Its all right to cry; crying gets the sad out of you, crying gets the bad out of you."    Tears are more than salty water When we cry a complex salty fluid full of protein, water, electrolytes, mucus and oil is released from the lacrimal gland in the upper, outer region of the eye. This fluid, better known as tears, then flows down the surface of the eye and runs down the cheeks. The body produces tears at a rate of about one to three microlitres per minute. Not all tears have the same composition - three types of tears exist, all with different purposes.    Basal tears are the tears that are constantly in the eyes, keeping them from drying out completely. They flow continuously from the lacrimal glands and drain through the nasal cavity. As we blink the basal tears clean and lubricate the eyes, keeping the eye surface smooth and helping us to see clearly. Basal tears have three layers: a thin mucus layer that sits directly on the eye, a watery...
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MYOPIA: BEYOND GENETICS


Myopia, or shortsightedness, is an error of the eyes, in which light is not refracted effectively. In the normal eye, light enters the eye, passes through the cornea and lens and focuses on the retina at the back of the eye. The image is relayed via the optic nerve to the brain where it is interpreted. Myopia occurs when the eye is longer than normal or the cornea is too steep, and the light focuses in front of the retina instead of on it. As a result, close objects are seen clearly while distant objects appear blurred. Myopia is easily diagnosed and treated with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.    Millions of people are living with myopia, a common condition throughout the world. Myopia in children may become obvious between the ages of 8 - 12 when they become aware that they do not see the world as others do, that their blurry vision is not normal and that certain visual tasks are difficult for them. The signs of myopia may include squinting to see distant objects clearly, sitting too close to the TV, holding books too close to the face and experiencing eyestrain or headaches. During adolescence, when the body is undergoing rapid growth, myopia may worsen. Thereafter, it tends to stabilise and there is usually little change.    In recent decades there has been a marked rise in the prevalence of myopia worldwide and this trend is continuing, with some even calling it an epidemic. Previous studies have...
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1189 Hits

TREASURE FROM TRASH


We are experiencing a global waste crisis, with plastic and other waste material finding its way into our oceans and landfills and endangering our environment and wildlife. With this in mind, many organisations are seeking ways to recycle waste into useful products. In the optical world, groundbreaking companies all over the world are creating innovative eco-friendly eyewear from recycled materials, proving that it is possible to make good quality products in a socially responsible way. Because most people own at least one pair of sunglasses, this accessory is the one most often produced from recycled materials. However, sunglasses are not the only eyewear products made from waste.    One eyewear company is making glasses from sustainably sourced wood with side shields made from recycled salmon skins. Fresh from the cannery, the skin, which is usually thrown away, is now dried and treated to make these side shields. Continuing the theme to help save the oceans from pollution, one company is making eyewear from abandoned fishing lines, while another reclaims old lobster traps. In Chile financial incentives are provided to a local fishing community to drop off discarded fishing nets which are endangering marine life; these are then fashioned into attractive eyewear.    Many companies in various countries are making glasses from wood, which comes from diverse sources ranging from wine barrels and beer casks to skateboards, baseball bats and even abandoned homes. For music fans, companies based as far afield as San Diego and Budapest are turning vinyl records into cutting...
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1041 Hits

SURFERS' EYE


Many people living in countries with a harsh dry climate, such as South Africa, develop a thin film on the white of the eyes, which grows from the nasal side towards the centre of the eye. This is called a pterygium and is sometimes referred to as "surfers' eye" because it is common amongst people who spend a lot of time outdoors exposed to sun and wind. It usually appears during adolescence or early adulthood, grows slowly over time and generally does not cause concerns or require treatment unless it interferes with vision.    SYMPTOMS The main sign of pterygium is the growth of pink fleshy tissue on the clear membrane on the white of the eye, either in one eye or both. Sometimes there are no symptoms, but when there are, they typically tend to be mild. Common symptoms include indications of eye irritation, such as redness, itching, burning and a feeling of something in the eye. If it grows large enough to cover the cornea it can interfere with vision. In some cases, wearing contact lenses may be uncomfortable. Pterygium tends to go through phases of active growth, when it is more inflamed and annoying, and quieter phases of inactivity. It usually becomes inactive after a few years of growth.    CAUSES The exact cause of pterygium is not known, but it tends to occur most often in people who live in warm dry climates and spend extended periods of time outdoors in sunny windy environments. Excessive exposure to...
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557 Hits

THE OTHER HOLIDAY SEASON


Why is December called the holiday season? Just take a look at April. It barely even counts as a month because it has so many holidays. This is a time of long weekends and mid-week public holidays that inspire us to make even more long weekends. It's a miracle anybody gets any work done.    But hey, we can't beat ‘em, so we have no choice but to join ‘em. The problem is all these holidays can be a real strain on your eyes.    Firstly, if you're going on a road trip, you have to strain your eyes to read the tiny little GPS map on your phone. Map books were books with pages you could actually read. Now anyone of a certain age might struggle to read what's on a screen.    So there's quite a bit of eye strain there. Sure, the GPS voice tells you where to go, but you have to deal with the attitude when you take a wrong turn. Yes, the voice tells you how to re-route, but there's definitely some passive aggressive irritation in her tone.    Then you try to take some holiday photos, but you can't see anything because of the glare on the screen of your phone. The sunlight bounces right into your eyes, and for all you know you're taking a picture of someone else's family. What happened to the good old days of Polaroids? (Yes, I know Polaroid is back in fashion, but that's a strange millennial obsession...
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1196 Hits

SIDE EFFECTS OF MEDICATION ON THE EYES


Do your eyes feel dry? Are they red? Itchy? Watery? Are you extremely sensitive to light and glare? Has your vision changed suddenly? We all experience these symptoms at some time or another, and we all find reasons for them - lack of sleep, the season, the weather, the cat, aging. What we seldom consider is the side effects of medications we may be taking, be they prescription medications, over the counter drugs or even supplements.    Most people are aware, and most medical practitioners warn us of the side effects of medication. What many people are not aware of is that many of these effects manifest in the eyes, which are comprised of a variety of cells, each of which may be susceptible to different side effects of medication. Many of the medications that cause eye problems are commonly used by the elderly population. While these side effects are generally relatively minor and usually disappear once the medication is discontinued, some may be more serious and require treatment.    CATARACTS A cataract is a condition of the eyes in which the lens becomes cloudy, impairing vision. Corticosteroids have long been associated with the development of cataracts, regardless of how they are administered. Other classes of drugs that may speed the process of cataract development include certain antipsychotic drugs, some medications for heart disease, malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.    DRY EYES Each time we blink tears spread across the surface of the eyes, keeping the eyes moist, keeping out dust...
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964 Hits

TEARS IN OUR EYES


Tears are produced by the lacrimal glands which are situated inside the upper eyelids above each eye. Normally, the tears flow over the surface of the eyes and drain through small canals to a sac which is attached to the side of the nose. From there they travel down the tear duct draining into the nose and becoming reabsorbed. A blockage can occur at any point in the tear drainage system, preventing the tears from draining properly, filling the duct with fluid, and causing watery, swollen, inflamed eyes and increasing the risk of eye infections. Although they may occur at any age, blocked tear ducts are most common in babies, with about 6 out of 100 newborns being affected.    WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A BLOCKED TEAR DUCT? A blocked tear duct generally affects only one eye. Symptoms may include excessive tearing, eye redness, recurrent eye infection or inflammation, crusting on the eyelids or lashes, mucous or pus buildup in the corner of the eye, blurred vision, and painful swelling on the inside corner of the eye. The symptoms may get worse after an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or sinus infection, and wind, cold, and sunlight sometimes exacerbate them.    Babies who have blocked tear ducts usually have symptoms within the first few days to the first few weeks after birth. There are certain signs that parents should watch for. The infant may seem to produce a lot of tears which drain onto the cheeks....
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1047 Hits

"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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1780 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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680 Hits