EyeMark Newsletters

A list of all our EyeMark Newsletter Articles

DOUBLE VISION


When we look at an object and see a single clear image, we give no thought to the different areas of the visual system that need to work together to allow us to see this image. Light enters the cornea, the clear membrane over the front of the eye, and the lens helps to focus the light onto the retina at the back of the eye, from where information is carried via the optic nerve to the brain. The muscles of the eye move the eye in different directions. A problem with any part of this delicate system can lead to double vision or diplopia, the perception of two images of a single object. The images can be side by side, one above the other, or a combination of the two; they may overlap or appear as two separate images. Double vision can affect just one eye (monocular) or both eyes (binocular). As well as the obvious difficulties of navigating the world while viewing a double image, double vision can also cause disruptions in balance, movement and reading ability. CAUSES OF DOUBLE VISION Double vision occurs when the eyes are unable to look in the same direction. There are a number of possible causes for this, some relatively minor and others more serious, some of which originate in the eyes, while others may be symptoms of underlying conditions within the body. Monocular double vision is less common than binocular double vision and can be caused by conditions within the eye itself,...
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AT ARM'S LENGTH


As we get older, we find ourselves holding reading material further and further away. This is not because our arms are getting shorter! Rather, our eyes are losing their ability to focus up close, be it on reading a menu, threading a sewing needle, or tightening a small screw. This is one of the symptoms of presbyopia, the vision condition commonly associated with the aging process, and caused by the gradual loss of flexibility in the lens of the eye. Few people escape presbyopia, even if they have never had a vision problem requiring glasses before. There are a number of treatment options for presbyopia, including glasses, contact lenses and surgery, and within these options there are various possibilities. Discuss these with your optometrist, who will guide you in terms of your specific needs. CORRECTIVE LENSES For those who need glasses for close work, but not for distance vision, the simplest solution is usually reading glasses , which can either be made up by your optometrist or even bought over the counter. Some people prefer to have bifocal (or progressive) reading glasses, with "plano" lenses (no prescription) in the top part of the lens and the reading prescription in the bottom, so that they're able to wear glasses full-time without having to constantly take them on and off. If both distance and near vision need to be corrected, bifocal or progressive lenses would be the answer. Bifocal lenses have two points of focus, the main part being the prescription for distance...
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MAY THE WHAT?!

newsletter 2017 may 13
I’m not big on holidays. It’s enough that there are certain days in the year when we need to buy gifts and be nice to our families. So why are there people who always want to add more holidays to our calendar? And such bizarre ones? May the fourth, someone has decided, is Star Wars Day. You know: “May the fourth be with you.” (As in: “May the force be…”) Now, I for one won’t be celebrating this holiday, however it is that one is supposed to celebrate. But it did get me thinking about how many fantasy characters and superheroes have powers connected to their eyes. Just look at the guy from X-Men who wears sunglasses all the time because he deep-fries people if he looks directly at them. Sounds like a useful skill to have in the kitchen. (Who needs a microwave?) But if you’re an eyecare professional, it’s more like a case of super-severe conjunctivitis. I wouldn’t even know where to start treating that. Now Superman has X-ray vision and he can shoot lasers from his eyes. Those are two very different superpowers – or liabilities, depending on how you choose to look at it. I know that schoolboys the world over wish they were Superman, just so they can use X-ray vision to see girls’ underwear. I mean, Superman has the advantage of being able to give a free MRI to everyone he knows. The problem is he can’t turn off his X-ray vision. So he sees...
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WHEN CHOLESTEROL CLOUDS YOUR VISION

newsletter 2017 may 11
Poets may describe the eyes as the window to the soul, but to optometrists the eyes are often the window into the state of the patient’s general physical health, in particular the health of the blood vessels. High cholesterol, which leads to a range of cardiovascular problems, is sometimes free of symptoms, the person feels healthy, is unaware of any health risks, and elevated cholesterol levels can only be confirmed by a blood test. However, in a routine eye examination an optometrist may be alerted to signs of high cholesterol in the blood even before a blood test is conducted. Signs of Cholesterol Problems Seen in the Eyes One symptom that the optometrist may see is Xanthelasma , the formation of a painless yellow lumps of fatty material accumulated under the skin along the eyelids. Although the appearance of Xanthelasma isn’t normal, they are generally harmless and will not affect vision or the function of the eyelids in any way. They can gradually become larger over time, and if they cause discomfort, can be removed, but can regrow if the cholesterol level in the blood is not controlled. As a person ages, a circumferential arcus (arcus senilis) may develop in the eyes. This is characterised by a thin white or light gray arc or ring around the edge of the cornea, and is caused by a deposit of fat and cholesterol in the eye. Arcus senilis is not related to high cholesterol, does not affect vision, and does not require treatment....
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SMALL SCREENS BIG VISION PROBLEMS

newsletter 2017 may 05
Life without smart phones in unimaginable. We depend on our mobile devices for viewing and responding to emails, checking the weather, reading headline news, posting status updates on Facebook and a host of other daily activities. Recent research and reports by optometrists reveal that staring at those tiny screens can bring on a number of eye problems, including blurred vision, sore eyes, headaches, muscle strain and dry eye. It has also emerged that smart phones can affect balance, and that icons zooming in and out can lead to dizziness. Reading on a smart phone in bed can interfere with sleep patterns due to the blue light emitted from the screen. Our eyes were not designed to stare at small screens for lengthy periods of time. Most adults will admit that they spend too much time looking at their phones, and now there is a growing concern around the extended time spent looking at smart phones by teenagers and even young children. Dry eye disease, typically found in older patients, is now being seen more frequently in children, due to prolonged staring at the screen without blinking. Normally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this rate decreases by half when we are staring at our smartphones, causing the eyes to become red, irritated and swollen. As we squint to read these miniature screens, our facial, neck and shoulder muscles tighten, eyes become fatigued, vision can be blurred, and we may experience headaches. These symptoms, all related to digital eye strain,...
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KICK BUTTS!

newsletter 2017 may 01
ITS NEVER TOO LATE TO QUIT! As the well-known song says: “Smoke gets in your eyes”. True! It makes your eyes red, watery, burn and feel gritty. While these effects last only as long as we are exposed to smoke, there are far more serious long-term consequences that impact on general health, and have been linked to a number of eye diseases. Almost every chronic eye disease appears to have a connection to cigarette smoking, and since smoking decreases circulation and oxygen flow to the body and the eyes, it can also directly affect vision. Smoking can cause an existing vision problem to get worse, and can cause vision problems of its own. CATARACTS Research has found that compared to non-smokers, cigarette smokers have an increased risk for developing cataracts; in fact, the more you smoke, the higher the risk. Cataracts are an age-related condition which occurs when the eye’s naturally clear lens gradually becomes cloudy and less flexible over time, leading to blurred vision, faded colours, poor night vision and increased sensitivity to light. Some people have likened having cataracts to trying to see through a waterfall. It is believed that smoking contributes to cataracts by altering the lens through oxidation. Tobacco smoke reacts with substances in the body to produce free radicals, substances that can damage the cells of the body, including the lenses of the eyes. The good news is that quitting smoking can bring the cataract risk back down almost to the same risk level as people...
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MYTH OR MISSUS?


These days there's a lot of talk about the Easter bunny. I know, I know... it's that time of year. And while some people are talking about world politics and water shortages, there are people who actually spend their time debating about whether the Easter bunny exists. Is he real? Is he a myth? Is he even a he? Well, I don't have much to say on the subject. But it does remind me of all those crazy myths relating to people's eyes. Like I always say, I'm just an old pair of glasses so what do I know? But here are some eye myths that always make me laugh... Watching TV will give kids square eyes. Yeah. I know a lot of parents who say a lot of things to their kids to get them to do what they want. And this one is a classic... don't watch too much TV or your eyes will go square. Do I need to point out that this one's a myth? On the subject, sitting too close to the TV won't actually damage your vision. It might give you one serious headache, but that's about it. Same thing about reading in the dark. Sure, it might strain your eyes and you could find yourself with another headache. But your vision won't actually be affected if you read in the dark. So next time your husband doesn't want to see a foreign movie because he says reading subtitles will damage his eyes, you go...
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HELPING THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED "SEE"


Today's world is designed for those who can see. Having said this, over 300 million people in the world are partially sighted or blind. How do they cope with the daily tasks taken for granted by those who are sighted, tasks such as identifying everyday objects at home, while shopping or at work? How do they decipher specific details, like instructions on a ready-made meal or dosage directions on medication? Usually, a visually impaired person must rely on having sighted people nearby to help in these common situations. The problem is there is not always a sighted person around, and even if there is, the visually impaired person often feels uncomfortable to be constantly relying on other people.  One innovative solution to these issues is Be Specular, a mobile application that can enable visually impaired people (VIPs) to lead more independent lives. BeSpecular is a simple and quick way for a VIP to ask a question and have it answered within minutes by someone anywhere in the world. A VIP uses the app to make a request about an object or situation with which he needs help. He may send a picture plus a text or voice message, or upload a picture directly from the phone's gallery. A sighted helper (Sightling) receives a notification of the VIP's request, sees the pictures sent by the VIP, listens to the question, and replies via a voice or text message. If the Sightling is unavailable for any reason, he can let the query expire,...
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COULD MY MEDICATION AFFECT MY EYES?


Every year on April 25th, World Malaria Day, a spotlight is shone on this serious and sometimes fatal disease that plagues most tropical regions of the world. While it is potentially life-threatening, malaria is both preventable and treatable. The global theme for World Malaria Day 2017 is "END MALARIA FOR GOOD". Throughout the world, research is constantly being conducted to find high quality, effective and safe treatment and preventive drugs, with encouraging results. As effective as these medications are, they are not without side effects, and it is important to be cognisant of these. As well as antimalaria drugs, other medications have side effects, ranging from mild to quite serious, temporary to longer-lasting or even irreversible. These may be short-term drugs for specific illnesses or medications for chronic conditions. Some medications interact with each other, exacerbating the side effects or rendering each drug less effective. What is often overlooked in drug side effects is that the eyes are as vulnerable as the rest of the body. In most cases, eye problems clear up when the drugs are discontinued, or the symptoms can be treated in various ways. Drops can be used for many of these symptoms, but these sometimes mask the problem, not allowing for early detection, and possibly causing further damage. Acne Medications Adolescents who take certain acne medication have been found to face twice the risk of eye infections. The most common problem is conjunctivitis, an inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids. Other problems include styes,...
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CATARACTS

Cataracts
A cataract is a painless clouding of the internal lens of the eye. Light enters the eye through the transparent lens, and is focused onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina transmits the visual signal through the optic nerve to the brain where the image in interpreted. Because they block light from passing through the lens, cataracts make it difficult to see clearly and can even cause blindness over time. Cataracts are progressive, and are the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40, although sometimes they can be seen in younger people. Congenital cataracts can be present at birth or appear shortly after or at some time during infancy or childhood. How do cataracts affect vision? While cataracts are painless and not hazardous to the health of the person or the eye, over time they can interfere with day to day functioning. They develop gradually, often in both eyes but seldom equally. Because they develop slowly, most people are unaware of the vision loss at first, but as the clouding progresses, the person finds difficulty with distance vision, reading in low light or driving, particularly at night. Symptoms of cataracts The main symptom of cataracts is blurry or cloudy vision at any distance. Other problems with the eyes can also cause blurry vision, but cataracts produce certain characteristic symptoms, which may include worse vision in dim light, sensitivity to bright light or glare, even indoors, a perception that colours are faded or...
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