Diabetes and Your Sight

Who can develop diabetic eye disease?

Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease, but your risk is greater if you have high blood pressure or high blood glucose that is left untreated over a long period. You are also increasing your risk if you have high blood cholesterol and/or are a smoker.

How does diabetes affect my eyes?

Diabetes affects your eyes when your blood glucose is too high. This is because the retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels and over time, a persistently high blood sugar level can damage these blood vessels and even cause blindness.

What types of eye problems are caused by diabetes?

There are four main problems:

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in people with diabetes and up to a third of diabetics over the age of 40 show some signs of the disease.

In early diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels can weaken, bulge, or leak into the retina. This stage is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

If the disease gets worse, some blood vessels close off, which causes new, weaker blood vessels to grow on the surface of the retina, which can cause serious vision problems. This stage is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Fortunately, finding and treating diabetic retinopathy early can reduce the risk of blindness by up to 95 percent.

Diabetic macular oedema

Diabetic macular oedema is a swelling in the macula – the functional centre of the retina and the part that gives us the ability to see fine detail and provides the best colour vision. Over time, this disease can destroy the sharp vision in this part of the eye, leading to partial vision loss or blindness. Macular oedema usually develops in people who already have other signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Glaucoma

If you have diabetes you are at twice the risk of developing glaucoma. Ask at your next appointment in branch for more information on glaucoma.

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the lens in your eye develops cloudy patches which cause blurry, misty vision and, if left untreated, blindness

People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts and to do so at an earlier age:  It is believed that high glucose levels cause deposits to build up in the eye’s lens.

I have diabetes – should I be worried?

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults in the UK. However, if you are keeping your blood sugar levels under control then there is no real need to be any more concerned than usual about your eyesight. You should always visit your optician regularly, though, as in the majority of cases problems picked up early can be stopped from progressing and sight can be saved.

How do we check for any problems?

Anyone who is diabetic should have regular diabetic eye screening, typically once a year as well as their normal eye examination. A screening appointment is a specific check to examine the health of the blood vessels and structures in the retina. It involves using drops to dilate the pupils to give the widest field of view of the back of the eye. We also take images and 3D scans of the retinas in order to accurately compare them to the last screening, that way we can pick up more subtle changes earlier than would otherwise be possible. We also send reports to your GP to keep them updated, and a copy for yourself.

If you feel concerned about your eye health please contact your local Patrick and Menzies branch.


Important Notice

 

Because of the current health emergency, from Monday 23rd, temporarily, we are restricting our service to telephone and email contact only. This is to protect our team and the wider public. We hope this period doesn’t last too long while we work out a system to deal with any emergency you might have.

Our team are currently working extremely hard contacting everyone who has an appointment booked and those who are imminently due, arranging deliveries of glasses and contact lenses and generally being fantastic. If you do need to contact us, we are here but please do but bear with us as this is a fast-moving situation and we are quite busy.

If, however you are having problems with your vision, have lost your glasses, or any other situation where you need our help, then we will do everything possible to ensure we can take care of you.

Braintree: 01376 320419
Brightlingsea: 01206 302249
West Mersea: 01206 383455

Or email enquiries@patrickandmenzies.co.uk

While we await guidance on what, emergency/essential cover we may be able to provide, please go to 111.nhs.uk first or call 111 if you feel you really do have an emergency.

Please take care of each other and stay safe.

The Patrick & Menzies Team


Brand Spotlight | Flexon

In 1961 US Naval scientists discovered that the metal alloy they were creating for missile heat shields automatically returned to its original shape, even after being hit with a hammer! This advanced memory material became the unique selling point of Flexon, which, since its launch in the US in 1988, has changed the world of eyewear with its unique attributes, building on the memory metal and further utilizing Japanese materials and technology.

Many brands have tried to imitate Flexon’s incredible success, but none have done so. That’s because Flexon frames feature technologically advanced memory metal in the bridge and/or temples allowing them to be flexed, bent or twisted and yet return to their original shape. Flexon frames require a minimal amount of adjustment but the nose pads and end pieces can be fine-tuned for a more custom fit.

Over the years Flexon eyewear has consolidated its design and manufacturing experience to create a varied collection filled with colour and comfort. Memory metal is combined with rubber, TR90 and stainless steel to make lightweight yet durable frames which allow the user to confidently go into any situation their busy lifestyle demands.

In 1997 Flexon Juniors launched: We all know how hard children can be on their glasses, so the Zeus and Aphrodite frames, among others, offer mature yet fun looks in durable, sit-on-able, chuck-in-your-school-bag-able memory metal.

in 2003 the Flexon 600 series quickly became the industry benchmark and in 2014, the modern, practical Evolution collection debuted. From these ranges, the temple of the Nathaniel model has been enhanced with an embossed, rectangular-brick pattern in contrasting shiny and matte finishes; the Julian has bowed temples to accommodate a wide fit; the Gloria is enhanced with a laser etched pattern design with crystal detailing and the best-selling Mariene has two-tone interwoven stainless steel temples.

In 2016 the Sun Collection launched in a rage of classic styles with polarized lenses and backside anti-reflective coatings, and in 2019 the new premium collection, Flexon Black: Sunglasses come in classic aviator and flat metal shapes and Flexon Black offers innovation with screwless spring hinges and tailored temples padded with rubberized detailing.

Flexon spectacles are an ideal choice if you play sport in your glasses or just tend to put your glasses through a lot, but a word of caution: Although Flexon frames are durable, they are not indestructible! Flexon frames should not be twisted more than 90° and Flexon temples should not be twisted more than once around the finger!

Having said that, it’s a stylish, lightweight range well worth considering, so pop in to any of our branches when you’re next in town to see which models we have in stock and how amazing the memory metal really is!


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Varifocals!

Why Varifocals?

Varifocals, or progressive lenses, have been around for longer than you might think. First introduced in the late 1950s, the ‘Varilux’ lens was developed by the French company Essel. These varifocals were created to combine a person’s distance and near prescriptions, without the need for a dividing line between the two. Unlike bifocals, with that visible line, varifocals have an ‘intermediate’ area on the lens which enables the wearer to focus on objects in the middle ground like a computer screen. Traditional bifocal lenses often can’t match this.

How do Varifocals Work?

Simple lenses work because their surfaces are curved, and because the material they are made from is denser than air. The more curved and denser they are, the more powerful they will be. Let’s consider the curvature: The weaker the lens is, the flatter it will be. A single vision lens (one that just corrects say, distance vision) has more or less the same curvature all over its surface because its power needs to be consistent. So, if you have a lens that has two different powers to it, like a bifocal, it will have two different curves. The dividing line on a bifocal, which you can often see and feel, is where these two curvatures meet on the lens surface.

In a progressive lens, there is no line and no jump between the two curves – instead there is a gradual change in power from the distance zone in the top of the lens, to the near vision zone in the bottom. The way the lens manufacturers achieve this is to gradually increase the curvature of the lens surface from top to bottom. You can’t ‘see’ this on the lens, but it does create some problems that the manufacturers are finding ever more technological ways of dealing with.

How are the Manufacturing Difficulties Overcome?

As the surface progresses downward and the curvature changes, some distortion is created in the outer, lower edges of the lens.  Effectively the prescription is wrong in these areas of the lens. It’s important to understand that the vision doesn’t suddenly become terribly blurry and distorted as soon as you stray outside the central zone, it starts gradually and gets worse the further out you go. The amount of error that is created is governed by several things, but mostly by how different the near vision prescription is compared to the distance.

Manufacturers have developed ways of minimising this, so it impacts on how the lens feels as little as possible. The amount of error is calculable (by complicated computer algorithms) so 20 or so years ago manufacturing techniques altered to control the curvature of the lens surface much more accurately in the periphery. In the better varifocal lenses then, the surface error is more accurately calculated and more points on the surface are corrected for the error. This gives a wider field of vision, less distortion, more natural feeling vision, smoother transition from near to far and quicker adaptation on the part of the wearer. Basically, a better lens all round.

Which Varifocal Lens Should I Choose?

As with many things in life, the better the lens, the more you tend to pay – and in the case of varifocals, you really do get what you pay for. There are literally hundreds of varifocal lenses available on the market so as a result opticians tend to like to find a manufacturer that makes really great lenses that work for everyone: We choose Nikon Optical for our preferred lens supplier, as we have consistently found that even their entry level varifocal lens are brilliant quality and totally reliable. Their top-of-the-range lenses are really exceptional and can be tailored very specifically to your visual preferences – something we’ll expand on in a future blog.

 

In the meantime, feel free to pop in to any of our branches to discuss how varifocals may work for you.


Migraines, Headaches and Eye Health

Migraines? Aren’t they just bad headaches? Well, not really. Migraines are defined as a headache that lasts from 4 hours up to several days and affects one or both sides of your head. It can feel as though your head is throbbing or being constricted and can be extremely painful. Often but not always, the pain is accompanied by nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound and can feel worse if you move around. Some GP’s define a migraine as a headache bad enough for to stop you going about your normal day.

What’s that got to do with my eyes?

Migraines are headaches linked with a sensory imbalance, and as vision is a key part of your perception it is integrally linked to your nervous system: If your eyes are constantly straining, it can sometimes trigger a migraine.

What causes eye strain?

Asthenopia, the medical term for eyestrain, occurs when your eye muscles are over tired. If you can’t see clearly, you may squint often or hold items up close or far away from your face. This will tire the muscles more, meaning your eyesight deteriorates further – creating a vicious circle. Poor lighting can also strain your eyes, but any activity that demands intense use of your eyes for long periods can be linked to problems.

If you’re concentrating hard on something, be it staring at a screen, studying or driving, you tend to blink less, this can make the eyes feel very uncomfortable as they dry out. Working in low lighting creates a poor-quality image on the back of your eye, meaning your eyes work harder to keep focus. If you do any of this for several hours at a time, then the problem is just compounded. It’s important to make it a rule to give your eyes a break every twenty minutes by looking away and purposely focusing on something distant for a while. This increases the blink rate for and relaxes the focussing muscles.

The effort that the eye muscles exert is no different from any other muscle in the body. They get tired if you ask them to do too much. If you focus up close for a long time, it’s effectively the same as carrying heavy shopping back from the shop, your arms would ache, so your eyes will ache too. Having the right glasses will help, if you need a prescription for this, but no glasses will make you superhuman, if you do it for too long it will ache!

I’ve heard about migraines causing blindness – is that true?

Ocular migraines, if you’re unlucky enough to have them, can give many kinds of unusual symptoms. They are more common than you might imagine and are caused by spasms in the blood vessels near the visual pathway (the route from the eyes to the brain). Most commonly people report shimmery, kaleidoscope-type effects in their vision, often arc-shaped, lasting around 20 minutes and still visible when the eyes are closed. They can happen on their own, without the headache. In rarer, more severe cases, the vision can be interrupted more completely. In these cases, there are often other symptoms as well that can appear similar to a stroke. It all depends on where and how severe the spasms in the vessels are. Statistically you may be at a higher risk for permanent vision loss, it is rare though and often linked with other associated medical conditions. Barring an emergency, any concerning symptoms should be investigated by your GP, but it would be advisable to come and talk to us about your symptoms, too.

Sometimes my glasses give me a headache – what can I do?

Headaches caused by wearing spectacles can occur for a number of reasons. Reducing them depends on what you think is causing the headache. For example, if you get headaches mostly when you’ve been on your computer then it may be your prescription needs updating or you need a different type of lens for that task. It may be that you are suffering from glare problems. Or it may even be that it isn’t your specs, you may need to take better breaks from the screen as previously mentioned, as screen glare can cause strain.

Sometimes you can get headaches when you’ve had a change in prescription, particularly if it’s a big change. This happens is because your focusing muscles are used to working with your last prescription and now have to readjust. In order to help this process, it’s best to wear your new prescription as much as possible in order to shorten the time it takes your muscles to adjust.

Headaches can also be caused by a badly fitting pair of specs. If they are too tight, the pressure can get to a point where it causes an ache. If they are loose or wonky, the lenses can be misaligned, causing eyestrain. If you find the fit of your frames needs tweaking, or you need new frames altogether that are measured and fitted properly so that you can wear them with comfort we’ll be happy to help, of course.

Conclusions?

The causes of headaches and migraines are complex and often difficult to pin down. Your eyes can be the cause, but they aren’t always the whole story. If any of the points raised in this article are causing you concern, then don’t hesitate to come and see us at any of our branches or contact your GP.


Glasses, Goggles and Contact Lenses for Sports

 

If you play a lot of sport then your regular glasses may be driving you a bit mad – misting up when you get sweaty, shifting when you swing the golf club or getting knocked off in a tackle. You may feel you need to take them off if playing a racquet or more intense contact sport like rugby where an impact could mean serious eye injury. In fact, if you’re a sportsman or woman then wearing your glasses may well be affecting your performance. So, what can be done?

Get Special Glasses or Goggles…

Lenses in sports eye wear are usually made of polycarbonate as it’s an impact-resistant lens material that works well to protect eyes from fast-moving objects. Polycarbonate also has built-in ultraviolet protection – especially important for golfers, cyclists, cricketers and runners who may spend many hours in the sunshine.  Untreated polycarbonate lenses can scratch easily, though and so most will include a scratch-resistant coating on both the front and back surface to keep them in shape for longer.

Sport frames are usually constructed of highly impact-resistant plastic and most come with rubber padding to cushion the frame around the temples and on the nose, but sports glasses and goggles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are different designs for different sports and some are even designed to fit inside the helmets necessary for cycling or American football, for example.

Sports protective styles of frames are often contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. They also sometimes come with an elastic restraining strap that hugs the back of the head to keep them firmly in place and they often come in rimless styles or with vents to avoid misting.

If you’re a shooter or sailor, the choice of lens tint may be your ultimate priority and styles popular with those who practice these sports even boast interchangeable lenses to ensure 20/20 visibility in all conditions.

Swimming and ski goggles can be made with lenses that correct your spherical powers (sphere only) or your full prescription, just like a regular pair of glasses. Ski hybrids can come with foam surrounds or side shields to protect from the cold.

The possibilities really are endless, so come and discuss your specific requirements with us.

…Or Switch to Contact Lenses?

Often the most appropriate way of correcting the vision for sport is with contact lenses and we have lenses for every sporting lifestyle: Whether your concern is that you spend a lot of time in the sun and want lenses with UV protection to make sure your eyes are protected, or you’re just tired of glasses which fall off, mist up or impede your peripheral vision at crucial moments, we will find the contact lenses to suit. And that includes those who have varifocal prescriptions or indeed astigmatism.

So even if you have been told you’re not able to wear lenses in the past come and have a chat – chances are we can help. (And for less than you may think!)


Lens Treatments | Options and Benefits

When you buy a new pair of glasses it’s not just the frames that come in a myriad of options – these days your lenses can be ‘upgraded’ with various tints, coatings and treatments. But there are so many it can all be a bit confusing – let us break down the most common options and the benefits they bring:

Anti-Reflective

Anti-reflective coating (also called AR or anti-glare) is perhaps the most commonly offered lens treatment, and with good reason: AR coatings not only benefit vision and reduce eye strain, but they can also improve your communication skills! That’s because they make the lenses in your glasses look nearly invisible, so people can see your eyes and expressions more clearly, and you can make better eye contact with them.

An AR coating virtually eliminates reflections from the front and back surfaces of your lenses, meaning more light passes through, allowing your eye to receive a higher percentage of the actual light available – up to 99.5 percent. This means less glare, sharper vision and greater comfort. AR coatings are also a good idea for sunglasses, because they eliminate glare from sunlight reflecting into your eyes from the back surface of tinted lenses when the sun is behind you.

As an additional benefit, most anti-reflective treatments have a special layer that prevents spots and makes them easier to clean, although any scratches do tend to be more obvious on AR coated lenses, so be sure to only use products and cleaning methods we would recommend!

Photochromic

Photochromic lenses automatically darken in bright sunlight (triggered by ultraviolet radiation) to make your eyes more comfortable. Because UV rays penetrate clouds, photochromic lenses may darken on grey days as well as when it’s sunny and they will not darken inside a vehicle because the windscreen glass blocks most UV rays. However, some newer types of photochromic lens activate with both UV and visible light.

An added benefit of photochromic lenses is that they shield your eyes from 100 percent of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays and because exposure to sunlight and UV radiation has been associated with cataracts later in life, it’s a good idea to consider photochromic lenses for children’s eye wear as well as for the spectacles of outdoor-loving adults.

Polarized

Polarized lenses are anti-glare and virtually eliminate bright light from reflective surfaces and so are especially popular with fishermen and sailors.

Scratch-Resistant

Untreated lenses are surprisingly fragile, and it’s very easy to scratch them by storing them incorrectly, placing them down hastily or even cleaning them with some kitchen roll rather than the proper cloth! Luckily, lenses that are treated front and back with a clear, scratch-resistant coating have a much harder surface that is more resistant to scratching and more durable. It’s worth asking about this, because scratches are not only unsightly but can also seriously compromise the clarity of your vision. Nowadays some lenses have a built-in scratch-resistant coating, but double check that this is the case with your prescription.

Lots of options, then! Pop in a have a chat with us to choose that which best suits your lifestyle.


Brand Spotlight | Lulu Guinness Frames

Dare to be different! That’s the motto of Lulu Guinness, who is perhaps most famous for her statement handbags, much loved by trendsetters such as Kate Moss, Emma Watson and Paloma Faith.

Remember the red lips clutch bag that was much imitated a few years ago? That was Lulu Guinness and she makes a knowing little nod to that iconic image with her signature little red lips printed on the arms of each of the frames in her eye wear collection.

Lulu Guinness at Patrick & Menzies

We love the Lulu Guinness range here at Patrick & Menzies because they are definitely a talking point, but without being over-the-top wacky! Rather, they are sophisticated, with a touch of daring – featuring inter-plays of colour and dramatic retro shapes.

The collection is targeted “at women with a fierce sense of humour and an even fiercer sense of their own femininity” and we can see these frames being snapped up by our clients that are looking for something playful and modern, but with a touch of gravitas.

Style details are important to this designer and along with the red lips and metal logo inlay, these frames come in a veritable rainbow of colours, and patterns including animal print, glitter, polka dot, and the trademark black, white, and red – whether you’re looking for a striking silhouette, vintage glamour or subtle whimsy, there’s a frame in this collection to suit.

High Quality Frames

But style doesn’t come at the expense of substance – Lulu Guinness frames are made from high-quality materials, built for the rigours of everyday wear and some of the styles are offered in an alternative, more generous fit. They are super comfortable too, with adjustable or integrated ergonomic nose pad systems and cushioned hinge bracket arms.

“Glasses have become an expression of one’s individuality”, Lulu says. “I wanted my frames to be beautiful objects in themselves as well as flattering for the face”. And they certainly are – luxurious yet affordable, the Lulu Guinness range is in all our stores and, as you would expect, we can fit them with the highest quality lenses that are right for you.

Pop in and browse the collection. We look forward to seeing you!


Finding the Right Frames for Your Face

 

While it’s wonderful that we have so much choice these days in terms of frames it does make the process of choosing the right pair for you somewhat more complicated!

If you’re finding it hard to narrow down the choices, then a good place to start is thinking about your face shape. Generally speaking, people tend to fall into one of five categories: Round, heart shaped, oblong, square and oval:

Round – a softly curving face that is as wide at the forehead as it is at the jaw and with wide cheekbones.

Heart-shaped – sometimes called an inverted triangle. Wider at the forehead and gently tapering to a more pointed chin.

Oblong – sometimes called narrow. A face that is longer than it is wide.

Square – a broad forehead and squarish jaw line.

Oval – a well-balanced face with defined cheekbones and no one dominant feature.

Most people have probably never thought about which shape their face most closely aligns to, and it may be that what you instinctively think you are isn’t quite true. Rather than relying on a friend cocking their head to one side and looking at you quizzically, it’s often easiest to look in the mirror and use a lipstick or a water-based felt tip pen to draw around your reflection (please don’t pick up a permanent marker by mistake!).

Once you’ve established which shape you most align to then see if these suggestions help you find a frame that suits your contours!

Frames for a Round Face

You may find rounder, smaller frames (think John Lennon) just make your face rounder still, so try out square and rectangular frames with strong angles for balance.      Ray-Ban Wayfarer or Clubmaster-type styles (think James Dean and JFK) can also work well, if you prefer a quirkier look.

Frames for a Heart Shaped Face

Heart-shaped – over-sized, pilot-styles and half-rimmed frames don’t work on this type of face as well as oval shapes do, but rimless glasses in particular will also work incredibly well for you. (Think Kate Beckinsale and Richard Gere)

Frames for an Oblong Face

Now, pilot styles do work for those with narrower faces (Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are particularly fond of these!) as well as square, angular frames. Steer clear of narrow frames as they can make your face appear longer.

Frames for a Square Face

Continuing on the opposites attract route, square faces should opt for round and oval frames that soften the angles of the features. (Think Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber) Or go for browline frames for a vintage look. Anything too strong or geometric won’t work as well for you.

Frames for an Oval Face

We should be so lucky! Anything goes for ovals so just enjoy having the freedom to explore the entire range Patrick & Menzies has to offer and pick whatever makes your heart sing!

Whatever your face shape, pop into any of our branches to start your selection!


Brand Spotlight | Tiffany Frames

 

Perhaps the world’s most loved and recognisable jeweller, Tiffany & Co. launched its own brand of frames, exclusively designed for women, and its one of our most popular ranges.

History
In the 1830s Charles Lewis Tiffany and John Young had a dream of opening a jewellery store that everyone knew and admired. From small beginnings as a ‘stationery and fancy goods store’ the company became popular with fashionable ladies and first won international recognition at the 1867 Paris World Fair. Tiffany’s introduced the engagement ring as we know it in 1878 and in the same year produced the first catalogue, with a cover in the iconic Tiffany Blue. The brand we all know today has over 200 stores worldwide, known still for its exquisite jewellery and dazzling accessories. Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman and Lady Gaga are just some of the celebrities who are often seen wearing Tiffany jewellery.

“As a luxury fashion accessory, eyewear seems like a natural addition for us” said Michael J. Kowalski, the Chairman and CEO of Tiffany’s, upon the launch of their optical collection: As you may expect from a jeweller, many of the styles are adorned with gemstone embellishments. As you would certainly expect from Tiffany, their signature blue also features heavily!

Style

The frames are romantic and glamorous – dainty charm symbols such as the lock, key and heart appear frequently and the materials used to decorate the frames include gold, silver, diamonds and other precious gems. There are styles with delicate knotworks in silver running along the arms, little clusters of gems which catch the light, or chunkier styles with a tiny Tiffany & Co. plaque! The frames themselves are mainly made from acetate, which is strong, flexible and hypoallergenic.

With a legacy spanning over 160 years, Tiffany glasses are timeless but never old-fashioned. The bold colours and thoughtful details mark these frames out as something quite special and there’s lots of unusual shapes and colours you won’t find anywhere else – from cats’ eyes to rectangular; from an elegant smoky grey to a feminine and flattering blush pink.

Pop in and browse this most luxurious of collections. We feel sure you’ll be as impressed as we are with the detailing, and of course, any of them can be fitted with exactly the right lens for your needs. We look forward to seeing you.