While enjoying sunnier days and warmer temperatures it’s important to remember to take care of your eyes.
Here is our quick guide to some of the ways you can protect your peepers during the summer months.
Sunglasses are a must, whatever your age
Wearing sunglasses offers your eyes protection against UV rays which, over the years, can cause significant damage to your eyes.
By wearing a good quality pair of sunglasses you’re not just protecting the eye itself but the skin around it, reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Most sunglasses offer full UV protection, cutting out UV to a level required by EU law. Look out for the CE mark to show they conform with legislation.
As long as there are no other sight issues children should also wear sunglasses on bright days. Most damage caused by UV light is accrued over a number of years, so protecting your eyes from a young age can be a real benefit.
Consider the colour of the lenses as well as the size and fit of the sunglasses around your face and go for a pair that cuts out as much light as possible without steaming up or causing inconvenient reflections.
Sand in your eye? Don’t rub it!
There’s nothing better than a sunny day at the beach – until the wind whips up and you find yourself with sand in your eye. If this happens there is one firm rule – don’t rub it!
By rubbing your eye, you are much more likely to scratch the front of it. Even if the sand comes out it will still feel like you have something in there and you open yourself up to infection.
Let your eye water as tears are the body’s natural defence mechanism. Try to let the tears flow and don’t rub them away as they will help to flush out any debris. You can also try very gently pulling the lower lid away from the eye slightly to let the tears flow and well up which should help wash the sand out.
If the irritation continues use an eyebath to soothe your eye, and if it still doesn’t ease then call your optician so they can take a closer look and recommend what you need to do next.
Contact lenses and swimming don’t mix
As a general rule wearing contact lenses while swimming is a no no. For serious swimmers or those who are in the water a lot, ideally opt for a pair of prescription goggles. Otherwise wear an old pair of glasses that you wouldn’t mind losing or damaging as a worst-case scenario.
Combating hay fever
Sadly, one of the downsides of summer for many people is hay fever.
Sufferers often find their eyes become red and itchy with swelling or puffiness around the eyes.
Over the counter treatments such as antihistamine eye drops are usually the best course of action to combat hay fever symptoms. If after a week there is no improvement and your eyes are still dry, itchy and red you should make an urgent appointment at your opticians to make sure you’re not suffering from a different eye condition.
If warmer weather tempts you to play more sport, it’s worth considering investing in eyewear that fits the bill.
Sports frames and prescription goggles really can make a difference to your performance and are much safer, too. To find out more about specialist sporting eyewear take a look at our blog. [link to Glasses, Goggles and Contact Lenses for Sports | Patrick & Menzies (patrickandmenzies.co.uk)]
Check out our selection of sunglasses online.
Keep your glasses in mint condition with our top tips
Considering plenty of us rely on our glasses to see clearly, it’s amazing that so many people fail to keep them clean!
It doesn’t take a lot to keep your specs in mint condition once you know how. Read on for Patrick & Menzies’ top tips.
Back to basics
When cleaning your glasses, aim to wipe or rub the lenses as little as possible. Every time you do, there is a risk (however small) of scratching.
Start with rinsing your lenses in cold water to wash away any dust. Avoid warm or hot water as this could cause the lenses to expand, potentially cracking and ruining any coatings instantly.
Lens cleaner from your optician is definitely the best option as it is designed to evaporate off the lens leaving less smearing – ask at your local Patrick & Menzies branch next time your visit for an appointment.
If you don’t have any cleaner tailored to the job mild hand soap can be OK, but it can leave your lenses smeary, which in turn means you wipe it more, increasing the risk of scratching.
You should never use washing-up liquid or household cleaners on your lenses as they can contain tiny amounts of solvent which causes damage to certain types of lens materials.
Clear of smear
Always polish your lenses using the cloth given to you by your optician when you bought your glasses. Commonly these are made from microfibre which will keep the need for rubbing the lenses to a minimum.
Most scratched lenses are caused by something getting caught on the cloth from your pocket, case or handbag, so make sure you keep your cloth and glasses case clean, too.
Never use kitchen towel or tissues as they are more abrasive than you think, and hankies should be avoided as they often have dust or debris from your pocket stuck to them.
When you are not wearing your glasses, it makes sense to keep them in their case. Although tempting, avoid keeping pens, nail files and other ‘handy’ items in the case too, as they are sure to scratch.
So many of us are guilty of pushing our specs up on the top of our heads, but this is also a no no as it bends the sides out of shape and can make them loose.
If you are taking your glasses off momentarily, put them down sides closed, lens up and do your best to avoid sleeping in your specs.
Ideally if you play sports invest in the right eyewear for the job rather than wear your everyday glasses. Prescription goggles for swimming and appropriate safety specs for other sports such as tennis or football, are designed to keep you safe and help you get the most from your vision.
If you are concerned about your eyesight please do give us a call to book an appointment. Even during lockdown we’re open to look after your eyes, glasses, and contact lenses, with measures in place to keep everyone safe.
Tell-tale that signs you need your eyes checked
Regular eye tests are an important part of keeping your vision in check, and for most adults that usually means seeing the optician every couple of years.
But if you spot a significant change to your sight it’s important to get it looked at rather than wait for your next regular appointment.
Dan Edwards, Patrick & Menzies Partner and Dispensing Optician, said: “There are lots of reasons that lead to people booking an eye test, but if your vision is different to normal you really should get it checked out.”
One of the most common symptoms of late is eye strain or tired eyes which can often be caused by spending long hours looking at a screen. Although everything may look clear you may need to strain to keep focus and your optician can often prescribe glasses to help with this. Focusing on something up close can lead to headaches, too, because tension builds up across the forehead and temples.
Dry eyes – leaving your eyes feeling gritty and uncomfortable and looking a little red – may also be an indicator that you need an optician’s appointment.
And, if you need to screw your eyes up to focus it can be a sign that things are starting to go blurry. You might not even notice you are doing it, but because you are screwing up your eyes you may find you are getting a slight headache or tension.
Floaters – often caused by debris such as dust or bits of eyelash in the tear layer on the front of the eye – are very common. They look transparent and keep moving, following the direction of your gaze.
However, floaters are more concerning when they are darker in colour and are more permanent and defined.
Dan explained: “Nine times out of ten they are nothing to be concerned about but we can put people’s minds at rest. If you have had floaters like that for a number of years it is likely that is normal for you and not necessarily a concern, although if you have never seen an optician about them, you should probably consider it. However, if you experience a sudden onset of floaters, or get a noticeable change or increase in the number of floaters you can see, that’s when you should book a, examination.”
If you notice a different sort of obstruction to your vision such as something which looks like a curtain or cobweb, it might indicate something more serous and you need to book a consultation as soon as possible.
Changes to a child’s vision can be harder to spot either because they are unable to put it into words or because they find ways to adapt to the change.
Difficulty focussing can make them unusually grumpy, not want to do their work or complain that their eyes feel uncomfortable, it’s a good indicator that it’s time for a test. Children normally should be seen each year, even if they are not having any obvious problems. Sometimes more frequently if they have glasses, your optician will recommend the correct interval.
Getting back on track
Measures put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic to keep everyone safe limited the number of people who could be seen over the course of an average week, which means lots of people may now find themselves overdue for a test.
Those with conditions such as glaucoma or diabetes, who would usually have a check-up every year, should arrange an appointment to make sure there are no changes to their vision or eye health.
If you are worried about your vision please do contact us to book an appointment. Get in touch however you prefer | telephone, email or in person!
Eye care when working from home
Working from home has become the new normal for many people over the past year.
At first there were the struggles of getting to grips with Zoom, finding a space within the home where there was peace and quiet and making sure the wifi worked.
But even more important is the need to make sure you are looking after your eyes, especially as home working looks set to continue well into 2021 for many people.
Glare on your computer screen can lead to eye strain so while you are working try to position your computer so you are side on to a window.
You might need to shift this around slightly for video calls, ideally positioning your computer so you face natural light to avoid appearing in silhouette, or looking ill or tired.
For glasses wearers it’s definitely worth considering anti-reflective lenses if you video call a lot as they limit light bouncing between you and your screen, reducing scatter, distracting reflections and giving a less ‘cluttered’ image – helping you see better.
Give your eyes a rest
Don’t forget to take a break from your screen every now and then. As a rule, every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
And don’t forget to blink! It might sound silly but research has shown that when we stare at screens we tend to blink less which can lead to dry and itchy eyes.
Position your monitor
Make sure that your monitor is in the right position. The College of Optometrists suggests the ideal distance is between 40 and 76 centimetres (16 to 30 inches) from your eyes with the top level with, or slightly below, your eyes. Try to position your screen to avoid any distracting reflections, too.
You can then adjust the brightness, font and the size of the type to suit.
Get your eyes checked
According to a study by The College of Optometrists, one in five adults in the country said they thought their vision had become worse during the first national lockdown, with one in three blaming it on too much screen time.
If you are worried about your vision please do give us a call today and we can arrange an appointment.
At Patrick & Menzies we are working hard to make sure that we can still offer our usual high level of service to our customers, even though the experience may feel a little different due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Don’t forget your specs
It’s all well and good going for a regular eye test, but you really do then need to remember to wear your glasses when you are meant to! If you have specs that are specifically for screen use then leave them on your desk at the end of the working day so you don’t have to spend time tracking them down the following morning.
Top tips to encourage children to wear their specs
As any parent knows getting your child to do what’s good for them isn’t always easy.
Being told your child needs to wear glasses is a case in point. Despite there being very real advantages to the child in terms of improved vision, getting them to actually wear their specs may be a little trickier than it sounds.
So, we have come up with a few handy tips to help make your life easier.
Explain the benefits
Many parents will have already talked to their child about why they should have their eyes checked regularly before they first come in for an eye test. Once the need for glasses has been identified, it’s even more important for your child to understand how to look after their eyes and why wearing specs will improve their vision. Don’t underestimate their capacity to take on board this information. For children who are short-sighted, once they try their glasses on they immediately experience for themselves how much better they can see which may in itself be enough to convince them. Long-sighted children often have a little more difficulty as the benefits are more subtle and take a little more time to ‘feel’, however they are no less life changing and important.
Choose frames they love
Choosing a pair of frames your child loves will go a long way to making sure they want to wear them.
Children’s glasses frames have come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Forget the dull standard issue frames of the past and think bright, fun and comfy glasses to match your child’s personality and style.
At Patrick & Menzies we have a great variety of children’s frames so there is sure to be a style that they will love.
Comfort and fit is key
These are so important to making sure people of all ages – especially children – wear their glasses when they need them. If your specs don’t fit properly, they will more than likely spend much of their time in the case. At Patrick & Menzies we take the time to make sure all our frames are fitted with the care and attention needed to ensure they are comfy to wear.
Find good influences
Depending on the age of your child, there are plenty of famous faces who show it’s easy to look great in glasses – from Harry Potter to Clark Kent and Katy Perry in her stylish cat eye specs.
For younger children it may prove useful to watch the episode of CBeebies’ favourites Topsy and Tim where Tim gets his first pair of glasses [BBC iPlayer – Topsy and Tim – Series 3: 8. New Glasses]. There are lots of great story books about wearing glasses, too such as Charlie and Lola’s I Really Absolutely Must Have Glasses or Douglas, You Need Glasses by Ged Adamson.
And of course, there may be other glasses wearers in your family who act as real-life role models.
Talk to the teachers
If your child is of school age, have a chat to their teacher when they are first prescribed glasses to let them know when your child is meant to be wearing their specs. It’s quite normal for your child to simply forget about their glasses when they are brand new, so having someone around who can remind them can prove invaluable.
To book an eye test for your child, contact your nearest branch of Patrick & Menzies today.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are areas that develop in the clear lens inside your eyes, stopping light from reaching the back of the eye, and causing blurred or misty vision. They are not painful.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
- Blurred, misty or cloudy vision
- Difficulty seeing in dim or low light
- Colours look faded or more like sepia
- Double vision
- Seeing haloes (circles of light) around bright lights, or finding lights too ‘dazzling’ to look at
- You feel like the lenses in your glasses are dirty or greasy, even when they are clean
Cataracts can develop very slowly and may not be noticeable for some time. They often develop in both eyes, although not necessarily at the same time or in the same way.
What causes cataracts?
Unfortunately, most cataracts simply develop as we age, although you can reduce your risk by eating a healthy diet and not smoking or drinking alcohol. If you have been exposed to frequent strong UV light, have taken steroid medication over a long period of time, or have had untreated diabetes you may also be at higher risk.
Can you tell me if I have cataracts?
We always check for the signs of cataracts during an eye examination. When we look inside your eyes to check their overall health, we look through the lens inside your eye. In doing so, any cataract or cloudiness will be visible to your optometrist. Other tests will also indicate the presence of cataract, in particular a noticeable drop in visual acuity (the size of the letters you can see on the chart) Most of the time, the vision can be improved by an alteration to the type of correction you have. Where this is not possible, we can discuss referral to an ophthalmologist for more tests and treatment.
Unfortunately, because there are no drops or medicines that improve cataracts, and your vision will deteriorate slowly over time, the only effective treatment is surgery.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is the most common surgery in the UK and has an extremely high success rate. It is a quick and simple procedure which is carried out under local anaesthetic as a day patient, so you will be able to communicate with your surgeon during the operation.
The surgeon will make a tiny incision in your eye to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a new, clear artificial lens. You will not normally need stitches, but your eye will be covered to protect it.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, you’ll need two separate operations, usually carried out 6 to 12 weeks apart to give the first eye time to heal.
So, will I need new glasses after my cataract operation?
After cataract surgery most people will still need to wear glasses for certain tasks, although the prescription will be very different from before the operation, and the vision should be markedly better. You will need an eye examination about a month after surgery once your vision has settled down.
If you’re at all concerned about cataracts contact us today.
Using technology to better examine your eye health
For years the standard way of checking the health of the back of your eyes has been either direct ophthalmoscopy (when we get really close with the bright light) or slit-lamp ophthalmoscopy where you have your chin on a chin-rest and we look inside the eyes using a microscope, a bright light and a super-powerful magnifying lens.
All optometrists are highly skilled at recognising anything that may be wrong, the only problem with this is one of comparison. Judging whether the appearance of someone’s retina two or more years ago has changed or not, can be difficult, even when comprehensive notes are kept. That’s where photographs can be invaluable.
Many eye conditions can be particularly hard to detect because the changes in the appearance of the back of the eye can be very subtle and slow. If we take glaucoma as an example, the appearance of what’s called the optic disc, where the optic nerve joins the back of the eye, is one of the things that we monitor very closely. Glaucoma damages the optic disc and it’s shape and size change slowly as the damage occurs over time. If we have images to compare, then this damage can be picked up a lot earlier than would otherwise be the case. This is not just true of glaucoma, the detection of diabetes and other problems hugely benefit from this too. At Patrick and Menzies, we were early adopters of this technology, known as Fundus Photography over 15 years ago.
Since fundus photography became commonplace, a newer, more advanced technology became available, known as Optical Coherence Tomography or OCT. From the patient’s perspective the procedure is very similar to fundus photography. However instead of a flat 2D photograph of the retina, OCT uses scanning light beams to create a 3D image, not unlike an ultrasound, of the retina. The advantage of this is that we can see the deeper layers of the retina, nerve fibres and blood vessels underneath, things that can’t be seen on a conventional fundus photograph. Conditions like Glaucoma, diabetes and many others can be picked even earlier than before, enabling treatment before any significant sight loss or other complications can occur. We installed OCT in all our practices over 5 years ago and they have proved invaluable.
Our Braintree practice also has something called Optomap. These machines give us an ultra-widefield image of the back of the eye, enabling easier detection of any problems in the peripheral areas of the retina.
These more advanced ways of examining your eyes are a standard part of our private eye examination, and included if you are part of our VisionPlan scheme.
For anyone who receives a basic NHS check, they are available as an upgrade for a small fee.
Case Study | Mr Manton
The quick thinking actions of one of our optometrists proved to be life saving for our first-time customer Neil Manton.
Earlier this year Neil was driving home from Yorkshire in grey and rainy weather when he noticed a strange shimmering sensation in his right eye. Putting it down to tiredness, initially Neil wasn’t too worried, but when that shadow didn’t seem to go away after a few days he decided to book an appointment at Patrick & Menzies Braintree branch.
At Neil’s appointment our optometrist Charlotte Wearmouth listened carefully to Neil’s concerns and gave him a thorough examination which took almost two hours but couldn’t come to a definitive conclusion. Charlotte said, “Despite not finding any obvious cause, I was aware that Mr Manton’s symptoms were serious, especially as they developed suddenly and were not improving.”
Realising that the problem needed further investigation Charlotte sent the images of Neil’s eye and her findings to Broomfield Hospital with a request for them to follow up. Three or four days, later Neil was called into Broomfield for a further battery of tests, including a brain scan, which revealed that the carotid artery in Neil’s neck was 84% blocked, restricting blood flow to his eyes, and putting him at imminent risk of stroke or fatal heart attack.
Neil was admitted urgently for a 5-and-a-half-hour operation which resolved the issue and Neil was allowed home the following day.
Neil couldn’t be more grateful. “Patrick & Menzies are life savers! I really can’t praise them enough for the professionalism of the service I have received,” he says. “If Charlotte hadn’t been so thorough and taken so much time over my appointment when I went to her, I might not be here to tell the story today.”
Neil returned to Patrick & Menzies just six weeks ago for a further check-up and we are delighted to report that his eye health is even better now than it was before the operation.
Our eyes really are windows to our wellbeing, so if you have any concerns or notice any anomalies with your eyes or vision, please do make an appointment to see one of our optometrists today. We really do go the extra mile to make sure our patients stay well and happy and perhaps enjoy the odd game of golf, as Neil does!
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 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 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 lenses are anti-glare and virtually eliminate bright light from reflective surfaces and so are especially popular with fishermen and sailors.
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.
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!