Focus on macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is a condition which typically affects older people and can lead to the loss of your central vision. Although it doesn’t cause complete blindness it can make everyday tasks such as reading and driving much more difficult.
There are two different forms of macular degeneration – wet and dry – and although the symptoms can be similar the cause and effect are quite different.
Both refer to damage caused to the macula, an area of light-sensitive cells in the retina responsible for helping you to see fine detail when you look straight ahead.
Dry macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the most common of the two. It happens when the light receptor cells in the macular start to deteriorate and lose function. Its progress is normally slow and in the early stages can have little or no symptoms. This can lead to the loss of patches of your central vision, which are normally small initially, and can sometimes be helped by increasing magnification in your spectacles. In more advanced cases, the damaged patches get bigger resulting in increased central vision loss.
Although there is no cure, there are lots of ways we can help patients who have dry macular degeneration. In the early stages a change in the prescription for your glasses can help. Also aids such magnifiers and large print text can make reading easier as symptoms progress.
Because it develops slowly, many people adapt to the changes without even realising they are doing it. Looking slightly to the side of the object or word you are trying to read can ‘shift’ the image to part of the macular that is still working (something called eccentric fixation), and increasing light levels for detailed work.
Often, we find that patients need increased lighting for reading and near vision tasks indoors but are sensitive to bright light outside. Sometimes the correct colour and depth tint to your spectacle lenses can help.
Ultimately, our team can also refer patients to the low vision clinic at the hospital for further support.
Keeping fit and healthy can certainly help, too. Eat a good diet with plenty of green vegetables which help promote healthy photo receptors and layers in the retina. We also stock supplements which although do not reverse symptoms, can help to stop them getting worse.
Patients are also advised to limit their exposure to UV light by wearing sunglasses, even on bright winter days. We can also include UV protection in your normal day-to-day glasses.
Wet macular degeneration
Wet macular degeneration is less common and can lead to rapid severe sight loss.
However, the good news is it is treatable if caught early. It is caused by leaky blood vessels in the retina which in turn cause damage to the macula. A classic symptom of wet macular degeneration is that when you look at straight lines on a page, they appear wavy.
If a patient is at risk of wet macular degeneration, we will provide them with a printed grid and ask them to look at it once a week. If they start to notice the lines appear to be wavy we ask them to draw what they see onto the grid and come back to see us for further assessment.
Patients with developing wet macular degeneration will be referred urgently to the hospital and often treated with injections. If caught early enough, this treatment is excellent, and can stop the symptoms progressing further.
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Sunglasses aren’t just for grown ups
Summer’s here and if you are a parent, you will no doubt be familiar with the daily challenge of making sure your child has sun cream on when they spend time outdoors.
But although protecting our children’s skin from the sunshine seems almost second nature, it is much less common for us to consider the effect UV rays have on their eyes.
Patrick & Menzies Partner and Dispensing Optician Dan Edwards, explained: “As a rule of thumb, if the weather is bright enough for you to put sun cream on your child, then they should be wearing sunglasses too, protecting their skin and their eyes from UV rays.
“Children should wear sunglasses as much as they can when they are in bright sunshine. People don’t always understand the importance of them and think of them more as a fashion accessory, but they can be of real benefit to your eye health in the long term.”
The build-up of UV exposure over a lifetime can lead to an increased chance of early development of cataracts and other problems at the back of the eye such as macular degeneration.
Wearing sunglasses not just in the summer but all year round will benefit your eyes and the skin around them, and it is even more important if you have light coloured irises which are more susceptible to UV exposure.
If your child doesn’t wear glasses and you are able to buy sunglasses off the shelf, make sure they conform with the relevant standards. The CE mark shows that they meet a minimum UV absorption requirement making them safe to use.
Dan continued: “For children who wear glasses, it is worth investing in prescription sunglasses. We stock a range of frames and can make a complete package for around £60.
“Unless there is a significant change in their prescription, you won’t usually need to replace the sunglasses until they grow out of them. If your child has had a recent eye test, we can use their existing prescription to create the sunglasses. Just pop into your branch to pick out the frames they like.”
Prescription goggles are also available and are a good option for children who wear glasses and are likely to spend a long time in the pool. Most incorporate a tint and a UV blocker.
The tendency to spend more time outdoors over the summer months may, in itself, bring benefits to our eye health.
Dan explained: “Research is ongoing, but the latest thinking is that when you are outside in the fresh air you are more likely to be able to focus far enough away that the eye muscles can relax than when you are indoors. That’s generally better for eye development, and it’s thought that spending more time outside may lessen the chance of children developing short sightedness in later life.”
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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.
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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.
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Brand Spotlight | Prada Eyewear Collection
Prada is the Italian luxury fashion house, specializing in leather handbags, luggage, shoes, ready-to-wear, perfumes and accessories, founded in 1913 by Mario Prada. It represents the best of Italian culture and tradition and is one of the most innovative, prestigious and widely recognized world brands, with a keen attention to detail and a finger on the pulse of new trends. In 2000, Prada launched their eyewear collection, which reflects this approach with unmistakable style, refined elegance and uncompromising quality.
Prada’s eyewear collection is made by Italian eyewear conglomerate and the world’s largest company in the eyewear industry, Luxottica. Luxottica was founded by Leonardo Del Vecchio, who began his career as the apprentice to a tool and die maker in Milan. In 1961, he moved to Agordo in the province of Belluno, which is home to most of the Italian eyewear industry and in 1967, he started selling complete eyeglass frames under the Luxottica brand, which proved hugely successful. Today Luxottica make glasses for Chanel, Versace, Armani, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as their own lines.
Prada glasses are among the most colourful, avant-garde and yet wearable on the market today. The brand is renowned for both anticipating and influencing future tendencies, so they’re the perfect option for those who want to lean towards a timeless aristocratic elegance. The collection also includes the Prada Linea Rossa line, which is inspired by the world of luxury sports to convey an everyday casual yet sophisticated style.
“Beauty, creativity and superior quality have always been the guiding principles of the Prada Group,” says Carlo Mazzi, Prada’s Chairman, but the Group is also committed to environmental and corporate social responsibility, so you can sure you are making an ethical choice too.
Take a look at some of the frames: The Duple come in a abundance of colours and has a chunky 1960s feel, upgraded with an exposed metal nose piece, the Ultravox has a beguiling kitten shape and doesn’t overwhelm finer-boned faces, the Journal captures the nerdy-cool vibe with a solid square-frame, the Cinema and the Ornate both have interesting corner details and the Minimal Baroque are so fashion-forward you’ll be on the cover of a magazine!
From sophisticated designs with intriguing detail to vintage models reimagined in different, original nuances, the Prada Eyewear Collection is a range we are very proud to stock. Obviously, we don’t have all frames available at all times in all of our stores, but we are always happy to help, so if there’s a particular style you’re interested in, just let us know!
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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!
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Back to School | Why Eye Examinations Are Important for Your Child
A survey last year by the Association of Optometrists showed a quarter of school-age children had not been taken for a sight test by their parents. But why is it so important?
Why do I need to get my child’s eyes examined?
Your child’s eye health is, of course, an important indicator of their overall health, but even if there are no concerns, regular eye examinations ensure your child has no vision problems that could affect their school performance and enjoyment of life. Early eye tests are important for several reasons: Not only because we need to ensure the visual skills that are essential for optimal learning are in place – a child who is unable to see what’s on the whiteboard can become easily frustrated – but also because children’s eyes are fully developed by the time they are 8 years old, so any problems must be detected before then. By demonstrating the importance of looking after one’s eyes we also help to create healthy habits that will hopefully mean your child continues to have their eyes tested regularly right through adulthood.
My child can’t read yet – how can you check their eyesight?
You don’t have to wait for your child to be able to read to bring them in for an examination – at Patrick and Menzies we have ways of testing that can be used with preschool children who cannot read, but even if you have no real concerns, we usually advise to bring them in for a full eye test before they start school just to make sure there aren’t any issues with their vision that could affect their early learning.
What should I be concerned about?
Once children start school it can be easier to spot the signs of a possible eye problem. If you notice any of the following, pop in and schedule an examination with us:
- complaining of headaches or sore or achy eyes
- hold books close to their face or sitting too close to the TV
- problems with hand-eye coordination – being unusually clumsy
- regularly rubbing their eyes
- complaining that they can’t see the board at school
What can I expect at the appointment?
We’ll be able to work best with your child when they’re happy and alert – so for younger children an appointment straight after school when they’re tired and hungry may not work best, but generally an eye examination can actually be quite fun and interesting for a child. We have lots of different ways to check how well your child sees at different distances, but we’ll also check their eye movement, the back of the eye and how well they respond to light, amongst other things – our optometrists are experienced in making it a pleasant experience for your child and make sure your mind is at rest too.
Should your child need glasses we have an excellent range and are sure to have a style that will appeal, so do give us a ring or pop in to book your child’s appointment – that’s another thing you can tick off the ‘back to school’ to-do list!
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