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!


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!


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Dry Eyes

 

By Dan Edwards, FBDO
Partner/Dispensing Optician at Patrick & Menzies Brightlingsea branch
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The subject of dry eyes and the associated symptoms is so vast whole books have been written about it, but today we’ll try to tackle the basics of an increasingly common problem for all ages.

What do tears do and why are they important?

The tear layer sits on the front of your eye, over the cornea and the white of your eye. It’s there to do several jobs – it lubricates the eyelids as you blink (if you had no tears it would be like blinking with two bits of sandpaper! Ouch!), it protects the eye from dust and particles to minimise irritation. It is also the first thing that starts the process of refraction to produce a clear image, because the light hits the tear layer before anything else. In addition, the tear layer allows the cornea to absorb oxygen.

Diagram showing layers of the eye | Causes of dry eye and running eyes
Diagram showing layers of the eye

The cornea (the clear bit over your iris and pupil) has no blood vessels in it, but its cells still need oxygen to stay healthy, so the eye diffuses it from the air, into the tears, then into the cells. (Aha! I hear you ask, what about when you’re asleep?! Well, at night it’s the same process but the oxygen diffuses through the thin vessels on the inside of your eyelids. At much lower levels but just enough to sustain the system while you’re asleep). So, you see, tears are essential for healthy, comfortable eyes, and good vision.

What are tears made of?

Tears are actually quite a delicate balance of three different types of fluid: The bulk of tears are made of water, but equally important are the mucous layer and the lipid (fatty) layer. The mucous layer sticks the tears to the front of the eye and stops them falling off and running down your cheeks. The lipid layer helps prevent the tears from evaporating too quickly, so both are essential to maintain a good quality tear film. An imbalance in these different layers is what gives rise to the many different types of problems associated with dry eyes.

What type of problems do dry eyes cause?

One of the most common problems we see are people complaining of their eyes ‘watering’, especially if it’s windy outside. It seems counter-intuitive to say this is a dry eye problem but technically that’s what it is. If your eye is missing the mucous layer then the cornea is exposed – the wind irritates the eye, so it responds by watering (as it thinks it has a foreign body in it), that water won’t stick, so the tears run off, and the problem spirals.

We often see people with intermittent blurry vision and uncomfortable eyes which can stem from the lipid layer being missing or inadequate. The watery layer evaporates, leaving the mucous layer, which as the name perhaps indicates, gives rise to smeary vision, varying with the blink (a bit like putting petroleum jelly on a camera lens).

People often complain of sore eyes, poor vision and eyelids being stuck together when they wake up in the morning. Assuming infection has been ruled out, this is again happening because the tears are inadequate. If you go to sleep with little or no tear film, what you have got evaporates overnight, and as you don’t produce tears while you’re asleep, you’re left with a mucous residue that stick the lids together and sore eyes as the eyelids haven’t been able to absorb much oxygen.

People with allergies, particularly hay fever, can have dry eye issues as they tend to over-produce the watery part of the tears which washes out the other layers, making the tears badly balanced and unstable.

All of these issues can cause uncomfortable eyes which can look red and sore depending on the severity of the problem. Blinking with reduced tears is a really big irritant and in very severe cases it can actually damage the cornea leading to potentially sight-threatening infection. Thankfully this is rare and the vast majority of people come and see us or their GP before things got to that stage.

What causes dry eyes?

It’s true that dry eyes are more of a problem in older people. This is because as you age you tend to produce a reduced volume of tears and lose elasticity in the eyelids: Droopy lower eyelids expose more of the part of the eye below the iris which not only increases irritation but more importantly, if the lid is falling forward the mechanical support for tear volume is lost and tears run off the eye.

Some medical conditions such as Sjogrens syndrome and other auto-immune diseases in the spectrum of arthritis can reduce the amount of tears we produce. Some medications, including some cancer treatments, also reduce tear production.

Most commonly though lid hygiene is a big factor: the fatty and mucous layers of the tears are produced by tiny glands on the inside of the eyelids just behind the line of the lashes. These ducts are very fine and are easily blocked, so if make up isn’t removed very well, or the lids aren’t cleaned very well, over time the ducts can get blocked with dead skin cells, make-up, dried tear residue etc. This obviously results in inadequate tear production and an unstable tear layer.

The lids can also be affected by something called Blepharitis, an inflammation of the edges of the eyelid which is again more prevalent in older people and leads to a dandruff-like appearance which blocks the ducts and affects tear production.

Environmental factors also play a part. With increasing use of screens, both desktop and handheld, people find themselves staring at these for most of the working day. Each time you blink, you refresh your tears, but when you stare at a screen your blink rate goes down, increasing the amount that the tears evaporate. But it’s not just air-conditioned offices – people on long drives often complain of dry, uncomfortable eyes after staring down the motorway for hours (although this can also be because they need specs!) We also see a spike in dry eye problems when the weather gets cold and everyone cranks the central heating up.

Finally, we have to mention Demodex. Demodex is a tiny mite which we all have on our skin, it lives in harmony with us and is harmless. However, it does like to hide in hair follicles, particularly eyelash follicles, causing inflammation and clogging up the lid margins. Don’t be horrified – we do all have them, and mostly they don’t cause a problem, but if there are too many present they can be the cause of a stubborn dry eye problem that keeps recurring as the mites multiply.

What can be done to resolve dry eye issues?

The best way to tackle dry eyes is to try and find out what’s causing it in the first place, which is sometimes very hard to pin down. An appointment with one of our opticians gives us an opportunity to really have a look at your tear layer and lids and see what the issue is. We can measure your tear break-up time (how fast it evaporates), the tear volume (how much there is and if it’s too thin) and see why it is the way it is: Most of the time there is no one clear answer or treatment, and in some cases, while the problem cannot be ‘cured’, it can often be very well managed.

Options include hot compresses to clear blocked eye ducts, eyelid wipes to remove blockages and kill any mites that are present, drops to re-balance the tears, lifestyle and health advice. There is some evidence to suggest some vitamin supplements can increase tear production, and for some chronically blocked ducts, steam treatments are sometimes used. Sometimes just understanding why something is happening can make one feel better and remove some of the frustration felt.

If you have any of the issues detailed above dont hesitate to come and see us at any of our branches. We have specific dry eye consultation appointments available where your optician will focus on dry eye issues and help you find ways to improve the symptoms. Pop in or give us a call.