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.
Back to news articles
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.
Back to news articles
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!
Back to news articles
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.
Back to news articles
Patrick & Menzies is thinking of you this Christmas
With Christmas fast approaching, Patrick & Menzies has your eyecare in mind. Read on to find out how we can help you to enjoy the festive season.
If a nose pad falls off on Christmas morning, you lose a screw when tucking into your turkey or sit on your specs during the Queen’s speech – fear not, Patrick & Menzies is on hand to help.
Not only is Christmas the season to be jolly, it also seems to be the season where people break their glasses, and so we are primed and ready to carry out repairs.
Our opening hours over the festive season are set out below. If you do have a breakage, just phone your local branch as soon as we are open and we will make arrangements to return your glasses to their full glory.
A great way to avoid the worry of breakages during the festive period – or indeed any time of year – is to invest in a spare pair of glasses. Then, if you lose or break your specs you have another pair to fall back on.
We have a fantastic selection of frames available at prices to suit all budgets. And now you can browse our frames online. Take a look.
If you have an up to date prescription, you just need to give us a call to arrange an appointment to order your spare glasses.
The perfect present
If you are looking for a gift idea that is both practical and indulgent, sunglasses are a great option. We have a wonderful array of sunglasses available – have a browse.
Once you have picked the perfect pair, give your local branch a call, we can even take payment over the phone and send them directly to you.
Best of all we are offering 25% off a selection of non-prescription designer sunglasses until December 24th while stocks last. Take a look at the frames included in the offer.
If you are worried about your vision or have any concerns about your eyes in the run up to Christmas, don’t leave it to the last minute. Understandably appointments are limited at the moment in line with our Covid-secure measures, so contact us as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. You can either book over the phone or book online.
Festive opening times
Our branches are open as usual until 1pm on Christmas Eve. We then reopen at 9am on Tuesday 29th December.
For New Year, we will be closed on 31 December and reopen on Monday 4th January for the start of 2021.
We would like to wish all of our customers a very merry Christmas, and happy New Year. Thank you for your support over what has been a somewhat challenging year for us all.
Back to news articles
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.
Back to news articles
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.
Back to news articles
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!
Back to news articles
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!
Back to news articles
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!
Back to news articles