Macular Focus in May

May is Macula month, a campaign centred around the education and awareness of macular disease.

The macula is responsible for detailed central vision, meaning we use it for activities such as reading, driving and recognising faces. It’s also responsible for most of your colour vision, so its quite shocking to learn that an estimated 1.7 million Australians have some evidence of macular disease.

Macular disease covers a range of painless conditions affecting the central retina which can be found at the back of the eye.

Conditions only affecting the macula don't lead to total blindness, instead, they impact central vision, leaving peripheral vision intact.

SYMPTOMS OF MACULAR DISEASE

You can have early signs of macular disease without knowing it. However, when symptoms do appear, they can include:

  • Difficulty with reading or any other activity which requires detailed central vision (despite wearing appropriate glasses)
  • Distortion, where straight lines may appear wavy or bent
  • Problems distinguishing faces
  • Dark patches in the central vision
  • Macular disease can affect anyone, at any age, so knowing your risks, and having regular macula checks, is the only way to protect your vision.

But how do you know if you are at risk ?

Take the 'Check My Macula' quiz and in one minute, you’ll have a better idea of your risk factors.

Take Quiz

So, if you've just taken the quiz and have any vision concerns that you think might need attention, please contact us to make an appointment or visit us online.


The Run-down on Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases where vision is lost due to damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is known as the ‘thief of sight’ because the loss of sight occurs gradually and a considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision is lost before many people are aware they even have a problem. Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma, and vision loss is irreversible, but if detected early, treatment is able to slow down and, in many cases, even stop the progression of the condition. The key is early identification and the best way to do this is by having regular eye exams.

What are the types of glaucoma?

There are up to 40 types of glaucoma, which can be subdivided into primary and secondary glaucoma.

Primary glaucoma is a subset of glaucoma defined by an open, normal appearing anterior chamber angle and raised intraocular pressure (IOP), with no other underlying disease. If there is an identifiable underlying cause for raised IOP, i.e., injury, surgery or other eye disease, this is termed secondary glaucoma.

In healthy eyes, the rate of fluid production equals the rate it flows out of the eye, which maintains a stable intraocular pressure. Fluid (otherwise known as aqueous humour) flows out of the eye through a spongy tissue known as the trabecular meshwork. The trabecular meshwork sits in the ‘drainage angle’ between the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the cornea (the clear, protective outer layer). If the outward flow of fluid is reduced or blocked, a build-up occurs, and this leads to an increase in IOP. The higher the intraocular pressure, the more likely a person is to develop glaucoma. However, high IOP in itself is not sufficient to confirm a diagnosis of glaucoma. In fact, up to 30-40% of all people with glaucoma actually have pressure within the normal range, which is known as normal tension glaucoma.

 

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma usually affects the peripheral (side) vision first and is generally not associated with any other symptoms so as a result many people can remain unaware they have the condition until their eyesight is significantly compromised. The exception is a condition known as angle closure glaucoma, a more severe but thankfully less common form of glaucoma which is characterised by the sudden closure of the drainage angle within the eye. It results in the complete blockage of the trabecular meshwork and a rapid increase in eye pressure that causes vision to deteriorate quickly. Angle-closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment to prevent sight loss. People with angle closure glaucoma can get blurred vision, pain and a red eye, and might see haloes around bright lights. Yet, even in this condition there may be few symptoms present in the early stages.

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma occurs due to the pressure increasing in the eye, due to the gradual blockage of the trabecular meshwork and drainage angle. There is also a relationship between the pressure within the eye and the cerebro-spinal fluid pressure behind the optic nerve. If the intra-ocular pressure is too high and the cerebro-spinal fluid pressure too low damage occurs to the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting the visual signal to the brain.

Who is at risk of glaucoma?

You are at higher risk of developing glaucoma if you have:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • High intra-ocular pressure (IOP)
  • Aged over 50
  • Short-sighted or long-sighted
  • Use of cortisone (steroid) medications for long periods
  • Diabetes
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Suffer migraine headaches
  • History of an eye operation or eye injury

 

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

An optometrist is able to detect glaucoma as part of a thorough eye examination.

There are four major tests to detect glaucoma.

  1. Tonometry: A device is used to measures the fluid pressure within the eye.
  2. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): Is a computerised ultrasound that measures the thickness of the retinal nerve fibres. Glaucoma causes the gradual thinning of the retinal nerve fibre layer, which if becomes too pronounced causes a loss of vision. The OCT measures the thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layer to the micron or one-thousandth of a millimetre. In many cases an OCT is able to detect glaucoma before vision is lost.
  3. Visual fields test: Glaucoma causes blind spots to develop in the peripheral or side vision. A visual field analyser is a computerised instrument that is able to test the sensitivity of your peripheral vision.
  4. Gonioscopy: Evaluates the eyes drainage network to see whether there are any signs of blockage.

A thorough glaucoma examination will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

Treatment of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is treated by reducing the eye’s intra-ocular pressure. The primary way to do this is with eye drops. Glaucoma drops work by two primary mechanisms, one is to reduce the production of fluid within the eye, the other aims to improve the drainage of fluid out of the eye. In difficult to control cases often a combination of the two types of drops can be used.

The second way to lower pressure is with the use of laser, which is applied to the trabecular meshwork to facilitate improved drainage of fluid out of the eye. The laser is quick and painless and is becoming the treatment of choice since it may remove the need to use drops, which people can often forget to use and can also cause eye irritation.

The third option is to have a stent inserted in the eye’s drainage angle, which can help facilitate improved drainage of the aqueous humour. Micro-stents are usually performed at the same time as cataract surgery, which has also been shown to help reduce intra-ocular pressure.

If pressure cannot be controlled with medications and ongoing damage to the optic nerve occurs then glaucoma drainage surgery may be required. Drainage surgery involves surgically cutting the eye and inserting a drainage tube, it is a more invasive procedure but can reduce pressure more than other treatment options.

Summary

The key to effectively managing glaucoma is early identification. We recommend all people over the age of 50 have a glaucoma check once every 3 years, or sooner if you have any significant risk factors.

Please contact us to arrange a test today.


Diagnosing Dry Eye Syndrome

Our eyes are the most sensitive and easily disturbed part of your body. Even with slight irritation, they may start watering. Therefore, we have to take extra care in order to maintain eye health and prevent inflammation, especially with aging. It is therefore important to understand the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, and how it should be treated.

Tears & Why They’re Important

The eyes produce tears to remove irritants and to keep our eyes lubricated. Tears are made up of:

  • Mucus
  • Oil
  • Antibodies
  • Water

The above-quoted ingredients come from special glands around your eyes. An excess tear-flow from your eyes can occur due to poor tear drainage or overproduction of tears. Watery eyes are often not harmful but can be the cause of irritation. Alternatively, dry eye condition means that glands around the eyes aren’t working properly, and cannot adequately moisturise the eye.

What Happens If Tears Don’t Work Properly?

The production of tears is a natural cleaning mechanism, flushing away foreign objects that may come into contact with the eye easily. With the dry eye syndrome, the eye can not remove irritants effectively, and one of the two things can happen; insufficient or excessive production of tears. Inadequate production of tears may cause:

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Continuous discharge of mucus
  • Swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

If your eyes drops out water continuously, the result is often Reflex Tearing. This is because your eyes will send a distress signal to your nervous system to have the eyes lubricated to overcome the irritation and dryness. And as a result, excessive tear production will start.

Causes Of Dry Eye Syndrome?

There are many reasons described by science for this syndrome. However, the main ones are:

  • An unbalanced tear flow system
  • Dried tear film
  • Drug-induced side effects
  • Natural aging process
  • Menopause
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Collagen vascular diseases
  • Lagophthalmos
  • Blepharitis
  • Uneven eyelids
  • Long-term use of contact lenses

How Is The Syndrome Diagnosed?

You need to go through a comprehensive eye examination to determine the exact quality and quantity of your tears that are produced. Furthermore, your doctor will go through some more procedures to determine the exact cause of the syndrome, and those tests will include:

  • General medical history to note the symptoms and health problems
  • Environmental causes and age factor that may add more to dry eye condition
  • External assessment of the eye like the eyelid structure and blink dynamics
  • Eyelid and cornea evaluation with bright light and magnifying glasses
  • Tear abnormality along with quality and quantity difference
  • Insertion of special dyes will be performed to observe the tear flow along with changes in the outer surface

Once your optometrist/doctor performs all of the above tests, then he/she will be suggesting the best treatment based on the current situation to smoothen out your dry eye condition.

Various Types Of Treatments For Dry Eyes

There are a lot of treatments available for treating dry eye syndrome. However, here are a few that your healthcare provider will prescribe depending on the severity of your condition. These are:

  • Artificial ointments and teardrops
  • Conserving tears
  • Non-dissolving punctal plugs
  • Punctal occlusion by cautery
  • Lipiflow
  • Temporary Punctal occlusion
  • Cequa
  • Testosterone cream
  • Lifitegrast
  • Xiidra
  • Fish oil

These solutions are not to be administered without an expert optometrist’s prescription and advice. Visit us today to book your eye test consultation with our expert doctors and optometrist.


Blonde woman in city wearing glasses, coat and beanie

How can the cold affect your eyes?

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. Cold and windy weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes resulting in a burning or itching sensation.

Blonde woman in city wearing glasses, coat and beanieDry eye is a common visual condition which affects one in four people worldwide and is more likely to occur in women and the elderly. The medical name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Symptoms can include burning, scratchiness or irritation, redness, watering and even blurred vision. Although dry eye is generally not a sight-threatening condition, for those who suffer from it, it is often more than just a minor aggravation. Dry eye can be caused by insufficient tear production from the lacrimal gland or an unstable lipid layer, which is the thin oily layer on the outer most part of the tear film.

Some tips to get you through the winter months:

  • Talk to your optometrist about the best eye drops for your eyes
  • Stay hydrated, drink lots of water
  • When heating indoors try using a humidifier
  • Keep distance from blowing heat sources
  • No matter how irritated your eyes are, don’t rub your eyes

For more information on dry eye or any other eye disorder, contact your Optometrist.

 


dark chocolate in a teal bowl

Can dark chocolate improve our eyesight?

Chocolate lovers rejoice!
Recent research by the University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry, in San Antonio, Texas USA, suggests that eating dark chocolate could improve visual clarity.

dark chocolate in a teal bowlBars with more than 72% cacao increase ocular blood flow which enhances macular function and sharpens the ability to read words and numbers.

The new research tested people 2 hours after eating 47g of 72% Cacao dark chocolate, and again after 40g milk chocolate in separate sessions more than 3 days apart. The testing looked at various aspects of visual performance.

More than 70% of people scored significantly higher after eating the dark chocolate. The biggest improvement was in contrast sensitivity, which helps us see in low light, or when text is poorly printed. Another area that improved was visual acuity – a measure of the sharpness of vision.

Cacao beans are rich in flavanol, an organic compound which improves blood flow in the brain and cardiovascular system and aids in reducing inflammation.

Researchers proposed increases in blood flow could explain the improvements, but suggested more work needs to be done to understand the exact mechanism. In the meantime we think it sounds like a good excuse to load up on dark chocolate and do some private testing. Sounds like a delicious experiment.


Back to School Eye Exams

The back to school season brings a flurry of emotions for parents of school aged children. We all know that kids grow quickly, which often means its time a new uniform as well as stationery, books and a long list of other back to school equipment. But there’s one area in particular that often gets neglected – their eyes.

 

As school recommences in 2022, it is important to get your child’s eyes examined.  Approximately 20% of children in Australia suffer from a vision problem and worse yet, children often think that what they see is normal so they are unlikely to flag any issues with teachers or parents.

 

Vision problems can significantly affect learning with a recent Australian study of Year 3 children finding that those who were screened and identified as requiring glasses scored considerably lower in their NAPLAN relative to their peers.

 

Children of any age can have their eyes examined but it’s highly recommended that children starting kindergarten see their local optometrist to ensure they are getting the very best start to their schooling life.

Common signs of possible vision problems to look out for include:

  • Frequent squinting
  • Eye rubbing
  • Eye turn
  • Holding reading materials very close to their eyes

 

It’s equally important for parents to bring their children in for regular follow up eye examinations if they are already in glasses so that we can identify any changes to their script and make adjustments accordingly.

 

You can book an appointment with our practice today to ensure your child’s eye health.


10 Foods to Assist Your Vision

Eating the right foods can protect your vision and keep you healthy. Adding vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.1 You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and a lot of other foods.

Here are the top 10 foods that will boost your eye health.1, 2

Carrots

The hype is true, carrots are good for your eyes. These crunchy root vegetables are a great source of vitamin A, which is important for keeping your cornea clear. Carrots get their bright orange colour from beta carotene, which is essential for vitamin A production in the body.  Other foods rich in beta carotene include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, mangoes, apricots and rockmelon (and any other bright yellow or orange fruits and veggies you can get your hands on).

Fish

Fish is a very good source of omega-3, which is an important nutrient for eye health. Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid which are essential for your body to produce new cells, muscles, nerves and organs, as well as having potent anti-inflammatory properties. They benefit our eye by nourishing the retina and aid tear production to keep the eyes moist and healthy, reducing dry eye syndrome.

Leafy green vegetables

Easy to digest, easy to include into every meal, and readily available, leafy greens are great not just for your eyes, but for your overall health. The darker the green, the better they are for you.  Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and green veggies are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for keeping your retina healthy. Broccoli, avocados and peas are also good sources of this powerful combination of antioxidants.

Berries and Citrus fruits

Oranges, lemons, red capsicum and berries are high in Vitamin C – a water soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye. Vitamin C also promotes healthy bones, skin and blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries in the retina.

Legumes and Pulses

Legumes are plants, pods and seeds that belong to the Fabaceae family. They refer to foods like peas and beans, such as green beans and broad beans. Pulses are dried legumes. They include chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, mung beans, and lentils. Not only are legumes and pulses a protein powerhouse and an excellent source of fibre, they are also full of omega-3.

Nuts

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whichever take your fancy, are excellent sources of Vitamin E and minerals such as zinc that help keep your eyes healthy and may decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Seeds

Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E to help fight age-related eye health issues. Seeds such as chia seeds, pepitas, flaxseed, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds will help protect your retina.

Extra-virgin olive oil

The queen of oils, extra virgin olive oil can help your body absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, those all-important carotenoids that are vital for good eye health.

Eggs

Two of the most powerful antioxidants for eye protection, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found generously in egg yolks, just like in leafy green vegetables. When you have them in your omelette, you’re increasing your chances of antioxidant absorption because of the high-fat content of eggs. You also get ample vitamin C and E in the egg yolk, which are believed to be helpful against macular degeneration.

Lean Meat

Protein from lean meats such as beef, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey etc) or pork can be beneficial to your eyesight.  Beef is rich in vitamin A and zinc, both of which are beneficial to your cornea and your retina. Poultry and pork are also good sources of zinc.

 

As well as adding these 10 superfoods to your diet, you should also consider piling your plate with plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to get your two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. The more colourful your cuisine gets, the better it will be for your eye health. As an added bonus, your overall health will benefit too.

 

References

1. American Optometric Association , “Diet and Nutrition,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y.

2. L. Arundel, “Top foods that can improve your eye health,” Good Vision For Life, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2016/08/04/top-ten-foods-can-improve-eye-health/

 


Holiday Trading Hours

Holiday Trading Hours

 

Our Practice will be closed from Friday, December 24 and will re-open on Tuesday, January 4.

On behalf of everyone at Vedelago, we hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.


Have you used your health fund benefits?

2022 is fast approaching, which means most health fund rebates will expire unless you make a claim.

To get into the end of the year spirit and to help with a fresh new look, we'd like to gift you $50* towards your next pair of spectacles or sunglasses.

This offer is valid from 1 November until 31 January 2022, so even if you've used your optical health fund benefits for this year, you can make a new claim from 1 January and take advantage of these great offers.

Book in your consultation now.

 

 

*Redeemable for new purchases from 1 November 2021 towards purchase of complete frames and lenses. To claim your 2021 rebate, orders must be collected by 31 December 2021. Not to be used in conjunction with any other discounts, packages or offers. Not redeemable on contact lenses. One voucher per patient only.


What is blue light and do we need to protect our eyes from it?

Last year saw an influx of new buzzwords. COVID-19 ruled, of course, but it was in good company with ‘pivot’, ‘new normal’, ‘zoom’ and ‘social distance’. Equally buzz-worthy and a concept that may have hit your radar at a similar time are blue light filtering glasses. Since these are the only buzzworthy concepts from the aforementioned list that we can speak of with authority, let’s take a look into what exactly blue light is and why it’s causing such a stir.

What is blue light?

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum – it’s the light we can physically see whereas ultraviolet (UV) and infrared light are outside the visible light spectrum. Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. These waves range in length and strength and emit energy. The length of these waves is measured in nanometres (nm) with 1 nanometre equalling 1 billionth of a metre.

Blue light comes from both natural and artificial sources. Sunlight is a natural source, while the blue light emitted from digital screens, electronic devices and LED lights is artificial. Blue light has a very short wavelength and as a result produces more energy. Studies suggest that long term exposure to blue light may damage your eyes.

How does blue light affect us?

Sunlight is the main source of blue light and is everywhere. Our bodies use blue light to regulate our natural sleep cycles, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm. Our mood, level of alertness and overall wellbeing can be aided by natural blue light.

Blue light waves are the shortest, highest energy wavelengths of the visible light spectrum, in turn meaning they can potentially damage the internal structures of the eyes such as the retina and macula. Children are particularly susceptible to these damaging effects since the young eye is less able to filter blue light.

Blue light and ARMD

Clinical studies suggest that exposure to High Energy Visible (HEV) blue light can be a risk factor for macular degeneration.

Age and lifestyle factors such as poor diet and smoking are even greater risk factors for the development of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

Digital eye strain

Blue light is believed to be responsible for digital eye strain. Flickering blue light from digital screens creates glare and impacts visual clarity, contrast and sharpness. Blue light has also been implicated in migraines.

Today, we have a plethora of electronic gadgets to keep us connected with friends, family and colleagues, not to mention entertain ourselves (Netflix anyone?). Unfortunately, one of the by-products of this use of technology, is the amount of time we are spending staring at digital screens, often excessive.

Sadly, it’s not just adults that are affected. Children are increasingly using digital devices to play, read and even do schoolwork. This combination of more screen time and less “green time” (time spent outdoors in nature and natural light) can harm children’s vision and puts them at risk of developing myopia or near-sightedness.

There are certain factors when it comes to reducing the risks for children developing myopia that are within parents’ control, the main one being keeping screen time to a minimum. The World Health Organization (WHO) released daily screen guidelines for young children in April 2019. They recommend infants (less than 1 year old) should not have any screen time while those aged 2-5 should have no more than 1 hour of screen time per day. The American Academy of Paediatrics goes on to suggest that children over the age of 5 and into teenage years, don’t need a specific time limit put in place so long as digital consumption doesn’t interfere with physical activity and sleep.

To help parents/ carers, we’ve put together our top 5 suggestions to help minimise screen time and reduce digital eye strain.

5 tips for parents dealing with increased screen time
  • Choose wisely – make a point to check up on what your kids are watching or playing. Children don’t always know what’s appropriate for their age and it’s easy for them to lose track of time. There’s a host of apps available to help you monitor your child’s viewing habits so consider these if necessary.
  • No screen time before bed and keep devices out of the bedrooms at night.
  • Make time for media with your kids but don’t forget reading. Reading to your child promotes bonding and prepares them for learning.
  • Practice what you preach. Kids are very good at observing those around them so be mindful of how much time you personally spend on devices. Make a point to schedule downtime and allocate time for chores, outdoor time, reading and homework.
  • Consider blue light filtering lenses such as TechShield Blue (even if you’re not a prescription glasses wearer) as they assist in reducing the amount of blue light penetrating the eye.