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Visiondirect.co.uk on YouTube

For those of you that enjoy watching tutorials on YouTube rather than reading through loads of text, we are slowly but steadily building up our YouTube channel with educational content. Our opticians have lately been running some Hangouts, which now are available to view on YouTube. Feel free to ask us to create more tutorials and let us know what you find useful!


Fight for Sight Carrots NightWalk – update with pictures!

Last month, a pleasantly mild September evening again saw hundreds of people take part in Fight for Sight’s Carrots NightWalk, an annual walk to raise money for research into blindness and eye disease that has raised over £200,000 over the past two years.  With it coinciding with the UK’s National Eye Health week a number of the Vision Direct crew turned up to participate in the 6 mile walk. Here are a few pictures from the event.

They might have gotten a little lost on the way, the brave souls, but did complete the route and make it back to Vision Direct HQ eventually.

Join us on the Carrot Nightwalk!

Fight for Sight is the UK’s largest charity dedicated to funding eye research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease. Carrot Nightwalks are Fights for Sight’s flagship fundraising events: night-time sponsored walks taking in spectacular city sights. This Friday, some of the Vision Direct crew are travelling to London to participate in this year’s walk.

Fight for Sight are also rolling the Carrots Nightwalk out to three other cities this year: Galsgow, Cardiff and Birmingham. You’ll have to move fast if you want to take part. The walk is taking place tomorrow: September 20th. You can find information on the official website http://fightforsight.org.uk/carrots-charity-nightwalk. We hope to see you there!

Visiondirect.co.uk is partaking in the Carrots Nightwalk

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Eye anatomy diagram

What is AMD?

AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) is an eye disease that comes with age and destroys the macula (a cluster of light-sensitive cells in the centre of the retina.) AMD gradually worsens, but can progress fast depending on what stage it is in and may require immediate consultation. It will be explained what symtoms AMD has, risk factors of AMD and researched done concerning AMD treatments and/or cures.

AMD stages, symtoms and forms

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Europe. It has two forms; wet and dry. Once blood vessels are leaking the condition is identified as the worst stage; wet AMD, before then it is considered dry. Dry AMD is a breakdown of the tissue that supports the photoreceptors (the rod and cone cells). It will generally occur in both eyes, vision becomes cloudy and distorted. AMD in general has several stages:

Stage 1: Early AMD

Characterized by several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. At this stage, there are no symptoms nor vision loss.

Stage 2: Intermediate AMD

Characterized by many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen. Some people see a blurred spot in the centre of their vision. More light for reading and other tasks is required.

Stage 3: Advanced Dry AMD

People with advanced dry AMD have a breakdown of light-sensitive cells and supporting tissue in the central retinal area. This breakdown can cause a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and darker, deteriorating more of the central vision. You may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces until they are very close to you.

Stage 4: The unpredictable – Wet AMD

People who get wet AMD would have also have had dry AMD but there is no way to tell when or how dry eye becomes the wet form. Some people can go from stage 1 directly to stage 4. Wet AMD is more serious that dry and can damage the retina within two days. Wet AMD is caused by the blood vessels behind the retina growing under the macula, these then raise the macula above its normal position and thereby causes rapid damage.

Who is at the greatest risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration ?

Treatment of AMD

Once AMD reaches the dry advanced stage (3), no form of treatment can prevent vision loss. However, treatment can delay and possibly prevent intermediate age-related macular degeneration (stage 2) from progressing.

Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that taking a specific high-dose nutritional supplement formulation of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduces the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss.

Research about AMD

There are a number of innovative treatments for dry AMD being tested by a wide range of researchers and research is ongoing:

Stem cells offer hope for curing blindness

The journal Nature Biotechnology published a study which supports a possibility of restoring eye sight by using stem cells, for blindness caused by a loss of photoreceptors.

BBC reports that by building retinas in the laboratory, stem cells were collected and injected into the eyes of blind mice. Out of 200,000 stem cells, about 1,000 hooked up with the blind eye which means that a great number of stem cells will be needed for presumed human trials. However, much speaks for the technology. The risk for rejection by the immune system in a human is low in the eye and the physical size of stem cells that could potentially improve vision would not require a lot of space. The lead researcher Prof Robin Ali thought that five years is a realistic aim for starting a clinical trial.

Dry eye syndrome: Reasons, symptoms, risks and treatments

Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and clear vision. Dry eye is an uncomfortable condition identified by either a lack of tears, or poor quality of tears.

Reasons for dry eye

  • Dysfunction of the eye’s inner mucus layer which spreads tears evenly
  • Inadequate amount of tears in the eye’s middle watery layer (most common)
  • Dysfunction of the eye’s outer oily layer which prevents tears to evaporate too quickly

Symptoms of dry eye

  • Feeling of sand in the eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Stinging, burning eyes
  • Inability to wear contact lenses for longer periods without discomfort

Risk factors for developing dry eye

Prevent and improve dry eye – self care

  • Be sure to include plenty of water (8-10 glasses), omega-3 fish, antioxidants, potassium, vitamin E+A and zinc in your diet
  • Exercise – a good workout will keep oxidative stress away
  • Use eye drops (artificial tears solution)
  • Check medicines you are already using for dry eye side effects
  • Blink regularly when reading or using a computer screen for long periods of time
  • Wear sunglasses to reduce exposure to sun/wind (preferably a wrapped model)
  • Use nutritional supplements for eyes
  • Hypoallergenic and opthalmologist-tested makeup

What if nothing helps?

Seek professional help. Your eye care professional may perform a Shirmer’s test to determine tear production of the eyes, depending on your individual needs. Your medical history as well as an individual physical consultation may also be required to determine a suitable treatment. When it comes to dry eye, one size does not fit all. There are many reasons thus many treatments and solutions for dry eye syndrome. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with your ophthalmologist to identify the reason and get the relevant treatment when applicable.

Checklist for excellent contact lens hygiene and healthy eyes

Contact lenses are safe to use for vision correction, when following care and wearing instructions. However, when contact lens wearers do not use lenses as directed, the consequences may endanger their eye health. Lacking hygiene and cleanliness is e.g. one of the most common reasons for eye complications in context of using contacts. Some basic advice for contact lens users will follow.

A good checklist for preventing contact lens related eye complications is to follow recommendations for contact lens wearers from the American Optometric Association:

  • Wash your hands, lathering for at least 10-15 seconds and dry thoroughly before handling contact lenses.
  • Clean contact lenses regularly and as directed by your optician; either with multi-purpose solution, peroxide solution and/or an additional contact lens cleaner. Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store lenses. Avoid to re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, even if lenses are not used daily.
  • Saline will not disinfect, but can be used to rinse lenses, which also applies to extended wear or daily disposables.
  • Store lenses in the designated lens case and replace your case at the very least every three months, preferably monthly. Clean lens cases after each use and keep it open and dry between cleanings.
  • Follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your optician.
  • See your optician for annual contact lens and eye examinations as your needs may change. If you want to swap contacts for another brand, ask your optician at your check-up for advice of your individual suitability for wearing a lens.

As the British Contact Lens Association mentions, three simple questions can be used as an initial checklist for the health state of your eyes;

  1. Do my eyes feel good with contact lenses inserted?
  2. Do my eyes look good (no redness)?
  3. Do I see well (no blurring)?
If the answer is no on any of the above, it is advised to consult your eye care professional for assistance. Our in house optician Benjamin can also be contacted for any questions you might have.