The contact lens once had but one humble goal – to correct the world’s vision problems one fuss-free lens at a time. It wasn’t long before our human vanity turned the simple contact lens into a fashion accessory, allowing us to change the colour, and shape of our eyes, to attract a mate, turn ourselves into red-eyed demons, or simply achieve that cat-eyed look we’d all been searching for. And now we humans are taking contact lenses one step further – with virtual reality lenses.
Yes, you read that right. Contact lenses may never look the same again, thanks to the boffins over at eye specialists Innovega. Their iOptik innovation, a new kind of dual focus contact lens, has the ability to project 3D images onto the eye itself. So if you’ve ever dreamed of wandering around your own virtual reality world without having to strap on that unwieldy virtual reality head gear, your chance to become Predator is finally here. Almost.
These lenses aren’t quite as space age as you might hope. For starters, for these things to work, you’ll still need to wear glasses. You see, the lenses work by projecting images from these glasses, onto the contact lenses, which allows the wearer to focus in on the information being displayed, as well as the world around them, simultaneously. Sound like a headache?
These lenses give your eyes powers that they don’t have naturally. Using two filters for each lens, you’ll be able to focus clearly on two focal planes at the same time. Which is more than a little mindblowing. By directing light to both the centre of the pupil as well as the pupil rim, you’ll be able to clearly see the world around you, only with handy data projected over the top.
Never ones to miss a beat when it comes to cutting edge battlefield technology, the US military’s research lab, DARPA, have already expressed an interest, because these new lenses will allow troops in the field a far wider range of vision.
For those of us thankfully not on the battlefield, these new lenses could mean handy visual pointers as we wander round town – directional arrows and the like. It could also turn the daily commute into a world of hands-free fun, as we sit back, relax and watch the latest movie releases directly on our eyeballs, with no need for separate screens. And your favourite console game will be taken to the next level, as your shoot-em-up components, zombies and monsters wander all around your field of vision, making it feel like they’re in your living room. Scary? Exciting? Possibly both.
These new iOptik lenses are ready to go. In fact, the Pentagon’s already placed an order. For us mere mortals not at the forefront of US military operations though, a general release date has been pencilled in for 2014. So that gives interested parties two years to save up (these lenses are NOT going to be cheap), Google two years to get their Project Glass up to dual projection speed, and the rest of us time to ponder what this new development could mean for humankind and future technologies. No more living in the real world? Future evil governments feeding 3D propaganda directly into our brains? Or, gasp, no more TV?
While they may save you money in the short term, cheap, over-the counter reading glasses could end up costing your eyesight. While prescription lenses used to cost hundreds of pounds, competition within the market has brought the price of glasses and contact lenses down, and we’re now seeing a boom in the so-called ‘ready readers’ market – non-prescription glasses that are available from supermarkets and petrol stations for as little as £1 a pair. But can these glasses really compare to made-to-measure prescription glasses and contact lenses?
It’s easy to see the appeal of ready readers. Pick them up at the supermarket without the need for a lengthy eye exam, and at just a few pounds a pair, it doesn’t matter if you lose or break them. But wearing the wrong lens prescription can cause serious problems. Besides the hazards presented by not being able to see clearly, the wrong lenses can cause blurred vision, eye strain, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even double vision.
The biggest problem with off-the-peg lenses, is that the centre point of the two lenses might not be aligned correctly. This can lead to serious eye strain, as it means that the sight in one eye might be clear while the other is blurred. The brain has to readjust the visual picture for you, trying to rebalance your vision, and this is what leads to strained, tired eyes, and in many cases, headaches too.
Ideally, the optical centres of lenses need to be around 62mm from each side of the lens. Many ready readers fail to meet this criteria, and depending on how near set or wide set your eyes are, the optical centre positioning may be completely unsuitable for your own individual eyesight.
While the cheap price tag may be a sight for sore eyes, this level of affordability often comes at a price. Poorly constructed reading glasses may have uncomfortable frames, unbalanced frames that can lead to head tilt, and may even simply start to fall apart within a few weeks. In some cases, the actual prescription of the lenses has been found to differ from the lens strength shown on the pack. Another issue to watch out for is cheap frames made from nickel, as nickel can cause skin allergies too.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. As the name suggests, ready readers are designed for reading. Those with a lower prescription may find that these over-the-counter lenses are just fine for correcting their vision for reading purposes, but just remember that they’re not designed for walking or other mobile activities. People with a higher prescription of +2 should test out these reading glasses for two minutes in order to check for any discomfort or vision issues, and to ensure that the optical centre points of each lens are aligned properly.
And remember that eye exams aren’t just a vital part of purchasing the right glasses or contact lenses prescription for you, they have an added benefit, in that they can help detect more serious vision problems, eye diseases, and more serious health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Whether you’re looking for a new pair of frames or the right online contact lenses, eye examinations are an essential part of determining the correct eye prescription for you. But during an eye exam, your optometrist will do far more than just determine your prescription. Regardless of your physical health or age, eye tests allow your optometrist to check for serious eye conditions, and indicators of your overall health too. As well as revealing eye problems, eye exams are often the first indicators of more general, and more serious, health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Who Needs Regular Eye Check-Ups?
Whether you feel you have problems with your vision or not, everyone should have their eyes tested periodically as an important part of maintaining our overall health, not just for keeping our eye prescriptions up to date. It’s important for children to have their eyes tested regularly too, as vision problems in young children can lead to slowed learning development, while the earlier these eye problems are detected in young children, the easier they can be to treat.
What your Optometrist is looking For
During an eye exam, besides determining corrective eye prescriptions for glasses and online contact lenses, your optometrist will check for a range of common, and more serious, eye conditions, as well as serious bodily health issues. Some of the things that your eye doctor will routinely look for include:
Refractive and Focusing Errors. Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, are common, and are corrected easily with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. Your optician will also check to see if you have any focusing problems, such as presbyopia. While focusing issues commonly occur as we age, children can suffer from focusing issues too.
Amblyopia. This condition can lead to permanent vision impairment if left untreated. With amblyopia, one of the eyes is turned, or has a significantly different prescription to the other. Images received via the blurry eye will automatically be turned off by the brain as it tries to create a clear visual picture, but by patching the stronger eye for a period, the blurry eye will gain strength, and the eyesight balance will be restored.
Strabismus. This is the medical term for crossed, or turned, eyes. During your eye exam, your optometrist will check to see that your eyes are working together in unison. It’s important to check for this condition as, left long term, strabismus can lead to amblyopia and problems with depth perception.
Eye Alignment. Even the slightest eye misalignment can lead to binocular vision problems, near vision problems, as well as painful eye strain and headaches. Your eye examiner can check for even the most minute misalignment issues and help you correct them.
Diseases. As well as problems with vision, optometrists are able to detect a whole range of health problems during an eye exam, including eye diseases like glaucoma. Early detection often means that any permanent vision impairment is avoided and that the condition is easier to treat. Besides diseases of the eye itself, your eyes act as indicators of other health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Tell tale signs of diabetes can appear in the form of swollen macula, and small eye blood vessel leaks.
So eye exams do so much more than just help us correct our vision. The eyes are truly a window to our general overall health, and with such a wide range of conditions so easily detected with a simple eye exam, we all owe it to ourselves to make routine eye tests part of our everyday health care.
Silicone Hydrogel contact lenses continues to show growth in the market. The new daily disposable silicone lens Ciba Vision / Alcon DAILIES TOTAL1® will be offered by VisionDirect.co.uk within the next 3 months and we do see an overall growth of the material silicone hydrogel amongst other manufacturers from our own current sales.
Coopervision are also planning to launch a single use silicone hydrogel lens, currently being made in Puerto Rico of all places, and we expect that this will be available in the second half of 2012.
Did you know that Ciba Vision have a royalty on most sales of silicon hydrogel lenses? For example, Coopervision pay around 8% to Ciba today. With Silicon Hydrogel sales growing at around 30% of the industry, the real winners so far are Ciba Vision. To overcome the royalty you need an oxygen transmission below a certain level but this comes at the expense of comfort! Maybe companies Coopervision and Bausch & Lomb could pay a one off royalty to Ciba? If so we expect that prices should drop in the future and consumers will benefit as well.
What do Paris Hilton, Abraham Lincoln, TV’s Colombo, Johnny Rotten, and Melissa-Joan “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” Hart all have in common? That’s right, they all have or had lazy eye.
Lazy eye, also known as ‘amblyopia’, is an eye condition that cannot be corrected by glasses or online contact lenses. It is not caused by any disease, rather the brain does not fully recognise images seen by the affected eye. The condition usually only affects one eye, but may sometimes affect both, resulting in a reduction of vision in each eye. It’s important to remember that lazy eye doesn’t lead to a loss of vision, only a reduction.
So, what causes lazy eye? Different things can cause it, such as the constant turning of one eye (strabismus), different vision in each eye (anisometropia), and a blockage in an eye due to a cataract, a drooping lid, or other trauma. Lazy eye can be treated when you’re still young, so if you have children then it’s a good idea to get them checked out sooner rather than later.
The most common of these causes is anisometropia. Usually, the eyes have the same qualities in terms of vision and light refraction, whereas with anisometropia, they are different. This can be corrected with glasses, or you can look for online contact lenses. Soft disposable lenses can be used, though if you have other problems such as astigmatism, then custom-made contact lenses are the best course of action. As usual, check with a doctor.
Other treatments include forcing the lazy eye to be used, by patching over the unaffected eye or by using topical atropine eye drops in it. This has to be managed well, as it can result in reverse lazy eye in the good eye – hardly the situation we’re aiming for.
Contact lenses are often the standard method of dealing with lazy eye – good news for us all, thanks to their ease of use. Children who don’t fully understand their condition, or their treatment, can use contact lenses and not have to go through the difficulty of wearing glasses.
Today we’re talking about computers and eyes – don’t worry, not computers with eyes, so there’s no chance of a T1000 coming back from the future to make off with your lunch money, and no spaceship controlling super computers will be reading your lips as you decide to shut them down. I wouldn’t venture out of the escape pods just yet, though, as were looking at reasons that your eyes suffer from strain when you use computers – and what can be done about it.
If you wear contact lenses, you will need to pay extra attention to how long you stay in front of a screen. It’s not always the screen itself that causes eye strain or dry eyes, but there are other factors at work. It might be the lighting of the room, or how often you take breaks that causes your eye strain. It’s important to use proper lighting, as this stops your eyes from straining to see the screen. You can eliminate exterior light by closing the blinds, and try to reduce interior lighting, too. If you have an office with white walls and desks, then the glare can be quite strong. In this instance it’s best to take a break. Go get yourself a cup of coffee – it’ll do wonders for your eyes.
Another tip for avoiding eye strain is of course to keep your eye drops to hand. If you wear contact lenses, then your eyes will dry out faster than if you don’t, which is an uncomfortable thought. You might want to try blinking more, too, as believe it or not you actually blink less when you use a computer. Sitting and staring at a screen is without doubt a short-cut to dry eyes, and it’s worth keeping these ideas in mind when you’ve got an all-nighter of essay writing/a great Xbox game on the cards.
Even if you’re reading a book rather than glazing over in front a screen, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes exercised. You can do this by shifting your focus away from the screen, and onto other points. For example, take a look around the room. Doing this is great exercise for your eyes. And stops them from getting tired.
We at Vision Direct take an interest in all things eye related, and it’s no wonder we get all giddy with excitement when we think about our burgeoning eye lexicon. It’s not just contact lenses and contact lens solution soup here at Vision Direct towers – oh no. We know a good time when we see one, and word games are right up there. So without further ado, it’s time for us to walk down that optic nerve of fun and check out some of the eye phrases that have been catching our, er, eye recently.
There are heaps of famous quotes related to eyes, and some, like “An eye, an eye, my kingdom for an eye”, that we made up. A great quote related to eyes comes in the form of “The eyes are mirrors to the soul”. Now, Mrs Vision Direct was sure that this was Shakespeare, but a bit of research tells us that it is in fact an old proverb – Yiddish, to be precise. It’s fairly self-explanatory, but captures the beauty that first attracted us to the eye, and led to a grand career in contact lenses and other eye products.
The Bible can be a source of refuge for Vision Direct in our darker moments, not least because of the wonderful quotes on eyes contained therein. Well, they’re not exactly beautiful, but they’re certainly well known. “An eye for an eye” is a good one, coming as it does in the Old Testament, which is often full of vengeful heroes like Samson and Gideon. This was developed further in the New Testament through Jesus, and became the famous “turn the other cheek” maxim. Much later, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, jr, said that an eye for an eye “leaves everyone blind”. And how right they were.
Moving on, it’s time to talk about fruit. Apples, to be precise. They’ve played an important role in history, from Sir Isaac Newton to Steve Jobs and his shiny toys, and, of course, they make an important appearance in the Good Book. For did the serpent not tempt Eve with the fruit from the tree of knowledge? True, but you can also talk about the apple of your eye, which again comes from the Bible. This particular phrase refers to something or someone that you cherish – that is the apple of your eye.
Animals also have eyes, and form the basis of some other great phrases. You can have eagle eyes, or eyes like a hawk, meaning that you can spot delicious looking voles and carrion whilst on the wing. There’s also the “eye of the tiger”, a song made famous by the film Rocky III. It’s best to focus on the heroism part of this phrase, rather than the descent into self-parody which comes later.
Eye tests are pretty routine, and are really nothing to worry about. You don’t have to face any needles, for a start, and you can do it sitting down. What’s not to like about that? We’re not talking Clockwork Orange-style sitting down – in case you were wondering – and you certainly won’t be hearing any Beethoven. There are different stages to eye tests, and whether you’re thinking about prescription lenses, coloured contact lenses, or just a simple check up, there are some things worth checking out.
The optometrist will want to check different aspects of your eye, such as pressure, focus, your retina, optic nerve, and the outer surfaces of your eyes. Each of these checks uses different techniques and equipment, and each one is as painless as the other.
Firstly, lets look at the classic test, the ophthalmoscope. This is the special torch used to look at the retina at the back of the eye, and can reveal information about your optic nerve. Your eye doctor will darken the room, and shine a light into your eyes. This might leave shadows in your vision, but can help your eye doctor find out it you’re susceptible to diabetes or high blood pressure.
There are a couple of very precise eye tests which are used to detect more than just eye health. A well-known test, called the Schirmer’s test, measures the health of the tear duct by detecting a person’s tear quantity. For the contact lens wearer, the Schirmer test is important because uncomfortable contact lenses can dry out the eye – finding the right pair is important.
Another well-known test is the TTT/NIBUT test. Not to be confused with the Schirmer test, the NIBUT test measures a person’s lachrymal film. In terms of contact lenses, this is a very important test as it is essential for the eye to retain the tear film after each blink. The eye’s lachrymal health can be measured before starting to wear contacts.
Another test commonly used by doctors involves using a slit lamp, which is a powerful, illuminated microscope. This is used to check the outer surfaces of your eyes, such as the lens, cornea, and iris. Your eye doctor will use it to check for scratches or abnormalities. If you wear contact lenses or colour contact lenses, then this is an important test.
When your eye doctor tests the pressure in your eyes, he’ll use something called a tonometer. This blows puffs of air at your eyes, which is then bounced back to the machine. This allows it to read the pressure of your eye, which can indicate the onset of glaucoma.
To test the focus of your eyes, the eye doctor will use an autorefractor, which can help tell your doctor what type of glasses or contact lenses you need. With all these different checks, your eyes are in good hands. It’s important to remember to have regular eye checks, even if you’re thinking of using coloured contact lenses.
Ever wondered if there’s a little biology behind this fabled saying? When you’re sitting pretty at a bar or party and you catch sight of the man or woman of your dreams, what you see is setting off a whole load of nervy triggers around the body.
Behind all the thrill and excitement of seeing someone that gets your heartbeat racing is some solid science. There is a reason why your beholden seemed to hit a nerve as soon as you saw them – it’s because they did.
Our eyes are highly complicated nervous systems. The Optic Nerve, in particular, is the most important. The optic, also known as the cranial nerve II, is a continuation of the axons of the ganglion cells in the retina. The optic nerve, which acts like a cable connecting the eye with the brain, actually is more like brain tissue than it is nerve tissue.
To you and me, it means that this extra-special nerve carries all the vital, visual information from the eye to the brain. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it is also in the hands of the brain. When we set our eyes on a physical specimen that sets of lustful desires, a message is sent from eye to brain. With approximately 1.1 million nerve cells in each optic nerve, there is some pretty complicated and epic activity at play! What we see hugely effects the way we think and in a split second, we can feel like we’re falling…
So what if you’re eyesight isn’t so good and you miss out on this life-changing wonder? For love at first sight, make sure you’re wearing the right contact lenses. You never know what you might be missing out if you don’t – the love of your life might pass by and your brain will never have the privilege of seeing who he or she was…
There are things that are worth seeing – like your future partner. Don’t let blurry vision stop your optic nerve sending the right messages.
It is, in case you hadn’t noticed, the year is 2012. That means that the world as we know it is coming to an end: the Mayan calendar, riots on the streets of Tottenham, the Lib Dems in power, Man City poised to win the league … The list is endless. But there’s no need to panic, just hunker down in your bunker and ride the storm out. But this does means no more heading out to the high street for your eyewear, shopping for online contact lenses instead.
There are other benefits to online contact lenses other than staying safe from plague, pestilence, and whatever else the year can throw at you. Buying things online is invariably cheaper, and contact lenses are the same. Without the overheads that high street retailers have to think about, Vision Direct can reduce prices on a whole lot of contact lenses, which is good news for the likes of you and I. The reductions stretch as far as 70% off. It doesn’t end there, either, as the lenses get delivered to your door. For free. And if you don’t feel satisfied, you can return them using FREEPOST. So there’s no reason to step outside whatsoever.
What with Vision Direct not being like a common or garden high street store, there’s also a lot more room for storage. This is great news for our customers, as it means more choice. In fact, it means the choice of 5 million lenses. Imagine all of those on the shelves. Actually, don’t, it’ll blow your mind.
As for quality, well some opticians will tell you that online contact lenses are substandard, and not as good as the high street. To this we can only say “Poppycock!” The contact lenses that you can buy online are of exactly the same quality as those you can buy on the high street. The optician just doesn’t want you going elsewhere. But why pay over the odds for your contact lenses when you can get them cheaper online? It just doesn’t add up. But if you do your sums right, you’ll see that buying online contact lenses makes perfect sense.