HAYFEVER

Hayfever is one of the most common allergic conditions and it is estimated that there are more than 10 million people with hayfever in England. Here are some simple tips to keep hayfever at bay this summer.

Francesca Marchetti from the College of Optometrists advises: “Hayfever can be a real bore during the summer months and cause considerable discomfort for your eyes. Hayfever sufferers endure symptoms including itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, runny or blocked nose and difficulty in breathing. Exposure to pollen may also set off an allergic reaction, leaving eyes swollen and weepy. If you suffer from hayfever your optometrist can advise on how to reduce your symptoms and make things a little more bearable during the summer. In the meantime these tips should help to alleviate your symptoms. ”

Avoid pollen as much as possible by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster.

If your wear contact lenses, ask your optometrist whether you should wear your contact lenses when you have hayfever, and make sure you have an up to date pair of spectacles to wear instead. The level of pollen is usually lower in the evenings so you may find the symptoms ease during that time of the day.

Wear sunglasses which may help to protect your eyes from dust and pollen.

Visit your pharmacist or optometrist to get medicated eye drops to help alleviate the itching and swelling. If you wear contact lenses remember to check if you can use the drops while your lenses are in.

MIGRAINES

People can get migraines or headaches for a variety of different reasons such as hormonal factors, stress, or a particular food or drink. However many people seem to forget that another key trigger can be their vision.

For example, some people who are more light-sensitive find that contrasting colours or repetitive patterns can trigger migraines – this could include black words on a white background, stripes on a shirt, the lines on an escalator or flickering lights. This is because these patterns can overexcite the visual part of the brain, overloading it and in some cases triggering migraine.

Professor Bruce Evans, Director of Research at the Institute of Optometry says:

 Vision-related migraines are most often suffered by children, teenagers and young adults, as the brain’s sensitivity can decrease with age. The good news is that if your migraines are triggered by visual factors then your optometrist may be able to help prevent some of the migraines. For example many optometry practices will have a piece of equipment called an ‘intuitive colorimeter’ which they can use to prescribe glasses with coloured lenses which patients can put on when they are exposed to visual triggers. Research using brain imaging (fMRI) indicates that the coloured filters quieten down the over-activity in the visual part of the brain.”

If you are worried about their headaches or migraines:

If you find that you experience headaches after looking at a computer, reading, or doing other close up work, your headache may be vision-related so seek advice from your optometrist

Children who come home from school complaining of headaches may be experiencing eye strain; seek advice from your optometrist if you notice this in your child

If you experience migraines try to keep a diary of when you’re getting them to help you identify triggers. If you notice that your migraines come on when you are exposed to fluorescent lights (for example in an office or supermarket), flickering lights or stripes, then they may be vision-related

For people who have problems working in offices or other environments that have fluorescent lighting; try to get more natural light as some people have found that this helps with their vision-related migraines

CHILDS EYESIGHT

We know it can be a really busy time getting children ready to go back to school, but it’s important that you remain vigilant and are aware of even small changes in your child’s eye health.

Children won’t necessarily say ‘I can’t see that’ or know what is normal when it comes to their vision. Optometrists can play a significant role in detecting and recognising conditions that may affect a child’s sight by ensuring children receive the appropriate vision tests early enough to make effective treatment, if needed, possible.

Many parents used to have sight tests at schools and there’s an expectation that it will be the same for their children. However, sight tests are very rarely carried out in schools today, and screening should not be confused with a full eye examination. Problems with vision can hinder a child’s development which is why we encourage parents to remain vigilant to any changes and to book an appointment with their optometrist if they notice anything that concerns them.

If you are worried your child might have a problem with their eyes then they are never too young to have them examined. It’s essential that any problems are picked up at an early stage when they are more likely to be treated effectively.

Examples of vision hindering a child’s development:

Being short-sighted might prevent the child from reading the whiteboard correctly

If a child is colour-defective, they won’t be able to see colours correctly which could mean they have trouble using colours, for example, in art lessons they may use the wrong colour for the sky or grass

Having a lazy eye (an eye with reduced vision) or being long-sighted can cause the child to have poor hand-eye coordination – this can be problematic in sports lessons

If a child has a lazy eye it can often affect the child’s 3D vision which can again affect hand-eye coordination

If a child is long-sighted, they might struggle with work at close range such as handwriting, reading and concentrating on small print and tasks requiring close focus – in some cases the child’s inability to read something has led to a misunderstanding of the child’s intelligence

GLASSES OR CONTACTS FOR CHILDREN?

A survey into optometrists’ prescribing habits for children and young people has found that a child’s maturity is more important than age in deciding whether they are suitable to be prescribed contact lenses.

A total of 748 practising optometrists participated in the research and more than half of the respondents said their criteria for fitting contact lenses had not changed over the last five years, however nearly half (45%) of optometrists said they would recommend contact lenses as a preferred form of sight correction by the time a child reaches 15.

Deciding whether contact lenses or glasses are the best option for a child can be difficult. As well as age, optometrists take into account the child’s interest and motivation to wear contact lenses, personal hygiene habits and ability to look after them. The most common reasons for parents requesting contact lenses for their children included glasses interfering with sports (46%) and daily activities (13%.)

College member and optometrist Francesca Marchetti says:

“There are pros and cons for contact lenses and glasses but it’s important that parents are aware of all the options available. For children who play a lot of sport or go to dance classes, parents often choose contact lenses above glasses for practical reasons. If a child feels self- conscious about wearing glasses then contact lenses can also be preferable.

Contact lenses have really advanced in the last five years and they are now far more comfortable and, importantly, breathable which is much better for the overall health of the eye.

However contact lenses are not for every child. Hygiene is a key factor in optometrists recommending contact lenses as they must be kept extremely clean to avoid infection. An optometrist would normally issue daily contact lenses for this reason but if a child isn’t ready to have contacts then glasses can be a better option.

Some children also prefer wearing glasses as they’re often seen as fashionable these days.

The most important thing is that it is the child’s choice and a three way conversation between the parent, optometrist and child should take place before a decision is made. Children develop at different ages and it must be taken on a case by case basis to ensure the right decision is reached for that child.”

DO'S & DON'TS FOR CONTACT LENSES

 

Contact Lens Do's, Don'ts & what to do if a problem occurs.

BEFORE APPLICATION

Gently shake the blister pack before opening. Peel back the foil lid. Pour the lens into the palm of your hand or if necessary, gently slide the lens out of the container using your forefinger. Ensure that the lens is not inside out and that you have the appropriate lens for the eye. Inspect your lens prior to insertion, do not insert if damaged. When removing your lenses make sure that your hands are clean and completely dry. Blink fully several times, then while looking up, slide the lens down onto the white part of your eye. Remove the lens by gently pinching it between the thumb and forefinger. Do not pinch the eye tissue. If you find the lens is difficult to grasp due to its lubricity, dry your fingers once more and try again. Do not use rewetting drops in this instance.

 DO:

·      Follow your doctor's instructions and call the optical practice if you have any questions.

·      Call your eye care professional if you have any redness, pain, swelling or irritation.

·      Report for regularly scheduled follow-up care. Follow-up care is of utmost importance and it is the patient's responsibility to schedule and keep appointments.

·      Follow your wearing time schedule as prescribed by your doctor.

·      Always thoroughly wash, rinse and dry hands before handling lenses.

·      Add a rewetting drop before removing contact lenses.

·      Clean your lenses after wear and before storage to avoid buildup of tough protein deposits and oily films that are difficult to remove.

·      Be thorough, but careful while cleaning a lens, they can tear, chip or crack.

·      Keep soft lenses moist to prevent tearing.

·      Clean rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses in the palm of your hand instead of between your fingers. Clean from center to edge rather than in a circular motion.

·      Use fresh solution in the storage case each night. Be sure lenses are completely covered with solution when storing in the case.

·      Rinse the storage case wells out with warm tap water then with saline after each use and let air dry with the covers off.

·      Re-clean lenses that have dropped on the floor or on your clothes.

·      Always close drain when working near sink. A dark surface cloth or towel may be used to cover the drain.

·      Wear eye protection now that you wear contact lenses. Racket sports, hockey, etc. demand safety eyewear to avoid serious trauma to the eye.

·      Avoid contact with sprays and aerosols (hairsprays, deodorants, spray paint, oven cleaner, etc.)

·      Apply hairspray, deodorant or spray cologne before lens insertion or keep your eyes tightly closed until the spray has settled. A sprayed lens is very uncomfortable and hard to clean.

·      Avoid harmful vapors and fumes especially in work areas while wearing lenses. Wear safety glasses; work under a hood. Inform your employer that you wear contact lenses so that they can recommend safety eyewear if necessary.

·      Avoid dusty environments; wear eye protection.

·      Use caution when adjusting to temperature extremes such as oven, fireplace, freezer or subzero weather.

·      While inserting the lenses, some patients find it easier to hold back the eye lashes, not just the skin folds above and below the lashes.

·      Keep storage case and a small bottle of lubricant or saline with you at all times for emergency use.

·      Insert contact lenses before you apply all makeup, including lotions and foundations as well as eye cosmetics such as mascara and eye shadow.

·      Use oil-free and fragrance-free makeup.

·      Remove your contact lenses before you remove your eye makeup.

·      Remove all eye makeup daily with a hypoallergenic remover, preferably oil-free.

·      Inform your employer that you wear contact lenses, especially if your job involves unsing eye protection equipment

·      Check your eyes daily to ensure they look well, feel comfortable and your vision is clear.

  

DON'T:

·      DON'T wear the lenses if they have suddenly or consistently become uncomfortable.

·      DON'T wear your lens if you notice a chip or tear in the lens.

·      DON'T exceed your wearing schedule by over-wearing lenses during the adjustment period.

·      DON'T wear your lenses for the maximum of hours if they have not been worn for a few days.

·      DON'T handle your lenses roughly. Avoid contact with fingernails

·      DON'T insert your lenses over a sink with an open drain. A dropped lens looks just like a water bubble.

·      DON'T move around if a lens is dropped. Check your lashes, clothes, shoes and immediate area around you before moving. A wet lens can stick to almost anything. lf you step on it, you can smash or damage the lens.

·      DON'T pick up a dropped lens with your fingernail or push it along a rough surface to lift it. Dampen your finger so the lens can stick to it.

·      DON'T start using different brands of solution simultaneously. Introduce them one at a time so if there is a problem you can identify the cause.

·      DON'T touch the tip of solution bottles, it can contaminate a sterile bottle of solution. Same applies to lubricating (rewetting) drops.

·      DON'T try to wear a soft lens that was left out of solution and has become brittle or if it has taken a long time to locate a dropped lens. Put the lens in saline for at least two hours; then clean it well before wearing.

·      DON'T wet lenses by putting them in your mouth.

·      DON'T use tap water on soft lenses; use only saline or disinfecting solutions for rinsing.

·      DON'T overfill the storage case. An overfilled well can cause the lens to float up to the container edge and be chipped or cut when the lid is snapped or screwed on.

·      DON'T force apart a soft lens that folded over onto itself. Put the lens in the palm of your hand and soak it with saline or disinfecting solution until it works itself out with gentle massage.

·      DON'T rub the lenses with a towel, a tissue, or a shirt tail. The lens may be scratched.

·      DON'T swim or shower while wearing your lenses. Any water (i.e. rain or tears) may flush lenses out of your eyes.

·      DON'T wear your lenses if you have a cold or the flu.

·      DON'T leave your lenses in "hot sots", i.e.TV tops, glove compartments, window sills, hot sand, etc., they can warp or melt. 

·      DON'T sleep in your lenses without your doctor's approval.

·      DON'T ride in open cars without eye protection. The lenses can blow off the eye.

·      DON'T handle lenses with greasy hands; i.e. deodorants or cold cream soaps can leave greasy residue on your hands.

·      DON'T wear makeup (or apply your lenses) if your eyes are swollen, red or infected.

·      DON'T share contact lenses. DON'T share makeup.

·      DON’T use lenses after the expiry date

·      DON'T apply mascara at the base of you lashes. Start from the midpoint and extend to the tips. DON'T wear false eyelashes.

·      DON'T remove waterproof mascara while lenses are on the eye; it is difficult to remove without cleaners that are abrasive to lens.

·      DON'T use eyelash thickeners or lengtheners, they contain fibers and additives that can contaminate lenses.

·      DON'T apply eyeliner above the lower lash line. You will block glands that produce the tear film making lens wear more comfortable.

POSSIBLE PROBLEMS 

It is possible that the problems might occur and may be first notice as one or more of the following signs :

·      Feeling of something in the eye

·      Uncomfortable lens

·      Eye redness

·      Sensitivity to light

·      Burning, stinging, itching or watering eyes

·      Reduced sharpness of vision

·      Rainbows or halos around lights

·      Discomfort/ pain

·      Severe or persistent dry eyes

 

These symptoms if ignored can lead to more serious complications!

 

WHAT TO DO IF PROBLEM OCCURS

·      
If any of the above signs or symptoms occur IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THE LENSE (ES)

·      Inspect your eye in a mirror looking for signs or irregularity

·      If the discomfort or problem stops, insert a fresh, new lens

·      If the above symptoms continue after insertion of a new lens (es) remove the lens (es) immediately and promptly contact your eye care professional. A serious condition such as infection, corneal ulcer or iritis may be present. These conditions could progress rapidly and may lead to permanent loss of vision. Less serious reactions such as abrasion, epithelial staining and bacterial conjunctivitis must be managed and treated early to avoid complications.

·      If the lens sticks (stops moving), apply several drops of a lubricant solution and wait until the lens begins to move freely on the eye. If this problem persists, consult your eye care professional.

·      Occasional dryness may be relieved by blinking fully several times or by the use of lubricating and rewetting drops. If dryness persists consult your eye care professional.

·      If the lens decenters on the eye, close the eye and gently massage the eyelid to return the lens into the central position. If this problem persists consult your eye care professional.

·      If he lens tears in your eye, it will feel uncomfortable. Do not panic, as it is impossible to lose a contact lens or a part of a contact lens behind the eye. Remove the pieces carefully by pinching them, as you would do for normal lens removal. If the lens pieces do not seem to remove easily, do not pinch the eye tissue. Rinse with saline. If this does not help, contact your eye care professional for assistance.