LaurenHerring

/Lauren Herring
Lauren Herring

About Lauren Herring

In her spare time, Lauren is a tea drinker, book reader, weekend market browser and wanderlusting holiday planner. Otherwise, she’s just a girl with a really cool day job.

Eye myths… fact or fiction?

Eating carrots helps you see in the dark.

True! Carrots are full of vitamin A which is a precursor to an important chemical substance used by the light sensitive cells in the retina (the rods) for vision in low light / night time. If you are deficient in vitamin A, you can have problems with night vision.

[1] However, having an excess of the vitamin does not enhance your vision above what is normal. So eating carrots all day like Bugs Bunny will not give you superhuman eyesight but just ensure your visual system is working normally!

If you watch TV for too long, you will go cross-eyed.

Myth! Watching TV for a long period of time won’t cause you to become ‘cross-eyed’ but it can make your eyes quite tired, sore and red. This is because when you are concentrating on screen (TV, phone, computer etc), you blink less than normal which contributes to an increase in evaporation of your tears.[2] Your tears normally create a uniform film over the front surface of the eye to protect it. Watching a screen has been shown to reduce our blink rate meaning that the interval between blinks increases. This allows the atmosphere to evaporate our tears leading to dry eyes. The symptoms of dry eye include red, sore, gritty, tired, stingy and watery eyes. It is recommended that you spend a maximum of 30 minutes on a screen before taking a break to allow your eyes a chance to rest.

Wearing glasses will make your eyes dependent on them and your vision worse.

Myth! At least 2 or 3 of my patients will ask me whether this is true each and every day so it is a very popular myth. It is not at all true. However, most people will think their vision seems worse when they take their specs off compared to before they put their specs on. This has nothing to do with the eyes themselves but with your brain. Your eyes are the hardware of vision – receiving the light signals from the world around us; and the brain is the software of vision – interrupting the neural signs from the eyes to perceive and interpret the information. The brain very much prefers clear vision so once you put specs on, your brain quickly adapts to accepting the improved vision. Once you remove your specs, your brain does not like the same blur that was there before. Your brain becomes less tolerant of the blur but your eyes remain the same.[3] Vision, however, does change particularly with age, but this change will happen regardless of whether you wear specs a little, a lot or not at all.

Onions make you cry.

True! Onions contain acids and enzymes within their cells. This acid is kept separate from the enzymes, but chopping onions allows the acid and enzyme to mix. This causes the onion to release its juice and sulphur based gas. This gas wafts towards your eyes and reacts with your tear film, combining to form sulphuric acid.[4] The sulphuric acid causes your eyes to burn / sting which in turns stimulates your tear glands to produce more tears in an effort to dilute the noxious substance. This is how you inevitably end up crying while chopping onions! Try refrigerating the onion before chopping – this will help reduce the gas emitted from the onion and avoid the tears.

It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Myth. It is really only possible to keep your eyes while sneezing if you make a big concerted effort to do so or if you force your eyes open (ie hold your eyelids apart) as the natural response to sneezing is always closing your eyes. This happens due to an involuntary reflex. The nose and eyes are linked by the trigeminal nerve (one of the cranial nerves).[5] The stimulation for the sneeze sends a nerve signal up one nerve to the brain and down another nerve to the eyelids triggering a blink. So, much like a reflex to kick your foot out when the doctor taps on a tendon / nerve just under your knee, closing your eyes while sneezing just happens automatically.

If you have know any other eye myths you would like debunked (i.e. old wives tales or something your colleague at work told you), let us know and we will debunk away!

 

References

[1] Nutrition and eye health book

[2] Wimalasundera S. Computer vision syndrome. Galle Medical Journal. 2006;11(1):25-29.

[3] Cufflin MP, Mankowska A, Mallen EA. Effect of blur adaptation on blur sensitivity and discrimination in emmetropes and myopes. Invest Ophthalmol Visual Sci. 2007;48:2932–2939

[4] Nagata T. An onion enzyme that makes the eyes water. Nature. 2002;419:685.

[5] Birch, CA. Sneezing. Practitioner 1959;182:122-124.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:00+00:00 24th February 2016|General Eye Interest, Just for fun|0 Comments

Interesting uses for contact lenses

Did you know that contact lenses are not just used for vision correction? There are many special applications of contact lenses – some of them are quite surprising!

Cosmetic

I recently saw a patient with a badly scarred and blind eye. He was uncomfortable with the way the eye looks especially in photos so was wondering whether there was anything he could do to improve the cosmesis! We’ve all seen the wacky cosmetic coloured contact lenses (cat’s eyes anyone?) but what if you just want a ‘normal’ looking eye? Well, prosthetic contact lenses are the answer. I decided to fit my patient with a hand painted soft prosthetic contact lens with a black pupil – it is painted as an exact match to his uninjured eye! The result is quite impressive! Check out the before and after photos (consent obtained to share images)

Before:

Faiz before websize copy

After:

Faiz after websize copy

Therapeutic

Contact lenses are also commonly used as bandages or barriers for people who suffer from recurrent corneal problems or if their eyelashes grow in the wrong direction. The contact lens protects the surface of the eye and prevents scratches, abrasions and even opportunistic infections.

[1] Contact lenses can also act as a tool for rehabilitating the ocular surface in ocular surface disease, especially severe dry eye. Dry eye is a very common problem among a wide demographic of the population. Mild to moderate dry eye is usually treated successfully with lubricating eye drops, warm compresses/lid massage and changes in diet. However, severe dry eye is associated with significant ocular health problems and can be very debilitating as symptoms are quite significant. In cases of severe dry eye often associated with autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and Graves’ disease; bandage contact lenses can help retain the tear film on the eye, leading to increased comfort for the patient.[2]

Drug delivery

Eye drops are the most common method of therapeutic drug delivery to the eye, accounting for 90% of all ocular medications.[3] However, eye drops are actually significantly inefficient as they have a short retention period on the eye limiting just how much drug can be absorbed by the eye. As the medication drains from the eye quickly through the tear ducts and into the nose, unwanted drug can be then be absorbed systemically.[4] This then increases the likelihood of systemic side effects. Medication impregnated on a contact lenses would be slowly released into the eye which suggests a better rate of absorption and therefore drug effectiveness. This technology could be applied to glaucoma medication, as well as anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs.

Contact lenses can be used in many ‘non-traditional’ ways for cosmetic, therapeutic and even drug administering reasons, not just for vision correction.

 

References

[1] DeNaeyer GW. Therapeutic applications of contact lenses. Contact Lens Spectrum. 2010; May:

[2] Harthan JS. Therapeutic use of mini-scleral lenses in a patient with Graves’ ophthalmopathy. J Optom. 2014; 7(1): 62-66.

[3] Bourlais CL, Acar L, Zia H, Sado PA, Needham T, Leverge R. Ophthalmic drug delivery systems. Prog Retin Eye Res. 1998;17:33–58.

[4] Wilson CG. Topical drug delivery in the eye. Exp Eye Res 2004;78:737–43.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 17th February 2016|Contact Lenses, Eyesight and Health|0 Comments

Protecting eyes against UV

We’ve all heard about the importance of wearing hats and using sunscreen to protect our skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. But how can we protect our eyes? Sunglasses offer some of the best ocular protection from UV light but blocking the harmful rays from reaching the delicate tissue of our eyes. Most sunglasses block (category 2 and 3) block more than 95% of UV radiation. Keep in mind that the colour or the darkness of the lens tint does not indicate how much UV is blocked so always check the tag/label to determine the level of protection.

Some prescription spectacle lenses also block UV light. At Gerry & Johnson Optometrists, all of our prescription lenses block 100% of both UVA and UVB light to protect our eyes from the early development of eye disease. The UV protective treatments are applied on the front and back surface of the lens, as around half of UV light entering the eye is reflected from the back surface of the lens.

Some contact lenses also offer UV protection. Although sunglasses can efficiently block the UV radiation coming directly from the sun, they may fall short elsewhere. Unless the frame is designed to wrap the face like a pair of goggles, sunglasses block very little of the obliquely incident UV radiation (as seen in the figure below).  Peripheral UV radiation has been shown to be a particular threat to eye health due to the phenomenon of peripheral light focussing (PLF), where oblique light is refracted by the peripheral cornea and focused at the nasal limbus (white part of the eye towards the nose).

PLF has been shown to play a significant role in the development of pterygium and some forms of cataract. Since soft contact lenses cover the cornea and land just past the limbus on the white of the eye, they are able to protect the eye more completely. Also, as contact lenses are worn generally for significantly longer periods of time than sunglasses, they are able to provide continuous protection against UV.

The benefits of UV light

At the risk of confusing the issue, did you know that UV light is not all bad!? In small amounts, UV radiation is actually a benefit to the human body. UV radiation is required for the synthesis of vitamin D which is needed for the growth and maintenance of strong healthy bones. UV light has also been shown to be beneficial for the eyes as research shows that it has a myopia control effect. Myopia, or short-sightedness, is fast becoming one of the major vision problems around the world. Even small degrees of myopia significantly increase a person’s risk of eye health complications such as glaucoma, cataract and retinal detachment. Research suggests that the protective effect of UV radiation involves the light-dependent release of dopamine in the retina. Dopamine has been shown to inhibit axial elongation (increases in eye length) which leads to myopia development and also progression. The amount of UVR required for good health is easily gained by spending approximately ten minutes outside each day in ambient light. So for any outdoor activities, especially over the summer (think the beach, pool and shopping days!) remember to wear protective eyewear and clothing!

If you haven’t already, check out last week’s blog on the known health effects of UV!

References

Bergmanson, P.G., Sӧderber, P.G. The significance of ultraviolet radiation for eye diseases. A review with comments on the efficacy of UV-blocking contact lenses. Ophthalmic Phys Optics. 2002; 15(2): 83-91.

Sliney, D.H. Photoprotection of the eye – UV radiation and sunglasses. J Photochem Photobiol B: Biol. 2001; 64(2-3); 166-175.

 

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 4th November 2015|General Eye Interest, Sunglasses|0 Comments

UV and the Eye

Image credit: Essilor Australia

Moderate exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun is a necessary part of maintaining normal health (read the next blog for more about this!). However, excessive exposure to UVR has no health benefits and actually leads to adverse consequences for not only the skin, but also the eye. Interestingly, the eye occupies less than two percent of the whole body surface area, but it represents the ONLY organ system to allow the penetration of visible light deep into the human body.

So what are the known eye health effects of UVR?

Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis

Acute inflammation of the cornea (photokeratitis) and the conjunctiva (photoconjunctivitis) occur within a few hours of UVR exposure. These reactions can be likened to sunburn of the very sensitive tissues of the eyeball and eyelids. Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis are very painful conditions, but they are temporary reactions and do not seem to result in long-term damage to the eye or vision.

Pterygium

A pterygium is when the conjunctiva (clear membranous tissue covering the sclera or white part of the eye) becomes dysplastic and grows towards and over the cornea. Pterygium has been linked to prolonged UV exposure and is attributed to the accumulatively damaging effects of UVR. If the pterygium grows close to the pupil, it needs to be surgically removed otherwise, the eye will be blind. Pterygiums are found in 10% of Queenslanders (nearly half a million people!).

Cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 20% of cataracts may be caused by over-exposure to UVR. UVR is absorbed by the lens of the eye which leads to damage of the lens which may result in cataract formation. Cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, making vision hazier and not completely correctable with glasses or contact lenses. Surgery is performed to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens.

Cancer of the eyelid

The eyelid region is one of the most common sites for non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Cancers of the eyelid account for 5 to 10% of all skin cancers of the human body. Like skin cancer of the rest of the human body, cancers of the eyelid are caused by the accumulative effects of UVR.

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the western world. The retina is highly susceptible to photochemical damage from continuous exposure of light and oxygen. The cornea and lens block a major portion of UVR (see Figure 1) from reaching the retina. Although the relationship between UV light exposure and AMD is unclear, we know that short wavelength radiation (UV and even blue light from the visible spectrum) induce significant oxidative stress to the retina which may increase risk of the development of macular degeneration.

Check out our next blog to find out the best ways to protect our eyes from UV radiation!

References

Bergmanson, P.G., Sӧderber, P.G. The significance of ultraviolet radiation for eye diseases. A review with comments on the efficacy of UV-blocking contact lenses. Ophthalmic Phys Optics. 2002; 15(2): 83-91.
Cruickshanks, K.J., Klein, R., Klein, B.E. Sunlight and Age-Related Macular Degeneration: The Beaver Dam Eye Study. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993; 111(4):514-518.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 28th October 2015|Eyesight and Health|0 Comments

Dissolving Cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Currently, the only way to treat cataracts is to have them surgically removed. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in Australia. Imagine if cataracts could be treated without the need for surgical intervention.  What if surgery became a thing of the past and cataracts were treated with eye drops instead? Well this may sound like a bizarre plot in a science fiction movie, but scientists say it could well be our treatment modality in the near future.

The human lens is comprised of crystallin proteins which are assembled in a highly organised fashion essential for maintaining transparency and refractive power. The function of the lens is to transmit light and focus it on the retina. Disruption to the ordered structure of the lens proteins leads to unordered aggregation of proteins and subsequent formation of cataract.

cataracts clear eye websize

View of clear healthy lens through pupil.

cataracts cloudy eye websize

View of cataractous lens (yellow appearance) through pupil.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a topically applied treatment that has been shown to shrink and even dissolves cataracts. The new treatment has been researched and developed over many years and is based on the use of a naturally occurring steroid, lanosterol. Research has shown that lanosterol inhibits protein aggregation and cataract formation in rabbit and dog lenses in vivo. This is a very exciting technological development in potential cataract treatments because although surgery to remove cataracts is efficacious and safe, ageing populations around the world are predicted to require a two-fold increase in cataract surgery in the next 20 years. This would mean a significant impact on our public health system which is already struggling to cope with long waiting lists for cataract surgery.

It is very easy to screen for cataracts non-invasively with your general eye examination and as the eye is easily accessible for topical application of drugs, a pharmacological treatment for cataract is a promising thought for the future!

 

References

Pascolini, D. & Mariotti, S. P. Global estimates of visual impairment: 2010. Br. J. Ophthalmol.96, 614–618 (2012)

Zhao, L., Chen, X., Jin, X., Lin, D., Wen, C., Abagyan, R., Su, Z., Gao, W., Kozak, I., Granet, D., Yan, Y., Zhang, K., Wu, F., Chung, C., Zhu, J., Xi, Y., Flagg, K., Wang, Y., Tjondro, H. Lanosterol reverses protein aggregation in cataracts: 2015. Nature. 523, 607-611.

 

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 14th October 2015|Eye conditions, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Hormones and Dry Eye

Dry eye is a very common problem, affecting people of all ages, gender and occupations. The symptoms of dry eye include red, itchy, stingy, gritty/sandy and watery eyes. These symptoms are often exacerbated by wind, air conditioning and computer use. Research shows however that dry eye is more prevalent in contact lens wearers, females and as we get older. So why are females more affected than males? The simple answer is hormones.

Karen came to see me a month ago about her red, irritated and watery eyes which had been annoying her over the past few weeks. Karen reported using lubricating eye drops every now and then but found that the drops were only effective for 15-20mins before her eyes would be irritated again. Karen had recently celebrated her 52nd birthday and currently wears glasses for reading and the computer. I asked Karen about her general health and she reported starting hormone replacement therapy medication for menopausal symptoms approximately two months ago. During our consultation, Karen and I discussed hormonal changes and how this can affect our eyes. Karen had never thought that her eye symptoms might be related to her hormonal symptoms!

Research has found that 60 percent of menopausal women are affected by dry eye but only 16 percent of these women realise that their hormones are to blame. For women affected by dry eye symptoms due to hormonal changes, using normal lubricating drops every now and then is unlikely to provide them with much relief; it is like putting a band aid on an abscess – it kind of works for a bit but is not really addressing the real problem.

So how does a change in hormones bring about a change in the eye? Research shows that plummeting hormones levels affect the ocular tissues and the composition of tears. Androgens, or sex hormones including both testosterone and estrogen can influence tear production. As we age, our androgen levels naturally decrease. As women start out with less androgens to begin with, a dramatic decrease in hormones during menopause and then continued reduction with increased age, androgen levels may fall below the amount needed for optimum eye health leading to the onset of dry eye. So if a lack of hormones is responsible for dry eye, one should be able to replace these hormones through medication (ie HRT) and alleviate the symptoms, right? Wrong. The Women’s Health Initiative study of over 25 000 women found an increased risk of dry eye in women using HRT. The role of HRT in menopausal women is unclear as some researchers support the idea that medication improves both quality and quantity of tears, whereas others have shown that it increased the incidence of dry eye.

So what did I suggest for Karen? I prescribed consistent use of lubricating eye drops to help alleviate symptoms and recommended changes in diet to help encourage quality tear production so that at least the tears that are produced are of good quality. Karen has been doing well for the past month now using this treatment regime to manage her dry eye.

Keep a look out for a future blog post on nutrition tips for healthy eyes.

References

Sullivan DA, Yamagami H, Liu M, et al. Sex steroids, the meibomian gland and evaporative dry eye. Adv Exp Med Biol 2002;506A:389-99.

Schaumberg DA. Hormone replacement therapy and dry eye syndrome. JAMA 2001;286:2114.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 1st October 2015|Eyesight and Health|0 Comments

Surprising health conditions that optometrists find first!

They say that the eyes are the window to your soul, but did you know they are also a window to your overall health?  Signs of many health conditions including those associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke can be seen with an eye exam. The retina, or the back of your eye, is the only place in your body where your blood vessels and nerves can be seen without needing to cut you open! This makes regular eye examinations essential in detecting important medical issues in their very early stages! Some of the health conditions that can be detected during an eye exam include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Cancer

An eye exam may just save your life in this case! Everything from brain tumours to metastases in the eye from breast and lung cancers to leukaemia can be detected by an eye test. Patients will often be unaware of the cancer unless it is affecting their centre of vision, otherwise it may go undetected for a critical period of time which will likely influence the overall prognosis.

Diabetes

One of the very first signs of Type 2 Diabetes (before any symptoms have arisen!) is small amounts of bleeding in the retina.1 This is a sign of diabetic retinopathy, one of the most leading causes of vision loss in people with diabetes. If left untreated, blindness can result, however the outcome is greatly improved if the condition is caught early and successfully managed. When diabetic retinopathy is detected in the early stages, lifestyle changes such as weight management, exercise and diet control can prevent further damage to the eye and subsequently, vision.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure often causes weakening and narrowing of the arteries, characteristic changes that can be seen by an optometrist during your eye exam. Multiple studies2,3 have found a strong association between heart disease and narrowing of the retinal blood vessels, which adds further credence to the importance of regular routine eye exams.

Multiple sclerosis

Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) can be a harbinger of MS which is a degenerative disease of the nervous system (it can also be the result of an infection or other causes too).4 Optic neuritis occurs in 75 percent of people with MS and is the first sign of the disease in up to 25 percent of cases.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Approximately one quarter of all people with rheumatoid arthritis have problems with their eyes – dry eye being to most common issue.5 Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease with autoimmune links that affects the small joints of in the hands and feet. Dry eye is often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Most people don’t realize that by visiting their optometrist for an eye examination, and importantly, having their ocular health assessed, signs of many health conditions can detected. Once detected, these health conditions can then be actively treated and managed to ensure better prognosis and overall outcome for the patient.

 

References

[1] Lorenzi M, Gerhardinger C. Early cellular and molecular changes induced by diabetes in the retina. Diabetologia. 2001; 44:791-804.
[2] Witt N, Wong TY, Hughes AD, Chaturvedi N, Klein BE, Evans R, McNamara M, Thom SA, Klein R. Abnormalities of retinal microvascular structure and risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease and stroke. Hypertension. 2006; 47: 975–981.

[3] Wong TY, Klein R, Richey Sharrat A, Duncan BD, Couper DJ, Tielsch JM, Klein BE, Hubbard LD. Retinal arteriolar narrowing and risk of coronary heart disease in men and women: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002; 287(9): 1153-1159.

[4] Gordon-Lipkin E, Chodkowski B, Reich S, Smith SA, Pulicken M, Balcer LJ, Frohman EM, Cutter G, Calabresi PA. Retinal nerve fiber layer is associated with brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. 2007; 69(16): 1603-1609.

[5] Fujita M, Igarashi T, Kurai T, Sakae M, Yoshino S, Takahashi H. Correlation between dry eye and rheumatoid arthritis activity. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2005; 140(5): 808-813.

 

By | 2015-10-21T13:04:25+00:00 29th September 2015|Eye conditions, Eyesight and Health|0 Comments

Travelling with Contact Lenses!

So this Friday, I am heading to the airport with my twin sister to fly out of Australia and travel around Europe for almost four weeks! I am currently starting the packing process (what do I pack?!) and my sister, who is an orthoK wearer, asked what she should do with her contact lenses while travelling.  It got me thinking about how many of my patients ask me the same thing!

For some people, travelling with contact lenses is so much of a hassle that they will prefer to leave them at home and just wear glasses. However, I say you don’t have to give up contact lens wear while travelling – especially as they are very convenient when you are do lots of swimming, hanging out at the beach, playing sports (think skiing, beach games, backyard cricket, golf etc) and sightseeing!

Contact Lens websizeThera Tears websize

 

Here are some tips for travelling with your contact lenses to ensure clear vision and healthy eyes!

  • If wearing contact lenses during plane travel, always use lubricating eye drops to prevent the lenses from dehydrating and making your eyes red and sore. Use non-preserved drops (Thera Tears are great!) every 1-2 hours.
  • Again for plane travel, it is a good idea to keep your contacts, case and travel sized solution in your carry-on luggage just in case you and your checked bags get separated!
  • Consider wearing daily disposable contact lenses while you travel. These lenses are worn once, so fresh lenses are worn every day and you eliminate the need to carry heavy and bulky lens solutions.
  • Bring spare lenses! Even if you are only travelling for 2 weeks and you wear monthly lenses, if you accidently tear or lose a lens you will be caught short!
  • Make sure you have your prescription up to date and take it with you just in case.

Travelling is such a fun and exciting time and there is so much to see while we travel so make sure to take care of your contacts and your eyes so you don’t miss a thing!

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 24th September 2015|Eyesight and Health|1 Comment

Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress wrap up!

This past weekend, Kate, Paul and myself braved the incredibly chilly Hobart weather to attend the 11th Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC). It was a weekend sure to be filled with fun, an exciting private viewing of the artworks in the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and of course, lots of nerdy learning!

Both Saturday and Sunday were jam packed full of interesting lecture topics ranging from kids’ vision (we had particular interest in this!), retinal disease, novel lenses for people with significant vision loss and good nutrition for the eye. Sunday morning over a delicious breakfast, Paul presented a lecture on the history of orthokeratology which highlighted the improvements in orthoK technology (lens designs, assessment techniques etc) over the past few decades. Sunday afternoon, Kate presented a lecture on myopia control in kids – one of her biggest optometric passions and a lecture she has presented at conferences around the world. It was very inspiring watching and listening to two people who are so passionate about optometry and what we as optometrists can do for our patients!

Amongst all the learning, we managed to explore the sites of Hobart – including an incredibly quick visit to the Salamanca markets in the wind, rain and freezing temperatures! My Aunt and Uncle, local Hobart residents all their lives, took me to a lovely French inspired cafe in Battery Point (oldest part of Hobart) for breakfast on Saturday morning. I was excited to wander around the Salamanca markets but as it was a particularly unfavourable day weather-wise, I only lasted about five minutes before hightailing it back to the warmth of the hotel! I may be a well seasoned shopper, but even I couldn’t do much damage in that time!

Saturday was the Congress Dinner at MONA. We had an hour where the museum was only open to us so we could explore and check out the artwork. One of my personal favourite installations was the ‘Waterfall wonder’ – random words cascade down the sandstone backdrop to represent the flood of words/information we are constantly exposed to. There are some pretty ‘out there’ artworks at MONA too but I’ll leave it to you to Google search what I am talking about!

All in all, TLC was a great conference with a relaxed and welcoming vibe where I learnt lots of new things, met some wonderful colleagues around the country and got to spend some time in beautiful Hobart.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 3rd September 2015|General Eye Interest, What we've been up to|0 Comments

Beating blindness with vegetable oil

Many patients often ask whether fish oil supplements are beneficial in protecting their eyesight. (Check out our blog post on Omega 3!) But what about vegetable based oils?

Interestingly, scientists working at the Research Centre on Ageing at the Health and Social Services Centre at the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, have been studying strategies for protecting retinal pigment epithelium cells by incubating them with vegetable oils. Dysfunction of the RPE (retinal pigment epithelium) is found in retinal diseases and age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in elderly people in Australia.

Findings published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology suggest that incubating retinal cells with vegetable oils induces important changes in the cell membrane, which may have a beneficial effect in preventing or slowing the development of retinopathy.

The researchers discovered that vegetable oil fatty acids incorporate in retina cells and increase the plasma membrane fluidity aiding the transmission of light signals through the eye. They concluded that a diet low in trans-unsaturated fats and rich in omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil may reduce the risk of retinopathy.

In addition, the research suggests that replacing the neutral oil used in eye drops, such as medicated eye drops and lubricating eye drops, with oil that possesses valuable biological properties for the eye could also contribute to the prevention of diseases of the retina.

Said, T., Tremblay-Mercier, J., Berrougui, H., Rat, P., Khalil, A. Effects of vegetable oils on biochemical and biophysical properties of membrane retinal pigment epithelium cells. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 2013, 91(10): 812-817

 

 

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 26th August 2015|Eyesight and Health|0 Comments