Eye conditions

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Makeup Tips for Eye Health

The products you use around your eyes play an important part in your eye health. Similar to brushing your teeth daily, eye hygiene and removal of make-up is essential. We all react to products on our skin differently and for those of us who are more sensitive, hypo-allergenic products are preferable. For those with dry eyes or contact lens wearers, it is particularly important to develop healthy habits with eye hygiene.
Eye make-up products; whether they are applied to our eyelashes or around our eyes, affect different anatomical parts of the eye. Below are some tips for different eye make-up application.

-Eyeliner. When using eyeliner, be mindful that application on the waterline (inner eyelid) can block the meibomian glands (see image 1) and contaminate the eye 1.  A study done in the Faculty of Science at Waterloo found that within 5 minutes, 15-30% more make-up particles were found in the tear film when eyeliner was applied to the waterline, compared to application outside of this 1. Our meibomian glands secrete the lipid layer of our tears which stop our tears from evaporating and thus it is important that these glands are open and functioning. Shortly after application of eyeliner, there are demonstrated changes to the tear film and its stability 2.
Eyeliner application if used, should avoid the waterline to reduce its effect on our tears.

BlogPic1 resized

Image 1. Layers of tears.

-Eyeshadow. This is applied further from the glands and inner structures of the eyes, however certain types of eye shadows that smear easily, may also end up in your tear film. Studies show that this product in addition to mascara, can cause the greatest discomfort amongst many cosmetic products 3. Contact lens wearers should also be mindful that eyeshadow may deposit on their contact lenses and this should be avoided 3.

-Mascara. This is a common make-up item that needs to be changed regularly. Our skin has normal bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus and some people may have a build-up of bacteria on their eyelashes termed ‘anterior blepharitis’. A maximum of 3-month use of a mascara wand before replacement is important to reduce harbouring bacteria 4. When your optometrist performs a slit lamp microscopy exam, they look at your lashes for signs of blepharitis. If this is present, you may need an additional eyelid cleaner such as an antibacterial foam, which is used to scrub your lids and lashes at least once per day. Research has demonstrated that mascara can also cause pigmentation inside the eye at the lacrimal sac (part of the duct to the lacrimal system which contains anatomical structures used for tear production and drainage) 5.

-Anti-ageing eye creams. These creams are often applied around the eyes. Research shows that the retinoids present in these eye creams can negatively affect meibomian gland function (the glands which secrete the oil in our tears), and potentially contribute to dry eye disease 2. Studies investigating the effect of systemic isotretinoin on animal models demonstrated signs of blepharitis and meibomian gland ductal epithelium thickening, as well as decreased mature gland acini, which contribute to the lipid (oily) layer of our tears 2. There was also reduction in the number and size of meibomian gland acini (see image 2) 2. Human studies of those taking systemic isotretinoin for acne also demonstrated dry eye symptoms, blepharitis and Meibomian gland dysfunction. The lacrimal gland, which secretes the aqueous tears, also releases isotretinoin. “The potential impact of the usage of anti-aging facial and eye creams and gels on developing meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye syndrome is great” 2.

pic 2

Image 2. A single meibomian gland has clustered acini that secrete meibum. (Knop et al, 2011.)

• Pigmented products used over many years, may accumulate in the conjunctivae and the lacrimal system 2,6. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane forming most of the surface of the eye – the white part of the eye you see in the mirror.

• Cosmetic products may also cause contact lens spoliation 2.

Removal of make-up before going to sleep is essential. Water alone cannot effectively remove cosmetic products, whereas surfactants in cosmetic removal products dissolve and alter the solubility of oils and waxes found in make-up 2. Note that water-proof mascara is removed best by oils, so investing in an oil-based make-up remover is beneficial 2. Oil-free make-up removal products have different surfactant concentrations which are good at removing cosmetics, however may solubilize the sebum in the eyelids and irritate the skin around your eyes 2. Your optometrist has eye-lid wipes and antibacterial foams that may also be used for make-up removal, particularly for those with dry/sensitive eyes.
The Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society Dry Eye Workshop (DEWS 2) latest report notes that exposure to cosmetic products, many of which contain toxic products, can elicit dry eye symptoms 7. For those with very sensitive eyes and/ or moderate to severe dry eyes, your optometrist may recommend avoiding eye make-up.

**Take home messages **
• The best way to ensure no additional irritation of the eyes, dry eyes and deposits on your contact lenses is to avoid eye make-up.
• When make-up is applied, avoid the inner part of the eye, particularly the waterline, as this can affect your tears and cause irritation.
• Retinoids present in anti-ageing creams and gels can contribute to dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction.
• Ensure you have a good make-up remover that you use before going to sleep.
• Ensure all make-up products are changed regularly and that make-up brushes are washed regularly too.
• Your optometrist examines the health of your eye with a slit lamp microscope and can detect signs of cosmetic products depositing on the eye, tear film and/or your contact lenses.

 

References
1. Alison Ng, Katharine Evans, Rachel V. North, Christine Purslow. Migration of Cosmetic Products into the Tear Film. Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice, 2015; DOI: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000124
2. Alison Ng, Katharine Evans, Rachel V. North, Christine Purslow. Impact of Eye Cosmetics on the Eye, Adnexa, and Ocular Surface. Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice, 2016. 42(4): 211-220. DOI: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000181
3. Gao Y & Kanengiser BE. Categorical evaluation of the ocular irritancy of cosmetic and consumer products by human ocular instillation procedures. J Cosmet Sci 2004; 55: 317– 325.
4. Pack LD et al. (2008). Microbial contamination associated with mascara use. Optometry. Oct;79(10):587-93. doi: 10.1016/j.optm.2008.02.011.
5. Clifford, Luke & Jeffrey, M & Maclean, H. (2011). Lacrimal sac pigmentation due to mascara. Eye (London, England). 25. 397-8. 10.1038/eye.2010.209.
6. Ciolino, Joseph & M Mills, David & R Meyer, Dale. (2009). Ocular Manifestations of Long-Term Mascara Use. Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. 25. 339-41. 10.1097/IOP.0b013e3181ab443e.
7. Gomes, J et al. (2017_. TFOS DEWS II iatrogenic report. Ocul Surf. Jul;15(3):511-538. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2017.05.004.

Why are my eyes so itchy?

I’m sure most of us can relate to having experienced some sort of seasonal allergy when Spring and Summer comes around. For some it’s a mild case of hayfever, whereas for others, it can be a struggle getting through those months. Besides the constant runny nose and sneezing, seasonal allergies also have a large effect on our eyes – from watery eyes to allergic conjunctivitis.

[1] Particularly for our contact lens wearers, the symptoms often are escalated.[4]

Let’s rewind back to the basics and explain how your eyes are affected by seasonal allergies. Your eyes are one of the most sensitive organs in your body. The surface of your eye is packed with receptors and mast cells which are essentially a group of cells that respond to stimuli, such as allergens in the environment (e.g. pollen during Spring and Summer). For those who are more sensitive to these allergens, it can trigger an immune response and begin the cascade of allergy symptoms.[2,3] Papillae (small bumps) under the top eyelid is commonly seen in patients who experience seasonal allergies.

Fortunately, eye drops that contain anti-histamine and mast cell stabiliser components can be used to relieve these symptoms. However, allergens have a particular affinity to soft contact lenses, which can often complicate the condition for our soft contact lens wearers. In mild cases, symptoms can be controlled with scheduled instillation of anti-allergy eye drops before and after contact lens wear.[4] It is also very useful to keep a bottle of lubricating eye drops on hand that can be used throughout the day to wash the allergens out. During allergy season, it is even more important to be diligent with the care and maintenance of your contact lenses, ensuring you do the ‘rub and rinse’ to rub off all the allergens on your lenses.

Some general tips for our soft contact lens wearers who have seasonal allergies – it may be worthwhile and more comfortable to switch back to wearing glasses more often than contacts during allergy season. If soft contact lenses are an essential in your everyday life however, you may want to consider switching to daily disposables rather than wearing your usual fortnightly/monthly lenses. This way you can replace the lenses more regularly and have less allergen exposure from frequent wear.

Furthermore, allergies and itch can increase the tendency to rub your eyes, however rubbing is no answer and can often make it worse! The best way to relieve itch is to apply a cold compress over your eyes – the cooling sensation will keep both the itch and swelling away.[4]

And lastly, if symptoms do not improve and you feel it is affecting your quality of life, make sure you book in with your optometrist for further investigation and opinion on treatment. We’re always here to help!

References

  1. Ackerman, S., Smith, L. M., & Gomes, P. J. (2016). Ocular itch associated with allergic conjunctivitis: latest evidence and clinical management. Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease, 52-67.
  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. (2014). Types of Allergies: Eye Allergy. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
  3. Bielory, L., & Ghafoor, S. (2005). Histamine receptors and the conjunctiva. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 437-40.
  4. Wolffsohn, J., & Bilkhu, P. S. (2012, May 24th). Maintaining contact lens wear in patients with allergic conjunctivitis. Contact Lens Update: Clinical Insights Based in Current Research.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:00+00:00 21st July 2017|Allergies, Contact Lenses, Eye conditions|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

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

Three 8 year old Vietnamese kids and OrthoK

In February 2015 Paul and I volunteered a week at the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology in Hanoi, teaching OrthoK fitting to the staff of the Refractive Department. The VNIO is a specialty eye hospital, employing about 500 staff and seeing around 2000 patients per day. I was also there in March 2014 teaching the fundamentals of rigid contact lens fitting, and was greeted with squeezy hugs from Minh Anh (Hanoi’s only qualified optometrist) and Dr Huong (Hanoi’s nicest and most cuddly ophthalmologist) whom I’d worked closely with in 2014 and had kept in touch with since. If you’re wondering why there’s only one qualified optometrist in Hanoi, and indeed only a total of three in a country of 90 million people, read on.

Hanoi had just entered a cold snap as we have arrived, so Minh Anh and Dr Huong brought scarves and extra layers for us today, because they’re so lovely. After three months of relentless 30+ degree heat in Brisbane, though, Paul and I were really enjoying mid-teens temperatures even though the locals were all rugged up! Each morning Paul or I gave lectures to the staff, and then were treated to a tasty lunch at a local street eatery, usually washed down with cinnamon tea. We would then see patients in the afternoon.

On this initial day, our first three patients are all 8 years of age, and all around -5.00. This is generally considered a high level of myopia (shortsightedness), meaning that anything further away than 20cm from their nose is blurred. The younger you are when you become myopic, generally the faster you progress (1) so parents looking to do something to slow down this worsening are wise for two reasons: higher levels of myopia are strongly associated with higher levels of eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachment in adulthood (2) and because very high spectacle prescriptions have been shown to affect quality of life.(3)

Vietnam kids 1 websizee

 

Twin sisters came first – little M only got her last pair of glasses at the end of 2014 and has progressed two more steps of myopia in two months. Her mother said M’s first pair of glasses were only a year ago, and were less than half of the current strength. Her twin sister P has a similar story. After measurement including corneal topography, or mapping of the eye surface to select the best fitting lens, M&P then sat in the waiting room with trial OrthoK lenses on their eyes.

M was reclining in her Dad’s arms with her eyes closed enjoying a toasty winter’s day cuddle. Their mother discussed OrthoK with me through Minh Anh, reassured her daughters and took photos of the two overseas experts discussing trial lens selection with their eye doctors. Mum said she was only -1.00 and her husband is -4.00 – both girls have surpassed their parents’ myopia by only age 8.

Our third patient, a little boy of the same age who soon becomes nicknamed ‘Little Champ’, was lead out of the room with his eyes closed for a similar waiting room nap. We then brought M&P back in to check their lens fitting. M had a reduction in her myopia of nearly half in her 30 minute nap; P a little less. They were shown lens handling along with their mum and dad, and we planned to see them back in the morning. Paul and I gave M&P a koala toy to take home with them which they both seem quite taken with, although their unruffle-able demeanour wouldn’t give it away – they were entirely quiet and calm throughout having eye drops and contact lenses popped onto their eyes.

Vietnam kids 2 websize

 

Around the world there is an increase in children of all ethnicities becoming myopic (4), and the reasons are multifactorial. Minimal time spent outside and high educational demands are key factors. I had an interesting conversation with one of the VNIO ophthalmologists at a dinner held in our honour later in the week. He said his children were myopic, and were getting worse, when they lived in an apartment with no significant outside view. Since they had moved to a higher apartment and could see further from the windows, their eyes had stopped worsening! While there’s probably a bit more to it such as the children getting older, where generally progression will slow down (1), there’s some truth to this observation!

Optometry isn’t a regulated profession in Vietnam, meaning that anyone can set up an optical shop with an automatic refraction machine (which takes an average reading of a spectacle prescription) and call themselves an optometrist or optician. Across the road from VNIO, the street is lined with these optical shops. Unfortunately for a lot of these myopic kids, this means that their glasses aren’t accurate, and whether they are over- or under-corrected, both can lead to worsening of myopia.(5,6)

Little Champ returned and his lenses look good for proceeding to an overnight trial. Mum was then  instructed on lens handling and was struggling a bit, which gave Little Champ the giggles – no sight of tears or even a frowny face! While Dr Huong finished lens care discussions with his mum, Little Champ was folding up a paper plane out of a tissue I gave him earlier and flying it towards his toy koala. We saw him the next morning too.

Our three 5D myopic kids have done brilliantly after their first night in OrthoK. Twin girls M&P both crack smiles when their lenses are taken off, experiencing clearer vision with over half of their myopia being reduced in one night. Little Champ arrives at 9am and peeks in through the glass windowed door, looking a bit squinty as is normal on the first morning when the lenses are worn in for fitting assessment. He stands up in front of the microscope, rather than sitting down, because it’s at the perfect level for his 3 and a half feet of height. He’s been lucky enough to undergo even more overnight myopia reduction than our twin girls, and happily departs with all three due for follow up in another week

 

REFERENCES

  1. Donovan L, Sankaridurg P, Ho A, Naduvilath T, Smith III EL, Holden BA. Myopia progression rates in urban children wearing single-vision spectacles. Optom Vis Sci 2012;89:27-32.
  2. Flitcroft DI. The complex interactions of reintal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Prog Retin Eye Res 2012;31:622-60.
  3. Rose K, Harper R, Tromans C, Waterman C, Goldberg D, Haggerty C, Tullo A. Quality of life in myopia. Br J Ophthalmol 2000;84:1031-4.
  4. Dolgin E. The myopia boom. Nature 2015;519:276-8.
  5. Chung K, Mohidin N, O’Leary DJ. Undercorrection of myopia enhances rather than inhibits myopia progression. Vis Res 2002;42:2555-9.
  6. Gwiazda JE, Hyman L, Norton TT, Hussein ME, Marsh-Tootle W, Manny R, Wang Y, Everett D; COMET Group. Accommodation and related risk factors associated with myopia progression and their interaction with treatment in COMET children. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Jul;45:2143-51.

 

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 22nd September 2015|Contact Lenses, Eye conditions|0 Comments

Blurred distance vision doesn’t always mean glasses

“So Mary, after all of our extensive testing, I am prescribing glasses for you to wear at work when using the computer.”

Mary looked at me perplexed. “But I can see the computer clearly. It’s my distance vision that is the problem!”

Mary came to see me at the end of last year as she felt like her eyesight was deteriorating. She had previously been prescribed glasses approximately six months before to wear occasionally for distance vision blur like when driving at night or watching TV. While on a holiday overseas, Mary found that she was becoming more and more reliant on her glasses for sightseeing and just generally wandering around, but even when wearing her glasses, her vision still wasn’t very good and her eyes felt uncomfortable.

I found that Mary actually had almost perfect visual clarity at distance and that her eyes were in fact struggling with close vision. Essentially, Mary’s aiming and focussing systems were dysfunctional at close range which was then creating a problem with her distance vision. The way to manage Mary’s vision problems was not to prescribe glasses for long distance (she didn’t need them!) but to address the dysfunction with her close vision. Mary was a little sceptical about my plan for her eyes, but she believed in me enough to agree to give glasses at the computer a try! I saw Mary two months after her initial visit to see how she had gotten on.

“How have you been going with your glasses Mary?”

“Well for the past couple of weeks, I haven’t found I’ve needed my glasses as much because I can see! Things don’t look blurry anymore – I can pick my son up at night after soccer training and even see the tennis scores on the TV now! Also my eyes feel so much more comfortable – they don’t feel like they are constantly straining.”

This case sounds a little abstract in that a patient presented with a distance vision problem but the testing revealed a near vision problem. The cause is actually quite common but can be very easily missed if visual efficiency (not just visual clarity ie reading letters on the letter chart) is not assessed during the eye test too! At Gerry & Johnson, we delve further into how the eyes work together as dysfunctions in one area of vision can create symptoms in another.

Convergence excess is the binocular vision problem where the eyes ‘over-turn in’ to see things close up and then get ‘locked’ in and can’t straighten out for comfortable distance vision. As a result, the eyes are not sure where they are pointing in space and then cannot give our focussing system the right information to allow our eyes to focus on whatever we are trying to see. This results in a perceived blur in the distance. Research shows that binocular vision dysfunctions are common among the general population, as studies have found the prevalence to be somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.1,2 Convergence excess, like other binocular vision anomalies, needs to be actively managed to prevent it from affecting a person’s performance in their work or at school.


 References

  1. Purcell LR, Nuffer JS, Clements SD, Clausen LR, Schuman DO, Yolton RL. The cost of effectiveness of selected optometric procedures. J Am Optom Assoc 1983;54:643-7.
  2. Hokoda SC. General binocular dysfunctions in an urban optometry clinic. J Am Optom Assoc 1985;56:560-2.
By | 2018-06-28T07:03:02+00:00 30th January 2015|Eye conditions, Eyesight and Health|0 Comments

Organ donation – you can donate sight

For many, the thought of a deceased loved one having their eyes removed for organ donation is disturbing. Yet for those in need of a corneal transplant, this gift of sight provides a new chance to live a fulfilled life.

The cornea is the clear window over your iris, the coloured part of your eye. A damaged or distorted cornea can render an eye legally blind, even if the rest of the eye is perfectly healthy.

While patients waiting on corneal transplants do not face the same life threatening conditions as those waiting on transplants for a liver, heart or kidney, day-to-day challenges to life with poor sight can be immense.

While Australia is far from being a world leader when it comes to organ donation, we are one of the top countries in the world for transplant surgery and for the quality of life achieved post-transplant. Fortunately for those who require a corneal donation, we tend to donate more eyes than any other organ.

Yet still more are needed because the number of corneal transplants performed each year exceeds the number of other transplants that use donated tissues or organs from deceased individuals.

In Australia and New Zealand alone, approximately 1,800 corneal transplants are performed each year. Success rates – at about 95 per cent – are high and many transplants will last for up to 20 years. The image shows a corneal transplant sutured into place.

The primary reason for corneal transplantation in Australia and New Zealand is keratoconus – a degenerative condition which causes the cornea to thin and change in shape. As a result, sufferers experience distorted vision, multiple images and sensitivity to light.

Dr Graeme Pollock, Director of the Lions Eye Donation Service in Melbourne, says it’s all about perception – some people may be reluctant to donate or agree to their family members donating eyes because the concept of eyes being removed from a loved one is more confronting than the concept of other organs or tissues being removed.

“It’s much easier for people to imagine what people look like without eyes compared to other organs. But the reality doesn’t match the imagination… When you donate your eyes, your eyelids are shut – so from an external point of view, there is no change.”

Donating your eyes or a loved one’s eyes may give at least two, and up to four people the chance to see. For more information, go to http://www.donatelife.gov.au and follow the links to the Australian Organ Donor Register.

(Image credit: www.keratoconus.com.au)

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:02+00:00 28th November 2013|Eye conditions, Eyesight and Health|0 Comments

Eye Candy for Diabetics

For people with diabetes, the inconvenient and often painful method of testing blood sugar levels is a way of life. But research and innovative product design by scientists at The University of Akron may eliminate the need for needle pricks, blood draws, or other invasive devices.
Researchers have developed a contact lens that senses glucose which is the blood sugar in tears, the natural fluid that bathes the eye. If sugar is not being metabolized properly and glucose concentration builds up in the body, the contact lens will detect a problem and change colour.

(more…)

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:02+00:00 19th April 2013|Eye conditions|0 Comments