Just for fun

/Just for fun

‘Test Experts’ for our Ashes team

Optometry’s professional governing body (AHPRA) prevents us from claiming to be more expert than another optometrist, however it seems from Specsavers’ recent television advertising that it is OK to infer expertise by using a play on words, such is the case with the current Ashes Test cricket series where their undoubtedly clever ads describe Specsavers as the ‘Test Experts’.

In response to a recently published blog, though, we can’t fail to realise the potential for them to have used their ‘Test expertise’ against the home side, as Specsavers is after a fully owned English company!

The blog in question describes how Aussie batsman Shaun Marsh was fitted with soft contact lenses as part of Specsavers sponsorship deal, with Shaun describing how this had improved his vision. This seemed to work well in Adelaide, where Shaun hit over a century. But when it came to his recent performance in Perth, he only scored 28, while brother Mitchell scored 181, which by our calculations is a whopping 646% difference. Surely genetic similarity should ensure a closer result, so maybe it was the wind at Perth that led to his contact lenses drying out and blurring his vision?

Now we don’t have access to Shaun’s optical records, but the description in the blog would suggest he suffers a mild degree of short sightedness, and while contact lenses are a great solution, we wonder instead whether he would do better with orthokeratology (OK) lenses, which are worn overnight so that vision is corrected during all waking hours. The huge advantage of OK is that no lenses are needed during the day for clear vision, so there’s no potential for irritation or lens displacement while at the crease.

We are a 100% Australian owned and operated practice, and although across the other side of the country in beautiful Brisbane (unlike the official eyecare sponsor – who are they ‘Root’-ing for?), it is in our fellow countrymen’s interest to provide the best solution to our team. So Shaun – we call out, on behalf of all Aussies, and to help you keep up with your brother, come in and see us or any other independent, Aussie-owned optometrist ‘Test Experts’ while England are in town to check out your suitability for OK contact lenses!

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:00+00:00 18th December 2017|Contact Lenses, In the news, Just for fun|2 Comments

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!



[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

Kate’s Running Balls

One of my favourite past-times is baking sweet treats which are coeliac, diabetic and paleo friendly, and testing them out on the GJO team – thankfully most are met with resounding success! The reason I want to share these recipes with you is that Diabetes is a big enemy of healthy eyes and is frequently first diagnosed in adults when small changes are seen in the retinal blood vessels during a routine eye exam. There’s mounting evidence of the link between sugar consumption and diabetes across populations (Basu S et al, PLOS ONE 2013), so while we each have different tolerances, it makes sense to reduce sugar consumption. But thankfully your taste buds don’t have to miss out – give this recipe a try!

If you’ve been into my consultation room lately you’ll probably remember seeing my running event medals hanging in amongst my ‘wall of nerd’ framed academic certificates. I like to think that these medals make me appear to be a well rounded person, not just a nerd, but the truth is I’m quite a mediocre runner, a plodder, but I really enjoy it and I love the chance to finish an event where I’m rewarded with a medal. Pictured above are Paul and I with our spoils after the 14km Brisbane City2South in June this year, where Paul scored a massive PB (on his birthday!), and then had to wait another 18 minutes for me to finish! If you look closely at the ‘RUN’ sign, taken in Olympic Park in London on a visit in 2013, you’ll see examples of some terrible running form. The bottom right picture is the result of this recipe!

Paul and I are now training for the New York Marathon on 1st November 2015. The last time we trained for a marathon, two years ago, we were necking high sugar energy gels on our long runs, but neither of us tolerated them well. This time I was keen to find an alternative made from real food – my ‘running balls’ are an adaptation of a rum ball recipe I first tried at Christmas and can be made into the latter through the addition of 1 tbsp of rum – I used the delicious Bundaberg Royal Liquer (chocolate and coffee flavour) for mine. Roll them in dessicated coconut once you’ve formed them for extra Christmas cheer.

These running balls are gluten, grain and dairy free and low-ish in sugar. They’re packed full of good fats with the macadamia nuts and coconut oil for slow burn energy. If you’re more tolerant of sugar than me (which is probably most people), you’ll like them as a snack with your morning coffee. I munch on one of these before a long run and have another every 7-8km along the way, instead of the energy gels I used to eat. By the time I get to the third one, though, they’re getting pretty mushy in the Brisbane heat!



1 cup macadamia

1 cup pitted dates

2 cups shredded coconut

1 heaped tbsp cacao powder

50g melted coconut oil

Stevia to taste (I use 1-2 tbsp as the dates are sweet enough)

Throw everything into your food processor and process until well combined. Spoon out a dessert spoon sized volume of the mixture into your hands and form into tight balls with some decent squeeze pressure – you should make around 16. Pop into the fridge when you’re done.
These will get melty and soft if out of the fridge for longer than an hour, depending on the temperature, so could work as a morning tea lunchbox treat. I’m happy to report that they are teenager approved as well.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 27th September 2015|Just for fun|1 Comment

Horsing Around

It was a sunny, slightly chilly Sunday morning at my parents’ place at Swanfels, outside of Warwick, when I decided to wander out to see what Dad was up to in his shed, and say hi to his two horses Kinsman and Pepper. Pepper can be a tetchy horse, and after I fell off him on Christmas Day 2006 my horse riding days have concluded, but on Sunday he was lapping up the attention I was giving him, enjoying the head and neck rubs and not wanting them to end. I spent quite a bit of time looking at his fascinating dark eyes, and wondered what he could see. So I asked Dr Google (veterinarian version).

It turns out that there’s quite a few scientific articles on horse vision, including one review comparing horse and human vision published in the International Journal of Zoology a few years ago.(1) Generally, a horse doesn’t see as well as we do in terms of clarity of vision but sees better than a dog or a cat. Pepper can’t focus well up close to see detail, but as he doesn’t read very much, this doesn’t matter to him. Horses have dichromatic vision, which means Pepper isn’t colour blind but only sees shades of blue and green, and cannot detect red, similar to the experience of some people with colour vision deficiency. Below is an image I found hilarious, from the website of the Equine Research foundation (www.equineresearch.org) of a horse undergoing colour vision testing. He’s doing it wrong! Hahaha!

Horsing around in text image

A horse’s field of vision is designed to allow them to keep ‘half an eye’ on everything. If you could see around your whole head, you would have a field of vision of 360 degrees, and horses almost can. A human with normal vision will be able to see a field of vision of almost 180 degrees out to either side horizontally, with about 120 degrees of this being binocular, meaning we use two eyes and can better appreciate depth. By comparison, with its eyes set on the side of its head, a horse’s field of vision is about 350 degrees – most of this is monocular vision, meaning the right eye sees things on the horse’s right side and the same for the left eye. The horse only has about 65 degrees of binocular vision, which he will use to spot distant objects when his head is raised. When he holds his muzzle down and his head is vertical, he will have depth perception to see objects in front of him on the ground. Apparently pulling a horse’s head down as occurs in particular equestrian disciplines shortens his field of view even more to what’s right in front of him.

But despite this, the horse has hardly any blind spot, fitting its general characteristics as a ‘flight’ type of animal, being a herbivorous prey species in the wild.

The equine eye is the largest of any land mammal, being around 40mm (2) compared to the human average of around 24mm. I researched the size of an elephant eye just to check this claim, but it turns out their eyes are around 34mm long.(3) On my interesting travels down the Google rabbit hole (I know you’ve been there too!) I even read an article equating eye size in land mammals to their speed. Apparently the fastest runners in the animal kingdom generally have the biggest eyes when compared to their body size, improving sensitivity of vision which is helpful when you’re moving quickly through the environment. Even after adjusting for body size, researchers found that nearly 90% of the variation in eye size amongst mammals related to maximum running speed.(4) There’s even evidence that male horses have exhibited superior visuospatial ability compared to females, again likely linked to speed, and possibly contributing to the relative success of male over female horses at high levels of equestrian competition.(1)

We take for granted that humans will have variation in our visual ability from person to person. This is also the case for horses, and could influence their performance, especially in equine sports where assessing vision could predict how well a particular horse may perform. The horse has a unique relationship with the human, where two very different visual systems have to work together to control what is essentially one pattern of movement.(1)

So it turns out that my friend Pepper can’t see clarity, colour or close objects as well as me, but has bigger eyes and an almost 360 degree field of view. He also tolerates the chilly weather much better than me, so after an extended pat session I left him to his Sunday morning and headed inside for a cup of tea.



  1. Murphy J, Hall C, Arkins S. What horses and humans see: a comparative review. Int J of Zoology 2009, Article ID 721798.
  2. McMullen RJ, Gilger BC. Keratometry, biometry and prediction of intraocular lens power in the equine eye. Vet Ophthalmol 2006;9(5)357-60.
  3. Bapodra P, Bouts T, Mahoney P, Turner S, Silva-Fletcher A, Waters M. Ultrasonographic anatomy of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) eye. J Zoo Wildl Med 2010;41(3):409-17.
  4. Heard-Booth AN, Kirk EC. The influence of maxiumum running speed on eye size: a test of Leuckart’s Law in mammals. The Anat Record 2012;295:1053-62.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:01+00:00 17th September 2015|Just for fun|0 Comments

G20 summit eyewear

The world leaders are arriving in sunny Brisbane for G20 summit meetings across the river from our George Street optometry practice. As this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be so close to arguably the best practice in the world, is there any reason for them not to take a break from G20 meetings and GJO their eyes? For a bit of fun, and in no particular order, we thought we would take a look at the leaders that represent the majority of the world and give them an eye makeover.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Turkey). Maui Jim sunglasses for their superior glare reduction and comfortable, secure fit.
Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott (Australia). Hmmmm, all those reflections from his lenses suggests these could be ready made glasses from the service station! But perhaps Tony has started a rimless trend… read on for further evidence.
Stephen Harper (Canada). Slightly larger frame would style up this look.
Park Geun-hye
Park Geun-hye (South Korea). Transitions lenses would help with these people with their evident glare issues, whether they are indoors or outdoors.
François Hollande
François Hollande (France). Another style opportunity – presumably rimless are popular amongst leaders in an effort to hide that they are wearing glasses? More evidence below…
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (Saudi Arabia). Further evidence of rimless frame trending.
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy (European Union). Clearly he’s quite short sighted (we can tell because of the shadow on the left side of his glasses), so would benefit from thinner lenses that we would prescribe. And is that another rimless frame?
Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel (Germany). Likes to make a statement, but also appears to like disposability, however these specs are hiding her face so we think she would benefit from disposable soft contact lenses.
Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Rousseff (Brazil). It definitely appears that uniform agreement on spectacle frame styling is part of G20 discussions.
Shinzō Abe
Shinzō Abe (Japan). Something that looks good, is aerodynamic and won’t fall off during those sharp turns. We’d recommend Zeal, Adidas or Nike sport sunglasses for this particular activity
Cristina Kirchner
Cristina Kirchner (Argentina). Perhaps here we have an inspired contact lens wearer who loves the unimpeded field of view of not wearing spectacles!
David Cameron
David Cameron (United Kingdom). With such fervent gesturing accompanying his words, we think he needs an optimally weighted spectacle frame to ensure that they stay put as the point is made. David, staying at the beautiful Treasury Hotel you are the closest to us, so wander across the road any time!
Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma (South Africa). Very happy man so needs jolly frames with some colour.
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin (Russia). We can’t help here.
Matteo Renzi
Matteo Renzi (Italy). Contact lens wear for cycling could be ideal for him, or specialised Bolle sport sunglasses with prescription inserts to navigate those frenetic Italian roads.
Barack Obama
Barack Obama (USA). Does Obama need Transitions lenses so he can wear them when outdoors as well as indoors without needing to change glasses? Perhaps this is the least of his worries!
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (India). He’s also got the memo about G20 spectacle frame trends. Wouldn’t you love to see him try some stylish tortoiseshell acetate frames to contrast with his silvery features?
Enrique Peña Nieto
Enrique Peña Nieto (Mexico). Well now, Kate and Paul know about running, and can tell Enrique that there’s nothing quite as comfortable as daily disposable contact lenses when flying like the wind, to ensure you don’t trip over fences and crowds along your way. They are also available with inbuilt UV protection!
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Indonesia). Everyone needs a spare pair of glasses to avoid getting stuck in a blurry bind, and he’s clearly wisened to this – two pairs for Susilo!
Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping (China). He’s too happy to have a vision problem!

G20 summit leaders, we welcome you all to Brisbane, our amazing city. It’s a shame you will be working, but we hope you get some free time to take in your beautiful surroundings, dip your toes in South Bank Lagoon, and savour the best of world cuisine. Enrique, Kate and I will be running on Saturday morning with the Brisbane Buddies Running Group – we head out from the Ship Inn at 5:30 so join us and we will give you a personal tour!

You have made us proud to visit, so we only ask that you do the same in return and bring in some great decisions to make our world a better place to live!

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:02+00:00 14th November 2014|Just for fun|0 Comments