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C4 Sightcare Opticians in RVI Eye Dept.
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RAF Personnel and Family - Features in RAF Boulmer Lookout publication Issue 2
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Presbyopia (ageing eye)
As we get older, the lens of the eye thickens and slowly loses its flexibility leading to a gradual decline in our ability to focus on objects that are close up. This loss of focusing ability is called PRESBYOPIA.
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Astigmatism
Astigmatism occurs when the front of the eye is egg shaped instead of being regularly curved like a ball. In this case both distance and near vision may be distorted. People with this condition may suffer from headaches or be unduly sensitive to light.
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Long sightedness - hypermetropia (Hyperopia)
Long sight occurs when the natural tendency is to focus light beyond the retina rather than on it, and the eye has to make a compensating effort to re-focus. With a younger person this may only be possible with effort and may, for example, cause headaches when reading. In an older person, as well as making reading very difficult, it may also cause distance vision to become blurred.
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Short sightedness - Myopia
Short sight occurs when light is focused in front of the retina and causes distance vision to become blurred. Near vision, however, is usually clear. This commonly develops in childhood or adolescence and is often first noticed by blurring of writing on the school blackboard.
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Are you a danger on the road?

Most of the information you take in when driving is visual and if your eyesight isn’t up to standard you could be putting yourself and other road-users at risk.In law it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure they can read a car numberplate from 20.5m (67ft) away in good daylight and this is checked as part of the driving test.

Millions of drivers - about 44 per cent - don’t have their eyes tested on a regular basis and research has shown that more than 10 per cent of motorists would fail a re-take of the driving test just because of their poor eyesight.

Good eyesight is essential
Drivers must also be able to see clearly all around and in poor light, which is particularly important when the nights draw in. 

Changeable weather conditions and the low level of sun during early evening create particular visibility problems.

Some drivers in need of spectacles or contact lenses may not realise that their view behind will be much less clear than the view ahead because of distortion in the mirror.

As we get older, light passing through to the retina at the back of the eye is increasingly scattered by the lens becoming ‘stringy’ or because of cataracts or flaws. This makes sight mistier when Driving on a bright day or in the dark when facing headlights.

A lot of older drivers gradually avoid driving during these conditions, particularly at night, but there is expert help available. Our optometrists are specialists who will check your eyesight and help with any problems. We will also check your field of vision to make sure that you do not have any problems or blind spots that could stop you from being aware of what is happening off to the sides of your vehicle, such as pedestrians stepping out into the road.

Eyewear for drivers
If you do need to wear spectacles or contact lenses for driving, it is essential to wear them at all times otherwise you are a potential danger and are breaking the law.

Some spectacles are better suited for driving than others. Thin lenses and rimless designs, or those with thin rims, allow greater all-round vision and are better than those with heavy frames. Spectacles with plastic lenses are safer and lighter.

Tips for safer motoring
• Make sure your spectacles are kept clean and don’t forget   to keep your windscreen clean inside and out and the lights clear too.

• Don’t use tinted spectacles in poor visibility or worse, at night. 

• Remember that your sight can be affected  by alcohol, prescription medicines and tiredness.

• In the dark don’t look too long at on-coming headlights as it can take time for your eyes to recover. Instead look slightly  to the left of on-coming vehicles.
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Night Vision

Most of us are aware that driving at night is more demanding and stressful than driving in the daytime. We make natural compensations for this as we drive but it is a fact that the number of night and road accidents is much greater than those that occur during the day. 

Some blame "night myopia" and advocate special night driving spectacles but optometrists know that this is not true. 

What is night myopia? 
Myopia is what is generally known as short sight. People with it can see near objects clearly while distant objects are blurred. It is a problem that occurs in all conditions and light levels but recent research has shown that, at very low light levels, well below those experienced when driving at night with headlights on, younger people with otherwise perfect vision become temporarily myopic.

What causes this change?
Normally people below the age of about 45 can adjust the focus of their eyes between long and short distance at will. However, in very dark conditions this system breaks down and the focus of the eyes settles to a constant distance of about 1 metre. 

But surely this means that special glasses are required for night driving?
Yes, that is logical reasoning and it is true that, if a driver's eyes were constantly focused at 1 metre, the distant road ahead and on-coming traffic would appear blurred. Fortunately, however, we do not suffer this fixed focus. Modern road and vehicle lighting provides sufficient light for the focusing system of the eye to work normally: even when there is no overhead street lighting.

Even so things do look a little blurred when I drive at night!
Road lighting levels at night are obviously lower than those found by day. This causes the pupil of the eye to become larger during night driving than under brighter conditions and the increase in pupil size can accentuate any existing small errors in focusing, causing a blur. If you notice such a blur, your current spectacles or contact lenses may need changing or you may need an optical correction. Your optometrist can advise you on this.

I've had my spectacles checked but I notice haloes and reflections around lights and headlights make my eyes feel uncomfortable. What can I do about this?
The most common reason for haloes and reflections is a dirty windscreen (both inside and out). In the same way scratched or dirty spectacles can contribute to unwanted scattered light; so can condensation on any of these surfaces. It is a good idea to always clean your windscreen and spectacles before night driving. Reflections from the surfaces of spectacle lenses can sometimes cause multiple images of lights at night. If you 
notice these, effective anti-reflection lens coatings are available. Ask your optometrist for details. 

Is it just part and parcel of growing old?
Unfortunately a variety of changes in the eye can contribute to discomfort from glare during night driving, particularly among older drivers. This is commonly caused by cataracts which produce effects similar to looking through a dirty window. Spectacles can do nothing to overcome this and it may be sensible to minimise night driving. If you are affected by oncoming headlights, try concentrating on the nearside kerb as you drive - but don't forget to reduce your speed!

I've seen amber night driving spectacles advertised in the press. Can they help?
There is no evidence that these lenses improve vision on the road, indeed tinted lenses may actually make vision worse. Windscreen tints have the same effect and this is why the Highway Code warns drivers not to use any form of tint at night.

What about the blue night driving lights advertised for use within the car?
These cause the eye pupil to contract and may therefore reduce the glare from approaching headlights but they also make it harder to see the road ahead. They are not recommended.

What should I do to make sure that I can see as well as possible when driving at night? 

· Make sure that your eyes are examined regularly. 

· Always wear an up-to-date pair of distance  spectacles or contact lenses. 
· Keep a spare pair in the car if possible. 

· Do not use tinted lenses but have them anti  reflection coated if necessary. 

· Don't forget to keep the windscreen clean, inside  and out, at all times. 

· Make sure your car's lighting is working properly.

Finally, if in doubt about the fitness of your vision for driving at night, seek your optometrist's advice.

Information produced by the College of Optometrists in conjunction with the Association of Optometrists
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Squint

Squint can be a complex condition and not every situation is covered here, but your optometrists will be pleased to give further advice, if needed. Children will benefit from support and encouragement during treatment, therefore, people should not be afraid to ask questions which will help them understand the condition and treatment. The successful outcome of treatment depends upon everyone co-operating. 

What is a squint and how common is it?
A squint (also known as a strabismus) is a condition which arises because of an incorrect balance of the muscles that move the eye, faulty nerve signals to the muscles and some refractive error (focusing faults). If these are out of balance, the eye may turn in (converge), turn out (diverge) or sometimes turn up. Approximately 5% to 8% of children are affected by a squint or a squint related condition, which means 1 or 2 in every group of 30 children. If a child appears to have a squint at any age from six weeks onwards, it is important to seek professional advice quickly. Many children with squints have poor vision in the affected eye.

What causes it?
There are several types of squint. The cause is not always known, but some children are more likely to develop it than others.

Congenital squint 
Sometimes a baby is born with a squint, although it may not be obvious for a few weeks. In about half of such cases, there is a family history of squint or the need for spectacles. The muscles are usually at fault.

Long sight (hypermetropia)
This can sometimes lead to a squint developing as the eyes are over-focusing whilst trying to see clearly. The over-focusing produces double vision. In an attempt to avoid this, the child may automatically respond by suppressing the image from one eye and turning it to avoid using it. If left untreated, a "lazy eye" may result. 

The most common age for this type of squint to start is between 10 months and 2 years, but it can occur up to the age of 5 years. It is usually first noticed when a baby is looking at a toy, or at a later age when a child is concentrating on close work, such as a jigsaw or reading.

Childhood illnesses
Following an illness such as measles or chickenpox, a squint may develop. This may mean that a tendency to squint has been present but, prior to the illness, the child was able to keep his or her eye straight.

Nerve damage
In some cases a difficult delivery of a baby or illness damaging a nerve can lead to a squint.

Can a baby have a squint?
Yes, a baby can have a squint, especially if there is a family history. If this is suspected, it is important that the baby be referred for accurate assessment at the earliest opportunity. 

Sometimes a baby has what is known as "pseudo squint" which is related to the shape of the face, but a baby with a true squint will NOT grow out of it.

Isn't a squint just a cosmetic problem?
Certainly the appearance can lead to problems for the child, but a squint is not merely a cosmetic problem. If left untreated, it can lead to a permanent visual defect in the squinting eye. 

How can you tell if a child has a squint? 
People often think that they can tell if a child has a squint if their eyes look different. This is not necessarily a squint. Squints are often difficult to detect, especially in younger children. Older children may complain of sight difficulties such as double vision. If it is thought that a child has a squint, the Health Visitor, Child Health Clinic, GP or school doctor / nurse should be asked about a referral to an optometrist, ophthalmic medical practitioner or hospital eye clinic for assessment.

What treatment is available and will an operation always be needed?
No. An operation is not always needed. Treatment varies accordingly to the type of squint. The main forms of treatment are:

Spectacles: To correct any sight problems, especially long sight. 

Occlusion: This is patching the good eye to encourage the weaker eye to be used. This is done under orthoptic supervision. 

Eye drops: Certain types of squint can be treated with the use of special eye drops. 

Surgery: This is used with congenital squints, together with other forms of treatment in older children, if needed, Surgery can be performed as early as a few months of age.
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Looking after your child’s health is an important element of being a parent, yet when it comes to your child’s eye health many families are seemingly in the dark.
 
Here are some eye-opening points about children’s eyecare that we want all parents to know:
 
Children need more frequent eye tests as their vision develops quicker as they grow. Every six months is recommended.

Children’s eyesight is fully developed at age eight, but can be examined at a much younger age - well before they can read.
Only 10% of parents know if their child’s school offers a vision screening programme.


All eye tests are completely free to those under 19 in full time education.

We have a special interest in the eyecare of Babies, Infants and young children.

A comprehensive range of spectacles, sports glasses and sunglasses in stock.

Students in further education may qualify for financial help for eye tests and to buy glasses or contact lenses.

Children spend more time outside, and like skin, their eyes need protection from UV rays with the use of sunglasses.
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