What Happens if I Blink Using Laser Surgery?
The idea of having laser surgery can be a frightening thought. One of the most common concerns that we hear is whether you will be able to keep your eyes open for long enough, and then what happens if you blink? We would like to take this time to give you some reassurance.
We all need to blink to spread lubricating oil across the surface of the eyeball, this is how you prevent your eyes from drying out. Before your treatment starts, you will have already have been given a series of anaesthetic eye drops to numb the surface of the eye. You will have already had chance to experience these drops working their magic at your consultation, so you can rest assured that they really do the trick! The anaesthetic drops take away any feelings on the surface of the eye, so you will not feel that your eyes are drying out, and therefore, you will not feel the need to blink. It will then be quite comfortable to have your eyes open for longer than you normally would.
Also have the reassurance that you will not be able to blink, even if you feel you are doing so. You may experience the sensation of blinking, but we will actually be holding your eyelids open using a small instrument called a speculum. This is a delicate surgical instrument that your surgeon will gently insert underneath your eyelids. Sounds scary? Don’t worry, again the anaesthetic drops mean that you will not feel it being inserted, and they keep your lids securely open throughout the whole of the procedure. Once the treatment has been completed, your surgeon will carefully remove the speculum, you will be able to blink freely and see clearly!
If there are any other aspects of the treatment that you find daunting, please do not hesitate to contact us. You will find our consultation extremely thorough, and most questions that patients have are answered during your time with us.
How long does recovery from laser eye surgery take?
If you are thinking of undertaking laser eye surgery, planning your recovery and a suitable time to have the treatment will be very important.
Most patients (about 90%) who come to Focus Clinics choose to have the Z-Lasik treatment. This is a fast recovery treatment, with most people achieving 20/20 vision if not better the very next day. Immediately after the treatment you will be able to see a big change in your vision and you may be quite surprised how well you can already see! However, after about 15 minutes you will find the anaesthetic drops that were administered during the procedure will start to wear off. You will then experience a mild stinging and and gritty sensation and you will find your eyes are very sensitive to light. It is normal to experience a few tears and it will be difficult to keep your eyes open. These feeling will last for about four hours.
The best thing for you to do will be to get to bed, turn off the light and rest, let your eyes stay closed for as long as they need, this is when they are healing. After a few hours you will find that the stinging sensation starts to ease, and you will be able to start to open your eyes much more easily again. Even after this short amount of time, you will see a huge improvement in your vision. That night, and for the following week, you will need to wear eye protectors when you are asleep, administer medicated eye drops, avoid touching and getting water in the eyes and any lovely ladies will need to avoid wearing eye make up. These guidelines are to protect the eyes while they are healing and as long as you follow these guidelines you can be back to most tasks very quickly.
The next day we will see you your your first check up to test your vision, and check the eyes are healing nicely. After this check up, many people do go back to work, and most people can also drive. You can go back to most sports after the first 7 days, and sports such as swimming and football after one month. It really is that fast!
If you have Lasek treatment, you will need to plan for a little more time. You would need a week off work, and from driving, but you can start practicing certain contact sports faster than Lasik.
For both treatments you may find that your vision fluctuates slightly for up to about 3 months, but this will no way affect your daily life. So what are you waiting for? Why not come and see Focus for a consultation to find out more?
Eye Speed Linked to Impulsivity
Are you a fast and impulsive decision maker, or do you have more patience and are able to wait for rewards? This could be related to the speed that your eyes move! A new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience have discovered that people who are less patient have faster eye movements. Each eye movement is called a Saccade, a fast, simultaneous movement of both eyes in the same direction. They are in fact the fastest movement in the human body, occurring in milliseconds.
The research team measured the saccades using a camera that recorded the eyes moving from one dot to another on a computer screen. They found that the speed of eye movement differs significantly from person to person, but will remain consistent for each individual. Also there were differences between age groups, teenagers have the fastest eye movements, and they gradually get slower as you get older. In conjunction with this, the researchers also tested a person’s patience. Again the participants were asked to stare at the computer generated dots, this time the team lengthened the time between each dot moved position. This time they measured how long they looked at the dot, before losing patience and looking away. On comparison of the saccades and patience, the researchers found that the speed of the eye movements closely correlated to their level of patience. People who had faster eye movements were less willing to wait.
“Our hypothesis is that there may be a fundamental link between the way the nervous system evaluates time and reward in controlling movements and in making decisions. After all, the decision to move is motivated by the desire to improve one’s situation, which is a strong motivating factor in more complex decision making too”
Researchers believe that the findings could help to diagnose medical conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse. Impulsivity can be used to diagnose and treat these and other conditions, and it is usually tested through the use of questionnaires. Measuring eye movements instead, could provide a more direct, and truthful assessment, and hopefully make diagnoses faster, more accurate and allow for more effective treatment.
Vision and multitasking
When it comes to multitasking, you may think that doubling up jobs can lead to mistakes, inaccuracies, slowness and poor performance. New studies have shown that when it come to vision, this is not the case. Visual Sampling is the act of picking up information in lots of small glances, and the brain can handle this and various visual functions simultaneously.
The Fovea is a tiny depression, about 3 mm insize at the back of the eye in the centre of the macula region. It is responsible for sharp central vision which is necessary for tasks such as driving, reading and any other activity where detail is of primary importance. the Fovea is the only area of the eye where 20/20 vision can be achieved and where colours are at their most brilliant.
When something catches your attention, you automatically swing your head towards it, effectively lining the object up with your fovea, allowing for closer, more detailed inspection. Whatever falls outside the range of the fovea will appear slightly blurry and less distinct, this will be your peripheral vision. When you are searching for something, you do not have to closely examine every object in a group. This is because your brain is scanning and evaluating where to direct your gaze next using your peripheral vision, without you being aware that the process is happening. For example, if you were searching for a friend in a crowd, and you knew that friend was wearing a red jumper, your brain will do two things. Firstly, it will analyze the person you are currently looking at, while at the same time it will be scanning the crowd, picking out the red colour using your peripheral vision. It will have decided what you are going to focus on next before you have even finished analyzing the first object!
Researchers discovered that both tasks can be performed accurately and rapidly, at the same time and independently. Usually when the brain multitasks, there is competition between the two processes, and one is given priority. With vision, neither process is interrupted or slowed down, indicating that both processes work at the same time and independently of each other. This is a very specialised ability, and could have evolved due to the sheer quantity of sampling that humans do every day, about 10,000 movements!
Smart tech comes to contact lenses
One in every nineteen people suffer from diabetes today, and this number is set to rise as our lifestyles and eating habits become more unhealthy. By 2035 it is predicted that this number will rise to one in ten. An important part of caring for and managing diabetes it getting your blood sugar levels checked. This helps to prevent long term problems associated with the condition and to identify when the levels are dangerously high or low. Currently the testing involves frequent and painful tests many times per day.
Technology giants, Google, have stepped in, and are developing an alternative method which will be painless, non invasive and accurate! The method involves implanting a tiny glucose sensor, an antenna as thin as a hair and a chip the size of one piece of glitter into a contact lens. When tears that are produced naturally by the eye touch the sensor, it is able to measure the glucose levels, and it can do this once per second! It is powered by a miniature wireless capacitor, making the whole package portable and more importantly, virtually invisible.
The technology is currently at an early stage, as Google hopes to add more functionality before its general release. The next step forward will be to add an LED warning system that flashes when the eyelids are closed. This will help to alert the patient to changes to glucose levels that cross the danger thresholds.
The Smart Contact lens will be just the start of a new generation of preventative miniaturised healthcare systems. Googles technology will accelerate wearable devices that can use smartphone apps as monitors. There are already several smart watches that are being developed that monitor heart rate and temperature. Scientists in Japan have also developed a ‘smart wig’ with healthcare cited as one of its many uses.
Quit smoking to improve your vision
It is the time of year for making changes in your life, taking care of your health and ditching bad habits. One of the most common New Year resolutions is to give up smoking. We all know that smoking has devastating effects on your health, from increased risk of cancer and heart disease to aging of the skin and reduced sensitivity to taste and smell. Did you know that smoking also doubles the chance of losing your sight?
Studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of several eye diseases that lead to vision loss including Age Related macular Degeneration (AMD), Cataracts, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy. Also Dry Eye Syndrome is doubled compared to non smokers.
AMD is a loss on central vision which makes it difficult to read and see fine details, over time this increases and can lead to significant vision loss. Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD than non smokers.
Cataracts are a clouding of the naturally clear lens and which get worse as we get older. Cataracts are responsible for 50% of world blindness. Smokers are three times more likely to develop cataracts than non smokers and the risks persist even after quitting. The higher intensity of the smoker the longer the risks last, emphasing the importance of quitting earlier in life and avoidance altogether.
Glaucoma causes a gradual breakdown of the cells in the nerve of the eye that send visual information to the brain. As each cell dies the vision is then gradually lost usually starting with the side vision. It can go unnoticed for many years until cell damage is significant. Increased blood pressure, associated with smoking, can also increase the risks of developing glaucoma.
Diabetic Retinopathy causes tiny blood vessels in the retina to break down, leak or become blocked, which can lead to a gradual loss of vision over time. Serious eye damage can occur when new blood vessels grow over the surface of the retina. Smoking increases your chance of getting diabetes and therefore also diabetic retinopathy, and can also make managing diabetes more difficult.
Graves Ophthalmopathy is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder affecting the orbit around the eyes. It is characterised by eyelid retraction, swelling, redness and bulging of the eyes. It can cause intense pain, corneal ulceration and compression of the optic nerve. Incidence is 7 times higher in smokers.
Dry Eye Syndrome damages the blood vessels in the eye which can lead to irritation, itchy and scratchy eyes, and constant discomfort. Smokers are more than twice as likely to suffer from dry eyes than non smokers.
it is never too late to quit smoking, to benefit from a healthier lifestyle, healthier body and healthier eyes. You may even see the results!
How an app can help the blind
A smart phone app has been developed which will help blind and visually impaired people navigate their surroundings. Standard navigational apps currently use GPS and voice controls for directions which can run into problems in certain situations. For example, the directions can stop working when GPS is not available and voice directions can be drowned out in noisy environments.
Developers from The University of Palermo in Italy, have developed a new alternative that will eliminate all its predecessors problems. Surprisingly the new approach is inspired by a well known story from Greek mythology, Theseus and the Minotaur. In the mythological tale Theseus has to brave a labyrinth in order to slay the Minotaur, a half man half bull beast. Ariadne, the beautiful daughter of King Minos of Crete, fell in love with Theseus and gave him a ball of string to help him out of the maze. Theseus tied his string to the start of the maze and was able to follow follow it back after killing the monster and escaping from the labyrinth. Rather than laying string, the app uses coloured tape which is stuck to the ground. The app user is then able to angle the camera on the phone towards the floor, and by waving the phone from side to side it scans, searching for the markers. When it picks out the line, it will vibrate, sending a signal to the user that they are on the right path. As well as this it can also identify certain features and landmarks, such as toilets and shops that are close by.
This software could really revolutionise navigation for for the blind, providing independence, and freedom to travel and find their way around on their own. Of course, because it is an app, it is relatively low cost, where as most other hi-tech aids are so expensive, they are not affordable for most people. It looks like many people will benefit from this simple, cost effective and more importantly life changing app.
How to Choose a Laser Eye Clinic and Surgeon
If you have short sight, long sight astigmatism, or need reading glasses you may be considering laser surgery. If so, choosing the right clinic and surgeon for you will be one of the most important decisions that you can make.
Initially you will need to attend a consultation to find out whether you are a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery. When choosing the clinics to attend the best advice is to do your research! Make sure that you choose a clinic that has a good reputation for patient satisfaction, and a surgeon who is experienced and delivers exceptional results. Once you have narrowed your search, check the clinics reviews and if you can try to speak to other patients who have been treated there. Another great tool is the CQC’s (Care Quality Commission) website. They will have reports on all the clinics in the UK.
Your consultation is not only to find out whether you are suitable, it is for you to see if is a place you feel comfortable in. Here is a short checklist to help once you are there:
Cleanliness: Does the clinic appear clean? A reputable clinic will be clean, tidy and hygienic.
Technology: What technology do they use? Bladeless and Wavefront treatments should come as standard in your package, and they should use the most up to date combination of lasers.
Staff: From the receptionist to your surgeon, the demeanour of the staff speaks volumes. Look for clinics where the staff are professional, friendly, caring, and above all listen to your individual needs and concerns.
Patient Satisfaction: What are the success rates? What are the complication and enhancement rates? Does the clinic offer a lifetime care guarantee for its distance corrections?
Remember not all clinics, surgeons and laser platforms are equal, and your eyes are priceless. Choose a clinic that is reputable, with an excellent safety record that is focussed on quality of care rather than number of sales.
City living and dry eyes
An American study has found that city living increases the likelihood of suffering from dry eyes. Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition where either the eyes do not make enough tears, or the tears that are made evaporate from the eye too quickly. Lack of tears causes the eye to dry out which can leave them inflamed, red and irritable. It may sound like a small problem but it can severely affect a persons quality of life, their physical and mental functioning. Also it can affect their work and productivity when simple tasks such as reading and working on the computer become difficult and uncomfortable. The symptoms can vary in severity and include blurred vision, grittiness, burning and watering.
The study has found that in large cities dry eye syndrome is 3-4 times more common, increasing exponentially the greater the air pollution, with all large cities in the U.S following the same pattern. In association with this, cities at higher altitudes have a further increase of prevalence by about 13%. The study concluded that doctors should consider environmental factors when diagnosing, managing and treating the problem.
Other causes of Dry Eye Syndrome also have to be taken into consideration, such as;
Living in a hot and windy climate
Certain chronic diseases
Side effects of medicines
Therefore when treating the condition it is important to first of all to treat any underlying causes. Further treatments which you can use at home include:
Lubricating Drops: Mild dry eye can usually be managed by taking lubricating drops 4-6 times per day, and aim to replace the missing water in the tear film. There are different types available ranging from tear drops to gels and ointments, so if one type doesn’t work, do try another. Preservative free drops are preferential as these can be used with more frequency without damage to the delicate cells on the surface of the eye.
Punctal Occlusion: Small plugs can be fitted to seal your tear ducts and prevent your tears from draining away.
Flaxseed Oil: These herbal tablets keep your eyes lubricated and help to improve the ocular surface.
Diet: Eat plenty of food that contain Omega 3 oils such as oily fish, avocados and nuts.
Water: Keep hydrated, dehydration will affect your eyes!
Humidifier: Use a humidifier to moisten the surrounding air and create a an improved atmosphere for your eyes.
Unfortunately we cannot all move to the countryside to help our eyes, but following the steps above will certainly make big city life a little more tolerable!
Using eyes to fight crime
Researchers at the University of Glasgow have been able to distinguish faces from their reflection in another person’s eye. The team have used a 39 megapixel camera to take a photograph of a person in perfect lighting from one metre away. The resulting high resolution image could then be enlarged, focused on the eye, and it revealed any object or person that was in front of it when the picture was taken, using the eye as a tiny mirror.
The iris typically occupies only 0.5 per cent of the area of a person’s face, meaning that the amount of reflected data that can be extracted to form an image is very small. Advances in camera technology have increased the number of pixels captured over th in the tests the researchers had placed bystanders in front of the eye, and they were able to e years but the quality of images of reflected faces still can be very blurry or pixelated. Despite this,be identified accurately 70 – 84% of the time.
This technology is thought to be a good option for surveillance and identifying suspects who may have been involved in a crime especially in complex cases where multiple suspects are involved. Researchers have also said that if data was available from both eyes they could make up a 3D image constructed from the subjects viewpoint.
So be careful if you are thinking of doing anything a little bit naughty, more people could be watching you than you think!