The First Member of Your Focus Family – Meet Barbara
If you are thinking of Focus for your laser eye surgery, Barbara is probably the first person you will have contact with. She is our team Clinic Administrator and and we are lucky to have her as she provides a ‘Ray of Sunshine’ on a daily basis! Here’s a little more about her:
“This is actually my first job working in the laser eye surgery industry but I have worked in other clinics and have many, many years of providing exceptional customer service in various environments. There are various aspects to my role including ordering stationery, post management, and generally supporting my colleagues in any way that I am needed. The main part of my job is looking after the new enquiries both online and on the telephone, and this is really the bit that I enjoy the most! I really enjoy speaking to people on the phone, face to face is really good too, answering questions and providing information on the services we offer at Focus. I love seeing happy smiling faces of patients who have had treatment and those who have just booked their treatment date!!! There is huge window to the ‘Hub’ of the Clinic, so patients can see the team ‘working hard’ and we can wave ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ and put a face to your names!
You may have seen that we get a lot of celebrities coming through our doors, such as Sue Barker, Laura Whitmore, Matthew Mcfadyen and many more. It is my job to coordinate appointments for VIP’s, working around often hectic filming and travel schedules. It can be difficult, but it’s no different to how I treat every one of our patients, I believe every single person deserves five star service! You may have seen written and video testimonials on our website? It’s me who arranges the filming and I am also on the other side of the screen. It’s really just a chat and a gossip with a friend, I love to hear about each person’s experiences, but I will have to discuss laser eye surgery at some point!
The most challenging part of my job is keeping track of what I’m doing – as the phones are constantly ringing and I always aim to answer on the first ring if possible, but I haven’t finished processing the paperwork for the previous call!!! It’s all part of the job though and I LOVE IT! Focus is a FANTASTIC place to work! It’s a great team and a lovely working environment. It’s a pleasure to come in to work everyday! Everyone including the surgeons are approachable and highly knowledgeable and experienced in their respective field. Lot’s of laughter, literally everyday…we work really hard too – EVERYDAY!!!!
If anybody is thinking of having laser eye surgery I would advise them to do lots and lots of research, and then choose Focus. Be calm, but excited, don’t worry about anything, you are in the best hands. Don’t worry about asking further questions, no question is too stupid or insignificant – If it matters and it is important to you then it is important to us – because at Focus we really care and we genuinely want the very best for you as we do for all our patients – you are now part of our FOCUS FAMILY!!!”
A New Type of Eye is Discovered
A new type of eye has been discovered in a fish that dwells in the deepest parts of the ocean around Australia and New Zealand. The Glasshead Barreleye Fish lives in almost complete darkness, and therefore has to maximise the little light that can be detected.
The fish appears to have 2 sets of eyes, but in fact it is one pair that are split in two. The first set point upwards to see potential prey or predators that are silhouetted from light above. The second section of the eye has mirror like retinas that are capable of detecting bioluminescent flashes that are created by other deep sea creatures around them. These silvery looking eyes are able see both to the sides and below, giving the fish a full 360 degree field of vision! The reflector eyes have a conventional lens at the top, but have a curved mirror formed of guanine crystals which can reflect light onto a second retina.
Reflector eyes have previously been found in invertebrates such as crustaceans, but never previously in a fish. The broad field of vision created is a great advantage at depths, not only in helping to find food, and mates, but also in avoiding becoming prey themselves.
Many animals have developed extraordinary eyes in order to cope with challenging environments. The colossal squid also lives at extreme depths and has the largest eyes ever recorded, measuring in at about 30-40 centimetres, again presumably to capture as much light as possible. The chameleon can swivel its eyes independently, one used for watching for prey, the other for avoiding predators. Goats can see behind them! You can never surprise a goat.
Did you know that sharks eyes are the most similar to humans? Apart from being able to roll their eyes into the back of their heads to prevent them being damaged in attacks. Its a weird and wonderful world out there!
Smart Phones become Eye-Phones
Researchers at Stanford University have developed two adaptors for smartphones that will allow the phones to take high quality images of both the front and the back of the eye.
Currently these pictures need to be taken by a camera that is attached to a slit lamp. The slit lamp is a very expensive piece of equipment used to look into the anterior of the eye and can cost up to tens of thousands of pounds, is time consuming, inconvenient and can only be used by trained medics. The new adaptors will mean that taking the images will be much much easier, will be more accessible and will be able to be used by anybody, not just trained professionals. Due to the ease of use and the accessibility the hope is that it will increase access to eye care for those that do not have ophthalmologists near by, for example people who live in developing countries in rural areas. The adaptors will attach to the phone, and a high quality image can be taken, this image can then be uploaded straight to an ophthalmologist who would be able to give a remote diagnosis and treatment advice. Currently to get advice about an eye condition the would just have to use words to describe the symptoms, but a detailed photograph will make the diagnosis and treatment much more accurate, after all “a picture is worth a thousand words”!
The adaptors are currently being tested and evaluated, and will hopefully be available for purchase in the near future. A team from the University of Melbourne in Australia have already used the two adapters on a medical mission trip to Ethiopia and have stated that they were excited about the results.
Why Is There A ‘Burning’ Smell During Laser Eye Surgery?
When considering laser eye surgery you will likely have done lots of internet research or discussed with friends that have already had the treatment. You may also have read comments such as “I could smell burning during the treatment!”.
No wonder many people are put off laser treatment before they even have had a consultation, it really does sound pretty scary! We would like to take this opportunity to do a little bit of mythbusting, and provide some reassurance about this aspect of refractive surgery.
To begin with we would like to reassure you that there is NO burning involved. The excimer laser is so precise that it can split apart molecules of collagen, releasing carbon atoms into the air. The smoke-like smell that some patients notice for a few seconds during the procedure is from these carbon atoms. And normal smoke from burning smells as it does exactly because it also contains carbon atoms.
So with excimer laser treatment, we could say there really is ‘smoke without fire’. You can smell the carbon but without heat or fire – a myth from a popular saying has been busted!
At the beginning of your treatment the advanced Ziemer LDV femtosecond laser will create an extremely precise thin flap which is then lifted to reveal your cornea. The actual vision correction part of your treatment will then take place using the Wavelight Allegretto 400 excimer laser.
The vision is corrected by a process called ‘ablation’, which is the surgical removal of tissue from the cornea. The excimer laser is so accurate that it can remove minute layers of surface tissue (just one fifth of a thousandth of a millimetre!) with no change or damage to the tissue left behind. In fact the laser is so accurate that it can split a single red blood cell into six equal pieces!
The Wavelight Allegretto is know as a ‘cool beam’ laser meaning that there is no heat applied to the eye at all. Instead the concentrated light from the laser disrupts the bonds between the molecules and fibres in the cornea that hold them together, and without these cementing bonds the fibres are removed in a very controlled and precise manner.
We hope that this information relieves any concerns that you may be feeling, and gives you the confidence to come and see us at Focus to find out all the facts!
Focus First CET Evening A Success!
All dispensing opticians and optometrists need to make sure that they are kept up to date with the latest skills, knowledge and new theories in order to improve their practice and skills, and to provide the right advice to their patients. They do this by undertaking Continuing Education and Training (CET). CET training can take place through a variety of means, from lectures to peer reviews, and in a variety of learning styles.
Last week, Focus Clinics launched its first in a series of optometry training evenings, naturally based on our subject of expertise, laser refractive surgery, entitled An Introduction to Refractive Surgery. Created and hosted by our specialist refractive optometrist Ritu Jagpal, we discussed the origins of laser surgery and how it has changed and improved over years; Focus as a clinic, what we do and how we maintain our excellent results; Lasek, PRK and Lasik treatments, how they differ and the benefits of each; Patient suitability; Laser surgery mythbusting; Followed by a questions and answer session.
The lecture was a resounding success with attendees that were completely new to laser eye surgery, through to specialists with over 20 years working in the field. We also had the pleasure to meet specialist optometrists in other areas of expertise such as glaucoma and paediatrics, and from some highly respected institutions such as Guys St Thomas’ Hospital and Arnott Eye Associates as well as a host of independent opticians.
We will be announcing our next CET evening shortly, and you should expect the evenings to cover a wide range of topics, from refractive surgery to cataracts and glaucoma.
New eye layer linked to glaucoma
Last July we reported on a very exciting discovery of a new human body part! It was an extra layer in the eye, called Dua’s layer, named after its discoverer Dr Harminder Dua. The finding of the new layer, was expected to hold the key to many eye diseases, why they occurred, and more importantly, where we might find a cure.
Further research since its discovery has found that the new layer may actually play a vital role in the cause of glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when fluid in the eye is not able to drain away properly, causing pressure to build up inside the eye. The pressure can then lead to damage of the optic nerve and also nerve fibres in the retina, which can have a devastating effect on the vision, and in 10% of cases can even lead to blindness. The Dua’s layer has now been found to play a vital role in controlling the fluid draining in from eye through a sieve like meshwork of cells called the Trabecular Meshwork (TM). Researchers at Nottingham University, who discovered the Dua’s layer, found that collagen fibres in the Dua’s layer branch out into the TM, and in fact the core of the TM is just an extension of the Duas layer.
It is hoped that this finding will offer new clues into drainage malfunctions occurring in the TM that can cause glaucoma, and furthermore will help to find methods for cures and prevention.
Exercise Can Help to Improve Your Eyesight
If you have opted to improve your vision through laser eye surgery, and are now seeing the fantastic results of 20/20 vision or better, you will want to maintain those results for as long as possible.
New studies in the United States suggest that keeping up with aerobic exercise will help to keep your eyesight perfect for longer and can even delay the progression of diseases that can eventually lead to blindness such as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It is thought that aerobic exercise works by stimulating a protein in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrphic Factor (BDNF). This protein is special as it helps brain cells to grow and also to stay healthy, and scientists believe that this could also be the case for the cells in the eye that process light. Tests have so far have just been carried out on mice, but the results are looking very positive. The scientists tested two groups of mice, one group that had a fixed treadmill, and the second group whose wheel was able to turn. They found that the mice that were running regularly on their treadmills had twice as much retinal function than the inactive mice, and 20% higher BDNF protein levels. Dr Pardue who was working on the project says:
“This is the first report of simple exercise having a direct effect on retinal health and vision. This research may one day lead to tailored exercise regimens or combination therapies in treatments of blinding diseases.”
So step to it, keep those limbs moving and heart pumping, it can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30% and even help you eyes to carry on seeing clearly!
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.