Most people use the term optician when speaking of the person who does their sight test. Actually it is an optometrist who examines your eyes and writes your spectacle or contact lens prescription. The dispensing optician is the person who assists you with your spectacles and makes the prescription in your spectacles. Sometimes a contact lens optician may be the one who fits and checks your contact lenses.
Why I can offer a superior service over other eye care providers on the high street in the Newbury area?
I am from the USA - from Georgia, to be exact, hence the Southern twang, but most recently I lived in Florida.
Optometrists in America treat many eye conditions and prescribe medications - mostly what only hospital eye consultants and specialist optometrists can do here in the UK. Thus a doctorate degree is required - that's right - 2 degrees and 8 years of university.
Making Newbury my home
In recent years, I have become more active in shaping the profession of optometry in the UK. In 2015, I was elected to the Association of Optometrists (AOP) Council as the Councillor for the South East region. I was also appointed to the Optical Confederation's Joint Education Committee.
While I have enjoyed all aspects of my work since moving to Newbury, I have often missed having my own practice. Independent practice has none of the restrictions and limitations as working for a large corporate opticians does. Having known what it is like to be fully in charge of my patients, I longed to have that opportunity again.
Thankfully the time has arrived to make independent practice possible again here in Newbury. I look forward to being about to offer my patients better care, non rushed appointments, and a larger range of options to correct vision and maintain best eye health.
A lot of people have a misconceptions about contact lenses and how they are meant to work.
Here are some common conversations about contact lenses I have with people - family, friends and patients together with my explanations...
If you have a question not covered here, do feel free to post it in the comments below and I'll reply just as soon as possible; or if you'd prefer to keep it private, just email me.
"I don't wear my contacts that much because they are uncomfortable but I hear contacts are supposed to feel that way"
Guess what? Contact are not suppose to feel uncomfortable. There are some people who can wear certain contacts that they can not feel in their eyes.
"Well my opticians did give me an option - this is the only one they have for me to use"
At many high street opticians, they have a particular manufacturer the use a the "go to" lens and usually not based on patient comfort but on their profits on the lens. If you are not getting on with the contact lens you have been fit in then you have every right to ask to be fitted in another lens. You have every right to complain.
"What's the point of contacts when you are only allowed to wear them just a few hours a day?"
No manufacturer prints the exact number of hours you are to wear the contacts. A contact lens is designed to be worn from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. Now with some eye conditions such as dry eye and eye allergies, a patient may not be able to wear them all day. Some contact lenses are designed to be worn on a continuing basis - such as 30 day and night extended wear. With extended wear comes more maintenance and responsibility on the patient's part so it may not suit everyone. Daily replacement is the easiest and there is not cleaning process involved.
"I can't wear contacts. They don't make them in my prescription
Most all patient can wear contacts - just sometimes you may need a specialty lens not available at most opticians. And independent optometrist may be able to offer more options that a high street opticians. High street opticians normally stock and carry a limited range of contacts to keep the costs down.
"Can't I just order my contacts online - what's the point of having an EXAM for them?"
A contact lens is a medical device and in the UK can only be fitted and sold by a qualified professional. There are lots of online companies - some out of the country and some in the UK - that will let you order your own lenses without checking for the validity of the prescription. Many optometrists and hospital eye consultant see the results of poorly fitted contacts' damage to patient's vision. At the least, irritation could occur and at worst you could lose your sight due to corneal damage. A contact must be properly fitted, vision assessed and checked on a frequent basis to ensure optimum eye health and vision. Just because your lenses were fitted once doesn't mean they will always be the best ones for you.
"Kid's can't wear contacts - because their eyes are still growing"
I have fit toddlers in contacts for special visual needs in the past. Of course the responsibility of the parents falls on the parents to handle insertion, removal and disinfection of the lenses. Parents may be a good judge, but often times I find children do much better with the contact lens than their parents predicted. In some cases of myopic management (where I try to slow down the progression of short sightedness), a contact lens is the better option versus spectacle lens correction. There is no particular age requirement for contact lens use. And no age you should stop wearing them also!
"I don't need to wash my hands when removing my contacts
Yes, you do. Wash and dry your hands before inserting and removing your contacts.
Do you have a question about contact lenses and wonder if they're right for you?
Post your question in the comments below so everyone can benefit from the question and answer. Alternatively, if you'd rather keep your question private, then please do drop me an email. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Cycling and Contact Lenses
If you have a significant prescription and cycle then you know the spectacle options for you are limited. To have the best "wrapped" style specs for cycling, you may need to ignore your correction and go without or use those small lens inserts.
Have you considered contacts as an option?
Do you play other sports? Are you considering contact lenses?
Give us a call or drop us an email so we can see if they are the right option for you.
Something that can be confusing to explain is why watery eyes may be dry eyes.
If your eyes are watery, it could be from the fact that the surface of the eye is dry therefore it cannot hold onto the tears. The tears either evaporate or run off the eyes. So watery eyes can be a result of dry eyes!
What are the symptoms of Dry Eyes?
What can cause Dry Eyes?
Some other things that can give you dry eyes or make Dry Eye Syndrome worse are:
Dry Eye Syndrome or DED - the facts!
Do you think you have Dry Eyes or DED?
Do you want to get your eye dryness under control?
We're here to help. Book in with a our optometrist for a full assessment and receive a customised treatment plan for your level of dryness.
The time comes when we all experience age related changes. Our eyes and vision are no different than the rest of the body; our eyes age and change as well. In addition to changes to our vision, the eye health also alters with age. Sure there are all the common conditions we've heard of - cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration; but there are other conditions that are age related as well - dry eyes, droopy/hooded eyelids, and blepharitis.
What can we do to help our eyes from ageing? What Anti-Ageing Vision Solutions are there?
Well, in short, Anti-Ageing Vision Solutions are used to maintain best eye health and maximise the vision despite age related changes.
Not that long ago, to treat what I have and call the "Post 40 Eyes", bifocals were the best on the market to help vision. Now, treatment plans include using premium varifocal spectacle lenses without the line (no one will know!). You may want to have contacts as an option as there are various uses of them to help with your vision post 40. Management of dry eyes and lid disease can help to improve the appearance of the lids. Certain vitamin supplements can help to provide extra nutrition to our eyes and lower the risk factors for certain age related diseases. Even certain eye exercises can assist with lubrication and dry eye relief. Specific eye makeup removal creams and cleansers are key to best eyelid health and appearance.
Knowing the right products to have and to use is key to keeping youthful vision and eyes.
Dr Valarie Jerome
Writing and sharing interesting topics affecting patients in their daily life, our practice news and the profession of optometry.