Eye health for older people

As our eyesight gradually deteriorates as we get older, almost all of us will need to use glasses or contact lenses by the time we reach age 65. Our eye muscles begin to weaken at around age 45, it’s a part of the natural aging process that happens to us all at some point in our lives. At around age 60, it is likely you may need a separate pair of glasses for reading or close-up work or an addition to your existing prescription lenses such as bifocals or varifocals.

As you get older, it is important that you still attend regular eye tests. If you are aged 60 or older, you are entitled to a free NHS eye test every two years and every year if you’re aged 70 or older. However, a 2011 Age UK survey revealed that nearly 2 million people aged over 60 did not take advantage of these free eye tests within the previous two years.
An eye test will determine whether you need a different prescription for your contact lenses or glasses. Wearing the correct prescription will increase your overall quality of life and will reduce the likelihood of you suffering trips, falls or other accidents around the home. According to the research carried out by Age UK, poor vision was a factor in over 270,000 falls suffered by people aged over 60 in the past two years.

In addition to attending regular eye tests and keeping your prescription glasses or contact lenses up to date, there are several other things you can do to ensure your eyes stay healthy for as long as possible.
Quit smoking – quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including reducing your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, which can lead to sight loss
Eat healthy – eating a balanced diet is important for your overall health, including the health of your eyes – eating plenty of fruit and vegetables may protect you from developing cataracts and AMD
Take regular exercise – good circulation and oxygen intake are important for your eye health – both of which are stimulated by taking part in regular exercise
Sleep well – during sleep, your eyes are constantly lubricated and irritants that have gotten into your eyes during the day such as dust and smoke are cleared out
Wear sunglasses – exposure to strong sunlight can damage your eyes and increase the risk of developing cataracts; make sure you wear sunglasses or contact lenses that have a built-in UV filter to ensure your eyes are protected
Good lighting – your eyes need three times as much light to see well when you’re aged 60 than they did when you were aged 20. Increase daylight in your home by keeping your curtains open and your windows clean, and make sure your electric lighting is always in good working order

Caring for your contact lenses

More than 3 million people in the UK wear contact lenses – approximately 13% of the total population. Women are more likely to wear contact lenses than men, with 16% of women wearing them compared to 11% of men. Younger people are also more likely to wear contact lenses, with between 18% and 21% of 16 to 49 year olds wearing them, compared to 2% to 9% of the over 50s.

There are two man types of contact lenses; rigid gas permeable or soft – instructions for both will vary accordingly – so it is vital you follow your optometrist’s advice. Being careless with your contact lenses can lead to serious infections in your eyes – in some cases, misuse of contact lenses has led to parasites, bacterial and fungal infections, herpes and temporary or permanent blindness.

For all types of contact lenses, you should always:
Wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before you handle your lenses
Have an up-to-date pair of glasses you can wear for when you remove your lenses
Keep hold of the contact lenses packet with the batch number on it in case you suffer a bad reaction or side effects
Only use your lenses for the time recommended
Attend regular check-ups with your optometrist
Seek the advice of your optometrist if you are experiencing problems with your lenses
Never put a torn or damaged lens in your eye
Never share your lenses with others and never wear other peoples’
Never rinse your lenses or store them in tap water
Never transfer lens solution into smaller bottles or other containers – as you are risking it not being sterile anymore
Never lick or wet your lenses with saliva
Never wear contact lenses while swimming or showering, unless you wear water-tight goggles.

For reusable contact lenses, it is essential that after removing them, you disinfect them to prevent harmful bacteria from building up on the lens. To disinfect your lenses, soak them in a suitable solution in their storage case for the time you have been advised. Never reuse dirty solution or top it up with fresh; any used solution must be discarded after use. Make sure you rinse your storage case and leave it open to air-dry after use every day and replace it with a new case on a monthly basis.

For disposable contact lenses, it is vital that you never reuse them – as they are unsuitable for repeated usage. If you wear daily disposable lenses, it is still important to attend regular check-ups with your optometrist.

When wearing your contact lenses; ask yourself the following questions:
Can I see well?
Do my eyes look good?
Do my eyes feel good?

If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, please remove them immediately and seek advice from your optometrist.


Would you believe that every year we produce over 30 gallons (or 136 litres) of tears? Although you may not realise it, we are actually crying every second of our lives and there are three different types of tears. Tears are made up of a combination of water, sugar, proteins and fats and all play an important role in protecting and preserving our eyes.

Tears are produced in our lacrimal glands, which then flow into the space between our eyeball and our eyelid. Waste fluid is eventually disposed of through the nasal cavity; hence why our nose tends to run when we cry.

The liquid that is constantly present within the eye are known as basal tears, which ensure that your cornea is nourished and lubricated. Your cornea contains no blood vessels and thus depends on its film of tears for its oxygen supply, which it receives from the air when your eyes are open. Basal tears smooth out irregularities and creates an even surface, which gets reformed every single time you blink. They also act as a lubricant between the eyelid and eyeball to prevent irritation.

Reflex tears are the kind of tears that are produced when your eyes ‘water.’ As a result of an external stimulus, such as dust or foreign particles or irritant substances such as onion vapours or pepper spray – reflex tears occur to wash our any irritants that have come into contact with your eyes. Reflex tears are also related to coughing, yawning and vomiting.

Tears caused by strong emotions such as sadness, grief, anger or happiness are often referred to as emotional tears or psychic tears. Tears produced during crying due to pain or discomfort also fit into this category. These tears actually have a different chemical make-up to basal or reflex tears; they generally contain a larger amount of protein. A high level of strong emotions can trigger the parasympathetic branch of our autonomic system – researches suggest that by excreting these hormones when we cry is actually our body’s way of making us feel calmer and less emotional afterwards.

Here are a few interesting facts about tears:
• All vertebrate animals that spend part of their life on land have basal and reflex tears, but humans are thought to be the only animal that cries for emotional reasons. However, there have been reports of elephants shedding tears of grief after a member of their herd passes away.
• On average, men cry between 6-17 times per year, while women average 30-64 per year. Scientists believe this is due to hormonal differences and the fact that women have smaller tear ducts than men. Larger tear ducts result in being able to contain more tears within the eye before they spill out.
• New born babies cry for an average of 1-3 hours per day. A baby that cries for more than 3 hours per day may be experiencing symptoms of colic.
• The phrase “crocodile tears,” is actually a misnomer. Crocodiles “cry” when they eat as shedding tears allows them to rid their bodies of excess salt they take in with their food.

Sore, gritty and even, surprisingly, watery eyes can be a symptom of the tears either being too few or inefficient. This is commonly called dry eye. We stock a range of highly effective dry eye treatments from the Thea Spectrum and Hycosan range on our online shop.

Why are eye tests important?

By far, the most important of our senses is our sense of sight. Up to 80% of all information we perceive is through our sense of sight and you may not realise it, we use our eyes all of the time – you’re using them right now to read this blog!

Regular eye tests are important, as your eyes generally don’t hurt when they have an underlying problem – and if you’ve had a problem such as blurred vision or floaters for a long time, it’s likely you’ll have gotten used to it and are unaware of the long-term health impact this can have on your life.

Having an eye test will help you and your optometrist to see if:
You need wear glasses or contact lenses
If your current glasses or contact lenses prescription needs to be changed
You show any symptoms of eye diseases such as:
o Diabetes
o Glaucoma
o Macular degeneration

If during your eye test your optometrist notices a problem with your sight or overall eye health, they can provide appropriate solutions (glasses/contact lenses), products (eye drops/sprays) or if required, they can refer you to a specialist if you require more complex treatment. If you do have an underlying problem with your sight or eyes, it is better to find it sooner rather than later – if detected early enough, most eye problems can be corrected or improved, but if left too long, it may become impossible to treat the issue. Evidence suggests that around 50% of all sight loss could have been prevented if the patient had had their eyes checked earlier in life.

Optometrists recommend that most people have their eyes tested every two years, but in certain circumstances we suggest more regular checks. For example, if:
You are a child wearing glasses
Have diabetes
Are aged over 40 and have a family history of glaucoma (parents/grandparents/siblings etc.)
Are aged over 70

Eye tests generally take around 20-30 minutes and do not cause any pain or discomfort. Contrary to popular belief, an eye exam is not just reading the alphabet from across the room while wearing a pair of funny glasses – your optometrist examines both the inside and outside of your eyes, tests your eyes’ reflexes and can check your peripheral vision.

The NHS provides free eye tests for people in certain circumstances and can also offer optical vouchers to help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses. To find out more information or to find out if you qualify for an NHS-funded eye test, visit this website.


Smartlux Digital Magnifiers


Launching New Online Shop

We are currently working with E-Strands Ltd who are helping us to build a brand new online shop. Online we will sell a large range of different men’s, women’s and designer frames, as well as a selection of eye care products – this new shop will be ideal for customers who may not be able to come see us in-store or for customers who live further afield, as we can ship our products all over the world.

Our frames can either be purchased as they come, with no prescription, and you can have your own optician pop in your lenses. Alternatively you can upload a picture of your spectacle prescription and we can make your glasses to order with standard or thinner lenses and ship them out directly. We will also offer the option to pick up your glasses, frames or eye care products in-store at no extra cost to you.

We will stock a wide variety of men’s and women’s frames, including many of the top designers including Anna Sui, Ted Baker and Christian Lacroix. Our range of accessories will include eye drops and sprays, cooling masks, glasses cases and cleaning wipes and every colour of Peeper Keepers eyeglass holders you can think of.

One feature of our shop will be a user-friendly search function, which will allow customers to search for specific frames they may have in mind. For example, they could search for “red,” which would bring up every red-coloured frame we stock. Customers will also be able to browse by designer, price range and more – rest assured you will easily be able to find what you’re looking for.

We will aim to keep our prices competitive and will strive to match or beat the prices of other online retailers. We will also offer free delivery on all orders over £50.

We are also launching a brand new IntelliSight shop Instagram account – where we will post photos of any new frames, designs or products we will be stocking. Keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter too so you’ll always know about the new products and offers we’re running.

Back To School Eye Tests

As adults, we quickly notice when we encounter a problem with our eyes. Whether we’re suddenly starting to struggle to see things close up or far away, our vision is blurry or we see flashes or floaters – we know to see a professional and get it sorted as soon as possible. Unfortunately, children don’t do this. Any changes with their body, a child will most likely accept as normal; after all, their bodies are constantly changing – they outgrow their clothes, lose their baby teeth and they’re constantly learning new skills at school and at home.

Thankfully, there are a handful of children who will tell you; “Dad, I can’t see the board at school,” or they will make subtle changes in their behaviour we can pick up on – like sitting closer to the television, frowning or blinking a lot, or holding a book closer to their face. And whether your children shows any signs or symptoms of vision problems or not, it is still a good idea to take them to regular checks at their opticians to spot any potential problems before they get worse.

We recommend that you start taking your children for annual sight tests after they have their school health check (this is usually around ages 4-5) where their height, weight and vision is assessed before they begin attending primary school. These sight tests not only help to determine if a child will need to use glasses, they can also detect early stages of common vision problems such as lazy eye. If you have a family history of eye conditions, please do not wait for this school health check, get your children assessed as soon as possible – your child does not need to be able to read to undergo a sight test.

If a child is suffering from poor eyesight, especially at school or other learning environments, they can develop learning and behavioural problems which may be blamed on other things, not their eyesight. This is especially common in younger children who may find it difficult to explain to their teacher or parents the difficulties they are experiencing with their sight – in some cases, they may be unaware they have a problem at all.

We offer a walk-in service for all children’s appointments – if you’re in the neighbourhood, pop in for a chat! Through NHS funding, sight tests for all children under the age of 16 are completely free, and if you meet certain criteria, you can apply for additional help to pay for the cost of glasses or contact lenses if their child needs them.

IntelliSight 1st Birthday – 10th September

On Saturday the 10th of September, IntelliSight will be celebrating our first birthday! That’s right, we’re a whole year old! One whole year of helping out the local people of Redcar and their families with eye tests, spectacles, sunglasses, contact lenses and general advice about their eye care and eye health.

We’re celebrating in style by holding one of our open days – open to the general public, we will be have our usual cupcakes, cups of tea, soft drinks and other refreshments. We’re also going to be running a Facebook competition – simply like and share our Facebook post below to be entered into our prize draw. What’s the prize? The winner shall receive a pair of beautiful designer sunglasses, men’s or women’s style, your choice. Let’s hope we get some September sunshine for the winner and their new specs!

Everybody is welcome to come along and have a chat and a cake; whether you’re one of our existing customers or are interested in joining us. Children are more than welcome to come along too; we will have lots of balloons and bring out our big bubble machine again!

This autumn we will be launching a new online shop, selling a wide variety of men’s, women’s and designer frames as well as a large selection of different eye care products. Existing patients will also be able to send us a scan or a photograph of their prescription and we will make up their spectacles to order and deliver them direct to their door. We are aiming to have some of the most competitive online prices to ensure our customers will always receive the best possible price and customer service.

We have over 1500 registered patients and regular customers who can come to us for anything from eye tests, glasses repair and maintenance, contact lenses or just general advice. In our first year, we have managed to create three new full-time jobs and an apprenticeship placement – once our online shop is launched, there may be more job positions opening, so watch this space!
To find out more about IntelliSight Opticians and the services we provide be sure to follow us on our social media profiles, Facebook and Twitter - #BePartOfTheWaddle


Eye Health : Smoking and Diet

Julie Breen

It's a New Year, February seems that everyone is still trying to stop smoking, eat more healthily, lose weight......sometimes all 3 at the same time!

As we're all being bombarded by messages about the health risks of smoking and being overweight, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and tell you about the importance of not smoking and a good healthy diet in maintaining the health of your eyes and continuing to see clearly. 

And  it's Age-related Macular Degeneration Awareness month....the biggest cause of acquired blindness in the UK (linked to smoking and poor diet); a very appropriate time to deliver this message. 

It seems that the public health message about the role of smoking in increasing the risks of cancer,  stroke and heart disease are everywhere. But a frightening statistic that's not often discussed is that if you are a smoker you are twice as likely to go blind compared to a non smoker!

Also a healthy diet is very important to maintain eye health. 

It's all down to free radicals and anti oxidants. Free radicals are the bad guys and anti oxidants get rid of them. We all have a certain amount of free radicals in our bodies, but smoking ( more precicely the products of combustion in smoke) pushes their number WAY up.  And a diet rich in anti oxidants neutralises the bad guys and stops them damaging our tissues. Unfortunately, a smoker would never be able to eat enough healthy stuff to combat the chemicals in smoke that are harmful. So if you are a smoker and you want to protect your eyes, quitting is the best solution, I'l be talking more about this in Eye Health Week in September and Stoptober. 

The damage caused by free radicals is particularly dramatic in the lens of the eye causing cataract and at the macula in the eye where we have our detailed, colour vision. This latter effect causes Age- related Macular Degeneration ( AMD) to be worse and  progress faster than it would otherwise be. As it's name suggests, it's strongly linked to age, but smoking makes it much worse in many cases. 

Two pieces of research (AREDS and AREDS2) have shown that, when someone doesn't smoke and has moderate AMD, taking a specific combination of vitamins and supplements can help reduce the progression of the disease. 

The two products available in the UK with this formulation are EyeBar and  Viteyes 2; both are available at IntelliSight Opticians. 

There isn't any harm in taking other supplements if you have AMD, or taking supplements 'just in case' if you have a strong family history of AMD, but the science only supports the taking of the AREDS formulation, and only those with moderate AMD were shown to get any benefit. 

Of course, a healthy diet is also extremely important. A diet full of green veggies; broccoli, curly kale, spring cabbage.......  is great. For eyes specifically, opticians recommend at least one helping of fresh spinach per week; it's high in Lutein (very good for the macula). We also recommend tomatoes as a compound called Lycopene found in them is also very good for eye health. Very oddly though, the more tomatoes are processed, the more concentrated the lycopene becomes, so tinned ones are better for you then fresh ones, puree is better than tinned ones. Sounds like an Italian diet to me!

In summary, if we all needed another extremely good reason to give up smoking and maintain a healthy diet, then preserving our sight has got to be it. 

If you are a smoker, then stopping is the only way to reduce your risk of losing your sight.

Eat a diet brimming with green veggies, tomatoes and all sorts of fresh fruit and other veg. 

Take vitamin supplements if you like, but only those non smokers with moderate AMD are shown scientifically to benefit.

And if you're at all worried about your eyes, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 



Taking stock of 2015. Thank you all.

It feels like IntelliSight Opticians was a long time coming in 2015. 

We moved into the old Greggs property in mid February, but it had been stripped down to the bare brick so the building work seemed to take an AGE. I suppose it wasn't helped by the fact that I was very particular about the shopfit, the bespoke furniture, and the placement of splashes of ORANGE ( no prizes for guessing my favourite colour!). 

I was also very particular about the branding, and I think the design and overall look of the IntelliSight Opticians logo, both inside and outside the premises looks fantastic. The designers of the logo, E -strands,  also did our website, and I think that also really stands out from the crowd. 

Six  months after IntelliSight moved into the High Street, we opened on 11th August. I was back on Redcar High Street, 4 years after leaving Specsavers. In that 4 years I had worked in all the big optical  multiple stores and numerous independent opticians, and I tried to take the good practices from each of them and incorporate them into  Intellisight Opticians.

As well as having an eyecatching looking and spacious practice, we have probably the largest range of frames in Redcar, and certainly the most varied and interesting range. 

Our contact lenses are all the 'big name' brands, and these days pretty much anyone is suitable for contact lenses, so if you have ever thought that it might be nice to see clearly without spectacles, there has never been a better time to try them. 

With over 30 years of local experience, there isn't much in the way of eye related issues that I haven't seen or dealt with before; and I will always try to explain things clearly. My aim is to clarify and not to impress you with how many optical terms I know!

At IntelliSight Opticians, we also do things differently with regards to the eye issues that other opticians don't help you with.  We stock an extensive range of specialist dry eye and blepharitis treatments , the Spectrum Thea range.  We stock high quality magnifiers, specialist reading lights and electronic magnifiers from Eschenbach. We stock the ONLY vitamin supplements that have been scientifically proven to help control the progression of macular degeneration (Viteyes 2 and EyeBar) .

As I'm the chair of the Local Optical Committee in Tees, I'm aware of every community service, pilot scheme, hospital service and third sector provider in the Tees area. If there is something that you would benefit from, I will most definitely be the one to get you access to it. 

As far as customer service is concerned, I have always found that treating anyone in the same manner as you would like to be treated is the best way to please and delight....and a nice cuppa helps too!  I hope that in the past six months we have both pleased and delighted the many people who have come through our doors. 

One thing I was determined to avoid was excessive paper, particularly paper records. There's nothing makes an optician look more unprofessional than being unable to locate previous records. Our computer based management system has meant that we have kept paper to a minimum: greener and less to misplace. One of the things that has come from a system capable of monitoring all our patients, is that we have been able to find out why people came to us rather than another optician.  And rather surprisingly it hasn't been advertising in the local papers, or on the radio that has worked, it's overwhelmingly recommendation; simply providing a service so good that we are being highly recommended to friends and family. 

And this is where the big THANK YOU comes. I'd like to personally thank everyone who has helped to make our 2015 SO successful. We're clearly doing something right if the vast majority of our business comes from recommendation. And please continue to be our ambassadors. We have thoroughly enjoyed providing you with excellent eyecare in 2015, and we'd LOVE to see more people like you in 2016 and beyond.  You and your friends and family will continue to benefit from your special discount, 241 for everyone will be back soon, so 2 people can get the offer, and we will be having innovative offers as the year advances. 

Why not pop in and see what's in the SALE? Up to £150 off designer glasses. Or pop in for a cuppa. 

Once again a very sincere thank you for our brilliant start; we hope to see you again soon.