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General Information 

Welcome to McLaren & McKechnie. Professional eyecare with personal service.

We often get asked questions regarding eyecare and particular eye conditions so we hope you find the information laid out below useful.

 What Does An Optician Do?
 Eyecare for Your Child
 Common Problems for the Elderly
 Contact Lenses
Common Eye Problems Explained
 Diabetic Retinopathy

 Macular Degeneration

What Does an Optician Do?

We often get asked what is the difference between an optician and an optometrist. People refer to the professional who tests your eyes as an optician, but this is incorrect. Your eyes will be tested by an optometrist. Put simply, an optometrist is able to test eyes, diagnose conditions and make eyesight prescriptions. An optician is a professional trained in the fitting of frames, lenses and other optical products.

When our optometrists carry out an eye examination they are not only aiming to improve your vision, but also looking to identify any symptoms or diseases which might affect your eyesight. Eye diseases are not easy to spot without the specific tests our optometrists carry out because the change in your vision may be so gradual you don't notice, and you will rarely feel any discomfort.

In the process of examining your eyes a number of tests are carried out and instruments are used to take measurements of distance and near vision. Additional tests are carried out to measure things such as the co-ordination, movement and near focusing ability. We also check colour vision, visual fields and eye pressure.

Your eyes are also checked for any sign of tissue damage or other health issues. If there are signs of eye disease or health problems you will be advised to see an Ophthalmologist or General Practitioner for further tests or treatment.

If you need corrective treatment, spectacles or contact lenses we will explain when these should be used and advise on the most suitable type of lenses for your particular circumstances.

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Children need careful handling when first being fitted with glassesEyecare for Children

Being able to see clearly is key to a child's learning and development, particularly reading and writing.

Parents often mistake poor vision that can easily be corrected for learning difficulties that may need specialist professional help.

Up to 15% of primary school children need glasses or have vision problems that contribute to learning difficulties.

Although the Snellen eye chart test is widely used in school eye screening programmes, it is not a failsafe diagnostic tool as it only tests for about 1/3 of the vision problems children may experience.

A child may be able to see objects in the distance clearly and so pass the screening, but have vision disorders that impair learning, such as problems with near-vision and binocular skills. Your child should have regular professional checkups - just like going to the dentist.

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Common Problems for the Elderly

Problems with failing eyesight become more common as people age. Small print is very difficult to read, TV viewing can become a problem and  recognising people across the street can become an issue.

Glasses or contact lenses can help to keep pace with the changes in your eyesight..

The retina needs light to help it work and as our eyes age less light is picked up. Brighter bulbs indoors may help.

Regular checkups are important for our health. Similarly regular eye test will help us keep on top of changes in our vision.

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Contact LensesContact Lenses

Contact lenses have come on in leaps and bounds in recent times and are now suitable for almost anybody.

The convenience and ease of fitting make them very popular. New technology has produced designs that are much more comfortable to wear.  They give people a choice. Not everyone wants to wear glasses, at least not all the time. There may be occasions where glasses are not suitable e.g. playing sports  Because of the close proximity to the eye, contact lenses tend to give better results than glasses.

A full examination will help determine which lenses are best for you.

As part of the examination your eyes will be measured to decide the strength of lenses you will need for clear vision, and the overall health of your eyes and eyelids will be assessed. Contact lenses require lubrication so your ability to produce tears will also be assessed. Other data such as the curvature and diameter of the cornea will be measured, along with the size of your pupils and the positions of your eyelids.

Having gathered all this information, your optician will be able to guide you towards the most suitable contact lenses.

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Under normal circumstances, the cornea should be smooth and uniformly curved in all directions, much like a football. With astigmatism, the cornea is warped and tends to curve more in one direction than the other. Much like a rugby ball.

Viewing objects with astigmatism can be likened to looking through a glass bottle, with images appearing disproportionate and blurred.

There are a number of causes of astigmatism but predominantly it is an unequal curvature of the cornea, or an unbalanced bend of light by the lens.  Often present at birth, Astigmatism is usually inherited from a parent. Astigmatism is often accompanied by nearsightedness or farsightedness and stays with you throughout your life.

Blurred or distorted vision, headaches and eye strain are the common symptoms of astigmatism.

The intensity of astigmatism varies and not all occurrances require corrective treatment. If the problem is more severe then it can be managed through the use of spactacles or contact lenses. Astigmatism can also be treated with refractive surgery.

Eye problems such as blurred or distorted vision should be checked. If you are suffering from any eye defect you should book an eye examination.

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A cataract often affects people over the age of 55. It manifests itself as a clouding of the vision in the affected eye.

When a cataract starts to develop you may experience blurred or hazy vision, spots in front of the eyes, an increased sensitivity to bright lights or the sensation of having a film over your eyes.

A standard eye examination will check for cataract development. There are no real preventative methods to avoid cataracts so regular eye tests are important.

If the cataract develops to the point that it affects your daily life your optometrist can refer you to an eye surgeon who may recommend surgery to remove the natural lens and replace this with a new plastic lens.

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can have an affect on your eyesight.

Diabetic retinopathy can alter the small blood vessels that nourish your eye's retina, the delicate, light sensitive lining of the back of the eye. These blood vessels may develop leakage, swelling or brush-like branches.

Blurred vision may indicate the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition develops you may notice a cloudiness of vision, blind spots or floaters.

Diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness so cannot be left untreated. Your Optometrist recommends regular eye examinations, particularly if there is a history of diabetes in your family.

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Many eye conditions fall under the umbrella of Glaucoma. This is the condition where the optic nerve is damaged at the point where it leaves the eye. A change in eye pressure can cause this condition.

If the pressure is too great then the optic nerve could be damaged. How much damage there is depends largely on the level and timeframe of the pressure. Really high pressure will inflict damage to the optic nerve almost immediately. A lower level of pressure can cause damage over time, and then you would risk losing your sight if it is not treated.

In the UK some form of glaucoma affects about 2% of people over the age of 40.

There are a number of things which may increase the risk:

  • Family - If you have a parent, sibling,or child who has chronic glaucoma then you should make sure you have eye tests at regular intervals. Especially important if you are aged over 40 when tests should be done annually.
  • Age - Chronic glaucoma becomes much more common with advancing age. It is uncommon below the age of 40 but affects one per cent of people over this age and five per cent over 65.
  • Race - If you are of African origin you are more susceptible to chronic glaucoma and it may come at a younger age and be more severe. So make sure that you have regular tests.
  • Short Sightedness - People with a high degree of short sightedness are more prone to chronic glaucoma.
  • Diabetes is also believed to add to the risk of developing this condition.

Some of the tests we carry out for glaucoma are as follows:

  • Ophthalmoscopy; viewing your optic nerve by shining a light from a special electric torch into your eye.
  • Tonometry; measuring the pressure in the eye using a special instrument.
  • Visual Field Test; you are shown a series of spots of light on a screen and asked to say which ones you can see.

All these tests are very straightforward, don't hurt and can be done by our optometrists.

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Macular Degeneration

Detailed vision such as reading is controlled by a small central area of the eye. Macular degeneration is a slowly advancing disease where this part of the eye becomes thin and withered, so it doesn't function as well. This cannot be treated at present.

There is another form of macular degeneration which is more svere but fortunately not as common. With this form blood vessels growing under the macula leak fluid or blood, which create distortions to the smooth, even surface of retina and damage the retina cells. Your vision will become distorted and eventually will reduce considerably. This condition can however be treated with new therapies by specialist ophthalmologists.

If you or anyone you know notice wavy lines, gaps, distortion of near vision and holes in a page of print, it could be an indication of early macular degeneration and should be examined by an optometrist.

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Myopia is the opthalmic term for shortsightedness.

Near objects are clear to see but objects in the distance are blurred.

Myopia can often develop in teenagers and young adults but is not limited to these age groups.

If children suffer from Myopia it is often untoticed as the childs focus is usually on items in close proximity. The first experience of difficulty is in the classroom where school blackboards need to be read.

Driving with untreated Myopia is potentially very dangerous. Spectacles, contact lenses or refractive surgery may correct myopia.

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Squint (aka strabismus) is a condition that arises because of a muscle imbalance in the eye mechanics, incorrect nerve signals to the muscles and some focusing issues. If these are out of balance, the eye may turn in , turn out or sometimes turn up.

Approximately 1 in 12 children are affected by a squint or a squint related condition. If your 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 turned eye.

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 Sightedness sometimes lead to a squint developing as the eyes are over focusing whilst trying to see clearly. If left untreated, a 'lazy eye' may result. The most common age for this type of squint to start is between 10 months and two years, but it can also occur up to the age of five. 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.

Can a baby have a squint?
Yes, a baby can have a squint, especially if there is a family history of it. 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 a 'pseudo squint' which is related to the shape of the face, but a baby with a true squint will NOT grow out of it.

Some squints respond well to treatment involving the wearing of spectacles, especially where long sightedness is involved. Children usually adapt well to wearing spectacles especially with an attractive range of spectacles available.

Squints can be treated with spectacles, eye patches, eye drops and surgery.

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A bacterial infection in a gland at the edge of the eyelid can cause a stye to develop. almost pimple like, a sty can grow on the inside or outside of the eyelid. Styes can occur at any age and are not harmful to your sight, but are particularly uncomfortable. Pain, redness, tenderness and swelling occur in the area before a small pimple appears. Sometimes just the immediate area is swollen, other times the entire eyelid swells.

Normally, a stye will only last a few days. Hot compresses several times a day will help the stye to mature and ulimately rupture, drain and heal. Try to avoid deliberately bursting a stye; allow it to rupture in its own time. Styes which appear inside the eyelid should be monitored closely and may need to be checked by your optometrist.

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McLaren & McKechnie Opticians in Clydebank

  McLaren & McKechnie Opticians ~ 2 Rockbank Place, Clydebank, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, G81 5NZ ~ T: 01389 876552 ~
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