Screen test

From satnavs to smartphones, electronic devices are all around us. However, our eyes weren’t designed to read tiny lettering on an illuminated screen. So what can we do to improve our vision while using mobile devices?

Firstly, don’t try to read a smartphone screen while walking, or adjust a satnav system on the move. The text is small enough without having to compensate for vibrations or distractions. Some devices have pinch-and-zoom functionality, enabling you to enlarge the text. Turning up the brightness often improves legibility, though direct sunlight and bright reflections will counteract this. Try to find shade if you can, or install an anti-glare screen cover. Voice controlled apps also help to reduce the amount of time spent focusing on the screen.

Before buying a new tablet or smartphone, go into a shop and play about with it to ensure you’re happy with the screen size and resolution. Ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle cleverly mimic the appearance of ink on paper, reducing the discomfort when reading for long periods. Also, don’t spend more than 30 minutes looking at any screen without giving your eyes a moment to focus on something in the distance.

Reading glasses may be helpful, and today’s multifocal lenses are equally effective over short and long distances. Our qualified staff will be able to offer advice on the best lenses for your prescription and lifestyle.

Try to keep any devices at least a foot away from your face, and use moistening drops if your eyes become dry or tired. We stock a range of moisturising eye drops that are ideal for occasional or regular use.

Each human iris has 256 unique characteristics, which is why eye scans are increasingly being used to confirm our identity.

Biometric eye scans could unlock everything from our homes to our online bank accounts in the near future.

Choosing the perfect sunglasses

Sunglasses are an essential part of everyone’s wardrobe. Championed by early Hollywood stars as a way of remaining anonymous, a well-chosen pair of sunglasses still adds glamour and sophistication to your appearance.

Stylish frames with darkened lenses can make a real fashion statement, but the protective lenses in modern sunglasses also improve visual comfort and reduce the risk of certain eye-related health conditions...

Our high-quality range of sunglasses protects against harmful ultraviolet light, which occurs naturally in daylight and increases in bright sunshine. UV rays can damage corneas (the clear front of the eye) and retinas (the back of the eye), while long-term exposure could contribute to sight-related health conditions like cataracts.

Our sunglasses repel 100 per cent of UVA and UVB rays, whereas cheap decorative sunglasses bought at market stalls or on holiday may not provide proper protection against this invisible danger.

As well as filtering out UV rays, sunglasses improve our ability to see comfortably in bright conditions like driving towards a sunset or relaxing by a pool. It’s easy to be dazzled by sunshine reflecting off wet surfaces, even in winter.

These are some of the lenses and coatings you might want to consider:

Polarising lenses Also known as anti-glare lenses. These filter out reflections from wet roads, other cars and even those annoying reflections on your own windscreen giving much clearer and safer vision in bright conditions.

Scratch-resistant coatings Sunglasses often lead a harder life than spectacles. This coating protects them if they’re dropped, or scraped against abrasive objects like keys.

Shatterproof lenses Ideal for outdoor sports, these lightweight polycarbonate lenses protect our eyes from flying objects as well as UV radiation.

People who spend a lot of time outside might want larger sunglasses for outdoor work, whereas sports and leisure activities lend themselves to a pair of shatterproof lenses.

Choosing frames to suit your facial shape is crucial, ensuring the lenses fully cover your eyes without any gaps UV rays could get around.

That’s especially true for children, who often like frames based on style rather than practicality!

Working towards optimal sight

It’s easy to forget how important clear, healthy eyesight is for our careers. Yet every workplace poses different vision related challenges, from hazardous materials to repetitive tasks. Depending on your job, you might need to protect your sight in very different ways:

Office roles Whether you’re a typist or an IT technician, eight hours facing a screen in an artificially lit office poses challenges. Glasses may be more comfortable than contact lenses in offices with dry air conditioning, and we blink less when staring at a monitor. Eye drops, regular breaks and increased blinking help to alleviate dry eyes. We can give advice on specialist spectacle lenses and tailored prescriptions designed for office use.

Manufacturing or scientific jobs Factories and laboratories often contain hazardous chemicals or materials. Your company has a duty to provide eye washes and first aid, but goggles or protective lenses may be advisable too. Sharp vision is critical in these environments, so ensure spectacles and contact lenses match your prescription.

Physical roles Snug-fitting frames are important for physically active roles, to stop them sliding or falling off. If you spend a lot of time moving between indoor and outdoor environments, anti-fog lens coatings prevent glasses misting up. Contact lenses are ideal if you’re required to wear protective headgear like a visor or a hat.

Your questions answered

In a regular column, we offer expert advice on common vision-related questions...

Q. My son has just started nursery, and he’s been asking to sit at the front so he can see the whiteboard. Should I be concerned?

A. Young children tend to assume everyone sees the world as they do, so they don’t always report problems seeing things clearly.

Going to school or nursery is often the first time these issues become evident, since most early-years teaching has a strong visual element.

If your son is having problems seeing things from a distance, we would recommend making an appointment for an eye test at our practice. We’ll be able to measure his sight, and determine whether he needs glasses.

Q. I’m due to get a new pair of glasses shortly. What can I do to keep them in good condition for as long as possible?

A. The first thing we’d suggest to maximise the lifespan of your new spectacles is a scratch-resistant coating. This will protect lenses from damage or scrapes that gradually reduce your ability to see clearly through them.

On a related note, it’s good practice to take glasses on and off with both hands, and ensure the lenses are never face down when placing them on a hard surface.

Storing glasses in a fabric or hard-shell case when they’re not in use also protects them against accidental scratches.

We stock delicate cleaning cloths and sprays, which will enable you to moisten and clean lenses with minimal friction.

Never use abrasive kitchen roll or tissues as they could cause scratches on the glass, and avoid household products like vinegar or window cleaning sprays with potential to damage lens coatings.

Q. I need varifocal glasses. Can I still wear contact lenses?

A. Modern contact lenses are available for a wide range of prescriptions.

As well as distance vision contact lenses, we can also fit multifocal contact lenses which give good vision at distance and near.

With the latest advances in contact lenses, nearly all prescriptions can be corrected. Whether you’re long-sighted, short-sighted or have an astigmatism, there are contact lenses which can work wonderfully for you.