world glaucoma week 2019

World Glaucoma Week 2019

World Glaucoma Week 2019 (10 – 16 March)

During World Glaucoma Week (10 – 16 March) Glaucoma Australia will launch a new risk awareness campaign targeting people who are at greater risk of developing glaucoma to encourage them to get their eyes tested.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide, affecting over 300,000 Australians1, yet it is estimated that 50% of those living with glaucoma are undiagnosed1.

While nine out of 10 Australians say that sight is their most valued sense 2, over 8 million Australians are still not having regular eye tests3.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone may develop glaucoma, some people have a higher risk – they are people who:

  • have a family history of glaucoma
  • have high eye pressure
  • are aged over 50
  • are of African or Asian descent
  • have diabetes
  • have myopia (nearsighted)
  • have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • experience migraines
  • have had an eye operation or eye injury
  • who have a history or high or low blood pressure

Abridged: NHMRC Guidelines, 2010

Get tested

Glaucoma Australia recommends all Australians 50 years or older visit an optometrist every 2 years for a comprehensive eye exam, and if you have a family history of glaucoma or are of Asian or African descent we recommend you get your eyes checked every 2 years from the age of 40.

Did you know?

  • Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Australia
  • Known as the ‘silent thief of sight’ glaucoma develops slowly and often without any symptoms, leaving people undetected until the disease reaches an advanced stage. Left untreated, it can cause vision loss and may even lead to blindness.
  • While vision loss can’t be restored, early diagnosis and treatment can delay or halt the progression of the disease. That is why it’s so important to detect the problem as early as possible.
  • It is estimated that there are 300,000 Australians living with glaucoma, but over 50% are unaware they have it, thinking they have healthy eyes.
  • Glaucoma is hereditary – you are 10x more likely to have glaucoma if you have a direct family member with glaucoma.
  • First degree relatives of a person with glaucoma have an almost 1 in 4 chance if developing glaucoma in their lifetime, and that risk increases to 56% if their glaucoma is advanced. So knowing your family health is important.

How to get involved

Start a conversation

  • Encourage people at risk of developing glaucoma to get their eyes checked at least every 2 years.
  • Remind anyone with glaucoma to alert first-degree relatives of the benefits of early and regular eye checks.

More information

World Glaucoma Week 2019

breakthrough device

‘Breakthrough device’ gets expedited review from FDA

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated an AI diagnostic system that autonomously detects diabetic retinopathy (DR) as a ‘breakthrough device’, paving the way for an expedited review.

The Breakthrough Device Program is reserved for technologies that provide more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases.

Should it receive clearance the IDx-DR is expected to become a first-of-its-kind autonomous, AI-based diagnostic system intended for use in the front lines of healthcare.

“Too many patients go blind needlessly because they aren’t diagnosed in time,”Dr Michael Abràmoff, Founder And President Of IDx

Dr Michael Abràmoff, founder and president of IDx, the Iowa-based company behind the system, said he and his colleagues developed IDx-DR so that people with diabetes could have their eyes tested for DR during routine office visits.

“The healthcare system desperately needs a more efficient and cost-effective way to detect diabetic retinopathy. Too many patients go blind needlessly because they aren’t diagnosed in time,” Abràmoff said.

“The FDA’s designation of IDx-DR as a ‘breakthrough device’ confirms what we have believed for a long time.”

IDx also has algorithms in development for the detection of macular degeneration, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke risk.

A clearance determination on IDx-DR is expected before the end of the year.

Article appeared on INSIGHT

blue light

Blue light at night can disrupt your body clock, but it’s not all bad

For the past decade, scientists have been exploring whether artificial light — particularly wavelengths of blue light — poses a risk to human health.

You may have heard that too much screen time in the evening is a bad for you, and it’s true the blue light emitted by devices like phones and tablets can disturb your sleep.

But blue light is not all bad — and here’s why.

Blind mice sense blue light

In 2002, scientists identified a new type of photoreceptor cell in the eye, when the visually blind mice they were studying were still able to respond to certain wavelengths of light.

The cells, called Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGCs) respond to light for regulating our circadian clock — not for forming images like the rods and cones in our eyes do.

By detecting how much light is in our environment, the cells can communicate to our brain and body that it’s day-time, or that it’s time to sleep, thereby setting our circadian clock, according to neuroscientist Stuart Peirson from the University of Oxford.

IpRGCs are most sensitive to light wavelengths of 480 nanometres — right in the blue light spectrum.

But Dr Peirson said in actual fact, IpRGCs can detect most wavelengths of light, and it can all disrupt our circadian clock.

Disrupting your circadian clock

In modern society, artificial light is all-pervasive — and it’s messing with our bodies’ expected light-dark cycle, according to psychologist Lora Wu from Massey University, who contributed to a report on blue light released this week by Royal Society Te Apārangi in New Zealand.

What is blue light?

  • Blue light is the higher energy, shorter wavelengths on the visible light spectrum.
  • Natural blue light is highest in the middle of the day, and is also emitted from devices like smartphones and computers.
  • Daylight is a combination of the whole spectrum of visible wavelengths of light.
  • Photoreceptor cells (ipRCGs) in the human eye respond to blue light to set our circadian clock.
  • Blue light is also emitted by ‘white-coloured’ LED lights.

“We’ve got a master clock in our brain, which is set by light exposure to the eye. And every organ and cell in your body has an internal clock as well,” Dr Wu said.

These conflicting signals between your body clocks can lead changes in your physiology and behaviour — for example your mood and metabolism.

Shift workers — who often need to sleep and eat at odd times — are prime candidates for circadian desynchrony.

And Dr Wu said in general, humans find it very hard to adapt to such disruptions, with one exception.

“Sometimes people think if you’re a permanent shift worker, you can essentially flip your clock and then be awake and working at night and asleep during the day. But the only place where that’s been demonstrated is in offshore oil rigs,” she said

On offshore rigs, it’s possible to have complete control over the physical and social environment of the workers, so their meals, light exposure and socialisation are all shifted to night time.

“In the case of [offshore rigs] you may see some adaptation in day to day life,” Dr Wu said.

When it comes to blue light, it’s the timing of your exposure that matters for your health.

And you can get this naturally from daylight.

But there’s solid evidence to suggest that if you’re getting too much blue light before bed from devices like phones or tablets, or from cool-coloured bright lights, it’s going to interfere with your body clock.

And that’s because the ipRGCs in your eye — which are highly sensitive to blue light — are telling your brain it’s not time to sleep yet.

Blue light and mental illness

Regulated exposure to artificial light has been used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for a long time, and Dr Wu said blue light therapy is now a standard treatment for major depressive disorder too.

“Adding artificial light to standard treatments for depression has been shown to be really effective,” she said.

People with mental health issues are more likely to have a disrupted daily rhythm, said Dr Wu, including sleeping during the day or staying up late at night.

“We see a loss of rhythmicity in conditions like bipolar disorder and also with suicide outcomes — basically any kind of behavioural or mental illness,” she said.

Because the circadian rhythms of people with depression are dampened, getting exposure to blue light in the morning — as well as restricting it at night — can help to reset the body’s natural rhythm, potentially improving sleep and mood.

And getting an early night can help too.

Australian research published earlier this year suggested that SSRI antidepressants were less effective for night owls, compared to early risers.

SSRI’s, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work by boosting how your circadian clock responds to light, which is meant to be stabilising if you wake and sleep at normal times.

But because night owls are exposed to more light in the evening — often blue light from screens — the SSRI’s can put their body clock out of whack even further, and stop the treatment working for the underlying mental health condition.

And poor sleep quality and lack of routine can contribute to poor physical and mental health, setting an unhealthy cycle in motion.

In recognition of the links between sleep quality and good health, an inquiry into sleep health awarenessin Australia was launched in September 2018.

UV light the real issue in eye disease

When exploring how blue light affects human health, the conversation inevitably turns to whether blue light is harmful to your eyes.

According to the Royal Society Te Apārangi report, while high intensity light exposure can cause serious damage to the retina, the blue light emitted from phone and computer screens is well below that harmful intensity.

The report also suggests that there is no evidence of a link between blue light exposure and eye disease including macular degeneration.

In 2017 it was reported that vitamin companies were selling products claiming to protect kids’ eyes from the blue light emitted from their electronic devices — claims that were dismissed as ‘ludicrous’ by eye doctors.

People, particularly parents, should be more worried about UV light, according to ophthalmologist Shanel Sharma, a member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ Public Health Committee.

“Blue light is getting a lot of attention, but it’s not related to eye disease,” Dr Sharma said.

Dr Sharma is a practicing paediatric ophthalmologist in Sydney and regularly treats children with eye damage from UV light.

She said while parents often think about protecting their kids’ skin, eye protection is not prioritised highly enough.

Dim the lights at night, or go camping

There are some relatively easy changes people can make to their behaviour to minimise the risks of body clock disruptions from blue light at night, psychologist Dr Wu said.

“Try to get daylight in the morning, limit blue light from devices at night, and replace cool/white-coloured lightbulbs with warmer-coloured ones,” she said.

One study found that going camping for the weekend and avoiding all artificial light sources could reset your circadian clock.

Camping isn’t the whole solution, of course.

But the research reinforces the importance of the natural light-dark cycle in regulating our body block.


Article appeared on ABC Health & Wellbeing

clinicians evening

UTS Clinicians Evening

One of our very experienced orthoptists Ana was invited to speak to final year orthoptic students at the University of Technology’s  clinicians evening that was held on Wednesday 7th November at the Discipline of Orthoptics.

Ana has been a hard working orthoptist for 35 years. She graduated in 1983 and commenced work as an ophthalmic assistant in an oculoplastic practice. Later, Ana worked for a year in the public system at the Prince of Wales Hospital and then chose to return back to private practice when she joined FOCUS Eye Centre  – and we’ve been lucky enough to have her working with us ever since! She has worked in dual roles as a surgical scrub, ophthalmic technician and orthoptist since 1989.

Ana has also had a short stint at the University of Sydney tutoring and teaching for 4 years from 2008 to 2011.

An opportunity arose and Ana also took part in a medical team of volunteers that went to Samoa, testing vision and screening for eye disease in many villages over a number of weeks.

Her current role at FOCUS Eye Centre is that of Clinical Coordinator where she manages a team of 5 ophthalmologists, 3 ophthalmic nurses and 8 orthoptists.





Do glasses weaken your eyes?

The popular belief that glasses weaken your eyes is a myth.

If you wear glasses, chances are you’ve wondered from time to time if they’re making your eyesight worse. Not while you’re wearing them, but when you take them off.

Pretty much everyone will need glasses at some point in their lives. And when it happens to you, you’ll probably ask yourself the question on the lips of specs wearers everywhere: do glasses weaken your eyes?

Struggling to focus on printed matter is an unfortunate sign of ageing. Changes to the lens of the eye as you get older mean you have to move the page further and further away before you can see properly. It’s called presbyopia and it strikes us all, usually by our mid 40s. And most of us end up having to wear glasses.

If you think your eyesight’s got worse since you’ve started wearing glasses, you’re far from alone. But the truth is many eye conditions, including presbyopia, get worse over time by themselves, specs or no specs.

In other words, it seems harder to read things without your glasses because it is. But it was going to happen anyway, and your glasses aren’t to blame.

What your specs have done is got you used to seeing more clearly. So when you take them off, the contrasting blurriness is more noticeable.

Glasses don’t change the process of presbyopia or other eye conditions. But take them off, and your eyes might seem a tad lazy at mustering any remaining focusing power. That’s because the muscles that bend and straighten the lens of your eye haven’t worked as hard when your specs have been doing some of the job.

But your glasses haven’t made your vision worse. The real problem isn’t weak focusing muscles; the real problem is your eye’s lens has become less flexible so it can’t focus as well. And there’s not much you can do about that.

Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light might help delay the stiffening of the lens that causes presbyopia. But the only way to escape it completely is to die young. Not a great option!

So if you want to see well throughout life, wearing glasses or contact lenses is pretty much inevitable – and not harmful. You might as well just accept it (and blame your high school careers adviser for not steering you into the lucrative field of optometry!)

Thanks to Professor David Atchinson, Queensland University of Technology for expert information and Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant and HineSight Optometry for filming assistance.


Article appeared on ABC Health & Wellbeing 

by Cathy Johnson

Published 01/07/2008


5 things you’re doing every day that could be hurting your eyesight

Your eyes are precious, but people often take them for granted. Even those with perfect vision should visit an eye doctor regularly to get checked for common eye diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. To take care of your eyes, its important to visit an eye specialist regularly, wear sunglasses, avoid smoking, and eat healthy vegetables. Luckily, staring at a screen all day won’t damage your eyes permanently, but it can cause strain on the visual system.

We know we shouldn’t look directly at the sun, because it can cause serious eye damage even after a few seconds, according to Healthline. But there are plenty of other everyday habits that can hurt our eyes over time.

Business Insider spoke with Christopher Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association, to get some insight into how we may be damaging our eyes without even realizing it.

Here are FIVE common ways people damage their eyesight every day, and how to avoid them.

1. Staring at screens for too long

Fortunately, all those hours of screen time probably aren’t causing physical damage to your eyes, according to Christopher Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association. However, looking at screens for too long can cause stress in the visual system.

“That stress can result in eye strain, headaches, difficulty with focusing – a number of things that can impact quality of life overall,” Quinn told Business Insider.

It’s probably impossible to avoid screens all together. Instead, Quinn suggests practicing the 20-20-20 rule, which calls for you to look away from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds and look instead at an object that’s at least 20 feet away. It gives you an opportunity to refresh your eyes, he said.

In a single day, think of all the screens you may encounter – your smartphone, GPS, computer, TV, tablet, and more.

Fortunately, all those hours of screen time probably aren’t causing physical damage to your eyes, according to Christopher Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association. However, looking at screens for too long can cause stress in the visual system.

“That stress can result in eye strain, headaches, difficulty with focusing – a number of things that can impact quality of life overall,” Quinn told Business Insider.

It’s probably impossible to avoid screens all together. Instead, Quinn suggests practicing the 20-20-20 rule, which calls for you to look away from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds and look instead at an object that’s at least 20 feet away. It gives you an opportunity to refresh your eyes, he said.

2. Not wearing sunglasses

Whether the sky is sunny or overcast, the sun’s harmful rays can still impact our eyes. You don’t have to stare directly at the sun to experience damage. In fact, sun exposure over time can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss in older

adults, Quinn said.

Sunglasses can help protect against that damage, but it’s important to wear ones that protect against ultraviolet (UV) light, according to the National Eye Institute.

“UV light-absorbing sunglasses mitigate that risk substantially,” Quinn said. “Normally, high-quality sunglasses will filter 95% or more of the harmful rays of the sun.”


3. Smoking cigarettes

Aside from increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can also affect eye health, according to theCentres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just like sun exposure, smoking can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

4. Not eating your veggies

A diet rich in vegetables can help maintain the health of certain parts of the eye.

“Essential antioxidants and vitamins can have a protective effect on the health of the retina – the light sensitive tissue which lines the back wall of the eye,” Quinn said.

In particular, he said leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach may help provide that effect.

However, the common belief that eating carrots helps improve your night-time vision is actually a myth dating back to British propaganda from World War II. Although the orange veggie is good for eye health, it doesn’t give you any sort of super power.



5. Avoiding the eye doctor

Even if don’t have problems with your vision, getting an annual eye exam is still important for a number of reasons.

First, progressive damage to your eyes can happen without you noticing or feeling it. For example, about half of people with glaucoma – a group of diseases that impact the optic nerve – aren’t aware they have it, according to the CDC. That’s because there are often no symptoms, especially in early stages.

Additionally, during an exam, an eye doctor may find signs of other health problems.

“They can identify not just things that impact the eye, but also a host of systemic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, which can have manifestations in the eye before the disease becomes really clinically apparent to the patient,” Quinn said.


Article appeared on Business Insider Australia 

June5, 2018


Creating Vision with a SMILE

Creating Vision with a SMILE

SMILE – a minimally invasive laser vision correction procedure – has been used to treat over a million eyes worldwide and is being used by an expanding number of clinics for myopia correction. During SMILE eye surgery, a lenticule is created inside the cornea using the Zeiss VisuMax femtosecond laser.

Single Step

ReLEx SMILE saves time and increases comfort for surgeons and patients alike by performing the refractive correction with one treatment plan and on a single laser. Moreover, the lenticule inside the cornea and the access incision are created in a single step.

Minimally Invasive Laser Vision Correction

To achieve the refractive correction with Zeiss ReLEx SMILE, a small incision of 2-4 mm is sufficient to remove the lenticule from the intrastromal layer of the cornea, thus preserving the corneal structure.


mivision | 23 May 2018
Macula month

May is Macula Month!

May is Macula Month and the ideal time to learn more about macular disease, what support is available to you, and to remind your friends and family members of the importance of looking after their vision!

Macular disease is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. It includes age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, along with other less common diseases of the macula. Those over 50 are at higher risk of age-related macular degeneration, and everyone with diabetes is at risk of vision loss through diabetic eye disease.

Here at Focus Eye Centre, we have highly trained, and well respected professionals in the ophthalmology field. For more information on Macula Month, come in and see our retinal specialists, Dr Margaret Kearns and Dr Paula Berdoukas.

Learn More – A range of publications produced by Macular Disease Foundation Australia are available free of charge. Publications cover disease information, risk factors, symptoms, preventive measures, and a range of guides on low vision. Next time you visit Focus Eye Centre, ask about these free publications, or call the Foundation toll-free on 1800 111 709 to have these posted to you.

Support – Macular Disease Foundation Australia works alongside ophthalmology practices in support of patients, their family and carers. They offer free advice and support in living well with macular disease and can be contacted on the toll-free Helpline on 1800 111 709.

Having a regular eye test is the best way to detect changes in your vision, early diagnosis and timely treatment gives the best opportunity to save sight. If you, or a family member, notice any sudden changes in vision, call us immediately on 02 9663 3927.

For more information on Macula Month 2018, visit

Keratoconus Treatment Corneal Collagen Cross Linking to be supported by Medicare

Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (CCXL) for keratoconus will be added to the Medicare Benefits Scheme from 1 May 2018.

The lone awaited news has been welcomed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), including the RANZCO-affiliated Australian and New Zealand Cornea Society, who have been calling for this change for a number of years.

Access to rebate for CCXL through Medicare will make this important treatment available for people who were previously unable to access it due to cost and availability.

In Australia, people with keratoconus will often require corneal transplantation, which, while often necessary, is a complex and invasive procedure that requires donor corneas to be available and has a long recovery period. However, if these patients are able to undergo timely CCXL, which uses ultra violet (UV) light and drops to help slow the progression of the condition, it is likely that they can avoid corneal transplantation altogether.

“This is an important step that brings an innovative and effective treatment option to the many people living with the effects of keratoconus in Australia,” said Professor Gerard Sutton, Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Cornea Society. “From 1 May these people will have available to them a less invasive option that could mitigate the need for a full corneal transplant and that can either stop or slow down the progression of this visually impairing condition. This is a hugely positive and very welcome change.”

Keratoconus causes a person’s cornea to change shape over time, often resulting in blurry vision and impacting people’s ability to undertake every day tasks, in particular causing difficulty driving at night.

Bright lights can start to appear streaked, glare and halos can appear around lights and over time visual function can become progressively worse making it difficult to go about daily life.

“The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) endorses the federal government’s initiative in recognising the importance of crosslinking for the prevention of sight threatening disease, and in providing financial support for patients suffering from progressive keratoconus. We are delighted that this important innovation is being made more readily available for those that need it,” said RANZCO President, Associate Professor Mark Daniell.


mivision | 11 April 2018

Number of Aussies living with cataracts on the rise

An increasing number of Australians are living with cataracts, particularly women aged over 80, according to new data released by the Medibank Better Health Index.

More than 700,000 Australians were affected by cataracts in 2016-17, an increase of 139,000 compared with 2010-2011. The figures, released to coincide with International Women’s Day, also showed than 18.5% of women aged over 80 were affected by the condition, compared with 13.4% six years ago.

“It’s well known that the risk of developing cataracts increases as people get older, however this new data also suggests there’s been a slight rise in the number of Australians affected,” Medibank clinical director Dr Sue Abhary said.

The numbers also indicate women are more likely to have cataracts than men, with 4.4% of Australian women affected compared with 3.5% of Australian men.

According to The Fred Hollows Foundation, this gender imbalance is reflected worldwide, with women around 1.3x more likely to have a visual impairment than men. As a result, women comprise around 55% of the 36 million people who live with blindness globally.

“We know vision impairment and blindness have far-reaching implications, not just for the women affected, but also for their families and for progress towards many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Fred Hollows CEO Mr Ian Wishart said.

“To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as targets for Vision 2020, we must eliminate all forms of inequity in access to eyecare for women and girls.”

Vision 2020 Australia has committed to working with its members both locally and abroad to help provide women and girls with access to eyecare services, and CEO Ms Carla Northam said it should be a priority for all countries.

“Gender inequality in eye health is clearly a global issue, and we strongly support all of our members doing this work locally and globally,” Northam said.

“Addressing gender imbalances in eye health will go a long way towards reducing avoidable blindness around the world.”