Vancouver Optometrists & Eye Doctors

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Archive for June, 2015

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Dining in the dark, or “dark dining” as it is more commonly referred as, is the latest craze in restaurant experiences. The basic concept of these restaurants is that there is no light so you don’t see your food, leaving your other senses to heighten the culinary experience for your tastebuds.

The original concept came about in 1999 in Switzerland where a blind clergyman, Jorge Spielmann, from Zurich wanted people with sight to know what it was like to be blind. He started off by blindfolding his dinner guests in order to have them experience what it is truly like for the blind to eat. His guests were amazed at how their sense of smell, taste, touch and sound were heightened, thereby enhancing the flavours and textures of your food.

How It Works

Most ‘dark’ restaurants around the world operate the same way. Guests come in to a lit room where they pre-order their meal. Most places also offer ‘surprise’ menu items for those who are truly adventurous. Once you enter the dining area, all sources of light are removed, that includes cameras, flashlights, cell phones or even luminous watches are allowed. The restaurants’ wait staff are more-often-than-not blind or visually impaired as they are best suited to work in such conditions. The idea is truly to focus entirely on your meal.

Dark Table In Kitsilano

As described on their website, “An evening at Dark Table will take you on a culinary journey through uncharted territory, where the familiar—food, drink and friends—becomes a wonder to be explored and discovered, as if for the first time.” Dark Table has been brought to Vancouver by the same owner as O.Noir restaurants in Montreal and Toronto. There are set service times, so making a reservation is highly recommended. Expect your dining experience to last about an-hour-and-a-half. And of course, be sure to come with a sense of adventure and an empty stomach!

Shining A Light On Awareness

Though the experience is something rather unique, there is also the point that you’re learning first-hand what it is like to be blind or visually impaired. The experience is one that cannot be talked through, so living it first-hand over a meal is considered, by some, to be priceless. Most of these dark dining restaurants consider that the ultimate goal of their venue, and donate part of their revenue to charities that work with the blind and/or visually impaired.

What You See Is Not Always What You Get

Often times, people are guilty of eating with their eyes. The pleasure we get from seeing a beautiful and plentiful dish served in front of you. You salivate, you enjoy how it looks before you have even tasted a single bite. So is it really worth it to sacrifice the sense of sight involved with eating when dining in the dark? No one can determine that for you, except for you. Even if you don’t enjoy not seeing your food, you can’t argue that dark dining allows for an interesting evening and something that will have you talking with your friends and family for weeks to come.

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Roseanne Barr is known for her comedic stylings, her crass language and no-holds-barred storytelling techniques. And now, she’s becoming the face of something new. Again. Roseanne has macular degeneration and glaucoma, ocular diseases that will leave the celebrity with vision loss.

Macular degeneration is caused when there is damage to the retina resulting in vision loss in the centre of the your visual field, eventually leaving patients blind. Glaucoma is when there is increased pressure to the eyeball, gradually causing blindness.

You may have seen recent tabloid and celebrity gossip magazines featuring Roseanne with large black glasses. And that’s why. She’s in paint. Macular degeneration and glaucoma come with severe discomfort and pain. Roseanne has publicly supported marijuana and touts its medicinal properties as helping her deal with pain she feels from the pressure in her eyes.

How is she dealing with her looming blindness? “I just try and enjoy vision as much as possible — y’know, living it up. My dad had it, too.” (From the Roseanne Bar interview with The Daily Beast.)

Good advice, but she brings up a good point as well. These diseases can be inherited, so it’s important to know your family history of vision health when speaking with your eye doctor.

Dame Judi Dench, known for her work in the James Bond films, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Chocolat, The Shipping News, Shakespeare in Love and much more, is also suffering from macular degeneration and is losing her eyesight.

Celebrities bringing to light vision health and vision loss is important, especially in May, during Vision Health Month. Approximately 80 percent of vision loss is preventable or treatable if caught at an early stage. Visiting your eye doctor to receive regular eye examinations, as well as eating healthy and living an active lifestyle help mitigate the risks of eye disease. And of course, knowing your family history as some diseases, like cancer and heart disease, can be inherited from your parents.

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Researchers may have found a drug to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) protect them from potential vision loss.

Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged, ultimately affecting nervous system. Some problems associated with MS are muscle spasms and difficulty moving, vision loss, problems with speaking, chronic pain and tiredness, vertigo, anxiety, depression amongst many other problems. The problems can depend on the location of the problems within the brain of the patient with MS.

But now, a drug, phenytoin, commonly used to prevent seizures within the epileptic community is thought to be able to help patients with MS control potential vision loss. Though these scientists are hoping to do larger-scale research, the results seem, so far, very promising.

Half of people with MS at some point in time suffer from something called ‘acute optic neuritis.’ Basically, it’s an inflammation of the optic nerve. Though often times temporary within MS patients, acute optic neuritis can cause sudden partial or total blindness, foggy or even darkened vision as well as pain. When a patient suffers any attacks with MS, they are treated with steroids in order to speed up recovery. And it’s effective but doesn’t reduce the long-term damage and risk to the eyes.

During the study, approximately 30 per cent of patients who received the drug (not the placebo) had less damage to the retinal nerve fiber. If these results persist with larger studies with more participants, then it will suggest that phenytoin might be able to help prevent nerve damage and blindness for people with MS.

It’s important to understand that vision loss can happen to anyone at any time, and it doesn’t discriminate against age, religion, or anything else. And there are certain diseases that do make us more prone to vision loss, either partial or total. Diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and as discussed, multiple sclerosis. It’s imperative that you see an eye doctor about any and all conditions you know about as well as any and all conditions in your family’s history in order to give him or her a complete medical picture.

What Happens During An Eye Exam?

Monday, June 8, 2015 @ 04:06 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

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Most Canadians have seen an eye doctor at least a few times in our lives, and if you’re on top of your vision health, you’ve seen one regularly since you were a child. But if you have never seen an eye doctor, or haven’t been to one in a long time, here’s a run down of what you can expect when you see him or her.

Questions and more questions. To start, a full medical history is important. Knowing your family’s vision health history is also important in determining if you are at risk for any issues down the road. If you have diabetes or cardiovascular problems, this may also affect your vision. Talk to your doctor and make sure he knows as much about your overall health as your family doctor.

Your vision will be tested to see how well your eyes move, your ability to see objects near and far (using an eye chart), as well as your colour vision (if you are colour blind).

If your doctor thinks you might be nearsighted, farsighted, have astigmatism or presbyopia, they will do a refraction test. This is when the doctor puts a few different lenses in front of each eye to determine which lens helps you see clearer.

Examining the surface and inside of your eyes come next. She or he will use something called a slit lamp microscope which allows them access to this complex part of your body. If any disease is present, this will allow them to determine what it is.

Eye pressure determines whether you have, or are at risk of developing, glaucoma. In order to test for elevated pressure, the doctor must first numb your eye with a drop of anesthetic (which might sting a little). Then they will put a drop of dye on your eye which will light up when the doctor looks through the slit lamp and will allow him or her to measure the pressure within your eye.

A visual field test determines how much you can see directly in front of you as well as your peripheral vision. If you have any reduced vision, this is also an indication that something might be wrong.

To get a full scope of your vision health, your eye doctor will dilate your pupil so he or she can see what’s going on at the back of your eyes. This will make it uncomfortable for you to see properly in the office, but it’s the best way for the doctor to see what’s actually going on inside your eye. Since this effect lasts a couple of hours at most, bring a pair of sunglasses and plan on having someone drive you home after your appointment.

Photos help your doctor not only get an idea of what’s going on, but also keep a record on file of your vision health throughout the years. Photos can be taken of your retina, optic nerve and other parts of your eyes. These images also help to see if there is any damage to these individual parts as a result of disease or glaucoma or any other factors.

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re unsure about anything that’s going on, be sure to ask your doctor questions along the way. They will gladly walk you through the different instruments and machines they use and explain what it all means to ensure you’re knowledgeable about your own vision health. Of course, your last question should always be about when to book your next exam.

Farsighted vs. Nearsighted. What’s the Difference?

Monday, June 1, 2015 @ 04:06 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

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Understanding the difference between those who are farsighted and those who are nearsighted can be a little tricky. Does farsighted mean you can see objects that are far away or does it mean you cannot see from far away? Does nearsightedness mean you can only see things close up, or do you have trouble focusing on items that are too close? Here are some simplified explanations of the two conditions so you can have a better grasp of what is going on.

The Eye

Before we go into the differences, it’s important to understand how eyes work “normally.” The retina is the part of your eye that is sensitive to light and essentially translates what you see into discernible objects; think of it like your eye is a camera and the retina is the film. It is a layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye. When the retina catches light, it sends chemical and electrical impulses that are sent, via the optic nerve, to the visual centre of the the brain. A person with normal eyesight can see objects that are close and far away clearly. This is because light is focused directly on the retina, and not in front of it or behind it.

Farsightedness or Hyperopia

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As mentioned before, you might think that being farsighted means you cannot see far away, but it actually means something a little different. It means that you have difficulty seeing things that are close. The difference might seem like semantics, but it’s actually a very important distinction. Here’s why.

To someone who is farsighted an object that is up close will appear to be blurry. They can see objects in the distance perfectly fine, but ready a book or a map, reading instructions or recipes can be difficult.

Light falls behind the retina instead of directly on it, and this problem is typically caused by an imperfect eye, so likely genetics though sinus infections, injuries and other problems can potentially cause farsightedness. You can treat this problem by getting a prescription from your eye doctor.

Nearsightedness or Myopia

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Seeing objects from far away is difficult for someone with myopia, meaning reading books and maps are easy, but when it comes to seeing signs from far away, you need some help.

Light falls in front of your retina, instead of directly on it, causes individuals to be nearsighted. Medications, age, cataracts and of course genetics can all play a role in nearsightedness. Your eye doctor can easily prescribe corrected glasses or contact lenses to help you see things better. Depending on the cause of your nearsightedness, LASIK surgery might also be able to help fix the problem permanently for you.