Sarah Knows Eyes


Okay, so I may be a little late off the starting blocks with this one, but it came to me in the form of a rush of blood to the brain this morning, and I thought it was a good idea for a blog post (this kind of “inspiration” hasn't happened to me for a long time!). I think it’s something that may be useful to those stuck at home during these crazy, crazy times? Be it working remotely from home, or on furlough, the break from your usual routine might be playing havoc with your eyes and here are my top five tips for keeping them happy and healthy during lockdown...


1. Give your eyes a break!


Computers; phones; tablets; TVs; handheld gaming devices. One thing is sure to have resulted from lockdown... more screen time! And as we know from a previous blog, this can leave your eyes feeling tired and strained. Spending a significant period of time (two or more hours) using any form of digital device, be it for work or play, puts an enormous strain on your eyes, and leaves them somewhat “fixated”...



This not only effects our blink rate and the quality of the tear film, which can cause Dry Eye, but can also lead to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), symptoms of which include eye strain and/or headaches, light sensitivity and double vision.


Remember the magical 20:20:20 rule – every 20 minutes, look away from your screen to a distance of approximately 20 feet for 20 seconds!


Also, if you have been advised to wear glasses for VDU use, etc - WEAR THEM! 


2. Protection, protection, protection.


Let’s face it, lockdown would have been a whole different ball game if it had been typical “April showers”. Thankfully the weather has been glorious! But just remember, the sun, or rather the UV radiation from the sun, can be harmful to your eyes.

When we talk about UV protection, most people automatically think ‘sunglasses’, and that’s great, in the immortal words of the Spice Girls: “Put In On, Put In On”. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between UV protection and sun protection. UV protection on your glasses reduces the amount of harmful UV radiation that enters the eye. Sun protection shades us from the brightness of the sun, much like sitting in the shade or wearing a hat. Confusion can arise because generally the two go hand in hand, in that most sunglasses offer some form of UV protection, however they are NOT mutually exclusive! It is important that you always check what you’re buying – look for the term “UV400” – this denotes that the lenses will absorb UV up to 400nm (the range considered to be harmful to the eyes!).



3. Feed those peepers 👀


In such scary and uncertain times, it’s easy to reach for anything from which we can garner some comfort, particularly in the form of food and alcohol (guilty ). But for those that do find the days and weeks (months?) all blurring in to one, stuck at home, day in, day out, why not use this time to pick up some good habits?! From following Joe Wicks’ daily exercise vlogs, to making sure you get your “5-a-day”.


Here’s a little reminder from my 'nutrition' blog of the best eye health boosting foods/supplements :-


Any “healthy diet” should contain a rich variety of fruits and vegetables. Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, collards and turnip greens, as well as orange/yellow vegetables and fruit, such as carrots (renowned for improving eyesight) and cantaloupe melon are rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Tomatoes – surprisingly processed tomatoes, such as canned or pureed – but also papaya and watermelon contain an abundance of Lycopene. 


As far as fruit and veg go – the more colourful the selection, the better?!

Get your Vitamin C. Oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon are great for the supply of ‘Essential Fatty Acids’ – Omega 3 & 6, whilst evening primrose oil supplements are also indicated for sufferers of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), especially poignant if point number 1 speaks to you?!


4. Treat them a little, make them feel special...


Just like it says on the tin, here are a few of my favourite things to give my eyes a little pick me up...


I cannot rate this product enough! For sore, tired eyes, it is the BOMB! (Do people even say that anymore?! 🤦🏻)




For that extra special little pick me up these "gel" eye masks really hit the spot: 




On a similar but different note, I love this:


Especially as the gel looks like a little frog face when it is dispensed! (I wish I had photographic evidence of this so y’all don’t think I’m bonkers?! 🤪)


And finally, for some “staying in” glam...

5. Don’t be afraid to ask!


Perhaps most important this one. Although some practices have sadly been forced to close their doors during these unprecedented times, there are still Opticians out there, open for urgent and emergency eye care (Asda Opticians for one, #justsayin). There are certain symptoms that you should not ignore. These include…


  • Flashing lights
  • The sudden onset of a lot of floaters
  • Recurrent bloodshot eyes
  • A loss of, or blurred vision
  • Sudden onset double vision
  • Eye pain
  • The feeling of a net curtain or cobweb in your vision
  • Persistent headaches / migraines
  • Problems with your contact lenses (pain, soreness, redness, visual changes)

This list is not exhaustive. If you’re worried about changes in your vision or eye health, please, please, please, do not be afraid to ask about it. This isn’t about panicking anyone, it’s about you guys knowing there are still professionals out there on the “front line” ready and waiting to give you advice if you are worried. Even if the result is them advising you to get your eyes tested when things get back to normal, whenever that may be. And as always, in the unlikely event that they do identify a problem, these things are always better caught early. So, you know, don’t be afraid to ask!


So there you have it. Just a fun little piece giving you tips on how to keep your eyes in tip-top condition during quarantine. Stay safe everyone.



Write comment (1 Comment)



This is a topic that has gathered a lot of momentum since I first blogged about it two years ago, even making the headlines in The Guardian this year! So I thought I’d re-share, as new material has been a bit sparse lately ;op (I promise, I’m working on it!).


Particularly at this time of year, with Halloween just a few days away, we as Opticians are asked time and time again about cosmetic contact lenses...

Not wanting to be a party pooper, but as discussed in my previous post "Sin No.2 - Abusing Your Contact Lenses" as part of National Eye Health Week 2015, the use of contact lenses is not to be undertaken lightly, and “cosmetic” contact lenses are no exception. They carry the same risks if not dispensed and used correctly – they are not to be considered a throwaway “fashion accessory”.

Here is the annual warning from the General Optical Council (GOC) about this very topic: -

 (click on image for full article)

GOC Halloween CL Warning 


And ABDO have even created an Infographic about it: -


Halloween Infographic


So, if cosmetic lenses are an absolute must for your Halloween costume, please don’t buy them "off the shelf", or online! Be sure to visit a reputable Contact Lens Optician, who will ensure that not only do the lenses supplied comply with British manufacturing standards, but that they fit you personally, and will advise you as to their safe usage.

And never EVER share contact lenses!! No. No. Just NO! 


Write comment (2 Comments)

No, not her hairy armpits (although everyone IS talking about those too!), I’m talking about her eyes! Love her or hate her (and just for the record, I’m the former, LOVE her!!), you cannot deny that she has the most amazing pale baby blues…


Paris Jackson


Read an article about this very topic and it somewhat tickled my fancy, you know, because it’s about eyes, and it prompted me to do a little research – something that honestly hasn’t happened for quite some time!


So, OK magazine report in this article that according to her make-up artist, Jo Baker, her icy blue eyes are down to a mystery eye condition. They go on to say that “as well as impacting the shade of her bright eyes, Paris revealed on Twitter: “It does affect my eye sight badly. I have to wear glasses/correctional contacts.” This was interesting to me, because although I know it may be hard for you guys to believe, I’m not the font of all optical knowledge, and I had no idea what eye condition it could be? I have heard about complications caused by having such pale eyes, but… so I Googled!


I found that website HelloGiggles had had the same idea… purely speculating that it could be Waardenburg Syndrome(??). Yep, I hadn’t heard of it either! #cuemoreGoogling. Waardenburg Syndrome is a genetic disorder that can cause “unusually diminished coloration (pigmentation) of the hair, the skin, and/or the iris of both eyes (irides).” Interestingly, it can also be the cause of different eye colours: “differences in the pigmentation of the irides or within different areas of the same iris (heterochromia irides). For example, the iris of one eye may be blue while the other has a different colour, or one or both irides may seem unusually “mottled” in appearance.” HOWEVER, although it states that “the range or severity of associated symptoms and findings may vary greatly from case to case”, the majority of symptoms appear to be physical:


  • Unusually wide bridge due to displacement of the inner angles (canthi) of the eyes (dystopia canthorum)
  • A white lock of hair growing above the forehead (I know, you’re all thinking Rogue (X-Men) right?!)
  • Premature graying or whitening of the hair
  • Leukoderma – patchy, abnormally light regions of skin (it was well publicised that Michael Jackson suffered from the very similar condition, Vitiligo)
  • Some hearing impairment due to abnormalities of the inner ear
  • Distinctive malformations of the arms and hands
  • A digestive disorder where there is an absence of groups of specialised nerve cell bodies within a region of smooth muscle wall of the large intestine


Looking at Paris, she doesn’t seem to suffer from many of these (possibly the first one? I can’t tell…), although we have no way of knowing about the latter!


Nowhere in any of my reading, did I find that Waardenburg Syndrome causes actual problems with eyesight. So, I ashamedly Twitter-stalked Paris, and although it won’t let me go back any further than 12 months(!!), I couldn’t find any reference to this alleged “Tweet”. (Seriously, do these guys just straight up lie?!) I was flummoxed!


Returning to the original OK article, I realised that they’re referencing a Teen Vogue article – THEY were the ones who actually interviewed the make-up artist! And guess what? In this article it states “In case you were wondering, it doesn’t impact on her sight whatsoever”! Yep, these glossies really do seem to make it up as they go along…


I can’t seem to find any other “genetic conditions” of which pale irides are a symptom, so Waardenburg does seem a plausible candidate, particularly bearing in mind her father’s medical history. However, it seems that if this is the diagnosis, she only has a very mild case.


So it just goes to prove, don’t believe everything you read! We may never know why Paris’s eyes are so blue, and at the end of the day it’s none of our god damn business, but I’ve sure had fun researching! AND it’s given me the writing bug again! So thank you Paris! x o x o


Write comment (3 Comments)

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack!!


I know, it’s been a while huh?! On Monday I posted on my social media sites a little “Happy Birthday” message to SKE, as it has been two years since I started this blog. How times flies eh? Anyway, I mentioned how I wasn’t sure whether to continue on with it, as I do find it very difficult to find the time now. However, having received some absolutely amazing feedback from a complete stranger, who just so happens to be on the other side of the world, it is with renewed enthusiasm that I am pleased to bring you a new blog post!


As always I’ve had this post in mind for a while. On my social media sites in the lead up to Christmas, some of you may have played along with the “SKE Advent Calendar”, where every day I posted a picture of a celebrity’s spectacles and y’all had to guess who it was. It went better than I could ever have imagined, with people even hounding me for their daily fix, when I inevitably ran late once or twice. My plan had been to post the whole advent calendar on here, which would have conveniently led on to this post, but sadly I couldn’t get the hamsters running quickly enough in their wheels. Days became weeks and weeks became months, and now it’s the 16th of February and a little bit late to be posting an Advent Calendar?! Sorry guys!


What do I mean by an “iconic” spectacle wearer? You know the ones I mean – where they are almost synonymous with the spectacles that they wear; you can’t imagine one without the other. This often arises in practice when people actually describe spectacles by that celebrity, that’s how the idea of this post originated. So without further ado, here are my top 10 iconic spectacle wearers…


1. The Two Ronnies


The Two Ronnies, Corbett and Barker, were so well known for their choice of spectacles that they even used them as part of their logo…

The Two Ronnies


2. Nana Mouskouri


People would frequently use Nana as a descriptive in practice and, being a little young, I never knew who they were talking about until I Googled her for the SKE Advent Calendar!


Nana Mouskouri


For some reason I was imagining Carmen Miranda…


3. Joe 90


Again, a little before my time, I never realised "Joe 90" was one of the famous Gerry Anderson puppets. Another product of the late 60’s / early 70’s, his spectacles are of a very similar style to Ronnie Barker’s, and really remind me of my Granddad.


Joe 90


4. John Lennon


I don’t think there is a more iconic celebrity/spectacle combination? If somebody comes in to practice asking for a pair of “John Lennon’s”, you know instantly what they are looking for. As discussed in a previous SKE blog, the round frame has definitely seen a revival of late!


John Lennon

(FYI: a perfect example of the best frame choice for a high myopic prescription!)


5. Harry Potter


John Lennon pretty much solely held the round spectacle crown until the boy wizard came along! The latter films drove me absolutely mad as the poor boy had clearly grown out of them?! I know this was probably done to demonstrate how ‘uncared for’ he was, but just look how splayed out those sides are?! And they never sat straight on him!! #theperilsofbeingaDispensingOptician


Harry Potter


6. Heston Blumenthal


Again, a much more recent incarnation of the “iconic spectacle wearer” – I remember when every guy came in asking for Heston’s specs. Back then I even went to the effort of finding out what he was wearing, I believe these beauties were Jaguar…


Heston Blumenthal


7. Elton John


I could Google “Elton John spectacles” all day – he has worn so many crazy-colourful designs over the years!? This is possibly one of the most sensible? He has a penchant for coloured lenses, for which I don’t know if there is specific reason. I've previously talked about the fact that Bono wears coloured lenses because he suffers from Glaucoma, but I’m unsure as to whether there is a medical reason for Elton’s preference? Note to self: must research…


Elton John


8. Deidre Barlow


Sadly, often used in a derogatory sense, poor old Deidre (aka Anne Kirkbride) did sport some absolute corkers over the years…


Deidre Barlow


9. Su Pollard


Again, the internet is awash with images of the kooky spectacle choices of the Hi-de-Hi actress. I wanted to make a collage of my favourites, but I realised if I wanted this post to go out this year, I had to be sensible and pick just one, so I settled for these gorgeous beasts…


Su Pollard


10. Dame Edna


Last, but certainly and by no means least, and again, not generally used as term of flattery, Dame Edna wouldn’t be Dame Edna without those glasses! Funnily enough though, the fashion for all things "vintage" means that this style of frame is becoming increasingly more mainstream...


Dame Edna


So, there you have it! The first SKE blog post of 2017! A light one to start off with I’ll admit, just to break me back in gently. I will try and think of some more meatier topics for future posts!


And a special thank you to Professor Leo Hartley, Medical Practitioner and Optometrist at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences, without whose wonderful e-mail, SarahKnowsEyes may have been no more! So thank you Leo!


Write comment (2 Comments)