the eye blog
EYE CARE INFO & UPDATES
Colour vision deficiency (CVD), or otherwise called colour blindness, is a fairly common condition in the population. Around 8% of males (1 in 12) have some level of deficiency in colour matching, and around 0.5% of females (1 in 200). It is mostly a hereditary eye condition through a gene carried on the X chromosome (passing from mother's side), resulting in an imbalance of the numbers and densities of colour receptor cells (cones) in an individual's retina. Our eyes have three types of cone photoreceptors cells (green, red and blue) to detect colour information in our vision.
There are two main types of hereditary colour vision deficiency: deutan (green cone receptor deficient) or proton (red cone deficient). A third type, tritan (blue cone deficient), is usually an acquired rather than congenital condition and is very rare. In each of these types, an individual may have a mild deficiency (almost normal), a moderate or a severe colour vision defect (significant difficulty in differentiating between certain shades of colours).
At Eyecare Concepts, in addition to the standard Ishihara colour vision screening test (coloured dots forming numbers on a page) that most optometrists use, we have a more detailed colour vision test known as the Farnsworth D-15 colour matching test. While the common Ishihara screening tool can detect the presence of a colour vision defect, it does not differentiate between the type of colour defect or its severity.
With the Farnsworth D-15 test — which involves matching a series of coloured discs from one to the next in similarity — we can assess the type of colour vision deficiency (deutan, protan or tritan) and also grade the severity of the deficiency between normal-mild, medium or severe. This is important when colour vision assessment is required for certain vocations or career choices.
If you or your child has a colour vision deficiency, or there is a known family history, see us for a more comprehensive colour vision assessment test.
FAMILY & CHILDREN'S OPTOMETRIST — MELBOURNE
If this is you at work, you may have what is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), or Digital Eye Strain.
CVS is a common problem in our modern digital society where a large part of our days is spent staring at a computer monitor, on a laptop or tablet or using a smartphone, both at home and at work. CVS can affect up to 90% of people who spend more than 3 hours a day concentrating on digital devices.
Typical symptoms of CVS include headaches, blurred vision, sore eyes, red eyes, tiredness, neck pain, difficulty refocusing from near to far and occasionally could also include dizziness and double vision.
Why do we get Computer Vision Syndrome?
Prolonged periods of focusing on a near object causes the eye's focusing muscles to become tired. For some people when this happens their eyes start to lose focus up-close, making near vision blurry. And when they try to focus even harder to read their computer screen they can end up straining their eyes and getting a headache. Or they may lean forward towards their screen and getting neck pain from improper posture.
For other people, their far-distance vision can become blurred. This can occurs because their focusing system has become 'locked' at close-range, then when they look away into the distance their eyes are unable to relax, causing blurred vision. Some people can mistake this for 'short-sightedness' — where far-distance vision is always blurred relative to near — but in these cases it's actually the near work that causes the symptoms and far-distance glasses won't necessarily help. Some young adults, however, do develop true short-sightedness (myopia) from prolonged computer use. An experienced optometrist can distinguish between true short-sightedness and near-work-induced distance blur and recommend the most appropriate solution to the problem.
Staring at a computer screen can often also cause dry eye. This is because when we stare at a computer our blink rate is reduced. When we don't blink frequently enough our eye surface becomes dry. Common symptoms of dry eyes are redness, irritation and burning sensation. Some people experience watery eyes, thinking if their eyes are watering they can't be dry, when in fact the cause of the watery eyes is actually dry eyes, as strange as it may seem. When our eyes become too dry and irritated they can start to produce tears as a reflex response. Dry eye can also be exacerbated by environmental factors such as air conditioning in summer and heating in winter.
How to get help for Computer Vision Syndrome?
If you have symptoms of CVS, the first thing to do is to book an eye test with an experienced optometrist for a comprehensive assessment of your eyes' focusing and eye health. Sometimes it can be a simple focusing issue such as slight long-sightedness (increased focusing effort at near) or astigmatism (irregular eye surface curvature) that a pair of prescription glasses with anti-reflective coating will make a big improvement to your symptoms.
Often, a more specialised type of lens called an anti-fatigue lens will be what you need for your Computer Vision Syndrome. An anti-fatigue lens is like a mini-progressive lens with two power zones that help you relax your eyes when focusing up-close. Here at Eyecare Concepts, we offer the Essilor Eyezen and the Nikon Relaxsee anti-fatigue lenses, both specifically designed to relieve digital eye strain. The blue light protective coating of these lenses also help to reduce eye strain from brightly-lit digital devices. Our optometrist will recommend the optical solution tailored to your personal vision needs. Prescription glasses and anti-fatigue lenses are rebatable on your private health optical cover.
For individuals with dry eyes, we can also assess your dry eye condition with our special instrument that analyses the quality of your tears and how quickly your natural tear film evaporates in-between blinks. With this analysis we can treat your dry eye condition more effectively. As a therapeutically-endorsed optometrist we can prescribe medicated eye drop treatments if necessary for more severe cases of dry eye. And if you have oily or blocked tear glands we have in-office eyelid warming therapy to treat the underlying cause of your dry eyes.
EYECARE CONCEPTS OPTOMETRIST — KEW, BALWYN, BALWYN NORTH
How much to get my eyes tested?
At Eyecare Concepts, we believe in providing the highest standards of professional eye care to everyone. That's why we have chosen to provide Medicare bulk billed eye tests for all patients. That means if you have a valid Medicare card, having a standard comprehensive eye test with us won't cost you anything out of pocket.
What about the 1 eye test every 3 years rule?
This is a common question and area of some confusion among patients. Several years ago the government introduced Medicare changes to rebate the full cost of a comprehensive eye test every 3 years (instead of every 2 years). What this means is Medicare pays the eye care practitioner a lesser fee if a patient has another eye test within the 3 year period, if the patient has no vision changes or new signs or symptoms. Some practices introduced private patient fees to cover the fee gap.
It does not mean you should wait the full 3 years before having another eye test. We believe 3 years is far too long between eye tests, especially for children whose eyesight can change rapidly, and people over 60 who have a higher risk of developing eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Medicare will always pay the cost of an eye test when there is a clinical basis for the test — if you have noticed a change in your vision, if your glasses aren't working as effectively, if you have noticed any new symptoms at all (red eyes, sore eyes, halos, floaters, light flashes, headaches, visual disturbance, etc), or you have a recurrent or progressive eye condition or general health condition that can affect your sight — then you should have your eyes checked based on your need, regardless of when your last eye test was.
Our eye test recommendations.
These are our general recommendations for frequency of eye tests:
· Age 3 to 20 — every year, or every 6 months if has noted progressive changes.
· Age 21-60 — at least every 2 years, more often if has vision changes or concerns.
· Age 40+ with family history of eye disease — every year.
· Age 60+ — every year.
· Contact lens wearers — every year.
· Diabetes — every year for a dilated eye examination.
* These are general guidelines and may vary depending on an individual's eye care needs.
All standard eye tests at our practice are bulk billed when a clinical need exists.
How long does an eye test take?
At Eyecare Concepts, your eye care is always our number one priority. Unlike many mainstream optical shops that provide only 15-20 minutes (Medicare's minimum standard) of consultation time with the optometrist, we allocate at least 30 minutes for each comprehensive eye test, and 40 minutes for younger children, elderly patients and more complex cases.
We spend more time with you to ensure every eye check is thorough and that we always provide you with the best, personalised eye care. And you, our valued client, can relax and not feel rushed. Quality of care is what we are known for.
What tests are not covered by Medicare?
Some types of eye tests are not covered by Medicare. Examples are contact lens fitting, tuition and aftercare consultations for a patient with a mild prescription (less than +5D of long-sightedness, -5D of short-sightedness or -3D of astigmatism). Where fees may be charged, we will discuss the costs with you prior to the consultation.
Eye test cost without Medicare?
For patients without Medicare, the cost of a comprehensive eye examination with us is $67. If you are an overseas student with health insurance cover (OSHC), you can usually claim a rebate for the eye test fee through your health insurance provider.
A therapeutic optometrist differs from your regular optometrist who provides eye examination and prescribes vision corrective lenses. A therapeutic optometrist has undertaken additional training and study in the diagnosis and management of eye diseases, in ocular pharmacology, and in the treatment of eye conditions with Schedule 4 prescription-only medicines.
Apart from regular eye tests for glasses and contact lenses and general eye health examination, a therapeutic optometrist is qualified to diagnose and initiate treatment for glaucoma (in co-management with an ophthalmologist), prescribe antibiotics and antiviral eye drops for eye infections and ulcers, medications to treat eye redness, inflammation, eye allergies, dry eye and contact lens-related infections, remove corneal foreign bodies, and use eye drops to help treat children with amblyopia (lazy eye). Most treatments prescribed by a therapeutic optometrist are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
A therapeutic optometrist can do all the things a regular optometrist can do, plus a lot more.
Ocular therapeutics has been part of an optometrist's training since the mid-2000s, and currently about 6 out of 10 optometrists in Victoria are therapeutic optometrists. The previous generations of optometrists are able to upgrade their qualifications to become endorsed in therapeutics by undertaking further post-graduate training, if they wish to.
In addition, therapeutic optometrists are required to stay up-to-date with the latest in medical treatments in eye care with mandatory therapeutic-specific continuing education. This ensures that patients receive the best possible care and treatment for their eye conditions.
Is your optometrist therapeutically endorsed?
To find out whether an optometrist is endorsed in ocular therapeutics, you can search for the optometrist's credentials via the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA):
A therapeutic optometrist will have the following endorsement listed:
A regular, non-therapeutic optometrist will show the following notation:
For the best optometric care in relation to eye health and management of eye diseases, choose a therapeutic optometrist for your next eye test.
Eyecare Concepts optometrists are endorsed in ocular therapeutics.
EYECARE CONCEPTS — THERAPEUTIC OPTOMETRIST — KEW EAST, MELBOURNE
Philip Cheng - B.Optom (Melb) Ocular Therapeutics (GCOT). Optometrist at Eyecare Concepts Kew East, Melbourne. An experienced eye care & contact lens practitioner with expertise in myopia control & orthokeratology.