We are pleased to announce that, in June this year, Dr Tony Gibson attained his Diploma in Therapeutics (Independent Prescribing). He is now able to prescribe medications for the treatment of eye-related conditions, which will save patients’ valuable time when seeking resolution of their eye problems.
The diploma has taken some time to complete, having consisted of online training, essays, case records, a two week placement at Sunderland Eye Infirmary and a common final exam in London.
Tony practices in both the Darlington and Horden practices and sees a number of patients with eye conditions under the NHS Minor Eye Conditions Assessment and Treatment Service (MECATS).
Ellis Leatherbarrow, our managing director and principal optometrist, recently completed his Professional Certificate in Glaucoma from Cardiff University.
With online learning and practical assessments, Ellis passed with flying colours and can now use the affix Prof Cert Glauc to show he has an enhanced knowledge of the common eye disease.
Ellis practices in Darlington and Richmond and is part of the Ocular Hypertension Monitoring Service for County Durham and Darlington.
We are pleased to announce that our Horden practice (Gibson Opticians) has recently invested in a revolutionary piece of diagnostic equipment that can detect a number of common eye conditions. These include glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.
The equipment is called 3D Optical Coherence Tomography (3D OCT) and is the second such diagnostic machine in the Cooper & Leatherbarrow company; the other being at the Darlington practice.
What is OCT? Ocular Coherence Tomography is an advanced eye scan for people of all ages. Similar to ultrasound, OCT uses light rather than sound waves to reveal the many layers that make up the back of the eye. This particular 3D OCT unit captures a digital photograph of the inner surface of the eye at the same time, so that areas of concern identified by the scan can be cross referenced with the classic view that your optometrist sees.
In other words, if you’re looking at an iced cake before it has been sliced, you don’t know if it contains jam, cream or chocolate layers; equally if it is lumpy or smooth. With OCT, it had never been easier to locate and identify eye conditions that affect the layers below the surface.
Thriving to provide the best eye care, Cooper & Leatherbarrow can now provide this state of the art diagnostic tool with your eye test, if you so desire. There is an additional charge for the OCT scan, but the benefits are obvious; you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your eyes are in great condition.
Make sure that when booking your next eye test, you ask about an OCT scan.
We are excited to share some recipes that help reduce the risk of vision loss from macular degeneration. Bell peppers are a healthy food rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other carotenoids. They contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two antioxidants that are a major contributor to keeping your eyes healthy. Lutein works to filter out short-wavelength UV light that can damage the retina, which helps protect the degeneration of eye cells that lead to macular degeneration.
This recipe from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation is not only delicious but is packed with bell peppers and other healthy ingredients to give you a simple, nutritious lunch or dinner option for your family. Don’t forget your toppings either! Guacamole and salsa add healthy vegetables and fats into the mix.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper 1 cup chopped red bell pepper 1 cup chopped green or orange bell pepper 1/2 cup chopped spring onions 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne, or to taste 8 large tortillas (corn or wheat) 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Directions: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the peppers, and sauté until soft, about ten minutes. Transfer into a bowl and combine with the spring onions, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Heat a second large frying pan over medium heat. Add one tortilla, and top with 1/4 cup bell pepper mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese, top with a second tortilla, and cook two minutes on each side, or until golden, pressing down with spatula. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, bell pepper mixture and cheese. Cut into thin wedges, add your toppings and serve
Each month, we’d like to look more closely at a product that many people would find useful. This month we’re looking at occupational lenses.
Many of us with office jobs make sure that our environment is ergonomically optimised to reduce the strain of the work day on our bodies. We buy supportive chairs, use ergonomic keyboards, comfortable shoes, etc. But what do we do to reduce eye and neck strain?
If you wear everyday varifocal lenses, you may find that they are not suitable for long periods of computer work. If you wear normal reading glasses, they often don’t have a long enough range of clear vision for your computer screen. Do you finding yourself having to lift your head up or tilt it back to work on your computer? Do you look over your glasses to look past your computer? Occupational or computer glasses can eliminate strain on your neck and eyes, thus restoring proper office ergonomics and efficiency. They work in a similar way to a varifocal giving you good reading vision. The focus changes as you look up through the lens giving you longer range. Our Rodenstock Ergo lenses come in three variations, “Book”, “PC” and “Room”; your optometrist can advise you on the best version for your individual needs.
Macular degeneration (often referred to as Age-related Macular Degeneration; AMD) happens when the back of your eye becomes damaged. This can make it harder to see fine detail, such as recognising faces, or to read or watch television. However, this does not normally affect your ability to walk around as the edge of your vision should not be affected. The most common forms of AMD occur as your get older. Around 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 will show some signs of it. Symptoms can vary. Some people simply notice that things appear blurry or that they have difficulty reading, even with their normal reading glasses. Other people may notice that they have a smudge in their central vision which does not go away, or they may notice that straight lines are distorted or wavy.
“Around 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 will show some signs of it”
Some people with AMD may notice that they become sensitive to bright light, or that they find it difficult to adapt when going from a dark to light environments. Colours may also be seen to be faded.
AMD can be classified as early or late. Early AMD is always ‘dry AMD’. This is when yellow deposits, know as drusen, build up behind the macula. Most people with early AMD have near normal vision. There is no treatment for early AMD. A minority of people with early AMD will progress to late AMD. Late AMD may be ‘wet’ or ‘dry’. Wet AMD occurs when the abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula and leak fluid. This pushes the macula away from its blood supply at the back of the eye and causes a rapid loss of vision. It is usually associated with you noticing distorted vision (straight lines become wavy, or you have a smudge or blank spot in the centre of your vision. Late dry AMD is called ‘geographic atrophy’ and is rarer than late wet AMD. This is where vision is lost because the retina thins but there are no leaking blood vessels.
There is currently no treatment for dry AMD. Wet AMD can often be treated if it is caught early enough. This is normally done by injecting a drug into the gel inside the eye. This shrinks the new blood vessels that are pushing the macula away from the back of the eye. This is often repeated several times and is provided on the NHS. It is important that changes are spotted early by checking your vision in each eye separately and contacting your optometrist immediately if your vision suddenly becomes distorted or you have a blank spot in your vision. A special scan called an OCT (now available at both Darlington and Horden practices) can take a detailed look at your maculae to check for signs of AMD.
Tim joined the Cooper and Leatherbarrow team in April 2018 after he and his wife, Faye, decided to relocate from Middlesbrough towards the Darlington area.
Tim graduated from the University of Bradford with BSc (Hons) Optometry in 2007 and subsequently moved to the North East one year later after meeting his wife at the same university. He was born and bred in the sunny county of Shropshire and still has numerous friends and family there. Prior to joining us, he worked for an independent practice very similar to us for ten years and was also a Specialist Optometrist at James Cook University Hospital for nine years. At James Cook, Tim honed many optometric skills, from complex refractions and optical and cosmetic contact lens fitting, to low vision assessments, post-operative cataract assessments and consenting for ‘second eye’ surgery.
In addition to providing full optometric services in the practice, Tim also provides home-visits for patients requiring eye care who are unable to make it out of their homes.
Tim is registered with the GOC and also holds memberships with the British College of Optometrists and Association of Optometrists.
When asked what he felt was most important in the role of an optometrist, Tim answered: “I am an advocate for treating patients as you would like to be treated yourself. In my experience, the more relaxed we keep the patients, the more accurate they are at the ‘lens-flipping, “is it better with or without” test’! Joking aside, as optometrists, we have to deal with some very sensitive issues regarding ocular health and sight problems and occasionally even more, so it is important that patients have trust and faith in us that we are trying our upmost for their ocular wellbeing.”
Outside of work, Tim is a self-confessed petrol-head and loves all things cars and mechanics. In 2014 he achieved a life-long ambition of restoring and rebuilding a motor-bike engined Kitcar, which he later sold as his wife hated it; apparently the seats weren’t comfy enough! He is an active member of some local and national car clubs. On the sporting front, Tim plays competitive squash for Redcar squash club (who occasionally play against Darlington and Glaxo at Barnard Castle!), swims regularly and plays golf socially with friends a couple of times a year.
He also has a big soft spot for his and Faye’s pet guinea pig Tuxy (named after his first car!) who loves his Dad’s sense of humour and provision of fruit and vegetable treats!