Blink, drink and be merry!


December marks the countdown to Christmas and the long winter months ahead. While the ‘fresh’ winter air may feel exhilarating, the majority of us are cooped up inside with the central heating on in an attempt to keep warm. Cosy though this may be, it can cause havoc with the quality of our tears. Our tears are made up of three main ingredients: mucin, aqueous and lipid. The mucin later is a sticky substance that holds the tears to the front of our eyes, the aqueous layer gives our tears their volume and the lipid layer acts as a barrier to the environment to prevent premature evaporation of tears. The normal hreduce-dry-eye-holiday-season-300x200uman blink rate is about 15 times per minute i.e. once every 4 seconds! Human eyes have not really evolved significantly since we were cavemen;  outside all of the time having plenty of fresh air, so as you might imagine, the modern indoor, central heating, car-driving, TV watching, iPad/phone playing lifestyle does in many cases, cause symptoms of dry-eye. Dry eyes can cause a large range of symptoms, from  gritty/tired eyes to a prickly/burning sensation and in some cases watery eyes! If the eye can tell it has become overly dry, it produced reflex tears i.e. floods your eye with extra, watery tears in an attempt to re-wet itself, which then leads to the eyes watering, as these extra tears overwhelm the tear ducts that drain the tears through your nose. That’s why our nose runs when we cry!

Here’s a list of top do’s and don’ts to keep your tears as happy as possible:

1. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids – the more you drink, the more can come out in your tears. There is some evidence to suggest that omega oils in your diet can improve the quality of your tears.

2. Blink regularly! If you don’t blink enough, you don’t remove the old stale tears and wipe the fresh ones around. This is most important when concentrating i.e. driving, TV, computer, phone, reading

3. Point the car heater blowers away from your face and have a window ajar in your home/office to circulate some fresh air. Avoid sitting too close to a radiator or fire too.

4. Keep your eyelids nice and clean. Washing our faces and hands regularly and using moisturisers is the norm for a lot of us and so keeping your eyelids nice and clean should be too, ensuring that your tears can be released properly from the edges of your lids. There are special treatments for your eyelid hygiene regimen e.g. Blephasol and Blephaclean.

5. For some people, even the above points do not maintain the correct tear quality in which case ocular lubricants (dry-eye drops) may be useful e.g. Hycosan, Theoloz Duo, Hyabak.

Enjoy the festive period!

Tim Boyling 

Eye Healthy Recipe: Mustard Coated Fish

mustardfishA low-carb meal that’s tasty, colourful and packs in three of your  five-a-day, all for 360 calories!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 4 x 150g firm white fish fillets, such as coley • 1tbsp dijon mustard • 40g panko breadcrumbs • 4tbsp wholegrain mustard • 2tsp olive oil • 1 onion, finely chopped • 2 garlic cloves, crushed • 1 red pepper, finely chopped • 350g frozen sweetcorn • 1 red chilli, finely chopped • 4tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf    parsley • 350g fresh or frozen green beans

Directions: Heat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Put the fish on the prepared tray and spread the dijon mustard over each fillet. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and wholegrain mustard. Press the breadcrumb mixture into the mustard on the fish, then bake for 12-15 minutes until the fish is cooked through. 3 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the onion, garlic and pepper, stirring, for five minutes or until softened. Add the sweetcorn and chilli. Cook, stirring, for a further five minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Stir in the chopped parsley. Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave the beans until tender. Drain, then serve with the fish and corn salsa.

This and other healthy recipes are available from

Zoomed In: EyeDream Orthokeratology

untitled2 EyeDream, a form of orthokeratology (ortho-k), corrects your vision while you sleep. Simply remove the custom contact lenses upon waking and enjoy a world of clear, natural vision throughout the day. EyeDream is non-invasive, safe, effective and has transformed the lives of thousands of people across the world.

EyeDream is ideal for patients who want clear natural vision all day without the need for specs or lenses, are involved in sports but find specs and contact lenses restrictive, are soft contact lens wearers but suffer from discomfort or dry, scratchy eyes or have considered laser surgery but are concerned with the associated risks.

The cornea plays a key role in creating a sharp optical focus. EyeDream – advanced ortho-k lenses – gently reshape the curvature of the cornea overnight, creating a slightly flatter profile. Upon waking, the slight change (less than half the width of a human hair) in cornea curvature is enough to create clear, sharp vision for the duration of the day.

EyeDream uses a tried-and-tested design and is only ever prescribed by our trained optometrists.

EyeDream is only suitable for people who are short-sighted (myopic) and will only correct up to a specific amount of this. Please ask your optometrist if your prescription is suitable.

EyeDream funtitled3or children

There is, as yet, no cure for myopia. The physical change of the elongated eyeball cannot be reversed (even laser-eye surgery can’t do this). People with myopia have an increased chance of developing serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma and retinal detachment in later life. The higher the myopia the greater the risk.

The aim of Myopia Control is to slow down, or halt, the progression of myopia, and this is becoming increasingly effective, especially in children and teenagers.

Orthokeratology lenses, such as EyeDream, are playing a key role in Myopia Control all over the world. Recent studies have indicated that myopia develops at a much slower rate, and can even be halted in children fitted with ortho-k. The results vary for each individual child, but most experts maintain that these lenses are the best option available for children suffering from myopia.

Additionally, EyeDream offers children the freedom and confidence to swim, play sports and enjoy an active lifestyle without the restrictions of specs or contact lenses. Also, lenses are worn at night and at home so lens wear & care can be monitored – And, no more lost specs and contacts!

Call us now to find out if your child is suitable.

Focus On: Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve, which connects your eye to the visual processing centre in your brain, is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside your eye. This may be because the pressure in the eye is higher than normal, or because your nerve is more susceptible to damage from relatively  normal pressure.  This may affect one or both eyes.


There are two main types of glaucoma – chronic glaucoma, which happens slowly, and acute glaucoma, which happens very quickly. Chronic glaucoma is much more common than acute glaucoma. The most common form of chronic glaucoma is called primary open angle glaucoma (POAG).

Chronic Glaucoma – Anyone can develop chronic glaucoma. The risk of developing it increases if you are aged over 40, are short sighted, are of African/Caribbean origin, are closely related to someone with glaucoma, have raised eye pressure (ocular hypertension; OHT), are diabetic or have high blood pressure. If one of your parents, children or siblings has glaucoma, and you are over 40, the NHS will pay for your eye examination as you are at greater risk.

If left untreated glaglaucoma2ucoma can lead to tunnel vision and blindness, but most people who go blind from glaucoma are those in whom it was detected at a late stage. As a result, it is important to detect it early.

The tests to detect glaucoma may include looking at the nerve at the back of your eye, measuring your eye pressure (usually with a puff-of-air test), and checking your visual fields to see how far out you can see and if there are any blind spots in your field of vision. We now also have a machine, called an OCT, which can perform a special scan (now available at both the Darlington and Horden practices). This can take a detailed look at your optic nerve, and the nerve tissue in your eyes, to check for signs of glaucoma.

Acute Glaucoma – This is a type of glaucoma where the drainage channels inside your eye are blocked or damaged in some way. This causes the pressure inside your eye to increase rapidly. It may be called acute angle closure glaucoma. People who are more likely to get acute glaucoma if they are over 40, women, of East or South Asian origin, have a family history of closed-angle glaucoma, or are long-sighted.

Sometimes the increased pressure can come and go, and people get short bursts of pain or discomfort and blurred vision. This can happen when your pupils get bigger, so you may notice it at night or when in a dark area (like the cinema). Other symptoms are an ache in the eye which may come and go, nausea and vomiting, red eyes, or seeing coloured rings around white lights. It can be a bit like looking through a haze or mist.

If you get these symptoms it is important to act quickly, even if the symptoms appear to go away, as your vision may be damaged each time you notice the symptoms. You should see your optometrist as soon as possible if your symptoms are intermittent. If you have acute symptoms and they do not go away, you should see your optometrist as an emergency, or if you are away from home, attend the nearest Accident and Emergency department.

If you have any concerns about glaucoma, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Cooper & Leatherbarrow practice.


Extra Qualifications

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 diplotonyma 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).

EllisEllis 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.

Congratulations Tony & Ellis!

Major medical conditions can be found by simply examining your eyes

WgKQhzHag.jpege 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.

iIZq6b3g.jpegWhat 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 theb-IB6UcQ.jpeg 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.