Crisis in Eye Health Care

After Wold War II, Canadian families had lots and lots of babies.  Today, those babies are becoming senior citizens.  We call them baby-boomers, and they are wonderful!  Only problem is – as baby-boomers age, there are so many of them that the rate of eye disease is beginning to spike in a way this country has never seen before.  This means that the Eye Health Care providers in Canada must prepare for this Demographic Tsunami.

Just a few numbers to highlight the crisis:    Total annual cost of vision loss in Canada in 2007:  $15.8 Billion; Projected total annual cost of vision loss in Canada in 2032:  $30.3 Billion; Number of Canadians with age-related, bliding ocular disease in 2007 – Over 4 million – and this will double as the number of aged doubles; Number of Canadian ophthalmologists over age 55 and due to retire in the next decade:  1 in 3. (The National Coalition for Vision Health, “Vision Loss in Canada 2011″)

What are Alberta Optometrists doing about the crisis?  Optometrists in Alberta, as opposed to most other Optometrists in North America, are practicing below our level of education.  In addition to diagnosing and treating eye ailments generally, Optometrists have been trained to diagnose and treat glaucoma, prescribe and administer all types of medications, not only eye drop medications, order and interpret laboratory tests, and perform injections and minor non-invasive ocular surgeries.  We are present in 96% of Alberta towns as opposed to ophthalmologists who practice in only 7 communities in Alberta.  While numbers of ophthalmologists are projected to shrink in Alberta, while wait-lists balloon for their services, numbers of optometrists have grown steadily over the past several years.  Optometrists are trained, available, and able to re-balance the workload of eye disease cases, thus helping relieve the burden of wait-lists, and increasing access of eye health care to all Albertans, including the growing population of seniors.

On November 6th and 7th, 2012, the Health Professions Advisory Board (HPAB) to the Health Minister will hear from the Alberta College of Optometrists and other stakeholders on the College’s proposals to allow Alberta Optometrists to practice to the level of our education – to the level that most North American jurisdictions already recognize.  I urge everyone reading this blog to send a letter to the Health Minister’s office (see contact information below) or their MLA (see Find my Alberta MLA) in support of this important initiative that will help to address this crisis in eye health care.

Dr. James Thompson

To contact the Honourable Health Minister, Fred Horne – write to:

Honourable Fred Horne
Minister of Health
Members of Executive Council Executive Branch
208 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6

Phone: 780 427-3665

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Internal Freeform – My Best Recommendation

This is what Eyeclectic locations use to measure for internal freeform lenses

So I’m trying hard to be the best doctor of optometry I can be.  But you know what?  If I haven’t spoken to you about how amazing internal freeform lens technology is, then I am sorry – really sorry.  Why?  Because it is so amazing.  Have you ever wondered why your progressive lenses restrict your near viewing so much?  Have you ever wondered why your high powered near sighted or far sighted lenses are distorted through the peripheral parts of the lens and clear through the centre?  I want everyone within the sound of my blog to know that it doesn’t have to be that way!  FYiDoctors, our partner, provides exceptionally clear, best-in-industry lens technology called Internal Freeform technology.  This is a lens manufacturing process that uses software to create a 100% customized viewing angle through every point on the back surface of each lens.  I am tired of the “out of the box” solutions so prevalent out there.  Let me tell you, I switched to internal freeform lenses last year, and seeing clearly through nearly every angle of my glasses has really changed my life.  I never thought things could look so clear.  So there’s my personal testimonial for you.  Take my advice – don’t settle for anything less. See the following link to our partner site for more information: Internal Freeform Technology

Dr. James Thompson

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Eyeglass Trends: Plastic Frames

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who has been out shopping for new eyeglasses lately at how popular plastic frames are. Particularly, retro inspired styles and interesting finishes seem to be at the forefront.

The revisited keyhole nose bridge is a great example of a styling that has come back because it works so well on just about any face shape. The keyhole bridge is also quite often paired with round frame shapes. We are definitely seeing a departure from the classic rectangular shapes into softer rounder shapes, and even more classic round shapes.

The frame acetate colors have also really taken on a life of their own. Ranging from bright fuchsias and teals to vintage colorings that resemble original tortoise patterns.  Another trend making waves is translucent colors or even completely clear frames.

Conventional polished frames are now being interspersed with glasses that have a nice matted finish. Some frame designers have even taken the matting process further by giving the frames such a rough finish that they resemble an entirely different material, such as wood.

Although plastic frames really seem to be taking the spotlight, we can’t ignore the innovations with metal frames. Some really attractive fusion frames have come onto the scene that blends plastic with great metal detailing. Another interesting design that’s gaining in popularity is stamped metal that features intricate patterns and is thick enough that it almost resembles heavier plastic frames.

With a style and design for almost anyone, shopping for fashionably glasses can be fun and exciting!












Words and Photos by: Jessica Wittman

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Omega 3′s and Eye Health

So what’s all the fuss about Omega 3′s?  There are many types of nutrition supplements being recommended to us these days, but none is as important for our overall health than Omega 3′s.

Fish Oil Capsules

Here are some myths:

1.  Grain and Organic sources of Omega 3′s are better than Fish – False – per unit volume, the proper triglyceride formulation of clean sourced fish oil is safer and far more potent than flax seed oil, or bilberry, or any fruit/grain sourced oils.

2.  Fish oil has heavy metals, PCB’s and impurities that are harmful for the body – Falseish – Most but not all fish oil suppliers have removed these impurities.  However, most companies leave in the cleaner, which transforms the fish oils into an alcohol based oil, ethyl ester, which produces “fishy” burps, and is not readily absorbed by our bodies.  Only a select few companies throughout the world purify the fish oil, and then remove the alcohol content again – producing a triglyceride form of the purified fish oil.  This form is nearly 100% absorbed by our bodies – so even if the triglyceride products cost a little more, you are actually absorbing 100% vs 50%.  Now that cheap box-store brand doesn’t look as cheap when you have to take two bottles to equal one of the good stuff.  Make sure you always take the TG or triglyceride form.  For more on this see Forms of Omega-3.

3.  I’m already taking Omega 3-6-9, so I’m good – False – Did you know that the typical North American diet is very rich in Omega 6 & 9′s (especially 6)?  Our bodies crave the Omega 3′s to counterbalance the inflammatory effects of excessive Omega 6 in our diets that lead to inflammatory joint disease (arthritis, etc), inflammatory heart disease, and inflammation of the eyelids leading to dry eyes.  Taking a healthy daily dose of high quality fish oil is the key to continued health and may add years to our lives, and because I am the eye doctor – it will increase your lids’ ability to counterbalance dryness.  See Omega 3 in our diet.

We recommend a high quality fish oil supplement like those available from PRN, Physician Recommended Nutriceuticals (See PRN Canada).  Cheers, and here’s to your continued eye health.

Dr. James Thompson

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Choosing the right frame for your face

Selecting the proper frame for your face can seem like such a daunting task. With so many varying shapes, sizes and colours it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are some general rules and tips that can help you narrow your selections.

There are five basic shapes that faces come in: oval, oblong, round, square and triangular. With all face shapes its important to ensure the size of the frame is in proportion with the size of the face. It is also recommended to choose a frame shape that contrasts your face.

Oval Face – This face shape lends well to most frame shapes; therefore, it’s most important to ensure the size of the frame is in proportion to the face.

Oblong Face – The structure of this face shape is very similar to square faces in that chin and cheek are nearly the same width. The length of the face, however, is far greater then the width. Frames should be chosen that cover more of the centre of the face to offset the difference in length.

Round Face – Choose frames that are more angular or have straight lines to minimize the roundness. Darker coloured frames will also play down the fullness.

Square Face – Rounded frames with more curves then angles compliment this face well. The squared jawline can be softened with a higher placed brow line.

Triangular Face – A wide forehead coupled with a slimmer mouth and chin describes this shape. Vertical lines and thin-rimmed frames balance the lower half of the face. If the frame sits too high it can accentuate the triangular shape. Other elements to avoid include larger frames, heavy bridges, bright colours and square shapes.

Qualified and authentic opticians and optical dispensers can help you find the perfect frame that compliments and lets you express how beautiful you are. Remember eye-wear can be fun and exciting!

Jessica Wittman

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Optomap vs Dilation for Diabetes

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, it turns out that undilated Optomap wide field retinal imaging is just as effective in diagnosing and monitoring diabetic retinopathy as dilating the pupils and using conventional imaging – according to a new study by the American Journal of Ophthalmology (See Undilated Optomap = Dilated Imaging). 

So if you are diabetic or know someone who is, please encourage them to make an appointment with their eye doctor – Eyeclectic has the Optomap technology, and we love it because of not only its diagnostic and monitoring capabilities for diabetics, but for all kinds of retinal disease.

Dr. James Thompson

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Diabetes and Your Eyes

A recent study in the Canadian Journal of Optometry (See Guidelines for Managing Diabetes) indicated that Diabetic Retinopathy (see graphic) is the leading cause of new cases of legal blindness in people of working age.  Diabetes is affecting our collective eyesight more and more.  Chances are you know someone with Diabetes.  Did you know that individuals with Diabetic Retinopathy are 25-29% more likely to become blind in the next 4 years than the general population?

So what to do?  If you or someone you love has diabetes, encourage them not only to have regular checkups with their family doctor or medical specialist, but also an annual eye health examination at the eye doctor, such as an optometrist.  Unfortunately, 50% of diabetics are not receiving regular eye examinations, even though intervention and prevention can save their vision in the long run.  Eyeclectic optometrists have the most up to date retinal imaging equipment at their disposal to detect and monitor Diabetic Retinopathy (See Optomap), and can arrange treatment with a retinal specialist should intervention be needed.  Make an appointment today.

Dr. James Thompson

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Contacts – Friend or Foe?

Let’s start with the “friend” argument.  Freedom from glasses has never been more within reach – and with daily lenses becoming more available for most prescription types, the discomfort problems we so often hear about are diminishing.  Don’t take my word for it!  Just ask someone who is wearing them, they will tell you that they are comfortable, convenient, and reasonably priced (yes, especially at your optometrists office!), not to mention you don’t need contact lens solution which is an estimated $80/year cost savings alone.  They are also cleaner, and less likely to be associated with eye disease.  I’m fond of reminding patients that North Americans (particularly Canadians) are just catching up to the rest of the free world who are have already embraced the daily modality en masse – It is estimated that 34% of contact lens wearers worldwide are daily lens wearers, but only 15% of North Americans wear daily lenses.  In Asia, 55% of contact lens wearers wear daily lenses, with Japan leading the charge.  Daily lenses continue to increase in popularity in North America with 45-60% of practitioners stating they will prescribe more daily contact lenses in 2012, and market share increasing 3-5% per year (See Article: Contact Lenses 2011)  There’s no secret here folks, daily lenses are just better.  If you have given up on contacts, it’s time to revisit them.

So what about the Foe argument?  Contact lenses are a medical device you insert behind your eyelids against your cornea and conjunctiva tissues to clear up your vision.  Any vendor or manufacturer characterizing them otherwise are simply disregarding your eye health.  You should always consult a professional when making important decisions about your eye health, especially contact lenses.  Who you consult for your contact lenses turns out to be a factor in your eye health – Patients are 12X more likely to develop eye health problems when making contact lens fitting decisions without consulting a professional.  Last week I addressed the need for regular eye exams – contact lens wearers should be seen at least annually (See Article: Eye Exams How Often?).   It has been shown that off the shelf cosmetic contact lenses are associated with increased incidence of eye health problems.  This is why Bill C-313, currently before the Canadian Parliament, was introduced, ironically, just before Halloween last year (See Article: Fashion blurring the lines of sight).    Every optometrist knows the risks of contact lens wear:  increased incidence of eye disease – especially if worn overnight, increasing that risk 10X, increased incidence of dry eyes, etc.  At the same time, most problems can be avoided at the user level:  vigorous hand washing with insertion and removal, not re-using contact lens solution, religious disposal regimens (not over-using), clean bathroom surfaces and contact lens cases, and not sleeping in contact lenses.  Bottom line – visit a professional such as an optometrist to determine how to optimize your contact lens comfort and vision.  We are here to help, and firmly on your side, that of the patient.  Contact lenses don’t have to be the foe.

Dr. James Thompson

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Eye Exams – How Often?

I know women who regularly spend more than $250 on their hair.  If eye exams were as high a priority to regular Canadians, particularly Canadian moms, as maintaining hair highlights, or keeping eyelash extensions fresh, our collective vision would fare so much better.  The facts are astounding:  One in seven Canadians may be living with some level of correctable vision loss and more than one third of Canadians over 40 could have eye disease while not experiencing any problems with their vision (see Regular eye exams crucial at every age experts say)

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recently released a guideline to the frequency of eye examinations (see Frequency of Eye Examinations Guideline)

Infants and Toddlers (Birth to 24 months):  Should undergo their first eye examination between the ages of 6 and 9 months

Preschool Children (2 to 5 years):  Should undergo at least one eye examination between the ages of 2 and 5 years

School Age Children (6 to 19 years):  Should undergo an eye examination annually

Adults (20-39):  Should undergo an eye examination every 2 to 3 years*

Adults (40-64):  Should undergo an eye examination every 2 years*

Adults (65+):  Should undergo an eye examination annually*

* This guideline is for adults who do not wear contact lenses or who have otherwise  healthy eyes.  Adults who wear contact lenses, or who have eye health problems should have an annual eye exam or receive eye care more frequently as determined by their optometrist.

We strongly encourage all Calgarians to reconsider how often you or your family members visit the optometrist for eye health care.  Remember that in Alberta, children under 19 and seniors over 65 are covered by Alberta Health for routine eye care.  Everyone with a medical eye concern is also covered.  Routine eye care in the 19-64 adult age group is fee-for-service.  But can you really put a price on your vision?

Dr. James Thompson

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Time to use your Health Spending Account!

Time is ticking away on 2011!  Time to use your health spending dollars on a new pair of glasses from Eyeclectic Eyewear.  There are so many beautiful glasses to pick from and we are still running three promtions on top of it all.  Calgary Food Bank promotion:  Save up to $100 off your glasses by bringing in up to 10 non-perishable food items; COACH promotion: 30% off all COACH frames; PENTAX promotion:  50% off all PENTAX second pairs.  All three promotions run through the end of the year.  Don’t lose your health spending dollars – come in after Christmas and use them.

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