Stay safe with your contact lenses over summer

Dec 2017 Contact Lens Bay Eye Care.jpg

With summer here more people are using their contact lenses to enjoy outdoor activities without their glasses. However contact lenses are a medical device and without proper care and hygiene the risk of potentially blinding eye infections is increased.

Follow these important guidelines to ensure your contact lens wear is hassle-free over the holiday period:

  • Never use tap water to clean or store your lenses. Water contains micro-organisms that can adhere to your lenses and infect your eye.
  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before touching your eye or lenses. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer as an alternative if you are going bush!
  • If you must use your contact lenses when swimming make sure you remove and clean or discard them afterwards. Hot water sources including hot tubs, spas or thermal springs are high risk areas for infection – avoid contact lens wear in these environments. 
  • If you plan on spending a lot of time in the water then consider visiting Bay Eye Care to be fitted for overnight Orthokeratology vision correction: these contacts change the shape of the eye during sleep to give clear vision during the day without any lenses!
  • Avoid re-using solutions or wearing your lenses beyond their recommended replacement schedule. Shortcuts may save you money now but could be catastrophic to your eye health in the long-term.
  • If your eye is red, sore or light-sensitive then stop wearing your contact lenses and visit our therapeutic optometrist Alex urgently. Your GP or the local A+E service is the next best alternative if your optometrist is away on a well-deserved break!
Alex Petty Contact Lenses Bay Eye Care

At Bay Eye Care our contact lens specialists are perfectly placed to offer the best care and advice about your contact lens use. Feel free to contact us today to arrange a contact lens consultation!

Eyes getting itchy? Ocular allergies are likely to blame.

The days are becoming longer and temperatures are on the rise: Spring is here! However the change of season brings with it a bothersome common eye condition: allergic eye disease.

Allergies affect about 30% of New Zealanders at some point in our lives. Seasonal allergies occurs when our body’s immune system over-reacts to certain things (allergens) in the environment such as dust mites, pets, pollen and mould spores. These allergens cause skin rashes, hay-fever, asthma and eye irritation.

allergies eyes bay eye care.jpg

Allergens cause a chemical called histamine to be released into the eye tissues that causes swelling, redness, wateriness and itching. The insatiable need to itch the eyes is very typical for allergy sufferers. Unfortunately itching will make symptoms worse as this releases more histamine. Itching and rubbing the eyes can also lead to permanent eye damage, especially in children, so this should be actively discouraged.

If you have symptoms of eye itching, redness, swelling or wateriness you should visit our therapeutic optometrist Mr Alex Petty to ensure this is not caused by other conditions like dry eye syndrome, infectious conjunctivitis or anterior blepharitis.

Management options for allergic eye disease include avoiding the offending allergen with wrap-around sunglasses, bathing the eye tissues with cool compresses, using non-preserved lubricant eye drops to wash out the eye, and using prescription anti-histamine/mast-cell stabiliser eye drops. You should only use eye drops that are recommended by your optometrist because over-the-counter allergy drops may not be as effective and some can lead to rebound redness when they are ceased.

If you think you are suffering from eye allergies contact the team at Bay Eye Care to ensure you manage this condition properly.

When did you last have your eyes checked for glaucoma?

The eye condition glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand, with the prevalence increasing to 10% for those of us over the age of 70. Glaucoma can occur in people of all ages however and is more common if someone in our family also has the condition.

Glaucoma causes progressive and irreversible vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye. Glaucoma is a painless condition and only affects your ability to see details like words and faces after significant nerve damage has occurred. For this reason it is known as the ‘silent thief of sight’ as many people with the condition are unaware of any symptoms.

The vision of someone with glaucoma.

The vision of someone with glaucoma.

Early diagnosis is important to limit the damage glaucoma will cause to your vision. A thorough eye check for glaucoma should involve checking a number of factors, including the pressure of the fluid in the eye (the main risk for glaucoma is a higher than normal eye pressure), a 3D inspection of the optic nerve, assessment of the fluid drainage angle in the eye, measurement of corneal thickness, testing of peripheral vision, and a retinal and optic nerve OCT scan to look for early damage to the nerve fibres.

With proper care only 2% of people with glaucoma will go blind in their lifetime. Your optometrist is the best person to visit for a glaucoma check. Some therapeutic optometrists, including our very own Mr Alex Petty, are also accredited to manage and treat glaucoma. If you or someone you know has not had their eyes checked for glaucoma in the last two years arrange a consultation before any potential damage is done.

Do your eyes get sore, burn or become red or watery? You may have dry eye syndrome.

It is estimated that up to 20% of kiwis suffer from some form of dry eye, a condition that can have a profound effect on quality of life. The drying effects of air-conditioning and decreased blink-rate associated with computer screen use can exacerbate this syndrome making simply keeping the eyes open intolerable for many.

The green speckled area shows a patch of dryness on the surface of an eye with MGD

The green speckled area shows a patch of dryness on the surface of an eye with MGD

The term ‘dry eye’ is used when someone's tears do not keep their eyeball wet enough throughout the day. Rather than not producing enough tears, the majority of dry eye sufferers have dry eye due to excessive evaporation of their tears. The most common cause of this evaporation is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, or MGD. This condition occurs when the oil producing glands in the eyelids stop functioning correctly. The oils that these glands normally produce prevent the watery component of our tears from evaporating.

Unfortunately simply using lubricant eye drops does not change the underlying gland dysfunction and is only a short-term fix. There are a range of treatments that can decrease meibomian gland inflammation and improve function, including anti-inflammatory ointments, oral omega 3 supplements and anti-inflammatory medications and digital gland expression. The most exciting treatment to be recently available in Tauranga for MGD is intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy which offers lasting improvement of meibomian gland function and a reduction on dry eye symptoms. It is best to have the cause and severity of your dry eye syndrome professionally evaluated by a dry eye specialist so that they can determine the optimal treatment plan for your condition.

NZ Herald Video: Bay Eye Care optometrist Alex Petty discusses myopia control treatments for kiwi kids!

In May Alex was approached by NZ Herald to discuss how we can slow myopia in young New Zealanders. Alex specialises in myopia control treatments, including Ortho-K contact lenses, which slow myopia and improve vision during the day. The full video at can be found here.

Watch to learn more! Thanks to Maia and Vicki for offering their time to share their experiences with these treatments.

World Glaucoma Week - Could you have this 'silent thief of sight'?

This week is World Glaucoma Week. Glaucoma is an insidious condition that affects the optic nerve of the eye - the wiring that carries information from the eye to the brain. ~10% of people over the age of 70 will have glaucoma and up to half do not even know they have it, as sight-loss is only noticeable in the later stages of the condition.

Fortunately early diagnosis and treatment can avoid blindess in 98% of people with glaucoma. Bay Eye Care uses cutting edge equipment such as OCT optic nerve scans that can detect damage from glaucoma earlier than a normal eye test. Our optometrist Mr Alex Petty is also the first optometrist in the Bay Of Plenty to be accredited to manage and treat glaucoma independently.

If you, or someone you know, have not been for a glaucoma review lately, especially if there is a family history of glaucoma, book in to see us for a comprehensive assessment to rule out this 'silent thief of sight'.

Short-sightedness is a problem for children in Australia too.

A recent news article on Australian TV highlights some of the risks of short-sightedness (myopia) in children and discusses the treatments to slow this condition. At Bay Eye Care we employ all the treatments mentioned to help control myopia in NZ kids.

View the short segment here: