Could you have mites growing in your eyelashes?

The eyelid debris in someone with anterior blepharitis.

As we get older our immune system is less able to keep control of micro-organisms such as bacteria. A chronic overgrowth of these critters in the eyelid margin is called anterior blepharitis which be seen clinically as crusty debris that builds up at the base of your eyelashes. These microscopic creatures release toxins which triggers inflammation, and this gives rise to symptoms of irritated, red or itchy eyes and eyelids. The condition can also increase the risk of styes and corneal ulcers.

Historically diluted baby shampoo has been used to treat bacterial blepharitis, but recent studies have shown this is not as effective as modern blepharitis treatments. These include daily lid hygiene with eyelid scrubs such as Sterilid. Many people with advanced blepharitis can also benefit from an in-office treatment at Bay Eye Care that uses a BlephEx rotating micro-sponge to remove stubborn debris and organisms along the eyelid margin.


Numerous demodex mites infesting an eyelash of someone with anterior blepharitis

One organism that can also cause blepharitis are Demodex: small mites that live on our skin and hair follicles. Demodex mites are more common as we get older; you are almost guaranteed to have some on your body at age 70! Examination of the eyelashes under a special light microscope is often needed to visualise the mites. These little beasties can be resilient to conventional therapies: a more specific approach is required, often involving tea-tree oil treatments such as Oust Extra Strength or 20% Tea-Tree Oil, specially formulated to kill mites.

As this condition is chronic, blepharitis symptoms will return if treatments are stopped, so ongoing routine management at home is advised. Make sure to visit Bay Eye Care to make sure your eyelids are not harbouring unwanted squatters!

Are you at risk of macular degeneration?

Signs of a retina of an eye with macular degeneration.

Signs of a retina of an eye with macular degeneration.

As we get older the part of the eye that is responsible for our sharp central vision, the macula, can start to become sick. This condition is called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand. 1 in 7 of all people over the age of 50 will get AMD. If you have a family history of macular degeneration or if have been a smoker in the past then you have a significantly higher chance of getting AMD.

How your vision can look with AMD. (From Macular Degeneration NZ,

How your vision can look with AMD. (From Macular Degeneration NZ,

Key symptoms of AMD include problems with reading or fine vision work, distortion, trouble recognising faces or empty spaces in the vision. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 50 be regularly checked for macular degeneration. These days most optometrists have access to advanced OCT retinal scanning equipment that can detect the earliest signs of AMD, and also spot blood or fluid within the retina that requires prompt surgical treatment to restore your sight.

It is recommended that everyone over the age of 50 be regularly checked for macular degeneration. Bay Eye Care has invested in advanced OCT retinal scanning equipment that can detect the earliest signs of AMD, and also spot blood or fluid within the retina that our therapeutic optometrist Mr Alex Petty can promptly refer for surgical treatment to restore your sight.

Follow this macular degeneration eye health checklist to reduce the risk of blindness from AMD:

  • Have your eyes tested by Alex at Bay Eye Care, with a macula OCT scan, every 2 years.
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle, control your weight, exercise regularly on the golf course, and stop smoking.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Limit your intake of fats, eat fish two or three times a week, eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily and a handful of nuts a week.
  • In consultation with your optometrist and/or doctor, consider taking a zinc and antioxidant supplement, as this can slow the progression of the condition.
  • Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, with sunglasses and a hat, especially when young.

Have you considered contact lenses to see clearly?

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Although spectacles provide an easy and cost effective way to correct your vision problem they can be a real inconvenience. Glasses are not great in the rain, they make going to the gym a hassle, and they are pain to find when you need them to read the paper. These days there are a wide range of modern contact lens options to provide a convenient vision alternative to suit your lifestyle.

Many of my patients have been told that ‘their eyes are not suitable for contact lenses’. The reality is that almost everyone can be fitted successfully with contact lenses. The safest and most convenient contact lens modality is the daily soft contact lens, which are replaced each day. A fresh lens each morning improves comfort and decreases the risk of infection. These daily lenses can now correct a range of vision problems like astigmatism and presbyopia (the need to using reading glasses when we hit our 40s). Multifocal contact lenses work a little like bifocal or progressive glasses – providing vision for distance and near tasks, meaning you are never to old to benefit from contact lenses.

Modern contact lens materials are also more comfortable than ever – perfect for people that get dry eye or have challenging work environments. This is due to advanced technologies keeping the lens surface wet all day long and allowing high oxygen flow to the eye. Most people don’t even feel them when worn. Our experienced optometrist Mr Alex Petty will be able to teach you how to effortlessly insert and remove your lenses with the minimum of hassle.

Another great option is Ortho-K overnight vision correction. These special contact lenses are only worn when you sleep, and provide clear unaided vision throughout the day.

If you are sick of your glasses arrange an assessment with Alex to discuss which modern contact lens option can give you your visual freedom back!

Bay Eye Care Contact Lenses

Slow your child’s short-sightedness early to prevent blindness

Around the world more of our children are becoming short-sighted (myopia). This means they have difficulties seeing clearly in the distance and require glasses or contact lenses to see. It is thought that a combination of genetics (if a child’s parents are also myopic) and environmental factors (including lack of outdoor light exposure and increased device usage) are leading to this rising tsunami of myopia.

Wearing glasses to see clearly is an inconvenience. However many people do not realise that there is an increased risk of blinding eye disease associated with short-sightedness. Scarily conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract and macular degeneration are more common the more short-sighted we become. This is because in myopia the eye grows longer and become structurally weaker. Due to his own myopia our optometrist Mr Alex Petty has already had three retinal detachments requiring emergency surgery to save his sight!

Normal glasses or contact lenses do nothing to slow the progression of myopia in children and teenagers. Fortunately these days optometrists have access to specialty myopia control treatments (including specialty contact lens options and therapeutic eye drops) which are proven to slow eye growth by at least 50%. This will decrease the risk of blinding eye disease later in life.

If your child is not yet short-sighted it is recommended they spend at least an hour of outdoor time a day, and have regular breaks from digital devices, to prevent the onset of myopia.

Book a myopia control assessment at Bay Eye Care sooner rather than later to limit your child's risk of ocular disease later in life.

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