Flashes and Floaters

When should you be concerned about flashes and floaters?

Tiny spots, lines, flashes or shapes in your vision are known as flashes and floaters. Lots of people experience them and they usually aren’t cause for alarm. Below we explain what causes flashes and floaters and when you should be concerned.

What are flashes?

Sometimes the jelly inside your eye shrinks a little and tugs on the retina (the light-sensitive layer) at the back of your eye. This can cause flashes of light at the edge of your vision. This is different from the disturbance of vision that can happen with a migraine.
What are floaters?
Often, people who have healthy eyes see floaters. They appear as spots, lines or cobweb effects, usually when you look at a plain surface such as a white wall, screen or a clear blue sky. They are usually caused by cells clumping together in the clear jelly in the main part of your eye and casting shadows on your retina – the light-sensitive layer of the eye. The sudden appearance of new floaters is different and may be caused by the jelly shrinking and can sometimes mean there is a tear in the retina.

When should I be concerned?

If you suddenly notice a shower of new floaters, or floaters along with flashes or a dark shadow or a ‘curtain’ in your vision, you should take urgent action. Follow the advice at the bottom of this page. These symptoms can mean that the retina is tearing.
What will happen if the retina tears?
The retina is the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye which receives images and sends them to your brain. If the retina tears, it may come away from the back of the eye and can lead to a retinal detachment which can result in you losing part or all of your vision.

How is retinal detachment treated?

A tear may be treated by using a laser. If treated quickly you may have a better chance of full recovery. However, if your retina has become detached, you will need surgery. The operation may restore most of your vision but may come too late for a full recovery.

What to do if your symptoms change?

Look out for the following:

  • Flashes or floaters getting worse
  • A black shadow in your vision
  • A sudden cloud of spots
  • A curtain or veil over your vision
  • Any change in vision

If you notice any of these symptoms, go to an Accident and Emergency department immediately.


Information from Association of Optometrists

Sunshine !

I can picture it now, the alarm went off and it was 4am but instead of hitting snooze, I jumped out of bed like a jack-in-the-box! Rest assured, it wasn’t a love of waking up that got me out of bed that morning…we were going on holiday!

With cases packed and sun-tan lotion a plenty, we were heading to Egypt for our annual trip for some sunshine! It wasn’t until I arrived at the airport however, that I realised that amidst all the excitement, I’d forgotten to pick up my trusty sunglasses! I wasn’t going to let that dampen my spirits though and instead decided to buy a pair from the airport. I picked a stylish designer pair that looked good and would protect my eyes completely from UV.

Happy with my purchase, I jetted off to the beautiful resort with the sole ambition of relaxing and reading two or three books that had been lingering on my shelf for some time. Feeling parched after the long journey I grabbed a Mojito and sat down to re-read one of my favourite childhood books ‘Treasure Island’. That was where the problem arose. I couldn’t see very well to read! I’d forgotten that my other sunglasses were prescription (which hadn’t been a problem walking around as I’m long sighted) and it was clear that this wasn’t going to work.

“It’s ok though” I thought as I remembered that I’d packed some contact lenses so I grabbed those, popped the sunglasses back on and began to read. Several chapters later the heat was so intense that I needed a dip in the pool. Only, you can’t wear contact lenses in the pool due to the high risk of infection…back up to the room I ran, took the lenses out and then headed back to the pool to cool down. Needless to say, I didn’t get much reading done that holiday! Thank goodness for audio books!

This whole experience got me thinking, if I struggled without prescription lenses and I work in optics; surely lots of people do. Nothing beats being able to relax and read your favourite book whilst soaking up some sun. If you require prescription lenses to get the most out of your holiday reading, don’t leave it until you’re at the airport to try and find some. Let us take the confusion out of buying eyewear and rest assured that you can sit back, read your book in the sun, and enjoy a beverage or two.

Call to book now for a free frame styling appointment with one of our experts.

Until next time,


The Sight Test Explained.

Every sight test is tailor-made depending on your needs and the methods your optometrist prefers to use. As well as an eye health check, a sight test might detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Everyone should have a sight test every two years, or more often if your optometrist recommends it.

Sight test or eye examination

As part of your sight test your optometrist will check what you can see close up and in the distance usually using special charts of symbols or letters. They will then work out whether you need glasses or a change of prescription with a series of tests using different lenses.

History and symptoms

Your optometrist will ask detailed questions about your eyesight, lifestyle, health and any previous eye problems you or family members may have had. You should bring a list of any medication you take, along with your glasses if you use them, or a previous glasses prescription.

Eyesight test

Your optometrist will check what you can see – close up and in the distance – usually using special charts of symbols or letters. This may be with or without your glasses. They will then work out whether you need glasses or a change of prescription with a series of tests using different lenses. This will also involve simple questions and you should try to answer these as accurately and honestly as you can. There are no right or wrong answers, so don’t worry.

For those who are unable to answer these questions, there are other ways of working out a glasses prescription. This is particularly useful for young children or those with learning difficulties or special educational needs. Your optometrist will also carry out tests on your eye muscles to check how your eyes are working together.

Eye health check

Your optometrist will examine the inside and outside of your eyes. They will tell you if there are any signs of disease or injury. The equipment used for this will vary from practice to practice. Occasionally your optometrist will need to put drops in your eyes to get a better view of the back of your eye but they will explain this before doing so.Sometimes it may be necessary to check your peripheral (or side) vision using a special instrument. This tests for certain conditions of the eyes or the visual parts of your brain. You may also need an eye-pressure test, which is one of the procedures used to detect glaucoma.


There will be time to talk through the results of your sight test and ask questions. Your optometrist will advise you if you need glasses and make recommendations about the type. They will also tell you if they find any problems with your eyes. If there is something which needs further medical checks, the optometrist will write to your doctor or the eye hospital for you. They will give you a written statement of your results which includes your glasses prescription if you need one. They will also tell you how often you should go for a sight test. The optometrist is also someone who can tell you about how to keep your eyes healthy.So don’t forget the importance of a sight test for you and your family. Your optometrist can do the following:

  • Pick up any signs of eye disease – this is usually easier to deal with if found early
  • Check your sight and make it clearer or more comfortable to see
  • Check for signs of underlying general health conditions that sometimes show in the eyes
  • Answer questions and give advice about your eye health and vision
  • Keep you informed about new products or services that can help you

Infomation from Association of Optometrists

A Fitting Solution

Getting great eyewear that fits perfectly isn’t as easy as you may think! This was definitely the case for one frustrated parent; but she wasn’t willing to accept anything less than perfect for her daughter (and why should she have?!). This is when Erin’s world was created …

What are Erin’s world frames?

Erin’s World is a range of frames that are specially designed for children with Down Syndrome. They were designed by an optical professional who understands the special facial characteristics of children with the condition. They are made with high quality materials that are resilient and light-weight.


With good professional advice, most people will find a frame that both fits them well and suits them. The creator of the Erin’s World brand Maria Dellapina, found that this was sadly not the case for her youngest daughter Erin. Erin was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth and the range of frames on display at several opticians she visited weren’t fitting well enough.

All eyewear should fit perfectly, but this is especially important in children as the visual pathway (the link between their eyes and brain) develops when they are young, so looking through the optimum part of the spectacle lens is crucial. 87% of children with Down Syndrome will require eyewear by the time they enter pre-school!  This is where Erin’s world frames excel. The bridge of the frame is ideal for smaller noses, the front is wider and the sides are optimised for minimal slipping!

If Erin’s World frames sound like the perfect fit for you or you would just like more information then please call our practice and speak to one of our professionals who will be happy to help.

Top Tips For Healthy Eyes.

It’s easy to overlook your eyes when it comes to caring for your health, but there are simple things you can do every day to help keep your sight in shape.

Here are some easy ways to get started.

Have regular sight tests

As well as an eye health check, a sight test might help detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Everyone should have a sight test every two years, or more often if your optometrist recommends it.

Eat healthily

Eating a healthy, balanced diet reduces your risk of eye disease. Include lots of omega-3 fats, found in oily fish, and lutein, found in dark-green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Vitamins A, C and E are also helpful, so eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. If you have a family history of macular degeneration (losing central vision in the eyes), ask your optometrist about taking nutritional supplements.

Stop smoking

Many people are unaware of the link between smoking and eye disease. If you smoke, stop. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing eye diseases, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. However long you have smoked it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.

Wear prescribed glasses

Many eye and vision problems develop or increase as we get older. Contrary to the myth, wearing glasses and contact lenses doesn’t make your eyesight worse – they help your eyes work more efficiently.

Take regular breaks

When you work on something close up, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, your eye muscles are active. This may cause tiredness and  headaches, even in those with normal sight. Follow the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. And don’t forget to blink, as this helps prevent your eyes drying out.

Wear sunglasses

As well as making your vision more comfortable in the sun, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV light. When choosing sunglasses, you should always make sure that they carry the CE or British Standard marks. There are different categories of sunglasses to choose from, including everyday wear, as well as frames for specialist sports. Exposure to UV when young does most harm, so protect children with sunglasses, as well as a hat and sunblock.

Avoid dry eyes

Eyes become dry, tired and sore if you are not producing enough tears or you have poor-quality tears. Central heating, air-conditioning and computer use can make it worse. Many adults suffer with dry eyes due to a health condition or medication. Lubricating eye drops can soothe irritation and reduce discomfort. You may find taking omega-3 supplements helps over time. Drink plenty of water and remember to blink often. If your eyes are persistently dry, tell your optometrist.

Research your family history

Many eye conditions run in families, from simple long and short sight to more serious diseases, such as glaucoma. Knowledge of problems with sight can help detect a condition before it becomes serious.

Remember your optometrist is the first person you should visit if you have any eye concerns. They can assess the problem and, if necessary, refer you to the right place for treatment.

Information from the Association for Optometrist

No less than 100% – An overview of our trip to the UK’s biggest optical show!

100%Last weekend saw the annual hosting of 100% optical in London. Opticians from all over the country travel to see the latest innovations in frames, equipment, and specialist eye care… and we were more than excited to go!

Sunday morning started with the obligatory cup of tea before we hit the road. Once we were on the M1 Tom suggested a friendly game of car cricket (ask Tom about the rules!). What started as a friendly game soon exposed Dawn and Ben’s competitive streaks and in a closely fought match the ladies took home the trophy!

Once we’d arrived at the London Excel and got our tickets we walked through a very elegant (and very dark) looking tunnel to arrive in the centre of a huge hall surrounded by so many people with a passion for their business. Independent opticians all looking to find new frames and equipment to wow our patients. There were so many frame ranges that it would take one person the whole week to get around them all. So, with that, we went our separate ways in search of exciting new products that would make our patients look great.

20170205_225800Several hours later we reconvened and discussed everything that the show had to offer (over a glass of wine…or two) and formulated a plan for the next day. We needed to go into Monday’s show to look at specific ranges with the intention of adding something exciting and different into our already fabulous frame range…

Monday morning; we fuelled like soldiers preparing for battle! We knew that there was a job to be done and we were going to do it! We went into the hall and had our first of many meetings. It’s hard not to be swooned by the lovely people who sell the frames but we knew what we wanted! We viewed hundreds of new frames selecting only the ranges that would really add to our practices. We spent hours choosing the newest, nicest designs and we finished the day with some lovely new additions to bring to our collection very soon (more on those in the coming months).

All in all, we had a very successful trip and we’re very excited to show you our new ranges. It brings us great joy to see the advances in technology and the quality of eyewear that we can bring to you as an independent optician! Stay posted and like us on Facebook to get the most up-to-date news from all three of our practices.

Until next time…

Two pairs are better than one!

It’s nearly the end of 2016 and what a year it’s been! Whilst there have been ups and downs in the media, the fact still remains that things are moving forward technologically and the demands on our vision aren’t what they were just a few short years ago. There’s no hiding from the idea that there may not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model in terms of eyewear and now is the time to start exploring our options. Couple that with how great many glasses look now and you have a recipe for success both visually, and aesthetically.

Which lenses?

There are so many types of lenses that it would take several books to cover them all. The overview below will give you an idea of what may suit your needs:

Single vision – the most common lens type and generally suitable for most people up until the age of around 40. These lenses deliver good all-round vision and when we are younger we can use them to focus on many different things. As we age, some people opt to use a pair of single vision glasses for reading- this can have its limitations but is a good solution for certain tasks.

Bifocal – This lens has two main portions (generally one for distance and one for reading) and has a ‘segment’ that allows the wearer to access the reading once the line is crossed. The line is visible to onlookers so isn’t always cosmetically nicest, but this lens allows great vision at different lengths.

Varifocal – This lens is a great all-rounder! The varifocal lens has been designed and developed over the years to meet the continuing demands on our vision. The lens allows the wearer to see at far distance, intermediate (think desktop computer or dashboard distance), and near (reading/tablet) as the eye moves down the lens the power increase giving the required focal length. There are hundreds of lenses available each with their own advantages and disadvantages but once you’ve spoken to one of our professional team, any confusion around the matter will be gone and you will leave with a lens that best suits your needs.

Enhanced Reading/Occupational – These lenses are really the new kids on the block! They solve a problem that we never had a few years ago! With more digital devices than ever being used now, a standard single vision reading lens may no longer be enough! This lens provides good vision at intermediate and near with a bit of distance at the top to glance across a room. A great solution for somebody who needs more than just a reading lens, or more computer-distance range than a varifocal can provide.

Why two?!

Hopefully you can see from the above descriptions, there is often not one lens to do all jobs. While the varifocal is a great all-round lens, it can have its limitations on a computer, so an occupational lens would be a great 2nd pair option. While a single vision reading lens is great for close work, there may not be the ability to see the laptop or the cookery book whilst standing in the kitchen. In this case an enhanced reading lens would provide a good additional solution. There are lots of different combinations that could suit your lifestyle and needs and our team are here to help guide you.

A fashionable thought

Whilst some people are happy wearing one pair of shoes, many are not! So, if you have different shoes for different occasions, why would you settle for the same eyewear day-in, day-out?! With so many fashionable frames to choose from, our team will help you look your best, whatever the occasion. Call today to book your consultation with one of our experts and we’ll help you find fashionable and functional glasses to leave you seeing and feeling great.

Who’s who in your optical practice?

eye_test_-_female_patientDon’t know your optometrist from your optician?

Meet your optical team…

Professional staff who work in optical practices are known as opticians but did you know there are different types?

The Optometrist

An Optometrist (formerly known as an ophthalmic optician) performs the eye examination. This is more than just a vision check, it involves assessing the health of your eyes, prescribing glasses and contact lenses where necessary.

Their qualifications
Optometrists have extensive training for at least four years and must be registered with the General Optical Council (GOC), the governing body.  Many optometrists fit contact lenses, dispense glasses and provide specialist services, such as home visits and sports vision eyewear.

The Dispensing Optician

When you need glasses the dispensing optician is trained to provide you with the most suitable lenses, coatings and frames for your requirements. They will measure the distance between your pupils to make sure your glasses work as well as possible for you and also give you advice on the best use and care of your glasses.

Their qualifications
Dispensing opticians complete academic and practical training over at least three years and must be registered with the GOC. They are often the people responsible for the day to day management of the shop floor.

The support team

Optical assistants  work under the direction of the practice manager and make up a vital part of the practice team. They ensure that any necessary paperwork is completed before you see the optometrist, are highly trained and can advise on suitable glasses and lenses. They will often instruct you on how to use your contact lenses safely and perform the pre-screening tests which are then looked at by the optometrist.

Administrators will help practice management with the day to day running of the business deal with suppliers, help with marketing and help free up time for opticians to spend with patients. They are essential to the smooth running of any practice.

Professionals working elsewhere

After a sight test your optometrist may ask the advice of another healthcare professional.

  • Sometimes you may be referred to your GP for health tests, such as a check on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, or to screen for diabetes.
  • If you need treatment for common eye conditions, such as cataracts, you may be referred to a doctor who is a specialist in eye disease called an ophthalmologist.
  • For problems relating to the eye muscles or visual development, you may be referred to an orthoptist who also works at a hospital eye clinic.

A modern solution to a modern-day problem

Today, people are using digital devices more than ever!  According to the 2016 digital eye strain report conducted by The Vision Council, 60% of people spend more than 5 hours every day looking at a screen. Several things are causing us visual problems that have never before needed to be addressed:

Blue Light

bluecontrol-4Electronic devices emit light that can cause our eyes to fatigue. Light from the blue part of the spectrum has been most associated with visual stress and eye fatigue. As well as this, if we use these devices at night (phones, tablets, LED TVs etc.) we expose our eyes to the light that causes the body to produce cortisol (the stress hormone) and reduces the production of melatonin (the hormone that helps us wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep). This hormone disruption in the evening can really stop people from getting the full amount of deep sleep that they need each night.

Too close for comfort
The other problem that has emerged since the increase in digital device usage is that people are holding their devices closer than ever. This causes the eyes to over-accommodate (focus really, really hard) and can cause eyestrain and fatigue.

So what can you do?

bluecontrol-1The good news is there are a few easy fixes to relax your eyes. The first is to stop using digital devices 2-3 hours before you go to bed. The second is to place your device further away and take regular breaks at least once every twenty minutes. You can also replace the standard lighting in the home with a red light that won’t emit blue light or get a lamp with a bulb designed to omit the blue light.

If those fixes aren’t convenient then we have the solution!

There are several types of lenses available to help the eyes relax and coatings that block the excessive blue light from getting to the eyes. If this could be a problem that relates to you then please contact us and we’ll book you an appointment with a specialist member of the team to discuss the best optical solution for your needs.

No Time to Reflect   

With the nights already beginning to draw-in (where has 2016 gone?!), our visual demands are ever increasing and we need to make sure that our choice in eyewear can cope with these demands! One issue that patients mention is the increase in ‘glare’ when driving at night and working in artificial light. This effect can often be attributed to the increased reflections from the surfaces of the spectacle lenses. Essentially, not all of the light is allowed through to the retina (at the back of the eye) as it ‘bounces off’ the lenses of your spectacles. This can result in ‘ghost-images’ and unwanted distractions that mean your eyes have to work harder to produce the clarity needed.

Don’t worry; we can help…

Lenses can be produced with an anti-reflection coating. This allows the light that was previously being reflected to pass through the lens and onto the back of the eye giving clearer vision and reducing the stress placed on the visual-system. Also, as there are less-reflections from the lenses, aesthetically they look much nicer, giving your new specs that extra ‘wow-factor’.  Rather than seeing those unsightly reflections, people will be able to see you much more clearly.

Here at Alvaston Opticians we have the advantage of being able to act quickly and offer some of the most innovative anti-reflection coatings on the market. We take pride in being able to cater for every patient’s individual needs and focus on giving you the best vision possible. We now offer a wide range of coatings that provide UV protection and even coating that are specifically designed to block harmful light emitted by electronic devices, but more on that next time…

Call today to book an appointment with a qualified Optometrist or Dispensing Optician to discuss the best opticians available to you.