Category: Vision and Eyes


Old wives tale #2.  (I love this one!)

Wearing glasses makes your eyes worse?

If I had a dollar for every time some one asked me this question, I would have retired 20 years ago and would have lived in every tropical paradise in the world.

But, before I get carried away with the drama and the rhetoric, lets just take a deep breath and establish a few facts first. The key to finding out the truth, is to ask the right questions. Ask the right questions, and you will get to the information to establish some truth(most of the time).

Question 1.  (This one to ask yourself) Did my eyes get worse first, or did I wear glasses first?

Answer : 99% of the time, it is yes “my eyes got worse before I got spectacles”, as logic would ordinarily dictate.

Question 2. (This one also for yourself) If I don’t wear my glasses for a week or two, do my eyes get better?

Answer :  Mostly, “my eyes do get a little better, but I still have to wear my specs to see clearly.”  The reason this happens is that the muscles go back to “straining” to see more clearly, so you do see a bit better, but it is not ideal to be stressing your eyes for any length of time. It is not their natural state.

Question 3. (The real question) Why is it that my eyesight gets worse  as I get older?

Answer : Hmmm. A bit complicated. But here it goes.

As we age our muscles deteriorate, including the muscles in our eyes. This means they are less able to cope with correcting any pre-existing (usually minor) focusing errors in the eye, as well as not being able to flex enough to focus our eyes for near vision.  For anyone to see clearly up close, the eye muscles have to do some work.   So, just as it gets harder to “run” a marathon or lift heavy weights as we get older, so it is also harder to be able to focus up close as we age.

Also, the crystalline lens inside our eye tends to get harder and less flexible as we age, so is less able to “flex up” to focus at a close distance.

Question 4. Will I eventually go blind? Haha. The short answer is …..NO.  This is a near focussing issue with the eye muscles and the slight hardening of the crystalline lens, not to do with any major deterioration of the critical parts of the eye.

Here is the clincher that should put any doubts to rest.  If, as you think, your specs have made your eyesight worse, then that would mean that it would be possible to change your eyesight with glasses.

Spectacles  designed to make your eyesight better?

Clearly, that is just not possible (pun intended).

Ps. I am able to write this blog because I use spectacles to see clearly, in spite of my age.

Pps. The information is true for the vast majority of people, however, all is not known about how the eyes develop and change as we grow and age. Research is ongoing. There are some individual cases and some weird effects that do happen.  If anyone has examples, please share in the comments.


Disclaimer: This information is of a general nature and not intended to be specific advice for any one individual. As always, if you have a issue with your vision, consult a qualified Optometrist/Optician.






Losing Sight

Specs on your head? All ok

50s specsTime to bust an old wives tale, or should that be, an old Opticians tale?

Many of my colleagues in the Optical industry tell me that wearing your specs on top of your head stretches them. Well I am here to tell you that this is absolute bollocks!

Optical Fallacy #1.

“Your glasses will stretch if you wear them on top of your head.”

Most people’s heads are actually the same width from above the ears and further up.  If any individual  has a wider head above their ears it is minimal.

Now ultimately, the best place for your specs when not on your face, is in your case, however there are far worse places to store your glasses (than on your head) when not in use.  For example on the bed side table where the dog can get to them and chew them into oblivion ( had one customer whose dog actually swallowed a lens),  or in your top pocket or hooked in your shirt. Both of these situations can result in damage, either falling out (usually face down on the bitumen or gravel), or being crushed by an over affectionate friend (bear hugs and kisses). Even worse, I have had customers put them in their pants pockets, bending them almost in half when sitting down, or scratching the lenses with their keys which happen to occupy the same space. Then there is ladies hand bags. Now I have to say that most of my customers are sensible, however, when they fess up that they just put their eye-wear in the handbag (with no case) with their keys, and other paraphernalia bouncing around, again scratching their lenses, you just have to wonder what they were thinking!

So the next time an Optician tells you “Dont put them on your head because you will stretch them”, I challenge you to ask the question, “is my head any wider near the top of my head than at my ears?”.  I’d love to see their reaction.


Seeing the world as it truly is.



Fixing Kids Vision in China

IMG_2720Have you ever been to a rural province in China? Have you ever helped 3,000 kids to see, and have you ever met up with 33 international volunteers whom you have never before met to do the above?  Well, I can now say that I have.

IMG_2660Yulin is a rural city in the mid north of China. Mostly dry and sandy. The local soil is Loess, hundred+ metres thick, blown in from Mongolia centuries before, apparently, covering the entire region.  Half a million people live in this remote city in China with well over a million more in the surrounding counties.  Agriculture has been the staple in this region, however in more recent years coal and oil has brought prosperity to many, with accompanying development. Health professionals, like Optometrists or Ophthalmologists, are few and far between though, let alone spectacle shops.  Combine this with a negative cultural attitude regarding wearing specs, and the obvious visual needs, and this sets the stage for a lot of work to be done.  It is the view of many in this area that anyone wearing specs must be “defective”, so kids don’t like to wear them and parents only see their kids being dis-advantaged if they are seen to be wearing them.

IMG_2457OneSight is a charity supported by Luxottica and it’s employees to bring vision care and vision correction to those who cannot afford specs, or just do not have access to Optometrists .  Having supported OneSight for many years now, I was given the opportunity to participate in this international clinic to China. Even given that I have skills to contribute to vision care anywhere in the world, I still feel very privileged to have been chosen for the clinic team.

36 people from 10 different countries along with local volunteers and in partnership with REAP (Regional Education Action Program), examined the eyes of 3,600 students and teachers from 26 odd schools, producing onsite 3,000 pairs of spec’s. Some to be worn by students for the first time.   The reaction was at times, one of great surprise and sometimes even shock.


Hotel in the middle of nowhere.

But before we got there, we had to endure 26 hours in 4 planes and 5 airports, before we arrived at Yulin Airport, ready for another 2 hours on a bus to a hotel in the middle of nowhere. Well, not nowhere, but nowhere near anything else except the massive oil refinery.  The reason it’s there is because there is no other decent accommodation for visiting business people and VIP’s.  There reason why we were there is because it is the closest accommodation to our first school.

The first drop was easy. I needed a crow bar to get the second lid open!

The first drop was easy. I needed a crow bar to get the second lid open!

The days were filled with pretesting eyes, dilating pupils and checking their intra ocular pressures, and of course testing their vision and fitting them up for specs. Except those who ended up not needing too much correction, then we gave them “cool” (“coo” in Mandarin) sunglasses. We checked the kids eyes in this school as well as many who were bussed in from other schools in the province.

No real idea what the hell this was. A pumpkin filled with ?????

No real idea what the hell this was. A pumpkin filled with ?????

The food of which many of us were a bit wary, was to my taste, absolutely fantastic! Albeit unconventional, with pretty much the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, I have to admit that my internals hadn’t been this good for about 10 years!  Good fresh, unprocessed, fibrous food. Beans, rice, noodles, tofu, that mashed potato stuff with the green in it, and various other unknown and indescribable food stuffs. Many of which I was not game to ask what it was. Everything went down, and nothing came back up, so all good. The same can not be said for the locally brewed alcohol. Wine and spirits, I can say they do not do well. Just as well the beer was ok, and later on we found some JW scotch at a (believe or not) 711 in Yulin.

It's just a "weed".

It’s just a “weed”.

Interesting sights along the roads we saw. Oil refinery, wind farms, solar farms, all next to each other, and a “billion” or so coal trucks. Oh and then there was the small fields of hemp growing adjacent the road.  Not sure if it is legal here but no one seems to be concerned about it.  Saw some “weed” growing on the footpath about 50 metres from the hotel. Very interesting, and I did not take the suggestion at the time to pocket a sample.

Working with a bunch of people from all over the world with similar skills and the same passion for helping people to see, is a quite extra-ordinary feeling.  Different cultures, different languages, and different personalities, would normally be a recipe for conflict and division, but here in mid north China, I see nothing but care, commitment for the job at hand, and a bit of fun thrown in to keep things enjoyable. Makes for an amazing experience.

IMG_2663Then there was shopping. Oh my. The locals of which some I am sure had never seen a European person before, were very surprised and entertained by our appearance and by our definite lack of language skills, in particular when I attempted to actually pronounce something in Mandarin.  Many of the shop keepers even got photo’s with us. We were like rock stars! Every where we went we attracted a crowd with many getting a sneaky phone pic, and occasionally some of the more brave locals asked for a photo with us. So cool. We felt very special in China. Funny, that when I was finally back in Sydney airport, I felt a little ordinary. Just one more Caucasian in a land of many.

IMG_2232NOTE : REAP (Rural Education Action Program) is a part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences which conducts social policy experiments to improve educational outcomes. This project, of which we are a part, is designed to measure the impact of proper vision on school outcomes.  55% of the students in the study have imperfect vision. Only 20% of those students currently have glasses. Some of which are not correctly prescribed.  The control group will receive their prescribed specs about 1 semester after the rest of the students.

For further reading : Onesight Yulin blog, and if you want to get involved in helping people see, go to  OneSight for Australia, or OneSight for the rest of the world.


CaptureThis week I will be travelling to a country I have never been to, with a bunch of people I have never met, attempting to speak a language I have never spoken, to give the gift of sight to many in need. Totally Awesome!

A close friend of mine used to say (and probably still does), “do what you fear most” as his best attempt at personal philosophy.  Not sure if this is what I fear most, but it does qualify as an “unknown” carrying a certain element of apprehension (or fear). So off I go flying into the blue yonda farther north than I have ever been before.

OneSight has given me the opportunity to join a team of volunteers going to China.   We will be checking the eye health and vision requirements of 3,500 locals who do not have good access to vision care and spectacles.

I have been working in the vision industry in various capacities, for more years that I care to mention (3 decades?), and have travelled an interesting journey working in 4 states and one territory in Australia, personally helping thousands to see, and to look pretty good too, in spite of the fact that wearing specs used to be a fashion faux pas. Even more so I have (hopefully) coached and inspired many others to do the same.

Anyway, this is just one of the ways I can give back to my extended community.  Just a little thankyou for existing in this wonderful world and in this fantastic time and space. Thankyou OneSight for the work that you do. I am proud to be associated with this great organisation.  If anyone wants to help out or get involved with Onesight (particularly in Adelaide), drop me a note, or get in touch with Onesight through the Website.


Ps. A little known fact is that the most common form of blindness in the world is just a lack of glasses. So I hope to help fix this. Simple really. Most things usually are.


skullHow cool is this.  His eyes are blue. Really!

The color of the eyes and hair of ancestors dead for hundreds of years can now be revealed from their DNA alone, researchers say.

These findings suggest investigators not only can uncover new details from centuries-old human remains, but can also help identify crime victims, scientists added.

By comparing genomes across thousands of people, researchers identified genetic variations at 24 different points in the human genome that are linked with eye and hair colors, which past studies used to help determine theappearance of people who had died relatively recently. Now a team of researchers from Poland and the Netherlands have developed this system further to reveal the appearance of people long dead.

Read the rest


I understand vision, but I soooo don’t understand what I am seeing!    Got this from my new favourite FB page. “I fucking love science“.

4 perfectly round circles

I am fortunate to have been selected to join a team to help some of our fellow Australians who have limited access to health services.  One Vision is a program designed to support Australians mostly in remote locations with vision screening, eye testing (from Optometrists) and the supply of spectacles. 

OneSight is a global organisation of which Australians are a part of, supporting eye care and the supply of spectacles to those who have limited access to these services which we take for granted.  The most common form of vision impairment in the world today, is simply a lack of vision correction. Ie “spectacles”. Such a simple thing that many do not have access to.

OneSight needs millions of pairs of spectacles donated each year to support the demand globally. Since 1991 OneSight has helped 3.5 million people with their vision needs.

I am proud to be able to help some of the communities in outback Queensland.  To find out more, see OneSight.

Trippy Beans


Thanks to Mighty Optical Illusions



Ever wonder what your Optometrist does in their spare time?