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Scottish Executive announces Free Eye examinations for everyone in Scotland (click for more info)

From 1 April 2006 the Scottish Executive has announced a new contract with Optometrists which will see soe significant changes in how eyecare is provided in Scotland.  Everyone will now be entitled to a free eye examination, irrespective of age, ocular history or income.


Inca Trek for local student

We were delighted to sponsor Catherine Redgate, a local student who wanted to take part in a trek in the Andes in aid of the local Highland Hospice.  Read about her journey here.




Half a million unaware they have diabetes?

The Healthcare Commission today published a study which suggests that half a million people in the UK may be unaware that they have diabetes, and that less than 50% of diagnosed people in England are receiving regular eye examinations, putting them at risk of going blind.

For more about this report, see the Healthcare Commission website.

We participate in NHS Highland's Diabetic Retinal screening programme which means that any of our patients referred to us by their GP's receive annual retinal screening to detect any changes induced by their condition so they can be referred for appropriate treatment.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - "wonky" chocolate!

Anyone who has seen the most recent version of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" starring Johnny Depp will no doubt have marvelled at the amount of liquid chocolate needed to make the film.

But looks are deceiving, as the "chocolate" is in fact a concoction made by a contact lens solution company called Vickers Laboratories.  The concoction is a formula of hydroxyethyl cellulose, organic pigments and the food grade biocide (if that means anything to you!), and apparently tastes nothing like chocolate - more like water according to the chief executive Julian Driver.  1.25 million litres of chocolate mixture were used in the making of the film.  The company have also made fake blood for the films Band of Brothers and Troy




Optomap® - retinal imaging system

Hot on the heels of the new GDx instrument, we now have only the fourth Optomap® retinal imaging system in Scotland.  Optomap® allows us an unprecedented view of the retina with no drops needed to dilate the pupil.  Click for more....


GDx - the very best glaucoma screening available

We now have the very first instrument of its kind installed in Scotland for early diagnosis of glaucoma, a sight threatening condition which if caught early can be treated. Click for more.....


Shades Day 2005 - help raise funds for Guide Dogs

COMPETITION CLOSED END JULY 2005 - thank to all who entered.  £20.05 raised for Guide dogs.

We are participating in the shades for a day fundraising/awareness day run by the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity this month.


NEW rimless clip-on Invisa-Lites from Hilco

These are designed with the modern smaller more delicate frame in mind, particularly suitable for rimless frames.  They have the advantage of strong polycarbonate, anti-reflection hard coated lenses.  Only £22.95, they come in a range of sizes and shapes to suit many different frames.  Pop in and have a look at these new sun clips.



NEW frames in stock

Qube, the latest range of ladies plastic contemporary frames from Mirage Eyewear, are made from light acetate, and come in a range of bright modern colours, and are highly suitable for today's young female. 



NEW frames in stock

We have just taken delivery of some new additions to the very popular Bebe range, a very contemporary look in plastic or metal for the younger female.

Also new to us are Norville's Collection frames, in a range of styles suitable for the guys or girls of all ages. 

Call in and ask to see either of these NEW ranges.


25.1.05  Happy Burn's Day to one and all!


Netline Frames - from £59.95 complete with single vision lenses

These economy frames come in a wide range of styles to suit all ages and both sexes.  They start at only £59.95 for single vision, £79.95 for bifocal and £99.95 for budget progressive lenses. 

We knew when they came in that they were good quality and would have wide appeal, but they're proving even more popular than we imagined.

Going on holiday soon?

Come in and check out all you need for a safe and fun holiday, from sunglasses (off the peg, prescription or clip ons) to binoculars and smart cases to keep your spectacles safe from sand and feet! 

Liable to forget when your appointment is?

We have recently decided to phone patients the day before their appointment as a courtesy service so they don't forget to come and see us.  We hope you find this useful.

NEW Speedo swimming goggles now available, in minus prescriptions only at present.  However, we are sourcing more from another supplier that appear to cover plus prescriptions as well, so check back soon for more info....

The Speedo goggles are £34.95 with prescription lenses.  You can have different prescriptions for each eye.  Call in for more details.

NEW Silhouette ladies plastic frames in stock

We have recently taken delivery of a new range of ladies plastic frames, high quality and lightweight, they are made from SPX, a light but very strong material that takes colour superbly.  For the lady who wants that extra special quality frame....come in and we'll be happy to show you.

Colour Vision - New books to show the true effects

It's very easy to test someone's colour vision and make a diagnosis of defective colour vision.  However, to illustrate to a sufferer of defective colour vision or the parents of a colour defective child the practical effects on the vision is rather more complicated.

We have two books newly arrived which illustrate the effects of colour vision deficiency in a most practical way.  These are:

bulletColour Blindness* - Causes and Effects, by Donald McIntyre
bulletEffects of Colour Blindness*, by Spalding  & Arden

We are happy to lend these books out to any of our patients for a couple of days.  Please enquire at reception when you're next passing.

* Sorry for being a bit PC here but the correct term is colour vision deficiency, as true colour blindness - achromatopsia - is very rare.

NEW Harry Potter frames in stock today!

See our 18 new Harry Potter frames, each of which comes complete with its own extremely nice and tasteful case with Harry Potter on display.  £45 in addition to the NHS Voucher value, single glazing included.  

Read my acount of work experience"Through my eyes" by Catriona Macdonald

Read our recent Thurso High School work experience student Catriona Macdonald's view of work experience in our practice.

Came all this way and didn't see the eclipse?

The weather sadly let down the many people who braved the early morning to go to Dunnet Head and many other Far North locations to witness the eclipse, but we'd like to say to all of you who visited especially from far afield - don't leave it until the next eclipse to come back and visit us here in Caithness!  This is a busier place than many think and the local community website has vast amounts of information about the area so you can't fail to want to come back.  They also have some lovely photographs of the eclipse taken at Strathy. 

And don't forget, if you need sunglasses, binoculars, magnifiers or any other eyewear then you know where to come on your next visit.

New Visual Field Screener

We have taken delivery of a new piece of equipment designed to check your visual field.  This simple to operate system allows our support staff to carry out pre eye examination checks with the results printed out and given to our Optometrist to interpret and discuss with you.  It is a very accurate system which supplements the DVLA approved visual field screener many of you may already be familiar with.

Eye examinations for young

Children’s eyesight could be at risk after a survey showed that more than 60 per cent of parents are unaware how often their vision should be checked. Research by the Royal Institute for the Blind Scotland has found that 61 per cent of parents do not realise eye tests should be done every year. RNIB Scotland say all children under 16 should have an annual eye test.
The Scotsman 27/05/03; p.5

Laser eye surgery lawsuits double

The growth of laser eye surgery could lead to an increase in litigation against eye specialists, doctors’ groups said yesterday (26/05/03). The Medical Defence Union (MDU), the UK’s largest insurer for doctors, revealed that lawsuits over the technique have more than doubled in the past six years. The MDU said many claims were due to patients’ “unrealistic expectations" as a result of exaggerated benefits and a higher failure rate than acknowledged by many clinics.
The Independent 27/05/03; p.4

More information about laser surgery

Visionace® multivitamin tablets may help eye health

We have just taken stock of some supplies of multivitamin tablets called Visionace®  particularly recommended if you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration or cataracts. The product manufacturers claim the following reasons for its helpful properties:

"Antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C, E and natural mixed carotenoids also help prevent oxidative stress, which is a leading mechanism of ageing of eye tissues. Both the retina and lens are believed to be at risk of oxidation from free radicals. These are produced by many factors including sunlight or cigarette smoke. Our in-built repair mechanisms which fight such free radical damage become progressively less effective as we get older, and for a significant minority, these signs of ageing lead to degeneration of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for detailed vision. Cloudiness or fogging of the eye lens is also thought to mediated by free radical damage. The antioxidants in Visionace® help to prevent oxidation, and may therefore be beneficial to eye health."

£6.95 for a 30 day supply.

Smart eggs could hold key to healthy eating

“Smart eggs" produced by hens fed a special diet that includes tuna oil go on sale next week. The eggs contain an ingredient called DHA that helps to maintain healthy brain and eye structure. Stonegate Farms, the producer, said two eggs a day could provide the correct amount of long-chain fatty acids recommended by the Food Standards Agency.
The Independent 15/05/03; p.9



"Watching" the eclipse the safe way

We have been asked if we are stocking any special glasses or filters so people can watch the forthcoming eclipse on 31 May in the early hours.  The eclipse is apparently to be best viewed from along the north coast of Scotland where we are.

Having done some research we have to say that watching the eclipse is NOT something we recommend you do directly as unless you have specialist well fitting equipment there is still a chance you could damage your eyesight.  But there are ways round this and if you want to read more, see our guide which is based on a leaflet issued by the RNIB for the 1999 eclipse.

Of course, knowing the fickle nature of our weather maybe none of us will see anything!

Safe and happy eclipse-observing..... 

New-Look Newsletter out this week

This week sees the launch of our new more personalised newsletter "Eye on the News" which we will be sending out with this month's reminder letters.  The newsletter is full of items of general and specific interest giving latest offers, information about NHS fraud, the website, recycling old spectacles and lots more. If you are not yet due to have an eye examination but would like a copy of the newsletter just call into the practice or drop us an email with your name and address and we'll be happy to post one out to you.

Diabetics’ magic eye  

Diabetics could soon be able to check their blood sugar level simply by looking in a mirror, according to scientists. US researchers are working on a contact lens containing a chemical sensor that measures glucose in the blood, and changes colour if levels are heading for the danger zone. The lens is being created at the University of Pittsburgh and is able to detect glucose in human tears.
Daily Mail 25/04/03; p.11

NEW to us this week!  Designer eyewear from £169.95 including lenses

Kenneth Cole New York
Kenneth Cole collection from £169.95 with lenses.....come in and see for yourselfRenowned American designer, Kenneth Cole adds a twist of excitement to eyes with the UK launch of this new eyewear collection. Easy to wear, it appeals to men and women who know their designer brands and want style but not a heavy price tag.

Worn by the rich and famous – Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brad Pitt, Meg Ryan and Hallé Berry – Kenneth Cole is a well known, diverse fashion label, encompassing clothing, bags, belts, watches, fragrances and of course, eyewear and sunglasses.
Mixing modern sophistication with classic chic, the collection brings sleek rimless shapes with almost floating lenses, under fine coloured brows. There are also bold, rimless metals, semi-geometrical shapes, confident two-tone plastics and seriously chic tortoiseshell looks.
Photograph by Norville Group

Record number of web visits for March

So far this month, we have had 879 visits to the site, beating previous months' totals.  We hope that those of you who take time to visit our website find it useful and informative.  If you have any comments or suggestions for items you would like to be included, let us know and we'll see what we can do!

Contact lenses treatment hope

Scientists in the US say contact lenses could be used to deliver drugs to treat eye diseases and correct vision problems. The researchers, from the University of Florida, have been able to encapsulate drugs in nanoparticles, which are mixed into the contact lens matrix during manufacture. The drugs move into the film between the cornea and the lens and remain there for much longer than drugs delivered in drops.
BBC News Online 24/03/03

EconomyLine spectaclesEconomy Line frames

We have a range of budget spectacles called EconomyLine which now come with hard coated plastic lenses included in the price.  Prices are from £59.95 for single vision, from £89.95 for bifocal and from £99.95 for Progressive Start 2 lenses.

Need a spare pair of spectacles?

New "Ideals" Two for One offer may be just the answer!

We have now taken in new stock for the latest two for one offer from Norville.  From a range of six frames which come in different colour ways, you can have two complete pairs of spectacles with identical prescriptions made up for the price of one pair.

Ideals Two for One offer

Single vision (2 pairs) £99.95
Bifocals (2 pairs) £149.95
Varifocals (2 pairs) £174.95
The offer is for two pairs of spectacles to the same prescription e.g. two single vision, two varifocal or two bifocals, with coated clear plastic lenses.  Bifocals are D25 or D28, varifocals are image progressive.  You can choose to have the same prescription in two different frames, however.

This offer is subject to availability and may be varied without notice by our suppliers.  We will let you know as soon as there is an impending change.


daysoft® uv one-day contact lenses increase their power.....

Provis have announced that they are extending the range of powers of its daysoft ® uv one-day contact lenses.  The full range is now from -12.50 D to +7.00 D.  Many of our existing patients use these disposable lenses but this news means potentially more people can take advantage of these popular lenses.   

New hearing induction loop installed 

If you have a hearing aid then you might be interested to know that we have just had a mains powered hearing induction loop installed a the reception counter, to make life easier for those with hearing loss.

The system, supplied by Mini Loop Systems Limited, has a range of 1m which means you can rest assured that if you are discussing personal details with our receptionist they will not be heard by other hearing aid users outwith the 1m zone.  Just switch your hearing aid to the T position when you come up to the desk.

We hope this added facility makes a visit to our practice easier and more relaxed.  Let us know what you think.

New Sunglasses - for kids and older kids!

We have just taken delivery of a new consignment of brilliant value sunglasses.  All the new ones are suitable for bright sunlight and block out the harmful UV light - important for young and old eyes alike.  Costing £9.95 each they come in a great range of today's styles.  Come in and have a look - make sure you choose the "3" rated new styles if you want full sun protection.

Caithness Deafcare and Highland Vision Services join forces

Caithness Deaf Care are joining forces with Highland Vision Services in the near future to provide a "One-Stop-Shop" for people with visual and hearing impairments,  our premises at Harbour Terrace is being renovated to make it more user friendly and advise and equipment will be available for anyone with any degree of sight or hearing loss.  We'll post more details when this venture takes place.

Breakthrough in diabetic treatment

US scientists say a drug used to treat back pain may also prevent blindness in diabetes patients, and reduce their need for amputations. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York say benfotiamine stops cell damage caused by excess glucose. The drug has been licensed for use in Germany for 10 years, where it is prescribed for sciatica and other painful nerve conditions.
BBC News Online 18/02/03

Risk of eye procedure “played down"

Patients undergoing laser eye surgery are not being told about the possible risks to their sight, according to Which? magazine. Around 100,000 people have corrective laser eye surgery in the UK every year, but a Which? investigation shows that not only can any doctor can carry out the treatment without specialist qualification but some practitioners say the procedure carries no risk at all. The Medical Defence Union and the Medical Protection Society are raising the fees they charge doctors working in this field because of increased compensation claims by patients.
BBC News Online 11/02/03

Our Comments:

If you are considering laser surgery, we would recommend that you read our information leaflet on the subject before going ahead, as well as finding out about the Centre you are thinking of going to.

Message from Guide Dogs UK Association:

Shades for a Day 15 July 2003

For the third year, we'll be asking kids and adults alike to wear their sunglasses and pay £1 to "look cool for Guide Dogs". Everyone can take part – schools, offices, leisure clubs – and help to raise money next summer.
As well as raising money and being great fun, Shades for a Day, gets across vital messages about taking care of your eyes in the sun.
Visit  to be a part of it!

Doctors claim eye treatment breakthrough

Doctors in Singapore have made what they call a “groundbreaking" achievement in growing conjunctival cells. Donald Tan, of the Singapore Eye Research Institute, says, “We think we are the first to grow conjunctival cells specifically to use them for clinical transplantations."

The institute says it carried out the first successful conjunctival stem cell transplant in October 2001, and that 22 patients suffering from pterygium have since received transplants, all of which have been successful.
ABC Online 30/01/03 (courtesy of NetDoctor News)

Food to change colour to protect eyes

Salmon is to be made less pink and egg yolks less yellow under new EU rules to protect people’s eyesight. Salmon and chicken farmers must use less canthaxanthin, an additive used for cosmetic purposes in fish and poultry feed. Research has linked its use to eyesight problems.
The Times 28/01/03; p.4

Considering laser surgery?

In response to patients' questions on this subject, we have produced an information sheet with points to consider if you are thinking about having the procedure done.  Follow this link to read more...

Look of light rimless frames from only £174.95 complete

"Open your eyes to possibly the lightest pair of spectacles you will ever wear" say Rodenstock, who have a range of rimless spectacles which we now have on offer at our Thurso practice.

Complete rimless spectacles with mid-index, anti-reflection hard coated lenses and a hard case.  Prices include VAT.

bulletSingle vision spectacles (Cosmolit 1.6 aspheric)...........£174.95
bulletBifocal spectacles (S28 1.56 Flat top).............................£224.95
bulletVarifocal spectacles*.....................................................£249.95

(*Progressiv life XS Perfalit 1.6 or Progressiv AV Perfalit 1.6) 

Magnifiers prove to be a big hit on website!

One of the most visited areas of our site, apart from the section on VDU usage, is the information on magnifiers.  It seems that many people need bigger images.  If you're one of them, make sure you check out our magnifier pages.  Whether you are a jeweller, student, teacher, college tutor, medical technician, stamp collector or other hobbyist, you will be surprised by our range of image increasers.  We can supply by post if that's easier for you.  

If you're interested in magnifiers, contact the practice and ask for Carole.

Eye aid restricted

The Royal National Institute for the Blind claims 2,500 people a year with age-related macular degeneration, the commonest cause of blindness in older people, will be denied sight-saving treatment because The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has limited aid to the 5,000 most needy patients.
The Times 17/01/03; p.4
(courtesy of NetDoctor News)

Thinnest lens ever launched by Seiko for 2003

January 2003 sees the launch of the thinnest, lightest, resin lens in the world without compromising optics. The SPG 1.74 bi-aspheric is the latest offering from Seiko.

Some 50% thinner and 40% lighter than CR39, it is also 10% thinner than the front surface only aspherics, according to UK distributors Norville.

Eye protein promises good night’s sleep

An eye protein that plays a key role in dilating the pupil has been identified by scientists who promise new methods of treating jet lag and other sleep disorders. Researchers in the UK and the US found that melanopsin, a protein found in a small number of cells in the retina, determines the eye’s response to light, one of the crucial factors that sets the body’s internal clock. The findings, published in the journal Science, suggest that along with rods and cones, the retinal cells that govern vision, a third light detection system is at work, exerting a major influence over wakefulness and alertness.
The Times 10/01/03; p.13

Goodbye and thanks to Deirdre!

Today sees our receptionist Deirdre's last day in the practice.  She is stepping down to do other things from today, and we wish her well on behalf of all the staff and patients. Deirdre has been with us for many years and has built up a good rapport with patients, not to mention keeping us in order!

On behalf of us all, thanks and enjoy your new life, whatever direction it takes, Deirdre!

Our new receptionist will be starting after the New Year when we will tell you who she is and a bit about her!  Watch this space....

Christmas window displays 2002
Young visually impaired in the Highlands? 

View Point Highlands

Young visually impaired people in the Highlands now have a new and additional initiative to support them.  Its aim is to encourage them to identify and challenge barriers that they encounter while growing up and to network and support each other.

This initiative has been funded under the Scottish Executive's Innovation Grants Programme.  The bid for funding was made jointly by the Highland Society for Blind People and Highland Council's Education Visions Support Service. 

For more information, contact:

Scott Rae, Youth Worker, Highland Society for Blind People, 38 Ardconnel Street, Inverness, IV2 3EX  Tel 01463 233663    e-mail scottlistens2urviews@hotmail 

(Information supplied by CHIP - Children in the Highland Information Point, Birnie Child Development Centre, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, 01463 711189)

Charity's plea over school eye-test cuts

A leading charity has renewed its calls for more eye tests for school-age children, after an independent report recommended that the practice should be scaled down. Tests are currently available to all youngsters both before they start school and between the ages of seven and 11. But an independent report for the Department of Health by the UK National Screening Committee has suggested that youngsters should only be tested when they begin primary school. The Royal National Institute for the Blind said it was concerned at the proposals, especially after finding last year that one in five children could have undetected poor eyesight.
The Birmingham Post 09/12/02; p.7

Wearing contact lenses 'increases pulling power by 400%'

Research suggests that wearing contact lenses instead of glasses increases your pulling power by 400%.

University of Warwick psychology researcher Dr June McNicholas says her research indicates that the saying "men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" has a ring of truth. ....(courtesy of NetDoctor News)
Guide Dogs pin badges raise £50!

Thanks to those patients who bought the lovely Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's sunglasses pin badges, a total of £47.45 was put into the collection box for the Association.   We have rounded this up to £50 and the cheque is winging its way to the Guide Dogs.  Your contribution is much appreciated.

Change to Limited Company from 1 October 2002 

Please note that from Tuesday 1 October 2002 our practice will become a limited company, G A Henderson (Thurso) Ltd, company number SC201018, registered in Scotland.  This is a legal alteration but will not affect our operations or staffing.  To the untrained eye nothing will have changed!

Any legal or financial documents from this date will be assigned to the limited company and its own bank account, details of which can be supplied to other businesses with whom we trade, or to customers who wish to pay directly into our bank account.  A new cheque stamp bearing the title "G A Henderson (Thurso) Ltd" will be available to make the change easy for our patients wishing to pay this way.

If you have any questions about this change, or how it may affect you, please call into the practice and ask to speak to Carole.

infocus Eyecare Newsletter now available to patients

A good read......Our most recent eyecare newsletter infocus is now available and will be sent out with the regular recall letters over the coming weeks.  Copies are also available in the practice.  If you would like a copy meantime, either check out the Newsletter page here or for a full colour paper version, email us and we're send one to you with our compliments, subject to availability (UK only).

This edition looks at 


our latest frame styles,


special sports eyewear


age &vision


changing your eye colour with contact lenses.

When did YOU last have an eye examination?  National Eye Week starts 23 September 2002   Are you a driver?  Is your vision safe?

We will be featuring some interesting links and items for this awareness week this month. 


Vision Aid Overseas LogoThanks to you all from Vision Aid Overseas

We have received a letter addressed to "All the Patients at this Practice" from Tym Marsh, Director of Vision Aid Overseas.  His letter reads:


On behalf of the Chairman and Trustees of Vision Aid Overseas please accept our very sincere thanks for passing your unwanted used specs and sunglasses, via this practice, to us for recycling.

You may be interested to know that it is estimated that there are now over 200 million people in the world who simply need a pair of specs to be able to live normally, work to support their families, or receive education.  What a huge problem, but one that could be solved!

Vision Aid Oversees sends teams of skilled opticians to Third World countries to test the eyesight of needy people, and to dispense the recycled spectacles where necessary.  In spite of financing about 12 projects a year we are barely managing to scratch the surface of the problem, and as well as specs we desperately need money to finance more teams to more countries.  If you can help in this way, we will be delighted to hear from you.

Once again, thank you for your support, and keep up the good work!"


So don't forget, if you are hording any old spectacles because you can't think what to do with them, don't hesitate to drop them into our VAO box by the practice door.  You don't even have to be a patient to do this!  Thanks again.

Health Benefits of Sunglasses

The WHO (World Health Organisation) and other global groups have launched a major project aimed at reducing cataracts caused by solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation by promoting protective eyewear.  The initiative promotes protecting the eyes with wraparound design sunglasses or sunglasses with side panels to reduce the risk of the more than two million cases of blindness caused by cataracts worldwide.

Guide Dogs "Shades for a dayWoof woof woof!

The National Association "Guide Dogs for the Blind"  are having a fundraiser/awareness day on 16 July entitled "Shades for a day", where the public are being encouraged to wear sunglasses for the day.   We will be stocking the Guide Dogs' sunglasses pin badges in our practice nearer the time (available for a suggested donation of £1).

 Check the Guide Dogs website for more details.