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Getting to Know our New Optometrist – Caleb Van Cooten

caleb GSP UID 956cd489 e84d 4bc0 a285 80b2d40f58221) What brought you to Bendigo and to Kosmac and Clemens Optometrists in particular?

Raised in Melbourne, I moved to Bendigo in 2008 to commence my career in optometry. Working in Bendigo has enabled me to develop a broad range of skills in many areas of eyecare. Kosmac and Clemens is well-known as an independent optometry practice that values excellence in patient care and seemed like a great fit for me.

2) How did you become interested in optometry?

Through school, I was interested in a career in the field of healthcare. With a strong family history of short-sightedness, I was destined to be exposed to optometry as a child and I was given my first pair of glasses at 13 years of age. This began a connection with optometry that has consistently grown in ways that I would never have imagined as that child seeing the individual leaves in the trees again.

3) Where did you go to Optometry school?

I studied optometry at the University of Melbourne.

4) What do you like most about the work you do?

I love that I can care for all people from cradle to grave. Generally, I can have somebody come into my room with a problem and leave with an excellent solution; be that their first pair of reading glasses, removing a foreign body, or treating sore eye. The look on a child’s face when they first see the world through contact lenses is absolutely priceless!

5) Do you have any specialties or aspects of eyecare that you are particularly passionate about?

Being short-sighted myself, I am passionate about the developing area of myopia control – slowing the development of short-sightedness. One aspect of this is orthokeratology, which (seemingly by magic) gently reshapes the cornea using a hard contact lens that is only worn overnight, enabling clear vision throughout the day without the need for regular contact lenses or glasses.

I am also interested in children’s vision including binocular vision skills such as eye teaming and focusing as well as the management of ocular diseases such as dry eyes, glaucoma, age-related degeneration, and cataracts to name a few.

6) What designer frame line would you say most aligns with your personality, and why?

I love a frame that fits well, is well-made, distinctive and fun. Generally with a splash of colour.

7) What is your favourite piece of optometric technology and why?

That’s like asking who your favourite child is. In optometry, we are fortunate to have so many incredible technologies at our disposal. OCT scans let us image the retina with at least 100 times more detail than an MRI. My corneal topographer enables the fitting of advanced contact lenses, orthokeratology and even assessing dry eyes. However, my most used piece of technology is my trusty ugly trial frame and lens set that is fundamental to ensuring excellent vision for each patient.

8) What interests or excites you the most in the field of optometry?

I love fixing people’s eye problems and also preventing them if possible. Our eyes are so precious to us and keeping them at their best makes a huge difference to people’s quality of life.

9) What trends do you see developing over the next several years in the industry and how do you stay ahead of them?

Myopia management, orthokeratology and dry eye management are currently developing at a rapid pace. I also can’t wait for the day that visual field tests and vision therapy are performed with a set of eye-tracking virtual reality goggles. I think that artificial intelligence and machine learning will become part of the fabric of optometric practice. The COVID pandemic has pushed much of our professional education online and this has opened up opportunities to keep up with the latest developments in our field from experts across the world.

10) Please share a patient experience that stands out in your mind?

I recently had a young patient who came to see me for a second opinion, having been discouraged from wearing her glasses too often and also struggling with deteriorating blurred vision. Her short-sightedness had increased and after discussing her options I fitted her with orthokeratology lenses; which were very successful. Later on, she informed me that she had been becoming quite depressed about her vision and being fitted with orthokeratology was a life-changing moment for her.

11) What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love spending time with my wife and three young children. I play hockey and I could talk to you for hours about my 3D printer if you’re not careful.

Doing Your Bit for the Environment. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

What are the options for Spectacles and Lenses?

The mere fact that many millions of people globally wear spectacles, particularly in developed nations where strong marketing pressure encourages consumers to regularly turnover spectacles for fashion reasons, has caused an ethical dilemma; what do we do with them when we no longer want them? Will they create endless mountains of landfill, or can they be recycled ethically and sustainably?

Donating to Charity

It may be simple to suggest that unwanted spectacles be donated to various charities that can sort and distribute the spectacles appropriately to regions where they are most needed. Indeed, the Lions Club via partnerships with other organisations have been doing just that for many decades, distributing glasses to nations in Africa, South America and the sub-continent. Whilst this is a well-intentioned initiative, one published study has shown that only 7% of donated glasses were useable, and at double the cost of providing new glasses in these regions. This is due to several factors that include the cost of sorting, cleaning and delivering the spectacles. Spectacle prescriptions have to match the end user, and because of the many combinations of prescription available, this becomes a “needle-in-the haystack” proposition. Nonetheless, the Lions Club claims to recycle about 37% of all its donations, and many optical outlets, including Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists, accept donations on behalf of the Lions Club

Your Choice of Spectacles

Perhaps the ultimate solution to reducing waste should be centred around prevention rather than cure, by choosing your spectacles wisely in the beginning. Despite the higher initial cost, quality frames will endure wear & tear for many years, meaning that lenses may be upgraded into them, saving money and waste in the long run. Also choosing frames with a more enduring and classic styling that take much longer to appear dated, negating the need to upgrade spectacles regularly on fashion grounds.

Good Care So They Last Longer

Taking good care of your spectacles will also reduce wear & tear. Strategies like keeping spectacles in their case when not in use, cleaning lenses with the recommended cloths & cleaners, and not wearing glasses on a chain where they can be exposed to physical damage, are all helpful strategies in prolonging the useful life of your spectacles.

Consider Repairing Versus Replacement

How about repairing spectacles when possible? Often frames require minor repairs to render them useful again, extending their life and reducing the burden on landfills.


What about materials recycling? The options for recycling in this way are fairly limited, however choosing frames made out of aluminium or stainless steel for instance, can easily be recycled at your local municipal refuse centre.

There are many strategies available for reusing and recycling spectacles. Educating consumers on what they can do, with particular emphasis on encouraging behavioural change in entrenched consumerist thinking, will lead to the greatest results. Whilst challenging, this is both good for the health of our planet, and a rewarding outcome for the eye care industry.

Print Your Own Contact Lenses

We are now moving into the era of smart contact lenses. Not only can they be 3D printed they are going digital!

General benefits of contact lenses

Contact lenses provide an alternative to glasses to allow people to see clearly without having to wear frames and lenses. They are particularly useful in sport and provide better vision in some conditions like keratoconus.

The future is here

Recently however, they have been developed to monitor various conditions in people who are particularly non-compliant or have fluctuating levels of key compounds and their doctor cannot get a true representation of their health. The contact lenses have been augmented with a wireless chip and a tiny antenna that is “thinner than a human hair” to transmit the data to an external device. This allows the doctor to monitor conditions like:

  1. sugar levels in diabetics
  2. lactic acid in heart failure, liver disease and lung disease
  3. lacryglobin in certain cancers
  4. glaucoma by measuring the pressure in the eye using a technology called Triggerfish (developed by Sensimed)

Printed Contact Lenses

For more information contact Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists.


What is Retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is an extremely rare form of cancer of the immature cells of the retina, therefore almost exclusively targeting young children. Although life threatening, most children survive the cancer, however because most cases of the disease are discovered at an advanced stage, the treatment is devastating, necessitating the removal of the affected eye or eyes. In the latter case, this obviously means lifelong blindness. In less severe cases, chemotherapy may be used in an attempt to preserve eye sight.

What Causes Retinoblastoma?

It is believed to be caused by gene mutations and may occur in one or both eyes.

How Common is Retinoblastoma?

Worldwide incidence is thought to affect one person in every 18,000 – 30,000.

How Serious is Retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is extremely serious and constitutes a medical emergency. It is life threatening as it can spread fast down the optic nerve to the brain.

How Can You Check If You Have Retinoblastoma?

An eye care practitioner, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can detect the disease by examining the internal structures of the eye through the pupil, however there are some obvious signs that may be visible to a doctor, and even a parent.

What Are Some Symptoms Your Child May Have Retinoblastoma?

The appearance of a white pupil (leukocoria), or a recently turned eye, are both signs that may indicate the presence of Retinoblastoma. Because the affected children are quite young, often symptoms are not easily reported, however the main one is reduced vision, and in some cases a red irritated eye where intra-ocular pressure has been raised by the tumour.

Early detection for all eye diseases is recommended

True or False? Five Common Myths About Your Eyes

There are loads of myths relating to eyes and eyesight, these five are the most commonly encountered in the consulting room.

Eating carrots is good for your eyes

This is for the most part true. Carrots contain Carotenoid Pigments that are beneficial in reducing the risk of certain cancers and eye disease such as Macular Degeneration. One particular carotenoid, Beta-Carotene, is converted to Vitamin A. While this is a requirement for good eye health, it’s important to know that it is a fat soluble vitamin and can be toxic in high doses. Fortunately eating large quantities of carrots is unlikely to give you a Vitamin A overdose because Beta-Carotene is not converted rapidly enough to toxic levels. In any event, consuming large amounts is also not likely to be any more beneficial than a balanced healthy diet. It’s good to know that Carotenoids can also be found in many other intensely coloured fruits and vegetables, which are therefore also good for your eyes.

Wearing glasses will weaken or damage your eyes

There is some debate amongst academics and clinicians about how strong to make a pair of glasses for a young child going through their developmental period, however, for the general population this myth is incorrect. Glasses or contact lenses correct refractive errors (this means that glasses will bend the light entering the eye so that it falls in sharp focus on the sensitive retina). Just like the film in an old camera, a poorly focused image will result in a blurry photo. Similarly, a sharply focused image on the retina will be perceived as clear by your brain (providing there is no eye disease present). Choosing not to wear glasses will simply just render your world blurry and will have no other effect. So, wearing your glasses, not wearing your glasses, or wearing someone else’s glasses (however this option might give you a headache), will not ruin your eye health or sight.

Staring at the sun can damage your eye sight

This is absolutely true, and we have personally seen in our clinics permanent damage sustained to the retina from Solar Eclipse viewing. The sun’s radiation intensity varies throughout the day, so the amount of time required to damage the retina will also vary, but guessing how long that might be is fraught with danger. There is also a common belief that viewing the sun with sunglasses or filters is safe, however this is also a myth, as filters cause the pupils to dilate, allowing even more of the sun’s harmful radiation to enter the eye. Most sunglasses are not designed to filter out harmful radiant wavelengths responsible for this type of damage, thus providing nothing more than a false sense of security. When purchasing sunglasses always look for the Australian Standards sticker stating the level of UV protection. There are several levels of protection offered and this will be indicated on the sticker or tag. This is your assurance that the sunglasses are compliant with the laws and will protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, in the conditions that you wish to wear them.

Sitting too close to the TV and computer screen damages your eyes

There is little truth to this, however staring at screens can cause symptoms of eye strain and discomfort that diminish with ceasing of the activity. The causes of these symptoms include excessive prolonged focusing, inappropriate screen brightness and contrast, and eye dryness due to staring with a reduced blink frequency. There is also no evidence to support the theory that radiation emitted from screens, including light from the blue spectrum, is at a high enough intensity to cause any form of eye damage.

Crossing your eyes can cause them to be permanently cross-eyed

The causes of permanently “turned” eyes are many and include uncorrected refractive errors (particularly “long-sightedness”), disease (eg. Thyroid condition), head trauma causing damage to the cranial nerves, and brain compression from an aneurysm or tumour. In a normal healthy person, the extra-ocular muscles function normally and allow for a variety of eye gaze positions, including extreme convergence (going “cross-eyed”), that are completely reversible. These muscles do not spasm into a permanent position, and are commanded back into position by the cranial nerves that communicate to them. If you have any worries about your eye health then consult with your optometrist.

What Eye Drops Are Best For My Eyes?

Are you suffering from red, irritated and scratchy eyes? Do you feel like you have something stuck in your eyes? These are hallmark symptoms of dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes are not properly lubricated due to insufficient tear production, blocked glands, or unbalanced tear composition.

The symptoms can be so unpleasant that many rush to the nearest pharmacy to find the perfect eye drops that will offer them the relief they need so that they can get back to focusing on other things.

However, seeking the ideal artificial tears to relieve dry eyes can be a daunting process. The eye drops shelf at the drug store offers so many options that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. What’s more, some can actually make your symptoms worse.

Not all eye drops are created equal—currently, there are 6 main categories of artificial tears available over the counter. Choosing the artificial tears based on your specific needs can help narrow your options.

The 6 Types of Eye Drops / Artificial Tears

Preserved Artificial Tears

Preserved artificial tears contain added preservatives to maintain a very long shelf and keep bacteria at bay once the bottle is opened. Unfortunately, it also causes inflammatory dry eye disease, meibomian gland dysfunction and an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive, leading to redness, irritation and inflammation. While these drops may offer temporary relief, long term they can do more harm than good. Moreover, the preservatives may leave residue on contact lenses. 

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are great for contact lens wearers as they don’t cause any preservative build-up on the lenses. They are also suitable for those with sensitive eyes since they contain fewer ingredients that can cause irritation. 

Preservative-free eye drops typically come in a box of 28 to 30 small vials that fit in a pocket or purse. 

To use these drops, just pop the top off and insert the drops into your eyes. Some of these vials can be re-capped to allow you to continue to use the vial for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Refrigerate opened vials between uses to prevent any bacterial growth.

Oil-Based Artificial Tears

Oil-based tears come in preserved and preservative-free versions. These are thicker than traditional eye drops, as they contain an oil-based formulation. The oil helps prevent the watery portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly. 

If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, oil-based artificial tears may be a great option. However, they’re not recommended for contact lens wearers, as the oils may stick to the surface of the lenses, making it difficult to keep them clean.

Eye Drop Spray or Mist

These sprays are preservative-free and are used to relieve dryness and irritation in both the eyes and eyelids. They’re easy to use, especially for those who struggle to insert drops into their eyes.

To use the spray, just close your eyes and spray onto your closed eyelids. Once you blink, the tears will slide into your eyes. 

Don’t use the spray if you’re wearing makeup, lotions, or creams on your eyelids, as it can cause the makeup or lotion to enter your eye.

Artificial Tear Gel

Artificial tear gel adds a thick coating of tears and can be used at any time of the day or night. However, the thicker consistency of the gel drop may blur your vision for several minutes. 

The gel is applied in the same way as eye drops. It effectively soothes the eyes and provides extended relief for both moderate to severe dry eye.

Most artificial tear gels contain preservatives, so they can only be used up to 4 times a day, and usually they are not safe for contact lens wearers.

Artificial Tear Ointment

Dry eye ointments are thick and coat the front of your eye. They’re usually used 1 to 2 times daily as needed. It may be best to use them at bedtime, as it will blur your vision. 

Get Dry Eye Relief Today!

Artificial tears may be a good way to temporarily relieve eye dryness. However, using the wrong type of eye drops can be worse than not using any drops at all. So be sure to consult your optometrist before you get eye drops.

Keep in mind that eye drops don’t address the root cause of dry eyes; they just provide temporary respite from the uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Only an optometrist can examine your eyes to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment for your unique case of dry eye.

Schedule an appointment with Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists in Bendigo to learn more about dry eye syndrome and to find out which treatment is best for you. 


What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. This may be due to certain diseases (like diabetes or other autoimmune diseases), aging, allergies, hormonal changes, smoking, poor air quality, medications and the environment.

What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome can cause a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Itchy eyes
  • A feeling that there is grit or debris in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Burning sensation
  • Dryness
  • Irritation
  • Sensitivity to light and glare


Why Does Bono Always Wear His Signature Shades?

Ever wonder why Bono always wears shades, even indoors? U2’s frontman doesn’t sport sunglasses simply as part of his image. Bono has had glaucoma—a build-up of pressure in the eyeball, which can damage the optic nerve and potentially lead to blindness if untreated—for over two decades now.

The real reason he wears his trademark shades is due to this progressive, sight-robbing eye disease, to protect his sensitive eyes from light and glare.

How Do Sunglasses Help People With Glaucoma?

People with glaucoma experience sensitivity to light (or photophobia) and glare, among other symptoms. When the sun is strong, those with this condition will be more affected by glare emanating from a variety of surfaces, like water, snow, sand or pavement, than the average person. Furthermore, certain glaucoma medications constrict the pupils, which can further contribute to acute sensitivity to glare and light, as well as redness and irritation.

That’s why people with glaucoma — and lots of people without glaucoma — feel best wearing sunglasses when outdoors on a sunny day, in a bright indoor space, or while driving in the early evening.

Here’s How You Can Protect Your Eyes

By wearing sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, you can reduce your risk of developing sight robbing diseases, like cataracts and macular degeneration, and reduce glaucoma symptoms. Polarized lenses, in particular, can help with glare. With yearly comprehensive eye exams, early diagnosis and consistent treatment, you can prevent vision deterioration from glaucoma or similar sight-threatening eye diseases. Contact Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists in Bendigo to book your optometrist‘s appointment today.


Can glaucoma be cured?

While there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are many effective treatment options available. Treatments that can help stop or slow the progression of glaucoma include eye drops, oral medications, as well as laser and surgical procedures.

How can glaucoma vision loss be prevented?

The best way to avoid glaucoma-related eyesight deterioration is to undergo regular eye tests, as glaucoma can be detected and treated even in its early stages, which can prevent significant vision loss or blindness. That’s why routine eye exams that include glaucoma testing are so important.

What You Should Know About Eye Herpes

So, What Is Eye Herpes?

Eye herpes, or HSV keratitis, is a common eye infection typically caused by type 1 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), the same virus that causes cold sores around the mouth and lips. However, eye herpes can also be caused by the HSV-2 and herpes zoster viruses. Eye herpes affects approximately 1.5 million people around the world each year, and is one of the most common causes of infectious blindness in the USA and Canada.

People typically contract eye herpes by touching a cold sore and then touching the eyes with their contaminated fingers. Once contracted, the virus stays in the body for life.

Ocular herpes tends to infect the cornea, causing inflammation, eye redness, tearing, and — in rare cases — vision loss. Many people with eye herpes may not even know they have it, as it can remain dormant within the nervous system without causing any flare-ups. It’s not uncommon for HSV to reactivate months or even years after initially contracting the virus. Flare-ups usually resolve on their own within 1−2 weeks, and many of them will recur within 10 years.

Herpetic eye infections can be confused with other types of “pink eye”, such as bacterial or other viral infections. Instead of self-treating an eye infection with antibiotics you have at home, get it examined by an eye doctor or physician, who can prescribe the right medication. Eye herpes won’t improve with antibiotics unless an antiviral is also used.

How Does Eye Herpes Affect the Eyes?

Eye herpes can affect many parts of the eye, such as:

  • Eyelids
  • Cornea (the clear layer on the front of your eye)
  • Retina (the light-sensing sheet of cells in the back of your eye)
  • Conjunctiva (the thin sheet of tissue covering the white part of your eye and the inside of your eyelids)
  • Iris (the colored part of your eye)
  • Sclera (the white part of your eye)

What are the Symptoms of Eye Herpes?

Various signs and symptoms are associated with eye herpes, such as:

  • Tearing
  • Swollen lymph nodes at the front of the ear
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Eye sores
  • Watery eye discharge
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headache and lethargy
  • Feeling of something stuck in the eye
  • Blisters or rash on the eyelids
  • Reduced or blurred vision

While eye herpes usually affects only one eye, it’s not uncommon for both eyes to be infected.

Left untreated, eye herpes can cause corneal ulcers and scarring, which may lead to permanent vision loss and even blindness. If you suspect you have eye herpes, please contact Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists in Bendigo as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

What Causes Eye Herpes Flare-Ups?

Major stressors can often lead to a bout of eye herpes. These include:

  • Emotional distress
  • Excessive sunlight exposure (UV rays)
  • Fever
  • Major surgical or dental procedures
  • Refractive surgery (LASIK, etc.)
  • Trauma

A weakened immune system can also put you at increased risk of an eye herpes reactivation, and potentially lead to an outbreak.

Can Eye Herpes Be Prevented?

While there is no foolproof way to prevent an eye herpes infection — or any other type of eye infection, for that matter — there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your eyes and hands clean (which is all the more important if you have cold sores). Furthermore, it’s critical that you avoid touching your eyes if you or someone around you has an outbreak.

If you wear contact lenses, be sure to follow your eye doctor’s instructions on contact lens care. Do not wear them longer than recommended and do not wear them while swimming, as chemicals and germs in the water can damage the lens, irritate your eyes, and cause an infection in contact lens wearers.

Have Eye Herpes? Here’s How We Can Help.

While there’s no cure for eye herpes, certain treatments can prevent vision loss and help control future outbreaks.

Early diagnosis and treatment — ideally within a 72 hour window — can help mitigate severe eye damage and significantly improve your symptoms.

Treatment typically includes antiviral medication, which can be eye drops, ointment, or oral medication. Your eye doctor will instruct you on how to manage your symptoms and prevent reinfection.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of eye herpes, call Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists in Bendigo to promptly schedule your eye exam with Dr. Vivienne Yung.


#1: How long do eye herpes symptoms last?

Most bouts of eye herpes last about 1-2 weeks, but can sometimes last longer. Treatment is usually for 2 weeks and you should see improvement within 5 days of treatment. Contact your doctor at the first sign of an outbreak to start treatment as soon as possible and minimize the risk of eye damage.

#2: How often do flare-ups recur?

20% of people who’ve had eye herpes will have another outbreak within a year of the initial infection. While several factors contribute to recurrence, if you experience multiple flare-ups, your doctor may recommend taking a daily antiviral medication for prevention.

Are You Susceptible To Vision Loss?

Vision loss is more common than you may think! In fact, it’s among the most prevalent disabilities in adults and children. Knowing what puts you at risk of developing vision loss is important and can help you to be proactive about caring for your eyes.

Below, we’ll explore the most common causes of vision loss and the risk factors associated with each. 

Spreading awareness and education about visual health is just one way that our eye doctors near you can help. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call us today. 

Common Causes of Vision Loss


Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. Too much inner-eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. 

Since symptoms don’t usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma, getting regular eye exams is all the more crucial. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can show a variety of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headache, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights, and nausea. 

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include: 

  • Being 60 years or older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
  • Certain medications, like corticosteroids 
  • Thin corneas
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sickle-cell anemia


Cataracts occur when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed. 

Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, light sensitivity, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as faded or yellowish. 

Risk factors for developing cataracts include: 

  • Aging
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
  • Alcoholism
  • Extended use of corticosteroids

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) 

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the macula (the small central portion of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, colorful, central vision) begins to wear down. 

Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease can produce symptoms like blurred vision, dark or blurry areas in your central vision, and problems with color perception. 

There’s not yet a cure for AMD, but certain treatments can help prevent vision loss. 

Risk factors for developing AMD include: 

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Long-term sun exposure 
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of AMD
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Farsightedness 

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina. 

Initially, diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause increased floaters, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field, and blurred vision. 

Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include: 

  • Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities 
  • Family history of DR

So, what’s the bottom line ?

Multiple factors contribute to eye disease and vision loss, and some may even be relevant to you. If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your eye doctor in Bendigo as soon as possible. We also recommend you have your eyes thoroughly examined every 1-2 years, or as often as your eye doctor recommends. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists today. 


Frequently Asked Questions With Our Bendigo Eye Doctors

  1. Can blindness be prevented?

When caught early, many eye diseases can be treated to halt or slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent vision loss. The best things you can do to preserve your vision for the long term is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. 

  1. Which eye diseases are genetically inherited?

More than 350 ocular diseases have some sort of genetic component. Certain diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa and albinism, are directly inherited through chromosomal information. In other cases, a predisposition to the disease is inherited, rather than the disease itself. 

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease. 

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences. 

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?


Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma. 

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome 

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO. 

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists in Bendigo we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.