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(6) Roger

The "Makinnon" family as I describe them didn't exist, they are in fact no more than a literary invention. The events I described actually happened but to various other people and the details changed just enough to protect the innocent.

Roger on the other hand was a very real person a complex character with a wealth of real life experience behind him.

Apart from the day job he was an Elder of the Church of Scotland and very active in the Iona community with a lifelong passion and commitment to nuclear disarmament.

In fact he even had a book written about him:

Roger: An extraordinary peace campaigner

He finally managed to get himself arrested 3 months before his death whilst protesting at an anti Polaris submarine demonstration.

Bit of a rebel was our Roger.

He was an original thinker, his views on Rasmussen aren’t quite as flaky as they might seem.

I’ve certainly seen more bonkers theories propounded by various academics during my time in optics

In fact regarding Rasmussen’stheories yours truly fits the original premise as I’ve gone from being short sighted in my 20’s and 30’s to more or less normally sighted now.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed I don’t wear specs in work mainly because I keep clanging into them when using various instruments.

The downside to Rasmussen’s theory being it’s taken 40 years and would likely have happened naturally anyway so we’ll have to put that one down as a score draw for now.

He had a kind of mobile opticians van he used to go around the outlying isles once a year, the only kind of eyecare the remote communities got. The first time he went everyone ordered 524 frames, the old thin NHS plastic frame (think Joe 90) The following year he only took a couple of library type frames. Think heavyweight plastic as sported by Michael Caine, Austin Powers etc as he didn’t think he’d need them and was rather nonplussed to find that everyone, including the local women were ordering them.

It turned out the thin NHS variety hadn’t been up to the rigours of island life and most had met their demise after a very short time leaving the poor islander stuck without specs until he made another visit up to a year or more later.

So if you see any photo’s from the outer isles circa early 1980’s and wonder why everyone including the women look like Ronnie Barker now you know why.

We did have two things in common both of which he was far better at than me, one was a passion for chess and the other climbing. From an early age I’d spent any time I could scrambling over headlands on the South Wales coastline which I mistakenly assumed qualified me as an “expert rock climber” (my words age 7 to my uncle.)

Skye has the famed Cuillin hills which I could see from my cottage doorway. In 1955 the year I was born Roger went climbing on Sgurr Alasdair, one of the most challenging peaks in the range. On the way back a disastrous slide down a steep slope of ice left him trapped on the mountain with a broken thigh, his companion also injured managed to affect a rescue. Roger described the events in his book A Cuillin adventure

In many ways we were diametric opposites he was both highly intelligent and full of energy, neither attribute I’ve ever been accused of being overburdened with .

I think the highest compliment I can pay him is that he cared.He cared about everything and everyone around him and healways strove to make peoples lives just that bit better.

Maybe he wasn’t everyone's cup of tea, his views on topics he believed in were often stridently expressed

But the world is a lesser place for his passing.


Practice news

Time to take stock of the last 6 months since I began writing these missives.

Firstly going to 45 minute testing has made a huge improvement in the way we have time to discuss in depth your requirements and look at all aspects of you’re ongoing eyecare.

We have got far more involved in LVA (Low Visual aids) and dry eye treatment of late.

LVA is a bit of a niche market mainly aimed at helping poorly sighted people who find that specs alone are no longer enough.

Dry eye affects a large number of people and the solutions we have found have proven beneficial for many. The usual complaint is that the eyes feel gritty but are always watering, the solution is often surprisingly simple.

Contact lenses, a lot of people find the new disposable multifocal CL’s useful for day’s when they just don’t want to rely on specs, others have gone on to the more permanent monthly wear lenses with great success

I’ve finally got round to revamping my website to include these and future newsletters and associated ramblings.

In future anyone who’s interested an access them from the newsletters page.

I’ve even got around to adding a facebook and twitter link which finally drags me kicking and screaming into the 21st century.


If anyone's interested in what it looked like where I lived you can go on google maps (street view) and type in Ratnad na Slignich (Bayfield road) Portree Skye and click on the street view about halfway down the road.

Facing south you can see the white cottage on the left where WG adorned the walls, loch Portree where the heron lived and in the far distance just right of centre the Cuillin hills which greeted me each morning as I left for work

Clunk click every trip

The lure of the Cuillin hills proved too strong to resist so one Sunday afternoon after a heavy lunch and with a bit of a hangover from the previous night’s Ceilidh common sense went out the window and I drove down to have a go at climbing them.

Distances can be deceptive and after what seemed like hours of trekking I’d barely cleared the foothills and was puffing and panting like an old steam train. Looking up the penny finally dropped on the enormity of what I was attempting and I did what any sensible person would have done in the first place, I gave up and headed back to the car.

Which turned out to be about the only bright idea I had all day.

The road back was rather up hill and down dale through some truly breath taking scenery with undulating grouseland encapsulating the kerbsides.

Those were the day’s when wearing a seat belt was not so engrained in the national psyche despite the governments best effort through the “clunk click” campaign The then current TV advert was made using a peach, a hammer and a voice over from a certain well known “national treasure” presumably designed to (and rather graphically) illustrate how vulnerable humans are in a car crash

A joke doing the rounds at the time:

Said well known national treasure”(Since very much fallen from grace) turns up at casualty with his face all smashed in ...

“Now then, now then,..what’s happened here then? Looks like we’ve not been wearing our seatbelt again have we Mr S?”

“No, well actually I was walking down the road eating a peach and someone smashed me in the face with a hammer”

For some reason this was playing in my head and I thought it maybe a good idea to buckle up, now in those days seatbelts had trailing clips which required using both hands unlike the modern system.

Darwin attempt #1

With hindsight taking both hands off the wheel wasn’t the brightest of moves and just as I “clicked” the world turned upside down and I found myself hanging from my newly done up seatbelt with the engine racing and an ominous dripping noise close by.

I’d seen enough action movies to know what happened next and fearing a fiery immolation I did what any sensible person would do and panicked I finally managed to kick the door open and roll out onto the heather to survey what I had done to dad’s pride and joy now lying upside down in the middle of the road.Taking my life in my hands I reached in and turned off the ignition, retired to a safe distance and sat waiting for a passing motorist.

Several hours later the pickup deposited me back at the garage in Portree and I had a rather awkward phone call to make.

I decided to try to appeal to his paternal instincts

“Er Hi Dad, now I don’t want you to panic as I’m uninjured but the car’s a bit of a …” The next ten minutes convinced me that such a state was only ongoing due to the 600 miles of telephone line separating us.

Dad was not a happy chappie

I never figured out to this day whether "Mr Fixit" indirectly caused the accident or saved my life that day,

Somewhat ironic considering his more recent fall from grace.



This will be an occasional piece on different types of spectacle correction.

Firstly I’ll look at varifocal lenses.

We’ve all heard horror stories of people who tried varifocal lenses and simply couldn’t get on with them.

I’ve tried many different types and the difference between the best ones and “the rest” is very marked indeed, in fact I found most types I tried practically unwearable with swimmy vision, distortions or blurring being the main culprits.

These day’s we apply a simple rule of thumb, we won’t supply any type of lens that we wouldn’t wear ourselves.

This narrows down the choices to only 2 or 3 lenses that we’ve ever been completely happy with.

They aren’t the cheapest out there but for something you might wear every day for the next 2—3 years do you really want to compromise?

Of the 3 types of lenses we use two are “old favourites” which have stood the test of time, we would normally suggest one over the other depending on things like prescription, working requirement and environment.

The third lens is a new design that Stella has been trying, these are made to each prescription so can take 7—10 days to come through but early results suggest the wait can be worthwhile.

My only hard and fast rule is NEVER to downgrade from a lens you’ve got on with in the past.

I can’t remember once in 30 years that ever being a success.


Sight test intervals

I often get asked how frequently you should have your eyes tested?

(1) I you are not having any obvious problems

If you are not having any obvious problems with your eyes such as eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches etc then the general rule of thumb is a check up every 2 years is about right unless you are in one of the “at risk” categories listed below.

As a rule we will send a reminder when you are due so unless you feel things have changed (see below) just wait and we’ll send for you.

If two or more years have elapsed since your last test it’s probably a good idea to book an appointment for a check up.

Even if we find no change in your vision it’s reassuring to know everything else is OK

(2) If you are having problems with your eyes or feel they might have changed

If you are having problems with blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain or you feel your eyes have changed then my first suggestion is to contact the practice to make an appointment or at least discuss what you are experiencing so we can advise you.

Another thing to look out for is the sudden onset of flashing lights, floaters or cobwebs in your vision. Most people get floaters which come and go and are normally nothing to worry about, the same goes for mild visual disturbance's.

My normal rule of thumb is anything that comes then clears up again within 20 - 30 minutes is unlikely to need looking at.

However flashers, floaters or cobwebs especially in one eye that don’t clear within an hour require urgent looking at, if the practice is closed then go straight to eye casualty rather than wait until we’re open Better to be safe than sorry, however these events are extremely rare so unless something pretty obvious is going on and not clearing try to contact us as first recourse.

Early retest indicated (less than 2 years)

(1) Family history of Glaucoma direct relative, Mum, Dad, brother or sister and aged over 40

(2) Diabetic, child under 16, over 70’s and people considered “at risk”

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