Whitley Bay Opticians are proud to sponsor a Local Hero

Did you know that the Disabled British Golf Open Champion is from Whitley Bay?

Jonathan Jones won the title in 2019 but was unable to defend his title this year due to COVID restrictions. He’s now been selected to play in the Phoenix Cup, the disability equivalent of the Ryder Cup. The tournament takes place over 6 courses including Carnoustie, Glenaeagles and Trump International. Originally against the USA, the competition will now between Britain and Ireland.

Jonny was born with a rare medical condition called arthrogryposis. Arthrogryposis affects muscle development in arms and wrists, causing wrist bones to fuse. With wonderful medical care from a team led by paediatric neurologist Professor David Gardner-Medwin, Jonny underwent a series of operations on his hands and feet to help his mobility.

When he took a keen interest in golf, his condition was never going to deter him from what he wanted to do – compete at the highest level.

The support of a loving family directed him to coaching by the late Ken Philips of Wallsend, and then to the expert guidance of Tynemouth’s John Mckenna.

A very unassuming young man, Jonny is someone our whole region can be proud of. This is why it is an honour for us to be able to help in the sponsorship programme.

We all wish you the very best of luck Jonny. Watch this space for how he gets on.

Can’t wait to see you all

Latest COVID19 Situation – We’re coming back very soon.

It’s been a very lonely time watching over the practice with all the staff furloughed – We didn’t even know what furlough was before March this year! Judith and Nigel have managed to keep the place ticking over; delivering triage advice on eye conditions, offering advice on visual problems, organising and delivering contact lenses and carrying out emergency repairs and glasses replacements.

Luckily we’ve had the help of 16 year old border terrier Mij to keep our spirits up. We are also indebted to our lovely customers who have been an absolute pleasure to deal with- THANK YOU!

We are delighted to say that the wait is almost over.

Week beginning June 15th:

we will be open Tuesday to Friday 9am – 2pm, and Saturday 9am – 1pm . Front line staff Lorna and Sue will be available to answer your queries, book appointments, help with glasses sales, and attend to any possible repairs.

Week beginning June 22nd and until further notice:

we will be open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm, optometrists John and Sophie will be back seeing patients face to face. You can book appointments for essential eye care in that period. The staff will be happy to guide you on what constitutes essential eye-care. We would highly recommend that patients choose our premium OCT examination; This gives the most thorough retinal examination as well as keeping safe distance between optometrist and patient.

The timings are likely to be amended to try and meet demand so please do keep checking this website for details.

Safety regulations

We have installed the following safety measures:

Safety screens set on reception desks

Hand sanitiser on entry and exit

Floor markings to ensure safe distance

Masks for Practitioners and patients during examination

Face shields, gloves and aprons for practitioners to be used as necessary

New instrumentation to measure pressure which does not have an aerosol effect

Automated instrumentation so as not to rely on traditional trial frames.

UV Frame sanitiser for display glasses (on order to arrive end of June (until then – frame cleansing process)

The health and safety of our patients and staff is of prime importance. Please do not come in if you or any of your household are suffering from COVID symptoms.

We are all really looking forward to welcoming you back.

Best wishes.

Nigel, Judith and All The Team

COVID-19 Update

Practice availability during “Lockdown”.

As you know we have been doing our utmost to ensure we are still able to offer something of an emergency service. However, the overwhelming message from the Government now is to “Stay at Home”.

For the protection of our staff and patients, we have decided to temporarily close the practice to routine appointments with immediate effect.

  • Throughout the crisis we are still available to provide emergency help and advice.
  • e-mails to info@robinsonoptometrists.co.uk are checked daily.
  • Telephone calls to our normal number of 0191 2516102 are monitored Monday to Saturday and any messages left will be returned.
  • We also have an emergency number of 07469 290 302
  • We have arranged home delivery of contact lenses for all our patients on automatic supply schemes.

We hope that you and your loved ones all remain healthy and look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Kindest regards,

Nigel, Judith and all the Robinson Team

May 15th – Update

Thank you to everyone for all your lovely messages of support and gratitude for the services we have been able to provide. These have been a real tonic to us!

New Safety Measures

We are constantly preparing for the day we can safely start moving back to a “normal service”. This includes:

  • Investment in 2 new tonometers, to replace the “puff of air” test.
  • We have ordered a UV frame sterilisation unit for display frames.
  • We have installed plastic shields between patient and practitioner on our slit lamps.
  • Plastic screens between reception staff and the public.
  • Viusu-Real dispensing technology to minimise contact between patient and practitioner when taking spectacle lens measurements
  • Hand sanitiser stations
  • PPE worn by optometrist and dispensers

The safety of our customers and staff is paramount.

Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes,

Nigel and Judith

National Opticians Awards 2020

Robinson Optometrists short listed in two cateogories!

We are delighted to announce that, carrying the flag for Whitley Bay and The North East, we have once again been short-listed as finalists in two categories; Independent Practice of the Year, and Optical Assistant Team of the Year.

We have been informed that the competition has been stiffer than ever this year. Having won The Independent Award on 2 previous occasions and short-listed a further 2, we were amazed to once again be chosen.

This was probably due to a number of contributing factors:

  • We continue to strive to produce the very highest quality in eye-care and eye-wear.
  • We invest in the latest equipment, and very carefully select our team of experts, providing you with a very thorough examination. 2019 saw us take a major role in working with National Educational Body NCFE in developing a new training course for optical assistants. It is hoped that this will be rolled out in 2021.
  • A new piece of Community Art for Monkseaton, commendations from various medical professionals who we work with, and charity work for The Guide Dog Association were probably all paramount in the decision making.

As for the Optical Assistant short-listing- what can we say? We have such a fabulous team who are skilled in both clinical support and fashion advice. Since Nigel and Judith took a more back seat in the running of the Practice, the Team have provided a seamless transition!

One member Lorna, also runs our social media campaign; this has been widely complemented.

We are also very aware that we couldn’t achieve this without the support of our loyal client base ie YOU! We would just like to say a massive thank you to you all! Winners will be announced during a Gala Dinner at The NEC on Saturday April 4th. The full short list can be seen on the Opticians Awards website.

Five of us will make the journey and we hope to give a live Facebook feed from the event. We will publish the results on Social Media and in The News Guardian. Watch this space!

So – a big start to the Year. Obviously we will greatly miss Gary, as we’re sure many of you will, but we have a lot to look forward to.

Gary McMullan

After 10 years of faithful service, we are very sad to announce that our great friend and colleague, Gary, will be returning to be nearer family in The Emerald Isle.

Gary and Therese love Whitley Bay, but since starting a family, are acutely aware that they would like to see the children’s grand-parents being able to enjoy their company.

He worked part time at Robinson’s and part time running the glaucoma service at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough. A very talented optometrist and a gem to work with.

He has asked us to pass on his thanks to all his patients for their loyalty and support. He will be sadly missed, and we’re sure he’ll miss you all too. When one door closes we are great believers that another one opens. We are very fortunate that another of our optometrists, Sophie Worsman, has decided to join us on a full time rather than part time basis.

Like Gary, Sophie has considerable hospital experience (Newcastle RVI), and has proved very popular with her patients at Robinson’s. If Gary has been the optometrist looking after your eyes, we would have no hesitation in recommending Sophie as his replacement. Of course we also have two more excellent optometrists in John and Elaine, should you prefer to book with one of them.

Opening Hours

New Opening Hours from April 6th 2020.

A recurrent request for us is to consider opening hours, and adding an extra late night to accommodate the needs of those who find daytime appointments difficult. We are always looking at ways to make ourselves more available to our clients who work through the week.

We are pleased to announce that, as from the week beginning Monday April 6th, we will be open until 8 pm on 2 nights of the week- Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Many of you will have already visited late on a Thursday night but we’re sure that the Wednesday will be a very useful addition to this. Saturday Afternoons, on the other hand, have become much less sought after, and so we will be closing at 1pm on Saturdays.

We hope that this does not prove to be an inconvenience to anyone.

From April 6th 2020, opening times will be as follows:

Monday     9am-5pm
Tuesday      9am-5pm
Wednesday  9am-8pm
Thursday      9am-8pm
Friday          9am-5pm
Saturday       9am-1pm

“2020” – By Royal Seal of Approval Sculptor Graeme Hopper

It’s here! Our new sculpture – “2020” by Royal Seal of Approval Sculptor Graeme Hopper.

It’s here! After 12 months of planning, deliberation and changed decisions, we have finally taken delivery of our contemporary sculpture – “2020”, created by renowned artist Graeme Hopper.

The name 2020 is not only to celebrate the dawning of a brand new decade, but also stands for 2020 vision, or what is sometimes termed “perfect vision”. As registered optometrists we will always strive to get the best out of your eyes, but we also have an exciting vision of eye-care for the future.

Unveiled in front of a live Facebook Audience.

We feel that this spirit has been captured by “2020”. The unveiling took place on 20th December in front of a live Facebook audience. We are all absolutely delighted. The sculpture is based on a Tom Ford Design and built out of beaten steel. It has certainly proved eye catching.

We would like to thank all the lovely comments from friends, customers and passers-by. We were very conscious of the regeneration revolution sweeping across Whitley Bay. Our old wishing well was in a poor state of repair and, being lovers of art, we wanted to create something which would add to our community environment. It proved quite a challenge to find the right artist, as it’s not exactly your everyday kind of project. We spoke to our friend and architect Tim Bailey of Xcite Architecture, Newcastle.

Finding the right artist.

Tim gave a list of various artists and sculptors who may fit the bill, one
of whom was Graeme Hopper. Graeme is choosy about the projects which he undertakes, but this one excited him and he immediately invited us down to his home and studio at Helmington Row, County Durham.

We were met by his lovely wife Susan, in a beautiful farmhouse with a garden full of amazing sculptures. A short trip to his studio showed us the workings of The Forge. He was very keen to get us involved, and Judith was soon carving out shapes from the metal with a laser. We had seen enough!

His enthusiasm and vision persuaded us that this was the artist we wished to commission. He is renowned, especially in The Durham Area, for his iconic giant mushrooms which adorn the entrance to The Botanical Gardens. This work was unveiled by Royal Operatic Tenor Sir Thomas Allen, and has been widely acclaimed in artistic circles. Following the success of The Botanic Gardens project he was lucky enough to be introduced to Prince Charles. Graeme gifted a sculpture to The Prince which now forms part of the Charles Collection and earned Graeme a Royal Seal of Approval.

He has undertaken works for museums, universities, The Arts Council, architects and The Forestry Commission. So we had our man; now to The Design.

Selecting a design.

It would have to reflect our vision, so to speak. We are a practice that excels in providing boutique frames and works of art to fit the face. It would need to be a vision for the future, a journey into the next decade but also reflect the retro qualities of fine design. A giant pair of unique glasses seemed to fit the bill. A sculpture that would reflect our modern thinking, but also draw attention to the fact that we are Whitley Bay Opticians and here to look after your vision. It would need to be modern, but also in keeping with Monkseaton Village, a conservation area.

Several plans were hatched; what should the shape be? What colour? How big? It would need to be big enough to make a statement but small enough to not seem incongruous. Graeme took this all under his wing.

His attention to detail is second to none, even down to the exact hinge shape of the copied Tom Ford frame. There was much talk of the galvanising process and the lacquer to be used to create that beautiful lustred finish.

Graeme then had the idea of displaying the frames on a large packing crate, as if the glasses had just been imported to Robinson’s. He used reclaimed oak, suitably stained and finished, with a surrounding perimeter made from old railway sleepers. The gap between was filled with grey slate and the effect is staggering. We are now just waiting for the delicate up-lighting to be completed. He is also in the process of making a much smaller sculpture to the same pattern which will sit on top of our present signage; a piece that will link together the practice and the main sculpture.

We truly hope that you all enjoy this piece as much as we do, and that Whitley Bay continues on its amazing regeneration process.

Thank you Graeme Hopper for your incredible talent!

Joining forces with other Whitley Bay Fashion Outlets

A fabulous day’s fashion shoot.

“Why go to Town for your Fashion?”

Day on day, week on week, we hear of the demise of High Streets across the country. This is especially relevant to small and medium size towns and Whitley Bay is no exception. Our town has certainly faced some challenges over the last decade.

However, hope is in the air. The wonderful regeneration of The Spanish City, the springing up of fabulous new retail outlets and the striving for perfection of existing businesses is really helping to put Whitley Bay on the map and offering customers something special.

There is a very active Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade, of which we are members and who do a great job!

Fashion campaign in Whitley Bay

We’ve joined forces with 2 very successful local businesses to create a joint fashion campaign. Enlisting the services of Ticketyboo Hair Design, Escape Boutique, local photographer Chris Ainsley and model Claire Giles, we set out towards the lighthouse on a very blustery November Day. It was great fun!

Escape Boutique is a family run independent womenswear store with over 15 years on Park View.  Its style is relaxed with a focus on daywear and pieces you can take from day to night. The collections are carefully chosen with style, detail and wear ability in mind. Their brands each have their own identity yet complement each other beautifully; laid back Danish style is at the heart of what they do. Their philosophy is to mix great statement pieces with a large range of shoes, jewellery and accessories to create a look to suit your individual style.

Owner/manager Lisa Mitchell told us what makes Escape special. “We don’t do fast fashion – our clothes are about great affordable style you can wear year on year, with sustainability in mind. With many brands exclusive to Escape, you won’t find them anywhere else in the area. Always interesting and different, we’re a great antidote to the clone town centre high streets” commented Lisa.

Following the success of Escape Boutique, Lisa and her husband Carl opened Mitchells Menswear, also on Park View 6 years ago.  “Our philosophy remains the same. Great style and quality from a mix of sought after and up and coming menswear brands. Wearability and a focus on key pieces such as jackets and outerwear are at the heart of our collections. A mix of clothing, footwear, accessories and male grooming with a relaxed atmosphere and great customer service makes this a great alternative to heading into town”.

We feel it’s a great shopping experience and would fully endorse Lisa’s comments.

Local talent

Ten years ago Joanne Lodge and Susan French created Ticketyboo to “provide clients with a contemporary and relaxed atmosphere for a fabulous hairdressing experience”.

We asked Susan to enlighten us further on why the salon has been so successful: “Having both worked at the top salons in the area, we believe we have created a salon experience that will surpass all expectations, and leave you looking and feeling amazing” comments Susan. 

The salon has also diversified to provide a very successful beauty clinic. Not only can you reinvent yourself with a new hairstyle or colour, but you can also pamper yourself with their extensive range of beauty treatments.

They offer a free consultation to “deliver an inspirational hairstyle or beauty treatment that is as individual as you are”.

Claire looked amazing with her new hairstyle, and Ticketyboo even sent one a stylist to accompany her to the photoshoot. Many of the Robinson Team are huge fans!

We offer something a little different…

Both fashion outlets very much reflect our own philosophy of offering something that is both different and individual. Lots of people don’t want the same corporate choice of glasses, or for that matter the eye-care they receive. We’ve invested heavily in latest technology and providing a choice of over 1000 boutique frames for both women and men.

We seek out special frames from major fashion houses like Ted Baker, Prada, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo and Oliver Peoples. By personally selecting ranges, we’re able to offer vast array of designs. We regularly visit trade shows in Paris, London and Munich to find ranges that offer something a little different.

And then there is our custom made range from London Designer Tom Davies. Now that is something special! If you’ve ever admired the frames of Ed Sheeran, then Tom Davies may be the range for you. Like a particular frame but would prefer a completely different colour front, with longer sides? No problem – it’s all custom made to your needs. The possibilities are endless! And the finishing touch is your name engraved on the side. Tom Davies have proved to be a very popular choice for men and women alike.

Team Robinsons love fashion!

Our whole team are passionate about fashion! Come and see why we’ve twice been Runner Up in “Fashion Practice of The Year” category of The National Optician Awards.

We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues in #WhitleyBay. We also look forward to your visit our practice. You’re always welcome to pop in for a coffee and a browse, why not drop in and say hello?

8 tips for safe spooky contact lenses this Halloween

Make sure infections and corneal ulcers aren’t part of your Halloween horror!

October 31 st is fast approaching, and for some it’s the fancy dress party night of the year. The ultimate fun accessory can be a crazy set of contact lenses. Fun Yes, but they can hide a real hidden horror!

  • Many Halloween contact lenses are unregulated and illegal
  • Poor quality contact lenses can cause serious eye health complications with wearers at risk of corneal ulcers or abrasions, eye infections and even blindness 
  • One eye expert in 10 has seen a patient with eye problems after wearing novelty contact lenses.  

With Halloween approaching, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) offers advice for buying and wearing contact lenses safely – as thousands choose spooky eye wear as a finishing touch to their costume.

Get your lenses fitted by a professional, not the Internet

If they are not fitted and cared for properly, contact lenses carry a risk of eye infections, causing blindness in some rare cases. It’s not worth putting your eyes at risk, so get the best advice and make sure your contact lenses are fitted by an eye care professional. 

Like swapping gruesome germs?

We didn’t think so. Never share or swap contact lenses with anyone else –
the chances of getting a nasty infection, such as bacterial conjunctivitis, is
much more likely. This can make eyes uncomfortable, pink or red, and
create a yellow or green sticky discharge, and has the potential to lead to
corneal ulcers, corneal scarring and blindness.

Can you trust the supplier?

Novelty lenses are often available in joke and fancy-dress shops and can
be purchased online but these suppliers are often unregulated. It is illegal to
sell contact lenses without the supervision of a registered professional like
an optometrist or contact lens optician because of the risk to your eyes. 

Don’t keep lenses in all night, or you’ll wake up with a fright

Unless specifically designed for extended use, contact lenses should not be
worn overnight. Not only can extended use increase the risk of eye infections, it can starve your eye of oxygen and cause the lens to bind itself to the front of your eye. 

Keep lenses clean but never with water 

When wearing any type of contact lenses, make sure they are clean by
using the recommended contact lens solution. Never use tap water to clean
lenses because this can lead to serious, and potentially blinding, eye
conditions. And always wash and dry your hands before inserting your

Don’t re-use your lenses, they’re better as a one-night stand

You should never re-use contact lenses unless they are specifically
designed for repeat wear, as it increases the likelihood of infections and
Keratitis which is a very painful inflammation of the cornea. Re-useable
lenses must be kept in fresh contact lens solution, in a clean contact lens
case too.

Put your lenses in before putting your face on

If your costume involves a full face of make-up remember to apply it after
putting your contact lenses in. 

If in doubt, take them out

If you suffer from any redness, irritation, swelling, pain or an aversion to
light, remove your lenses immediately. Consult an optometrist or contact
lens optician
for advice as soon as possible.

Contact lenses can greatly improve the quality of life for many individuals. They can be worn as your main optical aid, for sport or just nights out. They can be monthly disposable, daily disposable, or tinted. Most prescriptions can be corrected, including presbyopia (needing glasses for long and short sightedness).

As an opticians In Whitley Bay, we fit lots of new patients every week, but this has to be done under strict regulated conditions. As long as they are respected, contact lenses are very safe, and highly recommended. Trust the professionals to look after your eyes.

If you have any queries about the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our form or give us a call on 0191 251 6102.

Top Tips for Healthy Eyes

As we come to the end of National Eye Health week, we thought we would like to share some top tips for healthy eyes, to help you look after your eyes. You only get one pair!

Regular eye examinations.

As well as an eye health check, an eye examination might help detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Everyone should have a sight test every two years, or more often if your optometrist recommends it. New technology means that our optometrists can undertake a CT scan of your eyes. OCT will look not only at the back of your eyes, but also what is happening beneath the surface of the retina. These images are recorded and your optometrist is able then to compare your present and past results, ensuring that the smallest changes can be detected.

Children should also be encouraged to go for regular eye examinations to ensure that any possible problems are picked up at the earliest possible opportunity.

Eat healthily.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet reduces your risk of eye disease. Include lots of omega-3 fats, found in oily fish, and lutein, found in dark-green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Vitamins A, C and E are also helpful, so eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. If you have a family history of macular degeneration (losing central vision in the eyes), ask your optometrist about taking nutritional supplements. We have information sheets within the practice giving more specific advice on this. Another very common condition, cataracts can also result from a poor diet

Stop smoking.

Many people are unaware of the link between smoking and eye disease. If you smoke, stop. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing eye diseases, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It is shown conclusively to reduce the amount of protective pigment cells present in the back of your eyes. However long you have smoked it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.

Wear prescribed glasses.

Many eye and vision problems develop or increase as we get older. Contrary to the myth, wearing glasses and contact lenses doesn’t make your eyesight worse – they help your eyes work more efficiently. Every day we see improvements that we have made to the quality of a patient’s life by helping prescribe for specific visual problems, whether it be work or hobby related. We use the highest quality of lenses at Robinson’s to get the very best out of your eyes.

We are very aware that wearing glasses can be a big change in self perception for some people. your glasses are a part of you! which is why we will make sure that you go away feeling delighted and confident with your new image. And then of course there is always the possibility of contact lenses. We fit all types to all ages, of all prescriptions!

Take regular breaks.

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

Wear sunglasses.

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

Avoid dry eyes.

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

Common eyelid conditions such as blepharitis are a cause of sore, dry eyes. Correct diagnosis by your optometrist can help to alleviate these conditions with an eyelid hygiene regime.

When needed your optometrist will be happy to recommend the most suitable type of eye lubricant to use when required. It is better to have a professional opinion, rather than buy over the counter,  as different products will suit different individuals.

Research your family history.

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

Remember your optometrist is the first person you should visit if you have any eye concerns. They can assess the problem and, if necessary, refer you to the right place for treatment. Should you have any questions on any of the points raised, please don’t hesitate to contact us.