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The OPAL Study

Older People And n-3 Long-chain

polyunsaturated fatty acids

Information sheet for


Your GP practice is taking part in a second part of the OPAL

study. This will study the possible beneficial effects of fish oils
on eye health. You are under no obligation to take part in this
study. You may just want to take part in the main OPAL study
(which is looking at memory and concentration).

If you agree to take part in the eye health study, you will be
asked to attend two appointments at Moorfields Eye Hospital,
one at the start of the study and one 2 years later.

Please read carefully the following information which relates

to the Eye Health Study and what it will involve.

What does the Eye Health Study involve?

At the first appointment at your general practice, the nurse will ask
you some questions about any possible previous eye problems you
may have had. These questions will be about yourself and your family.
S/he will also test your vision using a short series of eye charts so
you must have with you any glasses that you use for distance or
television viewing. This test is performed in order to assess the
general health of your eyes.

Following this test, it may be that you are not eligible for the Eye
Health Study, but you will still be able to take part in the memory
and concentration part of the OPAL study, if you wish. If you are not
eligible to take part in the Eye Health Study and are worried about
your eyes, you maybe offered a referral back to your GP.

Please don’t forget to take your glasses with you to the


If you are eligible for the eye health study and wish to proceed you
will be asked to sign a consent form to confirm your willingness to
take part in the study.

After your initial appointment at your general practice, an

appointment will be arranged for you at Moorfields Eye Hospital.
Your travel expenses will be reimbursed, up to a maximum of £20.
Your appointment at Moorfields will last approximately 2 hours. The
tests may cause minimal discomfort but are in routine use and are
generally well tolerated.

Please take ALL your glasses, both distance and reading, with you to
the appointments, even if you feel that they are of no benefit. It may
also be helpful if you can be accompanied to your appointment at
Moorfields by a friend or family member.

When you first arrive at Moorfields, you will go to the general eye
clinic and have a routine eye examination. This is a standard eye
examination that lasts about 15 minutes. You will then be taken to
the specialist department where the function of your retina will be
tested. The retina is the part of the eye that responds to light. The
staff at Moorfields Eye Hospital will carry out two tests. Both tests
are in routine clinical use at Moorfields, and are not in any way
experimental procedures. They are performed on a daily basis on
both adults and on children as young as 5 years of age, and are
neither harmful nor painful.

The first test assesses your colour vision. You will be asked to
identify letters of the alphabet as they appear on a television screen.
The letters will be of varying colour and brightness, and will be
presented against a coloured background. The total test time should
be approximately 20 minutes and does not involve any eye drops or

The second test allows us to measure how the light sensitive retina
at the back of your eye is working. After you have had your colour
vision tested, your pupils will be dilated with eye drops, and you will
be adapted to darkness for 20 minutes. This means that you will sit
in a dark room for 20 minutes, so that your eyes become accustomed
to a low level of light. If you are afraid of the dark this can be done
using goggles with deep red lenses.

Small discs (about the size of a 5p piece) will then be attached to

your temples using tape. Small soft recording electrodes, which are
made of gold leaf and are extremely light and delicate, will be placed
over your lower eyelids. This is not an uncomfortable procedure.
Some people experience minor irritation for a short period, but this
soon passes. These discs and the soft recording electrodes allow us
to detect and record the small electrical signals generated by the
retina in response to flashes of light of different colours and

The test procedure will then start with dim flashes of light, and then
go to brighter flashes. Then a background light will be switched on
to bring you back to daylight levels. After 10 minutes, during which
time your eyes become used to this background light, the electrical
responses to a flickering light, single flashes, and coloured lights
will be recorded. The discs and electrodes will then be carefully
removed, and the testing will be complete. The total time for this
test will be less than one hour, including the periods of adaptation.

You will then go to Medical Photography to have the backs of your

eyes photographed. This just requires you to look into a special
camera, and will not be uncomfortable.

After the tests have been completed, it will take several hours for
the pupils of your eyes to return to normal. You will be able to see
during this period but you must not drive as your vision may be
slightly blurred. There are no other side effects or after effects. If at
all possible you might like to bring a friend or relative with you to
the appointment.

If you agree, the results of these eye tests will be made available to
your GP.

It is very important to remember that even if you do not take part in

the eye health study you can still take part in the main OPAL study.
You are under no obligation to take part and your participation is
voluntary. This will not affect the care you receive from your general
practice in any way.

R ES E A If you require further information regarding these eye tests then

please contact:


GPRF Dr Graham Holder on 020 7566 2120 or


Rosemary Knight, OPAL Study Manager, on 020 7670 4865



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