A Clearer View

Latest treatment options and news about cataracts, dry eye syndrome and other eye care topics.

Considering Contact Lenses? Here’s What You Should Know

by Damion Wasylow 6 April 2018 13:24 PM

woman with contact lens on her fingertip
People with vision challenges may choose contact lenses over eyeglasses for a variety of reasons. For some occupations and activities, contacts are simply easier to manage. Many contact wearers also find they see better with contacts due to the reduction in glare and distortions. And some people simply prefer the look.

If you’re considering contact lenses for your vision improvement, here are a few things you should know going into the process…

Soft Lenses vs Hard Lenses

One of the first choices you will make with your eye doctor is whether to go with soft or hard contact lenses.

Soft contacts are made out of light, flexible plastic infused with water to allow oxygen to flow through the lens. This helps keep your eye healthy, and makes the lens comfortable to wear for extended periods. Some brands can be worn for days without needing to be removed. Soft contacts are also very easy to put in, and tend to stay in place well. 

Some contact lens wearers prefer hard contacts for durability and ease of care and handling. Like soft contact lenses, today’s hard contacts also allow oxygen to pass through to the eyes. Hard contacts, however, are more susceptible to scratches and more easily shift positions from the center of your eye. 

Specialty Lenses

Like eyeglasses, contact lenses are available in a variety of specialties. Multifocal contacts combine multiple prescriptions in a single lens to provide clear vision at all distances. Tinted contacts can improve contrast, compensate for color blindness or be used for cosmetic reasons. Hybrid lenses provide the best benefits of hard contacts with the flexibility of soft contacts. Talk to your eye doctor to determine if any of these specialties may be right for you. 

Lens Duration

Soft contacts may last up to a year. Hard contacts often last even longer. Disposable contacts, on the other hand, last as little as a single day to as long as two weeks. The viable duration of your contact lenses can be impacted by the quality of the lens material, your lifestyle and the overall health of your eyes. Your eye doctor will work with you to set a replacement schedule. 

Care and Maintenance

Whether you choose standard soft or hard contacts, you will need to follow some best practices to keep your eyes healthy and contact lenses in great shape. Always wash your hands with a mild soap and dry them with a lint-free towel before handling your contacts. Be sure to use contact lens solution, eye drops and cleaners recommended by your doctor, and never rinse your lenses with tap water. Just as important as cleaning your lenses is cleaning your contacts case. It should be cleaned well after every use, using either a sterile solution or hot water.

Eye Doctor Visits

For contact lens wearers, it’s especially important to visit the eye doctor at least once a year. Unlike glasses, contact lenses actually touch the surface of the eye, and to a degree, limit the amount of oxygen that makes it to the surface of the eye. Without regular monitoring this could impact eye health over time. 

If you are considering contact lenses for your vision correction needs, call North Florida Cataract and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule a consultation. We have two convenient optical locations in Gainesville – on the corner of NW 8th Avenue and NW 43rd Street and in Tioga Town Center.

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Cataracts vs Macular Degeneration: Understanding the Difference

by Damion Wasylow 2 April 2018 13:36 PM

retired couple smiling closely
Many people are understandably confused about the difference between cataracts and macular degeneration. After all, you rarely need to know which is which until you or a loved one has to deal with one or both of these conditions. And, yes, you could experience both at the same time. 

To bring a little clarity to the subject, let’s compare the two eye diseases in three critical areas…

What are the Causes?

Cataracts: Proteins that make up the eye’s lens clump together, creating a cloudy area in the visual plane. Cataracts generally develop as a person ages and progressively get worse, although they can also occur in children and young adults, often as a result of genetic factors. Smoking, diabetes, traumatic injury, medications, UV exposure and alcohol can all be contributing factors. The number one cause, however, is simply aging.

Macular Degeneration: Aging is also the chief culprit when it comes to Macular Degeneration. In fact, in these instances, it’s known as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). With ARMD, the macula – the part of the retina responsible for central vision and fine details – begins to breakdown. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation lists smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease as contributing factors.

What are the Symptoms? 

Cataracts: Cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, light sensitivity, glare and halos and lens discoloration are all symptoms that could indicate cataracts. Cataract symptoms usually come on slowly. Often, patients simply attribute the gradual loss of vision to their eyes “getting old.” Diagnosis and treatment of cataracts can provide a path to improved vision for the rest of the patient’s life. 

Macular Degeneration: Like cataracts, ARMD symptoms often progress slowly. Vision blurs over time, particularly when trying to focus on objects close up. The biggest difference compared to cataract symptoms is likely the presence of dark areas in the center of the patient’s vision. They may also experience whited-out areas in their vision.

How is it Treated? 

Cataracts: Surgery is the only effective treatment option for cataracts. For vision to improve, the affected lens must be surgically removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant. Today’s laser-assisted cataract surgery procedures allow most patients to see better before they even leave the recovery room. They often experience no pain and recover completely in hours or a few days. 

Macular Degeneration: Little can be done to improve the eyesight of a patient with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, but the speed of vision decline can be slowed with early detection and treatment. Understanding the disease, watching for symptoms and visiting your eye doctor for regular exams can help extend your vision quality. 

Cataracts and macular degeneration pose unique challenges for patients and their eye doctors. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of either condition, please see you eye doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and diagnosis go a long way to improving your quality of life. 

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care today by calling 352-373-4300 or contact us online. We will gladly answer all of your questions and work to find a treatment plan that matches your needs.

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3 Early Warning Signs of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

by Damion Wasylow 13 February 2018 12:37 PM

older man squints to read the newspaper
It’s no secret that as we age, parts of our bodies stop performing as well as they used to. But that doesn’t mean you should write off a loss of ability as, “just part of getting older.” Quite the contrary, there’s often much you can do if you recognize the early warning signs and take action. Such is the case with the vision loss that accompanies age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

ARMD is a breakdown of the macula, the part of the eye that helps you see fine details. The exact cause of the condition isn't known, but as indicated by the name, age-related macular degeneration typically affects people more as they get older. Some patients experience symptoms in their 50s and 60s, and the likelihood increases dramatically as people enter their 70s and 80s.

Here are three warning signs to be aware of… 

Warning Sign 1: Blurred Vision

ARMD usually produces symptoms slowly. Your vision blurs over time, particularly when trying to focus on things close up. You may find you need more light for reading, or can’t quite make out the writing on a medicine bottle. Straight lines may also appear distorted and/or wavy. These symptoms continually get worse.

Warning Sign 2: Dark Areas in Your Central Vision

If you notice a blurred area or dark spot in the center of your vision, age-related macular degeneration may be to blame. Shadowy sections in the middle of your focal area are a strong indicator of ARMD. In some cases, the condition can also produce a whited-out area in your vision.

Warning Sign 3: You Just Celebrated Your 50th Birthday

If you’re 50 or older, it’s a good idea to have a comprehensive eye exam every 2-4 years, and with increasing frequency as you age, to help detect vision problems including ARMD. Your eye doctor can often detect early signs of macular degeneration before you experience symptoms.

While ARMD cannot be cured, when diagnosed early, you may be able to slow the progress of the condition by making smart lifestyle choices, so it’s important to watch for the warning signs, and see your eye doctor if you have any reason for concern.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, our physicians and staff diagnose a wide variety of vision issues, including ARMD. Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.

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Slowing the Progress of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

by Damion Wasylow 13 February 2018 12:28 PM

woman in glasses squinting to see phone screen
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) slowly robs patients of their vision over time, eventually leading to blindness. In fact, ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in people 55 and over in developed countries, affecting more than 10 million people in the United States alone. 

Sadly, there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but you can take steps to slow the progress of ARMD, if you recognize the warning signs and are diagnosed early.

Quit Smoking

As if you needed one more reason to quit, right? Studies show smoking is the biggest modifiable risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the retina, and activate the immune system, causing harmful inflammation.

Eat Right

Like all organs, the eyes are greatly impacted by the nutrients we put into our bodies. Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, zinc from high-protein foods like beef and yogurt, and healthy unsaturated fats from olive oil, avocados, almond butter and the like can limit the progression of ARMD. Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, tuna and walnuts also contribute to the fight.

Get Plenty of the Right Vitamins

If your diet doesn’t provide enough of the right vitamins, take a supplement. Studies show lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in limiting ARMD symptoms. And the American Academy of Ophthalmology says, for patients at more advanced stages of macular degeneration, there’s a benefit in taking supplements that, in addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc oxide and cupric oxide.

Take Care of Your Total Health

Your body’s systems rely on each other for support. When one starts to fail, it often damages another. Keep your weight in check and exercise regularly to ensure your heart and blood pressure are in good shape, as these directly affect the blood vessels in your eyes.

If you’ve been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, you and your ophthalmologist will want to closely monitor the progression of your ARMD symptoms, so visit your eye doctor regularly.

In Gainesville, the physicians and staff at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care are experts in the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration. They will gladly evaluate your symptoms, answer questions and recommend the best steps to help you maintain your vision.

Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your consultation.

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Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

by Damion Wasylow 6 February 2018 12:44 PM

blind man with seeing eye dog in the park
The development of cataracts can be quite scary. Vision degrades slowly over time. With each passing day, week and month, cataract symptoms worsen, and you lose visual clarity. If you or someone you love is currently experiencing this, you probably wonder if it will end at some point, or if you are destined to lose your vision completely.

The sad truth is that without treatment, cataracts inevitably lead to legal blindness and, eventually total blindness, in one or both eyes. The great news is that with effective treatment, the negative impacts of cataracts can be completely and permanently corrected.

Effective cataract treatment

The damage a cataract does to your eye lens is irreversible, as naturally occurring proteins within the eye lens clump together, creating clouded vision. As this continues over time, your vision gets worse. No form of medication or so-called cataract eye drops can correct these symptoms. Surgery to replace your eye lens with an artificial lens implant is the only effective treatment. 

Your surgical options

When you seek treatment from a local cataract eye surgeon, you will likely be presented with two options for your cataract surgery: traditional and laser-assisted. Many patients today choose laser-assisted for its numerous advantages over traditional cataract surgery. Laser-assisted cataract surgery uses advanced computer imaging to map and provide detailed measurements of the eye to the surgeon, making the procedure up to 10 times more precise. Laser-assisted surgery is also pain-free and leads to speedier recovery.

How to get started

Your first step is to schedule a consultation with an ophthalmologist. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass is a well known as one of the North Florida’s finest eye surgeons, having performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries. Dr. Snodgrass and his team will perform a comprehensive eye exam including specialized cataract diagnosis. Together, you will then discuss the results, review any questions you may have and determine if now is the right time for surgery. 

Don’t let cataracts rob you or someone you love of the beautiful world around us. You don’t have to lose your sight forever. The most important step towards maintaining your vision is the first one. Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule your cataract consultation.

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Progressive Lenses vs. Bifocals – Which are Best for You?

by Damion Wasylow 6 February 2018 12:21 PM

man in glasses looks down at tablet computer
Many people start having difficulty focusing on close up objects some time after age 40. This age-related farsightedness usually results from presbyopia, a loss of eye lens elasticity. If you’re in this age group, you may find yourself extending your arms farther to read documents, or pushing your chair back from the computer to read small text on the screen. For people who already wear glasses to correct another vision problem, this new challenge requires a new set of lenses.

Bifocals

Invented by Benjamin Franklin, bifocal eyeglasses have been around for more than 200 years. The idea is simple, divide the overall lens to provide areas for two corrective prescriptions. The top section is generally used to allow the wearer to see objects clearly at a distance, while the lower section allows the wearer to see objects clearly close up. The dividing line between the two prescriptions is obvious within the lens, with the lower portion often shaped like a capital letter D turned on its belly.

Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses (also referred to as no-line bifocals, no-line trifocals or vari-focals) are increasingly popular, and preferred over bifocals by most presbyopia patients. Progressives work on the same concept as bifocals, but without the concrete delineation between the prescriptions. Instead of looking and behaving like a lens wedged within another lens, progressives provide the wearer a gradual transition from seeing clearly at a distance to seeing clearly close up.

Pros and Cons

Many people prefer progressives over bifocals simply for the look, either feeling that wearing overtly multifocal lenses ages them, or simply disliking the lens-within-a-lens aesthetic. It is true, however, that some people have trouble adapting to progressive lenses, as they typically provide a narrower lens area for reading and computer work. Most other common concerns about progressive lenses can be avoided by working with experienced licensed opticians.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, our two convenient Gainesville optical shops are staffed by trained, licensed opticians, eager to answer your eyewear questions. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam or walk-in anytime to check out our selection of designer eyeglass frames.

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How are Cataracts Diagnosed?

by Damion Wasylow 28 January 2018 06:49 AM

optometrist performing testing patient with slit lamp
Cataracts are a common vision problem, particularly among senior citizens. By age 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts. Diagnosis by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist is a fairly simple procedure, requiring little more than a verbal review of your symptoms followed by a standard eye exam.

Cataracts generally develop fairly slowly, eventually presenting symptoms, including:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Lens discoloration
  • Light sensitivity, glare and halos

These cataract symptoms are enough to inspire most patients to schedule a meeting with an eye doctor. During the appointment, the doctor will take a medical history and perform a series of eye tests, likely including:

Visual Acuity Test

This is the test most people associate with a visit to the eye doctor. You’ll be asked to recite the letters on a chart to evaluate the sharpness and clarity of your vision. Your eyes are tested one at a time to identify signs of impairment.

Slit-Lamp Exam

A slit-lamp provides your eye doctor a magnified view of your lens, iris, cornea and the other structures at the front of your eye. This specialized lamp uses an intense slit of light to show these structures in small sections, making it easier to detect tiny irregularities.

Retinal Exam

For the retinal exam, the doctor will use eye drops to dilate (open wide) your pupils. This allows the doctor a better view of the retina in the back of your eye. Using a slit lamp or ophthalmoscope, the physician inspects the retina for signs of cataracts.

If, at the conclusion of this exam, your eye doctor diagnoses you with cataracts, you will move into a discussion of treatment options and timing. If symptoms are not yet interfering with your quality of life, your doctor may suggest holding off for a while.

If it is time for treatment, surgery is your only option. Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine or non-invasive therapy. Surgery is required to remove the affected lens and replace it with an intraocular lens implant.

Many patients today opt for the precision, pain-free results and quick recovery of laser-assisted cataract surgery. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care ophthalmologist Dr. Gregory Snodgrass was the first local eye physician to use the state-of-the-art LenSx® laser cataract system. He has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries and is renowned as a top eye surgeon.

To schedule your cataract evaluation, contact our practice today at 352-373-4300.

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5 Best Holiday Gifts for People Who Wear Glasses

by Damion Wasylow 5 December 2017 12:06 PM

eyeglasses wearing santa opens a present
It’s the holiday season, and for most people, that means going online or running to the mall to frantically shop for gifts. Selecting the right presents for family and friends is a whole lot easier with a little inspiration, and we’re here to help. If someone on your gift list wears eyeglasses, they’re sure to love one of these five holiday presents.

5. Car Clip

Many eyeglasses wearers have alternate glasses for driving. That means each time they get in the car, they have to take one pair off and put the other pair on. Without a sturdy eyeglasses holder for the car, it’s likely the off-pair will land on the dash or the passenger seat where they are certain to be destroyed. Eyeglass holders for the car are generally pretty inexpensive, including models that conveniently clip on to the sun visor.

4. Stylish Case

A quality pair of eyeglasses deserves the protection and good looks of a stylish case. There are literally thousands of material, texture, color and pattern combinations to choose from. A hard case is often a smart choice, as it delivers a higher level of protection. Think about your friend or loved one’s style preferences to find the right design for him or her. 

3. E-reader

Is your friend also a reader? Then it’s highly likely he or she would love a new e-reader. One of the most popular on the market is Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. It’s great for people who wear eyeglasses because, unlike a traditional book, the reader can adjust the size of the text. It also limits glare better than other mobile screens, so it’s perfect for reading outdoors. 

2. Cleaning Kit

Eyeglasses require daily cleaning, so this is something literally every eyeglasses wearer needs. Too often, people just wipe off their glasses on their shirt or a nearby paper towel. These techniques can scratch the lenses, leaving permanent damage. A good eyeglasses cleaning kit should include lens cleaning solution and at least one microfiber lens cloth. Proper lens care can greatly extend the life of your friend’s eyeglasses. 

1. A North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care Gift Card

Sometimes, the best gifts are those we let friends pick out themselves. With a gift card for our practice, the eyeglass wearer in your life will be able to select exactly what their eyes need most. Just stop by one of our optical shops to purchase your gift card. We have two convenient Gainesville optical locations: on the corner of NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street, and in Tioga Town Center.

We hope to see you soon.

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How to Tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

by Damion Wasylow 3 December 2017 03:52 AM

eyeglasses-wearing-child-smiling-outside
Children aren’t likely to tell you if they’re experiencing vision problems. If they’ve dealt with these issues their whole lives, they may not even realize their vision is abnormal. That makes it imperative for you to watch out for the warning signs of potential vision challenges, and include regular eye exams as part of your child’s medical routine. 

Here are five warning signs that should lead you to take your child to a local eye care practice for a comprehensive eye exam…

Covering One Eye or Tilting the Head

Covering one eye is likely your child’s way of trying to eliminate the blurred vision of one eye from impacting the other eye. It could also be an attempt to adjust for misalignment of the eyes. Likewise, tilting the head may be done to change the angle of vision in order to compensate for eye alignment issues such as amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, which impacts 2-3% of children.

Squinting

Squinting is a subconscious attempt to improve visual focus. Your child may not even be aware they’re doing it. It’s often a sign of a refractive error such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, all of which result in blurred vision. Squinting may allow your child to temporarily improve focus, but it does more harm than good.

Sitting Too Close to the TV

Sitting too close to the TV or holding books or handheld devices close to the face could be an indication your child has difficulty seeing clearly when things are farther away. This could be the result of myopia (nearsightedness). Roughly 30% of Americans are affected by myopia. 

Trouble Concentrating

Some parents misdiagnose vision problems as ADHD, as the symptoms can sometimes be similar. Children with vision challenges often have difficulty concentrating because they can’t see the necessary content in order to follow along. For children with vision problems, switching from textbook to chalkboard in the classroom can cause both frustration and physical discomfort. 

Recurring Headaches or Eye Pain

Headaches and eye pain can be triggered by any number of factors, including in some cases, vision problems. Frequent after-school headaches or headaches after reading could be an indication of asthenopia, commonly known as eye strain. This could be the result of an eye muscle imbalance or it could point to the need for glasses to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Early diagnosis of vision problems is critical for improving your child’s overall quality of life, in the classroom and beyond. Even without symptoms, the Mayo Clinic recommends a comprehensive eye exam between the ages of three and five. If everything is clear, follow up with exams every one to two years throughout adolescence. 

To schedule your child’s comprehensive eye exam, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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How to Gently Tell a Loved One It’s Time for an Eye Exam

by Damion Wasylow 28 November 2017 13:36 PM

man talking with wife over coffee
Some people can be pretty sensitive about the possibility of vision loss. They may see it as a sign of aging, a clear indication they’re not as young as they used to be. In some cases, this can lead to denial, and lack of treatment. Failure to address vision loss, however, robs your loved one of precious moments, and can lead to frustrations for everyone around.

If you notice signs of vision loss in a loved one, try these tips to gently encourage him to schedule an eye exam. 

Schedule an exam for yourself

Even if you don’t have any discernable signs of vision loss, regular eye exams should be part of your healthcare regimen. Scheduling your own eye exam will provide a good opportunity to bring up the topic of eye care with your loved one. Consider inviting him along for your exam. Seeing firsthand what’s involved with the exam and how friendly and professional the environment is may help to overcome some roadblocks. 

Try a little flattery

If ego is part of what’s preventing your loved one from admitting his likely vision problems, try using that to your advantage. Casually comment about how handsome you think certain glasses-wearing celebrities are on TV and in movies. When you’re out together, compliment friends and acquaintances on their eyeglasses, and suggest how dapper your loved one might look in a similar pair. Don’t be disingenuous, just point out that many people truly look great in a fashionable pair of eyeglasses.

Resort to honesty

A frank, yet compassionate, expression of your concern may ultimately have the biggest impact. Start by telling him how thankful you are to have him in your life. Then, specify the warning signs that lead you to believe a comprehensive eye exam could be worthwhile. If your loved one doesn’t relent at this point, let it go…for a while. Revisit the topic in a few weeks, with the same compassion. Eventually, he will either concede and schedule an exam, or sadly, he’ll continue missing out on some of the best things in life. At the end of the day, it’s his vision and his choice. 

When the time does come to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, we hope you will consider North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. Our talented eye care team will take great care of your loved one and provide a treatment plan that helps bring the world back into focus.

Contact us today at 352-373-4300.

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