A Clearer View

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

Tests Performed During a Comprehensive Eye Exam: A Closer Look

by Damion Wasylow 3 July 2017 09:44 AM

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Depending on your overall health and any pre-existing conditions, eye care professionals generally recommend you have a comprehensive eye exam every few years, with increasing frequency as you age. A comprehensive eye exam is much more thorough than a simple vision screening, evaluating eye function and complete eye health, as well as the quality of your vision. This requires your eye doctor to perform a series of tests, including, but not limited to:

Visual Acuity

Visual acuity is a measure of how clearly you see things. You will be asked to read letters from a chart while standing a set distance away. Most people are familiar with this test. Picture the white chart of letters with a big “E” at the top and lines of smaller letters moving down the chart. The smaller the letters you can read, the better your visual acuity. 

Refraction Test

Refraction tests are used to evaluate nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, among other things. This test should also be pretty familiar to most people. You will be asked to look into a specialized instrument called a phoropter. Inside, you’ll see an image. The doctor will make an adjustment and ask if the adjustment made the image more or less clear for you. You’ll likely be asked, “Number one, or number two? Number one, or number two?”

Pupillary Reactions

Pupillary reactions are the reflexive way your pupils (the black center of your eye) behave to changes in incoming light. Your pupils should dilate (become smaller) as the doctor shines a light into your eyes and expand when the light is taken away. 

Extraocular Movements

Extraocular movements reflect the function of the muscles that control the motion of your eyes. This is another non-invasive test, in which the doctor will ask you to focus on a pen or other small object as he or she moves it in front of your eyes.

Confrontation Visual Fields

Confrontation visual fields is a measure of the breadth of your field of vision, i.e. the extent of the area your eyes allow you to see. While sitting in front of you, your eye doctor will extend his or her arm out to the side with one finger raised. You will cover one eye. The doctor will then slowly bring his or her hand back to the center, asking you to say when you can see the finger. 

Cover Test

A cover test helps the doctor evaluate how well your eyes work together. You will be asked to cover one eye and focus on a nearby or far away object. The doctor will then watch as you uncover the eye to see how quickly the second eye joins in focusing on the object.

If it’s been a while since you had a comprehensive eye exam, it’s probably time to schedule an appointment. We hope you choose North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. With offices in Gainesville and Lake City, our physicians and staff provide outstanding service for all your eye care needs.

Call us today at 352-373-4300.

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When is the Right Time for Cataract Surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 3 July 2017 09:34 AM

man with poor eyesight from cataracts
If you are living with cataracts, you may be debating whether or not to have surgery, and if so, when? Deciding to have any surgery is a very personal choice, one that should be discussed both with your physician and those close to you. That said, there are some basic guidelines that can help you decide if the time is right for you.

First of all, you should know that surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts, and cataracts get progressively worse over time. They will not halt or improve. Eventually, you will either need to have surgery or your cataracts will rob you completely of your vision.

The best indicator of the right time for cataract surgery is the impact cataracts have on your quality of life. Early on, cataracts may have little effect on your ability to read, drive, watch TV or see people’s faces. If you are able to live and function comfortably with little interruption due to your cataracts, surgery can likely wait.

Over time, however, the clouding, discoloration and other symptoms of cataracts will prevent you from enjoying many daily activities. As a result, some cataract sufferers become quite isolated. Unchecked, this can lead to additional medical and psychological problems; so don’t let things get to that point. As soon as you recognize your quality of life is suffering, contact your eye physician.

Another factor to consider in timing your cataract surgery is access to support during recovery. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, and today’s laser-assisted cataract surgeries require far less recover time. Still, you will at minimum need someone to drive you home from the surgery center. Beyond that, some patients may need minor assistance with daily activities for a day or two following surgery. If you don’t have family members or friends to fill this role, securing the short-term service of an in-home health aide may be a wise choice.

If you suspect that you or someone you love may have cataracts, or if you were previously diagnosed and think now may be the right time for surgery, we would love to hear from you. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries, and was the area’s first ophthalmologist to use the LenSx laser cataract system

Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.

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What is a Femtosecond Laser for Cataract Surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 24 May 2017 02:10 AM

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If you’re considering laser-assisted surgery to correct cataracts, you may have heard the term “femtosecond laser” and wondered what exactly that is. Admittedly, physicians sometimes casually use words that aren’t familiar to most people. So, let’s explore this one.

What is a femtosecond laser?

Without getting too complicated, lasers are essentially high-energy, focused light beams used for a variety of applications, including medical procedures. A femtosecond laser produces light pulses so brief they have to be measured in “femtoseconds,” which translates to trillionths of a second. So, the femtosecond identifier is really just a technical designation. 

How is a femtosecond laser used for cataract surgery?

Femtosecond lasers are the key elements in some of the world’s finest laser-assisted cataract surgery systems. In these systems, computer-guided femtosecond lasers are used to make fine incisions with pinpoint accuracy. An ultrasonic energy-emitting probe then emulsifies (break ups and liquefies) the cataract-damaged lens, so it can be removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant.

The precision offered by these laser-assisted cataract surgical systems cannot be matched. LenSx also requires less ultrasonic energy to break up the affected lens, resulting in less trauma to the eye and fewer trauma-related side effects.

Of course, having the right tools is one thing, knowing how to use them successfully is even more important.

Is there an experienced femtosecond laser cataract surgeon in Gainesville?

Yes, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass was the area’s first ophthalmologist to use the LenSx laser-assisted cataract surgery system. He has been an eye doctor in Gainesville for 30 years, and conducted more than 20,000 cataract surgeries in that time. He is well known as one of the area’s premier ophthalmologists, combining advanced skills, state-of-the-art technology and decades of experience to deliver outstanding results. 

Even if you have already talked to another cataract surgeon, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion in order to fully understand your options. Dr. Snodgrass and the North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care team will gladly review your cataract symptoms and answer any questions you may have, so you can make an informed decision about your cataract treatment.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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How Often Should You Have Your Eyes Examined?

by Damion Wasylow 24 May 2017 02:01 AM

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Most people wait far too long between eye exams. Many figure as long as their vision quality is “ok” and not adversely impacting quality of life, they can put off an eye exam a while longer. The trouble with that theory, however, is that many eye conditions progress without noticeable symptoms until it’s too late.

In addition to vision challenges, eye exams can uncover a variety of undiagnosed health issues throughout the body, some of which can be life-threatening, like brain tumors, diabetes and high cholesterol. That’s just part of the reason the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular eye exams.

Comprehensive eye exams should not be confused with vision screenings. Vision screenings are generally just quick visual acuity tests designed to detect fairly obvious vision problems. A comprehensive eye exam is much more inclusive, reviewing everything from peripheral vision and pupillary response to eye muscle strength and eye pressure, among other things.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following cadence for regular eye exams:

Children 5 years and younger

Your pediatrician will look for common eye problems – lazy eye, crossed eyes, turned-out eyes. Assuming nothing substantive is obvious, a comprehensive eye exam can usually wait until between the ages of three and five.

Older children and teens

An eye exam is advisable prior to starting first grade. If everything is clear, follow up with exams every one to two years. 

Adults

Healthy adults with no outward symptoms of eye problems can generally follow this schedule based on your age:

  • In your 20s and 30s – every 5-10 years
  • In your 40s to mid-50s – every 2-4 years
  • In you mid-50s to mid-60s – every 1-3 years
  • After age 65 – every 1-2 years

Of course, comprehensive eye exams should be more frequent if you have known vision problems, a family history of eye disease or a chronic disease that may impact the eyes, like diabetes. For these patients, an annual exam should be the minimum. In some cases, every three to six months is advisable.

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

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Helping a Loved One Open Up to Wearing Eyeglasses

by Damion Wasylow 2 May 2017 09:26 AM

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Do you have a loved one who refuses to wear eyeglasses, no matter how desperately she needs them? Maybe she sees wearing glasses as a sign of aging, or thinks she won’t look good in glasses, or perhaps eyeglasses always remind her of that cranky teacher she had in third grade. Whatever the reason, here are a few ways you can help her lay those objections aside and embrace life with eyeglasses.

Remind her of all the things she’s missing.

The world is a really beautiful place, and your loved one is missing out on a lot of it. Poor vision may prevent her from seeing the details in her child’s smile or the subtle textures in a photo. In more extreme examples, she might not pick up on the change of a traffic light or the drop-off of a curb. Poor eyesight can hurt us in many ways. 

Show her photos of glasses-wearing celebs.

Some of the most beautiful, celebrated people in the world wear eyeglasses. Gather some photos of Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway, Zoe Saldana, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Justin Timberlake and other celebrities proudly rocking their cool eyeglasses. If that A-list isn’t too cool for glasses, maybe your loved one won’t be either. 

Compliment other people who wear glasses.

Look for opportunities to compliment eyeglass wearers in front of your friend. Don’t be fake, but if you legitimately like someone’s glasses, speak up. Go so far as to ask where she bought them. It might spark a story about the wonderful experience she had and how flattering all the compliments are. That may be enough to illustrate to your loved one just how great wearing glasses can be.

Convince her to schedule an eye exam.

It’s very possible your loved one will argue that her eyesight just isn’t bad enough to require eyeglasses yet. Make a deal – if she gets an eye exam and it turns out she doesn’t need glasses, you’ll buy lunch the next time you go out. A friendly wager (plus the opportunity to get you off her back) may be enough to instigate an eye appointment. Once she’s there, the staff will provide an unbiased exam, explain her vision needs and lay out her options.

When that time comes, we hope you will choose North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. We offer comprehensive eye exams, and will gladly answer any questions you or your loved may have. Plus, our two Gainesville optical locations feature the area’s finest selection of stylish, designer eyeglass frames.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Long, Sunny Days Make Sunglasses All the More Important

by Damion Wasylow 2 May 2017 09:12 AM

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North Central Florida experiences increasingly longer periods of sunlight as we roll through spring and into summer, peaking at around 14 hours of full daylight in mid-June. Given our area’s amazing selection of outdoor actives, many of us will likely spend a good deal of time in the sun in coming months. Before heading outside, it’s important to take precautions to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

The sun produces two forms of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can be harmful to our eyes: UV-A and UV-B. Long-term effects of too much exposure to these UV rays can include retina damage and increased risk of cataracts. In the short-term, you can even experience photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn on the eyes.

To adequately protect your eyes, the American Optometric Association suggests selecting sunglasses that:

  • block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light; and
  • are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection. 

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, it’s a smart decision to also get a pair of prescription sunglasses. After all, you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your vision while you’re enjoying the outdoors.

A talented optician can provide you a set of sunglass lenses that will protect your eyes while helping you see clearly. They can also help you select frames that look great and work with your lifestyle

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care offers optical services at both our Gainesville locations: NW 8th Avenue and Tioga Town Center. Both optical shops feature hundred of designer frames from brands like Tag Heuer, Kate Spade, Costa del Mar and Etnia Barcelona, among others. Our expert staff is eager to answer any questions and to help you select the perfect pair. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Optician – What’s the Difference?

by Damion Wasylow 10 April 2017 12:14 PM

optometrist-performing-eye-exam
The eyes are extremely delicate and complex organs, which can require very different forms of treatment depending on your specific vision needs. So, it’s only natural that the healthcare professionals who treat eyes come with a variety of training (and titles) in order to deliver the best outcomes.

Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) or osteopathic doctor (D.O.) who specializes in all aspects of eye care. They generally complete four years of college followed by at least eight years of additional medical training. Some ophthalmologists, like our practice’s Dr. Gregory Snodgrass, have subspecialties like cataract surgery, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. Ophthalmologists have the highest level of training, and are qualified for advanced eye disease treatment and surgical procedures.

Optometrist

A doctor of optometry (O.D.), better known as an optometrist, provides primary vision care. They generally earn a four-year college degree followed by four years of post-graduate training in optometry school. Optometrists perform eye exams, prescribe and dispense corrective eyeglass and contact lenses, detect eye abnormalities and prescribe medications, among other things. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care has three optometrists on staff to serve our patients. 

Optician

Opticians are not eye doctors, so they do not diagnose or treat eye diseases, but they do serve a critical role for patients’ vision needs. Opticians design, confirm and fit eyeglass lenses, frames and contact lenses based on the corrective prescriptions produced by ophthalmologists and optometrists. Unlike many standalone optical shops, North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care’s optical locations in Gainesville feature licensed opticians to provide the best vision correction possible. 

Selecting the right eye care professional for your vision needs doesn’t have to be confusing. Your best bet is to call and schedule a consultation. We’ll gladly work with you to diagnose your vision challenges and answer any questions you have along the way.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today.

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How to Choose the Right Eyeglass Frames

by Damion Wasylow 23 March 2017 07:34 AM

fashionable-glasses-on-attractive-couple

Whether you have worn eyeglasses for years, or you’re shopping for your first pair, finding the right frames can be challenging. A lot of factors play into matching your vision needs, style and life with frames that will provide great quality and value.

Before heading into your local optical shop, take these factors into consideration…

Face Shape

The general shape of your face greatly influences the frames that may be right for you. Rectangular frames are generally preferred for rounder faces, as they help to lengthen the face. Squarer faces often look best with circular or oval frames. People with oval faces can generally wear any frame shape.

Frame Type

Some people prefer thicker, fuller frames. Others like minimal frames. Full rim glasses help to focus attention on the eyes. Semi-rimless frames accentuate the upper portion of your face. Rimless frames produce the least impact on the appearance, while deemphasizing the forehead. Choose the frame type that accents your best features. 

Lifestyle

Think about the activities you will likely participate in while wearing your glasses. If you have an active lifestyle, flexible frames may enhance comfort and durability. If you use your glasses to read intermittently throughout the day, consider a pair that separate in the middle and then hang around your neck. Your optician will talk you through several lifestyle-related options.

Color

Today’s eyeglass frames come in a rainbow of colors. Most people agree that warmer complexions look best with frame hues you might see in a fire: reds, coppers, golds, oranges, creams, corals, khakis and beiges. Cooler complexions look great with icy and steely tones: blues, grays, slivers, plums and roses. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference, so have fun discovering the best color for you. 

Personality

More than anything else you wear or own, your eyeglasses are the most common things people see on you. With so many styles to choose from, you are sure to find a pair that conveys something about the way you perceive yourself and how you want others to perceive you. From classic to modern and conservative to flashy, the right frames speak volumes about your personality.

The best way to find the right frames for you is to head in to your area’s best optical shop. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care has two convenient optical locations – Tioga Town Center and our brand new Gainesville location on the corner of NW 8th Avenue and NW 43rd Street. Both shops feature hundreds of styles and colors from which to choose. And our expert staff with gladly answer questions and help you find frames that match your style and budget.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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How Does CareCredit Vision Plan Work in Gainesville?

by Damion Wasylow 1 February 2017 11:13 AM

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The fear of healthcare costs prevents too many people from seeking out and receiving medical treatments that would improve their quality of life. Few people know that you don’t need to be rich or even have expensive health insurance in order to afford many important healthcare procedures, including vision care.

CareCredit is an option for many vision patients, helping you pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance. It is essentially a healthcare credit card designed specifically to help patients pay for medical and wellness procedures. With CareCredit, instead of paying everything upfront for your medical needs, the costs are spread across monthly payments.

When used at enrolled providers, including North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, CareCredit gives you the advantage of special financing offers that you’re unlikely to get through traditional credit cards. Financing periods are available from six to 60 months, with reduced annual percentage rates (APR) and fixed monthly payments.

CareCredit can be used for a variety of vision care needs, from eye exams and glasses to cataract and dry eye treatment. You can apply CareCredit to purchase a new pair of eyeglasses or be fitted for new contact lenses. Use CareCredit to pay for a new premium intraocular lens implant as part of your cataract surgery, or to offset the cost of LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we gladly accept CareCredit, and can even guide you to start the application process. It’s quick, easy and could be just what you need in order to get your vision back on track.

If you need eye care or cataract surgery, contact us at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today, and schedule a consultation to discuss your specific treatment options.

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3 Most Common Questions from Cataract Patients

by Damion Wasylow 30 January 2017 09:31 AM

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At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we treat hundreds of patients each year. In fact, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass is one of the area’s most experienced cataract surgeons, with more than 20,000 successful surgeries to his credit. We believe an informed patient is an empowered patient, so we’re always happy to answer questions before and after any procedure.

Here are the three most common questions we are asked about cataracts...

#1: How do I know when it’s the right time to have cataract surgery?

More than 90-percent of people over 65-years-old have cataracts. If you’re getting regular eye exams, your cataracts will most likely be diagnosed long before they require surgery. Cataract symptoms get progressively worse over time, however, and cataracts always eventually require surgery to correct. If cataract symptoms limit your ability to read, drive or enjoy other daily activities, it’s time for surgery. Talk to your ophthalmologist.

#2. Does cataract surgery provide a permanent fix?

The short answer is, yes. Once you have cataract surgery, you can never get a cataract on the same eye again. That’s because the damaged natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens implant. The implant is not susceptible to the type of protein buildup that results in cataracts. No surgical procedure is 100-percent guaranteed, of course. Physical trauma to the eye, for example, could displace an artificial lens, requiring a follow-up procedure, but these instances are quite rare.

#3. What are the differences between traditional and laser cataract surgery?

Today, laser-assisted cataract surgery is the preferred treatment method for most patients. Laser-assisted surgery uses computer mapping to pinpoint the incision location, making it more precise than traditional surgery. Laser-assisted surgery also requires less ultrasonic energy to break up the damaged lens, resulting in less trauma to the eye and faster recovery. The incision is self-sealing, so no stitches are required, and the entire procedure is pain-free.

If you have questions about cataracts and cataract surgery, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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