A Clearer View

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

Cataract Awareness Month Shines Light on Leading Cause of Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 5 June 2019 07:17 AM

attractive elderly mother and adult daughter outside
More than 20 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts, a condition that can lead to blindness, but few people understand the causes, symptoms and available treatment options. That’s why Prevent Blindness America declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. By bringing attention to this devastating – yet curable – disorder, healthcare professionals and advocates hope more people will make smart eye health choices and seek treatment to restore their vision. 

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens resulting from a build up of naturally occurring proteins. It prevents light from being properly focused onto the retina, causing visual impairment or even blindness. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes, and the damage is permanent, requiring surgery to correct.

What causes cataracts?

The primary cause of cataracts is aging. As we get older, the eye lens thickens, making it less transparent. By age 80, 50% of people have some level of cataract development. Cataracts can, however, develop much earlier in life. It’s even possible for babies to be born with cataracts. Genetics, over-exposure to sunlight, smoking, heavy alcohol use and certain medications can increase your risk. 

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

The most common cataract symptom is cloudy or blurred vision. It may only impact a small area of vision at first, but will eventually overtake the patient’s entire field of view. Double vision, light sensitivity, glare and halos are also common. The symptom most people associate with cataracts is lens discoloration. Cataracts can cause colors to dull or be distorted, as if there is a brown or yellow film over the eye.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

When cataract symptoms are identified, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will take a medical history and perform a series of eye tests to diagnose your cataracts. These tests often include a visual acuity test to identify signs of impairment, a slit-lamp test to detect tiny irregularities in the other structures at the front of your eye and a retinal exam to inspect the retina for signs of cataracts.

How are cataracts treated?

Surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts. The damaged lens must be surgically replaced with an artificial lens. Effective cataract surgery – whether traditional or laser-assisted – can permanently restore the patient’s vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest medical procedures in the U.S. Approximately 3 million Americans per year have cataract surgery with 99.5% experiencing minor or no postoperative complications, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you or someone you love may have cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule a consultation. We’ll evaluate your symptoms, diagnose the root cause and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you. Call us today.

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Where Can I Find a Cataract Surgeon?

by Damion Wasylow 24 May 2019 05:28 AM

woman looking at her phone in the kitchen
Selecting the best eye surgeon
for your cataract surgery often requires a little bit of homework, but that effort is well worth your time. No two cataract surgeons are the same. You’ll want to find one with extensive experience, the best surgical technology and a reputation for treating patients with honesty and compassion. So, where can you start?

Talk to Your Optometrist

While your optometrist may be able to diagnose cataracts, only an ophthalmologist is qualified to perform cataract surgery. Through the years, your eye doctor has likely referred numerous patients to a variety of local cataract surgeons. They will have a really good sense of which ophthalmologists delivered successful surgeries and great patient experiences.

Search Online for Local Cataract Surgeons

Performing searches online for terms like “cataract surgeons near me” or “north florida cataract surgeon” will reveal links to a number of local cataract surgeons’ websites. Often, a physician’s character is reflected by his practice’s website. Take some time to explore a handful of sites. Is it helpful? Compassionate? Does it provide insight into the surgeon’s background and the types of cataract surgery he performs? Once you feel good about what you’re seeing online, call to schedule an in-person consultation

Read Testimonials

There’s no substitute for hearing directly from someone who has already traveled the road that lies ahead of you. Patients whose vision has been permanently restored through cataract surgery often have glowing things to say. WCJB TV20 interviewed North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision care patient Sally Thompson, who said of the experience, “It’s the easiest thing you could ever imagine. I’ve had more pain with a paper cut. I had the surgery in the morning. I was out by noon. I went home and took an hour nap and I went back to work. I worked until 5:30 that day." 

If you’re ready to explore your cataract surgery options, we invite you to contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care at 352-373-4300. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass is among the region’s most experienced cataract surgeons, with more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries to his credit. He was also the first local eye surgeon to use the state-of-the-art LenSx laser cataract system.

Schedule your consultation today.

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Healthy Vision Month Highlights Importance of Regular Eye Exams

by Damion Wasylow 23 May 2019 13:39 PM

young woman making a heart shape with her hands
By now, most people appreciate the value of maintaining a healthy body, understanding that when our bodies are strong, we tend to look better, feel better and perform better. Too often overlooked, however, is the importance of eye health. Your eyes are your windows to the world, and without proper care, they could be ailing without you even knowing it. That’s why, in 2003, the National Eye Institute (NEI) established May as Healthy Vision Month. 

Healthy Vision Month is a reminder for all of us to take better care of our eyes. From using proper eyewear during potentially dangerous activities to eating a diet rich in eye-healthy nutrients, there are several steps you can take today to ensure your eyes are on the right path to deliver optimum vision throughout your life. And it all starts with getting regular comprehensive eye exams.

5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Eye Health

1. Get an Eye Exam

Half of all Americans have vision problems, many of which are undiagnosed. The most effective way to identify these eye health issues is through a comprehensive eye exam. During a comprehensive exam, your eye doctor will evaluate everything from peripheral vision and pupillary response to eye muscle strength and eye pressure, among other things. This can reveal most eye health issues. 

2. Use Protective Eyewear

Eye injuries are a major cause of blindness among adults and the leading cause of blindness for U.S. children. On the job or on the playing field, protective eyewear is a must when participating in any potentially dangerous activity. Safety glasses, goggles, safety shields and the like can go a long way towards protecting your eyes from injury.

3. Wear Sunglasses

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause serious damage to unprotected eyes. Your eyes can even get sunburned. Exposure to sunlight also increases your risk of cataracts, retina damage and growths on or around the eye. Quality UV-blocking sunglasses are your first line of defense. Select sunglasses that block out 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation and 75-90% of visible light. 

4. Eat Well

Nutrition plays an critical role in keeping your eyes healthy and working well. Several foods, including leafy greens like kale and spinach, oily fish like tuna and salmon, nuts, beans, citrus and berries have key nutrients that promote eye health. And, of course, carrots are also a great source. The beta-carotene in carrots helps prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, blindness and more.

5. Don’t Smoke

Smoking increases your risk for a variety of eye diseases, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and more. It also increases your chances of developing diabetic retinopathy and uveitis, a condition affecting the middle layer of the eye. Smoking can also make dry eye symptoms worse.

Do your eyes a favor during Healthy Vision Month by contacting North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Our talented eye physicians will evaluate your overall eye health and identify any issues you should be aware of today or looking ahead to the future.

Call our practice today at 352-373-4300.

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Nearsighted, Farsighted, What’s the Difference?

by Damion Wasylow 11 May 2019 12:58 PM

woman seen through glasses she's putting on someone else
If you wear glasses, you’re probably quite familiar with the difference between nearsightedness and farsightedness. These conditions are among the most common vision problems in the U.S. and the world. For those experiencing vision challenges for the first time, however, nearsightedness and farsightedness are easily confused. So, which is which, and what can be done to correct the conditions? 

Nearsightedness

Also known as myopia, nearsightedness is characterized by difficulty clearly seeing objects that are far away. That might seem counterintuitive, so you can remember it this way…if you are nearsighted, you CAN clearly see things that are NEAR

Nearsightedness is a type of refractive error. That means your eye shape does not bend light appropriately. With nearsightedness, instead of light focusing correctly on your retina, it focuses in front of the retina, resulting in a blurred image.

Nearsightedness is typically genetic and usually diagnosed through an eye exam during childhood. It often progresses substantially as the body grows rapidly through early adolescence.

Prescription glasses or contact lenses are the most common treatments for nearsightedness. Expertly crafted lenses from your optician help to better focus light on the appropriate part of the retina. Lens prescriptions vary greatly, and are commonly represented by a negative number. The more negative the number, the stronger the lenses that are required to correct your vision. 

Surgery can also correct nearsightedness for many patients, and may offer lifelong vision improvement.

Farsightedness

Also known as hyperopia, farsightedness is less common than nearsightedness, but still among the most frequently diagnosed vision problems in the U.S. People who are farsighted have trouble seeing things that are near them. In other words… if you are farsighted, you CAN clearly see things that are FAR AWAY

Like nearsightedness, farsightedness is a refractive error. In this case, it’s generally the result of either your eyeball being shorter than normal or your cornea being curved too little. 

As a refractive error, farsightedness is also treated with either corrective lenses or surgery. Your farsightedness lens prescription will feature a positive number. The bigger that number, the more powerful the required lens. 

If your vision is blurred or you experience double vision, haziness, glare, halos, eye strain or recurring headaches, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. We’ll diagnose the cause of your vision problem and recommend treatment options to dramatically improve your vision.

Call us today at 352-373-4300.

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When is the Right Time for an Eye Exam?

by Damion Wasylow 11 May 2019 12:45 PM

young man getting an eye exam from his optometrist
If you’ve never been diagnosed with vision problems, you likely assume your eyes are in great shape. What you may not notice, however, are small vision problems that inevitably get worse over time. Undetected and untreated, your eyes strain to overcome those minor challenges. Before you know it, the problems grow substantially worse and your quality of life suffers. That’s why it’s critical to get regular eye exams.

According to a study by the National Eye Institute (NEI), half of all Americans have some sort of vision problem. By analyzing data on 12,000 people aged 20 and older, NEI researchers found more than one-third were nearsighted, more than one-third had astigmatism and nearly four-percent were farsighted. For your long-term eye health, it’s important to find out sooner rather than later if you’re also among that group. 

The best way to determine your eye health is through a comprehensive eye exam. These exams, which are administered at your local eye doctor’s practice, are much more inclusive than standard vision screenings. Vision screenings generally consider only visual acuity and often miss more substantial yet less obvious vision challenges.

A comprehensive eye exam reviews everything from peripheral vision and pupillary response to eye muscle strength and eye pressure, among other things. This can reveal most eye health issues, as well as a number of undiagnosed health concerns throughout the body. In some cases, brain tumors, diabetes, high cholesterol and more can be initially detected through an eye exam.

Even if you don’t have apparent vision loss or symptoms of eye disease, The Mayo Clinic recommends the following schedule for regular eye exams:

Children under 5 years old

First comprehensive exam between three and five years old, unless your child’s pediatrician notices obvious symptoms earlier 

Older children and teens

Prior to starting first grade, then every one to two years

Adults

Assuming no obvious symptoms of vision impairment, every five to 10 years in your 20’s, every two to four years in your 40’s to mid-50’s, every one to three years in your mid-50’s to mid-60’s, every one to two years after that

If you notice vision challenges at any age, of course, schedule an eye exam right away. And if you have known problems or a family history of eye disease, you should be on a more frequent eye exam schedule. In these instances, you should have an exam at least once per year.

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

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Are Cataracts Contagious?

by Damion Wasylow 21 March 2019 03:31 AM

elderly father laughing with son on park bench
Until a friend or loved one is diagnosed, most people know very little about cataracts. That’s when the homework starts. One of the most common questions is, “are cataracts contagious?” It’s natural to want to understand your own risk of developing the condition. After all, without surgery to replace the eye lens, cataracts can permanently rob you of your vision.

So, let’s address that critical question. Are cataracts contagious?

No, not at all.

For most people, the cause of cataracts is aging, plain and simple. As we get older, the eye lens naturally thickens and becomes less transparent. 50% of people have some level of cataract development by the time they turn 80-years-old. By age 95, nearly 100% of people have vision loss due to cataracts. And the effects can start much earlier in life.

A handful of factors can increase your likelihood of developing of cataracts. Over-exposure to sunlight, smoking, heavy alcohol use and taking certain medications have been shown to increase your risk. Genetics is also a major contributor. If close family members have cataracts, you are more likely to also develop them. It’s even possible for children to be born with congenital cataracts as a result of genes passed down from their parents.

So, while cataracts are not contagious, if you live long enough, you’re almost assured to experience them for yourself one day. The good news is that vision loss due to cataracts is correctable.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common elective surgeries performed in the United States, and it has an extremely high success rates. Approximately 3 million Americans have cataract surgery each year, with 99.5% experiencing minor or no postoperative complications.

Whether the patient opts for traditional or laser-assisted cataract surgery, the basic procedure is much the same. The surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea and inserts a probe to break up the cataract-damaged lens. The pieces are then suctioned out and a new intraocular lens implant is put into place. The lens implant is artificial, and therefore not susceptible to future cataract damage. Once the surgery is done, you never have to worry about cataracts again.

If you or someone you love is dealing with cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today for a consultation. Our practice offers state-of-the-art cataract diagnosis and treatment, including laser-assisted cataract surgery using the LenSx system. Our own Dr. Gregory Snodgrass was the first local eye surgeon to use this advanced surgical system.

Call us today at 352-373-4300.

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4 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying Eyeglasses Online

by Damion Wasylow 21 February 2019 08:33 AM

woman in oversized eyeglasses
In a world where it’s increasingly convenient to buy many things online, some patients are even turning to the Internet for their eyeglasses. While the accessibility and pricing of retail optical websites may be attractive, there are several reasons to think twice before clicking the buy button.

1. Questionable quality and safety

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Optometry found that eyeglasses purchased online were more likely to be deemed unsafe or unacceptable due to poor frame fit, unsatisfactory appearance or inaccurate measurements. In fact, 44.8% of the eyeglasses ordered online by study participants included an inaccurate prescription or failed to meet safety standards.

2. Inability to try them on

No two faces are alike, and subtle differences mean a lot when it comes to eyeglasses. Multiple accurate measurements are necessary to perfectly fit your frames to your unique features. Frames that are too large, too heavy or don’t correctly sit on your nose will slip. Frames that are too small may pinch your nose or temples and become extremely uncomfortable. In addition to being uncomfortable, this can cause vision problems. An experienced local optician at a brick-and-mortar optical shop can take precise measurements and help you find frames that fit your face properly and match your needs. Nearly as important, you get to see the frames actually on your face, not just through some idealized 3-D rendering. 

3. Inaccurate pupil distance measurement

Pupil distance (PD) is arguably the most important measurement for finding frames and lenses that will optimize your vision. PD determines where to place the center of each lens in your frames to match the unique composition of your eyes. This has a huge impact on your improved vision quality. Unfortunately, this measurement is not usually provided with your eyeglass prescription, and it is extremely difficult to measure accurately on your own. Online retailers may reference a variety of do-it-yourself alternatives, but usually recommend going back to your optometrist for this measurement. Well, if you have to go back to your eyecare practice anyway, if they offer an in-house optical, why not just get your glasses there?

4. Limited access to multifocal lenses

Fitting multifocal lenses, like bifocals, trifocals or progressives, is especially challenging. In fact, it’s so intricate that most online eyeglasses retailers won’t even attempt it. Still, some websites will work with customers one-on-one to try to achieve a successful result. While in a brick and mortar setting, the measurements necessary for mutlifocals are taken after the frame is selected and personally fitted, without that ability, these online retailers have to estimate and hope for the best. 

Shopping online is a great option for a lot of things, but when it comes to your vision, it’s hard to overstate the value of a local optical shop. If you are in the market for your next pair of eyeglasses, stop by one of our two convenient Gainesville optical shops today or contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care at 352-373-4300.

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Cataract Surgery Procedure: Selecting a Surgeon

by Damion Wasylow 5 February 2019 08:43 AM

hand reaching down to select a doctor
If you or a loved one is considering cataract surgery, choosing the right surgeon for the procedure is your most important decision. No two surgeons are the same, so it’s essential to research and interview local ophthalmologists to find one with the ability and expertise you expect.

Here are five criteria to consider when selecting your cataract surgeon…

Training

Cataract surgery is a specialty in every sense of the word, one that requires specialized training in both the basic procedure and the modern and evolving surgical techniques that make it one of the safest medical procedures available.

Only about 9,000 physicians in the U.S. regularly perform cataract surgery.

Dr. Gregory Snodgrass of North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is among the nation’s best-trained cataract experts. He obtained his medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed his internship and Ophthalmology Residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital and The Ohio State University, serving as Chief Resident. Five years ago, he was the first ophthalmologist in North Central Florida to use the LenSx system for laser-assisted cataract surgery.

Experience

There’s no substitute for experience. Book study and med school instruction provide the foundation, but there’s even more to learn from actually performing the procedure. A surgeon who has successfully treated thousands of patients has a lot of real-world experience from which to draw. 

Dr. Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries, while earning accolades from patients and colleagues alike. He was recently inducted into the prestigious International Association of HealthCare Professionals and named one of Gainesville’s top three eye doctors.

Procedures

Cataract surgery has come a long way in recent years. Not long ago, traditional surgery was the only option available to patients. While traditional techniques are still viable, many patients today opt for laser-assisted surgery. Laser cataract surgery is pain-free and requires less recovery time. Selecting an eye surgeon who offers both will allow you to fully explore all your options. 

North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care has an outstanding track record with both traditional and laser-assisted procedures. In fact, Dr. Snodgrass was the first local eye surgeon to use the state-of-the-art LenSx laser cataract system. He regularly performs both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgeries.

Resources

The best cataract surgeons surround themselves with outstanding people, tools and resources in order to make the complete surgical process as pleasant and effective as possible. Surgery can be scary, so it’s crucial to have friendly staff with a great bedside manner to make you feel comfortable and cared for. It’s also important to have a facility that offers outstanding surgical technology alongside modern amenities.

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care’s staff is top-notch. They gladly take time to answer all of your questions and support you in every way possible. From the practice’s three convenient locations to the Laser and Outpatient Surgery Center where Dr. Snodgrass performs cataract surgeries, you’ll find state-of-the-art facilities for cutting-edge eye care. 

Personality

You don’t have to like your surgeon, but it’s a whole lot nicer if you do. After all, through the course of your diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and recovery, you’ll meet several times with your cataract surgeon. Even more important is finding a surgeon you can trust.

Dr. Gregory Snodgrass puts patients first. His pleasant demeanor makes him a patient favorite, leading to reviews including, “Dr. Snodgrass has to be the world's best ophthalmologist! His positive and professional approach includes a focused determination that my eyes will be as healthy as possible,” and, “As a patient, I appreciate his friendliness and concern for my vision and well-being.” 

If you’re considering cataract surgery, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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What to Look for in an Eye Center

by Damion Wasylow 25 January 2019 01:20 AM

young woman getting an eye exam
Whether it’s time to select a new eyecare practice for general, ongoing vision care or for a specific surgical need, it’s important to weigh your options and select the eye center that’s right for you. But what should you look for? What criteria make one vision practice stand out from the rest? The following factors should be at the top your list.

Talented Doctors and Staff

You deserve a practice where everyone from the physicians to the front desk has your best interests at heart. The team at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, led by Dr. Gregory Snodgrass, pride ourselves on listening to our patients, and answering every question you have. Our doctors, opticians and staff have the training, experience and expertise to effectively diagnose and treat your individual vision challenges. That’s probably why we were voted 2018 Best of the Best in three separate categories. The best people make all the difference.

Comprehensive Services

Why get your kids’ eye exams one place, your glasses another and your mom’s cataract surgery yet another? North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care offers comprehensive eye care for the whole family. From annual vision exams to prescription glasses and contacts to treatment of a wide range of eye diseases, our practice can take care of all your vision needs in one place. That means less shuttling the family from one place to another, less paperwork, fewer insurance hassles and a better overall experience. 

Convenient Locations

In today’s busy world, convenience is key, so North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care has three locations to serve you – NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street in Gainesville, Tioga Town Center in Jonesville and SW Main Boulevard in Lake City. Each location offers state-of-the-art equipment and friendly staff to provide you an outstanding experience. Our Gainesville and Jonesville locations even feature complete optical shops so you can select and be fitted with stylish eyeglass frames from some of the industry’s best-known brands, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Costa Del Mar, Gucci and more.

The physicians and staff at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care are committed to meeting your needs and providing the finest eye care available. If you’re looking for your new eye center, contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.

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Cataract Surgery Procedure: Benefits of Laser-Assisted

by Damion Wasylow 2 January 2019 09:07 AM

retired couple smiling in a golf cart
Millions of people around the world have regained their vision thanks to cataract surgery. In the U.S. alone, more than three million successful cataract surgeries are performed each year, placing it among the nation’s safest and most effective surgical procedures.

The advent of laser-assisted cataract surgical methods nearly a decade ago took the procedure to the next level, providing patients an even better way to put cataracts behind them for the rest of their lives. The benefits of laser-assisted versus traditional cataract surgery are substantial, and should be weighed when considering your surgical options.

Improved Precision

Laser-assisted surgical technology like the LenSx system allows the surgeon to capture high-resolution images, detailed measurements and other data used to perform the surgery. With the system’s precise mapping of the patient’s eye surfaces, the surgeon identifies the ideal location for the incision. The surgeon then uses the computer-guided laser to make a tiny incision in the eye surface. All of this is accomplished with pinpoint accuracy. The remaining steps of the procedure are completed through this incision, and the procedure is completely pain-free.

Faster, Pain-Free Recovery

With traditional cataract surgery, patients often experience a few days of discomfort in and around the eye. They may also experience blurred vision, mild headache, feelings of grittiness and itchy or sticky eye. The severity and duration of those side effects is greatly diminished with laser-assisted cataract surgery. While patients may have some cloudy or blurred vision, and potentially some redness, the risk of more serious side effects is less than 0.5%. Patients often report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

Long-term Prognosis

Whether you choose traditional or laser-assisted, cataract surgery is a permanent solution. The natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens, and that means it will never again be susceptible to cataracts. Cataract surgery has an overall 98% success rate. 

In Gainesville, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries, and was the first local surgeon to use the LenSx laser cataract surgical system. If you or a loved one is suffering from cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule a consultation.

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