A Clearer View

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

North Florida Cataract Specialists Featured on TV20 Your Health

by Damion Wasylow 1 November 2016 11:23 AM

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By the year 2020, medical experts estimate more than 30 million Americans will have cataracts. So, it’s not surprising that cataract treatment information is of great interest to the public and news media alike. ABC affiliate, WCJB TV20, recently featured North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care in a “Your Health” news segment to shed some light on cataracts.

A cataract is clouding of the eye’s natural lens resulting from a build up of proteins. As new cells form, existing cells are compacted together. The damage is permanent and continually robs patients of their vision over time.

For the segment, “Your Health” interviewed Sally Thompson, a North Florida Cataract and Vision Care patient from Gainesville, who shared the challenges she faced with cataracts, and how Dr. Gregory Snodgrass helped her see clearly again. 

Thompson told “Your Health” that cataract symptoms made many aspects of life difficult, including driving. “Traffic lights or oncoming headlights, there’s a huge glow around it. Like a halo or a burst of a starburst of light around it.”

Halos are a common cataract symptom, along with cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, glare, light sensitivity and lens discoloration. Symptoms may be minor early on, but inevitably get worse. An ophthalmic evaluation is required to accurately diagnose the progression of cataracts.

Dr. Snodgrass explained that surgery is the only effective treatment option to permanently correct cataracts. “The only way to correct that, ultimately, is to remove the cloudy lens, and replace it with a clear, intraocular lens implant. And then, the cataract will not return.”

Following her diagnosis, Thomson opted for laser-assisted cataract surgery. She said the experience was simple and painless. “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." 

Faster recovery is a primary reason many patients like Thompson choose laser-assisted cataract surgery versus traditional cataract surgery. Laser-assisted cataract surgery produces less eye trauma, and thus, fewer trauma-related side effects. Many patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. And both the surgery and recovery are pain-free.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care today to schedule your consultation.

Screen capture courtesy of WCJB TV20.

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Itchy Eyes? Could be Dry Eye Syndrome.

by Damion Wasylow 25 October 2016 11:19 AM

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One of the most common complaints from vision patients is itchy eyes. Scratchy, irritable eyes can be uncomfortable and incredibly frustrating. The causes are varied, and effective treatments depend on the precise cause. Here are some of the frequent causes of itchy eyes.

Dry Eye Syndrome

When the eye fails to produce enough tear film, or the right mix of tear film components, itchy, dry eyes can result. Dry eye syndrome is a common affliction, affecting more than five million Americans. The symptoms of dry eye syndrome include scratchiness, redness, excessive tearing and more. Often, dry eye syndrome is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. In these instances, the meibomian glands that line the eyelid fail to produce sufficient oils to lubricate the eye surface. LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation is frequently a recommended means of treating meibomian gland dysfunction. Untreated, dry eye syndrome can have long-term effects

Allergies

Seasonal changes and environmental factors can produce many allergy symptoms, including itchy eyes. Allergens like dust, pollen and animal dander release histamines that produce itching, swelling and redness. Histamines are your body’s natural response to the introduction of elements it deems dangerous to your body. When histamines are released, they boost blood flow to the affected area, causing inflammation, which spurs your immune system to take action. Several over-the-counter remedies are available to treat allergy-induced itchy eye symptoms.

Contact Lens Issues

Contact lenses are an outstanding way to correct many vision problems, but even when properly maintained, wearing contacts can sometimes lead to contact lens discomfort and itchy eyes. Following the guidelines specified by your licensed optician should help you avoid most contact lens discomfort symptoms, but if you do experience itchy eyes, artificial tears and nutritional supplements may help. If symptoms persist, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist to diagnose the root cause. 

Blepharitis

Granulated eyelids, also known as blepharitis, is fairly common. When oily particles and bacteria cause blepharitis inflammation, itching is a frequent symptom. Dandruff-like skin particles collect along the eyelid, producing crusting. Primary treatment options generally include hot compresses, eyelid scrubs and nutritional supplements. More severe flare-ups may require prescription eye drops, ointments or oral medications.

If you’re dealing with itchy, burning eyes, schedule a consultation with North Florida Cataracts and Vision Care. Through our Dry Eye Center of Excellence, we specialize in diagnosing and tre

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Common Causes of Blurry Vision

by Damion Wasylow 6 October 2016 05:54 AM

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Blurred vision can result from everything from an early morning wakeup to cataracts. Short-term symptoms are not generally reason for concern, but longer-term blurred vision is certainly an indication to visit your eye doctor. Here are a few common causes to discuss with your ophthalmologist

Nearsightedness and Farsightedness

Near- and farsightedness are the most common reasons people seek vision care from an optometrist. Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, allows an individual to see nearby items clearly, but objects become blurry farther away. Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, allows an individual to clearly see objects farther away, but nearby objects are blurry. Both conditions can generally be treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is often a natural side effect of aging that involves a breakdown of the part of the retina that allows you to see details clearly. Blurred vision is a common symptom, along with dark areas or distortion in your central vision and less vivid color interpretation. While little can be done to improve the sight of someone with ARMD, early detection can slow the rate of vision loss.  

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes affects many of the body’s systems, including vision. High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, which adversely impacts the part of the eye that receives and converts light into neural signals. Diabetic retinopathy can even potentially cause the retina to wrinkle or detach. In early stages, retinopathy can be symptomless, but blurred vision may be an indicator. Laser surgery and medications may be applied to slow progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Cataracts

Cataracts are caused by a build up of naturally occurring proteins on the eye lens. By age 65, more than 90 percent of people develop a cataract in at least one eye. Cataract symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, lens discoloration, light sensitivity, glare and halos. The damage is permanent, requiring surgery to correct. Treatment options include traditional surgery and laser-assisted cataract surgery, with the latter being preferred by many patients and doctors.

Of course, multiple other vision issues can cause blurred vision, so be sure to talk to your eye doctor. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care offers complete vision screenings to accurately diagnose patients’ specific eye care needs. Schedule your consultation today to put yourself on the road to a clearer view.

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Gainesville Eye Doctor: What to Look For

by Damion Wasylow 6 October 2016 05:38 AM

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What criteria should you use to choose the right eye doctor for your specific needs? Each patient is different, and your unique situation requires answering a series of questions to find the best eye doctor to diagnose and treat your vision problems.

What vision problems do you hope to overcome?

Some eye care practices are capable of diagnosing and treating simple vision challenges, while others are better equipped to handle the full breadth of vision issues. If you’re unsure what is limiting your vision, you’ll want to select a comprehensive ophthalmology practice capable of running all necessary tests to accurately identify the root cause of your vision limitations. 

Could you potentially need surgery?

Many vision issues can be addressed with eyeglasses or cataracts, but others, like cataracts, require surgery to correct. You’ll want to choose an eye care practice that offers comprehensive vision care, including both a full optical department and access to surgical options, in case your vision challenges require that level of intervention. The ideal eye care practice will offer access to a state-of-the-art eye surgery center to ensure all options are available to you.

Is there a practice location near you?

One can’t overstate the importance of convenient access. Traveling miles to your eye physician can preclude you from making regular visits. It’s easy to skip a scheduled appointment if it’s tough to get there. A practice with multiple locations, including one close to you, makes it more likely that you will keep up with follow up visits and maintain your vision care. North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care has offices in Gainesville, Tioga, Lake City and Melrose to make life easy for our patients.

What level of personal service do you expect?

There are a lot of national eyeglass shops out there. Often, they take a one-size-fits-all approach – come in, order at the counter and they send you on your way. Vision evaluation, diagnosis and treatment should be treated just like any other medical care. At North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care, we treat each patient as an individual. We’ll take time to listen to you and answer you questions before determining the best way to treat your symptoms.

If your vision isn’t what it once was, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today

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How Do I Know if I Need Cataract Surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 25 August 2016 11:35 AM

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By age 65, more than 90 percent of people develop a cataract in at least one eye. By age 85, more than half of all Americans have impaired vision due to cataracts. And cataracts always require surgery to correct, so it’s imperative that you have a cataract screening if you suspect you may be experiencing cataract symptoms.

So, how do you know when it’s time for a cataract screening? The simple answer is, if your vision diminishes as you get older, get a cataract screening. Seeking medical attention early can help you see clearly for the rest of your life.

The more complete answer is to watch for these cataract symptoms… 

Cloudy or blurred vision

Only a limited area of your visual field may initially be affected by the development of a cataract. Objects may be blurry when you look one direction, but not another. Cataracts are progressive, so eventually this cloudiness will overtake your vision completely.

Double vision

Double vision is often a dangerous effect of cataracts. Your mind can’t effectively process incoming visual cues, and that can result in balance issues, falls and hazardous driving.

Lens discoloration

Cataracts often cause lens discoloration that may or may not be apparent to others. If you’re experiencing dulled colors, as if looking through a brown or yellow film, it’s time to get a cataract screening.

Light sensitivity, glare and halos

Even typical amounts of light can be overwhelming to people suffering with cataracts. You may also experience disorienting glare or halos. If you consistently experience these symptoms, don’t hesitate, get a cataract screening as soon as possible.

Cataracts are treatable, and early intervention can help you avoid years of impaired vision. Your first step should be scheduling a consultation with an experienced cataract surgeon like Dr. Gregory Snodgrass.

Dr. Snodgrass and the staff at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care will talk through your cataract surgery options and answer any questions you may have. Schedule your cataract consultation today.

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Laser Eye Surgery for Cataracts

by Damion Wasylow 25 August 2016 11:19 AM

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Laser surgery provides relief and improved vision for a variety of eye health issues. At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we specialize in laser cataract surgery to permanently treat cataract symptoms.

How Does Laser Cataract Surgery Work?

First, we evaluate the impact of your cataracts on daily quality of life. Correcting cataracts always requires surgery eventually, but you may not need surgery right away. We’ll meet with you to assess your cataract symptoms and determine if now is the right time for surgery.

If it is, indeed, time for surgery, we’ll schedule your procedure with one of the area’s most experienced cataract surgeons, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass, at our state-of-the-art eye surgery center.

There, Dr. Snodgrass will use the industry-leading LenSx laser cataract surgery system to map your eye and precisely replace your cataract-damaged lens with a new artificial intraocular lens implant.

What Should I Expect from Recovery?

Following your surgery, you’ll spend a short time in the recovery room, usually just 30-60 minutes. Patients often report improved vision during that time. Once you’re ready, a friend or family member will take you home.

At home, you’ll wear an eye shield off-and-on for up to a few days. You may experience some redness and blurred or cloudy vision during this time. You’ll then come into our office for a follow up visit. We’ll ensure the implant is positioned correctly and that you’re on the path to improved vision. 

Dr. Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries, so you’re in good hands when you choose North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care.

Schedule your consultation today, to determine if now is the right time for laser cataract surgery. We’ll talk through your cataract surgery options and answer any questions you have along the way. Our number one goal is providing you a clearer view.

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We are Now North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care

by Damion Wasylow 20 July 2016 07:39 AM

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After months of careful planning and preparation, we are proud to announce that our practice name is now North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. It’s an exciting time for all of us here, as the name change highlights our unique expertise and better represents the geographic area we serve.

Dr. Gregory Snodgrass partnered in Gainesville Eye Physicians after completing his ophthalmology residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital and The Ohio State University, and then moving to Gainesville in 1987. Through the course of nearly 30 years, he built the practice into the area’s leader in vision care. 

As the practice grew, services expanded from general vision care to include comprehensive eye surgery, our on-site optical shops, our Dry Eye Center of Excellence and our specialty in traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery. With locations in downtown Gainesville, Tioga Town Center, Lake City and Melrose, the practice now serves patients throughout the region.

Another exciting development is the ongoing construction of our brand new eye care center at the corner of Northwest 8th Avenue and 43rd Street in Gainesville. We broke ground on the new location in mid-April and plan to open the doors in spring 2017. Patients will benefit from the finest in vision technology, comfort and care.

Dr. Kyle Balch is going to continue on with the Gainesville Eye Physicians name, which we recognize may cause some confusion. But our patients can rest assured that the locations and staff you’ve come to rely on will continue – with Dr. Snodgrass at the helm – under the new North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care name.

We know you will come to embrace our new practice name and look, just as we have. When friends and family ask you where to turn for the area’s best choice in eye care, tell them, “North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care.”

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How Does Laser Cataract Surgery Work?

by Damion Wasylow 30 June 2016 17:59 PM

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Laser-assisted cataract surgery is a delicate procedure that should only be performed by a specially trained and highly experienced ophthalmologist using state-of-the-art equipment. Understanding the steps involved can make you more comfortable leading up to the procedure and allow you to explain the recovery process to loved ones.

Step 1: Consultation

You will have a comprehensive eye exam including specialized cataract diagnosis. Your ophthalmologist will evaluate the progression of your cataract symptoms and recommend surgery if necessary at this stage. All cataracts eventually require surgery to correct.

Step 2: Surgery Preparation

When you arrive at the eye surgery center, you will be greeted by friendly staff, and asked to complete some basic paperwork. You are then brought to the surgical prep area where you will change into a surgical gown and then rest briefly in a hospital bed. The doctor will come in to greet you and answer any remaining questions. Surgery center staff will then apply sensors to monitor your well being during the surgery.

Step 3: Moving into the Surgical Suite

You will be taken to the surgical suite in your hospital bed. The surgeon, nurses and assistants will be waiting, dressed in scrubs, surgical gowns, caps and masks. Nurses will then administer local anesthesia. Laser cataract surgery only requires local anesthesia, so you will be awake throughout the brief procedure. Most laser cataract surgeries take just 10-15 minutes. 

Step 4: Mapping the Eye

The surgeon will move the laser-assisted cataract system’s camera into place above your eyes. It feeds detailed images and video of your eye lens to a specialized computer to precisely map the surfaces and allow the surgeon to identify the ideal location for the incision.

Step 5: Cataract Lens Removal

The surgeon will use the laser to make a tiny incision in the eye surface. He will then insert a small probe that uses ultrasonic energy (sound waves) to break up the cataract-damaged lens into small pieces. That probe is then removed and a second probe moved into position to suction out the lens pieces. This process is completely pain-free. 

Step 6: Artificial Lens Placement

Your new intraocular lens implant will be pre-loaded into another small probe. The artificial lens is rolled up inside the tip of the probe, making it slender enough to insert through the original incision. The surgeon then unrolls the lens and carefully positions it for optimal vision. This too, is pain-free. The incision used for laser cataract surgery is so small that it does not require stitches to close. A protective shield will be placed over the eye to block out excess light and allow your eye time to adjust.

Step 7: On-site Recovery

Following your surgery, you will be taken into the recovery room at the eye surgery center. There, nurses will make you comfortable while your eyes quickly adjust to the new lens. Your family can visit with you during this time. Many patients report improved vision while still in the recovery room. Once you feel ready, typically after just 30-60 minutes, you’re released to go home. You will need someone to drive you. You will be provided a pair of sunglasses to wear on the ride home.

Step 8: At-home Recovery

You may choose to rest for a few hours when you arrive home. Your surgeon will likely suggest you keep the shield on continually for several hours. You can later take it off, but it should be put back in place during sleep for the next several days. You may experience cloudy or blurred vision at first, and potentially some redness. These are normal short-term side effects. Each patient heals differently. Some see clearly almost immediately. Others require a week or two. 

Step 9: Follow-up Visit

Most surgeons will ask you to come into the office for a follow-up visit the day after surgery. The doctor will examine your eye to ensure there are no complications and that you’re healing normally.

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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Is Cataract Surgery a Permanent Fix?

by Damion Wasylow 1 June 2016 20:47 PM

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If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you probably been told that surgery is the only treatment option to permanently improve your vision, and that’s true. Cataracts cannot heal by themselves, or with any sort of medication. Surgery is required to permanently correct your vision loss.

Why is surgery the only effective treatment for cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens caused by a build up of proteins on the lens. As new cells form, existing cells are compacted together, and clouding results. The damage is permanent and progressive, meaning they continually get worse over time. The only way to correct the problem is to surgically replace the damaged natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens.

When is the right time for cataract surgery?

Early cataract symptoms often include cloudy or blurred vision impacting a limited portion of the patient’s sight. In the initial stages, cataracts may not have a substantial impact on your vision. Over time, however, symptoms inevitably get worse, usually producing double vision, light sensitivity, halos, glare and a sense of seeing the world through a brown or yellow film. When these symptoms begin negatively impacting your quality of life, it’s time for cataract surgery.

What are my cataract surgery options?

Depending on the physician you choose, and the specifics of your cataract diagnosis, most cataract patients can select either traditional surgery or laser-assisted cataract surgery. Both procedures involve making an incision in the eye, and then applying ultrasonic energy to break up the damaged natural lens. The resulting pieces are then removed, and a new artificial lens put into place. With laser-assisted surgery, the procedure is substantially more precise and produces less trauma, resulting in a pain-free experience and faster recovery.

No surgical procedure is 100% guaranteed to deliver lifelong results. Physical trauma to the eye, for example, could displace an artificial lens, requiring a follow-up procedure, but these instances are quite rare.

The leading factor in determining the likelihood of success for any eye surgery procedure is the quality and experience of the surgeon you choose. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries. He was also the first local eye surgeon to use the state-of-the-art LenSx laser cataract system.

Contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today to discuss your cataract surgery needs.


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How Can You Prevent Cataracts?

by Damion Wasylow 1 June 2016 20:39 PM

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For most people, cataracts are a natural part of aging. By age 80, more than half of all Americans have experienced cataracts. By the year 2020, it is estimated more than 30 million people in this country will have cataracts. Still, there are steps you can take to limit your likelihood of developing cataracts early.

Sunlight

We’ve all heard about the negative health consequences of exposure to excessive sunlight pertaining to skin cancer, but the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can also damage your eyes. Studies show that UV exposure can increase your chances for developing cataracts. The best prevention is wearing UV-blocking sunglasses to reduce the amount of UV rays that reach the eye lens.

Medications

Doctor-prescribed medications play a critical role in improving health and maintaining quality of life, but certain medications have also been linked to promoting cataract development. Corticosteroids, miotics and triparanol, for example, can all induce or increase your risk for cataracts. Talk to your doctor about the short- and long-term impact of these medications.

Smoking

Smoking may be the worst thing you can do for your overall health, and it also increases your odds for developing cataracts. Smokers are twice likely to develop nuclear sclerotic cataracts and three times as likely to develop subscapular cataracts. While it’s easier said than done, quit smoking immediately if you want to reduce your chances of developing cataracts.

Even with the best preventative measures, cataracts may one day be a fact of life for you or someone you love. When and if that happens, cataract surgery is the only effective treatment option.

Cataract surgery replaces the damaged natural lens with a premium lens implant. This new artificial lens is not susceptible to future cataract development, so your cataracts cannot return. Any form of eye surgery is delicate work, so be sure to select an experienced surgeon like Dr. Gregory Snodgrass for your cataract procedure.

Contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today to discuss your cataract treatment options.


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