A Clearer View

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

Is Cataract Surgery Painful?

by Damion Wasylow 31 August 2021 05:11 AM

smiling patient talking with eye doctor

Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. That means the surgery requires only very small incisions, often requires no stitches at all and the patient returns home the same day. It also means most people experience little to no pain during cataract surgery.

Anesthetic Eyedrops

Just before the cataract surgical procedure, a member of the surgical team applies topical anesthetic drops to numb the patient’s eye, so they will not feel the actions of the surgery. These eyedrops do a remarkable job of preventing any perception of pain during the procedure for the vast majority of patients.

Minimally Invasive Procedure

A principal reason cataract surgery is typically painless is the procedure’s minimally invasive nature. In most cases, cataract surgery requires just one tiny incision (surgical cut).

Through that single incision, the ophthalmic surgeon inserts a small probe that uses ultrasonic energy to break apart the cataract damaged lens. A second probe is then inserted through the incision to suction out the pieces. Finally, the surgeon again takes advantage of that same incision to insert the new artificial lens implant. The incision is typically so small that it can be left to heal on its own, without the need for stitches. The entire procedure generally takes less than 15 minutes. 

Recovery

Patients are typically ready to be driven home within 30-60 minutes after the procedure. Many report improved vision before even leaving the surgery center.

Most patients experience few or no side effects. Others may have mild short-term side effects, such as cloudy or blurred vision or redness, that should clear up within a week or two. The risk of more serious side effects is less than 0.5%, making cataract surgery one of the safest procedures in the country. 

Drs. Gregory Snodgrass and Matthew Gray of North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care are two of the region’s most skilled and respected eye physicians, and they specialize in performing traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery.

If you or someone you love is considering cataract surgery, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your consultation.

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How to Protect Your Eyes from Vision Changes as You Get Older

by Damion Wasylow 19 August 2021 07:51 AM

woman in her 50s checking her eyes in a mirro
Vision changes are part of the natural aging cycle as you get older. Gradually, over time, your eyes will worsen. While you can’t prevent all forms of eye trauma or disease, here are four things you can do now to help protect your vision.

1. Wear Sunglasses, Especially if You Have Blue Eyes and Fair Skin

Sunglasses are often under-appreciated when it comes to protecting eye health, but they can indeed reduce the likelihood of developing cataracts. People with fair skin and blue eyes are particularly susceptible to elevated risks of cataracts due to UV light exposure.

In addition to cataracts, a study by Johns Hopkins found a correlation between sun exposure and increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

An increase in UV light also causes metabolic changes in the cells of the eye lens and retina.

2. Stop Smoking

Smoking has a direct impact on eye health later in life. Smokers are four times more likely than nonsmokers to suffer from ARMD, the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Your risk of cataracts also increases if you’re a smoker.

Maintaining your vision is one more important reason to make quitting smoking a priority.

3. Remain Physically Active and a Maintain Proper Weight

A healthy lifestyle is good for your overall health and your vision. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are two main ways to protect against adverse vision changes as you get older. Many factors are involved with poor eyesight and a healthy weight.

Being overweight can lead to:

  • Heart issues
  • Blood sugar issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol

And all those conditions can impact your vision.

Obesity can also cause a rise in oxidative stress and inflammation of the eyes, leading to a higher risk of ARMD.

4. Get Your Vision Checked Regularly

Routine comprehensive eye exams are an essential part of keeping your vision as sharp as possible, especially as you get older. Eye exams provide an opportunity for early diagnosis of many eye diseases and identification of other vision problems that may be correctable.

During an eye exam, the optometrist or ophthalmologist looks for common age-related eye issues, including cataracts, presbyopia, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, corneal diseases, retinal detachment and more.

Aging is inevitable, but the steps above may help limit the impact of aging on your vision. Take care of your eyes now to reduce your risk of eye-related issues later in life.

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

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What to Expect After Cataract Surgery

by Damion Wasylow 28 July 2021 11:17 AM
retired couple meeting with doctor


If cataracts are affecting your quality of life and vision, your ophthalmologist may recommend cataract surgery. The procedure is performed 10million times per year worldwide, and the surgery itself can take as little as ten minutes to complete.

Because this is an outpatient procedure, the majority of the recovery process will occur at home.

Following Your Cataract Surgery

Once the surgery is complete, you will be placed in a recovery room for up to an hour while the anesthesia or sedation wears off. After the grogginess subsides, you’ll be able to go home. You will not be able to drive at this time, so be sure to have a ride home following the procedure.

Your eyes will be sensitive at first, so to protect them from bright light and glare, your doctor will ask you to wear special sunglasses given to you after the procedure.

What’s the Recovery Time for Cataract Surgery?

A lot of patients will notice that their vision improves in the recovery room, but your vision may be blurry while your eyes heal and adjust. Vision improvement is often experienced in the first few days following surgery.

While many patients report clear vision within hours of the surgery, it can take one to two weeks before your vision is at its sharpest.

The Follow-up Exam

Your surgeon should schedule a follow-up exam to make sure that there are no complications following surgery. The appointment can be as soon as the next day.

Patients may experience the following after surgery:

  • Red eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Bruising near the eye
  • Black eye
  • Dry eye
  • “Scratchy eye”

All of these conditions are common and should subside within a day or two.

If you experience a substantial discomfort or pain, or your vision is still blurry days after the procedure, talk to your surgeon to rule out any potential complications.

Tips to Improve Recovery Time After Surgery

You can help improve your recovery time by following advice from Johns Hopkins Medicine and your surgeon, including:

  • Limit heavy lifting or strenuous activity. Heavy lifting can cause an increase in eye pressure, which should be avoided. A general rule of thumb is to avoid bending over or lifting heavy objects for a few weeks after surgery.
  • Continue wearing sunglasses. Irritants, even pollen and dust, can impact recovery. Wear the sunglasses provided by your eye doctor for a week or longer to protect the eyes from irritants, potential trauma and even light sensitivity.
  • Avoid the pool and showering. You should not shower the day after the surgery. Avoid going into a hot tub or pool until your doctor says that it’s safe to do so.

If you follow these tips and adhere to your doctor’s recommendations, you’ll be able to resume normal activities as fast as possible.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at (352) 373-4300 to speak to one of our vision specialists or schedule your cataract surgery.

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5 Warning Signs that Your Child May have Vision Problems

by Damion Wasylow 28 July 2021 11:09 AM

young girl squinting slightly

With the school year starting back up, now is the right time to pay close attention for possible warning signs related to your child’s vision. The National Institutes of Health estimates 20 percent of preschoolers have vision problems. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that among nine-to-15-year-olds, only 10 percent of kids who need glasses actually have them.

A study published in the journal Optometry also found that limited vision was a significant predictor of poor school performance. And it makes sense. Imagine learning to read when the words are blurred on the page. Or following along as a teacher scribbles fuzzy math problems on the blackboard.

Children don’t always know to tell parents when their vision isn’t great. In fact, if a child’s vision has been poor their whole life, they may not even realize it. So, your kids need your help to watch for the warning signs. 

The Warning Signs

1. Squinting

Squinting is often an attempt to overcome blurred vision caused by refractive issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. These are the most common types of vision problems in adults and children. Squinting may help momentarily, but it doesn’t correct the issue. Corrective lenses can often allow children with these challenges to achieve 20/20 vision.

2. Sitting Close to the TV

Sure, lots of kids sit too close to the TV, but you shouldn’t just write it off as them being engrossed with Elmo. They may actually have difficulty discerning details on the TV screen from farther away due to myopia (nearsightedness). Watch to see if they also hold books or tablets close to their face. If so, it’s definitely worth getting checked out. 

3. Covering One Eye or Tilting their Head

Children with blurred vision in one eye will often cover that eye to see clearly through the other. Covering one eye can also be their way of adjusting for eye misalignment, a condition called strabismus. Head tilting is another common adjustment kids make to try and compensate for vision issues. In this case, eye alignment issues such as amblyopia, are likely the core issue.

4. Frequent Headaches or Eye Pain

If your child develops frequent headaches or sore eyes, it could be related to their vision. Eye muscle imbalances and/or refractive issues can lead to asthenopia, commonly known as eye strain. And that often translates to headaches or eye pain, particularly following a long school day.

5. Trouble with Concentration

Children with vision challenges may have a hard time concentrating in school or while doing schoolwork at home. This can be misdiagnosed as ADHD. When in reality, it may be that your child is simply experiencing frustration and/or physical discomfort from their eyes straining to focus or allow them to read.

If you notice any of these warning signs in your child, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. A simple pair of eyeglasses may be all they need to see clearly and start enjoying the benefits that come with it. 

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your child’s appointment.

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3 Things to Consider for Prescription Sunglasses

by Damion Wasylow 2 July 2021 06:17 AM

family wearing sunglasses at the beach
As long summer days attract us to enjoy a little fun in the sun, prescription sunglasses are a must for many eyeglasses wearers. While working or playing in the great outdoors, prescription sunglasses provide the benefits of crystal-clear vision paired with the glare reduction and eye comfort of a good pair of shades.

So, if you’re considering prescription sunglasses for the first time, here are three things you should look for… 

UV Protection

The same UV rays from the sun that can burn your skin can also burn your eyes. Over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause photokeratitis, which is essentially an eye sunburn. And, yes, it hurts quite a bit. UV radiation can also have long-term effects on your eyes, including increasing your risk of retina damage or cataracts. So, when you’re looking for prescription sunglasses, be sure to specify that you want UV-blocking lenses. The American Optometric Association recommends sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Standard Sunglass Lenses vs Transition Lenses

Some people don’t mind carrying around two pairs of eyeglasses – a regular pair of prescription glasses for indoors and separate pair of standard prescription sunglasses for outdoors. Others, however, would rather have a single pair of eyeglasses for all occasions. That’s where transition lenses (also known as photochromic lenses) make all the difference. Transition lenses automatically darken in bright sunlight and return to a regular tint in normally lit environments. Often, however, transition lenses won’t darken in the car, so you may still find it useful to keep a pair of prescription sunglasses with polarized lenses on hand to use while driving.

Style

We all want to look our best, and your eyeglasses are probably the one thing you wear more than anything else. So, make sure to find frames that match and enhance your style. Today, many well-known designers make a variety of attractive prescription eyeglass frames, all of which can be paired with sunglass lenses. From Gucci and Kate Spade to Maui Jim and Costa Del Mar, there are frames to match anyone’s style and budget. When you visit your eye doctor, take some time to try on a variety to see which frames best accentuate your style. 

At our optical shops in Gainesville, we have an outstanding selection of frames plus top-notch optometrists and licensed opticians, to help you get the perfect pair of prescription sunglasses.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300, or stop by our optical shop on NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street in Gainesville or in Tioga Town Center on West Newberry Road.

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20/20 Vision and Understanding Your Visual Acuity Score

by Damion Wasylow 29 June 2021 12:44 PM

eyeglasses on snellen eye chart
Sometimes, expressions are used so often in movies, TV shows or other pop culture that we take for granted that we know what they mean. We may even start using them incorrectly, without truly understanding. One example is “20/20 vision.” You’ve almost certainly heard someone claim to have “20/20 vision” to suggest their eyes are perfect, but is that really what it means?

What is 20/20 Vision?

20/20 is one possible score from a visual acuity test, which is conducted as part of a comprehensive eye exam. Most people are familiar with the Snellen visual acuity test, which requires reading a series of decreasingly small letters from a chart on the eye doctor’s wall. Another version is the Random E test, in which you identify the direction the capital letter E is facing as the eye doctor shows it to you through a series of lenses. These tests are designed to evaluate your ability to distinguish details and shapes of objects. A score of 20/20 on a visual acuity test means that you have normal vision.

Is 20/20 Perfect Vision?

20/20 vision isn’t necessarily perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. As noted above, 20/20 is really just normal vision. The score means that at a distance of 20 feet, you can see clearly what you and other people with normal vision should be able to see clearly at 20 feet. Hence, “20/20.” About 35% of adults in the U.S. have 20/20 vision. When you add in those who have 20/20 vision when wearing their eyeglasses or contact lenses, that number jumps to 75%.

It’s actually possible to have better than 20/20 vision. People with visual acuity scores of 20/10, for example, can see clearly at 20 feet what a person with normal vision would have to be within 10 feet to see clearly. There is even one recorded report of a person with 20/5 vision, but most researchers question the authenticity of that report. 

What Do Other Visual Acuity Scores Mean?

Of course, if only 35% of U.S. adults have unaided 20/20 vision or better, that means 65% of Americans have lower visual acuity scores. For these people, it’s pretty common to see scores closer to 20/40, meaning they have to be within 20 feet to clearly see what people with normal vision would see clearly at 40 feet. This can usually be remedied through the use of corrective lenses.

In some cases, a person’s vision may be so poor that even with corrective lenses they can still only achieve a 20/40 visual acuity score. That’s the lowest score possible to still get a driver’s license in most states.

More extreme cases also exist. A person with a lens-assisted visual acuity score of 20/200, for example, is considered legally blind. 

If it’s been a while since your last comprehensive eye exam, now might be the right time to contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care to find out your visual acuity score. Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment or stop by one of our two convenient Gainesville locations: NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street or Tioga Town Center on West Newberry Road.

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When is Cataract Surgery Necessary?

by Damion Wasylow 8 June 2021 12:41 PM

senior couple posing in front yard

Nearly four million cataract surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. While cataracts aren’t fatal, they can rob you of your vision completely, making cataract surgery necessary in order to maintain or regain your eyesight.

Progressive Symptoms

Cataracts typically develop as a natural result of aging. While it’s possible to develop a cataract in just one eye, the condition generally affects both eyes around the same time. Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing in low light, glare, light sensitivity, halos and faded colors. Double vision in one eye, or “ghosting” around objects are also fairly common. In early stages, cataract symptoms may be light enough not to impact your quality of life, but they inevitably get worse. 

The Right Time for Surgery

Hopefully, you visited your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam as soon as you started noticing any of the symptoms listed above. Even if you were diagnosed with cataracts at the time, your doctor may not have recommended surgery. Typically, an ophthalmologist won’t recommend surgery until cataract symptoms negatively impact your quality of life. As cataract symptoms get worse, however, you’ll lose the ability to read, drive, watch TV or see people’s faces. Those losses are usually more than enough to lead most people to opt for surgery.

Cataract Surgery Procedure

Surgically replacing the damaged lens with an artificial intraocular lens implant is the only effective treatment for cataracts. Whether you choose traditional or laser-assisted cataract surgery, the fundamental procedure is the same. A small probe is passed through a tiny incision in the eye. That probe uses ultrasonic energy to break up the affected lens. A second probe then suctions out the pieces. Finally, the lens implant is inserted, and the procedure is completed. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is often preferred, as it is more precise, pain-free, stitch-free and allows for easier recovery.

Post-Procedure Recovery and Vision

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, and many people report improved vision while still in the recovery room. Still, you will at least need someone to drive you home from the surgery center. Some patients may also need minor assistance with daily activities for a day or two following the surgery. Soon after, any minor recovery side effects should clear. And the great news is your cataracts cannot come back. Cataract surgery is a permanent fix.

If you or someone you love is considering cataract surgery, the physicians of North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care would be honored to help. Our eye surgeons have conducted tens of thousands of successful cataract surgeries and they’re here to serve you, too.

Contact our practice today at 352.373-4300.

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What to Expect at Your First Eye Doctor Visit

by Damion Wasylow 24 May 2021 12:46 PM

young woman getting a comprehensive eye exam
Regular eye exams become part of many people’s standard health routine early in childhood. For others, the absence of any obvious vision problems leads to putting off that first optometrist appointment until later in life. Eventually, however, nearly everyone notices that their vision isn’t as good as it once was and it’s time to see an eye doctor. Perhaps that’s what led you here, to find out what that first appointment will be like. 

We certainly can’t speak for what happens at every eye doctor’s office, but we can let you know what to expect during your first optometrist appointment at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care

eyecare practice lobby on nw 8th avenue in gainesvilleA Warm Welcome

When you arrive for your scheduled appointment at our NW 8th Avenue or Tioga Town Center locations, you’ll be greeted by a member of our friendly reception team. They’ll check you in and ask you to fill out some paperwork with your contact information, medical history and your insurance information. While you wait, you can relax in our comfortable lobby and read a magazine or take advantage of our complementary WiFi.

Your Comprehensive Eye Exam

One of our qualified technicians will call you back to the examination room to begin your comprehensive eye exam. They'll review your medical history and ask a few questions about the state of your vision. They'll then examine your eyes, first doing a visual inspection, then using a series of tests to evaluate the quality of your vision and possibly reveal any potential underlying issues or forms of eye disease. They will then start the dilation process so that your optometrist (eye doctor) can finish the exam.

Standard testing includes:

• Visual Acuity – Reading letters from a chart to measure how clearly you see.

• Refraction Test – Looking at images through a phoropter to see which are more or less clear.

• Pupillary Reactions – Looking into a small light source to determine how your pupils expand and contract.

• Extraocular Movements – Focusing on a small object in motion to evaluate the muscles that control eyes.

• Confrontation Visual Fields – Watching the doctor’s finger move out to either side to measure of the breadth of your visual field.

• Cover Test – Covering one eye and focusing on objects to evaluate how well your eyes work together.

Getting the Results

Once you are fully dilated, your eye doctor will analyze the results from your previous testing, perform an in-depth examination of the front and back of your eyes, and will review all of the results with you. She’ll let you know your visual acuity score (i.e., if your vision is 20/20, 20/40 or something else), what she observed from your other tests, and if necessary, what she recommends for correcting your vision.

If the exam reveals you have hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness) or astigmatism (an uneven or irregular curvature of the cornea or lens), depending on the severity, the eye doctor will likely recommend prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. She’ll provide a prescription for the right lenses to correct your specific vision challenge.

If your exam reveals anything more serious, such as indications of glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts or other eye disorders, the doctor may diagnose the condition, recommend more testing or coordinate a consult with one of our practice’s ophthalmologists.

Next Steps

If eyeglasses or contacts are needed, you can visit our optical shop to work with one of our licensed opticians. Together, you’ll decide which vision correction option is right for you. Whether it’s contacts or eyeglasses, prescription lenses take some time to craft, often up to two weeks, so please be patient.

In the meantime, if you decide to go with eyeglasses, you can browse our selection of designer frames. With hundreds to choose from, we’re sure to have the perfect frames to match your activities, style and budget.

If more testing is required to accurately diagnose your eye condition, or if surgery is required to correct it, the doctor will talk to you about treatment options, answer any and all questions and set next steps in motion.

Whether you’re ready for your very first eye doctor visit or just your first in a while, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your appointment. We look forward to seeing you.

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Trouble Reading at 40? You’re Not Alone.

by Damion Wasylow 10 May 2021 02:58 AM

man straining to read laptop screen
It’s a common sign of getting older. Words that once looked crisp on the page or on the screen are suddenly blurry and hard to read. At first, you might write it off as poor lighting or tired eyes. Truth is, it’s likely your eyes are simply not what they used to be, and it may be time for your first pair of eyeglasses. 

Presbyopia at 40

Many people who have had perfect – or near-perfect – sight all their lives start experiencing vision problems in their 40s. The most common problem is with near vision, the ability to distinguish small, fine details close up. This inability to focus the eyes is called presbyopia, and it affects most people 40 and older.

As we age, the eye lenses become less flexible, which limits their ability to focus in on things close by. At first, this may lead you to hold books or your phone father away in order to read them. You may also experience eye strain or headaches after reading or focusing on small items close up for too long.

Diagnosing Presbyopia

Presbyopia is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. The optometrist will perform a series of tests to determine your overall eye health, as well as your ability to see clearly at near, far and middle distances. With nearly 80% of people ages 45-55 having presbyopia, your eye doctor will be able to quickly recognize the signs and make the diagnosis.

Treating Presbyopia

The most common treatment for presbyopia is also the easiest – reading glasses. If your presbyopia is not too severe, over-the-counter reading glasses may be sufficient to allow you to read and see fine details normally again. More advanced presbyopia will likely require prescription eyeglasses

Contact lenses are also an option for many people with presbyopia. They can be just as effective as eyeglasses, while potentially providing a cosmetic or convenience factor you prefer. Of course, convenience is in the eye of the beholder. Some people find the recurring rituals of contact lens care to be burdensome. 

More aggressive treatments include refractive surgery, lens implants and corneal inlays. These types of surgical interventions require the talents of a specially trained ophthalmologist.

If you’re over 40 and starting to experience vision challenges, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care to schedule your comprehensive eye exam. Call us today at 352-373-4300.

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Is Cataract Surgery Covered by Medicare?

by Damion Wasylow 29 April 2021 07:09 AM

medicare paperwork on desk
Medicare Part B
is frequently used to cover the majority of costs for both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery. Available to people 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with End Stage Renal Disease, Medicare is an ideal means to pay for your cataract surgery.

Determining Medically Necessity

The first step in qualifying to use Medicare Part B to pay for your cataract surgery is having the procedure deemed “medically necessary” by your eye doctor. That just means that the severity of your cataract (or cataracts) interferes with your ability to perform normal daily activities. In early stages of development, your cataract condition may not rise to this level. Cataracts inevitably get worse with time, however, so your eye doctor will monitor the condition with you to determine when you reach the medically necessary threshold.

How Much of the Surgery Cost Does Medicare Cover?

Typically, Medicare pays 80% of the total cost for traditional cataract surgery. That includes preoperative exams, removing the cataract, implanting the lens, and postoperative exams. You must then pay the remaining 20% of the surgical cost out-of-pocket. 

If you elect to have laser-assisted cataract surgery, which is typically more expensive than traditional surgery, you will also be required to pay the difference in cost between the two procedures. Despite that added cost, many patients still opt for laser-assisted surgery due to the increased precision, faster, pain-free recovery, and improved long-term prognosis.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we’ve provided state-of-the-art cataract surgery to literally thousands of patients who use Medicare. Our eye surgeons, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass and Dr. Matthew Gray, are specially-trained experts in cataract surgery. And our office staff will help make the Medicare paperwork easy, and payment options understandable, so you have one less thing to worry about.

To schedule your cataract consultation, contact our practice today by calling 352-373-4300.

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