A Clearer View

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

When is it Time to Get Prescription Eyeglasses?

by Damion Wasylow 14 January 2020 04:14 AM

optometrist helping young woman with new glasses
Most people know it’s a good idea to see their medical doctor for regular check-ups and their dentist for routine cleanings, but too few people include eye doctor visits as part of their health maintenance routine. As a result, emerging vision problems are often overlooked until they produce physical symptoms that force one to admit their eyes aren’t working like they used to.

If that sounds like you, here are five indications it’s likely time for you to get prescription eyeglasses...

1. Blurred vision when reading small text

Having trouble reading the instructions on pill bottles or text on your phone screen? Are you nearing or past age 40? It could be presbyopia, a natural condition that often comes with age. As the eye lens becomes thicker, it can no longer flex to focus as it once did. A pair of prescription eyeglasses can help.

2. Difficulty seeing things far away

If you’ve been inching your chair closer and closer to the TV, it’s probably time for you to look into getting eyeglasses. Frustrations with clearly seeing object more than arms-length away are common and often easily correctable with prescription eyeglasses.

3. Eyestrain or tired eyes

Eyestrain can be short-term, specifically related to a unique task you’re engaged in, but when it’s recurring and frequent, wearing eyeglasses may help. Your eye doctor can prescribe eyeglasses for specific activities, such as for computer use or reading, to help reduce your eyestrain symptoms. 

4. Frequent headaches

Overexertion of the eyes can produce headaches, particularly if they are working to overcome some underlying issue. In some cases, misalignment of the eyes or imbalance in visual acuity – and the body’s efforts to compensate for it – can produce frequent headaches that may be confused for sinus or tension headaches. In these cases, prescription eyeglasses can deliver relief.

5. Difficulty with night vision

Seeing halos around oncoming headlights and/or general trouble discerning enough visual detail at night are strong indicators you could benefit from prescription eyeglasses. In some cases, these symptoms could also point to more concerning eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy and cataracts

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, or if you just want to start including eye care as part of your standard healthcare routine, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today. Our expert and friendly optometrists and ophthalmologists can help diagnose your individual vision needs and prescribe the treatment that’s right for you. If that treatment includes prescription eyeglasses, our practice features two convenient full-service optical shops. 

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

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Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment May Help Prevent Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 6 January 2020 08:08 AM

woman getting glaucoma exam
More than 3 million people in the United States currently live with glaucoma. While it often presents few symptoms early, left untreated glaucoma eventually leads to vision loss or complete blindness. In fact, it’s the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. 

Glaucoma tends to be genetic and develops later in life. It is often linked to a buildup of intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye). The increased pressure damages the optic nerve, which delivers images from your eye to your brain. When severe enough, that damage is what creates blindness.

There are two main forms of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure, with open-angle being more common. 

With open-angle glaucoma, loss of peripheral (or side) vision is typically the first indication. 

Depending on the form, angle-closure glaucoma may be symptomless, or it may produce substantial, rapid onset symptoms including severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and/or a rainbow halo around lights. The latter, known as acute angle-closure glaucoma, requires immediate treatment to prevent blindness.

Catching glaucoma early is the key to minimizing its impact. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends everyone should be screened for glaucoma starting in their 20’s, with increasing frequency as they get older. By age 65, they suggest everyone be screened for glaucoma every one-to-two years. 

During a glaucoma screening, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam with the addition of a few glaucoma-specific tests. Those tests may include eye pressure measurement, examination of the optic nerve, peripheral vision evaluation and review of corneal thickness.

Once diagnosed, glaucoma is treated by lowering your intraocular pressure. Prescription eye drops and oral medications may help lower pressure within the eye. Laser and other surgical procedures are possibilities for patients who do not respond well to less-invasive treatment.

While optic nerve damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, early diagnosis gives you and your eye doctor the opportunity to slow future damage and preserve your sight.

If you or someone you love could use a glaucoma screening, contact us at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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Laser Floater Treatment (LFT) Now Available in North Florida

by Damion Wasylow 23 December 2019 04:20 AM

woman making a heart shape over her eye with her hands
Are you frustrated by little “cobwebs” or specks that float in your field of vision? Those are commonly known as eye floaters, and you’re not alone. Most people experience floaters to some degree. When floaters begin obscuring your vision or distracting you from enjoying daily activities, it’s time to talk to your eye doctor about treatment. And now, treatment options for floaters are better than ever with the introduction of Laser Floater Treatment or LFT.

What are floaters?

Floaters are tiny clumps of cells or material in the clear, gel-like fluid that fills your eye (vitreous). These clumps produce dark shadows on your retina that appear in different sizes and in different shapes in your vision, including dots, lines, clouds or webs. While generally considered benign, floaters can negatively affect your vision quality.

What causes floaters?

As your eyes age, the vitreous humor – the colorless gel that fills the space between your eye lens and retina – degenerates, losing its form and liquefying. That instability allows collagen cells within the fluid to clump together and form floating masses. In some cases, the vitreous humor peels away from the retina entirely, causing rapid onset of numerous floaters. 

Floaters are more common in people who have diabetes, are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.

How does Laser Floater Treatment (LFT) work?

Laser Floater Treatment was pioneered by Ellex, a company built to transform the sight of people across the globe. Their specialized Reflex™ Technology makes LFT possible with a laser specifically designed for floaters.

Nanosecond laser pulses precisely target the floater clumps, breaking them apart and converting them into gas which then dissolves into the air. Floaters are thus removed and/or reduced in size, allowing you to return to normal day-to-day activities without interference from floaters.

The procedure is non-invasive and performed in your ophthalmologist’s office. A complete cycle of treatment typically requires two or three 20-60-minute in-office treatments.

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is the only practice in the Gainesville area to offer this exciting treatment, and patients are benefiting with clearer vision. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass says the treatment is delivering great outcomes for patients. “It’s really wonderful to be able to make this almost immediate improvement in so many patients’ vision. Our patients are thrilled with the results.”

If you or someone you know would like to see clearly without interference from floaters, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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5 Tips to Protect Children’s Vision this Holiday Season

by Damion Wasylow 2 December 2019 06:31 AM

brother and sister opening christmas presents
It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays, with decorations adorning windows, calendars packed with festivities and parents purchasing coveted gifts for eager children. Sometimes, lost in the celebratory mayhem, however, is a focus on ensuring the holiday season is both happy and safe for children. That’s why Prevent Blindness America declared December as Safe Toys and Celebrations Month. With a little bit of planning and a few wise choices, you can avoid potential eye risks and create joyful holiday memories for everyone. 

1. Prioritize Projectile Gift Safety

Nerf guns are high on many kids’ gift lists this year, but they can be extremely dangerous. While the darts are primarily constructed of squishy Nerf material, the tips are sometimes solid, hard plastic. Even the less rigid tips can cause serious injury if your child is struck in the eye. Other projectile gifts like pellet guns and slingshots are even more dangerous. And it should go without saying that firearms take danger to a whole other level for children. If you choose to give your children these types of gifts, be sure to talk with them extensively about safety, equip them with eye protection and supervise their use.

2. Avoid Toys with Sharp Edges

Some seemingly safe toys have surprisingly sharp edges. As children run and play and toss and collide, it’s possible those edges could make damaging contact with a child’s eye. Some toys start off with nice, smooth, oblique edges, but chip or lose parts over time exposing serrated sections and acute points that make them unsafe. You can’t possibly foresee all these potential hazards, but it’s wise to avoid the obvious ones and then do a visual check of your kids’ toys regularly to see if age and use have made them more dangerous. 

3. Remember Protective Eyewear for Sports Equipment

Safety glasses, goggles, shields and the like can go a long way towards protecting your child’s eyes from injury when they participate in sports activities. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that more than 90 percent of children’s eye injuries could be prevented through the use of suitable protective eyewear. If you purchase any sort of sports equipment for your child this holiday season, follow it up with a second gift of protective eyewear. 

4. Handle Decorations with Care

Holiday decorations may not be something you typically associate with vision risk, but especially if you have small children, decoration-related accidents can and do happen. Traditional Christmas tree ornament hooks, for example, can cause serious eye injuries. (They’re also dangerous for pets.) Several companies produce safer alternatives. When decorating, it’s also a good idea to place glass and breakable ornaments safely out of reach. When those shatter, they send dangerous shards flying through the air.

5. Be Responsible with Fireworks

Hundreds of people suffer fireworks-related eye injuries each year, including ruptured eyeballs and damaged corneas and retinas. Sadly, many of the injured are children. In some instances, injuries result from children playing with fireworks themselves, but in many others, these injuries are caused by an adult igniting fireworks irresponsibly. If you’re going to celebrate the holidays with fireworks, please do so responsibly. Have your children wear eye protection and keep them a substantial distance from where they fireworks are being lit. Better yet, leave fireworks to the professionals and just sit back and enjoy the show with your family.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we have the expertise to treat a variety of eye injuries, but we prefer to help keep your eyes – and your children’s – healthy from the start. If we can serve you this holiday season or into the new year, please contact us at 352-373-4300. 

Happy holidays.

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North Florida Cataract Now Offers Revolutionary PanOptix Trifocal Lens Implants

by Damion Wasylow 25 October 2019 06:56 AM

retired woman sitting on couch smiling
North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is now among the first ophthalmology centers in the United States to offer AcrySof®IQ PanOptix®Trifocal Intraocular Lens implants for cataract patients. These cutting-edge lenses are clinically shown to deliver an exceptional combination of near, intermediate and distance vision, substantially reducing the need for glasses.

PanOptix manufacturer Alcon is renowned worldwide for producing innovative life-changing vision and eye care products. They recognized the need for an intraocular lens implant that could more completely restore vision for cataract patients who also require trifocals. PanOptix is that lens implant. In fact, it’s the first and only trifocal lens for U.S. patients undergoing cataract surgery

While PanOptix is new to the U.S., it’s use has been proven in more than 70 other countries. The AcrySof IQ IOL platform upon which PanOptix is built has been implanted more 120 million times around the globe. 

“We are proud to bring this new class of IOLs to the largest eye care market in the world,” said David J. Endicott, Chief Executive Officer of Alcon. “We are leveraging Alcon’s years of experience with PanOptix in other countries to provide the best possible training and support for U.S. surgeons. Our goal is to ensure optimal outcomes for cataract patients looking to correct their vision at all distances, with the vast majority of them never needing to wear glasses post-surgery.”

In U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing, PanOptix patients demonstrated exceptional, uninterrupted vision and high patient satisfaction, with more than ninety-nine percent saying they would choose PanOptix again.

North Florida Cataract’s Dr. Gregory Snodgrass says, “This is big. Bringing this vision-restoring technology to bear for patients is a game changer. Not only can patients experience renewed vision through having their cataract-affected lenses replaced, now they can also gain complete independence from glasses, something they may not have enjoyed for decades.” 

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care was selected to be among the first practices in the U.S. to offer these lenses due in large part to its track record for delivering exceptional patient outcomes. Offering both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery options, North Florida Cataract is the area’s recognized leader in cataract treatment. Offering PanOptix lenses aligns perfectly with our practice’s mission for delivering the finest, most innovative surgical treatments available.

If you or someone you love would benefit from cataract surgery, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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Sleeping with Contact Lenses Poses Serious Risks

by Damion Wasylow 17 October 2019 00:48 AM

woman putting in her contact lens
Nearly 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses for vision correction. When used as directed, contacts are a safe and effective option that offer wearers unparalleled lifestyle flexibility. Unfortunately, studies show 40% to 90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow care instructions, even sleeping with their contacts in, placing them at serious risk for dangerous infections and blinding ulcers. 

When you sleep with contact lenses in your eyes, your risk of corneal infection increases tenfold. That’s crucial enough to restate…you are TEN TIMES more likely to suffer an infection of your cornea if you wear your contacts while you sleep overnight.

The cornea – the eye's clear, protective outer layer – is a living, breathing tissue. In fact, it’s the only part of the body that receives oxygen directly from environmental air instead of through the body’s bloodstream. Without sufficient oxygen, corneal cells break down, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to infect the eye.

Wearing contact lenses limits the amount of oxygen available to corneal cells. When worn as directed during waking hours, the reduction is manageable and considered safe. When you then sleep with your contacts in, however, your closed eyelids further limit oxygen exposure for an extended period, and cells can begin to die. 

“The excess risks of developing corneal infection with overnight wear of contact lenses has been recognized for many years,” explains Dr. Oliver Schein, professor of ophthalmology, and vice-chair for quality and safety with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Schein also points out that wearing contact lenses overnight reduces tear production, increases temperature and elevates humidity while trapping microbes against the eye surface, a recipe for germ growth and, “microtrauma to the surface of the cornea.”

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we’ve seen the results firsthand. Just last week, a patient visited our practice complaining of sore eyes and poor vision after wearing her contact lenses too long. Upon evaluation, we determined that over-wear of her contacts resulted in serious damage to her corneas, requiring a delicate surgical procedure. Thankfully, our own Dr. Matthew Gray is a corneal specialist. Dr. Gray performed the surgery a few days later and the patient is now on the road to recovery.

If you’re considering contact lenses for your vision correction, are interested in a new contact lens prescription or need treatment for any contact lens-related issues, call North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300. Our talented team of opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists are here to provide the guidance and care you need to improve your vision and keep your eyes healthy for years to come.

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Are Vision Problems Limiting Your Child’s Learning?

by Damion Wasylow 9 August 2019 13:18 PM

child not engaged in the classroom
One of the most common contributors to children’s struggles in the classroom is undiagnosed vision problems. Poor vision can make learning extremely stressful and frustrating, leading children to withdraw, act out or give up entirely. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, one in five U.S. preschoolers have vision problems, and one in four will need or wear corrective lenses by the time they enter school. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found 12.5 million school-age kids are unable to see the blackboard, and only 10 percent of children ages nine-15 who need glasses actually have them.

When you consider that the vast majority of what a child learns in school is through visually presented information – in books, on screens, on the blackboard, through demonstrations, etc. – the magnitude of the problem becomes clear. Imagine trying to take notes without being able to quickly change visual focus from the teacher to the paper in front of you. Think how hard it would be to absorb concepts while fighting through double vision.

Many parents mistakenly believe that if a child is having difficulty seeing, they’ll say something, but according to Dr. Michael Earley, associate dean of academic affairs at The Ohio State University, that’s not the case. "Kids don't say anything,” explains Dr. Earley. “Kids don't know what their vision is supposed to look like. They don't volunteer these things or complain, which is why we have to do a comprehensive eye exam.”

And school vision screenings do little to help. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that school vision screenings miss on identifying up to 75 percent of children with vision problems. Even when problems are identified, the same research found that 61 percent never follow up with an eye doctor. This is why it is so important to get your child a comprehensive eye exam from a local eye doctor leading into the school year.

You should also watch closely for these symptoms throughout the year:

  • Headaches and eye strain
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Dislike or avoidance of reading and close work
  • Short attention span during visual tasks
  • Covers one eye frequently
  • Relies on finger as a reading guide
  • Reads slowly or has poor reading comprehension 

If you have any reason to suspect your child may have an undiagnosed vision problem, or if you just want to ensure your child’s eyes are as healthy as they should be, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today. We’re experts at diagnosing and treating all forms of children’s vision problems, so your son or daughter can have the best shot at classroom success. Call us at 352-373-4300 or just stop by one of our two convenient optical locations in Gainesville.

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What are the Most Common Eye Disorders?

by Damion Wasylow 2 August 2019 08:14 AM

three generations of women smiling in glasses
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults have some degree of vision loss. Of those, seven million are legally blind. While dozens of diseases and disorders can affect the eyes, the majority of vision problems can be attributed to these five conditions…

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, are the most common causes of vision loss. Refractive errors occur when light is improperly bent (or “refracted”) while passing through the cornea. This produces a flawed image. Thankfully, refractive errors are correctable with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. Scheduling a comprehensive eye exam at an optical shop near you is the first step.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 60, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) results from thinning of the macula, a component of the retina. With AMD, central vision is adversely impacted, reducing one’s ability to make out fine details. Over time, complete loss of central vision is possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can slow the progress of AMD, so regular eye exams are critical, particularly as you get older

Cataracts

Cataracts can develop in one eye or both. As they do, vision gradually gets worse. Cataract symptoms usually include cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, lens discoloration, light sensitivity, glare and halos. Without surgery, cataracts eventually lead to total blindness. Thankfully, cataract surgery has an extremely high success rate – 98% or higher for the more than three million cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. each year.

Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetes are susceptible to diabetic retinopathy, a condition that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. This initially allows fluid to leak within the eye. Later, swelling and scar tissue can cause the retina to detach, resulting in irreversible vision loss. Regular eye health monitoring can help spot warning signs so you can make healthy choices.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma usually results from elevated eye pressure, which damages the optic nerve. That damage prevents proper transfer of visual information from the eye to the brain. Depending on the type of glaucoma (open-angle, or normal-tension or low-tension), symptoms can include gradual loss of peripheral vision, tunnel vision, severe eye pain, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, halos and red eyes. Like several of the conditions outlined above, early diagnosis is the key to slowing the conditions progress in order to maintain vision.

If you have symptoms of vision loss, or if you just haven’t been to the eye doctor in a while, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300. Our team of opticians and ophthalmologists can evaluate your overall eye health and, if necessary, prescribe glasses or contacts, perform corrective eye surgery or make recommendations to help you maintain your vision. We’re here to help you see clearly.

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Your Eye Health: The Dangers of UV Rays

by Damion Wasylow 22 July 2019 12:23 PM

dad and daughter wearing sunglasses at the beach
By now, most people know that overexposure to the Sun can result in serious skin damage and even skin cancer. What you may not know, however, is that those same ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to severe eye damage. Cataracts, corneal sunburn and macular degeneration are just a few conditions that can be initiated or worsened by UV exposure.

UV Safety Month is a national public awareness campaign that reminds us all to make healthy choices. In support, we offer these crucial tips to help you protect your eyes this summer and beyond.

Select and Wear Sunglasses with UV Protection

Not all sunglasses are made the same. Some offer very little UV protection. To adequately shield your eyes, always look for sunglasses that filter 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays. These will typically be labeled either “UV400” or “100% UV protection.” Even with that label, however, you should be vigilant to evaluate the quality. Cheaply made sunglasses may boast a UV400 rating, but only offer a superficial film that can quickly wear off with cleaning. For a wide variety of sunglasses that look great and offer reliable UV protection, a local optical shop is usually your best bet.

Limit Your Exposure

Even while wearing UV blocking sunglasses, it’s important to keep your eyes additionally shielded from the Sun. UV rays have a way of seeping in around the edges of sunglasses and causing damage. A wide brimmed hat is an excellent second layer of defense. If you’ll be outside for an extended period – watching sports or lounging by the pool, for example, take advantage of a tent of umbrella. Whatever you do, never look directly at the Sun. And don’t get a false sense of security from the presence of clouds. UV rays pass right through.

Choose Your Outdoors Time Wisely

UV rays are generally strongest from 10am-4pm in late spring and early summer and during daylight savings time. Planning outdoor events earlier or later in the day will help limit your UV exposure. You should also keep an eye on your local weather forecast for an expectation of the day’s Ultraviolet (UV) Index in your area. The UV Index uses a 0-11+ scale (with zero being the lowest and 11 or more being the highest) to describe the day's likely levels of UV ray exposure. Days with a rating of 7 or higher may be best spent indoors.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we offer a variety of stylish, UV-protectant sunglasses for the whole family – prescription and non-prescription. Stop by one of our convenient Gainesville optical shops (NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street or Tioga Town Center) today, or call us at 352-373-4300.

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How to Know When it’s Time for New Eyeglasses

by Damion Wasylow 7 July 2019 12:14 PM

handsome man in stylish glasses
Some people get really attached to their eyeglasses. Or at least it seems that way. They’ll hold on to the same pair of glasses for years and years, even as those glasses stop delivering the same level of vision improvement. Perhaps they don’t know a new eyeglass prescription could offer renewed vision, or maybe they just don’t the signs that point to the need for new eyeglasses.

Headaches

Wearing glasses with an out-of-date prescription can cause headaches due to eyestrain. More frequent headaches, particularly during or after extended periods of wearing your glasses, is a common sign you should see your local eye doctor.

Squinting

Squinting can be a clear indication that your glasses are no longer working as they should. It’s your body’s way of trying to improve focus by reducing the amount of light entering the eye. Proper eyeglasses should make this unnecessary.

Eye Fatigue

Recurring eye fatigue results when the muscles and components of the eye work overly hard to compensate for vision challenges. The right pair of new prescription eyeglasses can help alleviate eye fatigue almost immediately.

Blurred Vision

As obvious as it may seem, blurry vision is the most common sign that it’s time to see your eye doctor for new glasses. It’s also the most commonly overlooked sign. Some glasses wearers mistakenly accept a little bit of a blur as part of aging, when an updated eyeglass prescription could quickly bring life back into focus.

Damaged Lenses

Even the toughest eyeglass lenses inevitably get damaged. Scratches and scuffs can obscure your vision. UV protection and other coatings may break down over time, and become hazy and difficult to clean. 

If you’re getting regular comprehensive eye exams, as experts and healthcare professionals recommend, your eye doctor will help you identify when it’s time for a new eyeglass prescription. 

If you haven’t had an exam in a while, or you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described above, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today. Our team of optometrists and licensed opticians can evaluate your vision, provide the right prescription and fit you for a new pair of glasses – all in one place. Our in-house optical shops feature state-of-the-art frames to fit every style and budget. 

Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your exam.

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