A Clearer View

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

Patchy Blind Spots? Could Be Glaucoma

by Damion Wasylow 4 January 2022 11:44 AM

senior man having his eyes examined
An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only about half know that they have this eye disease. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, yet the condition remains a mystery to many people.

It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of glaucoma, and the available treatment options. If you’re experiencing patchy blind spots, this may be a key indicator of glaucoma and, as such, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Patchy Blind Spots May Indicate Open-Angle Glaucoma

If you’re experiencing patchy blind spots either in your central or peripheral vision, it could be a sign of open-angle glaucoma.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common is open-angle. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage angle (the point where the iris and sclera meet) stays open, but the trabecular meshwork becomes partially blocked. The trabecular meshwork is a sponge-like tissue near the cornea, and it’s where aqueous humor (fluid) flows from the eye.

Over time, the blockage in the trabecular meshwork causes a buildup of pressure, which damages the optic nerve. Unfortunately, the process happens so gradually that many people don’t realize there’s a problem until they start losing their vision.

And patchy blind spots are just one of several signs of glaucoma.

Other Glaucoma Symptoms to Look Out For

In advanced stages, open-angle glaucoma can cause tunnel vision. This, along with patchy blind spots, are the two most common symptoms of open-angle glaucoma.

Closed-angle glaucoma (also known as acute angle-closure glaucoma) can cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headaches
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eye irritation
  • Eye pain

This form of glaucoma occurs when the iris bulges outward and narrows or blocks the eye’s drainage angle. The blockage prevents fluid from circulating properly, and pressure builds up. Closed-angle glaucoma can occur suddenly or develop gradually. In either case, it’s a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Diagnosing glaucoma is a straightforward process that starts with a comprehensive eye exam. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may perform several tests, including:

  • Dilation and imaging tests to look for signs of optic nerve damage
  • A tonometry, which measures intraocular pressure
  • A pachymetry, which measures corneal thickness
  • A visual field test to check for vision loss
  • A gonioscopy, which inspects the drainage angle

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, glaucoma causes irreversible damage, but routine visits with your eye doctor and following your treatment plan can help slow the progression of the disease or prevent vision loss.

Treatments focus on reducing the pressure in your eye and can include:

  • Prescription Eyedrops: The most common treatment to reduce pressure in the eye.
  • Oral Medications: If eye drops aren’t enough to reduce the pressure, oral medication may be prescribed.
  • Surgery or Laser Treatment: When all else fails, laser treatment or surgery may be recommended to improve drainage in the eye and reduce pressure.

In addition to these treatments, you will need to attend follow-up exams and may need to undergo additional procedures to keep the pressure under control.

While there is no cure for glaucoma, following your doctor’s recommended treatment protocol can help reduce pressure in the eye and prevent further damage.

If you’re experiencing patchy blindness or any other symptoms associated with glaucoma, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.



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Latest Cataract Treatment Painlessly Restores Vision

by Damion Wasylow 4 January 2022 11:38 AM

senior man gives ok sign at eye doctor office
Cataract treatment has come a long way since the first successful cataract removal surgery back in 1747. Until recently, however, cataract surgery was still exclusively done manually, relying heavily on the experience and steady hands of the surgeon to limit possible post-surgical pain and discomfort during recovery.

Today, technology gives eye surgeons a dynamic new way to perform cataract removal surgery and the results earn high praise from patients.

Laser-Assisted Surgery is Revolutionizing Cataract Treatment

Laser-assisted cataract surgery, using state-of-the-art technology, like the LenSx Laser Cataract System used by North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, is more accurate than traditional surgery and offers pain-free recovery. The system precisely maps the eye using high-resolution images to provide detailed measurements and other data used to perform the surgery.

A computer-guided laser then makes a tiny incision in the eye, through which the surgeon inserts a small probe. That probe emits ultrasonic energy to break up the damaged lens. A second probe is then used to suction out the tiny fragments, followed by a third probe used to insert and position the new artificial intraocular lens implant.

Traditional vs. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery

Many ophthalmologists allow their cataract patients to choose between traditional or laser-assisted surgery, based on their preferences. In either case, the results of cataract surgery are life changing. There’s a 98% overall success rate using both traditional and laser-assisted treatment options, but with traditional surgery, there is a higher risk of side effects.

The primary difference in recovery and side effects stems from the fact that laser-assisted surgery allows the doctor to use less ultrasonic energy to break up the damaged lens. This makes the laser-assisted procedure pain-free.

Discussing your cataract surgery options with your eye surgeon prior to the procedure will help you better understand which treatment option is best for you. More often than not, laser-assisted surgery will be the optimal choice.

If you’re one of the 25 million people in the U.S. who has cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your consultation.



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Eye Safety Risks Associated with Nerf Guns

by Damion Wasylow 6 December 2021 07:11 AM

child pointing nerf gun

Nerf guns may top many kids’ holiday wish lists, but they could also pose a risk to your child’s vision. While the projectiles (known as darts) fired by these toy guns are mostly made up of squishy Nerf material, the tips are typically hard plastic, and they can travel in excess of 60 miles per hour, resulting in severe impacts to delicate eyes.

Nerf Gun-Related Eye Injuries

Being struck in the eye with a Nerf dart can result in bleeding, swelling, increased risk of cataracts and even vision loss. In one case, an 11-year-old child suffered extreme ocular damage, including all of the following:

  • Hyphema (blood within the aqueous fluid)
  • Corneal oedema (swelling of the cornea)
  • Anterior uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye)
  • Localized angle recession (a tear in the ciliary muscle)
  • Commotio retinae (traumatic retinopathy)

Other Toys that Pose Vision Risks

Nerf guns, of course, are not the only toys that pose risks to children’s eyes. Toy companies manufacture and promote everything from BB guns to metal swords as safe playthings for kids. When in reality, more than 225,000 emergency room visits result from toy-related injuries each year.

Projectile toys are by far the most dangerous for eye health. Whether it’s dart guns, paintball guns, BB guns, airsoft rifles or other so-called toys that launch objects through the air, parents should be aware of the real risks associated. Put simply, projectile toys are never safe.

Safety Measures Can Lessen the Risks

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that anyone who does purchase a projectile toy should also enforce wearing eye protection. Safety glasses, eye shields and other protective gear should be worn at all times while playing with these dangerous toys.

You can also help enforce eye safety through:

  • Supervision to ensure that your child is being responsible during play.
  • Adhering to the age guidelines set by the manufacturer.
  • Reading through the safety warnings that come with the toy.

Treating Traumatic Eye Injuries

If your child suffers a traumatic eye injury, it’s wise to get them to the emergency room as quickly as possible. Immediate care can help reduce the risk of permanent damage. After initial treatment, it’s likely you will be referred to your local ophthalmologist for further evaluation and treatment.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we treat a wide range of eye injuries for people of all ages. Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.



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Winter Weather May Trigger Dry Eye Symptoms

by Damion Wasylow 6 December 2021 07:03 AM

young man rubbing dry eyes
After a hot, humid summer, you might enjoy the cooler days of fall and winter. However, with cooler weather also comes drier air. Humidity plummets in the winter, and that can leave your eyes feeling dry and irritated.

Preventing Dry Eyes in the Winter

Prevention is key when it comes to dry eyes. There are several steps you can take to help keep your eyes moisturized and irritation-free during the dry winter months.

Use a Humidifier: Low humidity is one of the leading causes of dry eyes in the winter. Forced air heating can really dry out the air in your home and most other indoor areas. An indoor humidifier can help restore some moisture back into the air and help combat dry eyes.

Don’t Crank Up the Heater: Keep your home as cool as comfortable to maintain a more manageable humidity range. While you shouldn’t put your health at risk, reducing your heater usage can help keep your eyes moisturized and prevent dry eyes.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help maintain the moisture in your eyes. Experts recommend drinking a half-ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh.

Limit Caffeine Consumption: Caffeinated beverages are diuretics, meaning they remove water from your body. If you drink several cups of coffee or tea per day, consider cutting back.

Shield Your Eyes: Extreme wind, cold and direct heat can all dry out your eyes. Wearing eye protection, utilizing hats with visors and turning car vents towards your lower body can all help combat eye dryness and itchiness in the winter.

Remove Eye Makeup Before Bed: Mascara, eyeliner and other eye makeup products can dry out your eyes. Leaving them on overnight may only make the problem worse.

Treating Dry Eyes

For people with mild, seasonal dry eye symptoms, artificial tear eyedrops may be sufficient to provide relief. They're available over the counter, and you can find them in most drug stores.

For people with persistent dry eye symptoms, a comprehensive examination from your eye doctor may be in order. Several factors can lead to dry eye syndrome. Once properly diagnosed, your eye doctor can treat the underlying cause and not just the symptoms.

The Dry Eye Center for Excellence at North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care is a leader in diagnosis and treatment of dry eye syndrome. Our specially trained staff help relieve patients’ dry eye pain every day. Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your dry eye consultation.



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4 Common Vision Problems Associated with Diabetes

by Damion Wasylow 16 November 2021 11:38 AM

man with diabetes testing blood glucose
Diabetes affects many parts of the body, including the eyes. Over time, sugar blocks the tiny, fragile blood vessels in your eyes that connect to the retina. That damage can cause the vessels to bleed or leak fluid. Blockages also cause your body to form new blood vessels that don’t function as well as the original vessels.

Over time, as diabetes continues to damage blood vessels in the eyes, it can lead to the development of these four vision problems.

1. Cataracts

People with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop cataracts. As sugar levels rise in the eye lens and aqueous humor (the fluid in the front part of the eye), the lens can swell and be damaged. Additionally, the glucose can be converted by an enzyme in the eye lens into a substance called sorbitol, which has been shown to contribute to cataract development over time.

Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become cloudy, making it harder for light to pass through and reach the retina. In some cases, cataracts are mild, and vision is barely affected. Eventually, however, vision is so severely impacted that the person cannot see shapes or movement.

2. Glaucoma

Diabetes can also increase the risk of glaucoma, and the longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk of developing this condition. In fact, people with glaucoma are twice as likely to develop cataracts.

When fluid can’t drain properly from the eyes, pressure builds up. That elevated pressure damages blood vessels and nerves, which can alter your vision.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common form is open-angle. Open-angle glaucoma can be treated with medication that improves drainage and reduces eye pressure. Unfortunately, symptoms may not appear with this type of glaucoma until the condition has progressed and caused major vision loss. However, your eye doctor can catch it during your routine comprehensive eye exam

Diabetes can also increase the risk of a less common form of glaucoma known as neovascular glaucoma. This condition causes blood vessels to form on the iris, which prevents fluids from flowing normally and increases eye pressure.

3. Blurred Vision

High blood sugar can also cause blurred vision. In addition, when glucose levels are higher than normal, it can cause the lenses in your eyes to swell and impact your vision.

While concerning, diabetes-imposed blurry vision can typically be corrected by simply getting your blood sugar back to its normal range.

4. Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy develops because of high blood sugar levels. Without early intervention, this condition can cause complete vision loss. Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is an effective way to reduce your risk of this condition.

There are two primary forms of this condition.

  • Nonproliferative: The most common form of retinopathy. Nonproliferative retinopathy causes the capillaries at the back of the eye to swell and create pouches.
  • Proliferative: A more severe form of this condition. With proliferative retinopathy, the blood vessels become completely closed off, which causes new ones to form on the retina. These new, weak blood vessels can leak blood and cause vision loss.

Significant advancements have been made in the treatment of retinopathy. The sooner the condition is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

If you are diabetic, it’s extremely important to have your eyes examined regularly to protect against and diagnose these potentially serious vision problems. At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, our optometrists are skilled at identifying the warning signs early, giving you the best chance of maintaining your eyesight. Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your eye exam.



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Can Young People Develop Cataracts?

by Damion Wasylow 16 November 2021 11:32 AM

middle-aged woman getting a cataract exam
While cataracts occur primarily in senior citizens, they’re not uncommon in individuals in their 40’s or 50’s. In some instances, babies can even be born with cataracts. So, if you experience cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, light sensitivity, glare or halos, these could be cataract symptoms, regardless of your age.

Cataract Risk Factors

Age is, of course, a major factor in a person’s risk of getting cataracts, but it’s not the lone consideration. A few additional risk factors that can increase your chances of developing cataracts include:

  • Eye injuries
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays

So, if you want to lower your risk of developing cataracts, eat a healthy diet, avoid corticosteroids and limit or eliminate smoking and alcohol. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses can also reduce your risk. And protect your eyes from trauma. Injury is the most common cause of early cataract development in people under the age of 45. 

Causes of Cataracts in Children

Cataracts in children aren’t necessarily severe early on, so their vision may be only slightly impaired or not impaired at all for many years. In most cases of children with cataracts, the condition is caused by:

  • Genetics passed down from parents, which cause the eye lens to not develop properly
  • Genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome
  • Infections during pregnancy, such as chickenpox or rubella
  • Eye injuries

Teens and children with cataracts that are not congenital often suffer some form of trauma to the eye. For example, a child may be hit in the eye with a football or hockey puck, and while their vision may return, cataracts may develop.

Correcting Cataracts

Surgically replacing the cataract damaged lens with an intraocular lens implant is the only means of correcting vision loss due to cataracts. Regardless of your age, cataract surgery will be required once the cataract limits your vision to the point of interfering with your quality of life.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we perform thousands of successful cataract surgeries each year. Our ophthalmologists are specially trained and use the most advanced state-of-the-art equipment to provide patients with a pain-free surgical experience and speedy recovery.

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



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3 Tips for Halloween Eye Safety

by Damion Wasylow 2 October 2021 00:54 AM

young family with halloween decorations
Whether you’re a kid, you have kids or you’re just a kid at heart, Halloween can be a lot of fun. Like most things, however, it’s a good idea to take a few practical steps to ensure the fun isn’t derailed by any sort of injury. To that end, here are three tips to help keep your eyes safe this Halloween…

1. Avoid Decorative Contact Lenses

Costume contact lenses are not a good idea. While readily available at costume shops, online retailers and even convenience stores, decorative contact lenses present some pretty serious risks for your eyes. These lenses are often made with questionable materials and may come from disreputable sources. Even the “best” non-prescription contact lenses are unlikely to fit as they should, and most people wear them without proper contact lens education from an eye doctor. All this adds up to relatively high risk for eye scratches, sores and infections, and potentially even vision loss. 

2. Keep Makeup Away from Your Eyes

Makeup and face paint are great accents to many costumes, but just be careful with them around your eyes. Some of these products can sting or burn the skin and be substantial eye irritants. Select products that are hypoallergenic and first test them on a small patch of less sensitive skin to see if you have any reaction. Then, once you’re ready to apply them to your face, leave a reasonable margin around the eye. You want to limit the likelihood that any makeup or face paint will make direct contact with any part of your eye.

3. Leave Pointy Accessories at Home

From pirate swords to fairy wands, many costumes seem to include some form pointy-edged accessory. When you consider the potential risk of one of those points making contact with an eye, however, you may decide it’s best to leave those accessories at home. 9% of all eye injuries are caused by sharp objects. And the risk is elevated when children (and grownups) are running around outside in the dark.

As you head out for Halloween fun this year, do so with eye safety top of mind. Taking just a few precautions will help ensure your festive evening won’t have any frightening effects on your eye health. 

A friendly message from your friends at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care.



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Does Cataract Surgery Eliminate the Need for Eyeglasses?

by Damion Wasylow 30 September 2021 00:47 AM

professional man removing eyeglasses
For many patients, cataract surgery can eliminate or reduce the need to wear eyeglasses. Several factors come into play, including your current eyeglasses prescription, the presence or degree of astigmatism and the intraocular lens implant you choose.

The Cataract Surgery Procedure

During cataract surgery, ultrasonic energy is applied to break apart the cataract-affected eye lens into tiny pieces. Those pieces are then suctioned out, leaving the eye ready to receive a new intraocular lens implant. The ophthalmologist inserts the lens implant through a tiny incision and skillfully moves it into position, providing a permanent fix for cataracts.

As the entire eye lens is replaced with the implant, some common refractive vision problems (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) may also be corrected as a result of the procedure. This is heavily reliant on your overall vision health and the type of intraocular lens implant you and your eye doctor choose. 

Monofocal Lens Implants

Monofocal lens implants are designed to optimize your vision for one focal depth. Many patients select monofocal lens implants calibrated to enhance distance vision. While this can return distance vision to near perfection, it generally requires the patient to wear reading glasses in order to see details up close.

In some instances, an ophthalmologist may recommend monovision surgery. Typically, this is reserved for patients who have had previous (and successful) experience with monovision, either naturally or with contact lenses.

With a monovision procedure, cataract-affected lenses are removed from both eyes (typically, at separate times). One eye is then fitted with a monofocal lens implant calibrated for distance vision, while the other eye is fitted with a monofocal lens implants calibrated for near vision. The brain then adapts to automatically rely on one eye to provide visual information on objects far away and the other to focus on items nearby.

Multifocal Lens Implants

Multifocal lens implants are an exciting new development in cataract treatment. Working much like multifocal eyeglasses, multifocal implants can provide distance, intermediate and near vision correction from a single implant. For many patients, this makes them preferable to monofocal implants or monovision surgery, often eliminating the need for eyeglasses entirely.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we offer two multifocal lens implant options – PanOptix®Trifocal Lens Implants and IQ Vivity™ Lens Implants. Our practice was hand-picked to be among the first practices in the U.S. to offer these lenses due in large part to our track record for delivering exceptional patient outcomes.

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



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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. 


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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