A Clearer View

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

Over 40? A Glaucoma Exam May Prevent Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 12 January 2021 12:15 PM

woman in her 40s getting an eye exam
is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. Called “the silent thief of sight,” glaucoma often presents no symptoms at all until substantial and irreparable damage to the optic nerve has already occurred. Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, however, can help protect your eyes against serious vision loss. And that starts with a comprehensive eye exam.

Regularly scheduled eye exams are always important for maintaining good eye health, and they become particularly critical at age 40. The Mayo Clinic recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two to four years for adults in their 40’s. The recommended frequency increases to every one to three years for people with identified glaucoma risk factors.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

While glaucoma can affect anyone, the following factors – alone or in combination – increase your likelihood of developing the condition.

  • Age 40 or older
  • African American, Hispanic or Asian heritage
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • High eye pressure
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted
  • History of ocular injury or a certain type of eye surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Long-term steroids treatment

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Nearly three million people in the United States have glaucoma, and that number is expected to rise dramatically in coming years. Studies indicate that nearly half of people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it, due largely to the fact that up to 50% of optic nerve tissue needs to be damaged before vision changes are noticeable for the individual.

A comprehensive eye exam is critical for identifying and diagnosing glaucoma before symptoms are present. During the exam, your eye doctor will perform a series of tests to determine the overall quality of your vision, assess eye function and evaluate your complete eye health, including identifying any possible glaucoma development.

Glaucoma Treatment

While no treatment can reverse damage done to the optic nerve by glaucoma, treatment can slow or prevent further damage. Prescription eyedrops to reduce intraocular pressure are the most common treatment.

Laser treatments, such as argon laser trabeculoplasty and selective laser trabeculoplasty are often used to treat glaucoma in patients that do not respond well to drop therapy. Surgical procedures may also be recommended for patients with severe glaucoma. 

If you’re 40-years-old and have not had a comprehensive eye exam in recent years, do so now, especially if you have any specific risk factors for glaucoma. It just might save your vision. 

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



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Who Performs Cataract Surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 28 December 2020 11:09 AM

cataract surgery specialist dr gregory snodgrass
Cataract surgery is performed by an eye surgeon, known as an ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor (M.D.) or osteopathic doctor (D.O.) with years of specialized training in all aspects of eye care.

Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in both their abilities and training. Optometrists generally earn a four-year college degree followed by four years of optometry school. Becoming an ophthalmologist generally requires at least four additional years of post-graduate medical training beyond optometry school. With this further training, ophthalmologists are qualified for advanced eye disease treatment and surgical procedures. 

Cataract surgery is a subspecialty within ophthalmology, requiring specific training and continuing education to refine the surgeon’s skills and stay apprised of the latest developments.

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care has two ophthalmologists on staff who specialize in cataract surgery.

Practice leader, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass (pictured above), is known as one of the area's premier ophthalmologists, combining advanced skills, state-of-the-art technology and over twenty-five years of experience to provide his patients superior eye care.

Dr. Matthew Gray has extensive training and experience in managing routine and complex eye diseases, including cataracts. He was previously on faculty at University of Florida College of Medicine for several years, where he received multiple awards and honors.

Prior to surgery, Drs. Snodgrass and Gray consult with their patients to determine the best cataract surgery option for the patient’s individual needs.

With either traditional or laser-assisted cataract surgery, the basic structure of the procedure is similar. The surgeon creates a small incision in the eye surface. A probe is then inserted through the incision. Using ultrasonic energy (sound waves), the probe breaks the cataract-damaged eye lens into tiny pieces, which are then suctioned out. The surgeon then delicately inserts and positions a new intraocular lens implant. The entire procedure takes just a few minutes, and patients return home the same day. 

Laser-assisted surgery is often preferred due to its increased precision and faster recovery time. The procedure is also stitch-free and pain-free.

If you or someone you love is ready to explore surgery as a means to permanently correct cataracts, contact the ophthalmologists at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today. Drs. Snodgrass and Gray would be honored to assess your condition and discuss your treatment options. Call our office on NW 8th Avenue in Gainesville at 352-373-4300.



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Can Cataracts Be Treated Without Surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 18 November 2020 10:59 AM

retired woman wondering the answer to a question
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who looks forward to surgery, so people often search for alternatives. When it comes to cataracts, the need for surgery is based largely on your cataract’s stage of development and its impact on the quality of your daily life.

Early-Stage Cataracts May Not Require Surgery

In the early stages of development, cataracts produce symptoms that some people find livable, at least for a while. Cataract symptoms – including, cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing in low light, glare, light sensitivity, faded colors and seeing halos around lights – can be minimal at first. Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses may help to improve your vision at this stage. 

Cataract Symptoms Always Get Worse

Cataracts are progressive, meaning they get worse over time. Cataracts are caused by a breakdown of the proteins that make up the eye lens, most often related to aging, making the lens thicker and less transparent. This process cannot be reversed or paused. As the cataracts progress, patients experience more pronounced symptoms. Driving, reading, watching TV and more become difficult or impossible. Left untreated, cataracts can leave a person completely unable to see. 

Watch Out for False Cataract Remedies

In searching for alternatives to cataract surgery, some people fall victim to false claims of “cataract eye drops” that can dissolve away cataracts. Unfortunately, the science doesn’t support that. As explained above, cataracts are a breakdown of the proteins that make up the eye lens itself. The lens is irreparably damaged, not just coated with some substance that can be dissolved away.

Surgery is the Only Effective Cataract Treatment

The only effective way to treat cataracts is to surgically replace the damaged natural eye lens with an artificial lens implant. The surgery can be conducted using traditional surgical techniques or laser-assisted methods. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is pain-free, stitch-free and dramatically cuts down on recovery time. Best of all, after surgery, the cataract can never return. 

If you or someone you love is experiencing cataract symptoms, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care to schedule an examination. Our ophthalmologists and eyecare team are leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of cataracts, leveraging decades of experience and the best technology to deliver reliable patient outcomes. Call us today at 352-373-4300.



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Can Cataracts Come Back After Surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 27 October 2020 00:48 AM

attractive retired couple smiling in the country
To effectively answer whether a patient can develop cataracts again after a successful cataract removal surgery, we must first understand what cataracts are, how they develop and how cataract surgery works.

A cataract is the clouding of the eye due to the breakdown and subsequent clumping together of naturally occurring proteins within the eye lens. The lens becomes hazy, preventing light from being properly focused onto the retina, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. A patient may also experience double vision, light sensitivity, glare, halos and/or color distortion.

Cataracts most often occur as a natural result of aging. By age 80, 50% of people have some level of cataract development. Injuries, genetics, sunlight, alcohol, smoking and certain medications can also be contributing factors.

During cataract removal surgery, the cataract-damaged lens is completely removed from the eye and replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens implant. This new artificial lens cannot develop a cataract. That means the patient will never have a cataract in that eye again. If surgery is successfully performed on both eyes, the patient is guaranteed to remain cataract free for life.

Some people confuse “secondary cataracts” for the return of cataracts, but they are not the same. Secondary cataracts, also known as posterior capsule opacification, sometimes develop months or years after cataract surgery, as a side effect of the procedure.

With secondary cataracts, it’s not the eye lens that becomes clouded, rather it’s the thin membrane called the eye capsule that holds the lens in place. Clumping proteins on the back side of the capsule create a thin layer of scar-like tissue, producing symptoms very similar to cataracts. This occurs in up to 20% of patients who undergo cataract removal surgery.

Thankfully, treating secondary cataracts is relatively simple and completely painless, requiring just one in-office appointment. During the appointment, the ophthalmologist uses a specialized laser to make a small opening in the back side of the lens capsule. This allows lights to once again pass uninhibited to the retina, restoring normal vision function. After this correction, secondary cataracts are highly unlikely to ever require additional treatment.

If you’re considering cataract surgery, or believe you may be experiencing secondary cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300. Our experts can answer any questions you may have and will gladly schedule a consultation to discuss your specific vision needs.



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What Happens When You Have Diabetic Retinopathy?

by Damion Wasylow 26 October 2020 05:00 AM

ophthalmologist with eye anatomy model
Diabetic retinopathy is one of many health complications associated with diabetes. Over time, glucose buildup damages the small blood vessels in the retina, the light sensitive tissue that lines the inside of the eye. Those blood vessels then leak blood and fluid, leading to swelling of the retinal tissue. 


In early stages, diabetic retinopathy may produce no symptoms at all. As it progresses, patients experience floaters, blurred vision, blank or dark areas in their vision fields, poor night vision and diminished colors. Without effective treatment, diabetic retinopathy can lead to total blindness.


Diabetic retinopathy generally progresses through four stages. During the first two stages, known as mild and moderate nonproliferative retinopathy, increasing numbers of blood vessels in the eye swell and start to leak.

As swelling continues, the patient enters severe nonproliferative retinopathy, during which numerous blood vessels are blocked, preventing sufficient blood flow to the retina. In an attempt to counter this, the eye starts growing new blood vessels.

In the final stage, known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), the fragile new blood vessels leak as well, and in higher concentrations. This resulting scar tissue causes the retina to separate from the tissue around it. This is known as retinal detachment, and it can lead to blindness.


A standard comprehensive eye exam can identify diabetic retinopathy. Any known patient history of diabetes will make the eye doctor particularly attuned to watch for signs of retinopathy. The doctor looks for changes in the blood vessels, including any evidence of new blood vessel growth, as well as any sign of the retina being swollen or detached.

Additional testing may include fluorescein angiography, a dye test to highlight damaged blood vessels, and/or optical coherence tomography, an imaging exam that reveals the thickness of the retina. 


While there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, treatment can slow the disease’s impact on vision. That makes early diagnosis and treatment critical. Treatment often includes proper nutrition to control blood sugar and blood pressure, and medications to slow swelling. For more advanced cases, laser surgery may be applied to seal or shrink blood vessels. Retina surgery may also be necessary for advanced PDR.

If you have diabetes, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam or to learn more about diabetic retinopathy treatment options.



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5 Common Household Items that Can Lead to Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 15 October 2020 11:32 AM

assorted household cleaners
While home is where we should feel safest of all, surprising dangers can potentially lead to serious injuries, including blindness. The typical household is host to numerous hazards that could negatively affect your vision. Awareness of these potential threats coupled with simple precautions can help reduce your family’s risks.

Here are five common household items that can lead to blindness…


If you were to count up all the cleaning solutions, detergents, polishes, stain removers, pest products, lawn treatments and automotive fluids in your home, you would find dozens of chemicals with hazardous implications. When improperly used or contacted, many of these chemicals can damage your eyes, and in some cases, cause blindness. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year. Read labels carefully and follow instructions when using any household chemical.

Lawn Equipment

Lawn equipment is unforgiving when it comes to eye trauma. With sharp blades spinning at thousands of RPMs, lawn mowers can do direct harm and launch dangerous debris. One study estimated there are 3,300 lawn mower related eye injuries each year. The most common forms of resulting eye injury are hyphema – pooling of blood between the cornea and iris, angle recession – elevated eye pressure due to impaired drainage, and traumatic retinopathy – a form of retina damage. Untreated, all three can result in blindness. Ensure all lawn equipment is functioning properly before use and wear eye protection at all times.

Power Tools

Using power tools is another activity that puts your eyes at risk of flying debris. Sawing, drilling, sanding and grinding send wood and metal shavings speeding through the air. Depending on the size, shape and material of these particles, they can cause irritation at least, and at worst, serious eye trauma. The AAO’s Eye Injury Snapshot reported that 25% of eye injuries are due to home repair or power tools. Always wear proper eye protection to help keep your eyes safe.

Sports Equipment

Like the examples above, when it comes to sports equipment, the risk comes less from the equipment itself, and more from lack of precautions while using it. U.S. emergency rooms treat nearly 30,000 sports-related eye injuries each year. Baseball, hockey, lacrosse and racquet sports have relatively high rates of blunt trauma eye injuries, which among other impacts, can damage or detach the optic nerve, leading to permanent blindness. In basketball football and soccer, eye injuries often result from an inadvertent finger poke. This can cause blood to pool over the pupil or iris, again presenting a risk for blindness. Protective eyewear can prevent an estimated 90% of serious eye injuries.

Sparklers and Fireworks

While sparklers and fireworks may not be common items in the home year-round, they are a huge risk. Sparklers burn at roughly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, firing dangerous sparks in all directions. Fireworks send hot shrapnel hurling through the air. A study by the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission found an estimated 15% of all sparkler and fireworks related injuries were to the eyes. 5% of these victims lose all functional vision. Children are particularly at risk, with children under 15-years-old accounting for 36% of all firework injuries. Sparklers and fireworks are always dangerous, but wearing eye protection can limit some of the risks.

The common thread among all these household dangers is that taking proper precautions can help to limit your risk. At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we want the very best for you and your eyes, so you can enjoy quality vision for a lifetime. So, please be sure to use proper eyewear for the task at hand, and if you need prescription eye protection, we can certainly help. 

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.



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Is it Safe to Get Cataract Surgery While COVID is Still Prevalent?

by Damion Wasylow 21 September 2020 08:19 AM

elderly woman smiling while sitting on couch
COVID-19 continues affecting lives around the world and right here in Gainesville and North Florida. While coronavirus concerns understandably cause many to weigh the benefits before venturing away from home, most people have found some comfort level in proceeding with life’s necessary activities. Among these are elective surgeries, including cataract surgery.

After a brief prohibition in the spring, Florida allowed ophthalmologists to again provide elective eye surgery procedures starting in May of this year, reopening the door for thousands of patients to see clearly thanks to cataract surgery. Of course, this came with a requirement for practices to follow more stringent precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we implemented a series of COVID-19 protocols to maximize patient and staff safety at our practice locations and our surgery center, including:

  • Spacing out and staggering appointments to limit waiting room occupancy
  • Asking each patient to wear a mask throughout his or her appointment
  • Asking that accompanying drivers remain in their cars during appointments, or we will help patients call their drivers to return following their appointments

These precautions have allowed us to continually deliver services to patients since the state’s prohibition was lifted. 

When it comes to the procedure itself, cataract surgery is recognized as being safe and effective. In fact, it’s one of the most common medical procedures performed in the world. And laser-assisted cataract surgery offers more precision and less eye trauma, resulting in faster recovery and fewer complications.

When considering whether now is the right time for you or a loved one to get cataract surgery, the decision often comes down to quality of life. Have the cataracts progressed to the point where you can no longer enjoy the activities you love most – reading, watching TV, driving, enjoying sporting events or just seeing a loved one’s face clearly? If so, it might be the right time to proceed.

A 2012 study of cataract surgery patients concluded that cataract surgery, “greatly improved quality of life and was highly cost effective.” In fact, that study identified a 36.2% improvement in quality of life resulting from cataract surgery. 

To explore your cataract surgery options, or learn more about our practice’s coronavirus safety measures, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.



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Cataract Types: Nuclear Sclerotic, Cortical and Posterior Subcapsular

by Damion Wasylow 9 September 2020 07:08 AM

three senior women on vacation
While cataracts can be congenital (meaning they are present from birth), they are typically associated with aging. As we age, proteins can build up in the eye or fiber cells may be disrupted, leading to cataracts. Other environmental, health and diet issues can also contribute to cataract development.

There are three primary types of age-related cataracts, all of which require surgery to correct:

Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts are most common. This form of cataract begins in the middle of the eye and hardens the eye lens. As these cataracts progress, the lens becomes cloudy and may appear yellow or brown. Distance vision is the first thing to go. Some patients initially experience improvement in close-up vision, a condition commonly called “second sight,” but this is only temporary. If the lens is not replaced, over time, vision can be lost completely. 

Cortical Cataracts

Cortical cataracts start in the eye lens cortex (the outside edge of the lens). They form lines that then move towards the center of the lens, like the spokes of a wheel. Vision can be affected in various ways, depending on exact location and prominence of these spokes. Glare from intense light sources, such as car headlights, is common. Cortical cataracts may progress quickly or remain unchanged for extended periods.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

Posterior subcapsular cataracts start as small cloudy or opaque areas on the back surface of the eye lens, beneath the lens capsule that encloses and holds the lens in place. Posterior subcapsular cataracts often develop quickly, with symptoms increasingly noticeable within just a few months. Increased light sensitivity, halos, glare and reduced vision are all common.

Regardless of the type of cataract, surgery is the only effective treatment option. All forms of cataracts permanently damage the eye lens, making it necessary to replace the natural lens with an artificial lens implant in order to restore vision. Artificial lenses are not susceptible to cataracts, meaning that following surgery, cataracts cannot return 

Thankfully, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world, and is recognized as being safe and effective. Today, many patients elect to have laser-assisted cataract surgery, making the procedure more precise and pain-free than ever.

If you or someone you love may be experiencing cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. Our experts can diagnose your specific type of cataracts and determine if now is the best time for you to consider your cataract surgical options. Call us today at 352-373-4300.



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Here’s What Happens to Your Eyes as You Get Older

by Damion Wasylow 4 September 2020 03:26 AM

three generations of men smiling
As with all parts of the human body, the structures that make up your eyes can degrade through the years. In cases of trauma or disease, this can result in rapid vision loss, whereas through natural aging, the impacts are generally experienced over time. Here’s an overview of how some of those structures are impacted.


The clear, dome-shaped front surface of your eye, known as the cornea, accounts for 65-75% of the eye's ability to focus. When you’re young, the cornea is typically smooth, allowing light to travel unimpeded to the eye lens. Through the years, exposure to environmental factors like smoke, chemicals and allergens can result in tiny scratches and imperfections on the cornea, fragmenting and distorting the incoming light. Additionally, the thin layer of tears that coats and protects the cornea can begin to breakdown, resulting in dry eye syndrome

Eye Lens

After passing through the cornea, light reaches the eye lens, which accounts for the remaining 25-35% of your ability to focus. By flexing, the lens adjusts your vision to focus on objects either nearby or farther away. As we age, the lens becomes less pliable, limiting your focal ability, a condition called presbyopia. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in your 40’s and gets worse into your 60’s. For people without other vision challenges, reading glasses may be enough to overcome presbyopia limitations. Others may require bifocal or progressive lens eyeglasses. The eye lens can also become cloudy due to the breakdown in its protein structure. This is what we know as cataracts, for which an artificial lens implant is the only treatment option. 

Retina and Optic Nerve

Light from the eye lens is relayed to the retina, which translates it into neural signals, which are then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. In the absence of disease, the retina and optic nerve do not degrade much with age. Some age-related eye diseases, however, can damage these eye structures to the point of blindness. Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and glaucoma are both serious conditions. Sadly, ARMD is not correctable, but studies show you can take steps to slow the progression of the disease. Some forms of glaucoma, on the other hand, can be treated, if diagnosed early enough.

As we age, it’s increasingly important to have regular comprehensive eye exams. The Mayo Clinic recommends eye exams every 2-4 years for people in their 40’s to mid-50’s, every 1-3 years for people in their mid-50’s to mid-60’s and every 1-2 years for people age 65 and older. These exams can help detect problems early, giving you the best chance of maintaining healthy vision.

If it’s time for you or someone you love to have an eye exam, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.



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Protecting Your Children's Vision While They Attend School Remotely

by Damion Wasylow 27 July 2020 11:21 AM

child attending classes remotely
In many ways, this school year will be unlike any other, as families navigate the impacts of COVID-19. In a recent survey, nearly 60% of Alachua County parents indicated they do not plan to send their children back to a brick and mortar school this fall. That translates to a large number of students taking classes digitally instead. Among the many complexities this raises is a concern for children’s vision health. Below are some points parents should be aware of and how you can help protect your children’s vision in this new reality.

Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain can result from extensive or improper viewing of digital screens (phones, tablets, computer monitors, etc). Taking classes remotely will require children to spend hours each day in front of these screens, which can produce headaches, blurred vision, dry, burning and irritated eyes, watery eyes, light sensitivity, difficulty keeping their eyes open and more. These symptoms can extend beyond your children’s time in front of the computer. 

Taking a few simple steps can help prevent digital eye strain. Ensure your children sit at least 25-inches from the screen, encourage them to blink regularly and set 20-minute timers to prompt 20-second breaks from looking at the screen. Make sure the room has sufficient ambient lighting and try to limit screen glare. Most importantly, if your children wear eyeglasses or contacts, talk to your eye doctor. Your children may benefit from eyeglasses made specifically for viewing digital screens.

Watch for Vision Challenge Warning Signs

Many children’s vision problems are initially identified at school. Occasionally, this happens through a formal vision screening. More often, it’s through observation of their behavior in the classroom. Teachers may notice a child squinting to see the blackboard, frequently rubbing or blinking his or her eyes, or avoiding reading and other close activities. These are just a few of the potential signs of vision challenges.

Without in-person teachers to make these observations, parents must be more vigilant. In addition to the warning signs listed above, you should also watch for any complaints of discomfort and fatigue, frequent headaches, covering one eye, holding reading materials close to his or her face, tilting his or her head to one side, or shortened attention span. When these symptoms arise, a trip to your local eye doctor is in order. 

Get Your Child a Vision Exam

The American Optometric Association suggests all children should have a comprehensive eye exam prior to starting first grade, and every two years thereafter. Given the issues listed above, increased frequency may be appropriate for your child. A comprehensive exam can identify eye diseases and conditions easily overlooked by a standard vision screening.

While some parents are hesitant to take their children out of the house for anything that isn’t urgent right now, few things are more essential than protecting your children’s eyesight. Thankfully, reputable eyecare practices have preemptive steps and precautions in place to make your visit as safe as possible.

To ensure your child’s eyes are ready to take on the upcoming school year, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam or learn more about eyeglasses optimized for digital screens.



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