A Clearer View

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

Cataract Surgery Procedure: Benefits of Laser-Assisted

by Damion Wasylow 2 January 2019 09:07 AM

retired couple smiling in a golf cart
Millions of people around the world have regained their vision thanks to cataract surgery. In the U.S. alone, more than three million successful cataract surgeries are performed each year, placing it among the nation’s safest and most effective surgical procedures.

The advent of laser-assisted cataract surgical methods nearly a decade ago took the procedure to the next level, providing patients an even better way to put cataracts behind them for the rest of their lives. The benefits of laser-assisted versus traditional cataract surgery are substantial, and should be weighed when considering your surgical options.

Improved Precision

Laser-assisted surgical technology like the LenSx system allows the surgeon to capture high-resolution images, detailed measurements and other data used to perform the surgery. With the system’s precise mapping of the patient’s eye surfaces, the surgeon identifies the ideal location for the incision. The surgeon then uses the computer-guided laser to make a tiny incision in the eye surface. All of this is accomplished with pinpoint accuracy. The remaining steps of the procedure are completed through this incision, and the procedure is completely pain-free.

Faster, Pain-Free Recovery

With traditional cataract surgery, patients often experience a few days of discomfort in and around the eye. They may also experience blurred vision, mild headache, feelings of grittiness and itchy or sticky eye. The severity and duration of those side effects is greatly diminished with laser-assisted cataract surgery. While patients may have some cloudy or blurred vision, and potentially some redness, the risk of more serious side effects is less than 0.5%. Patients often report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

Long-term Prognosis

Whether you choose traditional or laser-assisted, cataract surgery is a permanent solution. The natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens, and that means it will never again be susceptible to cataracts. Cataract surgery has an overall 98% success rate. 

In Gainesville, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries, and was the first local surgeon to use the LenSx laser cataract surgical system. If you or a loved one is suffering from cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule a consultation.



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When Should You See a Doctor About Dry Eyes?

by Damion Wasylow 2 January 2019 08:16 AM

senior man rubbing eyes
At some point, many people experience the pain and discomfort of dry eyes. For some, it’s infrequent irritation due to environmental factors. For others, it’s a chronic condition known as dry eye syndrome. So, when is it time to consult an eye doctor about your dry eye symptoms?

The short answer is that you should talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible. After all, why suffer a moment longer than you have to?

Dry eyes result from a lack of sufficient lubrication on the eye surface. Normally, a layer of natural moisture coats the eye. When this moisture layer is too thin or the composition isn’t just right, you can experience symptoms including stinging, burning, redness, scratchiness, matter in the eyes, excessive tearing and more. You may even notice eye fatigue, sensitivity to light and/or a decrease in visual quality.

Dry eye prevalence increases with age. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates nearly five million Americans over age 50 suffer from dry eye syndrome. But age isn’t the only contributing factor. Medical conditions ranging from diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to thyroid disorders increase the likelihood of dry eye syndrome. Medications including antihistamines, blood pressure medications, decongestants and antidepressants can also contribute to your chances of developing dry eyes, as they often reduce natural tear production.

If you experience chronic dry eye symptoms, you may also have a meibomian gland disorder. Meibomian glands are located within the eyelids. Each gland has a small opening along the edge of the eyelid through which they excrete an oily substance that helps maintain eye moisture. When these glands stop working effectively, evaporative dry eye disease can result.

Your eye doctor can diagnose the root cause of your dry eye symptoms and work with you to develop an effective treatment plan.

For occasional dry eye discomfort resulting from environmental factors such as living in or visiting dry environments or exposure to smoke and wind, over-the-counter drops may alleviate symptoms. For more persistent issues, after diagnosing the root cause of your dry eye symptoms, your eye doctor may offer a variety of in-office solutions.

If you’re ready to experience long-term relief from dry eye symptoms, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today. Through our Dry Eye Center for Excellence, we offer multiple treatment options to address your specific dry eye symptoms and causes. Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.



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What to Look for in Vision Insurance

by Damion Wasylow 10 December 2018 05:34 AM

woman trying on new eyeglasses
It’s the time of year when many employer-sponsored and individual insurance plans are up for renewal or re-examination. As such, you may be taking a fresh look at your own vision insurance needs. Finding the right coverage for you and your family is important and time is short, so what should you consider?

Most vision plans include the essentials: a comprehensive annual eye exam, a new pair of glasses every one-to-two years and some contribution towards the cost of contact lenses, but don’t take any of that for granted. The allowance for frames can vary quite a bit, for example, so if designer frames are important to you, you may want to select a plan that accommodates that. Just read your plan details carefully, so you’re not caught off guard.

Major eye issues, surgery and disease treatment generally aren’t covered in a vision insurance plan, and may instead be covered by your general medical insurance.

While you’re thinking through the plan options, be sure to also take into consideration your family’s evolving needs. How many people in your family will need an eye exam this year? Anyone with a diagnosed vision challenge will certainly need an annual exam. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic recommends children get their first comprehensive eye exam between ages 3-5, and every 1-2 years thereafter. Healthy adults with no outward symptoms of eye problems should get an exam every 5-10 years in their 20s and 30s, every 2-4 years in their 40s and with increasing frequency as they age.

And if any members of your family have previously been told eyeglasses or contacts are in their future, you’ll want to be sure to factor that in.

If you’re thinking of changing vision plans, be sure to contact your current eye doctor in advance to ensure they accept your potential new insurer. You may also want to talk with them about what costs you might expect without insurance. For some people, direct pay can actually be more economical.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we accept most insurances and vision plans, and we’ll be happy to talk through your specific vision needs. Contact us today at 352-373-4300.



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North Florida Cataract Specialists Named “Best of the Best”

by Damion Wasylow 28 November 2018 02:12 AM

practice doctors and staff at best of best awards gala
Readers of the Gainesville Sun recently voted North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care the area’s Best of the Best for 2018 in three separate eyecare categories. The competition featured several of the area’s finest vision practices, but in the end, only one practice per category was named Best of the Best.

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care took home top honors in three categories: 

2018 Best of the Best: Ophthalmologist/Optometrist

We diagnose and treat vision problems ranging from nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism to eye diseases including glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and more. Our practice features four physicians with the experience and expertise to accurately identify the root cause of your vision challenges and offer treatment options to fit your goals and lifestyle. We even perform state-of-the-art eye surgery, including laser-assisted cataract surgery.

2018 Best of the Best: Place to Buy Eyeglasses

Our two local Gainesville optical shops – on NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street, and in Tioga Town Center – offer convenience, comfort and quality care. Our licensed opticians are specially trained to ensure your eyeglasses provide optimal vision improvement. They will take time to understand what you’re looking for and help you find the best fit. Plus, we have frames for practically every budget, including popular brands like Gucci, Hugo Boss, Maui Jim and more.

2018 Best of the Best: Eye/Vision Care

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we strive to make every patient experience exceptional. Every member of our staff is dedicated to listening to your needs and answering your questions thoroughly. Instead of feeling rushed or pressured, you’ll be informed and in control of your eyecare decisions. You can rest assured the treatment you receive here will be top-notch and delivered with genuine care.

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care’s physicians and staff are extremely grateful for the patients and others who voted for our practice for these awards. We hold ourselves to high standards in order to deliver the quality of care you deserve and have come to expect, and we are honored to serve you every day.

Whether you are searching for a new eyecare provider, or just have questions about any aspect of your eye health, we invite you to contact us today at 352-373-4300.



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Over-the-Counter Red-Eye Drops: Are They Safe?

by Damion Wasylow 5 November 2018 12:50 PM

closeup of eye drops going into an eye
A nationally publicized murder case has many red-eye sufferers questioning whether the drops they use for relief of their red, irritated eyes could be deadly. York Country, South Carolina sheriff’s deputies say 52-year-old Lana Clayton recently confessed to killing her husband. And she did it by poisoning him with over-the-counter eye drops.

Clayton apparently learned that many popular over-the-counter eye drops – including Visine, Murine Plus, Altazine, Clarine and others – use the ingredient tetrahydrozoline to constrict blood vessels in your eyes. That’s how they “get the red out.” When ingested in significant quantities, however, the chemical can result in death.

When taken internally, tetrahydrozoline acts like a potent high blood pressure medication. Symptoms of tetrahydrozoline ingestion include drowsiness, low blood pressure, slowed heart rate, impaired breathing and possibly even coma. Children are at particular risk, as even relatively small quantities can trigger these symptoms.

Dr. Mark Morocco, an emergency room physician at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center says tetrahydrozoline eye drops are safe and effective, but like any medication, they should only be used as directed. “This drug is a little bit of a wildcard drug, when it's not used correctly. Put it in your eyes, it works great. [It] makes your red-eye go away, [it's] very safe. If you drink it or inject it, it gets into your bloodstream and behaves in ways that we don't quite understand.”

Red-eye is a common eye irritation symptom, potentially attributable to several root causes, including environmental conditions, infections, eye allergies, digital eye strain and contact lens issues, among others. And while over-the-counter eye drops can help reduce symptoms, people with dry eye syndrome can often benefit from more comprehensive treatment. 

Through our Dry Eye Center for Excellence, the physicians at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care provide complete dry eye diagnosis and treatment. By helping patients identify the true cause of their dry eye symptoms, we are able to apply the most effective treatment regimen.

If you or someone you love is tired of constantly using eye drops without experiencing true ongoing relief of your dry eye symptoms, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care at 352-373-4300 today to schedule an appointment.



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Is Laser Cataract Surgery Safe?

by Damion Wasylow 5 November 2018 12:41 PM

patient talking with surgeon
When considering any type surgery, it’s smart to weigh the possible complications against the potential benefits. Thankfully, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world, and is recognized as being safe and effective. And laser-assisted cataract surgery offers more precision and less eye trauma, resulting in faster recovery and fewer complications. 


Laser-assisted cataract surgery begins by using micro-imaging cameras to map the eye’s surface. The surgeon uses the resulting image to identify the best location for the necessary incision in the cornea, and directs the laser to make a tiny, precise cut at that point. A small probe inserted through the incision applies ultrasonic energy to break up the cataract-damaged lens and extracts the pieces. A second probe delivers and positions the artificial lens. Once that probe is removed, the incision self-seals. No stitches required.


Following surgery, patients spend a short time in the recovery room while their eyes quickly adjust to the new lens. Many laser-assisted cataract surgery patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. Typically after just 30-60 minutes, a patient is released to go home. Cataract surgeons generally recommend patients wear an eye shield off-and-on for up to a few days, and patients are often prescribed eye drops and a protective shield to help with any short-term blurriness or redness. Most surgeons ask patients to come into the office for a follow-up visit the day after surgery. The doctor then performs an examination to ensure everything is healing normally.


The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) reports an overall success rate of 98% or higher for the more than three million cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. each year. By replacing the damaged natural lens with an artificial lens, surgery provides a permanent fix for cataracts. 

Possible Complications

There may be some temporary blurring, cloudiness or redness immediately following cataract surgery, but those usually clear up within a few days. Some patients may also experience short-term grittiness, redness or irritation, halos, faint floaters and/or discharge. The risk of more serious side effects is less than 0.5%, making cataract surgery one of the safest procedures in the country.

If you or someone you love is considering cataract surgery, schedule an appointment with North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. We offer state-of-the-art laser-assisted cataract surgery using the LenSx system. Our own Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries and was the area’s first surgeon to use the revolutionary LenSx system. 

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



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Elderly Parents Sometimes Need a Loving Nudge to Seek Cataract Treatment

by Damion Wasylow 10 October 2018 08:51 AM

elderly father embraces adult son
As parents age, they may need assistance with everything from getting around town to figuring out the TV remote. When they do, they often turn to those they trust most, their adult children. The same is true for healthcare decisions, including when to seek cataract treatment.

Many seniors can be reluctant to accept or admit that their vision is failing, seeing it as an unwelcome sign of aging. In some cases, denial leads to lack of treatment, robbing them of quality of life.

Researchers found that adult children are more likely than spouses or friends to observe and point out changes in their parents’ vision, with study author and ophthalmologist, Brian C. Stagg, MD, suggesting that an adult child who visits their parent might notice vision changes that others have not.

Plus, the opinions, recommendations and research provided by adult children may carry more credibility. After all, who else could have your parents’ best interests more at heart?

If you suspect your mom or dad may have cataracts, watch for the warning signs. They may have particular trouble seeing at night, or be especially sensitive to bright light. In later stages, you may even notice a visible clouding of his or her eye lens.

Talk with your parent open and honestly, and do some research into cataract treatment options. Then, schedule an appointment for mom or dad to get a comprehensive eye exam and cataract screening.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we offer both traditional cataract surgery and state-of-the-art laser cataract surgery. To find out how we can help permanently correct your parent’s cataracts, contact us today at 352-373-4300.



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5 Tips to Reduce Digital Eye Strain

by Damion Wasylow 28 September 2018 13:05 PM
young woman with irritated eyes in front of computer

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you spend a fair amount of your day in front of a computer, tablet or phone screen. Data from The Vision Council shows 80 percent of U.S. adults use digital devices for two hours or more each day, and 59 percent report experiencing symptoms of digital eye stain.

Digital eye strain – also known as computer vision syndrome – can result from extensive, continual or improper viewing of digital screens. Symptoms can include headaches, blurred vision, dry, burning and irritated eyes, watery eyes, light sensitivity, difficulty keeping your eyes open and more, both during and following time spent with screens.

If that sounds all too familiar, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to reduce digital eye strain symptoms without eliminating your use of digital devices. Here are our top five…

1. Give Yourself Some Space

It’s important to allow enough space between your device and your eyes. In the case of a computer monitor, experts recommend 25 inches away, with the top of the screen at or just below eye level. For smartphones, approximately 12 inches is sufficient. Be sure to adjust text sizes, screen zoom, brightness and contrast to levels that are comfortable for you.

2. Blink

Blinking plays a critical role in eye health, spreading oils and fluids to moisturize and refresh your eyes. Often, when viewing content on screens, however, people blink half as often as normal. So, don’t stare, and blink often. If necessary, over-the-counter artificial tears eye drops can help relieve temporary dryness.

3. Take a Break

Vision ergonomics specialists recommend using the “20-20-20 rule.” After every 20 minutes of screen time, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps your eyes relax and reset. Take a longer break, 15 minutes or more, after every two hours spent on devices.

4. Improve Lighting and Reduce Glare

Your device screen should not be brighter than the room you’re in. So, turn on room lights, reduce your screen brightness or both. Find a happy medium where the light levels aren’t competing. You should also limit glare by ensuring room or ambient lights aren’t reflecting off your screen. Using an anti-glare screen filter and ensuring your screen is free of dust can also help.

5. Wear the Right Glasses or Contacts

People who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses may be more susceptible to digital eye strain if they don’t have the right prescription. Not all lenses are designed for mid-range viewing of digital screens. If you wear contacts, try switching to your glasses for extended screen viewing. If you wear glasses, and regularly experience eye strain, talk to your eye doctor. You may benefit from a second pair of glasses made specifically for viewing digital screens.

Although eye strain symptoms can be uncomfortable, they don’t generally produce long-term damage. These symptoms can, however, be indicative of underlying eye conditions that require diagnosis and treatment. If you regularly experience eye strain or dry eye symptoms, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.



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5 Unexpected Benefits of Cataract Surgery

by Damion Wasylow 30 July 2018 08:53 AM

three generations of men celebrating something on tv
Three million Americans have cataract surgery each year, with an overall success rate of 98 percent or higher, and the positive impacts on patient vision are obvious. Many patients who choose laser-assisted cataract surgery report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. What you may not realize, however, is just how much cataract surgery can benefit you in all areas of life. 

1. Improved Mood

Life with cataracts can be very lonely. Cataract sufferers may be embarrassed by their limited vision, leading them to isolate themselves from family and friends, and even avoid going out in public. A study by the American Academy of Optometry found depression symptoms were 33 percent more likely in people with cataracts. Cataract surgery empowers these people to confidently re-enter the world, and take back their lives and joy.

2. Renewed Enjoyment

Cataract surgery allows patients to return to the activities they love most, whether it’s reading, watching TV, driving a car, or enjoying sporting events. Being able to engage in these activities directly contributes to improved quality of life. 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. 

3. Increased Independence

Loss of visual acuity due to cataracts robs many otherwise capable people of the ability to live independently. It’s difficult to live on your own when you can’t read medicine bottles, drive for errands or safely navigate your home. Cataract surgery can remove these obstacles from patients’ lives and allow them to once again enjoy true independence.

4. Fewer Injuries

Cataracts surgery helps to reduce the risk of accidents, falls and injuries. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported fewer hip fractures in people who had successful cataract surgery than in their peers. That study went on to conclude, “people who receive cataract surgery are less likely to experience adverse disability trends than people who do not receive cataract surgery.” 

5. Longer Life

This may seem surprising, but the data backs it up. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found the life expectancy of people 65-years-old and older increased by nearly two years from 1992 and 2008. That study attributed the increase to a variety of factors, most notably better cardiac care and improved vision related to cataract surgery. A similar study published in the journal Ophthalmology in 2013 found improved vision led to better physical and emotional well-being, contributing to the longer life span.

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



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3 Ways to Protect Your Child’s Eyes from Vision Loss

by Damion Wasylow 27 July 2018 08:47 AM

child posing for an eye exam
The start of a new school year provides kids the chance to reunite with friends, explore new activities and gain knowledge they will build on for the rest of their lives. Educators suggest that 80 percent of what children learn comes through their eyes, making protecting your children’s eyesight critical.

Here are some tips to help ensure your children enjoy quality vision throughout school and beyond… 

1. Get Your Child an Eye Exam

The American Optometric Association suggests all children should have a comprehensive eye exam prior to starting first grade, and every two years thereafter. Children at higher risk for vision problems – those with certain genetic conditions or developmental delays, for example – should be examined more frequently. Note that these examinations should be comprehensive eye exams, not just vision screenings. A comprehensive exam can identify eye diseases and conditions easily overlooked by a standard vision screening. Early diagnosis and treatment give your child the best chance for a strong recovery. 

2. Insist on Protective Eyewear

Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness among U.S. children. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) estimates that more than 50,000 children suffer eye injuries each year. Sports eye injuries are particularly common among children ages 5-14. Still, surprisingly few youth sports leagues require the use of eye protection. Safety glasses, goggles, safety shields and the like can go a long way towards protecting your child’s eyes from injury. In fact, the AAO, estimates that more than 90 percent of children’s eye injuries could be prevented through the use of suitable protective eyewear.

3. Encourage Healthy Eating

As a parent, you understand the importance of a healthy diet for your growing child, but you may not realize how much your child’s diet directly impacts their vision. Researchers have linked certain eye-friendly nutrients to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases. A diet that contributes to great eye health requires a blend of nutrients from a combination of foods. Fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel provide omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy greens provide high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. Berries and citrus deliver invaluable Vitamin C to strengthen your child’s immune system. See our “8 Foods that Promote Eye Health” article for a complete list of recommendations.

As summer gives way to fall, and the new school year is on the horizon, now is the perfect time to schedule your child’s comprehensive eye exam. At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, our eye care professionals deliver the highest level of care in an environment that’s friendly and welcoming. Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your appointment at one of our convenient locations.



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