A Clearer View

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

3 Early Warning Signs of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

by Damion Wasylow 13 February 2018 12:37 PM

older man squints to read the newspaper
It’s no secret that as we age, parts of our bodies stop performing as well as they used to. But that doesn’t mean you should write off a loss of ability as, “just part of getting older.” Quite the contrary, there’s often much you can do if you recognize the early warning signs and take action. Such is the case with the vision loss that accompanies age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

ARMD is a breakdown of the macula, the part of the eye that helps you see fine details. The exact cause of the condition isn't known, but as indicated by the name, age-related macular degeneration typically affects people more as they get older. Some patients experience symptoms in their 50s and 60s, and the likelihood increases dramatically as people enter their 70s and 80s.

Here are three warning signs to be aware of… 

Warning Sign 1: Blurred Vision

ARMD usually produces symptoms slowly. Your vision blurs over time, particularly when trying to focus on things close up. You may find you need more light for reading, or can’t quite make out the writing on a medicine bottle. Straight lines may also appear distorted and/or wavy. These symptoms continually get worse.

Warning Sign 2: Dark Areas in Your Central Vision

If you notice a blurred area or dark spot in the center of your vision, age-related macular degeneration may be to blame. Shadowy sections in the middle of your focal area are a strong indicator of ARMD. In some cases, the condition can also produce a whited-out area in your vision.

Warning Sign 3: You Just Celebrated Your 50th Birthday

If you’re 50 or older, it’s a good idea to have a comprehensive eye exam every 2-4 years, and with increasing frequency as you age, to help detect vision problems including ARMD. Your eye doctor can often detect early signs of macular degeneration before you experience symptoms.

While ARMD cannot be cured, when diagnosed early, you may be able to slow the progress of the condition by making smart lifestyle choices, so it’s important to watch for the warning signs, and see your eye doctor if you have any reason for concern.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, our physicians and staff diagnose a wide variety of vision issues, including ARMD. Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.



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Slowing the Progress of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

by Damion Wasylow 13 February 2018 12:28 PM

woman in glasses squinting to see phone screen
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) slowly robs patients of their vision over time, eventually leading to blindness. In fact, ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in people 55 and over in developed countries, affecting more than 10 million people in the United States alone. 

Sadly, there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but you can take steps to slow the progress of ARMD, if you recognize the warning signs and are diagnosed early.

Quit Smoking

As if you needed one more reason to quit, right? Studies show smoking is the biggest modifiable risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the retina, and activate the immune system, causing harmful inflammation.

Eat Right

Like all organs, the eyes are greatly impacted by the nutrients we put into our bodies. Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, zinc from high-protein foods like beef and yogurt, and healthy unsaturated fats from olive oil, avocados, almond butter and the like can limit the progression of ARMD. Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, tuna and walnuts also contribute to the fight.

Get Plenty of the Right Vitamins

If your diet doesn’t provide enough of the right vitamins, take a supplement. Studies show lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in limiting ARMD symptoms. And the American Academy of Ophthalmology says, for patients at more advanced stages of macular degeneration, there’s a benefit in taking supplements that, in addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc oxide and cupric oxide.

Take Care of Your Total Health

Your body’s systems rely on each other for support. When one starts to fail, it often damages another. Keep your weight in check and exercise regularly to ensure your heart and blood pressure are in good shape, as these directly affect the blood vessels in your eyes.

If you’ve been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, you and your ophthalmologist will want to closely monitor the progression of your ARMD symptoms, so visit your eye doctor regularly.

In Gainesville, the physicians and staff at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care are experts in the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration. They will gladly evaluate your symptoms, answer questions and recommend the best steps to help you maintain your vision.

Contact us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your consultation.



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Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

by Damion Wasylow 6 February 2018 12:44 PM

blind man with seeing eye dog in the park
The development of cataracts can be quite scary. Vision degrades slowly over time. With each passing day, week and month, cataract symptoms worsen, and you lose visual clarity. If you or someone you love is currently experiencing this, you probably wonder if it will end at some point, or if you are destined to lose your vision completely.

The sad truth is that without treatment, cataracts inevitably lead to legal blindness and, eventually total blindness, in one or both eyes. The great news is that with effective treatment, the negative impacts of cataracts can be completely and permanently corrected.

Effective cataract treatment

The damage a cataract does to your eye lens is irreversible, as naturally occurring proteins within the eye lens clump together, creating clouded vision. As this continues over time, your vision gets worse. No form of medication or so-called cataract eye drops can correct these symptoms. Surgery to replace your eye lens with an artificial lens implant is the only effective treatment. 

Your surgical options

When you seek treatment from a local cataract eye surgeon, you will likely be presented with two options for your cataract surgery: traditional and laser-assisted. Many patients today choose laser-assisted for its numerous advantages over traditional cataract surgery. Laser-assisted cataract surgery uses advanced computer imaging to map and provide detailed measurements of the eye to the surgeon, making the procedure significantly more precise. Laser-assisted surgery is also pain-free and leads to speedier recovery.

How to get started

Your first step is to schedule a consultation with an ophthalmologist. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass is a well known as one of the North Florida’s finest eye surgeons, having performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries. Dr. Snodgrass and his team will perform a comprehensive eye exam including specialized cataract diagnosis. Together, you will then discuss the results, review any questions you may have and determine if now is the right time for surgery. 

Don’t let cataracts rob you or someone you love of the beautiful world around us. You don’t have to lose your sight forever. The most important step towards maintaining your vision is the first one. Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule your cataract consultation.



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Progressive Lenses vs. Bifocals – Which are Best for You?

by Damion Wasylow 6 February 2018 12:21 PM

man in glasses looks down at tablet computer
Many people start having difficulty focusing on close up objects some time after age 40. This age-related farsightedness usually results from presbyopia, a loss of eye lens elasticity. If you’re in this age group, you may find yourself extending your arms farther to read documents, or pushing your chair back from the computer to read small text on the screen. For people who already wear glasses to correct another vision problem, this new challenge requires a new set of lenses.


Invented by Benjamin Franklin, bifocal eyeglasses have been around for more than 200 years. The idea is simple, divide the overall lens to provide areas for two corrective prescriptions. The top section is generally used to allow the wearer to see objects clearly at a distance, while the lower section allows the wearer to see objects clearly close up. The dividing line between the two prescriptions is obvious within the lens, with the lower portion often shaped like a capital letter D turned on its belly.

Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses (also referred to as no-line bifocals, no-line trifocals or vari-focals) are increasingly popular, and preferred over bifocals by most presbyopia patients. Progressives work on the same concept as bifocals, but without the concrete delineation between the prescriptions. Instead of looking and behaving like a lens wedged within another lens, progressives provide the wearer a gradual transition from seeing clearly at a distance to seeing clearly close up.

Pros and Cons

Many people prefer progressives over bifocals simply for the look, either feeling that wearing overtly multifocal lenses ages them, or simply disliking the lens-within-a-lens aesthetic. It is true, however, that some people have trouble adapting to progressive lenses, as they typically provide a narrower lens area for reading and computer work. Most other common concerns about progressive lenses can be avoided by working with experienced licensed opticians.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, our two convenient Gainesville optical shops are staffed by trained, licensed opticians, eager to answer your eyewear questions. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam or walk-in anytime to check out our selection of designer eyeglass frames.



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How are Cataracts Diagnosed?

by Damion Wasylow 28 January 2018 06:49 AM

optometrist performing testing patient with slit lamp
Cataracts are a common vision problem, particularly among senior citizens. By age 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts. Diagnosis by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist is a fairly simple procedure, requiring little more than a verbal review of your symptoms followed by a standard eye exam.

Cataracts generally develop fairly slowly, eventually presenting symptoms, including:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Lens discoloration
  • Light sensitivity, glare and halos

These cataract symptoms are enough to inspire most patients to schedule a meeting with an eye doctor. During the appointment, the doctor will take a medical history and perform a series of eye tests, likely including:

Visual Acuity Test

This is the test most people associate with a visit to the eye doctor. You’ll be asked to recite the letters on a chart to evaluate the sharpness and clarity of your vision. Your eyes are tested one at a time to identify signs of impairment.

Slit-Lamp Exam

A slit-lamp provides your eye doctor a magnified view of your lens, iris, cornea and the other structures at the front of your eye. This specialized lamp uses an intense slit of light to show these structures in small sections, making it easier to detect tiny irregularities.

Retinal Exam

For the retinal exam, the doctor will use eye drops to dilate (open wide) your pupils. This allows the doctor a better view of the retina in the back of your eye. Using a slit lamp or ophthalmoscope, the physician inspects the retina for signs of cataracts.

If, at the conclusion of this exam, your eye doctor diagnoses you with cataracts, you will move into a discussion of treatment options and timing. If symptoms are not yet interfering with your quality of life, your doctor may suggest holding off for a while.

If it is time for treatment, surgery is your only option. Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine or non-invasive therapy. Surgery is required to remove the affected lens and replace it with an intraocular lens implant.

Many patients today opt for the precision, pain-free results and quick recovery of laser-assisted cataract surgery. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care ophthalmologist Dr. Gregory Snodgrass was the first local eye physician to use the state-of-the-art LenSx® laser cataract system. He has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries and is renowned as a top eye surgeon.

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



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5 Best Holiday Gifts for People Who Wear Glasses

by Damion Wasylow 5 December 2017 12:06 PM

eyeglasses wearing santa opens a present
It’s the holiday season, and for most people, that means going online or running to the mall to frantically shop for gifts. Selecting the right presents for family and friends is a whole lot easier with a little inspiration, and we’re here to help. If someone on your gift list wears eyeglasses, they’re sure to love one of these five holiday presents.

5. Car Clip

Many eyeglasses wearers have alternate glasses for driving. That means each time they get in the car, they have to take one pair off and put the other pair on. Without a sturdy eyeglasses holder for the car, it’s likely the off-pair will land on the dash or the passenger seat where they are certain to be destroyed. Eyeglass holders for the car are generally pretty inexpensive, including models that conveniently clip on to the sun visor.

4. Stylish Case

A quality pair of eyeglasses deserves the protection and good looks of a stylish case. There are literally thousands of material, texture, color and pattern combinations to choose from. A hard case is often a smart choice, as it delivers a higher level of protection. Think about your friend or loved one’s style preferences to find the right design for him or her. 

3. E-reader

Is your friend also a reader? Then it’s highly likely he or she would love a new e-reader. One of the most popular on the market is Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. It’s great for people who wear eyeglasses because, unlike a traditional book, the reader can adjust the size of the text. It also limits glare better than other mobile screens, so it’s perfect for reading outdoors. 

2. Cleaning Kit

Eyeglasses require daily cleaning, so this is something literally every eyeglasses wearer needs. Too often, people just wipe off their glasses on their shirt or a nearby paper towel. These techniques can scratch the lenses, leaving permanent damage. A good eyeglasses cleaning kit should include lens cleaning solution and at least one microfiber lens cloth. Proper lens care can greatly extend the life of your friend’s eyeglasses. 

1. A North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care Gift Card

Sometimes, the best gifts are those we let friends pick out themselves. With a gift card for our practice, the eyeglass wearer in your life will be able to select exactly what their eyes need most. Just stop by one of our optical shops to purchase your gift card. We have two convenient Gainesville optical locations: on the corner of NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street, and in Tioga Town Center.

We hope to see you soon.



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How to Tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

by Damion Wasylow 3 December 2017 03:52 AM

Children aren’t likely to tell you if they’re experiencing vision problems. If they’ve dealt with these issues their whole lives, they may not even realize their vision is abnormal. That makes it imperative for you to watch out for the warning signs of potential vision challenges, and include regular eye exams as part of your child’s medical routine. 

Here are five warning signs that should lead you to take your child to a local eye care practice for a comprehensive eye exam…

Covering One Eye or Tilting the Head

Covering one eye is likely your child’s way of trying to eliminate the blurred vision of one eye from impacting the other eye. It could also be an attempt to adjust for misalignment of the eyes. Likewise, tilting the head may be done to change the angle of vision in order to compensate for eye alignment issues such as amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, which impacts 2-3% of children.


Squinting is a subconscious attempt to improve visual focus. Your child may not even be aware they’re doing it. It’s often a sign of a refractive error such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, all of which result in blurred vision. Squinting may allow your child to temporarily improve focus, but it does more harm than good.

Sitting Too Close to the TV

Sitting too close to the TV or holding books or handheld devices close to the face could be an indication your child has difficulty seeing clearly when things are farther away. This could be the result of myopia (nearsightedness). Roughly 30% of Americans are affected by myopia. 

Trouble Concentrating

Some parents misdiagnose vision problems as ADHD, as the symptoms can sometimes be similar. Children with vision challenges often have difficulty concentrating because they can’t see the necessary content in order to follow along. For children with vision problems, switching from textbook to chalkboard in the classroom can cause both frustration and physical discomfort. 

Recurring Headaches or Eye Pain

Headaches and eye pain can be triggered by any number of factors, including in some cases, vision problems. Frequent after-school headaches or headaches after reading could be an indication of asthenopia, commonly known as eye strain. This could be the result of an eye muscle imbalance or it could point to the need for glasses to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Early diagnosis of vision problems is critical for improving your child’s overall quality of life, in the classroom and beyond. Even without symptoms, the Mayo Clinic recommends a comprehensive eye exam between the ages of three and five. If everything is clear, follow up with exams every one to two years throughout adolescence. 

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



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How to Gently Tell a Loved One It’s Time for an Eye Exam

by Damion Wasylow 28 November 2017 13:36 PM

man talking with wife over coffee
Some people can be pretty sensitive about the possibility of vision loss. They may see it as a sign of aging, a clear indication they’re not as young as they used to be. In some cases, this can lead to denial, and lack of treatment. Failure to address vision loss, however, robs your loved one of precious moments, and can lead to frustrations for everyone around.

If you notice signs of vision loss in a loved one, try these tips to gently encourage him to schedule an eye exam. 

Schedule an exam for yourself

Even if you don’t have any discernable signs of vision loss, regular eye exams should be part of your healthcare regimen. Scheduling your own eye exam will provide a good opportunity to bring up the topic of eye care with your loved one. Consider inviting him along for your exam. Seeing firsthand what’s involved with the exam and how friendly and professional the environment is may help to overcome some roadblocks. 

Try a little flattery

If ego is part of what’s preventing your loved one from admitting his likely vision problems, try using that to your advantage. Casually comment about how handsome you think certain glasses-wearing celebrities are on TV and in movies. When you’re out together, compliment friends and acquaintances on their eyeglasses, and suggest how dapper your loved one might look in a similar pair. Don’t be disingenuous, just point out that many people truly look great in a fashionable pair of eyeglasses.

Resort to honesty

A frank, yet compassionate, expression of your concern may ultimately have the biggest impact. Start by telling him how thankful you are to have him in your life. Then, specify the warning signs that lead you to believe a comprehensive eye exam could be worthwhile. If your loved one doesn’t relent at this point, let it go…for a while. Revisit the topic in a few weeks, with the same compassion. Eventually, he will either concede and schedule an exam, or sadly, he’ll continue missing out on some of the best things in life. At the end of the day, it’s his vision and his choice. 

When the time does come to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, we hope you will consider North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. Our talented eye care team will take great care of your loved one and provide a treatment plan that helps bring the world back into focus.

Contact us today at 352-373-4300.



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Dr. Snodgrass Listed as One of Gainesville’s Top Three Eye Doctors

by Damion Wasylow 30 October 2017 09:03 AM

podium for first second third place winners
ThreeBestRated.com included our own Dr. Gregory Snodgrass in their recently released list of Gainesville’s three best eye doctors. This praise comes as no surprise to his patients or to those who have worked with him. Dr. Snodgrass has been a fixture in the Gainesville medical community for 30 years, improving the vision of thousands of patients, and earning the respect of his peers.

ThreeBestRated evaluates multiple categories of local goods and services providers, including healthcare. The site’s staff handpicks the top three providers in each category using their “50-Point Inspection,” which includes checks on each provider’s reputation, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, trust, cost and general excellence, among other criteria.

dr gregory snodgrassRegarding Dr. Snodgrass, ThreeBestRated quoted one reviewer as saying he, “did a great job removing my cataracts, inserting lenses and providing diligent after-care. As a scientist myself, I respect his knowledge and technical expertise. As a patient, I appreciate his friendliness and concern for my vision and well-being.”

Dr. Snodgrass earned his medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine, and completed his internship and Ophthalmology Residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital and The Ohio State University. As reflected by his inclusion in the list of Gainesville’s Best Eye Doctors, Dr. Snodgrass is known as one of the area's premier ophthalmologists, combining advanced skills with state-of-the-art technology to deliver outstanding results.

Dr. Snodgrass specializes in traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery, and is adept at all phases of comprehensive eye care, including vision assessment, treatment of dry eye syndrome, diabetic retinopathy, blepharitis, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and more. 

His credentials and accomplishments led to an invitation to join the prestigious International Association of HealthCare Professionals (IAHCP) and to his biography being published in The Leading Physicians of the World, a journal that “selects and documents biographies of medicine’s brightest minds.”

If you’re experiencing vision challenges, Dr. Snodgrass may be able to help. Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your initial consultation.



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Are Eye Drops Enough for Dry Eyes?

by Damion Wasylow 2 October 2017 09:52 AM

If you suffer from dry eyes, you know how physically painful and emotionally irritating the condition can be. The stinging, scratchiness, excess tearing and other symptoms of dry eye syndrome are enough to make you not want to get out of bed in the morning.

You need relief, but how can you get it? Simple over-the-counter eye drops may suffice for some people, but others require more comprehensive treatment for dry eye syndrome.

Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome

Many people head straight for the vision care aisle of their local drug store when their eyes start hurting. They presume a little moisture in the form of artificial tears eye drops will relieve the burning, grittiness and redness they self-diagnose as dry eye. While these eye drops can indeed provide temporary relief for some patients, they don’t correct any of the root causes of dry eye syndrome.

Your eyes have a thin moisture layer on the surface. To remain healthy, that moisture has to be in sufficient quantity and composed of the right mix of mucus, saline (salt water) and oils. Factors including age, gender, medications, environment and medical conditions can disrupt the normal, healthy flow and ratio of these elements. When they’re out of balance, you experience dry eyes.

Diagnosing and Treating Dry Eyes

Selecting the best treatment method for your specific dry eye cause and symptoms requires special diagnosis by a trained eye care professional. A comprehensive dry eye examination may include testing the composition of your eyes’ moisture layer, checking how well your eyes seal when closed, screening for certain protein markers in your tears and evaluating the meibomian glands that run along your eyelids, among other tests.

Once properly diagnosed, your eye care provider will recommend a course of treatment. Over-the-counter or prescription eye drops may very well be part of your dry eye treatment plan. Your treatment plan may also include things like LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation, Cliradex Complete or Prokera Slim. These specialty in-office procedures are designed to help treat the causes of your dry eye discomfort.

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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