A Clearer View

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

3 Things to Consider for Prescription Sunglasses

by Damion Wasylow 2 July 2021 06:17 AM

family wearing sunglasses at the beach
As long summer days attract us to enjoy a little fun in the sun, prescription sunglasses are a must for many eyeglasses wearers. While working or playing in the great outdoors, prescription sunglasses provide the benefits of crystal-clear vision paired with the glare reduction and eye comfort of a good pair of shades.

So, if you’re considering prescription sunglasses for the first time, here are three things you should look for… 

UV Protection

The same UV rays from the sun that can burn your skin can also burn your eyes. Over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause photokeratitis, which is essentially an eye sunburn. And, yes, it hurts quite a bit. UV radiation can also have long-term effects on your eyes, including increasing your risk of retina damage or cataracts. So, when you’re looking for prescription sunglasses, be sure to specify that you want UV-blocking lenses. The American Optometric Association recommends sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Standard Sunglass Lenses vs Transition Lenses

Some people don’t mind carrying around two pairs of eyeglasses – a regular pair of prescription glasses for indoors and separate pair of standard prescription sunglasses for outdoors. Others, however, would rather have a single pair of eyeglasses for all occasions. That’s where transition lenses (also known as photochromic lenses) make all the difference. Transition lenses automatically darken in bright sunlight and return to a regular tint in normally lit environments. Often, however, transition lenses won’t darken in the car, so you may still find it useful to keep a pair of prescription sunglasses with polarized lenses on hand to use while driving.


We all want to look our best, and your eyeglasses are probably the one thing you wear more than anything else. So, make sure to find frames that match and enhance your style. Today, many well-known designers make a variety of attractive prescription eyeglass frames, all of which can be paired with sunglass lenses. From Gucci and Kate Spade to Maui Jim and Costa Del Mar, there are frames to match anyone’s style and budget. When you visit your eye doctor, take some time to try on a variety to see which frames best accentuate your style. 

At our optical shops in Gainesville, we have an outstanding selection of frames plus top-notch optometrists and licensed opticians, to help you get the perfect pair of prescription sunglasses.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300, or stop by our optical shop on NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street in Gainesville or in Tioga Town Center on West Newberry Road.



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20/20 Vision and Understanding Your Visual Acuity Score

by Damion Wasylow 29 June 2021 12:44 PM

eyeglasses on snellen eye chart
Sometimes, expressions are used so often in movies, TV shows or other pop culture that we take for granted that we know what they mean. We may even start using them incorrectly, without truly understanding. One example is “20/20 vision.” You’ve almost certainly heard someone claim to have “20/20 vision” to suggest their eyes are perfect, but is that really what it means?

What is 20/20 Vision?

20/20 is one possible score from a visual acuity test, which is conducted as part of a comprehensive eye exam. Most people are familiar with the Snellen visual acuity test, which requires reading a series of decreasingly small letters from a chart on the eye doctor’s wall. Another version is the Random E test, in which you identify the direction the capital letter E is facing as the eye doctor shows it to you through a series of lenses. These tests are designed to evaluate your ability to distinguish details and shapes of objects. A score of 20/20 on a visual acuity test means that you have normal vision.

Is 20/20 Perfect Vision?

20/20 vision isn’t necessarily perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. As noted above, 20/20 is really just normal vision. The score means that at a distance of 20 feet, you can see clearly what you and other people with normal vision should be able to see clearly at 20 feet. Hence, “20/20.” About 35% of adults in the U.S. have 20/20 vision. When you add in those who have 20/20 vision when wearing their eyeglasses or contact lenses, that number jumps to 75%.

It’s actually possible to have better than 20/20 vision. People with visual acuity scores of 20/10, for example, can see clearly at 20 feet what a person with normal vision would have to be within 10 feet to see clearly. There is even one recorded report of a person with 20/5 vision, but most researchers question the authenticity of that report. 

What Do Other Visual Acuity Scores Mean?

Of course, if only 35% of U.S. adults have unaided 20/20 vision or better, that means 65% of Americans have lower visual acuity scores. For these people, it’s pretty common to see scores closer to 20/40, meaning they have to be within 20 feet to clearly see what people with normal vision would see clearly at 40 feet. This can usually be remedied through the use of corrective lenses.

In some cases, a person’s vision may be so poor that even with corrective lenses they can still only achieve a 20/40 visual acuity score. That’s the lowest score possible to still get a driver’s license in most states.

More extreme cases also exist. A person with a lens-assisted visual acuity score of 20/200, for example, is considered legally blind. 

If it’s been a while since your last comprehensive eye exam, now might be the right time to contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care to find out your visual acuity score. Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment or stop by one of our two convenient Gainesville locations: NW 8th Avenue and 43rd Street or Tioga Town Center on West Newberry Road.



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When is Cataract Surgery Necessary?

by Damion Wasylow 8 June 2021 12:41 PM

senior couple posing in front yard

Nearly four million cataract surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. While cataracts aren’t fatal, they can rob you of your vision completely, making cataract surgery necessary in order to maintain or regain your eyesight.

Progressive Symptoms

Cataracts typically develop as a natural result of aging. While it’s possible to develop a cataract in just one eye, the condition generally affects both eyes around the same time. Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing in low light, glare, light sensitivity, halos and faded colors. Double vision in one eye, or “ghosting” around objects are also fairly common. In early stages, cataract symptoms may be light enough not to impact your quality of life, but they inevitably get worse. 

The Right Time for Surgery

Hopefully, you visited your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam as soon as you started noticing any of the symptoms listed above. Even if you were diagnosed with cataracts at the time, your doctor may not have recommended surgery. Typically, an ophthalmologist won’t recommend surgery until cataract symptoms negatively impact your quality of life. As cataract symptoms get worse, however, you’ll lose the ability to read, drive, watch TV or see people’s faces. Those losses are usually more than enough to lead most people to opt for surgery.

Cataract Surgery Procedure

Surgically replacing the damaged lens with an artificial intraocular lens implant is the only effective treatment for cataracts. Whether you choose traditional or laser-assisted cataract surgery, the fundamental procedure is the same. A small probe is passed through a tiny incision in the eye. That probe uses ultrasonic energy to break up the affected lens. A second probe then suctions out the pieces. Finally, the lens implant is inserted, and the procedure is completed. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is often preferred, as it is more precise, pain-free, stitch-free and allows for easier recovery.

Post-Procedure Recovery and Vision

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, and many people report improved vision while still in the recovery room. Still, you will at least need someone to drive you home from the surgery center. Some patients may also need minor assistance with daily activities for a day or two following the surgery. Soon after, any minor recovery side effects should clear. And the great news is your cataracts cannot come back. Cataract surgery is a permanent fix.

If you or someone you love is considering cataract surgery, the physicians of North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care would be honored to help. Our eye surgeons have conducted tens of thousands of successful cataract surgeries and they’re here to serve you, too.

Contact our practice today at 352.373-4300.



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What to Expect at Your First Eye Doctor Visit

by Damion Wasylow 24 May 2021 12:46 PM

young woman getting a comprehensive eye exam
Regular eye exams become part of many people’s standard health routine early in childhood. For others, the absence of any obvious vision problems leads to putting off that first optometrist appointment until later in life. Eventually, however, nearly everyone notices that their vision isn’t as good as it once was and it’s time to see an eye doctor. Perhaps that’s what led you here, to find out what that first appointment will be like. 

We certainly can’t speak for what happens at every eye doctor’s office, but we can let you know what to expect during your first optometrist appointment at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care

eyecare practice lobby on nw 8th avenue in gainesvilleA Warm Welcome

When you arrive for your scheduled appointment at our NW 8th Avenue or Tioga Town Center locations, you’ll be greeted by a member of our friendly reception team. They’ll check you in and ask you to fill out some paperwork with your contact information, medical history and your insurance information. While you wait, you can relax in our comfortable lobby and read a magazine or take advantage of our complementary WiFi.

Your Comprehensive Eye Exam

One of our qualified technicians will call you back to the examination room to begin your comprehensive eye exam. They'll review your medical history and ask a few questions about the state of your vision. They'll then examine your eyes, first doing a visual inspection, then using a series of tests to evaluate the quality of your vision and possibly reveal any potential underlying issues or forms of eye disease. They will then start the dilation process so that your optometrist (eye doctor) can finish the exam.

Standard testing includes:

• Visual Acuity – Reading letters from a chart to measure how clearly you see.

• Refraction Test – Looking at images through a phoropter to see which are more or less clear.

• Pupillary Reactions – Looking into a small light source to determine how your pupils expand and contract.

• Extraocular Movements – Focusing on a small object in motion to evaluate the muscles that control eyes.

• Confrontation Visual Fields – Watching the doctor’s finger move out to either side to measure of the breadth of your visual field.

• Cover Test – Covering one eye and focusing on objects to evaluate how well your eyes work together.

Getting the Results

Once you are fully dilated, your eye doctor will analyze the results from your previous testing, perform an in-depth examination of the front and back of your eyes, and will review all of the results with you. She’ll let you know your visual acuity score (i.e., if your vision is 20/20, 20/40 or something else), what she observed from your other tests, and if necessary, what she recommends for correcting your vision.

If the exam reveals you have hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness) or astigmatism (an uneven or irregular curvature of the cornea or lens), depending on the severity, the eye doctor will likely recommend prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. She’ll provide a prescription for the right lenses to correct your specific vision challenge.

If your exam reveals anything more serious, such as indications of glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts or other eye disorders, the doctor may diagnose the condition, recommend more testing or coordinate a consult with one of our practice’s ophthalmologists.

Next Steps

If eyeglasses or contacts are needed, you can visit our optical shop to work with one of our licensed opticians. Together, you’ll decide which vision correction option is right for you. Whether it’s contacts or eyeglasses, prescription lenses take some time to craft, often up to two weeks, so please be patient.

In the meantime, if you decide to go with eyeglasses, you can browse our selection of designer frames. With hundreds to choose from, we’re sure to have the perfect frames to match your activities, style and budget.

If more testing is required to accurately diagnose your eye condition, or if surgery is required to correct it, the doctor will talk to you about treatment options, answer any and all questions and set next steps in motion.

Whether you’re ready for your very first eye doctor visit or just your first in a while, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your appointment. We look forward to seeing you.



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Trouble Reading at 40? You’re Not Alone.

by Damion Wasylow 10 May 2021 02:58 AM

man straining to read laptop screen
It’s a common sign of getting older. Words that once looked crisp on the page or on the screen are suddenly blurry and hard to read. At first, you might write it off as poor lighting or tired eyes. Truth is, it’s likely your eyes are simply not what they used to be, and it may be time for your first pair of eyeglasses. 

Presbyopia at 40

Many people who have had perfect – or near-perfect – sight all their lives start experiencing vision problems in their 40s. The most common problem is with near vision, the ability to distinguish small, fine details close up. This inability to focus the eyes is called presbyopia, and it affects most people 40 and older.

As we age, the eye lenses become less flexible, which limits their ability to focus in on things close by. At first, this may lead you to hold books or your phone father away in order to read them. You may also experience eye strain or headaches after reading or focusing on small items close up for too long.

Diagnosing Presbyopia

Presbyopia is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. The optometrist will perform a series of tests to determine your overall eye health, as well as your ability to see clearly at near, far and middle distances. With nearly 80% of people ages 45-55 having presbyopia, your eye doctor will be able to quickly recognize the signs and make the diagnosis.

Treating Presbyopia

The most common treatment for presbyopia is also the easiest – reading glasses. If your presbyopia is not too severe, over-the-counter reading glasses may be sufficient to allow you to read and see fine details normally again. More advanced presbyopia will likely require prescription eyeglasses

Contact lenses are also an option for many people with presbyopia. They can be just as effective as eyeglasses, while potentially providing a cosmetic or convenience factor you prefer. Of course, convenience is in the eye of the beholder. Some people find the recurring rituals of contact lens care to be burdensome. 

More aggressive treatments include refractive surgery, lens implants and corneal inlays. These types of surgical interventions require the talents of a specially trained ophthalmologist.

If you’re over 40 and starting to experience vision challenges, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care to schedule your comprehensive eye exam. Call us today at 352-373-4300.



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Is Cataract Surgery Covered by Medicare?

by Damion Wasylow 29 April 2021 07:09 AM

medicare paperwork on desk
Medicare Part B
is frequently used to cover the majority of costs for both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery. Available to people 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with End Stage Renal Disease, Medicare is an ideal means to pay for your cataract surgery.

Determining Medically Necessity

The first step in qualifying to use Medicare Part B to pay for your cataract surgery is having the procedure deemed “medically necessary” by your eye doctor. That just means that the severity of your cataract (or cataracts) interferes with your ability to perform normal daily activities. In early stages of development, your cataract condition may not rise to this level. Cataracts inevitably get worse with time, however, so your eye doctor will monitor the condition with you to determine when you reach the medically necessary threshold.

How Much of the Surgery Cost Does Medicare Cover?

Typically, Medicare pays 80% of the total cost for traditional cataract surgery. That includes preoperative exams, removing the cataract, implanting the lens, and postoperative exams. You must then pay the remaining 20% of the surgical cost out-of-pocket. 

If you elect to have laser-assisted cataract surgery, which is typically more expensive than traditional surgery, you will also be required to pay the difference in cost between the two procedures. Despite that added cost, many patients still opt for laser-assisted surgery due to the increased precision, faster, pain-free recovery, and improved long-term prognosis.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we’ve provided state-of-the-art cataract surgery to literally thousands of patients who use Medicare. Our eye surgeons, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass and Dr. Matthew Gray, are specially-trained experts in cataract surgery. And our office staff will help make the Medicare paperwork easy, and payment options understandable, so you have one less thing to worry about.

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



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3 Steps You Can Take to Promote Eye Safety in Sports

by Damion Wasylow 31 March 2021 11:42 AM

little league baseball players sitting on the bench at a game
Data from the American Academy of Ophthalmology reveals more than 30,000 sports-related eye injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year. While one may be quick to associate many of these injuries with contact sports, like football, statistics show basketball, baseball and softball actually lead the list. Thankfully, up to 90% of these injuries can be prevented.

As you or your kids take to the field or the court this spring, a few simple precautions can go a long way to preserving your vision.

1. Wear Proper Safety Goggles

The eyes are delicate structures, prone to injury from most forms of contact. The ultimate way to protect them is with a physical barrier to prevent intrusion from any foreign object. Sports goggles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles, and feature impact-resistant lenses, often made of polycarbonate. They’re designed to fit snug to the face, preventing inadvertent contact with the eyes. Most sports goggles can be fitted with non-prescription or prescription lenses. While great for many sports, goggles are particularly important for basketball, where opponents’ fingers often make contact with the face while defending.

2. Use Helmets with Face Shields for Some Sports

High-speed projectiles and flailing sticks create unique risks in sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse and hockey. In these sports, goggles alone are often not enough. The blunt force of taking a speeding baseball or lacrosse stick to the face can shatter orbital bones and do irreparable harm to the eyes. For these sports, face shields (sometimes accompanied by goggles) should be standard equipment. Face shields are typically either built into helmets or they can be added. They are generally low-cost and provide substantial protection.

3. Guard Against UV Exposure

While traumatic injuries may pose the most obvious threat to eye safety, excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can also have lasting negative impacts on vision. Long hours on a sunny practice or playing field can increase the risk of serious eye diseases, including eye cancers and cataracts. Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, if the sport takes place outdoors, it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays, the variations of ultraviolet rays that can be damaging to your eyes. Many sports goggles and shields come with UV protection, but check the label to be sure.

If you or someone you love enjoys participating in or watching sports in-person, now is the time to take these simple precautions to preserve your eye health. Talk to your optometrist to determine which equipment may be best for you.

To schedule your appointment to meet with an optometrist, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision in Care today by calling 352-373-4300.



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Will Cataract Surgery Improve My Vision?

by Damion Wasylow 25 January 2021 11:10 AM

elderly man having his eyes examined
Successful cataract surgery can dramatically, and almost instantly, improve vision for people suffering from cataracts. It’s one of the most effective surgical procedures in the world, and once the surgery is complete, cataracts can never come back.

Here’s some valuable information you should know about cataracts and cataract surgery...

Cataract Symptoms

Cloudy or blurred vision is the most common cataract symptom. People with cataracts may also experience poor night vision, glare, light sensitivity, halos, double vision and/or “ghosting” around objects. Cataract-related lens discoloration can also make colors dull, as if looking through a brown or yellow film.

The Right Time for Surgery

In early stages, cataract symptoms may be light enough not to impact your quality of life. But cataracts always get worse over time, eventually leading to blindness. As cataract symptoms progress, they will begin to impact your quality of life. You’ll find it increasingly difficult to read, drive, watch TV, recognize faces and more. Ultimately, determining the right time for your cataract surgery should be based on evaluation of your symptoms and discussions with your eye doctor.

Cataract Surgery Procedure

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world and is recognized as safe and effective. Whether you and your ophthalmologist elect to go with traditional surgery or laser-assisted cataract surgery, the procedure is fundamentally similar.

The surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea (the eye's outermost lens). A probe is inserted through the incision and applies ultrasonic energy to break up the cataract-damaged lens into tiny pieces. Those pieces are then removed using suction. A second probe is then used to insert and position the new artificial lens implant.

Cataract Surgery Outcomes

Cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. have an overall success rate of 98% or higher, according to research by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS). Recovery time and impacts vary some between traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgical procedures, with laser-assisted being preferred for most patients. Many laser-assisted cataract surgery patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. By replacing the damaged natural lens with an artificial lens, both versions of the procedure provide a permanent fix for cataracts

If you or someone you love is experiencing cataract symptoms, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300. Drs. Gregory Snodgrass and Matthew Gray have performed thousands of successful cataract surgeries. The doctors and our entire staff would be honored to help you see clearly again, too.



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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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