A Clearer View

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

Smoking and Eye Health

by Stephanie 6 September 2013 01:10 AM
Avoiding or quitting smoking is one of the best investments you can make in your long-term eye health.  Smoking-even at a young age when your senior years seem far away- increases your future risks for cataracts and age related macular degeneration.  And the more a person smokes, the higher the risks.  The good news is that after people quit smoking, their risks for these eye diseases become almost as low as for people who never smoked.

Smoking also raises the risks for cardiovascular diseases that influence your eyes' health.  And tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, is an irritant that worsens dry eye syndrome, a very uncomfortable eye condition that is most common in post-menopausal females.

Smoking increases the risk of serious vision loss in people with other eye diseases.  And when women smoke during pregnancy they are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting their babies at higher risk for a potentially blinding disease called retinopathy of prematurity as well as other health problems.




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Cataract Surgery From the Patient's Perspective

by Stephanie 20 July 2013 06:45 AM
This blog post is an unedited account of a patient's cataract surgery experience:

"I Wish That I Had Not Waited So Long"

Dr. Marshall told me I was developing cataracts in both eyes during my annual appointment several years ago.  Dr. Marshall then told me that the cataracts had advanced to the point that the surgery would have to occur in the coming year during my appointment in October 2012.  I had by then noticed that the lighting in my home and office seemed to have dimmed and I was replacing bulbs with the strongest strength bulbs that the fixtures would safely burn.  I constantly thought the lenses in my glasses needed to be cleaned, I could no longer shoot my bow, I was running into the edges of tables, I was cutting my fingers in the kitchen, and I had suffered a series of falls.  The world in general was becoming a dim and narrow place with muted colors.  I had begun to have trouble driving at night by the end of February of this year so I knew that I simply had to find the time to have the surgical procedure.  I decided that Dr. Gregory Snodgrass was the surgeon that I wanted to operate on my eyes since Dr. Snodgrass is a surgeon with many years of experience with an excellent reputation and does a large number of these surgeries.  An added plus is that Dr. Snodgrass is a member of a practice that prides itself on individual patient attention.

I was fortunate enough to be scheduled for the April surgical schedule.  The pre-op preparation was simply incredible.  Two obviously well-trained and experienced med techs spent at least two hours independently measuring the specifications for my artificial lenses including talking with me together the better part of a half hour about the types of artificial lenses to assist me in making my choice of lens.  Your type of lens choice is pretty much a final choice.  I chose the type of lens that would give me crisp and sharp mid and far distance vision accepting the need for reading glasses since there would be a 20%-30% chance that I would need readers if I chose the multi-focal lens type.

The surgery itself is pretty much an anti-climax.  You are awake but medicated so that you are not in any way uncomfortable during the surgical procedures that I have an impression lasted only 15 or 20 minutes each.  Dr. Snodgrass works with an anesthetist (who insists that you call him Tim), who I think has ways to know if he needs to adjust your medication so that you remain comfortable.  The medication is administered through an IV placed on the top of the hand on the side of the eye that is being operated on that day.  A topical anesthetic is administered to the top of the hand before the IV is placed.  I was aware enough during the surgeries to realize that Dr. Snodgrass himself prepped my eyes for surgery.  The staff in the surgical suite even knew from the pre-op interview that I needed to have my left shoulder supported because an injury to the shoulder back when I was in high school makes it difficult for me to lie on my back.  I was home reading the newspaper by 9:30 a.m. and went to work the next day after both surgeries.  The time between the first and second surgery was the only difficult time in the whole process. You have one eye with crisp, sharp, bright and colorful 20/20 vision, you are wearing your old glasses with a lens trying to correct the vision in the other eye, and you find that you can hardly wait for the day of the second surgery.

As with any medical procedure, I was informed that there is a small risk of a bad result that becomes much lower if you use your three antibiotic and anti-inflammation prescription eye drops four times a day for a month and wear the special sunglasses that Dr. Snodgrass provides when out in direct sunlight for several weeks.  I was informed that the eye drops do have a brief stinging sensation with some patients and I was one of them but the sensation lasts just a moment.  The eye drops simply have to be used as prescribed.

It is hard to describe the joy that I felt when I walked out of my home the morning after the second surgery and saw the world again as it really is.  A real payoff came several mornings later when the weather had cleared and I went outside before daylight to pick up the newspaper.  I had forgotten that you can see craters on the face of the moon.

I regret that I waited so long to have Dr. Snodgrass fix my eyes and I am most grateful to Dr. Snodgrass and his staff for giving me my vision back.  There is no way that I can recover two years of gradually dimming and stumbling time in my life but you can avoid a similar loss if advised that you need a lens replaced.  Do not wait like I did.  Please contact Dr. Snodgrass' staff if you have any hesitation about the process or the surgery itself and the staff will put you in touch with me.  I will be happy to discuss the process with you.        

Phil D.







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Healthy Eyes During Pregnancy

by Stephanie 7 July 2013 11:55 AM
Eyes may change somewhat during pregnancy due to fluid retention, increased blood volume, fluctuation of hormones and other physical changes that are part of pregnancy.  Usually these changes are temporary and resolve after the baby is born, or after weaning a breast-fed child.  Vision changes tend to be minor and don't require a new eyeglass prescription.  LASIK or other refractive surgeries should not be performed when a woman is pregnant or breast-feeding.

A condition known as dry eye syndrome may result from hormonal fluctuations.  Talk to your eye physician about lubricating drops and other treatment options that are safe during pregnancy.  Wearing contact lenses may be uncomfortable when dry eye is present.  Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds, may help improve dry eye syndrome and also supports good overall health.

If your vision becomes very blurry, it may signal serious conditions such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.  If this occurs, you should contact your obstetrician immediately.

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Exercise Benefits Your Eyes and Vision

by Stephanie 23 May 2013 01:27 AM
It is already well known that 30 minutes of physical exercise daily can benefit your heart, your waistline and your energy level, but it can also do your eyes a world of good.  It's simple logic that your eyes would receive the same benefit that the rest of your body does when you exercise.  Many eye diseases are linked to other health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels.  Exercise can help keep these problems under control and limit their impact.

Two recent studies have shown that people who exercise regularly were less likely to develop serious eye disease.  In one study, it was found that people who engaged in moderate physical exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop glaucoma than people who were largely inactive and lead a sedentary lifestyle.  In another study, researchers looked at the medical history of more than 3,800 people to see if there was a relationship between developing age-related macular degeneration and being physically inactive.  The scientists found that people who exercised three times a week were less likely to develop ARMD than people who didn't exercise.

If you already have a disease, exercise can help you manage it better.  For example, physical activity can help people with diabetes keep their disease under control.  That reduces the risk of complications, including diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of vision loss among working age adults.

The good news about exercise is that you don't have to be a marathon runner to reap the benefits.  Check out your local health and fitness club for a program that would fit your age and lifestyle.  Taking a brisk daily walk, climbing the stairs, and dancing are all great ways to get a good workout that will help you and your eyes stay healthy.



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Get Screened at 40

by Stephanie 6 May 2013 11:59 AM
The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye exam screening at age 40 - the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur.  Based on the results of the initial screening, your ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.  For people of any age with symptoms of eye disease or with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the Academy recommends an exam with an ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined.

This recommendation does not replace regular visits to the eye doctor to treat ongoing diseases or injuries, or for exams for eye glasses or contact lenses.  Much like other "preventative" health screenings for adults in their 40's and 50's, an eye disease screening is a reminder to adults as they age that they need to maintain their eye health.  A baseline evaluation is important because it may detect eye diseases common in adults aged 40 and older.  Unfortunately, several common eye diseases can impact individuluals without them being aware there is any problem with their eyes. A screening creates greater opportunity for early treatment and preservation of vision.

A complete ophthalmologic evaluation can uncover common abnormalities of the visual system and related structures, as well as less common but extremely serious ones, such as ocular tumors or melanomas.  This evaluation can also uncover evidence of systemic disease that may affect the eyes, like diabetes or hypertension.  With appropriate treatment, potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy often have a favorable outcome.  

If you are age 40 or older and have not had a recent evaluation for eye disease, call and schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.  It is an essential step toward preserving your vision and keeping your eyes healthy.



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Top Foods to Eat for Healthy Eyes

by Stephanie 21 April 2013 12:04 PM
As you think about ways to improve or preserve your eye health, it's important to realize that vitamins and nutrients are not a cure for eye disease, nor will they give you back vision you may have already lost.  However, good nutrition at all ages is vital for your entire body, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyes.  

Foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are good for eye health as well as general health, according to the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS).  These foods are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), cataracts, and dry eyes.  Eye-healthy food choices include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, and cold water fish.

People who have diabetes or ARMD or are at risk for these diseases can also benefit by following a low-glycemic index diet.  The GI value is based on how fast a food's carbohydrates raise the body's blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.

People with macular degeneration may be able to slow the progression of the disease by taking a special nutritional supplement called the AREDS formula, developed as a result of the AREDS research.  This is promising news for people who are at risk for or already have ARMD.  Be sure to discuss any supplements with your primary care physician as well as your eye physician.  You may learn more about these supplements on this site's Nutriceuticals page.

Making healthier food choices is a good thing no matter how early or late in life we begin.  Encouraging good eating and exercise habits with kids sets patterns they're likely to stick to their entire lives.  As an adult, you  should speak to your eye physician about any concerns regarding your eye health and for specific recommendations involving nutritional supplements.




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Keep an Eye on Ultraviolet Safety

by Stephanie 14 April 2013 12:24 PM
We all know to use sunscreen to protect our skin during the warmer months, but don't forget to protect your eyes as well.  Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and growths on the eye or the skin around the eyes, including cancer.  

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose.  By following a few simple tips, you can enjoy your summer activities safely while reducing your risk for eye disease and cancer.
  • Select sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.  Don't be deceived by color!  The ability to block UV light is not dependent on how dark the lenses are.  It is also wise to consider UV block in your everyday eyewear.
  • Choose wraparound styles.  Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun's rays can't enter from the side.  This will also protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
  • Wear a hat with a brim in addition to sunglasses.
  • Don't rely on contact lenses.  Even if your contact lenses contain UV block, always remember to wear sunglasses, too.
  • Don't be fooled by the clouds.  The sun's rays can pass through haze and clouds.  Sun damage can occur any time of the year, so be sure to wear your sunglasses whenever you're outside.
  • Never look directly at the sun.  Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, which is damage to the retina from solar radiation.
  • Don't forget the kids!  Everyone is at risk, including children.  Be sure to protect their eyesight with hats and sunglasses as well.

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April is Sports Eye Safety Month

by Stephanie 7 April 2013 12:55 PM
From major league baseball stadiums to small town ball fields, athletes of all ages are competing against each other, building physical fitness, entertaining millions and teaching the value of hard work and teamwork.

But for more than 40,000 athletes each year, their game can be ruined by an errant finger, misjudged catch or a stray ball.  That's the number of sports related eye injuries that occur annually in the United States.  Approximately one-third of eye-injury victims are children.  In fact, eye injuries are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in children.  These injuries range from corneal abrasions and eyelid bruising to internal eye damage such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding.  Unfortunately, some of these young athletes end up with permanent vision loss and perhaps blindness.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the only way to prevent a sports-related eye injury is for athletes to wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear properly fitted by an eye care professional.  Lenses made from polycarbonate materials provide the highest level of impact protection; they can withstand the impact of a ball or other projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour.

Many sports create risk for eye injuries; however, protection is available for most activities, including basketball, baseball, hockey, football, lacrosse, fencing, paintball, as well as raquetball, tennis, soccer, and water sports.  Most sporting leagues don't require children to wear eye protection, so parents should insist that their children wear eye protection when they play.  Parents can also set a good example by wearing protective eyewear when they participate in sports. 

Even a seemingly light blow can cause a serious eye injury.  If a black eye, pain or visual problem occurs after a blow, contact your eye care provider immediately.

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