A Clearer View

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

5 Industries with High Risks for Eye Injuries

by Damion Wasylow 28 February 2020 06:55 AM

construction worker cutting through material while wearing safety glasses
In the United States, nearly 2,000 workers per day sustain on-the-job eye injuries that require medical treatment. Often, these injuries include severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss and blindness. This latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustrates the importance of making eye safety a workplace priority, particularly in industries with higher prevalence of eye injuries.

The highest-risk industries for eye injuries include: 

Construction

It’s easy to understand how construction tops the list. On any given construction site, people are working with a variety of dangerous tools, any of which could pose a threat to one’s eyes. In addition to the potential for blunt force or poking trauma to the eyes, there’s also a lot of debris in the air. Sawdust, metal filings, cement chips and more can cause serious eye damage. 

Manufacturing

Much like construction, the manufacturing industry is inherently dangerous. While these workers also face the risks associated with impacts from tools, machinery and materials, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 30% of manufacturing industry eye injuries occur to workers operating assembly, sanding and grinding machines. Manufacturing workers are also at increased risk for eye damage resulting from chemical exposure.

Automotive Repair

Eye injuries are far too common in auto repair shops. No matter how high-risk of a task they’re doing, many mechanics don’t wear eye protection. Sparks from saw blades, airborne metal from bench grinders and exposure to welding torches can all lead to serious eye injuries. A study on injuries to auto service technicians published by the BLS reported, “Eye injuries accounted for 7.8 percent of injuries to mechanics, compared with just 2.8 percent among all occupations.” 

Healthcare

In healthcare, the risk is less about contact trauma or flying debris, and more about viral and bacterial infections that can be contracted through the eyes. The risk for infection is highest in hospitals due to the likelihood of blood splatter and other splashed bodily fluids. Even dentists and dental hygienists can be at risk, prompting many to wear eye protection during every patient treatment.

Office

This one comes as a surprise to many people. The biggest eye safety risk for most office workers comes from the blue light emitted from computer screens. According to the eye health advocacy group Prevent Blindness, excessive exposure to blue light can lead to digital eye strain and retina damage. As office workers spend more and more time in front of their screens – and often multiple screens – blue light exposure levels increase each year.

No matter what industry you’re in, wearing appropriate protective eyewear is key to keeping your eyes safe at work. It’s estimated that 90% of all workplace eye injuries can be reduced in severity or avoided by using proper safety eyewear.

Whether you’re in a high-risk industry or not, it’s a good idea to get regular comprehensive eye exams to ensure your eyes are in top shape. At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we perform eye exams on patients of all ages, and we can even help you find eyewear best suited to keep your eyes safe on the job.

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

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Patients Share Laser Floater Treatment (LFT) Success Stories

by Damion Wasylow 18 February 2020 06:36 AM

elderly woman with laser eye treatment overlay
At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we provide patients the most advanced treatment options available, including Laser Floater Treatment (LFT). LFT is a non-invasive in-office procedure that uses nanosecond laser pulses to break apart floater clumps, clearing up your vision. And our patients can’t say enough about how well it works for them.

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve received…


From Ennis Runkle

For about 3 to 4 years, I had been seeing these small glimpses of something out of the corner of my eye, especially at night or when I was watching TV. As years passed, it continued to get progressively worse. The last time I saw Dr. Snodgrass I mentioned how much it was now really affecting my vision. Dr. Snodgrass told me when I was ready to get those floaters taken care of that he could do it for me. At that point I was more than ready.” 

“The (Laser Floater) Treatment took just a couple minutes and was painless. I heard click, click, click from the laser and just like that it was over. In and Out.” 

“Since then, it’s been all gravy! My vision has improved greatly after the treatment in Dr. Snodgrass office. Colors are even more vivid now, too!”

“Everything went great and I feel very satisfied with the results.”


From Randolph Croft

 “I have been seeing floaters in my vision for I'd say about 10 to 12 years now. I started to really notice them when I would look across the field while I was on my tractor. Then, while reading, they became very inconvenient. I would have to stop and focus my eyes the whole time just to get them out of the way.” 

“Dr. Snodgrass did my cataract surgery. While at my post op visit, he said the technology was now available to get rid of those pesky floaters. Everyone in his office was very knowledgeable and seemed to know exactly what they were doing. I decided to have the LFT treatment done.”

“Having my floaters removed took no longer than a few minutes and was no more invasive then a basic eye exam. I would say 80% of my floaters have disappeared and I can finally read without stopping and starting the entire time. I am very happy with Dr. Snodgrass, his staff and my overall experience at his practice.”


From H. Davis 

“I’ve had floaters now for many years, but one large circular floater was really invasive. I think it’s called a Weiss Ring floater. I'd be driving and this thing would come across my vision! When making a left turn into traffic, it looked like a car was coming up on the side, and by the time I realized it wasn’t a car, one really would be there.”

“When Dr. Snodgrass told me there was a treatment available to get rid of this thing, I was really surprised, because I was always told there was nothing that could be done.”

“The treatment itself was not painful or uncomfortable at all. I will say that my eye was a little irritated for about a day afterward, but with just over the counter eye drops, it felt back to normal.”

“I’m really delighted that it (the floater) is gone and fully intend on coming back to Dr. Snodgrass for the others.”


These are just a few of the patient successes we’ve seen firsthand since becoming the only practice in the Gainesville area to offer this exciting treatment. This revolutionary treatment is delivering great outcomes for patients. 

If you or someone you love would like to see clearly without interference from floaters, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) Treatable?

by Damion Wasylow 23 January 2020 08:23 AM

elderly couple watching a movie in the theater
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over age 60, affecting up to 11 million people in the United States. The likelihood of developing advanced ARMD increases dramatically as you age, from 2% for people ages 50-59 to nearly 30% for people over age 75. While the condition is not curable, early diagnosis and treatment may help slow its progression, allowing patients to retain their sight for longer.

What Causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

There are two types of ARMD – dry and wet, with dry being most common. Dry ARMD is caused by bits of fat and protein called drusen collecting under the retina. By age 50, nearly everyone has some amount of drusen under their retinas. It is typically harmless until deposits become soft, large and located around the small area at the center of your retina known as the macula. At a certain saturation point, these drusen prevent oxygen from reaching your eye and ARMD symptoms develop. Vision loss from dry ARMD is generally fairly slow but can result in permanent loss of central vision.

Wet ARMD is much more abrupt. With wet ARMD, abnormal blood vessels grow in the macular area. These vessels are fragile and may leak fluid or blood, which diminishes central vision. Vision loss can be rapid and significant. People with wet ARMD may experience distorted vision, blind spots or objects appearing to be different sizes with each eye.

How is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treated?

There is no proven treatment for dry ARMD, but studies have found that a healthy diet high in antioxidants can help support the cells of the macula and slow ARMD progression. In one study, researchers found this type of diet lowered the risk of macular degeneration progressing to advanced stages by about 25 percent. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation further recommends supplementing one’s diet with a combination of antioxidants, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids.

Treatment of wet ARMD typically reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of severe vision loss. Treatments may involve medication injections, thermal laser therapy or photodynamic therapy. 

If you or someone you love believes you may be experiencing ARMD symptoms, contact your local eye doctor today to schedule an exam. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is a leading provider of quality eyecare for patients with all types of vision challenges, including ARMD. Call us today at 352-373-4300.

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Is Cataract Surgery Covered by Insurance?

by Damion Wasylow 14 January 2020 04:27 AM

health insurance card on a table
Surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts. To restore vision, the affected eye lens must be removed and replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOL). And surgery is the only way this can be done. With one in six people over age 40, and more than half of people over age 80 having cataracts, you will be relieved to know that, yes, cataract surgery is generally covered by insurance. At least, most of it. 

Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance programs deem cataract surgery to be “medically necessary,” assuming the development of the cataract (or cataracts) is such that it interferes with the patient’s normal daily activities. Often, in the early stages of cataract development, your eye doctor will recommend against surgery until the daily impact is evident, and this generally aligns with insurance programs’ guidelines as well.

To be clear, when we talk about insurance covering cataract surgery, we’re referencing your general health insurance plan, not vision-specific insurance. Vision insurance plans are highly unlikely to cover any costs related to cataract surgery and are not required to under the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance plans generally cover the primary costs of cataract surgery, including:

  • Pre-operative eye scan
  • Traditional cataract surgical procedure
  • Monofocal intraocular lens implant
  • Any related medications

Depending on your plan, some diagnostic procedures and pre-surgery treatments may not be covered. Additionally, many premium intraocular lenses designed to also correct presbyopia or astigmatism are often not covered. Many patients opt to pay for these items out-of-pocket, as they can permanently eliminate the need for eyeglasses.

The specifics of health insurance plans vary, so it’s a good idea to talk with your health insurance provider in advance, so you know exactly what to expect.

If the time is right to restore your vision through cataract surgery, consider North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass and Dr. Matthew Gray, along with their talented medical team, are well-known for their experience, friendliness and results. And our helpful administrative staff will work with you and your insurance provider to ensure you get the coverage benefits to which you are entitled. 

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

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When is it Time to Get Prescription Eyeglasses?

by Damion Wasylow 14 January 2020 04:14 AM

optometrist helping young woman with new glasses
Most people know it’s a good idea to see their medical doctor for regular check-ups and their dentist for routine cleanings, but too few people include eye doctor visits as part of their health maintenance routine. As a result, emerging vision problems are often overlooked until they produce physical symptoms that force one to admit their eyes aren’t working like they used to.

If that sounds like you, here are five indications it’s likely time for you to get prescription eyeglasses...

1. Blurred vision when reading small text

Having trouble reading the instructions on pill bottles or text on your phone screen? Are you nearing or past age 40? It could be presbyopia, a natural condition that often comes with age. As the eye lens becomes thicker, it can no longer flex to focus as it once did. A pair of prescription eyeglasses can help.

2. Difficulty seeing things far away

If you’ve been inching your chair closer and closer to the TV, it’s probably time for you to look into getting eyeglasses. Frustrations with clearly seeing object more than arms-length away are common and often easily correctable with prescription eyeglasses.

3. Eyestrain or tired eyes

Eyestrain can be short-term, specifically related to a unique task you’re engaged in, but when it’s recurring and frequent, wearing eyeglasses may help. Your eye doctor can prescribe eyeglasses for specific activities, such as for computer use or reading, to help reduce your eyestrain symptoms. 

4. Frequent headaches

Overexertion of the eyes can produce headaches, particularly if they are working to overcome some underlying issue. In some cases, misalignment of the eyes or imbalance in visual acuity – and the body’s efforts to compensate for it – can produce frequent headaches that may be confused for sinus or tension headaches. In these cases, prescription eyeglasses can deliver relief.

5. Difficulty with night vision

Seeing halos around oncoming headlights and/or general trouble discerning enough visual detail at night are strong indicators you could benefit from prescription eyeglasses. In some cases, these symptoms could also point to more concerning eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy and cataracts

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, or if you just want to start including eye care as part of your standard healthcare routine, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today. Our expert and friendly optometrists and ophthalmologists can help diagnose your individual vision needs and prescribe the treatment that’s right for you. If that treatment includes prescription eyeglasses, our practice features two convenient full-service optical shops. 

Call us today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an appointment.

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Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment May Help Prevent Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 6 January 2020 08:08 AM

woman getting glaucoma exam
More than 3 million people in the United States currently live with glaucoma. While it often presents few symptoms early, left untreated glaucoma eventually leads to vision loss or complete blindness. In fact, it’s the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. 

Glaucoma tends to be genetic and develops later in life. It is often linked to a buildup of intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye). The increased pressure damages the optic nerve, which delivers images from your eye to your brain. When severe enough, that damage is what creates blindness.

There are two main forms of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure, with open-angle being more common. 

With open-angle glaucoma, loss of peripheral (or side) vision is typically the first indication. 

Depending on the form, angle-closure glaucoma may be symptomless, or it may produce substantial, rapid onset symptoms including severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and/or a rainbow halo around lights. The latter, known as acute angle-closure glaucoma, requires immediate treatment to prevent blindness.

Catching glaucoma early is the key to minimizing its impact. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends everyone should be screened for glaucoma starting in their 20’s, with increasing frequency as they get older. By age 65, they suggest everyone be screened for glaucoma every one-to-two years. 

During a glaucoma screening, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam with the addition of a few glaucoma-specific tests. Those tests may include eye pressure measurement, examination of the optic nerve, peripheral vision evaluation and review of corneal thickness.

Once diagnosed, glaucoma is treated by lowering your intraocular pressure. Prescription eye drops and oral medications may help lower pressure within the eye. Laser and other surgical procedures are possibilities for patients who do not respond well to less-invasive treatment.

While optic nerve damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, early diagnosis gives you and your eye doctor the opportunity to slow future damage and preserve your sight.

If you or someone you love could use a glaucoma screening, contact us at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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Laser Floater Treatment (LFT) Now Available in North Florida

by Damion Wasylow 23 December 2019 04:20 AM

woman making a heart shape over her eye with her hands
Are you frustrated by little “cobwebs” or specks that float in your field of vision? Those are commonly known as eye floaters, and you’re not alone. Most people experience floaters to some degree. When floaters begin obscuring your vision or distracting you from enjoying daily activities, it’s time to talk to your eye doctor about treatment. And now, treatment options for floaters are better than ever with the introduction of Laser Floater Treatment or LFT.

What are floaters?

Floaters are tiny clumps of cells or material in the clear, gel-like fluid that fills your eye (vitreous). These clumps produce dark shadows on your retina that appear in different sizes and in different shapes in your vision, including dots, lines, clouds or webs. While generally considered benign, floaters can negatively affect your vision quality.

What causes floaters?

As your eyes age, the vitreous humor – the colorless gel that fills the space between your eye lens and retina – degenerates, losing its form and liquefying. That instability allows collagen cells within the fluid to clump together and form floating masses. In some cases, the vitreous humor peels away from the retina entirely, causing rapid onset of numerous floaters. 

Floaters are more common in people who have diabetes, are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.

How does Laser Floater Treatment (LFT) work?

Laser Floater Treatment was pioneered by Ellex, a company built to transform the sight of people across the globe. Their specialized Reflex™ Technology makes LFT possible with a laser specifically designed for floaters.

Nanosecond laser pulses precisely target the floater clumps, breaking them apart and converting them into gas which then dissolves into the air. Floaters are thus removed and/or reduced in size, allowing you to return to normal day-to-day activities without interference from floaters.

The procedure is non-invasive and performed in your ophthalmologist’s office. A complete cycle of treatment typically requires two or three 20-60-minute in-office treatments.

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is the only practice in the Gainesville area to offer this exciting treatment, and patients are benefiting with clearer vision. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass says the treatment is delivering great outcomes for patients. “It’s really wonderful to be able to make this almost immediate improvement in so many patients’ vision. Our patients are thrilled with the results.”

If you or someone you know would like to see clearly without interference from floaters, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.

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5 Tips to Protect Children’s Vision this Holiday Season

by Damion Wasylow 2 December 2019 06:31 AM

brother and sister opening christmas presents
It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays, with decorations adorning windows, calendars packed with festivities and parents purchasing coveted gifts for eager children. Sometimes, lost in the celebratory mayhem, however, is a focus on ensuring the holiday season is both happy and safe for children. That’s why Prevent Blindness America declared December as Safe Toys and Celebrations Month. With a little bit of planning and a few wise choices, you can avoid potential eye risks and create joyful holiday memories for everyone. 

1. Prioritize Projectile Gift Safety

Nerf guns are high on many kids’ gift lists this year, but they can be extremely dangerous. While the darts are primarily constructed of squishy Nerf material, the tips are sometimes solid, hard plastic. Even the less rigid tips can cause serious injury if your child is struck in the eye. Other projectile gifts like pellet guns and slingshots are even more dangerous. And it should go without saying that firearms take danger to a whole other level for children. If you choose to give your children these types of gifts, be sure to talk with them extensively about safety, equip them with eye protection and supervise their use.

2. Avoid Toys with Sharp Edges

Some seemingly safe toys have surprisingly sharp edges. As children run and play and toss and collide, it’s possible those edges could make damaging contact with a child’s eye. Some toys start off with nice, smooth, oblique edges, but chip or lose parts over time exposing serrated sections and acute points that make them unsafe. You can’t possibly foresee all these potential hazards, but it’s wise to avoid the obvious ones and then do a visual check of your kids’ toys regularly to see if age and use have made them more dangerous. 

3. Remember Protective Eyewear for Sports Equipment

Safety glasses, goggles, shields and the like can go a long way towards protecting your child’s eyes from injury when they participate in sports activities. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that more than 90 percent of children’s eye injuries could be prevented through the use of suitable protective eyewear. If you purchase any sort of sports equipment for your child this holiday season, follow it up with a second gift of protective eyewear. 

4. Handle Decorations with Care

Holiday decorations may not be something you typically associate with vision risk, but especially if you have small children, decoration-related accidents can and do happen. Traditional Christmas tree ornament hooks, for example, can cause serious eye injuries. (They’re also dangerous for pets.) Several companies produce safer alternatives. When decorating, it’s also a good idea to place glass and breakable ornaments safely out of reach. When those shatter, they send dangerous shards flying through the air.

5. Be Responsible with Fireworks

Hundreds of people suffer fireworks-related eye injuries each year, including ruptured eyeballs and damaged corneas and retinas. Sadly, many of the injured are children. In some instances, injuries result from children playing with fireworks themselves, but in many others, these injuries are caused by an adult igniting fireworks irresponsibly. If you’re going to celebrate the holidays with fireworks, please do so responsibly. Have your children wear eye protection and keep them a substantial distance from where they fireworks are being lit. Better yet, leave fireworks to the professionals and just sit back and enjoy the show with your family.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we have the expertise to treat a variety of eye injuries, but we prefer to help keep your eyes – and your children’s – healthy from the start. If we can serve you this holiday season or into the new year, please contact us at 352-373-4300. 

Happy holidays.

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North Florida Cataract Now Offers Revolutionary PanOptix Trifocal Lens Implants

by Damion Wasylow 25 October 2019 06:56 AM

retired woman sitting on couch smiling
North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is now among the first ophthalmology centers in the United States to offer AcrySof®IQ PanOptix®Trifocal Intraocular Lens implants for cataract patients. These cutting-edge lenses are clinically shown to deliver an exceptional combination of near, intermediate and distance vision, substantially reducing the need for glasses.

PanOptix manufacturer Alcon is renowned worldwide for producing innovative life-changing vision and eye care products. They recognized the need for an intraocular lens implant that could more completely restore vision for cataract patients who also require trifocals. PanOptix is that lens implant. In fact, it’s the first and only trifocal lens for U.S. patients undergoing cataract surgery

While PanOptix is new to the U.S., it’s use has been proven in more than 70 other countries. The AcrySof IQ IOL platform upon which PanOptix is built has been implanted more 120 million times around the globe. 

“We are proud to bring this new class of IOLs to the largest eye care market in the world,” said David J. Endicott, Chief Executive Officer of Alcon. “We are leveraging Alcon’s years of experience with PanOptix in other countries to provide the best possible training and support for U.S. surgeons. Our goal is to ensure optimal outcomes for cataract patients looking to correct their vision at all distances, with the vast majority of them never needing to wear glasses post-surgery.”

In U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing, PanOptix patients demonstrated exceptional, uninterrupted vision and high patient satisfaction, with more than ninety-nine percent saying they would choose PanOptix again.

North Florida Cataract’s Dr. Gregory Snodgrass says, “This is big. Bringing this vision-restoring technology to bear for patients is a game changer. Not only can patients experience renewed vision through having their cataract-affected lenses replaced, now they can also gain complete independence from glasses, something they may not have enjoyed for decades.” 

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care was selected to be among the first practices in the U.S. to offer these lenses due in large part to its track record for delivering exceptional patient outcomes. Offering both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery options, North Florida Cataract is the area’s recognized leader in cataract treatment. Offering PanOptix lenses aligns perfectly with our practice’s mission for delivering the finest, most innovative surgical treatments available.

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

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Sleeping with Contact Lenses Poses Serious Risks

by Damion Wasylow 17 October 2019 00:48 AM

woman putting in her contact lens
Nearly 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses for vision correction. When used as directed, contacts are a safe and effective option that offer wearers unparalleled lifestyle flexibility. Unfortunately, studies show 40% to 90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow care instructions, even sleeping with their contacts in, placing them at serious risk for dangerous infections and blinding ulcers. 

When you sleep with contact lenses in your eyes, your risk of corneal infection increases tenfold. That’s crucial enough to restate…you are TEN TIMES more likely to suffer an infection of your cornea if you wear your contacts while you sleep overnight.

The cornea – the eye's clear, protective outer layer – is a living, breathing tissue. In fact, it’s the only part of the body that receives oxygen directly from environmental air instead of through the body’s bloodstream. Without sufficient oxygen, corneal cells break down, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to infect the eye.

Wearing contact lenses limits the amount of oxygen available to corneal cells. When worn as directed during waking hours, the reduction is manageable and considered safe. When you then sleep with your contacts in, however, your closed eyelids further limit oxygen exposure for an extended period, and cells can begin to die. 

“The excess risks of developing corneal infection with overnight wear of contact lenses has been recognized for many years,” explains Dr. Oliver Schein, professor of ophthalmology, and vice-chair for quality and safety with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Schein also points out that wearing contact lenses overnight reduces tear production, increases temperature and elevates humidity while trapping microbes against the eye surface, a recipe for germ growth and, “microtrauma to the surface of the cornea.”

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we’ve seen the results firsthand. Just last week, a patient visited our practice complaining of sore eyes and poor vision after wearing her contact lenses too long. Upon evaluation, we determined that over-wear of her contacts resulted in serious damage to her corneas, requiring a delicate surgical procedure. Thankfully, our own Dr. Matthew Gray is a corneal specialist. Dr. Gray performed the surgery a few days later and the patient is now on the road to recovery.

If you’re considering contact lenses for your vision correction, are interested in a new contact lens prescription or need treatment for any contact lens-related issues, call North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300. Our talented team of opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists are here to provide the guidance and care you need to improve your vision and keep your eyes healthy for years to come.

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