A Clearer View

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

Long, Sunny Days Make Sunglasses All the More Important

by Damion Wasylow 2 May 2017 09:12 AM

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North Central Florida experiences increasingly longer periods of sunlight as we roll through spring and into summer, peaking at around 14 hours of full daylight in mid-June. Given our area’s amazing selection of outdoor actives, many of us will likely spend a good deal of time in the sun in coming months. Before heading outside, it’s important to take precautions to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

The sun produces two forms of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can be harmful to our eyes: UV-A and UV-B. Long-term effects of too much exposure to these UV rays can include retina damage and increased risk of cataracts. In the short-term, you can even experience photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn on the eyes.

To adequately protect your eyes, the American Optometric Association suggests selecting sunglasses that:

  • block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light; and
  • are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection. 

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, it’s a smart decision to also get a pair of prescription sunglasses. After all, you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your vision while you’re enjoying the outdoors.

A talented optician can provide you a set of sunglass lenses that will protect your eyes while helping you see clearly. They can also help you select frames that look great and work with your lifestyle

North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care offers optical services at both our Gainesville locations: NW 8th Avenue and Tioga Town Center. Both optical shops feature hundred of designer frames from brands like Tag Heuer, Kate Spade, Costa del Mar and Etnia Barcelona, among others. Our expert staff is eager to answer any questions and to help you select the perfect pair. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Optician – What’s the Difference?

by Damion Wasylow 10 April 2017 12:14 PM

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The eyes are extremely delicate and complex organs, which can require very different forms of treatment depending on your specific vision needs. So, it’s only natural that the healthcare professionals who treat eyes come with a variety of training (and titles) in order to deliver the best outcomes.

Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) or osteopathic doctor (D.O.) who specializes in all aspects of eye care. They generally complete four years of college followed by at least eight years of additional medical training. Some ophthalmologists, like our practice’s Dr. Gregory Snodgrass, have subspecialties like cataract surgery, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. Ophthalmologists have the highest level of training, and are qualified for advanced eye disease treatment and surgical procedures.

Optometrist

A doctor of optometry (O.D.), better known as an optometrist, provides primary vision care. They generally earn a four-year college degree followed by four years of post-graduate training in optometry school. Optometrists perform eye exams, prescribe and dispense corrective eyeglass and contact lenses, detect eye abnormalities and prescribe medications, among other things. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care has three optometrists on staff to serve our patients. 

Optician

Opticians are not eye doctors, so they do not diagnose or treat eye diseases, but they do serve a critical role for patients’ vision needs. Opticians design, confirm and fit eyeglass lenses, frames and contact lenses based on the corrective prescriptions produced by ophthalmologists and optometrists. Unlike many standalone optical shops, North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care’s optical locations in Gainesville feature licensed opticians to provide the best vision correction possible. 

Selecting the right eye care professional for your vision needs doesn’t have to be confusing. Your best bet is to call and schedule a consultation. We’ll gladly work with you to diagnose your vision challenges and answer any questions you have along the way.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today.

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How to Choose the Right Eyeglass Frames

by Damion Wasylow 23 March 2017 07:34 AM

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Whether you have worn eyeglasses for years, or you’re shopping for your first pair, finding the right frames can be challenging. A lot of factors play into matching your vision needs, style and life with frames that will provide great quality and value.

Before heading into your local optical shop, take these factors into consideration…

Face Shape

The general shape of your face greatly influences the frames that may be right for you. Rectangular frames are generally preferred for rounder faces, as they help to lengthen the face. Squarer faces often look best with circular or oval frames. People with oval faces can generally wear any frame shape.

Frame Type

Some people prefer thicker, fuller frames. Others like minimal frames. Full rim glasses help to focus attention on the eyes. Semi-rimless frames accentuate the upper portion of your face. Rimless frames produce the least impact on the appearance, while deemphasizing the forehead. Choose the frame type that accents your best features. 

Lifestyle

Think about the activities you will likely participate in while wearing your glasses. If you have an active lifestyle, flexible frames may enhance comfort and durability. If you use your glasses to read intermittently throughout the day, consider a pair that separate in the middle and then hang around your neck. Your optician will talk you through several lifestyle-related options.

Color

Today’s eyeglass frames come in a rainbow of colors. Most people agree that warmer complexions look best with frame hues you might see in a fire: reds, coppers, golds, oranges, creams, corals, khakis and beiges. Cooler complexions look great with icy and steely tones: blues, grays, slivers, plums and roses. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference, so have fun discovering the best color for you. 

Personality

More than anything else you wear or own, your eyeglasses are the most common things people see on you. With so many styles to choose from, you are sure to find a pair that conveys something about the way you perceive yourself and how you want others to perceive you. From classic to modern and conservative to flashy, the right frames speak volumes about your personality.

The best way to find the right frames for you is to head in to your area’s best optical shop. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care has two convenient optical locations – Tioga Town Center and our brand new Gainesville location on the corner of NW 8th Avenue and NW 43rd Street. Both shops feature hundreds of styles and colors from which to choose. And our expert staff with gladly answer questions and help you find frames that match your style and budget.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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How Does CareCredit Vision Plan Work in Gainesville?

by Damion Wasylow 1 February 2017 11:13 AM

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The fear of healthcare costs prevents too many people from seeking out and receiving medical treatments that would improve their quality of life. Few people know that you don’t need to be rich or even have expensive health insurance in order to afford many important healthcare procedures, including vision care.

CareCredit is an option for many vision patients, helping you pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance. It is essentially a healthcare credit card designed specifically to help patients pay for medical and wellness procedures. With CareCredit, instead of paying everything upfront for your medical needs, the costs are spread across monthly payments.

When used at enrolled providers, including North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, CareCredit gives you the advantage of special financing offers that you’re unlikely to get through traditional credit cards. Financing periods are available from six to 60 months, with reduced annual percentage rates (APR) and fixed monthly payments.

CareCredit can be used for a variety of vision care needs, from eye exams and glasses to cataract and dry eye treatment. You can apply CareCredit to purchase a new pair of eyeglasses or be fitted for new contact lenses. Use CareCredit to pay for a new premium intraocular lens implant as part of your cataract surgery, or to offset the cost of LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation.

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we gladly accept CareCredit, and can even guide you to start the application process. It’s quick, easy and could be just what you need in order to get your vision back on track.

If you need eye care or cataract surgery, contact us at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today, and schedule a consultation to discuss your specific treatment options.

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3 Most Common Questions from Cataract Patients

by Damion Wasylow 30 January 2017 09:31 AM

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At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we treat hundreds of patients each year. In fact, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass is one of the area’s most experienced cataract surgeons, with more than 20,000 successful surgeries to his credit. We believe an informed patient is an empowered patient, so we’re always happy to answer questions before and after any procedure.

Here are the three most common questions we are asked about cataracts...

#1: How do I know when it’s the right time to have cataract surgery?

More than 90-percent of people over 65-years-old have cataracts. If you’re getting regular eye exams, your cataracts will most likely be diagnosed long before they require surgery. Cataract symptoms get progressively worse over time, however, and cataracts always eventually require surgery to correct. If cataract symptoms limit your ability to read, drive or enjoy other daily activities, it’s time for surgery. Talk to your ophthalmologist.

#2. Does cataract surgery provide a permanent fix?

The short answer is, yes. Once you have cataract surgery, you can never get a cataract on the same eye again. That’s because the damaged natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens implant. The implant is not susceptible to the type of protein buildup that results in cataracts. No surgical procedure is 100-percent guaranteed, of course. Physical trauma to the eye, for example, could displace an artificial lens, requiring a follow-up procedure, but these instances are quite rare.

#3. What are the differences between traditional and laser cataract surgery?

Today, laser-assisted cataract surgery is the preferred treatment method for most patients. Laser-assisted surgery uses computer mapping to pinpoint the incision location, making it more precise than traditional surgery. Laser-assisted surgery also requires less ultrasonic energy to break up the damaged lens, resulting in less trauma to the eye and faster recovery. The incision is self-sealing, so no stitches are required, and the entire procedure is pain-free.

If you have questions about cataracts and cataract surgery, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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How serious is cataract surgery?

by Damion Wasylow 9 January 2017 13:21 PM

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Any type of surgical procedure is serious, as they all involve some level of risk. Thankfully, cataract surgery has a relatively low occurrence of complications and a high probability of success when performed by an experienced ophthalmologist. Approximately 3 million Americans per year have cataract surgery with 99.5% experiencing minor or no postoperative complications, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, you should always carefully consider the risks and rewards of any procedure, and discuss your specific prognosis with your doctor. If you then choose to proceed with cataract surgery, here’s what you can expect.

Cataract Surgery Overview

Cataract surgery replaces the patient’s damaged natural eye lens with an intraocular lens implant. There are two basic categories of cataract surgery: traditional and laser-assisted. The two procedures differ greatly in how they are performed, the patient’s recovery experience and the likelihood of complications.

If your ophthalmologist only offers traditional cataract surgery, seek a second opinion to properly familiarize yourself with both options. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is generally preferred, as it is completely pain-free, stitch-free and produces fewer traumas to the eye, allowing for faster healing.

Cataract Surgery Recovery

Most laser-assisted cataract surgery patients report improved vision while still in the recovery room. Patients wear an eye shield off-and-on for up to a few days, and may initially experience some cloudy or blurred vision, and potentially some redness. These are normal short-term side effects. Some see clearly almost immediately, while others require a week or two.

Your surgeon may ask you to come into the office for a follow-up visit a day or two after surgery to ensure you are healing normally.

As stated before, serious cataract surgery complications are extremely rare. The procedure does not require full sedation, eliminating many potential health risks. Complications can include inflammation, infection, bleeding, swelling, drooping eyelid, retinal detachment, glaucoma and loss of vision, among others. Patients with other existing eye diseases or medical conditions are at increased risk for such complications, but the overall incidence is still less than 0.5%. This makes cataract surgery one of the safest procedures in the country.

The decision to have cataract surgery is one you should always discuss with both your eye physician and family. Ask plenty of questions to make sure you have a solid understanding of the risks and benefits. For a consultation, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today.

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How long does it take to remove a cataract?

by Damion Wasylow 3 January 2017 12:40 PM

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Cataract surgery is very common in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans electing to have the procedure each year. With advances in technique and technology, including laser-assisted surgery, cataract surgery is now faster and more effective than ever, both in terms of the procedure itself and patient recovery.

Diagnosis and Scheduling

If you get regular eye exams from a comprehensive vision care practice, your eye doctor will likely identify cataract development long before symptoms require surgery. Cataract progress will be monitored closely over time. In some cases, patients live with slow-developing cataracts for years before they noticeably impact daily life. Eventually, however, all cataracts require surgery to correct.

When the time is right, you can review your surgical options with your eye physician and schedule your surgery. Depending on availability, the time from decision to procedure is generally less than a few weeks.

Cataract Surgery Procedure

You’ll likely be asked to arrive at the eye surgery center early in the morning on the day of your procedure. You will complete some paperwork and be prepped for surgery. Assuming you choose laser-assisted cataract surgery, once inside the operating room, the surgeon will use the computer to precisely map your eye’s surfaces. This takes very little time. A laser will then be used to make a tiny incision. The old, damaged lens is broken up and removed, and a new artificial lens implanted. The whole procedure takes just a few minutes. 

Of course, it’s always far more important to complete the procedure effectively than quickly, so that will be your eye surgeon’s focus.

Recovery Time

Immediately following surgery, you will spend about 30-60 minutes in a recovery room to allow your eye(s) to adjust. Many patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. Still, you will need someone to drive you home. It’s recommended that most patients wear an eye shield on-and-off for a few days. Depending on how quickly your eyes adjust, and in lieu of any complications, you may see clearly within a few hours or it may take a week or two.

If you believe you or someone you love may have cataracts, contact us today to schedule your consultation with North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care.

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What is Wrong with Santa’s Eyesight?

by Damion Wasylow 28 November 2016 08:10 AM

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Why is it that every time we see Santa Claus, he’s wearing eyeglasses? It’s safe to assume there aren’t any licensed opticians at the North Pole, but what could be the cause of his seemingly poor eyesight?

Well, here are a couple of theories… 

Environmental Factors

The eyes are delicate structures. Many environmental factors can interfere with proper functioning. It may be constant exposure to the Arctic’s cold, dry winds. Or it could be allergies. Perhaps Santa is allergic to reindeer dander. These types of influences can lead to dry eye syndrome. Another common cause of dry eyes is meibomian gland dysfunction. Of course, age, medications and medical conditions can also play roles.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

As people get older, the macula (the part of the retina responsible for your central vision) tends to break down. Macular degeneration results in reduced capacity to interpret fine details. So, if Timmy got a boy duck, instead of the toy truck on his wish list, Santa’s macular degeneration could be to blame. Santa may be dealing with haziness, blurriness, dark areas, less vivid colors and more. So, come on, cut Santa a break, and enjoy your duck. 

Cataracts

Santa is no spring chicken. Estimates put him at 1,746 years old. That’s way beyond the age at which most Americans develop cataracts. By age 80, more than half of all Americans experience cataracts. By the year 2020, studies estimate more than 30 million Americans will have cataracts. So, Santa likely has cataract symptoms including cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, halos, light sensitivity and more. No wonder he relies on his elves for much of the detail work. 

This holiday season, have a heart. Make sure to write your wish lists in big letters and maybe keep a light on near the tree for old Saint Nick. We’re all getting older and our eyes are aging along with us.

If you could use a fresh eye exam leading into the New Year, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today

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Identifying Vision Loss in Elderly Relatives

by Damion Wasylow 28 November 2016 07:56 AM

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With the holidays fast approaching, you’ll likely spend more time with your parents, grandparents or other relatives in coming weeks. Besides being a great opportunity to catch up, share stories and create new memories, it’s also a chance to observe their health. Older relatives can sometimes be reluctant to admit when physical abilities such as eyesight begin to weaken or fail.

Watch for these warning signs… 

Clarity Issues

If mom, dad or grandma always enjoyed reading the daily paper, but now toss it aside, it could be because they can no longer read it comfortably. Ask questions: why aren’t you reading the paper, is the type too small, does it seem cloudy, etc. Follow up with questions about their ability to drive and interpret street signs and lights. Cataracts symptoms often include halos that make traffic lights hard to read.

Balance

Poor eyesight often leads to impaired balance, stumbles and even life-threatening falls. Elderly people may be quick to dismiss these incidents as just part of getting older, but proper vision care could improve their ability to successfully navigate their home and life. If a family member seems less stable on his or her feet, remember it could be related to vision, and schedule an eye exam.

Frustration

Failing eyesight often leads to crankiness in the elderly. Vision is the sense many people rely on most for daily activities. When it fades with age, frustration and poor attitude naturally follow. This can impact every aspect of life and relationships, especially if the individual is slow to admit to having impaired vision. Watch for signs, ask questions and lend a compassionate ear. Many people prefer to seem in control rather than admit their body is failing. Don’t allow loved ones to suffer in silence.

If someone you care about may have a vision issue, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule a consultation.

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North Florida Cataract Specialists Featured on TV20 Your Health

by Damion Wasylow 1 November 2016 11:23 AM

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By the year 2020, medical experts estimate more than 30 million Americans will have cataracts. So, it’s not surprising that cataract treatment information is of great interest to the public and news media alike. ABC affiliate, WCJB TV20, recently featured North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care in a “Your Health” news segment to shed some light on cataracts.

A cataract is clouding of the eye’s natural lens resulting from a build up of proteins. As new cells form, existing cells are compacted together. The damage is permanent and continually robs patients of their vision over time.

For the segment, “Your Health” interviewed Sally Thompson, a North Florida Cataract and Vision Care patient from Gainesville, who shared the challenges she faced with cataracts, and how Dr. Gregory Snodgrass helped her see clearly again. 

Thompson told “Your Health” that cataract symptoms made many aspects of life difficult, including driving. “Traffic lights or oncoming headlights, there’s a huge glow around it. Like a halo or a burst of a starburst of light around it.”

Halos are a common cataract symptom, along with cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, glare, light sensitivity and lens discoloration. Symptoms may be minor early on, but inevitably get worse. An ophthalmic evaluation is required to accurately diagnose the progression of cataracts.

Dr. Snodgrass explained that surgery is the only effective treatment option to permanently correct cataracts. “The only way to correct that, ultimately, is to remove the cloudy lens, and replace it with a clear, intraocular lens implant. And then, the cataract will not return.”

Following her diagnosis, Thomson opted for laser-assisted cataract surgery. She said the experience was simple and painless. “It’s the easiest thing you could ever imagine. I’ve had more pain with a paper cut. I had the surgery in the morning. I was out by noon. I went home and took an hour nap and I went back to work. I worked until 5:30 that day." 

Faster recovery is a primary reason many patients like Thompson choose laser-assisted cataract surgery versus traditional cataract surgery. Laser-assisted cataract surgery produces less eye trauma, and thus, fewer trauma-related side effects. Many patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. And both the surgery and recovery are pain-free.

Contact North Florida Cataract Specialist and Vision Care today to schedule your consultation.

Screen capture courtesy of WCJB TV20.

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