A Clearer View

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

Is it Dry Eye Syndrome or Just Sore Eyes?

by dwasylow 7 March 2016 13:21 PM

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If you’re reading this through red, painful, scratchy eyes, you likely wonder if you need medical treatment or if the symptoms can be addressed with over-the-counter remedies. The first clue is the duration and frequency of symptoms.

Anyone can suffer from eye soreness now and then. Sometimes, it’s as simple as an irritant making its way between the eye and the eyelid. Other times, it might be excessive eyestrain from staring at a computer monitor, or the result of environmental factors like dust or smoke. In instances such as these, over-the-counter treatments may provide short-term relief.

When symptoms are severe, or persist or return regularly, however, it’s important to schedule a consultation with your eye doctor. You may have dry eye syndrome, requiring medical care to accurately diagnose and treat.

Dry eye syndrome can be brought on by a number of factors including age, hormonal changes, medications and more. Dry eye symptoms often include stinging or burning, scratchiness, grittiness and excessive tearing, among others.

One of the most common causes of dry eye syndrome is meibomian gland dysfunction. When working properly, meibomian glands that line the rim of the eyelid produce oil that mixes with naturally occurring tear liquid to coat and protect the eye. These glands can become blocked, however, disrupting the composition of tear film and leading to dry eye irritation.

At Gainesville Eye Physicians, we offer LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation to treat meibomian gland dysfunction. Lipiflow is an FDA-approved therapy that takes just 12 minutes to administer in the office. It uses mild heat and gentle pressure to liquefy clogged oils and removes them from the glands, often providing dry eye relief for up to two years.

If you or a loved one suffers with dry eyes, contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today for a diagnostic appointment. We’ll evaluate your dry symptoms and recommend a course of treatment to bring you long-lasting relief.


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Is Surgery the Only Option for Cataracts?

by dwasylow 2 March 2016 11:59 AM

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If you or a loved was recently diagnosed with cataracts, you’re curious about your cataract treatment options. Few people look forward to surgery of any kind, so it’s natural to wonder if surgery is your best – or only – option when it comes to cataracts.

The short answer is, yes, and here is why…

Cataracts are caused by a build up of proteins on the eye lens. It can happen to one eye or both, and most frequently results from aging. New cells then form on the outside of the lens, compacting the existing cells, producing clouding and blurring of the lens. This damage is permanent.

Since the lens is permanently compromised, the only option to correct a patient’s vision is replacing the damaged natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens. And that means surgery.

In cataract surgery, a tiny incision is made in the eye, and a small probe is inserted. That probe delivers ultrasonic energy (sound waves) to break the impaired lens into tiny pieces. A second probe is then inserted to vacuum out the resulting pieces. An artificial lens is moved into position and the incision is closed.

Today, many patients opt for laser-assisted cataract surgery. Using a specialized laser guided by detailed computer mapping allows for a more precise incision. Technology like the LenSx laser-assisted cataract system also requires less ultrasonic energy to dissolve the affected lens. This results in less trauma to the eye and quicker recovery.

Artificial lenses are not susceptible to cataracts, meaning that following surgery, cataracts cannot return. Successful cataract surgery is a permanent solution to cataracts. With approximately 3 million cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. each year, the success rate nationwide is more than 98%.

You don’t have to suffer with cataracts. Contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today to schedule a consultation and determine if now is the right time to surgically treat your cataracts. We’ll gladly answer any questions you have, discuss your specific needs and outline your cataract treatment options.

At Gainesville Eye Physicians, we’re here to help you see clearly again.


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Cataract Surgery: A Patient’s Experience

by dwasylow 17 December 2015 12:12 PM

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The prospect of surgery can raise many concerns. At Gainesville Eye Physicians, we believe the best way to put those fears to rest is hearing from someone who has experienced it firsthand. With that in mind, we offer Phil D.’s story…

Over the course of a few months, Phil started noticing the lights in his home and office seemed dim. He constantly felt like the lenses in his glasses needed cleaning. Before long, he was bumping into the corners of tables, cutting his fingers in the kitchen and even suffered a series of falls. Night driving was also a challenge.

Gainesville Eye Physicians diagnosed Phil with cataracts and reviewed his treatment options. He elected for surgery with Dr. Snodgrass as his physician, saying he’s, “a surgeon with many years of experience with an excellent reputation who does a large number of these surgeries.”

He was meticulously measured for the right intraocular lens replacement.

“The pre-op preparation was simply incredible,” says Phil. “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.”

Phil underwent cataract surgery with IV anesthesia. He was awake throughout, and describes the surgical procedure itself as, “anticlimactic.” We love hearing that, because it means everything went smoothly and the patient was comfortable from start to finish.

“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 of an injury back when I was in high school.”

Phil was home that afternoon, and returned to work the next day. He even read the newspaper that morning.

He later had a second surgery to replace the cataract-affected lens in his other eye, returning his total vision to pre-cataract quality.

Following surgery, Phil never has to worry about developing cataracts again. He’s cataract-free and loving his improved view of the world.

“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,” says Phil.

If you or a loved one suffers with cataracts, contact Gainesville Eye Physicians to schedule a consultation.


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Dr. Snodgrass Invited to Join International Association of HealthCare Professionals

by dwasylow 30 November 2015 13:04 PM

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The International Association of HealthCare Professionals (IAHCP) recently announced the addition of Gainesville Eye Physicians’ own Dr. Gregory Snodgrass to its prestigious membership. As a result, Dr. Snodgrass will soon be published in The Leading Physicians of the World, a journal that “selects and documents biographies of medicine’s brightest minds.”

The IAHCP is a community of elite healthcare providers that promotes professional interaction, ideas exchange, education and empowerment. Its membership is comprised of professionals from more than 30 different medical specialties and associations. Through their collection of exclusive publications and websites, IAHCP provides healthcare providers a platform to share insights and connect with fellow professionals around the world.

Dr. Snodgrass has practiced medicine for 27 years, providing comprehensive state-of-the-art ophthalmology diagnosis and treatments. In addition to eye exams and general vision care, Dr. Snodgrass specializes cataract surgery and dry eye treatment.

Dr. Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries, bringing renewed vision to thousands of patients across North Central Florida. As the area’s first physician to use the LenSx laser-assisted cataract system, he delivers an unsurpassed level of care. Laser-assisted surgery is more precise, pain-free and requires less recovery time than traditional cataract surgery. Patients often experience improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

Dr. Snodgrass and Gainesville Eye Physicians recently launched their Dry Eye Center of Excellence, a specialty segment dedicated to providing the highest-quality care for patients with dry eye syndrome. LipiFlow is among the practice’s most popular dry eye treatment options. An in-office treatment, LipiFlow unblocks meibomian glands along the eyelid to restore normal eye lubrication. In studies, 79% of patients reported improvements in dry eye symptoms following LipiFlow treatment.

If you or a loved one needs the best eye care available, contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Snodgrass, or any of our expert team of ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. We’re here to bring you a clearer view.

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Are Cataracts Treatable?

by dwasylow 20 November 2015 14:07 PM

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If you or someone you love has cataracts, you likely wonder if they’re treatable, or if you’ll suffer with this condition the rest of your life. Good news – cataracts can be treated, and your vision restored, potentially even making your vision better than prior to your first cataract symptoms.

Cataracts most often occur as a natural result of aging. As we get older, tissues within the eye lens break down and clump together. Over time, the increased thickness and spread of these cell layers creates clouding and impaired vision. But just because it’s a natural occurrence doesn’t mean cataracts are something you have to live with.

The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgically replacing the natural eye lens with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens (IOL).

During cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist makes a small incision in the eye and then inserts a tiny probe. The probe uses ultrasonic energy (sound waves) to break up the dysfunctional lens. The resulting pieces are then suctioned out using a second probe. A final probe, this one holding the new intraocular lens, is carefully maneuvered through the incision and the artificial lens is put in position.

Cataract surgery may be conducted using traditional surgical techniques or laser-assisted methods. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is more precise and uses less ultrasonic energy, reducing trauma to the eye. That makes the surgery pain-free, stitch-free and dramatically cuts down on recovery time. Many patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

Beware false promises from so-called cataract eye drops. There is no evidence they work. Medical studies actually show they have no positive impact on cataract development or symptoms. In fact, they can do harm, as patients’ vision continually degrades as they hope for miracle results. Restating what we said before, the only proven treatment for cataracts is surgery.

If it’s time to overcome cataracts and see clearly again, schedule a consultation with Gainesville Eye Physicians. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass was the area’s first physician to use the LenSx laser cataract surgery system, and has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries in his career. Our friendly staff will evaluate your cataract symptoms and work with you to review treatment options and timeline. We look forward to meeting with you soon.


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Can smoking cause dry eyes?

by dwasylow 6 November 2015 14:11 PM

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Need another reason to quit smoking? How about dry, irritated eyes? Millions of Americans suffer from dry eye syndrome, and smoking is among the leading environmental factors. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to suffer from chronic dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye syndrome results when the structures of the eye fail to produce sufficient tears – or the right mixture of tear elements – to effectively lubricate the eye surface. Dry eye symptoms include gritty feeling, redness, stinging and general discomfort among others.

As a known eye irritant, tobacco smoke can contribute to dry eye syndrome. A Banskent University study found tobacco smoke breaks down the lipid layer of tear film, leading to dry eye symptoms. The effects often extend beyond the smoker to friends and loved ones via second-hand smoke.

Of course, dryness isn’t smoking’s only negative impact on the eyes. Smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts and three times as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. Additionally, studies show smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy.

While quitting smoking may help reduce your dry eye symptoms over time, it’s a good idea to schedule an eye exam to explore the root cause of your specific dry eye ailment. Through our Dry Eye Center of Excellence, Gainesville Eye Physicians offers a number of dry eye treatments, including LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation for patients with evaporative dry eye disease.

Evaporative dry eye generally results when meibomian glands in the eyelids are blocked, preventing them from yielding necessary oils as part of tear film. With LipiFlow treatment, the physician applies controlled heat and light pressure to unclog glands and return normal function. The positive results can last up to two years.

The takeaways here are: if you smoke, quit today, and if you have dry eyes, schedule an appointment with Gainesville Eye Physicians. Our friendly staff will work with you to diagnose the cause of your dry eye symptoms and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Contact us today at 352-373-4300. Relief from dry eyes may be just a phone call away.


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The Importance of Cataract Surgery for Patients with Dementia

by dwasylow 6 November 2015 14:02 PM

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As we age, systems of the body naturally degrade, from the sore knees of your 40’s to the diminished hearing of your 60’s. Vision is no different. By age 80, more than half of all Americans develop cataracts. When you add dementia to the mix, quality of life can be seriously impaired.

At least five million Americans suffer from age-related dementia, most of which also have cataracts. Often, these individuals and their families are reluctant to seek treatment for their vision impairment. They may think cataract surgery will be too involved, or simply write off the vision loss as part of growing older.

Research by Case Western University provides compelling evidence of the value of cataract surgery for patients with dementia. The study found that renewed vision dramatically improved quality of life for both the patient and caregivers.

In addition to improving visual acuity, patients demonstrated a decline in behavioral symptoms. Researchers observed that timely cataract surgery even slowed the rate of cognitive decline, reduced neuropsychiatric symptoms and lessened caregiver stress.

“These preliminary results indicate that improved vision can have a variety of benefits for people with dementia and their loved ones, both visual and non-visual,” says principal investigator Alan J. Lerner, MD.

Poor vision impairs an individual’s ability to effectively navigate the world around him or her, potentially leading to injury and often resulting in increased reliance on caregivers.

According to Maria Carrillo, PhD, vice president, medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association, “if a person with dementia falls because they can't see properly and has to be hospitalized because of a broken hip bone, they may never recover. In addition, vision loss is very socially isolating. I don't think people really understand that healthcare in general is a very important part of quality of life for people with dementia. This not only helps the patient, it also helps the family.”

If you or a loved suffers from dementia and cataracts, there’s hope. Contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today to discuss your cataract treatment options.

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Long-Term Effects of Dry Eye

by dwasylow 7 October 2015 11:28 AM

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Tens of millions of Americans suffer from dry eye. With stinging and burning, redness, grittiness and other symptoms, dry eye is among the most common complaints for eye patients. For some, these symptoms come and go, but untreated, long-term dry eye syndrome can cause serious, irreparable vision impairment.

Dry eye results when the eyes lack necessary tear film to keep the surface of the eyes lubricated. Several things can cause dry eye including environmental factors and malfunction of the structures responsible for producing tear elements, such as the meibomian glands.

Without sufficient tear film, irritation can translate to scratches on the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface in front of the iris. The cornea is a critical component of the eye, protecting it from dust, germs and other dangerous elements. The cornea is also responsible for screening out harmful UV rays.

Over time, corneal scratches due to dry eye can produce scarring and result in permanent vision loss. In extreme cases, the entire eye can be lost.

It’s important to be examined by an eye doctor when dry eye symptoms persist for more than a couple days or when symptoms worsen. Your physician will perform a series of simple tests to diagnose dry eye and will prescribe a treatment plan based on your specific needs.

In many cases, the root cause is evaporative dry eye disease, in which the meibomian glands are underperforming or blocked. When functioning properly, these glands along the eyelid produce oils that are vital for healthy tear film.

Your eye physician can address evaporative dry eye disease using a non-surgical treatment called LipiFlow. With LipiFlow, warmth and gentle compression are combined to unblock meibomian gland ducts, restoring the natural flow of crucial oils. This is often enough to eliminate dry eye symptoms. In fact, 86% of patients experience relief after treatment.

If you suspect you have dry eye syndrome, schedule an appointment with Gainesville Eye Physicians today. With offices in Gainesville, Tioga Town Center, Lake City and Melrose, Dr. Gregory Snodgrass and his team are conveniently located to serve patients throughout North Central Florida.

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Cataract Surgery – Laser vs Traditional

by 352admin 7 October 2015 11:20 AM

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If you or someone you love suffers from cataracts, you’re probably wondering which surgery option is best, laser-assister cataract surgery or traditional. At Gainesville Eye Physicians, we offer patients both options. Here’s what you should know…

Procedure

With conventional (traditional) cataract surgery, the physician makes an incision by hand, relying on his experience, expertise and steady hand to cut a perfect slit in the cornea. He then inserts a small probe to break up the affected lens using ultrasonic energy. A second probe vacuums out the resulting pieces. An artificial intraocular lens is inserted through the incision and manually moved into position. Stitches are applied to close the incision. Weeks later, during a return visit, those stitches are removed.

With LenSx laser-assisted cataract surgery, micro-imaging cameras map the surface of the eye. The surgeon uses this data to pinpoint the best location for the corneal incision. A computer-guided laser makes a cut significantly more accurate than even the most sure-handed surgeon. LenSx then uses less than half as much ultrasonic energy to dissolve the lens. After the broken up pieces of lens are removed, the computer guides an injector through the original incision to precisely place the replacement lens. The incision is self-sealing, so no stitches are required.

Recovery

Traditional cataract surgery patients are generally released to go home within a few hours of the procedure. Side effect variety and severity vary depending on how well the surgery is performed and whether any complications develop during surgery. In most cases, patients experience some discomfort in and around the eye for a few days. During this time, patients may also notice blurred vision, a feeling of grittiness, mild headache and itchy or sticky eye.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery and recovery are pain-free. As mentioned prior, the LenSx system requires less ultrasonic energy to break up the affected lens. This results in less trauma to the eye and fewer trauma-related side effects. Patients often report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

Cost

Laser-assisted surgery generally costs patients a few hundred dollars more per eye than traditional cataract surgery. After all, the state-of-the-art hardware and software necessary to perform laser surgery cost eye care practices hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the additional cost of laser-assisted surgery is rarely covered by health insurance, most surgeons and patients agree it is well worth it for the benefits of reduced side effects and improved recovery time.

Schedule your consultation with Gainesville Eye Physicians today to discuss your cataract surgery needs and options. We will work with you to find the right treatment for your lifestyle and budget.

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Diagnostic Tests for Dry Eye Syndrome

by dwasylow 31 August 2015 13:50 PM

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Dry eye syndrome can be extremely uncomfortable. Sufferers often experience burning, itching, watering eyes, grittiness and more. When we meet with these patients at Gainesville Eye Physicians, talking through the symptoms is usually enough to identify dry eye syndrome as the culprit. Accurately diagnosing the underlying cause of dry eye, however, requires testing.

Here are our most common diagnostic tests for dry eye syndrome…

TearLab Osmolarity

An important indicator of eye health is osmolarity, the amount of salt in the tear film. Too much salt means the watery part of the tear film is drying up, leaving excess salt behind. With the TearLab Osmolarity system, we take a small sample of your tears and quickly know your exact salt concentration. Regular osmolarity testing helps us track the severity of your dry eye and evaluate which treatments have the best results.

LipiView II with Dynamic Meibomian Imaging

Healthy eyes have a coating of lipids (oils) to keep them moist. These oils are produced by meibomian glands in the eyelids. Insufficient oil production can lead to evaporative dry eye syndrome. LipiView II allows us to evaluate the thickness of the lipid layer while simultaneously assessing the structure and function of the meibomian glands. At Gainesville Eye Physicians, LipiFlow is our preferred treatment for evaporative dry eye disease.

Manual Meibomian Gland Expression

When too little oil exists in the lipid layer, it’s often because some of the meibomian glands are clogged. The oils within can be too thick to flow naturally. To evaluate this, the doctor will gently press on your lower eyelids to manually squeeze out some of the oils. He will be able to tell how many of the glands are clogged while also seeing the consistency of the meibum, the oil they produce.

Lid Seal Test

Some people’s eyelids don’t close completely when they sleep. Even a small gap can allow in air and cause drying, especially for those who sleep with a fan on or use a CPAP machine. A simple evaluation allows us to determine if this is the case for you. If so, moisture chamber goggles may provide relief.

RPS Detector's InflammaDry

Many patients with dry eye have an enzyme called MMP-9 (Matrix Metalloproteinase-9) in their tears. Presence of this marker is a crucial piece of information to point us in the right direction for your treatment. We introduce a small tear sample from the inner lining of your lower eyelid into RPS Detector’s InflammaDry system and within 10 minutes have a definitive result.

If dry eyes cause you discomfort, schedule a consultation with Gainesville Eye Physicians today. We specialize in dry eye treatment and would be honored to include you on our list of satisfied patients.

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