A Clearer View

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

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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The 5 Most Common Eye Problems

by dwasylow 31 August 2015 13:44 PM

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People often ignore early signs of vision problems, hoping their eyesight will miraculously clear up. That’s not very likely. Early diagnosis of eye problems followed by professional treatment can help preserve or even improve your vision.

Here are five of the most commonly diagnosed eye conditions…

1. Cataracts

Clouding of the lens can eventually make seeing nearly impossible. Cataracts will not go away on their own, they will continually get worse. The only treatment option is surgery. At Gainesville Eye Physicians, we recommend the LenSx laser-assisted surgery system for many patients. Laser surgery generally improves recovery time, with patients reporting improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

2. Diabetic Retinopathy

The most common diabetic eye disease, retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. In early stages, the blood vessels leak fluid within the eye. Later, growth of abnormal blood vessels on the retina cause swelling and scar tissue that may cause the retina to detach, resulting in severe, irreversible vision loss. People with diabetes should have annual eye exams including retinopathy screenings.

3. Macular Degeneration

The part of the retina that allows you to see fine details is called the macula. It can degrade with age, causing everything from hazy vision to complete loss of central vision. Little can be done to improve vision once someone has age-related macular degeneration, but catching it early can slow its progress. So, be sure to get regular eye exams as you age.

4. Refractive Errors

When light passes through the cornea and the lens, it is bent – or refracted – to form the images we see. If that refraction is skewed, vision suffers. The most common reasons people wear glasses or contacts, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, are caused by refractive errors. Getting the ideal prescription lenses for your eyewear requires guidance from an expert, licensed optician. At Gainesville Eye Physicians, our optical department is among the best in Florida.

5. Glaucoma

Within the eye is liquid called aqueous humor that must be maintained at an appropriate pressure. Too much pressure due to glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma rarely shows symptoms early. By the time you notice symptoms – usually blind spots in peripheral vision – optic nerve damage is severe. The most common treatment is medicated prescription eye drops.

For all your vision needs, contact the friendly staff at Gainesville Eye Physicians. With four convenient offices, we serve all of North Central Florida. Schedule your appointment today.

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How Common are Cataracts?

by dwasylow 4 August 2015 12:52 PM

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If you or someone you love is experiencing cloudy or blurred vision, double vision, lens discoloration, light sensitivity, glare and/or halos, cataracts may be the cause. While you may find this news disheartening, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, cataracts are more common than you might think.

By age 80, more than half of all Americans have experienced cataracts. But cataracts aren’t exclusive to seniors. More than 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts. By the year 2020, it’s estimated more than 30 million Americans will have cataracts. Cataracts aren’t necessarily becoming more common; people are simply living longer, and cataracts tend to occur naturally with age.

So, if you suspect you have cataracts, what should you do about it?

Cataracts will not get better over time, they will only get worse. There are no prescription pills or over-the-counter cataract remedies. The only thing that can be done to correct cataracts is surgery. It’s scary, I know. No one wants to undergo surgery, particularly on your eyes. Don’t worry, with today’s technology, cataract surgery is painless and recovering your vision can happen in just a few hours.

The first thing to do is schedule an eye exam. An eye physician will be able to quickly diagnose whether you have cataracts and, if so, whether you need surgery at this stage. Surgery may not be necessary until cataracts directly impact your quality of life.

If surgery is called for, your eye physician will walk you through the surgical options. Laser-assisted cataract surgery will likely be recommended due to its reduced trauma, better prognosis and reduced recovery time. Technology like the LenSx laser-assisted cataract surgical system used by Dr. Gregory Snodgrass at Gainesville Eye Physicians delivers pain-free cataract surgery with outstanding results for a variety of patients.

If you or a loved one would like a cataract evaluation, contact us and schedule an appointment today.

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3 Things to Look for in a Cataract Surgeon

by 352admin 4 August 2015 12:48 PM

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Any type of eye surgery can be scary for a prospective patient. After all, these are your eyes we’re talking about, arguably the most sensitive part of the human body. Beyond being physically sensitive, the eyes provide our windows to the world. So, when it’s time for you to consider cataract surgery, you need to know the physician you choose is among the very best.

Taking these three areas into account will help you select the right physician for your cataract surgery needs.

Experience

Cataract surgery is delicate work, requiring expert touch to deliver ideal results. Look for a surgeon who has done multiple cataract surgeries – not dozens, but thousands. Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries. His experience gives him insight into the best ways to reduce trauma and speed healing. It also prepares him for any unforeseen challenges with your specific surgery. Odds are, if it can happen, he has seen it, and he knows how to address it.

Technology

Cataract surgery has come a log way through the years. Traditional surgical methods have largely been replaced by laser-assisted cataract surgery. Gainesville Eye Physicians uses the LenSx laser cataract system to deliver the most accurate surgical care available. The LenSx system allows the physician to map the eye in advance in order to make precise incisions. It also enables the surgeon to use as little ultrasonic energy as absolutely necessary to break up the cloudy lens and remove it. In most cases, the result is less recovery time and rapidly enhanced vision. Many patients report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room.

Compassion

No one likes feeling like they’re on an assembly line, especially when it comes to healthcare. You deserve to know your health, wellbeing and happiness are important to the doctor and his staff. At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, every patient is listened to, and we take time to answer your questions. We’re never in a rush to get you out the door, because we know that proper eye care can be a life changing experience. Dr. Snodgrass and his team are eager to get to know you and learn about your specific vision problems. And then solve them. Your needs come first at our practice.

If you need cataract care, or just think you may have a cataract issue, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today.

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Identifying the Onset of Glaucoma

by dwasylow 13 July 2015 13:47 PM

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Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. More than three million Americans currently suffer from the disease, which progresses gradually, often with no early symptoms.

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the pathway that carries images from the retina to the brain. Enough damage leads to blind spots, and as the damage increases, complete blindness. If glaucoma is not detected in the early stages, it can be too late.

So, if there are no early symptoms, how can you tell if you or a loved one is developing glaucoma?

The answer lies in having regular eye exams including glaucoma screenings. Proper screenings include eye pressure measurement, examination of the optic nerve, peripheral vision evaluation and review of corneal thickness.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends this routine screening schedule.

Age 20-29

Everyone – even those without any history of vision trouble – should have an eye exam at least once during this period. Young adults of African descent or those with a family history of glaucoma should be examined every 3-5 years.

Age 30-39

As we get a bit older, the frequency of eye exams should increase to at least twice during this period, or every 2-4 years for African-Americans and those with a family history of glaucoma.

Age 40-64

By age 40, everyone should be examined every 2-4 years.

Age 65+

Starting at 65, it’s wise to be examined every 1-2 years.

Optic nerve damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, but early diagnosis gives you and your eye doctor treatment options to slow further damage. Prescription eye drops may help lower pressure within the eye. Laser treatments and surgical procedures are possibilities for patients who do not respond well to drop therapy.

Contact Gainesville Eye Physicians today to schedule your eye exam and glaucoma screening. Being proactive is the best way to preserve your vision.

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Dispelling 5 Common Cataract Myths

by dwasylow 13 July 2015 13:42 PM

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Myth 1: Only older people develop cataracts

While it’s true that cataracts are most common in people over age 65, younger patients may also suffer from cataracts. In younger people, cataracts can be caused by environmental conditions such as extreme heat and exposure to UV rays, or by genetic and health issues including diabetes, heredity, myopia and certain medications. Babies are occasionally born with congenital cataracts.

Myth 2: Cataracts can grow back

Cataracts cannot grow back after they’re removed. After all, cataracts aren’t a growth, but a dying off of the cells of the lens. Once replaced with an artificial lens, there’s nothing to grow back. Months or years after surgery, however, some patients experience something called a “secondary cataract. The membrane behind the new intraocular lens implants may become cloudy. Your eye physician can simply and quickly correct this.

Myth 3: Aspirin prevents cataracts

Aspirin has a lot of important uses, but many Americans have grown to expect a little too much from this little wonder drug, including preventing cataracts. Studies have shown no correlation between taking aspirin and reduced risk of cataracts. In large doses, aspirin can actually have negative health effects, so be sure to consult your doctor before starting any aspirin regimen.

Myth 4: Close-up tasks make cataracts worse

Some patients incorrectly attribute cataract development to eyestrain from performing tasks that require up close vision. Cataracts are caused by a very specific list of factors, however, and focusing on items close up simply doesn’t make that list. Tasks like reading or sewing have no impact at all on developing or worsening cataracts. Performing these tasks may actually help a patient diagnose cataracts early, as they begin to require additional light.

Myth 5: Recovering from cataract surgery takes months

Modern cataract surgery options require less recovery time; this is especially true of laser-assisted cataract surgery. By reducing the amount of ultrasonic energy, there is less trauma to the eye. Patients often report improved vision while still in the recovery room. With the LenSx laser cataract surgical system, both the surgery itself and recovery are pain free.

Dr. Gregory Snodgrass of Gainesville Eye Physicians has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries, and was the first in our area to use the LenSx laser cataract system. Contact us today for a consultation to find out how Dr. Snodgrass and our staff can help improve your vision.

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What to Do When Mom has Cataracts

by dwasylow 13 June 2015 08:29 AM

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Helping a loved one deal with a medical condition is always tough. Guiding an aging parent through cataracts comes with a unique set of challenges. Denial is a common reaction to cataracts. So, how do you help your mom with her diagnose and treat this common ailment?

First, watch for cataract warning signs. Mom may not be quick to admit her eyesight is failing, but she may repeatedly complain that text is blurry and difficult to read. You may also notice she has particular trouble seeing at night, or that she’s especially sensitive to bright light. Odds are, she’ll attribute this to an outdated set of eyeglasses, but it’s definitely worth seeing an ophthalmologist to determine if cataracts are the real culprit.

That last part can definitely be easier said than done.

Getting mom to the eye doctor may require a little creativity. Odds are, she’s accustomed to just getting new glasses every few years from the same optical shop. Opticians play a valuable role in eye care – especially licensed opticians – but diagnosing and treating cataracts is best left to a specialist. Tell mom you’re concerned about her vision and it would just make you feel better if she saw an ophthalmologist. Offer to go with her. A little bonding time, right?

Once at the eye doctor, he or she will perform a series of simple, non-invasive tests to quickly determine whether cataracts are present and, if so, the severity of the condition. Early on, surgery may not be necessary, but when cataracts negatively impact quality of life, the surgery is the only effective treatment option.

Your ophthalmologist should explain all your surgical options. The right physician will take plenty of time talking through the pros and cons of the available options, including traditional and laser-assister surgery options.

For most patients today, laser-assisted cataract surgery is preferable. Technology like the LenSx laser-assisted cataract surgery system helps the surgeon be more precise, reducing trauma to the eye and improving recovery time. Laser-cataract surgery is painless, and patients often report improved vision before even leaving the recovery room. It’s outpatient surgery, meaning patients return home the same day.

If you suspect a loved one is dealing with cataracts, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gregory Snodgrass at Gainesville Eye Physicians. Dr. Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 cataract surgeries, and he’s a compassionate caregiver who will treat your family like his own.

Call Gainesville Eye Physicians in Gainesville, Tioga Town Center, Lake City or Melrose today.

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Why Do My Eyes Burn Every Day?

by dwasylow 13 June 2015 08:17 AM

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Few things impact quality of life quite like irritated, itchy, burning eyes. Thousands of Americans deal with painful eyes every day, and the causes vary. The most common, however, is dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye syndrome can result from a number of congenital (genetic) and environmental conditions. Symptoms commonly include a mix of excessive tearing, stinging or burning, scratchiness, mucus or “matter” in the eyes, redness, the feeling of a foreign body and/or general grittiness. You may also notice a decrease in vision quality.  

One of the most common causes of dry eye syndrome is evaporative dry eye disease. Evaporative dry eye disease occurs when the meibomian glands along the edge of the eyelid no longer produce adequate oils to help coat the surface of the eyes.

In healthy eyes, meibomian glands in the lower eyelids secrete a tiny amount of crucial oils that are then spread across the surface of the eye each time you blink. These oils mix with your natural tears to lubricate the eye. Without sufficient amounts of these oils, dry eye is inevitable.

In most cases of meibomian gland dysfunction, the glands are still producing the necessary oils, but the ducts that secrete the oils are blocked. Thankfully, modern treatment options make this condition simple to manage for dry eye sufferers.

Among the most popular and effective treatments for evaporative dry eye disease is LipiFlow. Available through select eye care practices, LipiFlow is a non-surgical treatment that uses a combination of warmth and compression to unblock meibomian glands. Once unblocked, the critical oils flow freely once again, often eliminating dry eye symptoms. Studies show that 86% of patients with evaporative dry eye disease experience relief after treatment with LipiFlow.

If you or someone you love suffers from dry eye syndrome, contact Gainesville Eye Physicians in Gainesville, Tioga Town Center, Lake City or Melrose. We’re here to help you with the best eye care options available, including LipiFlow for evaporative dry eye disease.

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Are Cataract Eye Drops for Real?

by dwasylow 5 May 2015 12:19 PM

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Living with cataracts can be extremely frustrating, driving some people to try unproven solutions to cure or limit their cataract formation. One such treatment is N-acetylcarnosine eye drops, often called carnosine eye drops, or simply cataract eye drops. These drops are promoted as an over-the-counter cure for cataracts. But do they work?

In a word, “no.”

Carnosine eye drop manufacturers claim their drops “dissolve” cataracts, but cataracts are not a substance, so there’s nothing to dissolve. Marketers of these eye drops also claim they can prevent cataract development, but cataracts are a natural part of eye aging, so that’s another false statement.

Sites selling cataract eye drops often showcase studies hyping their effectiveness, but beware of their fuzzy science. Most of these supposed “studies” were conducted and reported by the scientist who patented the treatment – meaning the guy with the most to gain by people buying his alleged cure.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any form of carnosine treatment for cataracts, and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in England finds no evidence to support the cataract treatment claims made by carnosine eye drop manufacturers.

We found this customer review on a site selling so called cataract eye drops…

“After 5 months of use, with hundreds of dollars spent on these drops, there was no hint that the cataracts were better, and my mother's ophthalmologist ran tests indicating they had actually gotten worse.”

There is only one effective treatment option for cataracts. Cataract-afflicted lenses must be surgically removed and replaced with artificial lenses. Thankfully, with the development of laser assisted cataract surgery options, patient outcomes are better than ever. With the LenSx laser surgery system we use at Gainesville Eye Physicians, patients often report improved vision before even leaving the surgical center.

To learn more about your cataract diagnosis and treatment options, schedule a consultation with Gainesville Eye Physicians today.

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