JANUARY IS NATIONAL GLAUCOMA AWARENESS MONTH

National Glaucoma Awareness Month is an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages. Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma, and experts estimate that half of them do not know they have it.

How does glaucoma affect your vision?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blind spots appear when glaucoma damages the fibers of the optic nerve. If the entire nerve is destroyed, you can become completely blind in that eye. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers that carry images to the brain. It is like an electric cable, with many wires bundled together.

When there is more damage to the optic nerve, larger blank spots begin to appear in your vision field. Many people do not notice these blank spots until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and these spots become large.

This unnoticed vision loss is why people with glaucoma or at risk of glaucoma should have regular eye exams.

Below is a Glaucoma Vision Simulator created by the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

New Year – New Health Goals

There is hope for future glaucoma patients. Although there is no cure for any form of glaucoma, early diagnosis and treatment can help control the disease and slow the process of vision loss or blindness. As you are writing your New Year goals, kickstart your New Year health goals, and add an eye exam to your priority list. Gainesville Eye Associates is your BEST resource for lifelong eye health. 

Schedule Your Appointment Today! 

770-532-4444

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Cheers to Eye Safety this New Year’s!

We are all looking forward to a fresh new start and ready to ring in the New Year with cheer! Every year it is that special time to celebrate with champagne but popping a bottle of bubbly comes with some risk. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a champagne cork can fly up to 50 mph as it leaves the bottle. Champagne cork accidents happen, and when a champagne cork flies, there is little time to react and protect your delicate eyes.

For a safe celebration, follow the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s simple tips on how to open a bottle of champagne properly:

  • Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or colder before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle, thereby increasing your severe eye injury chances.
  • Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders and hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood on the bottle.
  • Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
  • Twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45-degree angle to break the seal. Counter the force of the cork using downward pressure as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

View a video demonstration of proper champagne cork removal, and see how the force of a champagne cork can shatter glass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWeQ-08Ot4E

Potential eye injuries from a flying cork include the rupture of the eye wall, acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular bleeding, dislocation of the lens, and damage to the eye’s surrounding bone structure. In some cases, these injuries require emergency eye surgery or can lead to blindness in the damaged eye. Please celebrate safely and watch out for EYES when the champagne corks fly.

CHEERS!

It’s time to toast and clink carefully to avoid breaking any glasses. Here’s to celebrating responsibly! If you sustain an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from your eye doctor.

We wish you a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season from all the staff at Gainesville Eye Associates!

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Gifts to Avoid this Holiday Season

Some of the most popular toys this year may not be the best gift for your child. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about a quarter of a million children are seen in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. each year due to toy-related injuries. Nearly half of those injuries were to the head and face, including the eyes. And about 35 percent of toy-related injuries are sustained by children under age 5. Gainesville Eye Associates wants to remind parents and grandparents to shop with an EYE on SAFETY when choosing gifts for children.

Common toy-related eye injuries range from a minor scratch to the front surface of the eye (corneal abrasion) to serious, sight-threatening injuries such as traumatic cataractbleeding inside the eyeretinal detachment, and even permanent vision loss.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, here are a few toys to avoid this holiday season.

  • Avoid toys that shoot objects. This includes slingshots, dart guns, pellet guns, arrows, slingshots, and water balloon launchers. Closely supervise any child playing with such toys.
  • Avoid drones with spinning rotors. A drone offered this holiday to children age 12 and up has spinning rotor blades that move at high speed, posing a danger to eyes, fingers, and hair.
  • High-powered laser pointers can cause permanent vision loss. Though technically not a toy, some children use them to play “laser tag” or “flashlight tag.” Recent reports show that high-powered lasers (between 1500 and 6000 milliwatts) can cause permanent eye damage in children.
  • Avoid toy swords, sabers, or wands
  • Read labels for age recommendations before you buy. To select appropriate gifts suited for a child’s age, look for and follow the age recommendations and instructions about proper assembly, use, and supervision.

Give with JOY this holiday season with an EYE on SAFETY!

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Give the Gift of Healthy Vision

It is that magical time of the year, a season of giving and being merry! What a year we have had so far, where you might have placed your needs at the bottom of your to-do list. At Gainesville Eye Associates, we want to remind you to give yourself a gift that you will cherish for a lifetime – the gift of healthy vision.

As we age, we should be vigilant in watching for signs of age-related vision loss because early diagnosis is critical in preventing many sight-threatening conditions from progressing. We want our patients empowered with information that they can minimize their risks. Have you scheduled your comprehensive eye exam?

Eye Exam 101
A comprehensive eye exam is a painless procedure that can detect potentially sight-robbing conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, even before a patient experiences any symptoms. A comprehensive eye exam should cover the following: 

  • Medical history- assessed through questions about vision and family history.
  • Visual acuity – tested by reading a standardized eye chart.
  • Pupils – evaluated to determine how well they respond to light.
  • Eye movement – tested to ensure proper eye alignment and ocular muscle function.
  • Prescription for corrective lenses – evaluated to ensure proper vision correction.
  • Side vision – tested for possible vision loss and glaucoma risk.
  • Eye pressure – tested as a possible glaucoma symptom.
  • Front part of the eye – examined to reveal any cataracts, scars, or scratches on your cornea.
  • Retina and optic nerve – assessed through a dilated eye exam using special eyedrops, which allows your eye doctor to thoroughly examine the back of the eye for signs of damage.

Helping Your Vision Stay Healthy

Between those regular eye exams, there is a lot we can do in our daily lives to safeguard our eyesight. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses outside (no matter what season it is), stay active, eat healthy foods, and avoid harmful habits like smoking. Following these tips will greatly reduce many risk factors for eye diseases, let alone improving your overall health!

Give yourself the gift that does not come wrapped in a beautiful box but a gift that will be cherished for a lifetime – healthy vision. Do not delay or deny yourself a comprehensive eye exam.

Keep the holidays happier and healthier.

Smoking Can Lead to Eye Diseases & Vision Loss

Smoking Can Lead to Eye Diseases & Vision Loss

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that, while progress is being made, smoking and tobacco use remains a concern for the health of millions of Americans. Smoking causes itchy, watery eyes, which can be a nuisance, but more importantly, smoking escalates the risk for vision-threatening eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, smoking tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, or pipes) can cause lung disease, heart disease, cancer, and many other serious health problems. But did you know that smoking can also harm your eyes?  

The American Academy of Ophthalmology listed a few eye problems that are caused by smoking:

Dry Eye

Dry eye is when your eyes do not have enough—or the right kind of—tears. Smoking with dry Eye will make your eyes more likely to feel scratchy, sting, burn, or be red.

Cataracts

 If you smoke, you are at increased risk of getting cataracts. A cataract is clouding of your Eye’s naturally clear lens. It causes blurry vision and makes colors look dull, faded, or yellowish.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. You lose your central vision and cannot see fine details. But your peripheral (side) vision stays normal. Sometimes medicine or surgery can help certain people with AMD from getting worse, but there is no cure. Studies show that smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to get AMD than people who never smoked.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Smokers who also have diabetes risk getting diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is when blood vessels in the Eye are damaged. It causes blurry or distorted vision and possibly blindness. Treatment includes medication or surgery.

Optic Nerve Problems

People who smoke risk having optic nerve problems. The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain. Damage to this nerve can lead to blindness.

Smoking can increase risk factors, which can lead to glaucoma – a disease that affects the optic nerve.

Uveitis

Smoking can lead to a disease that affects the part of the eye called the uvea. This is the middle layer of the eye wall. Uveitis is when this layer becomes inflamed (red and swollen). This disease causes red-eye, pain, and vision problems.

Graves’ Disease

This is a disease of the body’s thyroid gland. One of the symptoms of Graves’ disease is bulging eyes. Smokers who have Graves’ disease risk having their eye condition get worse. They can also lose vision.

Secondhand Smoke

Toddlers and children are at risk from secondhand smoke—a new study suggests children as young as six years old already show signs of eye damage due to secondhand smoke.  

Are you trying to quit?

The American Cancer Society has helpful tips. The good news is that quitting smoking has immediate results on your health, and it’s never too late to stop! Once you break the habit, your body will begin to try and repair itself. 

We are dedicated to making sure you can see clearly!

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

We Are Grateful For Our Patients – Thank You!

This Thanksgiving season, it’s important to acknowledge the things we are grateful for in our lives.

Gainesville Eye Associates has the opportunity to touch so many people’s lives in such a unique way, and we see patients all the time who tell us how their eye care appointment has made a huge difference for them. From a boosted self-esteem to a clearer vision to see the world a little brighter, which has a powerful impact on daily life activities.

We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge one of the heartfelt “thank you’s” we have received. It’s kind words from patients like this that motivate and humble us. We are so grateful for all of our wonderful patients.

Thank You Note from a Patient

The Doctors and Staff of Gainesville Eye Associates,

I couldn’t have been more pleased with my cataract surgery experience. Just before surgery, Dr. Blehm came in to see if I had any questions, he was so pleasant and gave me such confidence. ALL of the office staff, and Dr. Blehm’s assistants are pleasant. At each step of the surgical procedure, an assistant explained what they were going to do, and it allowed me to be totally at ease and able to relax, The day after the surgery, a nurse called me to see how I felt and did I have any questions. I’m 84 years old and I cannot remember ever having anyone from a surgeon’s office call me after any of my surgical experiences. Dr. Blehm and his group are very caring medical people. I’d recommend anyone to Dr. Blehm and his medical assistants for eye surgery and care.

We are grateful for your trust, and by choosing our practice, you tell us that you trust us, even if you don’t say it explicitly. We are incredibly grateful that you believe in what we do, so much so that patients often refer others to our practice. We appreciate you for arriving at your appointment and sharing your positive experiences with others, and we work to show how thankful we are each and every day.

This Thanksgiving holiday, we want to let you know we are so thankful for each and every one of our patients, both past and current. We are so happy to help many people improve their daily lives and their eye health.

We wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Kitchen Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

The Thanksgiving holiday is almost here for us to celebrate with cheer! Although we may be celebrating the holiday differently this year, the favorite Thanksgiving dinner traditions will still live on for a happy holiday season. As we prepare our Thanksgiving nutritious meals, let’s take a look at a few eye safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to avoid common eye hazards to stay safe in the kitchen. Keep in mind, prevention is the best strategy. 

Hot grease can splatter and burn your eye

Hot cooking oil and grease can easily splash onto the eye and burn your cornea. This common injury can be avoided by wearing glasses or, at the very least, using a grease shield or lid on the pan. 

If hot grease splashes in your eye, immediately flush it with plenty of water. The water will remove the grease and any particles. Do not use anti-redness drops to rinse your eye.

Artificial tears may soothe your eyes after a small grease splash but see your eye doctor as soon as possible if there is apparent injury, excessive pain, or you are worried about your eye. You may be more susceptible to eye infections or other eye injuries while your eye is healing.

Watch out for bubbling sauces and splashing liquids

Any liquid that splashes in your eye can be uncomfortable. But food liquids may be especially dangerous. Fluids from food are often acidic and can cause your eyes to tear up and sting.  Some foods, like raw chicken liquid, contain bacteria that could cause an eye infection.  Simmering sauces can splash out of the pot and burn or blister your eye.

If this happens, flush your eye with plenty of water and see an eye doctor right away.

Spicy residues can stick to your fingers and end up in your eye

When you chop jalapeño peppers and use other spicy ingredients, your fingers retain oily residues that can end up in your eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly after preparing food. Or better yet, wear gloves while chopping vegetables and working with spices.

If pepper or spice oils end up in your eye, flush with plenty of water and then wash your eyelids and the area around your eye with baby shampoo. Never put any soap directly in your eye.

Cleaning chemicals can cause blinding eye injuries

Cleaning products are among the top eye hazards in the kitchen. You should always wear eye protection when working with cleaning chemicals. Bleach, oven cleaners, and other cleaning chemicals can cause serious, blinding eye injuries. If you get any cleaning products in your eyes, immediately flush with plenty of water and seek medical attention. The longer the exposure, the worse the damage can be.

Stay safe while using knives, scissors, and other sharps

Sharp objects are the third-most-common cause of eye injuries in kids. Sharp objects are the third-most-common cause of eye injuries in a kid. Be especially careful with knives, forks, scissors, and sharp objects when teaching young children to cook. 

Don’t slip! Keep floors clean and cabinet doors closed

Loose rugs, open cabinets, and liquid spills on the floor could be more of a hazard to your eyes than you realize. Falls are a top cause of eye injury in the United States. People 60 years old and older are especially prone to eye injuries from falls. Before you start cooking, make sure your kitchen is as safe for grandma as it is for the grandkids.

Contact Us With Eye Safety Questions

If you do injure yourself, tell your eye doctor right away. Head straight to the emergency room if you experience prolonged pain, redness, blurred vision, tearing, or a sensation that something is in your eye. If you are looking for additional advice on kitchen eye safety or would like to run your eye injury emergency plan by us, we will be happy to help!

Your Eye Safety Is Our First Priority!

770-532-4444

Source: The American Academy of Ophthalmology

Diabetic Retinopathy: What You Need To Know

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body. Diabetes can damage the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. It damages small blood vessels in the eye as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented. Early detection is key. It is critical that people with diabetes should get annual eye exams even before they have signs of vision loss. Studies show that 60% of diabetics are not getting the exams their doctors recommend.

What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a term for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes. Diabetic eye disease includes: 

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma

Let’s take a closer look at Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diabetic Retinopathy and DME are when the blood vessels in the back of the eye leak blood into the fluid that fills the eye, appearing as dark blotches in the field of vision. Our eyes attempt to compensate for the damaged blood vessels by growing new ones.

High blood sugar puts a serious strain on blood vessels, which is why diabetes is such a serious risk factor for retinopathy. If it advances far enough, diabetic retinopathy can become DME, which involves blurred central vision and can lead to retinal detachment and blindness. People who have diabetes or poor blood sugar control are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. The risk also increases, the longer someone has diabetes.

Click the link below to view a video about diabetic retinopathy:

Stages of Diabetic Eye Disease

There are two main stages of diabetic eye disease.

NPDR (non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy)

NPDR is the early stage of diabetic eye disease, which many people with diabetes have.

With NPDR, tiny blood vessels leak, making the retina swell. When the macula swells, it is called macular edema. This is the most common reason why people with diabetes lose their vision.

Also, with NPDR, blood vessels in the retina can close off. This is called macular ischemia. When that happens, blood cannot reach the macula. Sometimes tiny particles called exudates can form in the retina. These can affect your vision too.

PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy)

PDR is the more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease. It happens when the retina starts growing new blood vessels. This is called neovascularization. These fragile new vessels often bleed into the vitreous. If they only bleed a little, you might see a few dark floaters. If they bleed a lot, it might block all vision.

These new blood vessels can form scar tissue. Scar tissue can cause problems with the macula or lead to a detached retina.

PDR is very serious, and can steal both your central and peripheral (side) vision.                                                                                                                

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

You can have diabetic retinopathy and not know it. This is because it often has no symptoms in its early stages. As diabetic retinopathy gets worse, you will notice symptoms such as:

  • seeing an increasing number of floaters
    • having blurry vision
    • having vision that sometimes changes from blurry to clear
    • seeing blank or dark areas in your field of vision
    • having poor night vision
    • noticing colors appear faded or washed out
    • losing vision.

Take Steps to Protect Your Vision

To prevent eye damage from diabetes, maintain good control of your blood sugar. Follow your primary care physician’s diet and exercise plan. If you have not had an eye exam with an eye doctor, it is crucial to get one now. Be sure to never skip the follow-up exams that your eye doctor recommends. Call TODAY to schedule an appointment.

770-532-4444

Source: American Academy of Opthalmology

Protect Your Eyes from Macular Degeneration

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans over 50, affecting about 2.1 million people nationwide. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss. Gainesville Eye Associate are educating our patients about the facts on AMD.

AMD is a degenerative disease that happens when part of the retina called the macula is damaged. It’s the part of the eye that delivers sharp, central vision needed to see objects straight ahead. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities, such as driving, reading, and seeing faces clearly.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these six steps to help patients take control of their eye health:

  1. Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams. AMD often has no early warning signs, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an eye doctor is critical to diagnosing and treating eye disease in its early stages. We recommend that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 — the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. By age 65, we recommend getting an exam every year.
  2. Quit smoking. Numerous studies show smoking increases the risk of developing AMD and the speed at which it progresses. Smokers are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.
  3. Eat a well-balanced dietMany studies demonstrate that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce AMD’s risk. Research also suggests that patients who ate fresh fish, an essential source of omega-3s, were at lower risk of developing AMD.
  4. Exercise regularlyExercising three times a week can reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. Studies also show that physical activity may lower the odds of AMD’s early and late stages.
  5. Monitor your sight with an Amsler Grid. This simple, daily routine takes less than one minute and can help people with AMD save more of their vision. Using this grid is essential to finding any vision changes that are not obvious so that you can report them to your eye doctor.
  • Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition. Before your next eye exam, please speak with your family about their eye health history. You may need more frequent eye exams based on your family history.

If you can’t remember when your last eye exam, we can help you start your new eye exam appointment calendar today! Your eyes will be happier for it.

770-532-4444

Sources: American Academy of Ophthalmology