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Fall Colors for the Color Blind?

This is a guest post by Dr. K. W. Scarbrough, an optometrist who practices in Woodinville, WA. You can find more about her at Eagle Eye Vision Care. As the leaves are turning from green to golden and red here in Florida, I thought this was a great time to talk about color vision problems. – Dr. Nate

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Fallen Leaves Via mksfly/Flickr

Fall is full of beautiful reds, golds, and oranges of autumn, wonderful to see! People in your life who are color blind might not be as impressed, however. The most common form of color blindness causes confusion between red and green which means a reduced appreciation for the turning leaves.

Color blindness affects 7% of males but very few females. It is a genetic glitch which passes from the father, to the unaffected (carrier) daughter, then potentially on to her sons. The severity of color blindness can vary from mild, causing trouble matching socks, to total black-and-white vision. Acquired color blindness can be the result of eye or brain disease such as retinitis pigmentosa, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis and should be investigated quickly. Some medications can cause changes in color perception, for example Plaquenil for rheumatoid arthritis and Viagra for erectile dysfunction.

The eye of a person born color blind is healthy but not all portions work well. The cells responsible for color perception are called cones and are located only in our central vision. These cones come in three types—red, green, and blue. When a certain cone does not function fully it is called an “anomaly” and when it fails to function at all is called an “anopia”.

The most common form of color blindness is deuteranomaly or “green weak”. Color intensity perception is normal but green in low light appears black. For those with the second most common form of color blindness, protanomaly, red looks pale green. The more extreme versions of color blindness, anopias, cause red, orange, and yellow to look the same, and violet, blue, and purple to appear identical.

For the color blind there are many daily frustrations: weather maps, graphs, traffic and warning lights, wiring, cooking, and fashion. Color blind men have a difficult time seeing subtle difference between a woman with blue or green eyes and red or blond hair. Even eating for color blind people is different—instead of being a feast for the eye they often see salads and vegetables as an unappealing brown hodgepodge.

However, many males are unaware of having challenges with color vision until they fail a color vision test. The vision test most used is the Ishihara test created in 1917. The test has pages with dots of specific red and green shades which to a normal eye and a color vision eye look different. For instance, a normal eye might see a “72” but a color deficient eye might see “54” or no number at all. Internet versions of this test are available but are not as sensitive.

Early testing helps parents and their sons to understand difficulties with detection and naming of certain colors. Some careers such as sailing, flying, surveying, trucking, and electrical can require accurate color perception for safety. Boys should be evaluated early so reasonable career counseling can take place. There is no current cure for color blindness. Wearing a red contact lens can make greens and reds easier to distinguish but is usually cosmetically unacceptable and does not create true color perception. Gene therapy has worked to eliminate color blindness in some monkeys.

What I Learned at Barcamp…a Social Media Internet Marketing Grass Roots Organization

This is a guest post from Rae Catanese. I first met her at the American Optometrist Association meeting in Orlando. She was doing an excellent job providing social media exposure for an optical equipment supplier. Since then I have seen her several times at Tampa social media events, including BarCamp Tampa Bay. When she offered to write a guest post about BarCamp, I jumped at the chance! Enjoy! – Dr. Nate

What is Barcamp?

Barcamp Tampa started 3 years ago and has evolved into a community in itself. Barcamp isn’t what it sounds like. No beer, at least not until after the conference. Barcamp is a grass roots movement created to change the way the world interacts with people. It’s a like-minded community of social media, savvy internet marketing professionals and geeks, coming together to share information. This isn’t your typical conference, it’s an “unconference,” which means that there are presentations throughout the day but they are done by willing attendees instead of invited speakers.

How one idea spread throughout the World using Foursquare…

What is Foursquare? Foursquare is a location based application used as a check-in tool at businesses utilizing GPS technology on your cell phone.

One of most recognized Optometrists in Tampa Bay, Nathan Bonilla-Warford, or just “Dr. Nate” as we call him, founded Foursquare Day. Dr. Nate was joined by several other savvy internet marketing colleagues, who didn’t know when they started the effort that it would have such an explosive impact viral marketing effect..

Foursquare Day was an idea to encourage the use of the application and to also promote local businesses. What happened in Tampa Bay didn’t stay in Tampa Bay. The grass roots effort spread virally throughout the world to 35 countries using social media tools like Facebook and twitter. McDonald’s caught on and joined the effort; the company reported that the Foursquare Day Campaign brought in 33% more foot traffic.

Dr. Nate is truly a pioneer in the eye care industry for strategic social media marketing and branding. He uses the technology in his own practice to increase awareness and promote sales events. If you don’t know what Foursquare is you can check out the application here It’s a great viral word of mouth marketing tool for restaurants and retail establishments.

Read more about how Foursquare Day got started You can also follow Nate on his Facebook Page if you’d like.

By Rae Catanese
Social Media Marketing Strategist

We love guest posts that are relevant to our audience. If you are interested, please let us know!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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5 Tips for Eye-Healthy Nutrition

This is a guest post by Dr. Hilla Abel, the Cheftometrist.

Most people would agree that vision is a precious sense, and maybe even one that we tend to take for granted. While serious eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease are on the rise, the good news is that science is helping us understand what we can do to protect our eyes as much as possible. One key strategy is eating well. Check out these tips to learn what foods are good for the eyes…

1. Eat plenty of colorful veggies and fruit. Choose a wide variety of vegetables and fruit to get in your eye-healthy antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, and get your fiber in too. Selecting produce like berries, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and broccoli helps insure that you get the spectrum of plant nutrients in your diet.

Steamed Kale photo by  Laurel Fan

Steamed Kale by Laurel Fan

2. Along with all your colorful veggies and fruit, pay special attention to include lots of leafy greens. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are high in lutein, which protects against macular degeneration and cataracts. When you eat lutein, it is literally sent to the macula and lens of the eye to protect these structures from light damage and oxidative damage. Lutein is really important for eye health!

3. Try to avoid white sugar and white flour as much as possible. White sugar and white flour contribute to a high glycemic-index diet, which has been shown to increase risk of macular degeneration and diabetes (which can lead to diabetic eye disease). Instead of eating so-called refined (i.e. processed) foods, choose the real deal: whole grains like brown rice, oats, and quinoa for your carbohydrates, and high-fiber foods like beans and vegetables.

4. Choose healthy fats. Our bodies need some fat from the diet, and it’s important for the fat that we consume to be of good quality. Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to protect against macular degeneration and are used to treat dry eyes. Try to regularly incorporate omega-3-rich foods like salmon, anchovies, sardines, and flax seeds in your diet. And while you’re increasing your consumption of omega-3’s and other good fats, be sure to also decrease your consumption of the poor quality fats found in processed foods.

5. Go exotic! A number of foods which have been known to be healthy according to ancient medical traditions have turned out to be scientifically beneficial. Turmeric is the yellow spice found in curries and has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits; early studies suggest that turmeric may have a role in preventing or treating eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and glaucoma. Green tea, of Chinese origin, packs in an incredible amount antioxidants, fights inflammation, and protects against sun damage. Chinese tradition has also taught us that goji berries (also known as wolfberies) are good for the eyes. Now, modern science has proven that goji berries are high in zeaxanthin, which protects the macula and lens along with lutein.

As you can see, eye-healthy eating is sensible, with many delicious foods working to protect your eyes. In addition to eating right, other eye-healthy strategies are wearing sunglasses, exercising regularly, not smoking, and getting regular eye exams. Your eyes are worth it!

A note for those of you with medical conditions… If you have any specific medical conditions that may relate to food, be sure to speak with your doctor before making changes in your diet. For example, people taking warfarin (Coumadin) should speak to their doctors before increasing their consumption of leafy green vegetables.

Dr. Hilla Abel is a practicing optometrist and a certified natural foods chef. For more eye-healthy recipes & tidbits, visit her blog at and follower her on Twitter at @Cheftometrist.

Guest Post: Your Child’s First Glasses

Today we have a guest post from a friend of mine, Dr. Janet Carter. I’ve known her online since I was in optometry school and have always enjoyed her insight and humor. I am glad she took me up on the offer to write a guest post and hope she considers blog herself. – Dr. Nate

OK, it’s happened. Your child came home from school with a note from the nurse saying she had difficulties with the vision screening. Or perhaps she is complaining of trouble seeing the blackboard or headaches reading. Or maybe a previously undiagnosed condition was discovered during her yearly eye examination. Regardless of the scenario, you have to face the fact that your child will soon be wearing glasses. Her success in doing so will greatly depend on your attitude towards this development.

The importance of your attitude in making sure your child has the proper vision correction begins before you even visit the optometrist. Tell your child what to expect during the visit, but don’t dwell on anything unpleasant. She may have her eyes dilated, but this needn’t be a cause for concern. The dilation drops that most optometrists use today are much gentler and not nearly as long-lasting in their effects as ones you may have experienced as a child. Let her know that her vision may be a little blurry afterwards, but it won’t be too bad. Try and schedule the visit on a day when there isn’t an important homework assignment or sporting event. Continue reading

Macular Degeneration: What You Should Know

Today we have a guest post from Randall V. Wong, M.D. He is an ophthalmologist who specializes in retinal disorders. He created both A Retina Eye Blog and Total Retina and writes for other websites as well. Dr. Wong is one of my favorite medical bloggers because of his ability to communicate complex subjects simply and clearly. – Dr. Nate

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a leading cause blindness. It is a disease that is usually diagnosed in those over 55, affects both eyes and is slowly progressive. Macular degeneration is also known as ARMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration).

Macular Degeneration Will Not Blind You

Macular degeneration can cause significant loss of central vision, but will not cause complete blindness as it does not affect the side, or peripheral, vision.

Thus, ARMD affects only central vision and may cause blurriness, distortion and non-moving black/grey spots in our vision. Legal blindness is possible.

The Macula is the Functional Center of the Retina

The macula is a small area of the retina. It measures about 1.5 mm x 1.5 mm and gives us our central vision, including reading, our best color vision and is the only place sensitive enough to give us “20/20” vision. When we stare at something small, we are moving our eyes so that the image of interest falls on our macula.

There Are Two Forms of ARMD: Wet and Dry

The two forms are differentiated by the presence of abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina. The abnormal blood vessels are called neovascularization.

The dry form does not have neovascularization and is usually more slowly progressive than its counterpart. Most patients have the dry form, but it is possible for the “dry” to become “wet.”

Both forms involve degeneration of the different layers of the macula.

Vitamins are NOT a Cure, But They Might Not Help Either

There are lots and lots of vitamins claiming to be good for macular degeneration, but only one formulation has ever been proven to have an effect. An NIH based study concluded that the so-called AREDS formula of vitamin reduced the risk of severe vision due to wet ARMD by 25% in those patients. Only those patients that were of medium to high risk derived any benefit.

Patients with dry macular degeneration or patients with low risk ARMD do not have any reason for taking the vitamins.

Supplements such as lutein, omega 3 fatty acids, Beta-carotene, etc. have never been truly proven to be effective and are presently under study by NIH. This study, the AREDS 2 Study, will be concluding in a few years.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of ARMD include blurry vision, distortion and dark/grey spots in your central vision. The dark/grey spots correspond to areas of the macula that have significant degeneration and are called “scotomas.” Scotomas are basically small blind spots.

For those of you already diagnosed, self-monitoring of your vision may be helpful by use of an Amsler grid. This is an inexpensive, yet sensitive method, for tracking any changes.

Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration

Treatments are available for the wet form of the disease and include laser treatment, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) and intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF medications. The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the better the outcome. Currently, anti-VEGF medications are a common way to treat wet ARMD.

There are presently no treatments for dry ARMD.

When To Call Your Doctor

In general, if you experience any sudden, persistent, changes in your vision, including distortion, please inform your eye doctor.

Any changes in your vision should be reported to your doctor. If a retina problem is suspected, a thorough, dilated exam of your pupils will allow the best view of the retina.

Further testing may be warranted to confirm the diagnosis.

It isn’t necessary to see a retina specialist, but more important that you be examined. If needed, your eye doctor may refer you to a specialist.

Randall V. Wong, M.D. is a retina specialist practicing in Virginia. Get the latest health info on diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

Spread the word!

Note – There are lots of great bloggers in Tampa and we’re going to begin showcasing their talents with periodic guest posts. This is a great way to further strengthen ties with the community. This first guest post is by Laura Petrolino of Flying Pig Communications. – Dr. Nate.

You visit the grocery store to find the cashier remembers your name and asks about the sick child you had come in last week to buy cough syrup for….

What do you do?

The manager at your favorite restaurant surprises you by giving you a complimentary lunch, for no reason other than as a thank you for your continued business…..

What do you do?

You go to have your hair cut by a new stylist, who not only takes you late and treats you rudely, but also leaves you with a Beatles inspired mop-top……..

What do you do?

Continue reading


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