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Podcast Episode #3 – Vision Leads

Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.

“When vision is working well it guides and leads; when it does not, it interferes.”

—John Streff, OD, DOS, FCOVD, FAAO

Transcript:

  • [00:00:00] From hot hot hot Tampa, Florida this is the Bright Eyes podcast. This is episode number three which is all about Vision Leads. My name is Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford. I am not joined by my usual guest Dr. Beth Knighton. So before we get to the main topic of the show today I want to mention one quick thing. I’m recording in the same exam room which is the blue exam room at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care. But you might notice that the sound quality is just a little bit different. First of all, it’s just me. And second of all, I have a different type of microphone, constantly trying to improve the sound of the show. And so if you have any feedback, positive, negative, or otherwise, just send it to office@BrightEyesTampa.com.
  • [00:00:49] On to the main topic of the show, which is Vision Leads. When I was a student when I was a resident in Optometry, I got to learn from many wise and experienced influential Optometrists and I was lucky enough to see one of them, Dr. John Streff, lecture twice in my career. Dr. Streff was such a warm and generous person who was fascinated by patients and he genuinely wanted to help patients improve their overall quality of life. This topic I think really gets to one of the things that we mentioned briefly in the last episode when we were talking about the differences between Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, and that is how do we think about vision and how do we think about how it affects people’s everyday lives. Dr. Streff is remembered for many different things. But one of the things that he’s remembered for is this quote which I’m going to have Sara from my office read.
  • [00:02:03] Quote by optometrist John Streff. When vision is working well it guides and leads. When it does not it interferes.
  • [00:02:10] I love this quote because it explains a lot about how optometrists approach patients and their vision. And you’ll notice it doesn’t say anything about 20/20 or visual acuity. We’re going to have some episodes on that topic in the future but I’ll just mention it briefly now. When we say somebody has 20/20 vision, what that really means is somebody has the ability to see small characters that are about eight millimeters high from about six meters away. And that’s all it says. It just means that your visual clarity is of a certain amount and that’s important. It’s important in some circumstances more than others. But it’s really not the main thing that is important about vision. What is important is does somebody’s visual system, their eyes and their brain and their body working together; Does it help them accomplish the things they want to do? Or does it cause problems that hinders that person in the things that they want to do? And I want to take three examples today. These are examples that Optometrists like Dr. Beth and myself, we think about literally every day when we are working with patients.Best OrthoKeratology eye doctor in tampa
  • [00:03:36] The first one is the act of reading, both learning to read and being able to read for long periods of time so that we could absorb lots of information quickly. Reading is extremely complicated. Yes you have to have a certain amount of visual clarity to be able to see the letters and words on the page. But reading has much more to do with how the eyes move and how they focus and how they work together as a team and how long somebody can read with comfort. When the eyes are working well with the brain and the body, then it leads to efficient reading; eye movements are smooth and they are consistent and they’re accurate. And it doesn’t lead to re-reading or making mistakes or skipping words or skipping lines. If the words are comfortably in focus and patients don’t have to bring their head closer to the book or a page or don’t have to hold things further away or they don’t get headaches from trying to do all those things, then it makes it efficient. If the eyes are having discomfort, then it interferes and it makes reading more difficult. Likewise, it’s helpful if words look single and clear and look like they stay in place when we’re reading them so that it’s not frustrating. It interferes if the eyes don’t work well together and the words will jumble up or split apart into two or look like they’re moving around on the page and that will cause interference of reading. And so these visual skills I’m talking about have very little to do with what visual acuity somebody has and many other skills that if they work well together help somebody become a good proficient reader and they can learn a lot and take in a lot of visual information and if they don’t it can cause problems that make it difficult to become a good reader. So that’s one example that we deal with everyday.
  • [00:05:53] Another example is sports. Vision has so much to do with sports that there’s a whole section of Optometry called Sports Vision and Sports Vision training helps people who already have very good visual skills become even better. And that is how they get an edge on other players and their competitors. So if you’re playing almost any sport but certainly a sport that involves a fast-paced movement and throwing and catching those sorts of things you want to have very good spatial awareness and peripheral vision and visual reaction time. Now Dr. Beth is really more of a Sports Vision person in our practice so she can talk more about this in later episodes. If you have those skills it will enhance your ability to perform well on the field. If you don’t have good peripheral vision and visual reaction time and good depth perception and spatial awareness, it’s much more likely to interfere with your ability to make judgments and throw and catch in a way that makes you as competitive as possible. And that’s why people will seek out improvements in visual skills to improve their sports performance.
  • [00:07:13] And then the last area that I wanted to mention is something that many adults do almost every day especially here in Tampa, Florida and that is driving. So we kind of take driving for granted and we kind of take vision for granted. When your eyes and your brain work well together then you can do lots of different visual tasks all at once. You can read signs you can see when cars are in front of you and behind, you you can be aware of somebody is changing lanes. And that’s what we assume will happen when vision works well. It leads you to make better safer decisions about driving. People who have visual problems whether it’s after an accident or other sorts of injuries they all of a sudden realize that vision interferes dramatically with driving. They might have double vision when they’re driving. They might become visually overwhelmed and have trouble making decisions about which lane to be in or whether to go or whether to not go. Or they might not be able to use their peripheral vision to the best of their ability. And so they’re constantly having to look around to judge what other cars are doing. And so that’s a situation where vision can interfere with somebody’s ability to drive safely. Now the important thing about all three of these examples whether it’s reading, whether it’s sports, or whether it’s driving, is in all of these cases these are visual skills that can be improved that can minimize when vision interferes with everyday life and enhance how vision leads and guides you. And that can happen in all different kinds of ways it happens over time as people become more confident and more aware. It happens when we prescribe the best possible glasses or contacts or other sorts of procedures like Ortho-K to improve their vision. And it can happen through either vision therapy to improve skills or deficits that people have. Or through vision training to take vision and make it even better than it already is. Vision is something that fluctuates. It responds to stressful situations and relax situations and it responds to practice and responds to self-awareness. And that is exactly the way optometrists think about vision; is something that can be developed. It can be improved and it can be done so in our conscious cognitive way. And we’re going to talk more about those things. I want to mention that in John Streff’s honor, there has been created a Vision Leads Foundation.
  • [00:09:53] So recognizing his tremendous impact on Optometry as a profession and all of his patients the goal of this non-profit organization is to improve access to care for the patients who need it. And you can find out more about that organization at www.visionleadsfoundation.com. If you have any questions about this concept or if you have any other feedback like I said, you can e-mail us at office@brighteyestampa.com. I really look forward to talking about these sorts of concepts more and in the meantime.
  • [00:10:28] Everybody stay cool.

Thank you for listening. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, you can email us at office@brighteyestampa.com.

The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Background music: Chopin via MusOpen.com.

Podcast Episode #2: What is an Optometrist? (The 5 O’s)

Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.

For episode #2 of the Bright Eyes Podcast, Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth discuss the differences and similarities between the 5 O’s:

  • Optometrists
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Opticians
  • Orthoptists
  • Ocularists


Transcript:

Dr. Beth: [00:00:03] From rainy Tampa Bay it’s the Bright Eyes podcast. This is episode number two. I’m Dr. Beth Knighton.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:10] And I am Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford.

Dr. Beth: [00:00:13] And today’s episode is all about what is an optometrist.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:18] That’s right. But first Beth I need to acknowledge the elephant in the room and that is it really does not sound like we’re recording this in a professional recording studio in New York with hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. You know why that is?

Dr. Beth: [00:00:36] Because we’re in our office on the laptop.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:41] It’s true we’ve got our Blue Yeti microphone and our laptop in the blue exam room in Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and it doesn’t sound perfect but it sounds OK. And hopefully over time as we do more of these we will make it sound a little bit better. I was too impatient to get started with the podcast. So here we are.

staffDr. Beth: [00:01:13] So I get asked a lot about what the difference is between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. And the main difference between the two is surgical treatment. So optometrists and ophthalmologists are trained in eye disease and how the eye works. But we take it from slightly different perspectives, so an optometrist will look more at the functional aspects of eyes and vision how they work as a team versus a ophthalmologist who will look at it from an eye disease standpoint deciding if surgery or laser treatment or other options are needed. And so we both are critical to the eye care world without one or the other. It would really be difficult for our patients. And so the better that we can work as a team and be on board together for our patients it provides better outcomes for everybody.

Dr. Nate: [00:02:24] Yeah I agree with that. I think that as a general rule optometrists tend to think more about vision and vision development as people grow from being infants to toddlers to kids to teenagers to adults how their vision changes and what their visual needs are. I think the ophthalmologists that I know some of my friends who are ophthalmologists they tend to think more about how the eyes grow and how the eyes age and what kind of diseases the eyeballs themselves can get. And that would include everything from cataracts and glaucoma and diseases related to diabetes. And any of those things. And like Dr. Beth said both are extremely important but they do have slightly different perspectives.

Dr. Beth: [00:03:24] The training for the two is similar but different. And that optometrists and ophthalmologists go for their undergraduate degree, four years of that then optometrists go on to optometry school for four years. And of the optometrists who graduate some of them choose to go on for residency for further training. Like Dr. Nate and I did in pediatrics specifically, but there are lots of specialties that optometrists can go into. And ophthalmologist when they leave under-graduate go on to four years of medical school where they learn eyes and body and then go on to do a three to five year residency in ophthalmology or their specialty and potentially onto fellowship after that for further training. So that’s the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. But then there’s also an optician. And so Nate you want to tell us a little bit about that.

Dr. Nate: [00:04:29] So before I went to optometry school my wife Cristina was getting her masters at the University of Wisconsin – Madison I was an optician. An optician is somebody who is specially trained in the fitting and fabrication and fixing and dispensing of glasses. And in some states those are licensed in Florida you can get an optician license but you don’t have to have one. In some states they’re not licensed. So I had the experience of being an optician and working with glasses and one of my favorite things about being an optician was repairing glasses when they appeared to be hopelessly damaged. Sometimes you have to be very creative to fix glasses so that people can use them until they’re able to purchase a new pair.

Dr. Beth: [00:05:33] We’ve seen some come into the office that have been pretty mangled at that time. It’s true. So what about orthoptists? Some people have heard of that. How does that fit in?

Dr. Nate: [00:05:46] So an orthoptist is a form of vision therapist that works with ophthalmologists. I’ve known a few orthoptists. Unfortunately they are kind of a vanishing breed. They used to be much more common when ophthalmologists provided more visual training or vision therapy to help improve the functional vision of patients. They don’t tend to do that as much. And so they don’t have the orthtopists to help them develop the skills for patients but they are very dedicated and knowledgeable people they know a whole lot about the eyes and how they move and focus and coordinate vision.

Dr. Nate: [00:06:37] And then there’s one more and that is an ocularist. And an ocularist makes prosthetic eyes. Or sometimes people call them up Glass-Eye even though they’re not glass but they are fake. I have somebody either didn’t develop an eye properly or they lost it due to trauma or some sort of injury. Yes they are extremely talented artists that make prosthetic that’s comfortable for patients and it’s hand-painted to match the other eye as closely as possible. I always think that that’s fascinating work.

Dr. Nate: [00:07:19] There are some really great videos and some of these topics. There is a wonderful video that says “I am a Doctor of Optometry” (below) and we’ll put that in the show notes. There’s another video about what an optometrist is and there’s some ones about opticians and ocularists. So all of those.

Dr. Beth: [00:07:43] Thank you all for listening. If you have any questions comments or suggestions you can e-mail us at office@BrightEyesTampa.com. Until next time stay dry.

Thank you for listening. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, you can email us at office@brighteyestampa.com.

The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro/outro music by Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Podcast Episode #1 – Who We Are

Note: This is the first episode of our new podcast that will cover all aspects of vision care. You can listen in the player below or read the transcript. The show is available via Stitcher, Google Play, iTunes, and the webplayer below. You can find all episodes here. If you have any suggestions for future episodes, please email office@BrightEyesTampa.com.

-Dr. Nate

Episode 1 transcript:

Dr. Nate: [00:00:00] From sunny Tampa Bay is the Bright Eyes podcast. This is episode number one. I’m Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford.

Dr. Beth: [00:00:09] And I am Dr. Beth Knighton.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:11] And today’s episode is all about us. In the future, we’re going to talk about different aspects of eyes and vision care and different things that you can do to take care of your eyes and improve your vision. But for today since this is our very first podcast episode we’re going to introduce you a little bit about us our practice and how we do things. So how are you feeling, Beth?

Dr. Beth: [00:00:39] I’m feeling great.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:41] Are you excited?Warford 2597 color 239x300

Dr. Beth: [00:00:42] Yes.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:42] Are you excited to be doing podcasts?

Dr. Beth: [00:00:44] Yeah. 🙂

Dr. Nate: [00:00:46] So first off, I have lots of experience in podcasting. My first podcast was in 2010 to 2013. I also do another podcast with an ophthalmologist which we do every month and I think it is a wonderful medium to share information. I’m an avid podcast listener. I listen to podcasts literally every day. So I think it’s fantastic and I’m excited to do it. What about your experience?

Dr. Beth: [00:01:19] Yes I am excited to do this new adventure here learning about podcasts and getting our information out there to everybody.

Dr. Nate: [00:01:29] Great. So a little bit about me. I grew up in north central Florida and I went to University of Florida. I got my Optometry degree at the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago. I did my residency in Pediatric Vision and Vision Therapy also at ICO and then we moved back to Florida and we opened Bright Eyes Family Vision Care here in Westchase in 2006. We’ve been working here for the last 11 years. I say we because my wife Cristina is the office manager and we’ve grown from a tiny office with just a handful of staff to two offices with about 16 staff members.Dr EK Pic 224x300

Dr. Beth: [00:02:16] I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. I went to the University of South Florida in Tampa for my undergraduate degree and then I also went to the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago like Dr. Nate and went on to do my Pediatric Residency at the University of Houston in Texas and I stayed on there teaching for a little while. But Florida is my home and I was able to come back this way. So now back in the Tampa Bay area I reached out to Dr. Nate. And at that time he was looking to expand to create the second office which is Bright Eyes Kids and so I was able to join the Bright Eyes family in 2014 and started out part time and grew as the practice did. And now here at the Bright Eyes Westchase office and the Bright Eyes Kids office full time with Dr. Nate

Dr. Nate: [00:03:17] Yes. And it is fantastic. I love having a doctor that I can work with and ask questions to and we can talk about cases and different experiences even though we both went to the same optometry school we did different residencies and so we have different experiences and that helps us serve our patients better.

Dr. Beth: [00:03:44] And it’s really great – it is a lot of fun.

Dr. Nate: [00:03:48] Dr. Beth spends a little bit more time at the family practice. I spend a little bit more time at the kids office and that’s primarily just because she lives closer to the Westchase office and I live closer to the New Tampa office because we’re both plenty capable of doing both but we have a lot of fun.

Dr. Beth: [00:04:09] We really like our job and working with patients of all ages. It’s surprising to people when they find out that we routinely see patients that are six months old. Sometimes a little younger. It’s something that we really enjoy.

Dr. Nate: [00:04:28] What do you do when you’re not working with patients.

Dr. Beth: [00:04:33] I love spending time with my family and I especially love spending time out on my small sailboat. I love being outside doing pretty much anything whether it’s camping or biking. We always love being outside and Florida is a great place to be doing all those things as opposed to our cold winters that we had in Chicago.

Dr. Nate: [00:05:01] It was cold. It’s true. I also like doing things outside. I like to run and go camping. We have a lot of people in my family who play music and so we make music and I like to read and spend time with my family. And sometimes when we have time we like to travel and I’d say that’s mostly what we do.

Dr. Nate: [00:05:31] So we’re going to cover many topics about eyes and vision glasses contacts and vision therapy and Ortho-K. What other topics are we going to cover?

Dr. Beth: [00:05:45] We’re going to cover brain injuries and how that affects the eyes. We will cover why sunglasses are important for your vision and even topics about certain eye diseases you may have heard of like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Dr. Nate: [00:06:02] Yes. So thank you for listening to our very first episode ever. If you have any questions comments or suggestions you can e-mail us at office@BrightEyesTampa.com. Until next time. Have fun and be safe.

If you have questions about your or your children’s eyes or vision please call us at 813-792-0637 or use the button below to request an appointment.
Schedule An Appointment

Brought to you by Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids. Find previous episodes and more detailed information at BrightEyesTampa.com. Creative Commons Copyright attribution, non-commercial use.

The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro and outro music by Lucas Warford.

The Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind

What are you doing this summer? Now that the kids are a little bigger, we decided to embark on a family road trip. We drove up I-75, headed to a family reunion in Louisville, KY. I was born in Kentucky, but I do not get back there very often. Along the way, we stopped at Rock City, Mammoth Cave, Bernheim Forest, and the World’s Largest Peanut.

One of our visits in Louisville was the museum of the American Printing House for the Blind. From their website: The Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind is dedicated to preserving and presenting the fascinating educational history of people who are blind and the historic contributions of the American Printing House for the Blind for the benefit of people who are visually impaired, educators of people who are visually impaired, and the broader community.

It was a very interesting experience. The museum is very well done with many displays on the history of systems of print for the visually impaired, including methods for printing Braille on a personal and industrial scale. The largest Braille project ever was an entire copy of the 1954 World Book Encyclopedia! (picture below)

But it is not just about printing – they also have exhibits about low-vision devices for visually-impaired individuals, an exhibit about talking books and how they produce books on tape and CD. They also have displays of devices that visually-impaired students have used to learn math. If you ever find yourself in Louisville, I encourage you to take an hour or two and visit the museum. They also have interactive tours, which we did not have time to attend.

You can learn more about the American Printing House for Blind and their services at their website: http://www.aph.org/

-Dr. Nate

History of Louis Braille

History of Louis Braille

The entire World Book Encyclopedia in Braille

The entire World Book Encyclopedia in Braille

20170703 130234

Learning to type in Braille.

Games for the visually impaired

Games for the visually impaired

One of the many early Braille writers.

One of the many early Braille writers.

 

Are You Ignoring Your Dry Eyes?

You Don’t Have to Live With Dry Eyes

Have you noticed that your eyes feel chronically dry, itchy, scratchy or even sometimes watery? Many people that have these symptoms just go on with their lives until the symptoms become unbearable. What they don’t realize is that these are signs that they might be suffering from dry eye syndrome, a condition in which the eyes are not able to produce enough tears to effectively lubricate the eyes. This is a problem that won’t just go away on its own.

What causes Dry Eye?

Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Tear Film Dysfunction is characterized by a reduction in the amount or quality of tears that are produced. Tears are essential for optimal eye health, vision and comfort. Ideally, tear film covers the eyes at all times to prevent the eyes from drying out and to ensure clear vision. If the glands that produce tears start to produce fewer tears or tears that don’t have the proper balance of water, oils, proteins and electrolytes, the tear film with become unstable, allowing dry spots to form on the surface of the eye, and cause disruptions in outer barrier of the eye’s epithelial surface. This disruption in the outer barrier allows microbes to invade the eye, leading to irritation and infection. The condition can be caused by many factors, including tear gland dysfunction, eyelid problems, medications or environmental factors.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of dry eye involve varying sensations of dryness including, burning, stinging, itching, grittiness, soreness or a feeling that there is something in the eye. The eyes may also be red and sensitive to light, wind or smoke. Vision may be blurred or doubled and the eyes may fatigue easily. Another common symptom is that vision seems blurry but clears when you blink (especially common when reading or using a computer). This is because the tear film does not form a smooth coat over the eye surface or it evaporates too quickly causing a blur.

You may also notice pain, some discharge from the eye (especially upon waking in the morning) and experience discomfort when wearing contact lenses. One of the most confusing symptoms of dry eye is actually excessive tearing, which occurs because the eyes are trying to compensate for the lack of moisture – however the tears produced are low quality and don’t properly hydrate the surface of the eye.

Reducing Symptoms

The first thing to look at when you have dry eyes is whether you are taking any medications, engaging in certain behaviors or being exposed to environmental factors that may be causing the condition. Medications that may cause dry eye as a side effect include:

  • Antihistamines and Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth Control pills
  • Antidepressants
  • Acne medications
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Opiate-based painkillers such as morphine

Important! Never stop medication without the approval of your doctor! If you are taking a medication that may be causing dry eye, don’t stop taking the medication without speaking to your healthcare provider first. Treating dry eye symptoms may be a simpler solution than stopping or switching medications.

You may be able to alter your environment to reduce symptoms of dry eye as well. Environmental factors that can exacerbate dry eye include:

  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Extended use of computers or other electronic devices
  • Exposure to dry, windy climates or blowing air (such as an air conditioner or heater).
  • Exposure to smoke
  • High altitudes

Treatment for Dry Eye

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, make an appointment with your optometrist. The diagnosis and treatment will be based on a complete examination of your eyes, your medical history and your personal circumstances around the condition. The doctor may decide to perform a tear film test that can determine the quantity and quality of the tears and whether your tear glands and tear film are functioning properly.

The type of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment may include behavioral or environmental changes such as using a humidifier, wearing sunglasses in windy weather, reducing computer time or changing to a different type of contact lens, as well as medical treatments that may include:

  • Artificial tears, eye drops or ointments to lubricate eyes
  • Steroid or antibiotic drops or pills may be used for certain conditions such as blepharitis
  • Reducing the drainage of tears by blocking tear ducts with silicone plugs
  • Medications such as Restasis which reduce inflammation and trigger tear production
  • In some situations a surgical procedure might be recommended
  • Scleral lenses that hold moisture on the surface of the eyeball

The most important thing you should know about dry eyes is that you do not have to suffer. Treatments are available to increase moisture on your eye and reduce the uncomfortable and sometime debilitating symptoms. If you are suffering, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and get the relief you deserve.

Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Eye Doctors Weigh In: How Smoking Can Harm Your Vision & Eye Health

We all know that smoking is bad for you, especially the risks that it poses to your heart and lungs. What many people do not know is that cigarette smoke negatively affects your eyes and vision too. Smoking has been directly linked to an increase in the risks of both cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss, and it is believed to be a factor in a number of other eye and vision issues.

Smoking and Cataracts

Studies show that smoking doubles the risk of cataracts and with heavy smoking, the risk triples. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of cataracts. Cataracts are characterised by the clouding of the lens of the eye and it is believed that smoking affects the cells of the lens, accelerating this process.

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, however they can be treated surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Symptoms include:

    • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
    • Sensitivity to light and glare
    • Presence of halos around lights
    • Increasingly poor night vision
    • Fading color vision
    • Double vision
    • and frequent prescription changes with minimal improvement in vision

Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to medical research, smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration between two and four times the normal risk – the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for those exposed to cigarette smoke for extended periods of time.

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition in which the macula, which is the center of the retina, begins to to deteriorate, reducing central vision and the eye’s ability to see fine details. The disease is characterized by blurred and distorted eyesight and blind spots in the central vision. With time, the disease can progress to leave the person with low vision, which is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Other Eye and Vision Risks of Smoking

Smoking has also been linked to dry eyes, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes).

“Eye Vitamins” are often used without doctor’s recommendations. Smokers are cautioned not to take beta-carotene supplements, specifically, (or multi-vitamins containing this ingredient) as studies indicate there is increased risk of cancer even in people who quit smoking.

What to Do?

Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting will reduce the risks of developing these conditions, for yourself and those around you. If you do smoke, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to catch any developing disease early. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the key to saving your vision and preventing permanent vision loss.

2017 Spring Newsletter:New Hours, Sales, Giveaway, Ortho-K, VR & more!

 

Hello, Bright Eyes Patients! Welcome to our first email update of 2017. We have so much to tell you that we’ll get right to it:

Not One But Two Spring Events

Spring EventsSpring has sprung and we have 2 big events coming up! The first is our Spring Eyewear Show on Wednesday, April 26 from 4 to 8pm. This is a trunk show of all the Banana Republic and Smith Optics eyeglasses, including sunglasses. Win a FREE pair of prescription sunglasses from Smith! The second is the Spring Cleaning Sale Monday April 24 through Friday, April 28. The doctors are away at a conference most of the week, but both offices will be open – all eyeglasses and sunglasses on sale! Read more here.

Hours Reminder

Our Westchase office has new hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9am-5pm. Wednesday is still 12-8pm, Friday 8:30am-4:30pm and Saturday 9am-2pm. See all the details here.

Big News about Ortho-K!

We have been getting more requests than ever about Ortho-K, the overnight contact lenses that allows for clear, glasses-free vision. You might have seen Dr. Nate on the news! You can read about Dr. Nate’s daughter’s own experience with Orthok-K and also read more about the process here. Treehouse Eyes is an office in Washington DC that specializes in myopia control, and they did a story on Dr. Nate’s daughter.

VR Home Therapy is Live

We are one of the first eye doctors to offer Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapytreatment for amblyopia and strabismus, but we are now able to offer this treatment as part of a home Vision Therapy program. This is a game-changer for patients both children and adults. If you are interested, call us at 813-792-0637.

Updated Website

You may have noticed that we’ve been hard at work on our website BrightEyesTampa.com, especially pages on Myopia Control, Ortho-k, Vivid Vision and others. Check it out!

Other topics of interest from our blog

We’ve covered some important topics such as Top 10 For Screentime, Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month, Cleaning Your Glasses, The Importance Blue Light, & Eye Color.

Reviews

Finally, we want to say that we are very thankful for all the Yelp and Google reviews. Most people find us through online reviews or word-of-mouth, and as a small business, we appreciate it! If you haven’t left a review, it would mean a lot if you did.

Thanks and have a great spring! 🙂

-Dr. Nate

Bright Eyes Family and Bright Eyes Kids

A custom uploaded image.

Understanding Eye Color

eyes green close up woman

People always ask Dr. Beth and me about the color of their eyes. Are they brown? Hazel? Green? Well, it is complicated. Eye color is a hereditary trait that depends on the genes of both parents, as well as a little bit of mystery. The color of the eye is based on the pigments in the iris, which is a colored ring of muscle located at the center of the eye (around the pupil) that helps to control the amount of light that comes into your eye. Eye color falls on a spectrum of color that can range from dark brown, to gray, to green, to blue, with a whole lot of variation in between.

Genetics

The genetics of eye color are anything but straightforward. In fact children are often born with a different eye color than either of their parents. For some time the belief was that two blue-eyed parents could not have a brown-eyed child, however, while it’s not common, this combination can and does occur. Genetic research in regards to eye color is an ongoing pursuit and while they have identified certain genes that play a role, researchers still do not know exactly how many genes are involved and to what extent each gene affects the final eye color.

The Iris

Looking at it simply, the color of the eye is based on the amount of the pigment melanin located in the iris. Large amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, while blue eyes result from smaller amounts of the pigment. This is why babies that are born with blue eyes (who often have smaller amounts of melanin until they are about a year old) often experience a darkening of their eye color as they grow and develop more melanin in the iris. In adults across the globe, the most common eye color worldwide is brown, while lighter colors such as blue, green and hazel are found predominantly in the Caucasian population.

Abnormal Eye Color

Sometimes the color of a person’s eyes are not normal. Here are some interesting causes of this phenomenon.

Heterochromia, for example, is a condition in which the two eyes are different colors, or part of one eye is a different color. This can be caused by genetic inconsistencies, issues that occur during the development of the eye, or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease.

Ocular albinism is a condition in which the eye is a very light color due to low levels of pigmentation in the iris, which is the result of a genetic mutation. It is usually accompanied by serious vision problems. Oculocutaneous albinism is a similar mutation in the body’s ability to produce and store melanin that affects skin and hair color in addition to the eyes.

Eye color can also be affected by certain medications. For example, a certain glaucoma eye drop is known to darken light irises to brown, as well as lengthen and darken eyelashes.

Eye Color – It’s More Than Meets the Eye

It is known that light eyes are more sensitive to light, which is why it might be hard for someone with blue or green eyes to go out into the sun without sunglasses. Light eyes have also shown to be a risk factor for certain conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Color Contact Lenses

While we can’t pick our eye color, we can always play around with different looks using colored contact lenses. Just be sure that you get a proper prescription for any contact lenses, including cosmetic colored lenses, from an eye doctor! Wearing contact lenses that were obtained without a prescription could be dangerous to your eyes and your vision.

-Dr. Nate

 

 

 

Top Ten New Years Resolutions for Screen time and Kids Eyes

(Note – You can read my previous Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Vision for Eye Health, Children’s Vision, Saving Money on Eyecare, Myopia Control, and Computer Vision Syndrome, -Dr. Nate)

Did your child receive any gifts with screens this holiday season? Or gifts such as a movie or new video game that are viewed on screens? My kids did. And they are VERY excited about them. They are not alone. The kids that I see in my office beg, whine, wheedle, and cajole their parents into as much screen time as possible. Many of them have their own tablets. And this is incredibly common. In fact, one 2015 study found that three quarters of 4 year-olds had their own devices.

There are obvious benefits for children to use technology. They can watch educational programming, Skype with distant friends and relatives, and download STEM and creative apps. But all of this screen time can come with downsides. One is childhood obesity. Another is social awareness and skill.

Others problem associated with screen time have to do with vision. This is something I talk about all day, every day at Bright Eyes Kids. Increased screen time can put children at risk for myopia (nearsightedness). Games such as Minecraft can be great, but can cause headaches and blurry vision due to eyestrain. In fact, eyestrain from device use can actually contribute to digital eyestrain or other visual problems that can make school work more difficult and require vision therapy to treat.

10 ways to keep your child’s electronic device use healthy:

  1. Set a clear Family Media Use Plan. For example, in my house, my children are not allowed screen time before noon. It is worth reading the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on media use from October 2016 to get some ideas.
  2. Optometrists recommend that people of all ages limit screen time to 20 minute intervals. Teach your child about the 202020 rule, every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and focus on something 20 feet away. Every hour, take a longer break.
  3. Buy a blue light reducing screen protector for your child’s phone, computer or tablet. http://health-e.com/offers one that reduces by 30%, but they offer through select optometrists 60% reduction.
  4. Mitigate the potential damage of focusing on close images, by having your child spend 2 hours a day outside. A recent study showed a 2% reduction of Myopia progression for every hour a week spent outside, or 28% for 2 hours a day.
  5. Minimize electronic device usage at night, a recent Harvard study showed that blue light at night effects melatonin levels, which effect sleep, blood sugar levels, and may be linked to certain other diseases.
  6. Ask your doctor about computer glasses or contacts which are specially designed to reduce eye strain by reducing the visual focus needed for computer use.
  7. Create fun alternatives to electronic devices, write a list of “cool” activities to do throughout the week. Great alternatives are outdoor time, board games, and creative projects. Even things as simple as walking to grocery store can be more rewarding than most things are your child’s screen.
  8. Role model proper screen use. As always our children learn from us, if we are glued to the screen, they will be less likely to take screen limitations seriously. Make a New Year’s resolution to limit your screen time and be more present for your kids. This is hard, but important!
  9. Make sure your child’s posture is not being affected by the chair or couch they are using while watching TV or on the computer. Adolescents with high computer usage were nearly twice as likely to report neck and back pain than those with moderate use.
  10. Talk to your eye doctor if your child avoids using the computer or complains about blurred vision or eye fatigue when using a screen, as this may signify a larger issue that needs to be addressed.

Happy New Year. May 2017 be better than 2016. 🙂

-Dr. Nate

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7 Tips to Survive Allergy Season

The tree pollen counts are sky-high this week in Tampa. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 60 million Americans suffer from allergies. The same yellow dust that is coating all of our cars is also getting into our eyes. Are you suffering this week from itchy, red watery eyes? It may be due to ocular allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis. Some people can even have ocular allergies without allergies affecting the nose and throat.

Allergy forecast(from www.pollen.com)

So, what can we do to survive the spring??

  1. Wear sunglasses to help prevent pollen falling into your eyes.
  2. Look up the pollen counts so you can plan your outdoor activities for lower pollen count days. The pollen levels are typically highest on windy, dry, sunny days.
  3. Keep your windows closed to avoid airborne pollens.
  4. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  5. Shower after outdoor activities to rinse the pollen off your skin and hair. This pollen will continue to irritate your eyes, nose and throat even after coming inside.
  6. Contact lenses can sometimes magnify the itchiness you experience. Some people get relief with daily disposable contact lenses or changing contact lens cleaning during allergy season. Come in for an exam with Drs. Nate or Beth to see what would be best for you.
  7. Consult with your primary care doctor or allergist to see if an allergy medication is right for you.

Call our office to schedule an appointment if you suspect ocular allergies are affecting you.

-Dr. Beth.