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Vision Quest: Keep an Eye (or Two) Out for These Foods

By David Grotto, RD, LDN

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in those over the age of 65. It is estimated that the numbers of those who are over the age of forty and have blindness or low vision may exceed 5.5 million by 2020. According to AMD Alliance International, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects over 30 million people worldwide aged 50 or over.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a progressive disease process that causes damage to the Macula – part of the retina portion of the eye. Some of the risk factors associated with AMD are not modifiable, such as age, gender, and ethnicity; however, most of the following are something you can do something about and can slow down biological aging if controlled or eliminated:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Elevated inflammatory markers – C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6)

Cataracts are also afflicting aging Americans; nearly half of those age 65 and older already have them. Cataracts are abnormally clumped proteins that occur in the lens portion of the eye and cause ‘clouded’ vision. The majority of cataracts is associated with the aging process and can occur in either or both eyes. The clumped proteins give a yellow to brownish appearance to the lens. Like macular degeneration, cataracts are due to the aging process and are associated with many of the risk factors above, along with alcohol abuse and excessive exposure to the sun.

Both eye conditions benefit from avoiding diets high in saturated and trans fat. Observational studies suggest that diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables (especially the yellow and leafy green variety) help decrease the risk of AMD and cataracts.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin – these plant chemicals are highly concentrated in the macula and work as potent antioxidants that protect eyes from free radical damage. Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to increase their concentration in the blood and in the eye. Unfortunately, the average American only consumes 1/6 of the amount recommended to prevent eye diseaseThe good news is that these nutrients are abundant in foods such as:

  • Kale, Collard Greens, and Spinach
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Egg yolks
  • Corn
  • Avocado
  • Pistachios
  • Goji berries
  • Orange peppers
  • Kiwi
  • Grapes
  • Orange juice
  • Squash (zucchini)

Eating fatty fish may also help. According to the EUREYE study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate fatty fish at least once a week were fifty-percent less likely to develop AMD. Those who consumed four ounces of fatty fish or more per day were seventy-percent less likely to experience AMD.

Also get plenty of rest, exercise, and wear protective eyewear that shields you from the sun’s damaging rays. You may also want to consult with your eye doctor about taking a formulation that provides plenty of lutein, zeaxanthin, and other key nutrients that support eye health, especially if you don’t eat many of the foods listed above. We both need your eyes to be in great shape to read future Real Life Nutrition posts!

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Facebook Fanpages

 

There are three Facebook Fanpages  that I contribute to.

www.facebook.com/ranchoeyedoctor discusses information regarding my practice as well as interesting developments in the eye care field.

www.facebook.com/newyorkexperienced discusses various experiences in New York City and places of interest.

www.facebook.com/personallydevelopedself discusses books and topics of personal development.

All three of the above fanpages I am very passionate about.  I think you’ll find them very interesting and enjoyable to view.  There are pictures and videos contained within.  I’d love to have your feedback and possible share your own experiences with the above topics.

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“The Effects of Blue Light Emanating From Digital Devices”

More and more information is coming out about the explosive growth in using digital devices (I-pads, I-phones, desk top computers) and their effect on vision..  I’ve discussed in previous blogs the effects of close-up work on vision.  A more subtle but very important factor is the blue light emanating from the devices and its effect on the eye.  I am enclosing an exerpt from an article from the American Optometric Association that discusses this.  It also discusses  the disruption of sleep pattern for those who use these devices before going to sleep.

Don’t stare into the sun—that’s a given. But what about digital devices? New AOA resources offer ODs vital insight into this trending topic.

“Evidence suggests that high-energy visible light from artificial sources may not be entirely harmless.”

High-energy visible (HEV) light—often referred to as ‘blue light,’ near the ultraviolet (UV) end of the visible spectrum—is not only found in sunlight, but also in the light sources people use every day. Blue light emitters such as digital devices, compact fluorescent bulbs and LEDs aren’t just common, they are fixations of our attention for hours on end.

According to the 2014 American Eye-Q® survey, 55 percent of respondents report using an electronic device for five hours or more daily. Add in the hours of TV people watch, and blue light exposure is at an all-time high.

Notably, research indicates all this blue light exposure could cause ocular harm, even possibly contributing to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Recent advances in antireflection coating for glasses have been developed to help reduce this blue light into the eyes.

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Great Books on Personal Development

Over the years, I have become an avid reader of books that deal with personal development.  I have a sincere passion about either reading these books or listening to videos and audios on YouTube that pertain to this subject.  I just want to state briefly that in junior and senior high, I was not much of a reader.  This reflected in me having low SAT scores in verbal as well as having to work very hard to succeed and get through undergraduate and Optometry School.  Some of this lack of reading could be attributed to my eyes not working well together.

The first two books I want to discuss which were written in the 1930’s were Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People and Napolean Hill’s Think And Grow Rich.  Dale Carnegie’s book, as described in the title, discusses ways of improving your ability to get along with others both in your personal life and in business. Such ideas like letting the other person do most of the talking and becoming sincerely interested in the other person are just two of the many concepts discussed.  Napolean Hill’s book covers more about succeeding in business.  Ideas like starting with developing a chief aim, developing a group of individuals whom you have similar interest with and discussing ideas of how to succeed (described as a “Mastermind” group in his book) and being persistent are just a few of the areas covered.

Another, more  recent book, that I’ve read is John Maxwell’s Intentional Living.   In part, he discusses his life where he  has  lead a “life of significance” helping and mentoring others.  Of course he describes how other individuals (some in their teens) are leading a life that makes a big difference to many others as well as themselves.  John Maxwell can also be followed on YouTube as well as Success Magazine.  His other books on leadership are best sellers.

I will be discussing in future blogs both authors and lecturers who I feel are tremendous in the information they share.

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Computer Vision Syndrome

This blog is an update discussing individuals who sit in front of monitors.  If you’re suffering from headaches, neck aches, visual fatigue, blurred vision, dry eyes or even loss of place while reading and are wearing glasses or contact lenses, your prescription may not be specific enough for the task of looking at a monitor.

When being examined, the specific work distances (where both the monitor and text is) and height of the monitor should be measured.  Often, a bifocal or reading glasses given for normal reading is inadequate for the computer causing many of the above symptoms.  Also,  there are new coatings that could be applied to the lenses that help alleviate the above symptoms.  There is a new coating by Essilor, Prevencia, that helps to eliminate some of the disturbing blue spectrum of light, that could help with this.

If you’re viewing a computer for many hours this type of examination can have a very significant effect on your visual well being.

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“How Does Diabetes Affect One’s Vision?”

Diabetes can have a tremendous affect on one’s vision.  I have had patients who have never been diagnosed with diabetes saying that their vision has changed “tremendously” over the last few days.  This could mean that they can’t see distance anymore or that all of a sudden , a patient who needs glasses to see well, doesn’t need them to see.  When this occurs, they sometimes complain of excess thirst, hunger or urination.  In this case we refer them that day to their physician to be checked for certain diseases, especially diabetes.  If they’re sugar is high and they’re appropriately treated, a lot of times their vision will return to the status that it was.

The long term affects of diabetes can be ravaging.  The longer the patient has diabetes and the longer they’re not taking care of themselves both with medication, diet and exercise, the greater the chance the patient can lose a significant part of their vision, even if they’re wearing the appropriate correction.  What’s really great now is that eye surgeons now have at their disposal both medication and lasers to help prevent against a lot of the visual loss due to diabetes and the changes that occur in the retina of the eye.

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The Importance Of Frame Selection In Choosing Your Glasses

When choosing your frames after your examination, certain factors must be taken into consideration.  Obviously the style of the frame and color are important.  However, the patient’s prescription could have a very significant role in one’s choice of frame.  If the patient’s prescription is very high, a rimless frame might expose too much of an edge and be cosmetically unacceptable.  Another important factor is the size of the frame.  The frame could very well look good on the patient but may be inappropriate for a bifocal prescription, especially if the patient is to wear a progressive lens (a multifocal without any lines).  The frame may not be large enough vertically so the patient would have very little room for reading.  An issue that comes up a lot is especially true with sunglasses.  If the frame is large with a lot of “wrap”, the patient might observe some distortion.  I have certainly seen this with my patients more than once.  Sometimes one does not find this out until after they receive the glasses.  If this occurs sometimes you need to adjust the wrap or even change the frame    The last issue I want to discuss are patients who have a big difference between the prescriptions of each eye.  It’s important that the optician measure the height of each eye in the frame and that the frame is adjusted and moves minimally.  If not the patient might observe distortion or even double vision.

 

 

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Archived On-line Radio Broadcasts

Over the previous few months, I was privileged to interview experts in the field of optometry and ophthalmology.  The areas discussed were very diverse.  These areas included macular degeneration and glaucoma, and concussions as they affect vision.  Areas related to severe injury to the eye as well as eye muscle surgery were discussed.  Lasik was also discussed by one of our guests.  In a totally different area,  vision problems were discussed.  Vision as relates to learning disabilities and sports performance were topics covered by several of our guests.  Areas including autism and Down’s Syndrome and being able to examine the infant were discussed.

To tune into these archived areas, please visit our website at www.ranchoeyedoctor.com.  There you would go to episode on demand and this will lead you to the particular guest.

I am really proud of these shows and I thin you will find them of interest.

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The Importance of Visual Fields

One of the most important finding during the course of a comprehensive vision examination is the visual field.  This is where we measure the patient’s peripheral vision, one eye at a time.  The information from the visual fields could indicate eye disease such as glaucoma or even detached retina.  More importantly, it could give us information regarding possible tumors or aneurysms within the brain.  I actually had a patient who complained of headaches and blurred vision when she came in.  Her visual fields showed a defect in each eye.  The patient happened to have an aneurysm in the brain.  It actually ruptured during the operation.  The surgeon was able to save her life even though the patient lost vision in one of her eyes.  If the finding of the visual field defect went undetected and the  surgery didn’t occur when it did,  the patient would have very likely died.

 

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Thank You To My Patients

As 2014 winds down, I realize I have a lot to be thankful for professionally.  I so enjoy practicing optometry.  They say if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never work another day in your life.  That’s the way I feel about my practice.  What’s important is that I have my patients and staff to thank for that.  I really feel a closeness to a great many of my patients.   Some of you have been coming here for a really long time.  My longest continuous patient started with me  when she was about 6 years old in 1981 and still comes here from Garden Grove (about 50 miles away).  We also see her 20 year old daughter.

My staff has also been a source of enjoyment.  It’s really neat to come into a office where everyone gets along and functions really well together.

One more source of enjoyment is the radio show I’m doing online with Voiceamerica.com on their Health and Wellness Channel.  The show is online and takes place on Thursdays at 1:00 P.M. Pacific Time.  It features experts in various areas of vision and eye care.  You can see the recorded sessions by going onto my website, www.ranchoeyedoctor.com.

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