Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eye Health and Diet

Eat Right to Help Eye Health

Our goal at Baltimore Washington Eye Center is to help preserve and protect eye health and vision. Most of us are aware that our diet is important in keeping our heart and arteries health. So it should come as no surprise that eating right can also potentially be beneficial for our eyes. "Eye health and vision depend on the tiny blood vessels in the retina and other parts of the eye carrying nutrients and oxygen to the tissue-especially in the retina", relayed Arturo Betancourt, M.D., Baltimore Washington Eye Center Medical Director. "Keeping those blood vessels healthy is an important part of preserving vision as we age. As part of an overall healthy diet, several key nutrients appear to be particularly important to preserving sight as we get older", said Corneal Specialist Brad Spagnolo, M.D.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E & Zinc
About 10 years ago the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) reported that people given vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc in supplements were less likely to develop advanced age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. The combination was most effective at slowing the progression from intermediate to advanced AMD, which is one of the leading causes of age-related blindness. Because of those findings, many people diagnosed with early signs of AMD today are routinely prescribed a pill that combines these nutrients. You may or may not benefit from depending on your overall health and eye condition. PATIENTS SHOULD NOT BEGIN TAKING SUPPLEMENTS WITHOUT FIRST DISCUSSING IT WITH THEIR EYE DOCTOR AND INTERNIST OR FAMILY PHYSICIAN.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Two other nutrients -- lutein and zeaxanthin -- are also linked to lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. A 2008 Tufts University study of 1,802 women 50 to 79 years old found that those who consumed the most lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets were 23% less likely to develop cataracts than those who consumed the least. Rich sources of these two compounds include kale, spinach, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid
The newest nutrient linked to better vision with age is omega-3 fatty acid, which is found predominantly in fish oil. In a study of 2,520 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported in 2010 that people who consumed fish high in omega-3s fatty acids often were significantly less likely to have advanced age-related macular degeneration. Omega-3s may also protect against cataracts, according to 2010 findings by researchers at the Clinical University of Navarra in Spain. Researchers don’t understand exactly why omega-3s may protect against eye diseases. One guess is that these healthy oils may reduce inflammation and thereby protect against cell damage.

Pills vs. Food
Although antioxidant supplements are routinely prescribed to people with early signs of macular degeneration, there’s little agreement on whether supplements will help otherwise healthy people preserve their vision. Most of the evidence to date is very mixed. In one recent study, for example, a multivitamin seemed to protect against some forms of cataracts but actually raise the risk of other forms. PATIENTS SHOULD NOT BEGIN TAKING SUPPLEMENTS WITHOUT FIRST DISCUSSING IT WITH THEIR EYE DOCTOR AND INTERNIST OR FAMILY PHYSICIAN.

Nonetheless, the best way to protect your vision from age-related diseases is by eating a healthy diet. Healthy food choices are good choices. The results of a 2010 study by French scientists found eating more vegetables -- including cabbage, broccoli, pepper, corn, or spinach -- improved the condition of the retina in people with age-related macular degeneration.
Should you have questions or need more information about nutrition, diet and how they impact your eye health and vision, please feel free to ask any Baltimore Washington Eye Center eye doctor including Drs. Betancourt, Spagnolo, Richa and Strier. They are always happy to answer your questions.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

7 years after LASIK

I saw a nice lady yesterday for whom we performed LASIK in 2003. She is as thrilled now as she was then with her results. Today, I saw a patient for whom we performed PRK in 2001. Still very happy with her vision as well.

Verisyse an option for people who are not LASIK candidates

Some people who are not good candidates for LASIK are often candidates for another type of vision correction procedure which uses an implant called Verisyse. The implant is also known as the Artisan.

For more information regarding the Verisyse, check out:

If you would like to find out if you might benefit from this technology, please call our elective services counselor, Sharon Schlatter at 410-761-8258.

Statement by the American Academy of Ophthalmology Regarding Children's Vision and Eye Health and 3-D Digital Products

Here is an interesting press release from the American Academy of Ophthalmology regarding the use of 3D Digital devices by children. Cut and paste the URL into your web browser or highlight the link, then right click and then click search the web.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Myths and Misconceptions

My mother called very worried the other day to say “ I am going to go blind from glaucoma.” “What on earth makes you think that?” I replied. “Because I have diabetes,” she said, “ and diabetes causes glaucoma and you know there is no treatment for glaucoma”.

This very real conversation illustrates many of the misconceptions that people have about eye disease. Diabetes can certainly effect the health of the eyes as well as many other organ systems in the body. However, good blood sugar control can greatly reduce the likelihood of adverse effects in the eye. It is also important to know that many of the problems that occur from diabetes are very treatable especially if detected early. So regular dilated eye exams are crucial for maintaining good vision when you are diabetic.

Some studies have implicated diabetes as a risk factor for developing glaucoma, some studies have found having diabetes to be protective against getting glaucoma. The jury is still out when it comes to risk. However, there is no evidence at all that diabetes causes glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a progressive disease with virtually no symptoms that when left untreated can severely and permanently damage vision. However, glaucoma is absolutely treatable. That is not the same as saying it is preventable or even curable. But when caught early glaucoma can be managed very succesfully often avoiding even small effects on vision. Remember though, since it has no symptoms, early treatment and prevention of vision loss rely on regular eye exams.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Thrilled to see a bunch of happy LASIK patients at their one day visits. Some can't believe they are already driving without glasses or contacts. One patient had been wearing glasses since age 5.


Cataracts may cause a variety of symptoms and visual changes, including blurring of vision, difficulty with glare, often with bright sun or automobile headlights while driving at night, dulling of color vision, increasd nearsightedness accompanied by frequent changes in eyeglass prescription, and occasionally double vision in one eye. Some people notice a phenomenon called "second sight" in which one's reading vision improves as a result of their increased nearsightedness as a resulting of a growing cataract. A change in glasses may help initially once vision begins to change from cataracts; however, as cataracts continue to progress, vision becomes cloudier and stronger glasses or contact lenses will no longer improve sight. When a cataract inhibits a person's ability to perform certain activities of daily living, i.e. driving, reading, watching T.V., then cataract surgery is the best option to improve vision.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cataract Surgery Recovery

Since the doctors here at BW EYE use a small (<3 mm) incision to perform cataract surgery, the recovery typically involves little in the way of pain or discomfort. Since the incision is so small, no stitch is required. In terms of daily activities, there are a few restrictions for the first 5-7 days, specifically patients should avoid eye rubbing or getting water directly in their eye. Perhaps as important, patients can return to driving usually within a day or 2 of having had the cataract procedure.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Enjoyed a very informative demonstration by Dr. Richa of the wonderful effects of Radiesse. Her evening patient talk and live patient procedure was well received. Keep tuned in for upcoming dates where Dr. Richa will again be providing information about the various age-defying products available for our patients.