Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Driving Safety & Vision

For many people, driving is an important part of each and every day. Doing so safely is even more important. If you have any difficulty seeing when you drive you need to be aware that there are some things you can do to maximize your vision and your safety.


Regular Eye Examinations

If you are between the ages of 40 and 65 we recommend that you have your eyes examined every two years-and more frequently if you have any family members that have sight-threatening eye conditions or problems. If you are over 65, we suggest a complete exam every 1-2 years depending on your overall health. As we get older, it is important to check for eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and age related macular degeneration at more frequent intervals. Should you experience any sudden changes in your vision or begin experiencing driving problems, especially at night, then it is important to schedule an eye exam right away.


Consider Your Eyewear

Your eyewear is an important part of driving safely! Sometimes our eyeglasses get a great deal of wear and tear. Your ability to get the best vision from your eyeglass prescription depends on having eyeglasses that are clean, fit well, and are free of scuffs and scratches. Scuffs and scratches cause light to be scattered making it difficult to see, especially at night. When getting a new pair of eyeglasses, you may want to consider antireflective and scratch resistant lenses, which help to decrease glare at night and have good longevity because of their special coatings. If you are driving during particularly bright daylight hours, consider prescription sunglasses and even polarized lenses if you drive near reflected sunlight from snow or water.


Automobile Maintenance

Be sure to keep your windshield clean, your washer full and your headlights and taillights in good working order. During a routine service ask to have your headlight alignment checked to be sure they are pointing at the correct position on the road. You may want to consider carrying an extra pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses in the glove box just in case you have an emergency.

Personal Judgment
If you are driving on a long trip, take a break and give your eyes a rest. Also, the use of artificial tears at regular intervals can soothe and comfort your eyes during long car trips.  Driving can be taxing. If you are venturing on a new route it may be worth avoiding traveling at dusk, night, dawn or in poor weather conditions. Let your comfort be your guide. When you visit us for your regular eye exam, please ask us about the medications you are taking and whether they can cause any difficulties with your vision. We are happy to take the time to answer your questions.

If you are having difficulty driving or feel uncomfortable with your vision for driving, please schedule an appointment by calling Baltimore Washington Eye Center at 800-495-3937.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kids and Eye Injuries

A study looking at pediatric eye injuries reveals that most of these injuries occur in the spring and summer  to kids between the ages of 15 and 17. Corneal abrasion was the most common diagnosis. The most frequent cause of injury was being struck by or against an object. Interestingly, if not surprisingly, the injuries were most likely to occur at home. It is always a good idea to remind teens of the need to protect their eyes, even if they are just playing around the house.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Finding the Best Cataract Surgeons in Baltimore

To find the best Cataract Surgeons requires a little bit of work and investigation but is always worth it. Finding an eye surgeon who is a Cataract Specialist can help you to be confident that you are getting the most current information, thoughts and techniques to deal with your cataracts.

Ask People You Trust for a recommendation. Ask your friends, co-workers and family-but most importantly ask you primary care physician who they would go to or who they would send a parent to for cataract surgery.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Insurance Lists. Just because a Cataract Surgeon is “in network” isn’t a reason to use them if you are able to identify a top cataract surgeon you wish to go to who isn’t listed. Paying a slightly higher co-pay or deductible may be very worthwhile to get the Cataract Surgeon of your choice. If the best Cataract Surgeon in your area happens to be in the insurance list then you are all set.

Use the Power of the Internet. Take a minute to search “cataract surgeons in (insert your town/city/state)” or “best cataract surgeon in (insert your town/city/state)”. This will at least give you a starting place to begin creating a list of eye surgeons to investigate further.

Visit the Cataract Surgeon’s Web Site. Once you have compiled a list, visit their web sites
And get a feel for their practice culture and philosophy. While a web site by itself can’t tell you much about surgical skills, it can tell you about how well he or she presents information and explains detail to patients. This is important in how comfortable you may feel in that practice.

Schedule a Consultation and Meet the Cataract Surgeon. The only sure fire way to find out if you are comfortable and get a sense of trust from a cataract surgeon is to schedule a consultation and meet the surgeon personally. They should be able to clearly explain your eye health and vision as well as the cataract procedure and answer any questions you have in understandable language and terms. Whether or not you find the right cataract surgeon right off the bat it is never inappropriate to………

Get a Second Opinion. Making a decision about eye surgery is a big deal. Getting to a place where you feel confident, relaxed and comfortable is important.  

If you or someone you know has a Cataract or wishes to learn more about Cataract Surgery please call Baltimore Washington Eye Center at 800-495-3937.
The next time your having difficulty putting in your contacts, think about this:  

Just a little twist on something we do practically everyday in our clinic; using a contact lens as a bandage when a patient (usually of the human kind), suffers a scratched cornea. Just placed one yesterday on a poor guy who's cat went bonkers and attacked his face. Fortunately, he'll recover and hopefully this pachyderm will as well.

Placing contact lens on elephant's scratched eye

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preventing Eye Injuries

More than 1 million people suffer from eye injuries each year in the United States. Ninety percent of these injuries could have been prevented if the individual had been wearing appropriate protective eyewear. Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the most basic things you can do to keep your vision healthy throughout your life.  “Most people are aware of the possible risk of eye injuries, according to Brad Spagnolo, M.D. of the Baltimore Washington Eye Center. “However,” he says, “Many don’t take the easiest step of all to prevent 90% of those injuries, which is wearing the proper protective eyewear”.
If you are not, then you are not alone. According to a recent nationwide survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only 35% of respondents said they always wear protective eyewear when performing home repairs or maintenance. Even fewer do when playing sports. Of the injuries reported in the survey, almost half (44.7%) occurred in the home. More than 40% of the injuries were caused by activities such as home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. Over a third of the injuries in the home occurred in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, or family room.

More than 40% of eye injuries each year are related to sports or recreational activities.

In this survey of eye injuries, 78% of the people were not wearing eye wear of any kind. Of those reported to be wearing some form of eye wear (glasses or contacts) only a little over 5% were wearing safety or sports spectacles. For most repair projects and activities around the home, basic ANSI-approved (American National Standards Institute) protective eyewear will be sufficient. Sports eye protection should meet that sport’s specific requirements. These are usually established and certified by the sport’s governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Tips to Prevent Eye Injuries
In the house: when using household chemicals, read instructions and labels carefully, work in a well-ventilated area, and make sure to point spray nozzles away from you. Many chemicals are extremely hazardous and can permanently destroy the surface of your eyes, resulting in blindness.
In the workshop: think about the work you will be doing and wear protective eyewear to shield your eyes from flying fragments, fumes, dust particles, sparks, ultraviolet and infrared radiation, and splashing chemicals. Many objects or substances can fly into your eyes unexpectedly and cause injury.
In the garden: put on protective eyewear before you use a lawn mower, power trimmer or edger and be sure to check for rocks and stones as they can become dangerous projectiles if picked up in these machines. Don’t forget the risk to bystanders (including children and pets) when using these machines.
In the workplace: wear appropriate safety eyewear for your job. Many who suffer eye injuries each day don’t think that they need eye protection so they don’t have appropriate eyewear for the job.
Around the car: battery acid, sparks and debris from damaged or improperly jumpstarted auto batteries can severely damage your eyes. Keep protective goggles in the trunk of your car to use for those emergencies as well as everyday repairs.

Dr. Spagnolo reiterates, “Prevention is the first and most important step in protecting your eyes from injuries, so be sure to protect your eyes with appropriate protective eyewear.” If you do experience an eye injury, seek medical attention promptly. For more on what to do and what not to do if you experience an eye injury, please check out the following link:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Got Grapes?

An interesting study has shown that eating grapes might help prevent age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. AMD is the leading cause of blindness among people 65 and older in the United States. A study published last month in Free Radical Biology and Medicine supports the notion that antioxidants, such as those in grapes, appear to be directly beneficial for retinal health and function, which should offer protection against developing AMD.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Longer Fuller Eyelashes & LATISSE™

LATISSE™ is an FDA approved treatment that can help you grow fuller, longer lashes. Most people who are interested in their appearance know the value of having big, bright, beautiful eyes. While eye makeup alone may be able to help you achieve a fuller and longer look for your eyelashes, LATISSE™ can actually help you grow fuller, longer eyelashes on your own! Your lashes are a big part of making your eyes more visible and adding that bright beautiful look to your appearance.

Lash enhancers have been used since ancient times to brighten the look of eyes. Today there are numerous eyelash cosmetics and treatments available to help you look your best. An option for those who want to fully benefit from these treatments is to make the most of their own natural lashes by enhancing their growth so that they are actually longer, fuller and darker.

LATISSE™ is a solution intended for use on the upper eyelid margins or the base of the eyelashes. It is a solution we can prescribe after an initial examination and consultation so that it can be determined if LATISSE™ is a good choice for you. It is important to follow your physician's instructions for LATISSE™ use. You should make your physician aware of any side effects that may occur in a small number of patients so that they can be addressed. These can include itching and redness of the eye itself, eye irritation, darkening of the skin around the eye, dryness or redness of the skin around the eye. Make sure that you keep the appointments for follow-up visits with your physician so that they can be sure you are getting the results you desire and not experiencing any of the side effects mentioned.

LATISSE™ is available from many physicians. As Board Certified Ophthalmologists at Baltimore Washington Eye Center we are eye physicians and surgeons who are specialists in understanding your eyes and the delicate tissue around your eyes including your lashes, eyelid margins, and eyelids. We are specifically trained and experienced in the examination and treatment of these of these areas for your eye health and cosmetic appearance-and we are here to help you look your best!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cataract Surgery Recovery

One of the most commonly asked questions my patients have is what is the recovery like following cataract surgery. I tell them that most folks return to their normal routine within a day, which is one of the great aspects of today's modern cataract procedure. Because we make a incredibly tiny incision on the eye to remove the cataract, there is usually very little discomfort, if any, and there is no need for stitches. Except for avoiding rubbing their eyes or getting water directly in their eyes for a couple of days, our patients routinely  return to their usual activities within a day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cataract & Ovarian Cancer Risk

There may be a relationship whereby women who develop Cataracts are less prone to developing Ovarian Cancer according to researchers. It is widely recognized that the major health benefit of exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation from the sun is the production of Vitamin D, which is helpful in protection against several human cancers, including Ovarian Carcinoma. On the other hand, Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation from the sun is a recognized risk factor for Cataract development. Researchers reporting in the November 2011 publication Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention studied 709 women with primary invasive ovarian carcinoma and 1101 controls to examine the association of Ovarian Carcinoma risk with a history of Cataract.  Some interesting findings were that older age, a history of Type 2 Diabetes and skin cancer were significant risk factors for developing a Cataract. Further, a history of Cataract was reported by 14% of cases and 17% of controls and was significantly associated with a reduced Ovarian Carcinoma risk. These findings add indirect evidence to the hypothesis that lifetime Vitamin D exposure may be inversely associated with risk of Ovarian Carcinoma. Additional studies are needed to further investigate the potential behavioral and biological factors that might influence association of cataract with ovarian cancer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Near Vision Stress & Nearsightedness

A perfectly seeing or emmetropic eye allows distant objects to focus clearly on the retina of the eye. A near sighted or myopic eye focuses distant light too quickly and the image of a distant target is blurred on the retina. If the object being viewed is moved closer to the eye it eventually reaches a point that allows it to be focused perfectly on the retina. This is called the patients “far point”. The more near sighted or myopic someone is the closer in to the eye you need to bring an object for it to be viewed clearly. When we “correct” a nearsighted patients vision, we place a lens in front of the eye that bends light in a way as to make distant objects focus clearly on the retina.

When we look at a near object our eye, which in its relaxed state is set to make distant objects focus on the retina, must refocus to zoom in on the near object and allow the divergent light rays coming from the near object to focus sharply on the retina. This process is called accommodation. Also when we regard near objects our eyes turn in to point at the target. Some people have poor accommodative function. Others have a tight posture so that even when the eyes are relaxed and not regarding a near target they are still slightly turned in relative to each other. This is called esophoria.

It has long been postulated that the effort and stress of near work can cause progression of myopia. For years many behavioral optometrists have recommended magnifying reading glasses or bifocals in children to slow the progression of myopia. A recent study published in April demonstrated that progressive lenses (no line bifocals) were more effective than single  vision distance spectacles in school age children with accommodative insufficiency and esophoria in slowing myopic progression. Another study published this fall in Survey of Ophthalmology analyzed nine different studies and found progressive lenses reduced progression of myopia compared to single vision lenses and that the effect was greater in patients with higher myopia and the outset and in patients of Asian descent.
Ask to have your child evaluated for risk factors related to near point stress at their next eye exam and see if progressive spectacle lenses can help slow down myopic progression.

Guest Blogger: Shari E. Strier, O.D., Optometrist with the Baltimore Washington Eye Center

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cataract Surgery & Lens Implant Cost

The cost of Cataract Surgery and Lens implants can get a little confusing. Almost all insurances and Medicare cover the bulk of the cost of Cataract Surgery and basic Lens Implants. HOWEVER, deductibles, co-pays and the extent to which certain services are or are not covered can affect the actual amount you might need to pay out of pocket.

Preoperative Testing and Consultation
With the exception of co-pays and deductibles specific to your insurance plan the eye examination, consultation and measurements necessary for Cataract Surgery and basic Intraocular Lens (IOL) implantation are covered services. If there are specialized tests that might be required such as more precise types of testing for multifocal lens implants or toric lens implants, you may need to pay for these tests out of pocket as your insurance and Medicare may only cover the basic testing. If this is the case these extra tests may range in cost up to a few or several hundred dollars depending on the scope of the necessary testing.

Surgery Center Facility Fee
The surgery center facility fee is generally covered by insurances and Medicare although there may be a small co-pay or deductible with certain plans. This fee will cover the use of the facility including the operating room, the nursing staff, the instrumentation and equipment and all related operating room supplies. Depending on the types of anesthesia used it is possible that there will be an additional fee-mostly covered by your insurance or Medicare-for the administration of anesthesia and the staff.

Cataract Surgeon’s Fee
The Cataract Surgeon’s fee is generally covered by insurances and Medicare although there may be a small co-pay or deductible with certain plans.

Lens Implant Fee
The cost of a basic Monofocal lens implant is generally covered by insurances and Medicare within the facility fee. However, should you and your Cataract Surgeon elect to use an astigmatism correcting toric lens implant or multifocal lens implant there will be an out of pocket fee as most insurances and Medicare do not cover these more advanced types of Lens Implants.

If you or someone you know has questions about the cost of Cataract Surgery and Lens Implants please feel free to call Baltimore Washington Eye Center-800-495-3937.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Glaucoma Awareness Month in Baltimore

The eye doctors and staff at Baltimore Washington Eye Center want to focus patient’s attention on Glaucoma this month as January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. “This is an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Our understanding of this disease along with the ways in which we can diagnose and treat it have improved considerably,” commented Baltimore Ophthalmologist Arturo Betancourt, M.D. of Baltimore Washington Eye Center.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness overall. Of particular note is that Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
Over 4 million Americans, and nearly 70 million people worldwide, have Glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision.
The most common type of Glaucoma—Primary Open Angle Glaucoma—is hereditary. The Nottingham Glaucoma Study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology evaluated the risk that siblings of Glaucoma patients would themselves develop Glaucoma within their lifetime. “ While we already knew that there was a strong likelihood that family members of Glaucoma patients were at greater risk, the Nottingham Study found that siblings were 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma by age 70. This is why we strongly recommend that siblings of Glaucoma patients and Glaucoma suspects be screened for Glaucoma, each and every year,” said Dr. Betancourt.

If you, a relative or someone you know is at risk for Glaucoma based on their age, heredity or health please tell them to call Baltimore Washington Eye Center at 800-495-3937 to schedule an eye exam and Glaucoma screening. Early diagnosis and treatment goes a long way to preserving eye health and vision.