Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baltimore Eyeglasses Quality & Convenience

Baltimore Washington Eye Center takes pride in offering quality and convenient eyeglasses and eyewear as well as providing the most comprehensive ophthalmology practice services in the greater Baltimore area-and for over 40 years! Quality and convenience.  Our eye doctors integrate medical expertise, precision, and state-of-the-art technology to achieve optimal results for our patients.  In addition to providing:  LASIK, cataract surgery, intraocular lens implants, diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, we also provide a full service optical department offering the full range of eyewear and eyeglasses for our patients at each of our locations. When we opened our optical department fifteen years ago, we wanted to provide our patients with quality care and excellence in the service when selecting their eyeglasses.  To this end, all of our optical department staff members are certified by the American Board of Opticianry. Recently we added a new member to our staff.  We are happy to announce Mike Murphy has been added to our optical department staff and will be over seeing our Clarksville office.  Mike comes to us with 35 years of optical experience. The Baltimore Washington Eye Center optical department staff now has over 80 years of combined optical experience.   We welcome all patients who require eyeglass services to stop-in our Clarksville office and meet Mike Murphy. As always, we welcome you to our Glen Burnie office. Please feel free to contact us at 800-495-3937.

Guest Blogger: Larry A. Heilman, F.N.A.O. with the Baltimore Washington Eye Center

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Your Eyes & Vitamin & Mineral Supplements

As previously posted on this blog in October 2011, the AREDs study done by the National Eye Institute demonstrated that  high levels of antioxidant vitamins and the mineral zinc have been shown to reduce the risk of severe vision loss in patients with advance age related macular degeneration. That same month new data was published based on long term follow up on the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) which showed that men who took 400 ius of Vitamin E (the same amount taken in the AREDS study) had a higher incidence of prostate cancer than those who took placebo. A review of the AREDS data showed no association of increased risk of prostate cancer in the men who took Vitamin E as part of their study. For more information. As always before deciding to take any supplement please consult with your primary care physician.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stem Cell Research in AMD

Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into any type of cell found in human tissue. They have long been believed to hold the key to the treatment and prevention of a host of devastating diseases. Age related macular degeneration along with glaucoma and cataracts, is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. Loss of vision from cataracts is reversible with cataract surgery. Glaucoma, when caught early, can be managed to prevent severe visual loss. For the majority of patients with macular degeneration, there is no effective management of the disease.

The retina can be thought of, in simplified terms, as being made up of three basic layers sandwiched together. A layer of seeing cells (rods and cones), a layer of blood vessels (the choroid) and sandwiched between them a layer of pigmented cells (retinal pigment epithelium or RPE). The function of the retinal pigment epithelium is the metabolic support of the other two layers. In macular degeneration, it is the RPE that fails. Once the RPE stops functioning well, either of the other two layers may malfunction. When trouble occurs in the choroid, it manifests as abnormal growth of blood vessels that leak and bleed, resulting in retinal scarring and severe visual loss (Wet AMD). Happily, with recent developments in injectable medications, treatments exist for this devastating form of the disease. In over eighty percent of patients with this disease, the seeing cells of the retina atrophy over time (Dry AMD) causing a slow insidious loss of vision that currently we have no ability to treat or prevent.

In July of last year, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, stem cells that had been differentiated into retinal pigment epithelial cells, were injected into the retinas of patients suffering from dry AMD as well as Stargardt’s disease, a genetic disease that causes progressive retinal degeneration and severe vision loss in young people. The study was primarily done to determine the safety of such treatments, as the patients in the study all had such advanced disease that no improvement of vision could reasonably be expected. A preliminary report published in the journal Lancet in January 2012, stated that there were no adverse effects of treatment and no rejection of the transplanted cells. This evidence paves the way for future studies in patients with less advanced disease. And the hope exists that halting of the disease or recovery of vision, may be on the horizon.

Shari E. Strier, O.D. with the Baltimore Washington Eye Center

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Swimming & Contact Lenses in Baltimore

Baltimore contact lens wearers should avoid swimming with their contacts. In fact, contact lenses really should not be worn for swimming, taking showers, in bath tubs or in hot tubs as this poses safety risks to patients. “We commonly hear patient questions about wanting to wear their contacts while in a pool or hot tub or even while in the shower. This is not a good idea and can significantly increase the safety risks of contact lens wear”, said Baltimore Corneal Specialist Brad Spagnolo, M.D. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that contact lenses not be exposed to any form of water. Although rare, a sight-threatening eye complication, Acanthamoeba Keratitis, is caused by an organism present in all forms of impure water (i.e., swimming pools, tap water, saunas, wells, and showers). Acanthamoeba, and certain forms of bacteria present in water, can become attached to the contact lenses, possibly resulting in an infection. It would be preferable to insert your contact lenses after showering. If lenses are being worn while showering, it is recommended to keep your eyes firmly closed. If you accidently wear your contact lenses while in the bathtub or hot tub, care should be taken to avoid water being splashed into the eyes. If your eyes are exposed to water, instill a lubricating drop to help loosen the lens on the eye, remove the lens with clean, dry hands, then clean and disinfect it the lens, or discard it. Never sleep in a lens that has been exposed to water without first cleaning and disinfecting it. If lenses were removed prior to getting in a hot tub, they must be properly cleaned and disinfected before being re-inserted.

"Contact Lenses are really quite safe to wear if your follow proper care guidelines and instructions. However, if water restrictions such as swimming, bath tubs and showering are part of your daily routine, you do need to keep your lenses out. Many more patients-even very successful contact lens wearers-finds this to be a hassle and are now interested in discussing LASIK as an option,” said Dr. Spagnolo. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about LASIK or scheduling a Free LASIK Consultation please call Baltimore Washington Eye Center-800-495-3937.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Allergy Eyes Come Early to Baltimore

Looks like allergy season has arrived a bit early and that often means many folks have difficulty wearing their contacts. If this is a particular problem for you, consider reducing your wear-time, switching to part-time (i.e. only for sports, social events, weekends), replacing lenses more frequently, and using rewetting drops more often.

Another option is using daily disposable contacts. This alleviates the need for cleaning/caring for lenses as you start each day with a fresh pair of lenses. Use of  1-day lenses avoids the surface build-up of irritating allergens as well as eliminates exposure to the chemicals found in multipurpose disinfectant solutions. One day lenses are also less time consuming and more convenient than conventional replacement lenses.

A daily disposable contact lens is definitely worth considering. These type of lenses are available for people with astigmatism, too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Baltimore Contact Lens Technician Lorie Ford

We wanted you to meet Baltimore Washington Eye Center Contact Lens Technician Lorie Ford. Lorie has been in ophthalmology for over 28 years. She spent the first 3 years as a technician before focusing her attention on the contact lens specialty.  After her contact lens training, she passed the National Contact Lens Examiner’s exam, and so the last 5 years have been dedicated to the contact lens industry.  The thing Lorie treasures most about her position here at the Baltimore Washington Eye Center are her patients, especially the children.

Getting started with contact lenses is exciting and a little intimidating. Lorie excels at helping new contact lens wearers gain confidence and in helping them master the intricacies of contact lens wear and care. She finds it extremely rewarding to help patients of all ages achieve their best vision with comfort and clarity, giving them a new outlook on life.

Being a “Baby Boomer” herself, Lorie is excited about the new multifocal contact lens technology that is now available.  If your arms aren’t long enough anymore, the lighting is too dim or they’re simply making the print too small, then perhaps Lorie can help you.

Outside of work Lorie enjoys gardening, her family's cat Mr. Whiskers and rooting for the Baltimore Ravens. We are happy to have Lorie and all of her ophthalmic experience here at the Baltimore Washington Eye Center.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Corneal Infections in Baltimore

“As a Baltimore CornealSpecialist I am always on alert for corneal infections or Keratitis that can become potentially serious matters for patients at Baltimore Washington Eye Center,” stated Brad Spagnolo, M.D. “A healthy intact cornea is quite resistant to infection. But if the outermost layer of the cornea which is called the epithelium, is damaged at all, the risk of infection increases a great deal.” Patients should always remember that any type of trauma-whether getting a poke in the eye from a branch or a finger or a foreign body such as metal or even from a dirty or damaged contact lens-makes it possible for bacteria, viruses or fungi to penetrate the cornea and cause an infection. Situations like these can cause painful inflammation and corneal infections called Keratitis.

The signs and symptoms of a corneal infection often include redness, pain, light sensitivity, eye watering and sometimes you may actually see a white spot at the center of the infection. Sometimes, Keratitis can cause a painful inflammation with a discharge, which if not treated quickly and appropriately can lead to corneal erosion, corneal ulceration and even corneal scarring which can impair vision and may require a Corneal Transplant. Quick diagnosis and treatment are the best way to avoid the potential for damage and vision loss from a corneal infection. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms-especially if they have had any trauma to their eyes-please called Baltimore Washington Eye Center-800-495-3937 and request an immediate appointment with a corneal specialist.
According to the Journal of the American Optometric Association, nearly half of the prescription eyewear ordered online in the U.S. had incorrect prescriptions or did not meet the physical parameters required to provide sufficient protection. Among the errors listed were providing single vision glasses instead of bifocals and adding or omitting lens treatments such as anti-glare coatings.  Almost 30% of the glasses tested in the study had at least one lens that was not within the parameters of the prescription for that pair of glasses. Just as worrisome, if not more so, is the finding that almost a quarter of the lenses tested failed standardized impact testing.

This study was published in the September 2011 issue of Optometry.

For a similar issue with online ordering of contacts lenses, check out one of our blog posts from late last year:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

LASIK for You at Baltimore Washington Eye Center

The eye surgeons at Baltimore Washington Eye Center have been performing Laser Eye Surgery, such as LASIK, for the Laser Vision Correction of common vision problems for 15 years with outstanding results. The Baltimore Washington Laser Vision Center continually achieves high levels of patient satisfaction as evidenced by the fact that all of our Laser Eye Surgery patients achieve the ability to drive without glasses or contacts. Perhaps better still, greater than 9 out of 10 of our patients see as well, or as better, than they did with their glasses or contact lenses. The advantages of LASIK are well established and include a quick healing time and a rapid visual recovery. At Baltimore Washington Eye Center close to 100% of patients are able to return to work the next day.

Millions of people have had Laser Vision Correction to free themselves from eyeglasses or contacts for seeing at distance.  Before you decide if Laser Vision Correction is right for you, there are some questions you should ask.
  • What are the eye surgeon’s background, education, and certifications?
  • Is the eye surgeon certified to perform the procedure?
  • How long has the surgeon/practice been in the area?
  • Is their office in your area or are they from out of town and here temporarily performing surgery?
  • Who will perform your pre and post-op examinations?
  • Who owns and is responsible for maintaining the laser?
  • Does the laser remain at the center or is it moved around from place to place?
  • How much will the procedure cost?
  • Who trains and supervises the staff?
The Baltimore Washington Eye Center would like to personally answer ALL of your questions about Laser Vision Correction. We’ll even arrange for a free screening to determine if you can benefit from LASIK.

Just give us a call at 410-766-3937 or visit our website at 

Make sure to check out the video library in the upper left hand corner. Click ‘Tests & Treatments’. Lastly, click “What is Refractive Surgery” video. Let us help you see what you’ve been missing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eyes, Computers & Eyestrain in Baltimore

The eye doctors at Baltimore Washington Eye Center have some useful information to share about computer and video display terminal use, your eyes and eyestrain. Staring at your computer screen, smartphone, video game or other digital devices for long periods won’t cause permanent eye damage, but your eyes may feel dry and tired. Although there are no long-term studies at this time, we do not believe there is any reason to be concerned that 3-D movies, TV or video games will damage the eyes or visual system.

Normally, you blink about 18 times a minute, but only blink half that often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play. Reading, writing or other intensive “near work” can also cause eyestrain of a similar nature.

It is helpful in avoiding computer related eyestrain if you first position yourself about 24” from the screen you are viewing and with your eye gaze is slightly downward. It also helps to reduce glare from the screen by lighting the area properly and if possible use a screen filter if needed. It may seem silly but post a note that says “Blink!” on the computer as a reminder. Then, use the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. It is also helpful to use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry. Make sure that you take regular breaks from computer work, and be sure to get enough sleep at night. Now, if you wear contacts for the computer screen it’s important that you use and care for them properly in order to avoid eye irritation, swelling, infection and vision problems. Also, give your eyes a break and wear your glasses instead of your contacts sometime. Consider a special prescription and lens coating for computer use to help manage eyestrain and fatigue. If you wish to learn more about computers, vision, eyestrain and your eyes please feel free to call Baltimore Washington Eye Center-800-495-3937.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baltimore Eye Refractions Billing & Cost

We would like to help you understand more about the cost and billing of eye refractions at Baltimore Washington Eye Center. One of the most basic parts of an eye exam is checking the refraction of your eyes or an eye refraction test. This allows us to determine what your best possible vision is at that point in time while wearing a prescription optical lens and gives us the basis for prescribing a prescription optical lens. The most common type of eye refraction is called a Manifest Refraction and is performed without the use of eye drops so that we can examine the eye in a natural state. If you have ever had and eye exam you are probably familiar with the “which is better, one or two” test-this is a Manifest Refraction. Another type of eye refraction is called a Cycloplegic Refractions which is performed after the instillation of eye drops to temporarily immobilize the Ciliary Muscle of the eye. This temporarily prevents you from accommodating or “focusing” up close and is used when there is a need for an even more precise measurement of refractive error. In addition the eye drops will also dilate the pupil so the eye doctor can easily see the back of the eye to examine the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels in order to evaluate their health.

From an insurance standpoint, eye refractions are considered part of a routine eye exam.  Because refractions are normally used to determine refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, and therefore prescribe glasses or contact lenses, many insurance companies, particularly Medicare and Medicaid, do not pay for them.  It's important to understand that when patients are having their eye exam, refractions are a necessary part of a routine eye exam and must be paid for out of pocket. If you have questions about the cost of your refraction or billing questions about refraction please call Baltimore Washington Eye Center-800-495-3937 and we will be glad to assist.