Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Baltimore Eye Doctor on Glaucoma & Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is promoted as a treatment for many diseases, including glaucoma. Baltimore Ophthalmologist Brad Spagnolo, M.D. discussed medical marijuana and glaucoma. “Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve becomes damaged over time, reducing peripheral vision. If not properly diagnosed and treated it can lead to blindness. One cause of the optic nerve damage in glaucoma is higher-than-normal pressure within the eye, called intraocular pressure or IOP,” explained Dr. Spagnolo. “Currently glaucoma treatment for the most part is to lower IOP levels with eye drops, laser treatment, oral medications and sometimes surgery depending on the type of glaucoma and how severe it is.”

The idea that marijuana can be helpful in treating glaucoma dates to the 1970s. Studies conducted then showed that smoking marijuana lowered the IOP of people with glaucoma. As a result of this research, additional studies were conducted examining whether marijuana or its active ingredient, a compound known as THC, could be used to keep IOP lowered. This research was supported by the National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The research found that when marijuana is smoked or when a form of its active ingredient is taken as a pill or by injection, it does lower IOP. However, it only lowers IOP for a short period of time-about three or four hours. This short period of time is a major drawback for the use of marijuana as a glaucoma treatment. Because glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day, you would need to smoke marijuana six to eight times a day around the clock to receive the benefit of a consistently lowered IOP. Because of marijuana's mood-altering effect, smoking so much of it daily would leave you too impaired to drive, operate equipment or function at the peak of your mental ability.

The effect that marijuana has on your ability to function is not the only side effect from the drug, however. Marijuana cigarettes contain hundreds of compounds that damage the lungs. Research has shown that regular and frequent use of marijuana, particularly in high doses, can cause problems with short-term memory and concentration.

As scientists learn more about glaucoma, they have also come to understand that IOP is not the only factor that damages the optic nerve. Recent studies characterize glaucoma as a neurologic disease similar to Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. And, there is increasing evidence that reduced flow of blood to the optic nerve may also cause damage in patients with glaucoma. Unfortunately, marijuana not only lowers IOP, but it lowers blood pressure throughout the body. As a result, it has the potential to lower the blood flow to the optic nerve, effectively canceling out the benefit of a lowered IOP. So, while marijuana can temporarily lower your IOP, it's not recommended for treating glaucoma. Prescription medications, laser and surgical treatments have been tested and proven as effective treatments for the glaucoma.

If you or someone you know has questions about eye exams, glaucoma and medical marijuana feel free to contact Baltimore Washington Eye Center by calling 800-495-3937, visiting Baltimore Washington Eye Center or facebook.com/baltimorewashingtoneyecenter, so that we can help identify the possible causes and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.


Baltimore Washington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area staffed by a team of Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, diagnosis and treatment of cataracts including cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma as well as contact lenses, eyeglasses, eyewear  and optical services. Baltimore Washington Eye Center is conveniently located for patients from Arbutus, Carney, Clarksville, Columbia, Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex, Ellicott City, Ferndale, Glen Burnie, Kenwood, Laurel, Linthicum, Lutherville, Millersville, Odenton Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Towson, Parkville, Randallstown, Rivera Beach, Pasadena, Severna Park, South Gate and Woodlawn Maryland.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Exercise after Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants


Baltimore Washington Eye Center Cataract Surgeon Arturo Betancourt, M.D. reviewed guidelines for resuming exercise after cataract surgery and lens implants. “The cataract surgery and lens implant operation allows for a much quicker practical and visual recovery,” stated Dr. Betancourt. “This is important to so many patients-especially as they want to be able to resume their daily activities and lifestyle quickly. One area we always discuss with patients is how long they need to wait or restrict their exercise routine,” Dr. Betancourt further explained. “Certainly exercise guidelines may vary slightly depending on your cataract surgeon and on the specific details of your cataract surgery, but in general within 24 to 48 hours you should be able to do light walking. Avoid any heavy lifting or bending from the waist to get objects from the floor until you get approval to do so from your cataract surgeon. Swimming and water activities should be avoided for at least the first week after surgery because getting water in your eyes could increase the risk for infection. However, most patients are completely back to their exercise routines within one month after surgery.”

If you or someone you know has questions about cataract, cataract surgery, lens implants and exercise restrictions please contact Baltimore Washington Eye Center by calling 800-495-3937, visiting Baltimore Washington Eye Center or facebook.com/baltimorewashingtoneyecenter.

Baltimore Washington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area staffed by a team of Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, diagnosis and treatment of cataracts including cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma as well as contact lenses, eyeglasses, eyewear  and optical services. Baltimore Washington Eye Center is conveniently located for patients from Arbutus, Carney, Clarksville, Columbia, Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex, Ellicott City, Ferndale, Glen Burnie, Kenwood, Laurel, Linthicum, Lutherville, Millersville, Odenton Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Towson, Parkville, Randallstown, Rivera Beach, Pasadena, Severna Park, South Gate and Woodlawn Maryland.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cataract Surgery & Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

Baltimore Washington Eye Center Cataract Surgeon Brad Spagnolo, M.D. explained why cataract surgery patients often experience Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) after a cataract operation. “Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) does indeed appear to be more common in individuals who have had cataract surgery. There may not be an obvious "cause and effect" relationship but there are a number of possible factors that contribute to this.” 
  • The vitreous changes that lead to vitreous liquefication and instability and ultimately PVD are age-related, as are cataracts and the need for cataract surgery.
  • Removal of a cataract can allow mechanical space shifts in the vitreous gel and perhaps increase the odds of PVD.
  • Biochemical changes actually occur following cataract surgery and these appear to increase the likelihood of PVD, particularly if the posterior lens capsule is opened. 
  • Unusual complications of cataract surgery can disrupt the integrity of the vitreous gel and increase the odds of PVD. 
“What we know clinically as a practical matter is that it is pretty typical for some 50% or more of patients undergoing cataract surgery will experience a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD), with some patients noticing visual symptoms including a “cobweb” or some floaters,” explained Dr. Brad Spagnolo. “If the visual symptoms become excessive or are accompanied by a curtain or veil in your vision, or perhaps distortion of your vision, we want to hear from you immediately.” 

If you or someone you know has a question or concerns about Cataracts, Cataract surgery or Posterior Vitreous detachment (PVD) please feel free to contact Baltimore Washington Eye Center by calling 800-495-3937, visiting Baltimore Washington Eye Center or facebook.com/baltimorewashingtoneyecenter, so that we can help identify the possible causes and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. 

Baltimore Washington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area staffed by a team of Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, diagnosis and treatment of cataracts including cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma as well as contact lenses, eyeglasses, eyewear and optical services. Baltimore Washington Eye Center is conveniently located for patients from Arbutus, Carney, Clarksville, Columbia, Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex, Ellicott City, Ferndale, Glen Burnie, Kenwood, Laurel, Linthicum, Lutherville, Millersville, Odenton Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Towson, Parkville, Randallstown, Rivera Beach, Pasadena, Severna Park, South Gate and Woodlawn Maryland.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunglasses: Choosing the Right Ones

“Choosing the right sunglasses means understanding that they are more than just a fashion accessory,” commented Baltimore Washington Eye Center Optometrist Dr. Shari Strier. “Sunglasses are an important form of protection for your eyes against the damaging rays of the sun.” 

It's important for you to know what types of light you need to protect your eyes from and what types of light are not necessarily harmful. Here are some tips for picking the right pair of nonprescription sunglasses.
  • Choose Sunglasses that Block 99% of Ultraviolet (UV) Rays. This is the most important feature of your sunglasses, and you should always choose sunglasses that provide this protection. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight is linked to eye disease, including cataracts. Some manufacturers' labels say UV absorption up to 400nm. This is the same thing as 100 percent UV absorption. Some glasses make additional claims for blocking infrared rays, but research has not shown a close connection between infrared rays and eye disease. 
  • Don't Rely on the Price. Many types of affordable sunglasses offer 99 to 100% UV protection, so you don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money on a pair of sunglasses. 
  • Do Rely on the Quality. In addition to UV protection, you also want to check the optical quality of the lenses. You can easily test the quality of sunglasses by looking at something with a rectangular pattern, such as a floor tile. Hold the glasses at a comfortable distance and cover one eye. Move the glasses slowly from side to side, then up and down. If the lines stay straight, the lenses are fine. If the lines wiggle, especially in the center of the lens, try another pair. 
  • Look for Impact-Resistant Lenses. All sunglasses must meet impact standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety. No lens is truly unbreakable, but plastic lenses are less likely to shatter when hit by a ball or stone. Polycarbonate plastics, used in many sports sunglasses, are especially strong, but scratch easily. If you buy polycarbonate lenses, choose ones with a scratch-resistant coating. 
  • Use Protective Eyewear NOT Sunglasses for Hazardous Activities. If you are going to be engaged in outdoor activities like water or snow skiing that put your eye at risk for injury, don't count on your eyeglasses for protection. Protective eyewear is available with UV protection to shield your eyes from sunburn and glare. 
  • Lens Color Tinting & Polarization are Personal Preferences. There's no medical reason to recommend one tint of lens over another. Likewise, while polarized lenses work better at deflecting glare, they're not blocking any more harmful UV light than non-polarized lenses. 
Once you have the right sunglasses, make sure you wear them, especially in the summer when UV levels are at least three times higher than in the winter. Also be sure to wear them when participating in winter sports, particularly at high elevations. 

If you or someone you know has a question or would like to learn more about choosing the right sunglasses please feel free to contact Baltimore Washington Eye Center by calling 800-495-3937, visiting Baltimore Washington Eye Center or facebook.com/baltimorewashingtoneyecenter

Baltimore Washington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area staffed by a team of Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, diagnosis and treatment of cataracts including cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma as well as contact lenses, eyeglasses, eyewear and optical services. Baltimore Washington Eye Center is conveniently located for patients from Arbutus, Carney, Clarksville, Columbia, Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex, Ellicott City, Ferndale, Glen Burnie, Kenwood, Laurel, Linthicum, Lutherville, Millersville, Odenton Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Towson, Parkville, Randallstown, Rivera Beach, Pasadena, Severna Park, South Gate and Woodlawn Maryland.