Melanoma – A Mole Gone Bad

The quickest way to explain melanoma is the simply say that it is a mole that has gone bad. It is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. According to SkinCancer.org, everyone is at some risk for melanoma. Those with a family or personal history, lighter skin color, a weakened immune system, and excessive moles are at an even higher risk.

And melanoma is on the rise! The good news is that melanoma is almost always curable AS LONG AS IT IS TREATED EARLY. What does that mean to you? You need to get a yearly skin check as well as keep any eye on your own skin for any signs of skin cancer.

Look out for the ABCDEs of melanoma.

 

A for Asymmetry

If you were to draw a line through the middle of the mole and the 2 sides don’t match, then you should have it checked immediately.

B is for Border

If the borders are not smooth, have it checked.

C is for Color

If the is an unusual color, you should have it checked.

D is for Diameter

If the diameter of the mole is larger than a pencil eraser, it could be melanoma…even though some melanomas can be small.

E is for Evolving

Keep a watch on your moles and if you see it changing in any way, or if it starts to bleed, make an appointment.

No one likes to go to the doctor and especially if it is for something scary like melanoma. We also hate to waste our money. What if it is ‘nothing’. It is better to have wasted an appointment for a ‘perfectly normal’ mole than to miss catching this deadly cancer early. Click here or call 1-877-816-DERM (3376) for an appointment with Dr. Gary Rosen.

NOTE: You will be seeing Dr. Rosen; not a PA or NP.

Tears for My Dry Eyes from Olive Oil

The next time you travel to the Napa Valley (California), do your Dry Eyes a favor. Visit the wonderful OLIVE OIL tasting rooms. Yes, there are now several excellent olive orchards producing what has been described as “liquid gold” of extra-virgin olive oil, right here in the good ole US of A.

Right behind the Omega 3 fish oils is extra-virgin olive oil. That is why it should be on the top of every dry eye patient’s cooking list. It is a member of the “short list” of foods that offer our body assistance in reducing inflammation our joints, but also the inflammation in our tear producing glands that leads to our dry eye symptoms.  Use it as often as you can for cooking or take it straight. I call it the “dry eye shot”. Pour out the tequila and fill your shot glass with olive oil (flavored, if you would prefer). The chocolate-infused oil is said to be great over ice cream. Wow, we can now enjoy our ice cream AND feel good because we are improving our dry eye condition at the same time.

From one ice cream lover to another,
Richard Hector

One of our favorite Omega 3 fish oils is Omega Cureby Omega3 Innovations. It is made with wild cod caught off the coast of Norway, eliminating the fishy taste while still achieving the omega 3 health benefits. The super food can also be used in juices, smoothies and even salad dressings to help you get your daily servings. Omega3 Innovations even has breakfast cookies, chocolate cookies and the tasty dark chocolate truffle surprisingly containing omega 3 fish oil.

You can find out more information on Omega Cure at https://www.omega3innovations.com/omega-cure/

If you have dry eyes and would like to be evaluated by our Fellowship Trained Dry Eye Specialist, Richard Hector MD, or one of our board certified eye physicians, please call toll free 1-866-865-2020 or contact The Eye Associates.

      

The World After Cataracts By Jean Steiger

I thought I was pretty well preserved for my age. A few friends made nice comments about my skin, sometimes new friends were surprised when they learned my age and I felt reasonably good about my image in the mirror.

Then I had cataract surgery in my right eye.

When the dilation and fog of surgery cleared after a few days, I gazed at my reflection and my heart sank. I had had the lens corrected for astigmatism and distance and I was seeing a whole new me. In fact, I was seeing a whole new world. When I closed the left eye (cataract and astigmatism still in place), objects were no longer fuzzy; everything had well-defined edges and colors were vibrant. My vision was clear and I could see far into the distance.

Which also meant I could see every wrinkle. When had those tiny lines on my cheeks appeared? And what about my forehead? The circles under my eyes made me look tired and – there it is – old! I would have to start wearing bangs that came down over my eyes.
Why hadn’t someone warned me about this aspect of cataract removal and vision correction? If they had, I might have gone on until the end of my life, believing I still looked 16. Okay, maybe not 16, but how about 60? I was probably a bit unrealistic. But, oh, how I loved my visual fog. Now I would have to get used to the new “mature” me.

Half-way into the first week with the new eyesight, I turned to the computer. At my last visit to the dermatologist, I had asked the doctor to recommend a face cream for wrinkles. I googled the brand he had mentioned and was immediately rewarded: a dozen sites appeared. When I hit one of them, I found the cream and almost closed the computer. Two ounces of the lotion cost $75! How long would two ounces last? The directions recommended two or three pump-fulls spread over your face every day. Maybe, if I was lucky, it would last a week!

I kept searching, desperate in my new awareness. Finally I found the cream on Amazon for half the price. I ordered two and watched for their arrival, meanwhile avoiding mirrors. When they came, I unwrapped one and carefully pumped out a few drops. Forget three pumps every day; I was going to get along on three drops. These two containers were going to have to last a long time!

When I returned to the Eye Associates for a check-up, I told Dr. McCabe, my cataract surgeon, about my mirror shock. She laughed and told me about one of her patients who, after cataract surgery, took a good look at the walls in her house and repainted every room. My brother, also an ophthalmologist, told me about a patient who bought a new wardrobe after cataract surgery and a third who complained about how old her husband had become. So I wasn’t alone!

With one eye changed, my glasses are no longer useful. In fact, it’s just the opposite; they cloud my vision. Of course, part of this problem is because they are so scratched. I’m one of those people who take my glasses on and off ten times a day, leaving them between couch cushions, under bed covers and in bathroom drawers. Then I spend 30 minutes searching for them while my husband is waiting for me or when I need to be out the door and on the way to an appointment. Now, with distance vision improved, I can buy inexpensive readers and leave them all over the house! Maybe this will make up for the new wrinkles!

It’s strange to drive the car without wearing glasses. I keep wondering what will happen if I get pulled over and a policeman looks at my license which specifies that I need glasses to drive. Will he or she believe my cataract story? On the other hand, this is Florida and I’m guessing I am one of thousands, if not millions in this predicament. When I made my appointment for the cataract surgery, the eye counselor told me the schedule was very full because this is “cataract season”. This is a new one. I know it is tourist season, but cataract season?

The other thing about cataract surgery is the drops; there are four of them – an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, pain-inflammation and lubricating drops. All of these are given at different times and for different periods of time and different amounts. The office does give you a nice sheet with everything clearly listed so you can actually cross off each drop after you’ve used it. At first I resisted this approach, certain I could keep track of this myself, but as the second eye approaches, I have given up. The check-list and a pen are in place by the little bottles of drops. And tomorrow I return to the eye surgery center for cataract removal, astigmatism and distance correction in the left eye. I’m just wondering how many new wrinkles I’m going to see by the middle of the week!

NOTE: The second eye is done and my vision is wonderful! I love my crisp new eyesight and my great distance vision; I’m even making peace with the previously invisible wrinkles. Thank you, Dr. McCabe.

Blog repost from: www.stayingyounginflorida.com and the entertaining writings of Jean Steiger

Are electronics affecting your kids’ eyes?

Phones, tablets and other electronic devices

How does electronics affect kids’ eyes?

Electronic devices. Our kids were raised with them. They can’t imagine life without them. And neither can we. But how are they affecting our kids’ eyes? We know first hand the strain that we feel after a long period at the computer. But what about our kids? According to the American Optometric Association, 83 % of our kids between 10 and 17 are using electronic devices 3 hours or more a day. Most parents are surprised to hear that. While we accept that we are using smart phones and computers for hours at work, it’s hard to imagine that our kids are spending so much time on them as well.

Another study published in Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus found that smartphones and tablets could be contributing to increased dry eye problems in kids’ eyes. Dry Eye symptoms such as burning, tearing, eye fatigue are common complaints that we hear everyday at The Eye Associates, and increasingly so in kids. Gaming glasses, computer glasses and digital eyeglasses are being prescribed more and more in order to offer symptom relief as well as protection against harmful bluelight emitted by electronics. The American Macular Degeneration Associations has suggested a link between bluelight and macular degeneration. Let’s start protecting our kids’ eyes early from macular degeneration.

The difference between kids and adults is the self awareness of symptoms. Adults feeling eye strain will take a break and give their eyes a rest. We find that children, especially when playing a game, will continue using the electronic device. That is why it is important for the parent to step in and institute rules about electronic use. We recommend taking a break every 20 minutes. Also remind your kids to blink. So often computer users forget to blink.

Adults are also susceptible to digital strain. Some common symptoms are tired eyes, stiff neck and headache.

http://www.zeiss.com/vision-care/en_de/better-vision/better-vision-with-zeiss/your-individualized-zeiss-lens/digital-lenses-spectacles-for-users-of-mobile-devices.html

5 REASONS TO HAVE AN EYE EXAM

Call 1-866-865-2020.

Eye exams save sight.

1) Even if You Don’t Wear Eyeglasses, You Still Need an Eye Exam.

Some sight-threatening eye diseases do not have early warning signs, and many can only be detected during a dilated eye exam. Some cataracts affect vision in such a gradual way that you do not notice the decreased vision. Half of all people with glaucoma are unaware that they even have the disease. Also, diabetics with diabetic retinopathy often do not experience symptoms when the disease is at its most treatable stage. Remember, the key to keeping good vision for a lifetime starts with early detection during an eye exam and early treatment.

2) Eye Exams Detect Other Health Problems Too

Most people don’t know that many general health problems are often first detected during a routine comprehensive eye exam. The reason is that the eye is the only place where blood vessels can be viewed in their natural state without a surgical procedure. Changes in the blood vessels of the eye or fluctuations in vision sometimes lead to the first diagnosis of common diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthrosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and high cholesterol. Graves’ disease is often first noticed as protruding eyes and double vision. Neurologic diseases such as MS may be first suspected when an eye doctor finds changes in the eye and the optic nerve. Even cancer and brain tumors, although rare, are sometimes detected during an eye exam. Our board certified physicians are always looking out for your overall health and well-being; not just your vision.

3) Good Vision Increases Safety

Poor vision can have an adverse effect on many life issues, such as depression, increased car accidents, and drug-related errors, but none of these are more concerning to life than a fall. Falls are among the leading cause of death of people age 65+, and people with low vision are at even greater risk. Reduced contrast sensitivity, decreased depth perception, and a reduction in the field of vision can inhibit balance and one’s ability to detect environmental hazards. Increased safety is one of the most compelling reasons to have an annual eye exam.

4) Vision Affects a Child’s Success in Life

Did you know that 80% of all learning is through the visual system, and decreased vision can significantly affect educational success, athletic ability and even social interaction? Countless children are receiving poor grades simply because they cannot see the blackboard; causing them to lose a desire to learn, and even stunting their social skills. While most parents recognize the value of routine dental care, they often underestimate the importance of testing a child’s vision.

5) Changing Eyecare Technology

We are living in a time when sight-saving technology is changing at an astonishing rate. Conditions once considered untreatable are now able to be corrected with cutting-edge technology. Just a few years ago, someone with wet macular degeneration would have lost most, if not all of their vision, but now we can help them with sight-saving medications. A cataract surgery patient who has worn glasses their entire life now has a choice of a high tech lens implant so they never have to wear glasses again. These are just a couple of examples of what we are able to offer patients today. So even if you’ve been told in the past that your condition was untreatable, technology may have changed all that. Only with a comprehensive eye exam can you know for sure.

You Only Have 2 Eyes! Sight does more than let you see what is in front of you. It allows you to safely live your life to the fullest with the ones you love. Schedule your yearly eye exam today!

Call 1-866-865-2020 for an appointment today!

Comfort For Your Dry Eyes

7 Things You Might Not Know About Dry Eyes

1. Do you need another reason to quit smoking? Add Dry Eye Disease to the list. Recent studies have shown even second hand smoke is very harsh to the surface of the eye. There are so many toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke that can break down your protective tear film and the surface corneal tissue. If you are around a lot of cigarette smoke, you probably have noticed the need to increase the use of artificial tears. Also, smoking is known to be a strong contributor to the development of macular degeneration. Outside of family history, smoking is most common denominator in macular degeneration patients.

2. I know I’m spoiling your fun but alcohol is also not dry-eye-friendly. It causes dehydrate which is never good for Dry Eyes. And forget that drink on the plane because studies have shown that the atmosphere on a commercial aircraft is drier than any desert. Drink plenty of water on your trip instead.

3. Make-up and dry eyes: Make-up, such as waterproof eye make-up, mascara, shadow, etc., has a much higher discomfort rate and sometimes causes a toxic reaction to the sensitive skin of dry eye sufferers. Always keep your make-up fresh by disposing old bottles after 2-3 months. And thoroughly clean off your make-up every night before going to bed.

4. Contact lenses are not just an aggravating factor for dry eye sufferers, but they can even cause dry eye damage to the cornea. Daily disposable lenses are the safest contact lens for dry eye patients. And never, never wear your contacts if your eyes are red and uncomfortable.

5. We used to recommend that you avoid too much caffeine because it is a mild diuretic. But some recent studies have shown a reduced risk of dry eye in coffee drinkers, and that caffeine might actually stimulate tear production.

6. Did you know that children can also suffer from dry eyes, secondary to congenital endocrine, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. If your child has persistent complaints of painful, irritated eyes, don’t ignore it… Bring it to the attention of your pediatrician or better yet, make a visit to an eyecare professional for an evaluation.

7. Those simple carbs that are bad for the waistline are also bad for your eyes. They compete with the complex carbs needed by ocular tissue and aggravate your dry eye symptoms.

Do you need any more evidence that Dry Eye Disease is a very complex problem that needs something more than an artificial tear once or twice a day?

By Richard Hector, MD

Diabetes and Eyes

We are all different

Unique Eyes

Diabetes affects your entire body, including your eyes.

According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, diabetics are 25 times more likely to lose vision than those without this disease. The most common complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, and the longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is that you’ll develop diabetic retinopathy.

High blood sugar levels, as associated with diabetes, often affect blood vessels in the retina of the eye, causing diabetic retinopathy. There are 2 stages of classifications of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative or proliferative.

Non-proliferative retinopathy, sometimes known as background diabetic retinopathy, is the most common form of the disease. This condition is first diagnosed when small retinal blood vessels start to swell. As the disease progresses, these blood vessels break and leak blood.

Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, more and more blood vessels are blocked. Sensing the need for new blood vessels to supply nourishment, new blood vessels grow, but they are frail and abnormal, often hemorrhaging and scarring. Patients with this type of diabetic retinopathy can experience severe vision loss, and even blindness.

At both the early and advanced stage, fluid can leak into the macula, the center of the retina that allows you to see fine detail. Known as macula edema, it is another common cause of vision loss in diabetics.

It is worth noting that smoking does accelerate the damaging effect that diabetes has on the retina. Several other influencing factors include your genes, your blood pressure levels, how long you have had diabetes and of course, your blood sugar level.

In the early and most treatable stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are usually no visual symptoms or pain. In fact, many times the disease can even progress to an advanced stage without your noticing the gradual change in your vision.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include:

Abnormal patterns in the field of vision
Dark streaks in your vision
Sudden onset of decreased vision
Distorted central vision
Floaters
Red film that blocks vision
Blind spots
Poor night vision
Items may have a blue-yellow color tone, interfering with color perception

We strongly recommend that all diabetics have yearly comprehensive medical eye exams. Your eye doctor will dilate your eyes and check your retina, blood vessels and optic nerves for changes. We may also order a fluorescein angiography to track and photograph dye as it flows through the retina to look for leaking blood vessels.

We also commonly perform an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to assess fluid accumulation (macular edema) in the retina of diabetics. The OCT can show areas of retinal thickening and is often a useful tool in assessing a patient’s response to a treatment.

Treatment

The most important tool for treating diabetic retinopathy is good management of the underlying diabetic condition. Nevertheless, once diabetic retinopathy has presented itself, there are several methods of treatment. Lasers are the mainstay; often used to treat the early stages of diabetic retinopathy by sealing leaking blood vessels. More advanced cases may require a vitrectomy, a surgical procedure needed when the vitreous, the gel in the eye, contains a great amount of blood.

The optimal time for treatment is before the patient experiences visual symptoms so early detection and treatment is the best protection against significant vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy can progress into its advanced stages with no pain, no recognizable vision loss. That’s the reason it is so important for all diabetics to get a yearly comprehensive medical eye examination.

Please take time to educate yourself, and any loved ones with diabetes, on how to preserve their vision.

If you are diabetic and would like to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive medical exam at The Eye Associates, please call 1-866-865-2020.

Is Eyelid Surgery for you?

Eyelid surgery and insurance coverage

Your eyes are one of the first things people notice, and unfortunately your eyes are also one of the first features to show signs of aging.Hooded, sagging upper eyelids can give you an older, tired appearance, and often even obstruct your vision, making everyday activities like driving more dangerous. Eyelid surgery can improve your vision as well as take years off your looks.

Eyelid surgery, known as blepharoplasty, is a common outpatient surgical procedure which removes excess skin and fatty tissue from around the eye area. Whenever eyelids are interfering with the field of vision, causing difficulty with everyday activities such as driving and reading, eyelid surgery can vastly improve the peripheral vision.

“Our goal at The Eye Associates is to enhance the appearance of your eyelids without the slightest hint of a surgical look” says Dr. Charles Anthony II, Fellowship Training Cosmetic Surgeon. “People often remark about what a dramatic difference it makes in their looks and attitude as well as vision.”

Insurance Coverage of Eyelid Surgery

You’ll also be happy to know that Medicare and private insurance usually covers “functional” eyelid surgery, when a minimum criteria of vision loss is met. A test, called a Visual Field, will be performed to document this loss of visual field.

However, cosmetic eyelid surgery is not usually covered by insurance. “Cosmetic” is defined as a procedure that is undertaken to improve appearance instead of visual function. While upper eyelid surgery is often considered medical in nature, lower eyelid blepharoplasty is always considered to be cosmetic.

The best way to determine if you should consider blepharoplasty surgery is simple: Look in the mirror. Do you appear tired even though you aren’t? Is the skin of your upper eyelid hanging over the normal lid crease and nearing the eyelashes? If the answer is YES, call toll free 1-866-865-2020 for your FREE eyelid screening at The Eye Associates today.

Dark skin people need skin cancer checks too!

Dark skin people can have skin cancer too.

 Dark skin people can have skin cancer too.

According to SkinCancer.org, here are some statistics that you should keep in mind, no matter what your skin color.

-Melanomas in African Americans, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians and Hawaiians most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment. These melanomas are often discovered on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.

-Skin cancer represents 1 to 2 % of all cancers in African Americans and jumps to 2 to 4 % in Asians.

-While melanoma is more uncommon in African Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is frequently fatal for these ethnicities. Late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more prevalent among these patients than Caucasian patients, resulting in the 5 year melanoma survival rate for African Americans being only 77 % when compare to 91 % for Caucasians.
All skin types should always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before they go out into the sun, and then reapply every 2 hours. Of course, if you sweat or go in the water, it is necessary to reapply more often. Avoid peak burn hours from 10 AM to 4 PM. Clothing, unless specifically treated for sun protection, is not enough to give you the sun protection needed. Be safe by wearing sunscreen.

What to do next!

Click here to make an full body check with our Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Gary Rosen of Dermatology at The Eye Associates or call 1-877-816-DERM (3376).

DIABETICS – Preventing Eye Disease

Kick the smoking habit!

Diabetics have it hard enough without having to live with permanent vision loss.

The NUMBER 1 way for diabetics to prevent vision loss is to have an dilated eye exam EVERY YEAR. During the eye exam, your eye doctor will be looking at your retina for early signs of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication from diabetes. Leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling and deposits on the retina are all early signs of eye problems related to diabetes. Remember early detection is the key to keeping your eye healthy for a lifetime.

OTHER FACTORS THAT DIABETICS CAN CONTROL:

  1. Know your ABCs…A1C (blood glucose), BP (blood pressure)  and cholesterol

2) Always take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t try to out-think your doctors.

3) Keep your blood sugar levels under tight control by testing yourself several times a day.

2) Get your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure can contribute to damaging blood vessels.

3) QUIT SMOKING. This should probably #1 on the list of things to do to keep your eyes healthy, whether you are a diabetic or not.

4) Maintain a healthy diet full of colorful vegetables.

5) Exercise regularly.

6) Maintain a healthy weight.

7) Follow-up with PCP regularly

Click here to request an appointment at The Eye Associates or call 1-866-865-2020.