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What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, often called ‘lazy eye’ and occurs when the eyes are turned or when one eye has a much different prescription than the other. The brain will “shut off” the image from the turned in or blurry eye. When left untreated, amblyopia can stunt the visual development of the affected eye, resulting in permanent vision impairment. It often occurs during early childhood so detecting the condition early increases the chance of successful treatment, especially if detected before the age of five. The earlier the underlying cause is corrected with spectacles, patching and/or surgery, the more successful the treatment in equalizing vision between the two eyes.

Acne in Adults

You thought you were long over the teen days of having to worry about acne. Well think again. Adult acne usually begins with “blackheads”.
Blackheads may look like dirt, but they’re actually the result of oil and dead cells getting trapped in a pore where they block the duct and mix with bacteria. They then turn black when exposed to air. There are many causes of adult acne, some common ones being stress, bad cosmetics, hormones and birth control pills.

It should be noted that products that worked on acne during your teens usually do not work on adult acne. It is recommended that you see a dermatologist as he/she has an arsenal of treatments to help clear up your skin quickly, and most are covered by insurance. If you are an adult who wants acne treatment in Bradenton, make an appointment today with our Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Paul Stevenson at The Eye Associates.

Kids and Eye Exams

Did you know that 80% of all learning in a child’s first 12 years is through their visual system? While most parents recognize the value of routine visits to the dentist, they often underestimate the importance of testing their children’s eyes. Studies find that 1 in 4 children, ages 5 to 12, have an undiagnosed vision problem that can affect their educational performance. Additionally it often affects other areas such as personality, behavior, and sport performance. Children are sometimes mislabeled as “slow learners” when impaired vision prevents a child from seeing clearly. Even if your child doesn’t complain about not seeing well, you should not assume that there are no visual disorders. Your children have no reason to believe that you see any differently than they do.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months of age and then at age 3 and right before they enter kindergarten. For school-aged children, eye exams should be performed every two years if no vision correction is required, but annually if they wear eyeglasses or contact lenses.

To make sure your kids have the chance of learning in school, call 1-866-865-2020 to schedule an appointment today with any of our Board Certified Optometrists for a comprehensive eye exam to make sure your kids have the chance of learning in school.

SLT For Glaucoma Treatment

Are you tired of taking expensive drops for your glaucoma? Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) may be the answer.

SLT is a fast, effective & painless ‘cold’ laser treatment that is used to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) in glaucoma patients. It may reduce the need and the expense of eye drop medication. The outpatient procedure is so safe that it can be used on patients where traditional glaucoma therapy has not been successful, and it can even be repeated, if needed. SLT is FDA approved and covered by Medicare.

SLT is sometimes the first-line treatment for open-angle glaucoma because it has few side effects, and it eliminates the compliance issues that drops have. It can save the patient a lot of money as glaucoma eyedrop medications can be very expensive.

SLT has been used in the US and around the world for about 20 years. Patients with open-angle glaucoma are a candidate. It works to lower the IOP by opening up the drainage tissue.

SLT usually last between 1 and 5 years. The good news is that it can be performed again without complication. It is still important for people with glaucoma to continue to monitor their pressure and see the eye doctor on a regular basis.

Some patients may need to continue with drops  to keep their IOP as low as possible, but they may benefit by only needing one drop instead of two. The most important thing is keep your eye pressure low with any means possible.

If you have glaucoma, come in for a second opinion and see if SLT can help you. Click here or call 1-866-865-2020 for an appointment today.

Your Dry Eye Coach – Dr. Richard Hector

dry eye advice

It always bothers me when a patient says “Well, you are the expert, tell me what I need to do”. The truth is every patient knows more about how they feel, what parts work and what needs help, than I will ever know. As much as I try, I cannot feel or see how someone else is feeling or what their vision is like. I try and take a thorough history, because as most doctors will tell you, the hardest thing is jumping in too soon after a few observations only to have your patient tell you, no, that is not it at all. I learned long ago that what worked very well for one patient, could fail miserably for the next. It is very true that we are all individuals and need to be treated as such and I like the role of trusted adviser. Let me work with you to improve your vision and reduce the discomfort you are suffering with professional dry eye treatment.

I participated in a local call in show on SNN Local News 6 right here in Sarasota; on a recent show, a listener prefaced their question with the words “please do not laugh” but exactly how do dry eyes feel? My response was to ask them to not laugh, because dry eyes often water all the time, and I went on to explain why this can happen. So when someone tells me “you are the expert, tell me what I need to do” I sit back and remind them that it is their body, their eyes, and you are the expert of your body. You have to tell me what bothers you about how your body is working, or not working, and how it feels, good and bad, and I will be happy to give you the best advice I can on how to help you see better and feel better.

As a good coach I remind patients that your eyes are part of the rest of your body. How you treat your body plays a big role on how well your eyes will work. How good is your over all nutrition? Do you get enough rest/sleep? You may brush your teeth 2-3 times a day, but how often do you cleanse your eye lids? That simple act of applying a warm compress to your closed eye lids for 2-3 minutes, 1-2 times a day, keeps the tear glands open and working properly. These are the tear glands that protect your eyes, and help your eyes focus clearly. During your exam I can tell if they are receiving enough care and attention. Then as your “Dry Eye/Vision Coach” I will tell you are doing well and to keep up the good work. Or, you need to work harder on your compresses and/or nutrition and you need to do this every single day. So every time you are at the sink to wash your hands and face or brush your teeth, take 2 more minutes and apply a good warm compress to your eye lids. Your eyes will thank you by allowing you to see better and feel better for the rest of the day.

-by Richard Hector, MD

Floaters – Are they dangerous?

What are Floaters?

What is that speck that I see? This is one of the most frequent questions that we get every day. They are commonly called floaters. Floaters are tiny clumps of debris or gel that are suspended within the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the inside cavity of the eye. They can take on different shapes. They are often described as floating dots, specks, or thread-like cobwebs. The appearance of floaters is most often is part of the natural aging process.  They are not generally sight threatening nor require treatment.

How do we get floaters?

As we mature, the vitreous gel shrinks and pulls away from the retina, forming floaters in the process. Although annoying, most are not usually sight threatening and do not generally require treatment. But the sudden appearance of new floaters can be a signal to have an eye exam as soon as possible as it may be an early symptom of a retinal detachment.

Often they will fade with time, but if not, most people get used to them. The brain has a way of ignoring them after a while. But when they first appear, they can be quite annoying.

Only with a comprehensive medical eye exam can it be determine whether they are harmless or the beginning of a more serious problem. To schedule an eye exam, call 1-866-865-2020 or click here: online contact form.

Glaucoma: The Silent Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye whereby there can be buildup of fluid within the eye causing increased pressure. When this occurs there is a risk of damage to the optic nerve, a part of the eye that is necessary for good vision.

Because glaucoma is without visual symptoms until serious damage has occurred, people can go for years without even knowing that they have it. Unfortunately this undetected condition can cause vision loss if left untreated.

The only way to diagnose glaucoma is with a thorough eye examination. That is the reason that we recommend that everyone have a comprehensive eye examination at least every 2 years, even people that do not wear any type of eyewear.

Patients who are looking for glaucoma treatment  can visit our clinic for quality eyecare services and advanced eye surgery.

5 REASONS TO HAVE AN EYE EXAM……even if you don’t wear eyeglasses.

1) Eye Exams Save Sight

Some sight-threatening eye diseases do not have early warning signs, and many can only be detected during a dilated eye exam.

2) Eye Exams Detect Other Health Problems Too

Many general health problems are often first detected during a routine comprehensive eye exam, because the eye is the only place where blood vessels can be viewed without a surgical procedure.

3) Good Vision Increases Safety

Poor vision can have an adverse effect on many life issues, such as depression, increased car accidents, drug-related errors, and falls. Falls are among the leading causes of death of people 65 and older.

4) Vision Affects a Child’s Success in Life

80% of all learning is through the visual system, and decreased vision can significantly affect childrens’ grades, athletic performance and even social interaction.

5) Changing Eyecare Technology

Sight-saving technology is changing at an astonishing rate. Conditions once considered untreatable are now able to be corrected with cutting-edge technology.

Click here to make an appointment with one of our award winning eye doctors.

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 on the surface of the eye. There are a lot of 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 need to increase the use of artificial tears. Cigarette smoking is also known to be a strong contributor to the acceleration of macular degeneration. Outside of family history, it is the most common denominator in those patients with this serious eye disease.

2. While I am spoiling your fun, alcohol is also not dry eye friendly, as it can dehydrate you. This is good to remember when you are traveling in a commercial aircraft where the atmosphere is already dryer than any desert. Drink plenty of water instead.

3. Now, for a little update on makeup and dry eye issues: Water proof eye make-up, mascara, shadow, etc., has a much higher discomfort and sometimes toxic reaction to the sensitive skin of dry eye sufferers. Also keep your makeup fresh, disposing old bottles after 2-3 months. Thoroughly clean off your make up every night.

4. Contact lenses are not just an aggravating factor, but can also cause dry eye damage to the cornea. Daily disposable lenses are the safest for dry eye patients. Never wear your contacts if your eyes are red and uncomfortable.

5. Up until now we have recommended avoiding too much caffeine as it is a mild diuretic. More recent studies have shown a reduced risk of dry eye in coffee drinkers and that caffeine can stimulate tear production. A little caffeine also shortens ophthalmic migraine symptoms. Treating a patient’s dry eye condition has also been shown to reduce the frequency of their migraine attacks.

6. Be aware 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 just treat them with artificial tears and ignore it… Bring it to the attention of your pediatrician and eyecare professional.

7. And yes, 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

True or False: Tanning Booths Won’t Cause Skin Cancer.

Tanning Beds Won’t Cause Skin Cancer – True or False

FALSE – According to, just ONE tanning booth visit, 1) will increase your risk of melanoma by 20% 2) will increase your risk of basal cell carcinoma by 29% and 3) will increase your risk of squamous cell carcinoma by a whopping 67% . A spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation pointed out that there seems to be a cultural disconnect between the risk of skin cancer and the desire for a ‘healthy glow.’ Since physical appearance may mean more than long-range health effects, a new study suggests that pointing out the negative cosmetic effect of tanning, such as age spots and wrinkling, may have more impact than the fear of skin cancer.

If you have ever been a ‘tanner’, you need to have a skin cancer check. Call 1-877-816-3376 or click here to make an appointment with Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Paul Stevenson.