Taking Steps to Healthy Vision: Your Vision, Your Future

It’s second nature to schedule your yearly physical, or routine dentist appointment, but what about your eye health?  When was your last comprehensive eye exam?  A yearly eye exam is just as important as any other routine appointments you make.  This May, during Healthy Vision Month, NEI and Prevent Blindness urge you to take control of your vision, and decide what you want to see in the future.  Learning how to protect your eyes is the first step in preserving eye health. 

Most vision problems are in fact preventable.  Take a look at some everyday tips in order to take the first step in preserving your eye health:

  • Wear sunglasses (even on cloudy days!)
    Sure, sunglasses are fashionable, but more importantly, they protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and help keep your vision sharp. 
  • Maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet
    It is true, carrots are good for your eyes! Diets rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables — especially dark leafy greens— is important for keeping your eyes healthy. 
  • Get plenty of physical activity
    Regular exercise comes with a lot of great benefits. It can boost your mood, reduce stress, help you stay at a healthy weight — and protect you from serious eye diseases! 
  • Give your eyes a rest
    Do your eyes ever feel achy at the end of the day? If you spend a lot of time at the computer or staring at your phone, you may forget to blink — and that can tire out your eyes. 
  • Protect your eyes
    About 2,000 people in the United States get a serious work-related eye injury every day. Eye protection is so important both in and out of work.

Healthy vision is much more important than just what meets the eye.  Healthy, or, not so healthy, vision can be a big indicator in other areas of systemic health.  The eye functions as a window to the body and its health.  By viewing the different tissues of the eye, eye care providers are able to see early warning signs of many serious, chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and more.  The eye is in fact the only place in the body where a doctor can have an unobstructed view of blood vessels, nerves and connecting tissue, without surgery.  Because the eye has the same microscopic tissue as our other major organs and is an important part of our larger nervous system, abnormalities spotted in the eye may signal the same changes in other parts of the body. 

Healthy Vision Month is aimed to encourage Americans to make eye health a priority and inform them of the steps they can take to protect their vision.  Most importantly, getting a comprehensive eye exam.  Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can review your personal and family history, assess your vision, and evaluate the internal and external anatomy of your eyes to rule in or out any problems.  If an issue is detected, treatment can be initiated as soon as possible, which can improve outcomes and slow or reverse the underlying disease process. Even if you don’t have any vision or eye problems, you should still schedule a comprehensive exam.   An optomap screening is an excellent addition to any eye exam, offering a comprehensive view of the retina and to gain essential information about ocular health. optomap is the only proven, clinically-validated, ultra-widefield retinal image that can capture 82% or 200⁰ of the retina.  Visit our website prior to scheduling your next eye exam to locate an optomap provider near you.

May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You!

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s eye health and safety organization, declares May as UV (ultraviolet) Awareness Month.  Many people are well aware about the damage that UV rays can have on the skin, but most are unaware of the damage it can cause to the eyes.

What is this invisible threat exactly?  And how does it impact us? This ultraviolet radiation is measured in nanometers (nm). It is categorized in three basic terms and classified by the strength of the UV ray:

  • UVC: These rays are below 280 nm. The upper atmosphere absorbs these, so they do not reach us, therefore protection from these rays is not overly necessary.
  • UVB: These are between 315 – 380 nm. These manage to make it to the earth’s surface and are notorious for damaging sight. They can cause snow blindness but are notably responsible for sunburn and several types of skin cancer. Research has shown that these rays are strongest during the summer and at higher altitudes.
  • UVA: These are the most dangerous being 315 – 380 nm. They are known for causing chronic eye damage. Studies have indicated that these rays get absorbed by the lenses of our eyes leading to damage of the retina. They contribute to the occurrence of cataracts, are also a major cause of aging and unfortunately can pass through clouds, glass, water and clothing.

Exposure to ultraviolet rays can instantaneously temporarily cause damage to the cornea and the conjunctiva.  Symptoms associated with this condition, known as Ultraviolet Keratitis, include eye pain, tears, blurred vision and light sensitivity.  These symptoms may last anywhere from 6 to 48 hours after exposure.  While this condition may only be temporary, it goes to show the effects UV rays have on vision.  Forms of UV damage can be cumulative and later lead to cataracts or macular degeneration later in life. 

There are additionally a number of skin cancers that can occur on the eyelids, on the surface of the eye, or inside the eye.  Cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are all potential risks of UV exposure, particular those with fair skin, light colored eyes, those who are exposed to prolonged time in the sun or tanning beds, and smokers. 

But what about Vitamin D?  A little sun exposure is healthy for us, right?  Vitamin D is essential to help your body absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Vitamin D is also beneficial for other important body functions and it has been shown to be essential to a healthy immune system.  However, just 5-15 minutes in the sun is enough to help stimulate the production of Vitamin D.

When we are caught up in the delightful pursuits of summer– we tend to overlook the simple proactive measures that we can take to protect against vision loss and UV related eye damage and even life-threatening ocular cancers.  In addition to taking a few extra moments to protect yourself and your loved ones before rushing out into the sunshine, it is imperative that people take the time for annual eye exams. An optomap screening is an excellent, expedient way to get a comprehensive view of the retina and to gain essential information about one’s ocular health. optomap is the only proven, clinically-validated, ultra-widefield retinal image that can capture up to 200⁰ of the retina, which can reveal incredibly subtle changes from the central pole to the far periphery of the retina in a single capture – and in a fraction of a second – so you can get out there (sunglasses on) and enjoy that summer sun.

optomap in the Clinic: Enhancing the Level of Care and Patient Flow

Dr. Roger Jordan of Gillette Optometric Clinic in Gillette, Wyoming, practices alongside four other doctors conducting nearly 900 exams, about 1200 patient visits.  This team is no stranger to high volume and the need for efficient patient flow.  One stop that all patients make is for optomap® imaging.  The business model includes the screening in the exam price for all private-pay patients and is available at low cost for all managed care patients.  According to Dr. Jordan, optomap has greatly enhanced the ability to diagnose conditions as well better the patient education experience across the board. 

optomap allows Dr. Jordan to detect retinal detachments and tears multiple times a month in addition to routinely following cases of glaucoma and macular degeneration.  Alongside these cases, there have been several unique and interesting discoveries.  Once he saw a male patient about 40 or 50 who had symmetrical scars on both sides of his retinas, as a result of doctors using forceps to assist in delivery at birth.  Another time, a female in her 20s came in for her first ever eye exam, Dr. Jordan found that a parasitic worm was curled up and dead in her eye that had been there for years, causing no issues so he left it alone, but considered it a great educational tool. 


 optomap image showing a dead parasitic worm

The practice first incorporated Optos technology back in 2001.  “Even with the older technology, it was still very impressive to have the ability to see 200 degrees and a vast majority of the retina in a short period of time.” Dr. Jordan recalls. Since their first acquisition, the practice has upgraded its optomap technology several times, most recently purchasing California in May 2018.  Dr. Jordan attests to the overall image quality has vastly improved with this model, with much higher definition on the details.  Added tools and features allow him to take an even closer look, leading to a faster diagnosis.

optomap allows Dr. Jordan and his referring retinal specialists to communicate prior to patients’ arriving at the specialist’s office.  He can send over his images and findings so that she is prepared and ahead of the game on any particular case. 

Doctors and staff at Gillette Optometric Clinic all additionally appreciate the responsiveness from the Optos team if they ever have questions, keeping any system downtime to a minimum, which is so important in a busy practice. 

optomap Testimonial-Roger Jordan OD

Over the years, optomap has proven to be irreplaceable in the Gillette Optometric Clinic and has aided both in efficient patient flow as well as a much-needed diagnostic tool.  UWF™ imaging technology gives eye care providers imagery and diagnostic information about the retinal periphery that can’t be provided by small-field imaging methods.  For more stories and information on how to put  optomap in your practice, visit our website, today! 

Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, A Look into the Female Gaze

Sponsored by Prevent Blindness, April is recognized as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month.  This observance is designed to educate women about the steps they can take to help stop vision loss.

April is deemed Women’s Eye and Safety Month to educate women about taking the proper steps today, to help preserve their vision in the future.  “Healthy vision is something we often take for granted until it starts to slip away,” says Debbie Goss, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness.  “We want to encourage women to put themselves on a path toward a lifetime of healthy vision by making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam today!”

A comprehensive eye exam should include a thorough examination of the retina, including an optomap, which is complementary to a DFE and an excellent tool for screening and for patient education. Because an optomap image can be obtained in less than ½ second, it leaves ample time for the practitioner to educate on eye health.

Recent studies have shown that more women than men suffer from age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, the four leading eye diseases in the United States. Women are also at higher risk of developing sight-threatening autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.  Although some of these diseases have no known cure, many of the effects may be lessened through early detection and treatment.  Recent surveys displayed alarming results in reference to women and eye exams.  A Prevent Blindness survey found that:

  • Less than 10% of American women realize that women are at a greater risk of suffering permanent vision loss than men
  • 86% believe that men and women are at equal risk
  • 5% believe that men are at greater risk

 

OD discovers case of choroidal melanoma on optomap exam

Dr. Tom Felstet and Jessica

Jessica, an actress, had just started rehearsing for a play in Billings, Montana, when she decided that contacts, rather than glasses, would better suit her part.  “Really, I just thought it would be a good idea to be able to see while I was on stage, “she laughs. “That’s all I needed was to get fitted for contacts. I didn’t feel that I needed, nor did I have time for, an eye exam. ”  However, as fate would have it, she went that day to see Dr. Tom Felstet, OD, who feels strongly that a thorough view of the retina should be a part of every eye exam.

Felstet recalls that when Jessica came to see him that day, she was clearly in a hurry and quite adamant that she simply needed a contacts prescription and did not want to be dilated.  “She was a healthy woman in her mid-50’s, with no remarkable family history and she did not report any symptoms. But fortunately for her she checked the box to get the optomap screening.”

When Dr. Felstet entered the exam room and looked at the image on the monitor, he saw very clearly a lesion in her right eye, just far enough out that it would have been missed on an undilated slit lamp exam.   “He was very discreet,” Jessica recounts. “I know he did not want to alarm me.  I could see quite clearly what he was talking about on the image, but even then, I was not really worried.”  Jessica recalls that even when she did see the ophthalmologist, and he diagnosed the pathology as a choroidal melanoma, she still had difficulty accepting the gravity of the situation.  “I mean, who had ever heard of a melanoma of the eye?  That wasn’t even something on my radar.  I had noticed some little flashes of light, but they were insignificant, and I just passed it off as reflections from some new glasses. Besides, in all other respects I was quite healthy.”

Jessica was referred to an ocular oncologist where she then truly grasped the significance of what was occurring.  Jessica was treated immediately and successfully, but during surgery, the tumor was biopsied revealing that she was genetically at high risk for metastases, particularly of the liver.

Jessica says, “I feel really good. I am so very grateful. I realize that how the series of events played out is quite serendipitous and that the early detection was a best-case scenario for a choroidal melanoma.”  She adds that within a few months she had returned to the stage and was doing well.

Thanks to Dr. Felstet, and his optomap exam, Jessica was able to avoid a potentially sight and life-threatening disease, evermore supporting the importance of regular comprehensive eye exams.

Visit our website for more stories like Jessica, or to find a doctor who has optomap in their practice and schedule your eye exam today.

Do you have a digital strategy?

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When you think about engaging with your patients do you consider digital and social media? With so many channels and apps, getting started and building a strategy around communication can be overwhelming and not just writing the content, either, but adhering to the ever-changing mediums and regulations.

 

A recent article in Optometric Management called Develop a Social Media Marketing Strategy, calls out eight essential tips for social media success:

  1. Set a Goal
  2. Develop Cross-Channel Marketing
  3. Ensure Accuracy
  4. Consider Paid Ads
  5. Mix Up Content
  6. Protect your Reputation
  7. Work Smart
  8. Monitor your Competition

 

The digital marketing team at Optos has developed tools for our customers to utilize when getting started on their digital journey. For access to these tips and tricks, we encourage our customers to register for CustomerCentral, where these tools can be accessed. For everyone, however, Optos regularly blogs, tweets, posts, and provides content that can be utilized in your social channels. For example, on our Instagram account, we post an “Image of the Week” and also select an “Image of the Month” for all images posted to Instagram with #optomap. We also provide a variety of product images, optomap images, and logos directly on our website, and we have an entire repository of images at https://recognizingpathology.optos.com.

 

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