July is Fireworks Safety Month – Tips to Celebrate Safely & Save your Sight

July is Fireworks Eye Safety Month, and because fireworks sometimes become a part of many year-round celebrations, not only Independence Day, it is an excellent opportunity to clarify our understanding of the do’s and don’ts of pyrotechnic use. Eye injuries from fireworks can be especially severe because of the combination of force, heat and chemicals. Following a few simple safety tips can help make for a safe, fun celebration.

The most recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report found that 19% of fireworks injuries were eye injuries. In the most severe cases, fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye, cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment — all of which can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss. Children and young adults are frequent victims of fireworks accidents and mishaps. Children age 15 and under accounted for 36% of the total injuries, according to the commission’s report. And half of the injuries requiring an emergency room visit were to people age 20 or younger. Even sparklers can be dangerous, sparklers were responsible for 1,200 of the injuries in the latest report, and a sparkler mishap caused one of the fireworks deaths reported in 2017. The people injured by fireworks aren’t necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, 65% of people injured by fireworks were bystanders, according to another study. The statistics don’t lie. Children and people not handling fireworks themselves are in as much danger as the people actually lighting fireworks.

Prevent Blindness America and the American Academy of Blindness sponsor July as Fireworks Eye Safety Month to raise awareness of the dangers, as well as, the safe protocols for viewing or handling pyrotechnic displays or devices. It is critical at the outset to understand that these devastating injuries are not restricted to large explosives but are often derived from the seemingly innocent firework items. It is easy for any of us to get caught up in all the excitement and activity or become distracted by hosting responsibilities, conversations and crowds. Take into consideration, as well, that these festivities and shows are generally conducted past dusk and simply navigating an event with numerous people and smoke bombs can become challenging, let alone successfully dodging the searing signatures of sparkler-wielding children.

While consumer fireworks are illegal in some places in the US, most states permit the sale and use of what are considered Safe and Sane items. Whether one supports the use or ban of consumer fireworks, it is important to practice and share firework safety guidelines. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends critical practices and procedures for firework use.

Fireworks safety tips

For those who decide to purchase consumer fireworks because they live in states where they are legal, the Academy recommends the following safety tips to prevent eye injuries:

  • Never let young children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
  • People who handle fireworks should always wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
  • Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.

What to do in the event of a fireworks eye injury
If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, remember:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not rinse your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
  • Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen

If you or a loved one has sustained an eye injury related to a fireworks display, seek medical attention immediately. Depending on the extent of the injury, the emergency team may recommend that you consult with your local eye doctor for continued care.

Additionally, the summer season is an excellent time of year to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor. With a more flexible schedule, it’s probably easier to get you in to have your eyes thoroughly evaluated.

Optos helps doctors see and document the retina with no face to face interaction. optomap single-capture UWF images up to 82% or 200⁰ of the retina. Visit our website prior to scheduling your next eye exam to locate an optomap provider near you. 

optomap single-capture UWF Continues to Provide Clinical Value and Enhance Patient Care

This spring, the pandemic abruptly brought global apprehension and uncertainty. Medical practitioners desperately endeavored to navigate increased safety protocols while continuing to provide optimal care for their patients. Consequently, forecasters began to observe that reliance on medical technology solutions that can support safer exam scenarios would dramatically increase. During this challenging transition, Mitch Reinholt, OD discovered that one of his favorite diagnostic tools became more valuable than ever.

In April, Dr. Reinholt found himself with a bare-bones staff, providing some telemedical visits, but ultimately bringing patients in and doing most of the exams on his own. He found that his California helped to expedite exams and reduce patient exposure as well as time in the office. California, like all optomap UWF retinal imaging devices, capture over 200 degrees of the retina in 1/2 second. It provides a dynamic image that can be enlarged and manipulated to see into the retinal layers and with autofluorescence to assess function, as well. Reinholt explained that he could capture the image quickly, then withdraw to review it and evaluate if further diagnostics were required.

Reinholt acquired his California device in 2019 primarily for clinical value and the ability to get unmatched retinal information, but also because the ease and speed of acquisition expedited the exam process and impressed his patients. Additionally, he found that the technology further streamlines the exam process by enabling him to quickly image children and other difficult to examine populations.

In the short time that he has had the technology, it quickly established its clinical value by capturing several pathologies that he feels might have been otherwise undetected such as far peripheral retinal holes, lattice, and white without pressure. He also recounts an instance when he imaged a long-time patient and discovered a large, peripheral operculated hole that had gone undiscovered previously because the patient had always refused to be dilated.

As we begin to embrace a new normal, Dr. Reinholt contemplates the uncertainties of the future and remains adamant that optomap technology will be essential to the function of his practice. Doctors are concerned with the number of patients in the office at a time, and in minimizing the amount of time each patient has to be there. “I definitely plan on imaging everyone. This way I can review the information thoroughly prior to examining the patient,” says Dr. Reinholt. He adds that the dynamic and comprehensive image gives him incomparable amounts of information to help direct the rest of the exam. He notes that prior to the pandemic he had an 83% acceptance rate for optomap screening exams and that his patients were always happy to see their image. Going forward he plans that he will image every patient and that now, more than ever, they appreciate limiting extended close exposure in the traditional exam. “The optomap device gives me great peace of mind that I am not missing any issues. I really feel it expedites the whole process, making it more efficient and safer for all involved.”

Optos helps doctors to discover and document the retina with little or no face-to-face interaction and optomap single-capture UWF imaging has been to shown to increase practice flow and patient engagement. Go here to read Dr. Reinholt’s full testimonial. Visit our website today to put the power, efficiency, and safety of optomap in your practice.

Cataract Education and the Value of UWF Imaging as a Complement to Standard Retinal Evaluations

Presently, cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness, accounting for approximately 42 percent of all cases. In the United States, more than 25 million Americans are estimated to have cataracts, according to the report Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems. As the population in America continues to age, the number of cataract cases are projected to increase by 50 percent to 38.5 million by 2032.

This month, Optos joins Prevent Blindness America in observing Cataract Awareness Month to aid the education surrounding cataracts, and what you should know, as well as the value of UWF imaging for practitioners as a complement to standard approaches for a comprehensive evaluation of retinal health prior to, and following cataract surgery.

What are Cataracts?
Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens refracts light rays that come into the eye to help us see. The lens should be clear. When cataracts are present, the lens becomes cloudy much like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.

Vision changes you may notice if you have a cataract:

  • Having blurry vision
  • Seeing double
  • Extra sensitive to light
  • Having trouble seeing well at night, or needing more light while reading
  • Seeing bright colors as faded

What Causes Cataracts?
Exact causes of a cataract are unknown, most often they are a part of getting older.  There are some key possible risk factors that have been identified in those at risk, such as:

  • Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Inflammation in the eye
  • Hereditary influences
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Eye injuries
  • Eye diseases
  • Smoking

    There are three different types of cataracts, named according to their locations:

    Nuclear cataracts grow in the nucleus (inner core) of the eye’s lens. This is the most common type of cataract associated with aging.
    Cortical cataracts develop in the cortex (outer section of the lens).
    Posterior subcapsular cataracts form toward the back of a cellophane-like capsule that surrounds the lens. These are most common in people who are diabetic, overweight or taking steroids.

Cataracts can also be classified by cause:

  • Age-related cataracts form as result of aging.
  • Congenital cataracts occur in babies who are born with cataracts as a result of an infection, injury or poor development before birth. They can also develop during childhood.
  • Secondary cataracts are a result of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, or exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light or radiation.
  • Traumatic cataracts develop as the result of an injury to the eye.

Cataracts usually form in both eyes, but not at the same rate. They can develop slowly or quickly, or progress to a certain point, then not get any worse. As a result, one may not notice substantial changes in their sight.   Sometimes they can significantly precede symptoms and can be so subtle as to go unnoticed without a comprehensive eye exam.

optomap technology is being increasingly utilized in cataract surgery clinics for immediate views of the retina. optomap images have also proven useful in the process of educating patients about their condition.  The UWF view can be captured through problematic, hazy media, where white light has difficulty, revealing any retinal issues that might be a concern prior to surgery, as well as, following surgery. The ability to quickly and easily observe and document retinal health before and after cataract surgery provides both the patient and practitioner a tremendous peace of mind.

Pre-surgical cataract exam; optomap imaging (color and sensory view) reveals early Diabetic Retinopathy evident as multiple dot hemorrhages

A published paper from Assil Eye Institute and Batra Vision in California review the role of UWF imaging as a standard assessment tool in a cataract procedure. Evaluating the retina prior to, and after, surgery is critical for optimal outcomes. Being able to identify any pathologies before that might adversely affect or delay surgery, as well as, the high expectations for sustained positive visual outcomes from the younger demographic opting for surgery makes a thorough examination increasingly important.  The rising number of procedures in already busy clinics further creates a need for a quick and comprehensive evaluation method.

Drs. Kerry Assil MD and Nicholas Batra MD, demonstrate how integrating optomap UWF retinal imaging in a cataract practice can address the demands that come with an increase in procedures.  The use of standardized optomap images, within and between practices, reduces variability and facilitates diagnostic consensus. Practice flow is dramatically streamlined because optomap captures more than 80%, or 200 degrees of the retina in a single capture in less than ½ second. This process can be administered by a technician, and the digital image is instantly available for review, enabling the doctor to quickly assess and identify if an additional dilated fundus exam is necessary. The optomap image enhances documentation of retinal pathology, cataract opacity, implant choice and postoperative results. Additionally, the efficiency and ease of use of optomap facilitates potential economic advantages through an ability to evaluate a larger population of patients over a shorter period of time.

Integration of Optos UWF retinal imaging into preoperative assessment and postoperative follow up protocols helps address the issues of an increasing cataract surgery population and heightened patient expectations about postoperative outcomes and extended visual acuity. Optos UWF retinal imaging is an efficient, economical and patient-friendly evaluation tool that provides a consistent point of reference between clinicians and helps to document retinal changes over time and protect the long-term quality of vision.

For more information on Optos UWF retinal imaging, visit the Optos website where you can download the full paper.

Clinical Diagnosis and Patient Education Made Easier

Albert Morier, OD, didn’t plan to invest in Optos technology when he first attended The Exchange® at Vision Source in 2013.  But, after the company made its presentation on the main stage, Dr. Morier couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing capabilities of the instrumentation.  Even still, he was a bit wary after making the investment.  He sat down in his next session after signing the purchase agreement where he confided in a colleague he had never met, who previously purchased a Daytona.  “He told me, ‘You made the right move.  I purchased one last year.  You’ll find you sleep better at night.’” In the six years since, Dr. Morier says that advice proves itself time and again at his practice, Consumer Optical in Schenectady, New York.  The optomap® technology has become an integral part of the care he provides, and he’s already seeing the benefits of his upgrade to the California device three months ago with its ease of use for both his staff and his patients.

There are several patient experiences with optomap technology that stand out to Dr. Morier.  First, is a patient who he saw at another office.  He was unable to dilate the patient with two sets of drops, so he referred him to Consumer Optical for optomap imaging.  The patient told Dr. Morier that an ophthalmologist had been monitoring a freckle on his eye every year.  When he saw the patient’s images, they revealed it was not a nevus, but a melanoma.  The image also showed diabetic retinopathy adjacent to the optic nerve.  The patient was referred to an ophthalmologist at Mass Eye and Ear, who confirmed the diagnosis.  Because Dr. Morier was able to show the patient the areas of concern, the patient was persistent in getting answers and following through with other specialists.

In a second case, a patient opted to discuss the optomap screening with Dr.Morier, and after he agreed, Dr.Morier saw clear signs of a horseshoe tear and detached retina. The patient had experienced minor symptoms of a flash of light a month before, but nothing since then, he was incredibly impressed with Dr. Morier’s findings.

Dr. Morier stresses the technology and education it provides is impressive, even if the findings are routine.  As he details the parts of the eye, from the optic nerve to the macula and nerve fibers, patients are wowed.  He explains that this information is a baseline to compare for years to come that will allow him to pick up on even the smallest changes. He also offers to provide patients who are moving away from the area with their optomap images on a USB drive in order for their new doctor to have the baseline data as well.

Dr. Morier appreciates the support he’s received from his Optos representative. “He’s sincere, and he was very instrumental as we made the adjustment to our California,” he says.  Dr. Morier encourages his colleagues to take the leap.  “The price tag may worry you, but with routine screening as part of a comprehensive eye exam as well as and diabetic screenings, you will come out in the plus column no matter what.”  The return on investment is multifaceted, with a hard return on the financial investment but also a soft return gain with the valuable impressions the technology will make on patients.

While we begin to adapt to new norms, eye care remains a top priority, and it’s important to continue to provide patients the technological advancements available with optomap. optomap provides the technology to make clinical diagnosis and patient education easier. Visit our website to learn additional benefits of implementing optomap in your clinical setting and provide the highest level of care to your patients.

Get Eye Smart: Protecting Eyes Today, Saving Sight in the Future

Ultraviolet Awareness Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America to increase awareness of how UV rays can damage your eyes, increase your risk of cataracts and cancers of the eye especially in high-risk patients. UV protection with sunglasses is recommended in everyone, not only those that work outside, and can be preventative.

As summer draws near north of the equator, many people long for the warmth of the sun after a long winter (at least in New England!) and plan for the outdoor activities we love. Unfortunately, the impacts of all that fun-in-the-sun on the eyes must be kept in mind.  Most people do not realize that 20% of all cataracts are the result of UV ray exposure, and that number has been dramatically increasing in recent years.

But what is this invisible threat exactly?  And how does it impact us? 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.

What are the risks for prolonged UV exposure?

Prolonged UV exposure has numerous immediate and deleterious negative impacts. Many skin cancers can occur on the eyelids and external features of the eye.  Additionally, while ocular melanoma is rare, it is the most common eye cancer in adults.  Melanoma is an aggressive cancer that forms in the cells responsible for skin pigmentation through the production of melanin. Since your eyes also have melanin-producing cells, melanoma tumors can form in various parts of your eye. Although the choroid layer is the likely site for ocular melanoma, the conjunctiva ciliary body, the iris, orbit and eyelid are other parts of the eye that may also be affected. While an exact cause of melanoma is unknown, sources describe ocular melanoma as a DNA error that prevents cells from shedding in their typical life cycle. Cells grow uncontrollably and mutated cells accumulate rather than dying off and form melanoma. Despite the notion that it caused by a problem with DNA, there are risk factors that may increase the odds of contracting the disease such as sun exposure, eye color, skin conditions related to pigmentation or excessive mole growth and Caucasians tend to be more susceptible.

Because of the increasing number of UV related cataracts and eye cancers; Prevent Blindness, and many other organizations, strongly recommend that everyone utilize UV Protection eyewear, not only those who engage in outdoor disciplines and recreation. It is recommended that sunglasses and UV treated daily wear should be 100% UV absorbing for UVA and UVB light.

Caught up in the activities and outdoor fun, we often 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 from the sun, it is imperative that we 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 ones ocular health. optomap is the only proven, clinically-validated, ultra-widefield retinal image that can capture 82% or 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 and enjoy that summer sun.