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pills-347609_960_720.jpg  Eating a well-balanced diet that provides us with a variety of vitamins and nutrients is essential in efforts to keep ourselves healthy. What we eat not only impacts our bodies - but it also affects our eyes.

Just as certain vitamins help our bodies run more smoothly, certain vitamins can also improve our vision health, helping to reduce the risk of vision loss. Naturally, many of our patients want to ensure they’re getting the nutrition they need to see their best in the years to come. But this begs the question: what specific nutrients are going to be the most helpful in keeping up with our vision needs? And how can you ensure you’re getting enough of them?

 

Supplements And Your Vision - Yay Or Nay?

Perhaps, as you’ve evaluated your vision needs, you’ve considered using a multivitamin to support your healthy living needs. It’s certainly not uncommon - as many as 68 percent of Americans take dietary supplements. However, using supplements to obtain your vitamins and nutrients should never be a primary strategy in healthy living.

While supplements can help in some cases, they cannot replace the health benefits that come from eating nutritious foods - particularly fruits and vegetables, which contain much needed fiber. Additionally, in the wrong circumstances, a regular high dosage of specific supplements could potentially do more harm than good. 

Doctors - including our team - recommend that you always try to eat the nutrients that will support good vision and overall health. Working with a doctor to determine if a supplement is necessary after making all possible dietary changes will ultimately ensure you make the healthiest decision for your vision and health.

 

Your Diet And Your Eyes: What To Eat

Now you’re ready to make the dietary changes that will support your eyes - but what do you need to eat? The short and simple answer is “eat the rainbow”. Doctors recommend this approach because eating a variety of colorful foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, is a good way to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need. A varied diet will ideally include the following foods:

  • Leafy Greens: Leafy greens contain many antioxidants that will help protect your eyes against the damage that could accumulate over time due to exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. Leafy greens may also lower your risk of developing glaucoma.  They are also helpful in reducing your risk of age related macular degeneration.
  • Berries: Fruit tends to be packed in vitamin C, which known to promote healthy capillary growth throughout the body and assists in the absorption of iron - two important parts of healthy, functioning eyes.
  • Almonds: Almonds contain high levels of vitamin E, which may help to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 25 percent.
  • Beans: Beans contain high levels of zinc, which can help protect your retina against some of the aging effects that can lead to vision loss.
  • Fatty Fish: Whether you prefer tuna, salmon, or mackerel, a fish dinner is a great thing to include in any eye-healthy diet. These fish are rich in omega-3s, which help regulate the growth of blood vessels. Since some eye conditions are caused by overgrowth or abnormal growth of these blood vessels, this regulation can go a long way in aiding in the prevention of diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinopathy.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids which are helpful in treating dry eyes as well.

These foods aren’t the only ones that will support good vision - but they are some of the foods you can begin eating more of as we enter the spring and summer. And remember: before heading to the drug store and picking up supplements that will benefit your eyes, it’s important to consult your doctor, to ensure you take the right supplement for you and you alone!

Have further questions about how nutrition can support your health? Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with any eye concerns you may have and recommend the appropriate foods and vitamins for your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Keratoconus is an eye disease that our Pittsburgh offices can offer care for. New technologies founded within the last decade have assisted medical professionals across all care spectrums in diagnosing patients and treating conditions that may arise. At Everett & Hurite, that new technology is allowing us to take the necessary steps to evaluate and treat a myriad of eye conditions our patients may have. Recently, for example, our offices purchased a new UV therapy that can treat progressive eye diseases like keratoconus - an eye disease that is becoming more and more common, and which requires a specialized approach to ensure proper care is delivered.

 

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge outward in the shape of a cone. This is due to a weakening of small fibers, or collagen, in the eye that give the cornea its shape. What causes this weakening and eventual bulging remains a mystery - but with an estimated 1 in 750 people in the United States currently diagnosed with keratoconus, it has become one of the most prevalent corneal diseases.

Symptoms include blurred or distorted vision, double vision, sensitivity to light, and nearsightedness. And while an exact cause of the disease is unknown, some speculated causes or contributing factors include genetics, excessive eye rubbing, eye irritation, the use of improperly sized contact lenses, a complication of laser correction vision, or corneal damage.

 

How can we treat keratoconus?

Treating keratoconus is critical in preventing the worst of its symptoms. One of the best known treatments for keratoconus is cross-corneal linking, which can help to strengthen the cornea. Cross-corneal linking is an FDA approved procedure that assists in the treatment of this disease. Liquid riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, and ultraviolet light are used to stiffen the cornea and halt the progression of keratoconus. The use of riboflavin encourages the enhancement and development of stronger corneal collagen cross-links, while the UV light assists in stiffening the tissues and cells within the cornea itself.

Two processes have been associated with this treatment: epi-on and epi-off:

  • The epi-on treatment involves leaving the epithelial layer of the cornea unharmed and is generally less painful with a shorter recovery period.
  • Epi-off involves removing the epithelial layer for a much faster approach in applying the liquid riboflavin. This process is more efficient to cross-corneal linking, but the recovery time is longer; there’s a greater chance of infection; and patients may experience more pain during their procedure. This method, however, is the most effective at present.

 

How can I arrange care for my diagnosis?

As with any health issue, the first step in care for keratoconus is a proper diagnosis. A treatment plan can only be developed upon the completion of a comprehensive exam and, if necessary, follow-up testing. Patients over the age of 14 who receive a diagnosis of keratoconus will be able to begin the discussion about care options with their doctor following a confirmation.

If you have concerns about keratoconus or other eye conditions, we invite you to contact Everett & Hurite to discuss your care options. Our specialized staff will guide you through the process of diagnosing any eye illnesses that may need treatment, and will ensure that your care is properly coordinated based on your individual eye health needs. If you are interested in being examined for keratoconus or a similar condition, contact your nearest location today to schedule an appointment.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This patient testimonial highlights eye care related to diabetes. When asked about common health problems today, diabetes likely comes to mind. Caused by the human body failing to produce enough or failing to properly utilize insulin to process the sugars we consume, diabetes afflicted almost 10% of the population as of 2014. More specifically, the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention reported that 29.1 million people - or 9.3% of the population - had diabetes at that time.

In addition to creating extra problems for primary care doctors, nutritionists and other health experts to address, the diabetes epidemic has impacted our practices here in Pittsburgh. This is because diabetes has the ability to damage a sufferer’s vision. Four vision problems and illnesses are tied to diabetes, and ophthalmologists can treat these “diabetic eye diseases” as part of a diabetes management plan.

One local individual who worked with us to address his vision health after a diabetes diagnosis is Fred Pyor, a 52 year old Slippery Rock resident. Though admittedly overweight - a precursor to diabetes - Mr. Pyor was healthy overall, as far as he knew. He even received a clean bill of health at the vision center where he regularly received eye exams to ensure he could wear contacts.

But, “Not going to the proper [eye doctor] might have caused this,” he said when looking back at his initial diabetes diagnosis.

 

Discovering Diabetes

Mr. Pyor discovered he was living with undiagnosed diabetes on November 22, 2015. A bad infection in his left leg resulted in him being rushed to Butler Memorial Hospital. It was during testing there that he discovered he was living with diabetes. 

“It was life or death for a week,” Mr. Pyor recalls about his battle with both an infection and undiagnosed diabetes. “I had three emergency surgeries.”

Mr. Pyor successfully recovered from his infection, and was eventually discharged. That was when he noticed that his diabetes was impacting his vision. “Before I found out I was a diabetic, I didn’t notice much difference in my eyes,” he remembers. “When I got out of the hospital, I had real blurry vision and trouble focusing. Seeing with dark, dim lights was almost impossible.”

Reading fine print, and seeing objects that were far away were both also very challenging. It was clear that his vision would need special care to ensure it did not worsen further - or become permanent. This is because uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of vision problems, due to elevated sugar levels creating problems within the nerves and blood vessels we rely on for clear vision.

So, “My family physician sent me to [local eye doctor] Dr. Balouris for an eye exam, and they sent me to Everett and Hurite.”

 

A Clear Success

Mr. Pyor’s journey to recovery has been a success - but it’s admittedly one we can’t take all of the credit for. While diabetic eye diseases can be caught and addressed to a certain point by eye doctors, diabetes is ultimately controlled by diet, exercise, and medication as needed. Everett and Hurite’s job was to work alongside Mr. Pyor’s primary care providers, helping to protect his vision as doctor and patient worked on controlling the condition.

Given Mr. Pyor’s poorer health at the time of his diagnosis, he was prescribed oral medication and required up to 75 units of insulin a day after being discharged. He also received monthly injections in both eyes at Everett and Hurite, to help control the swelling that was causing his blurry vision.

Today, he’s still on oral medication - but he’s off of insulin entirely. His average blood sugar level also improved, going from almost twice the healthy maximum in November 2015 to just below the healthy maximum in October 2016. And while his vision does still gets a little blurry if his blood sugar dips too low, he will only need injections in his eyes every four to six months to help prevent high-damage dwelling within them.

Dr. Kondapalli couldn’t believe how far my vision has come,” Mr. Pyor remembers from when he ceased injections in October last year. “He said this is usually a 3 or 4 year process, and I’m 3 years ahead of the game.”

 

A Healthier Road Ahead

Mr. Pyor’s journey to a clearer state of health cannot be praised enough, especially because of the efforts he’s taken along the way to make his efforts and healthy living changes stick. Working with a nutritionist empowered him to literally eat his way into a healthier state, and it’s his diet and efforts to stick to it that allowed him to turn his diagnosis around faster than doctors expected.

“If you look at what’s considered a diabetic, I’m not even considered a diabetic anymore in terms of a number game,” he says, citing his average blood sugar levels from the past few months. “I’ll always be labeled one. But through hard work, dieting, exercise, it can be controlled.”

Mr. Pyor noted that one reason he’s been so successful in his efforts is that he’s competitive. “I made diabetes a competition, and by making it a competition I beat it.” That, combined with his support system, allowed him to control what was really just the latest health-related curveball thrown his way.

“I’ve been through a lot of adversity in my life, health wise,” he notes. “I’ve lived through spinal meningitis. I lived through that, I lived through this, I lived through two back fusions. Through hard work you can accomplish anything.”

Fred Pyor is just one of the numerous locals we assist on a daily basis. Our doctors are able to assist patients who come to us or who are referred to us with a range of eye diseases and eye care needs. If you are interested in working with us to manage your vision needs, contact a location near you.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

There are pros and cons to consider about laser eye surgery. At our various practices, we strive to provide comprehensive eye care that addresses our patients’ specific vision needs. For many of our patients, this includes providing guidance on how to best correct their declining vision. There are many reasons you may begin to have trouble seeing the world around you - and in some case, corrective glasses or contact lenses cannot fully make up for that vision loss.

Depending on the type of vision issue you’re dealing with, you may begin to consider surgery as a next step in addressing your vision loss. As with any surgery, these procedures can help tremendously - but they can also carry risks and challenges you need to be prepared for, just in case the surgery doesn’t go according to plan. With this in mind, our staff routinely discuss surgical needs with our patients, ensuring that they have all the facts they need about how a procedure works, what it entails, and what the risks associated with it are before a patient decides whether or not that procedure is right for their vision needs.

In our experience, we’ve found that laser surgery in particular requires good counsel and consideration by patients of all ages and backgrounds. Consider, for example, these two common examples of vision correction surgery:

  • LASIK: LASIK eye surgery is a well-known procedure used to help patients dealing with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. LASIK is meant to make patients less dependent on vision aides such as glasses, making the procedure very appealing to those dealing with advanced cases of poor vision. There are, however, drawbacks to consider before undergoing any surgery. While LASIK has been extremely popular since its approval in 2002, recent research indicates that "three months after the participants had LASIK surgery, more than 40 percent of those who did not experience visual symptoms before the surgery reported experiencing one or more new visual symptoms, such as seeing glare or halos around objects." It's also well known that LASIK raises your risk of developing symptoms that range from dry eye, to new or additional astigmatism, to vision loss.
  • Cataract Surgery: Cataract surgery is also a common surgical procedure; by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. As a result, 1.5 million cataract surgeries are performed annually in the U.S. Traditional cataract surgery does not include a laser, though it is safe and extremely effective. In the past decade, however, laser cataract surgery has also become a popular option. This type of procedure is very similar to traditional cataract surgery - but a laser is used to break up a patient's cataracts. Just like with LASIK, surgery, however, there are pros and cons to consider before undergoing a laser-based surgery. For example, some research indicates that laser cataract surgery could be safer if laser pretreatments are used to "soften" cataracts before surgery. Some industry leaders, however, feel that the benefits of laser cataract surgery do not outweigh the risks and even financial cost associated with them. And in both cases, there are risks to consider, which include an increased chance of retinal detachment, a secondary cataract, or the development of glaucoma.

These are only two examples of surgeries offered at Everett and Hurite. As you can see, even these two commonplace procedures come with their own set of pros and cons, which need to be considered carefully before they’re performed. Laser surgeries can be a powerful vision aide, but they can also create problems in the wrong circumstances.

Because of this, talking to a highly rated doctor that you trust before undergoing any surgical procedures for vision correction is critical. Our staff carry out conversations that help guide patients like you through their care options every day. If you are considering surgery as a solution for a vision problem, we invite you to contact us and schedule time to meet with one of our doctors, either for a follow-up to a past appointment with us or for a second opinion. Let us help ensure that your future is as clear as possible - and that the care you select is the best one for your health needs.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Winter eye care is critical for good vision. The most wonderful time of the year is quickly approaching, and amidst the flurry of shopping and festivities our eyes and vision needs run the risk of being forgotten. But when we forget to take care of our eyes, we also run the risk of making our lives more difficult later - whether due to health complications, injury, or otherwise.

This holiday season, we encourage you to avoid these potential complications by giving your eyes the care they truly deserve. How? By following these three seasonal tips:

  1. Avoid excess sugar. Sugary treats are a staple of the winter season - but they are not kind to your vision health. While excess sugar is especially damaging to those living with diabetes, a diet high in sugar is likely to raise the risk of an otherwise healthy individual developing macular degeneration (AMD),the leading cause of blindness in America. To help protect your eyes and vision from these side effects, simply aim to eat a diet as low in sugar as possible this season - and remember to work actively with your doctor to manage any existing conditions through a healthy diet year-round.
  2. Shop with care. Gifts are a popular staple of the season; children in particular are in love with this tradition. However, toys can be a serious health hazard if they’re given to the wrong age group. If a child is too young to coordinate their movements fluidly, for example, a play mop or baton could become a source of injury. Sports related injuries are also incredibly common, particularly if children do not wear proper protective eye gear while playing. With this in mind, we advise shoppers to consider the age of every child they're shopping for. Researching the risks associated with specific toys before deciding on a gift for a loved one can also help ensure that every purchase made this year is a source of fun - and not a source of serious eye traumas. As a general rule of thumb, projectile objects and toys with sharp edges are best left to older children - and no matter how old any child is, talking to them about safely playing with their toys is highly recommended.
  3. Beware of UV rays. While we often think of protecting our eyes and skin from sun damage during the summer, this is actually just as important to do in the winter. UV rays can harm your eyes and skin year-round, and are especially dangerous after a snowfall or while one plays winter sports.Help protect your vision this season by keeping your sunglasses and sunscreen nearby - the reduced risk of skin cancer, cataracts and growths within the eye are each worth the extra work!

Good eye care is a year-round task - and it will help ensure that you can celebrate all month long in a healthy, eye-friendly fashion. Please know that if you still have questions about what to do this season to protect your or your child’s eyes, Everett and Hurite’s staff are available to answer any eye care questions you need answered before the holidays. Additionally, should an eye issue suddenly develop in your household, remember: you can check our website to see if a new vision issue that you’re dealing with requires immediate care.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

At Everett and Hurite, we work hard to help patients live a normal life despite any vision problems they may suffer one. A particularly well-known vision issue that we see and treat is myopia - commonly known as nearsightedness. This eye disorder makes it so that only the objects nearest to a patient are visible; anything in the distance (or more than a few feet away, depending on the severity of the condition) is nothing more than a blur.

New myopia treatments can help nearsighted children see more clearly.Myopia affects 20% to 30% of the population, making it one of the most common vision problems today. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to address - particularly at Everett and Hurite, where we actively strive to utilize the latest care methods to help patients adjust to living with their conditions. In fact, thanks to new research, we were recently able to begin offering the latest treatment for myopia, and it’s set to potentially make a major impact on the future of nearsighted children.
 

Treating Myopia: The Standard Options

When we talk about treating myopia, it’s important to remember that there is currently not an actual cure for the condition. This means that treatments are primarily about controlling myopia’s symptoms and the impact they have on our daily life. This is extremely important as myopia’s worst cases are marked by a patient’s inability to clearly see and easily navigate through the world around them; to say a severe case of myopia is dangerous without intervention is not an overstatement. Even mild cases of the condition have effects and symptoms that include chronic headaches; eyestrain; and squinting or fatigue when driving, playing sports, or looking more than a few feet away.

Currently, the most common methods of addressing myopia's symptoms are:

  • Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses: With a doctor’s examination and prescription, patients can obtain custom made vision aids that help to sharpen the picture of the world around them, allowing them to navigate it normally.
  • Undergoing refractive surgery: For some, surgery is ultimately the best option for treating the root cause of nearsightedness. Examples of this type of treatment include LASIK surgery; however, as with any surgery, there are risks associated with these procedures, so interested patients will need to work closely with a doctor to determine if they are necessary and if they are a good fit.
For the majority of patients, these are the standard options for addressing myopia. Thanks to new research, however, our younger patients have recently gained access to a treatment that has the potential to impact their long-term eye health in an unprecedented manner.
 

Treating Myopia: The Newest Option

Recently at Everett and Hurite, we began offering prescriptions for atropine to myopia sufferers. Following years of research, atropine was approved for use by ophthalmologists trying to slow the development of myopia in their patients. Atropine prescriptions have the power to make a stark difference in the lives of young children and teenagers, as atropine can slow the progression of myopia at an age where it’s most likely to develop.

This new treatment is no small feat: slowing the progression of myopia may keep your child from developing serious myopia-related complications down the line. Currently, children who develop myopia early in life are more likely to need to wear thick, corrective eyeglasses. Additionally, early cases of myopia have been associated with serious eye problems later in life, such as early cataracts or even a detached retina.

 

Seeking Care At Everett and Hurite

The use of atropine will ultimately require the approval of an eye doctor, and should be combined with regular monitoring via regular eye appointments. To learn more about the prescription and how it may be integrated into your family’s eye care routine, we invite you to schedule an appointment online or to contact your eye doctor to arrange your next visit with us.

Everett and Hurite is, of course, also available to answer any eye care questions not related to myopia! If you or a family member do develop any unusual symptoms between appointments, you can check our website to see if they require immediate care, and we encourage anyone with questions to contact their doctor to ensure they receive the proper advice for their health needs.

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