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Ever notice strange shapes moving around in your eye? Are these shapes more prominent when you’re looking at a bright blue sky or a white sheet of paper? These could be eye floaters - small pieces of collagen that are part of a gel in the back of your eye called the vitreous. So what makes these pieces of collagen move from the back to the front of the eye, and what can be done to remove or prevent this from happening? Here are answers to some common questions regarding causes, symptoms, and treatments for eye vitreous floaters.

You will want to get an eye exam if you develop floaters.


What Causes Floaters?

It’s no secret that the older we get, the more problems we experience with our eyes. One of these problems could be the breaking down and clumping of the protein fibers that make up the vitreous, which contributes to shadows being cast on the eye. When the vitreous becomes less jelly-like and becomes more of a liquid, the fibers clump and cause the shadows to appear.

Floaters can occur in adults at any age, although they’re more common between the ages of 50 and 75. You’re more likely to get them if you’re nearsighted or have experienced cataract surgery. Floaters can also result from various eye diseases and injuries, tumors, or diabetic retinopathy.


What Are The Symptoms?

Floaters can appear differently in every person who experiences them, but there are a few common symptoms that most patients experience. These symptoms include transparent spots or strings on the eyes, spots that move quickly when looking in different directions, spots that are noticeable when looking at bright lights or plain colors (like a bright, blue sky), or spots that drift out of the line of vision. If you are experiencing these symptoms you should see a specialist as soon as possible to confirm that nothing major is developing in your eye, especially if more severe symptoms develop as well (i.e.new floaters appearing, an abundance of floaters, sudden flashes of light, or peripheral vision loss).


How Can Floaters Be Treated?

While floaters can be annoying, most of the time they are harmless, and will go away over time on their own. However, if floaters are continuously getting worse, you will want to see your doctor about possible treatments. There are no treatments for floaters without risks, however. In the past, a vitrectomy, or a removal of the vitreous, was the best recommendation. However, this procedure has a risk of retinal tearing, retinal detachment and cataract formation. Laser vitreolysis is another treatment and it’s performed in a doctor’s office. A laser is projected into the eye through the pupil to target and break up the large floaters. This procedure also carries the risk of retinal tear and detachment. There is also a medication that can be injected into the eye, but this carries a risk of infection, retinal swelling, and retinal tear or detachment. These are all risks that you and your doctor can discuss if the need for treatment ever arises. Fortunately, the majority of floaters resolve naturally, with little to no hassle!

Experiencing any symptoms of floaters? Concerned about your eye health? We can help! Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions about floaters, symptoms, treatments, and any other eye concerns you may have. Schedule an appointment by contacting us today!

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Checking for and treating strabismus is one of our Pittsburgh services. Eye turns, crossed eyes, wall-eyes, wandering eyes, deviating eye, and more. These common terms are often associated with strabismus, an eye condition that causes one eye to turn in another direction when the patient is focused on a particular object. The eyes should work together as a team, but when one eye veers off in another direction, it could be a sign of strabismus.

According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, approximately 4% of Americans have crossed eyes or some other type of strabismus. So what causes strabismus and how can it be corrected? Strabismus surgery is the option many turn to if they have been experiencing deviating eyes. Let’s take a look at strabismus, what may cause it, and how strabismus surgery can correct the problem.


Causes and Symptoms of Strabismus

Strabismus can develop for a variety of reasons, but the most common causes are from genetics, problems with the brain’s fusion center, and muscular or nerve injuries. While adults can develop crossed eyes, this condition is often discovered in babies and is much easier to treat early on. Common symptoms for both adults and children could include headaches, eye strain, unstable vision, or fatigue or discomfort while reading.


Diagnosing Strabismus

Eye care professionals diagnose strabismus when they ask patients to focus their eyes on an object in the distance (about 20 feet away), something nearby (about 13-16 inches away), and by looking up, down, left, and right. While some patients may experience constant strabismus, others may only become cross-eyed intermittently, such as when they are ill or in a stressful situation. Eye doctors can determine if the problem is caused by the patient’s glasses or if it’s an issue with the brain. Prism glasses are recommended for some, while others, who have more of a brain-related problem, may need to undergo surgery to correct the wandering eye.


Strabismus Surgery

Before surgery begins, the surgeon needs to determine which muscles are contributing to the wandering eye and which muscles need to be strengthened or weakened to assist in aligning the eye. In this preoperative test, the surgeon will use prisms to measure the degree of strabismus, which will assist in coming up with the best plan of action during the procedure.

Children undergoing surgery are required to be under general anesthesia, while adults can use either local or general. During surgery, the eyelids are held open and an opening is created on the conjunctiva. Based on the preoperative tests, the muscles are either strengthened, weakened or moved to correct strabismus. While the procedure itself only takes one to two hours, patients will be at the surgery site for a few hours as well for  postoperative recovery. Because this is a common surgery most patients experience quick recovery and improved alignment. 


Our Care

In April, Everett and Hurite’s Pamela Huston and Dr. Darren Hoover presented their latest research on eye muscle surgery at the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. A majority of eye muscle surgeries involve weakening the eye muscles and strengthening others, but Huston and Hoover presented a different approach. The folding, also known as plication, of a rectus eye muscle is an alternative method of care that is not used frequently. Through research, Huston and Hoover discovered that success rates were similar, but re-operation rates were lower for patients receiving the plication procedure. This method takes less time, is less painful, and lowers risks of further damage to the patient. The presentation is a great example of how Everett and Hurite considers the latest research and seeks out better care as a whole for our patients.

Concerned about your eye health after experiencing some of the symptoms above? Do you think you may need strabismus surgery? Do you have concerns about your upcoming surgery? Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions about strabismus and any other eye concerns you may have. Schedule an appointment by contacting us today!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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