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LET’S TALK ABOUT UV

Now, we’re not trying to scare you but we do want to educate you. I know we say it all the time, but you only get one pair of eyes – don’t take them for granted.

According to the American Optometric Association, the longer your eyes are exposed to solar radiation, the greater the risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration later in life. See that is scary.

If you follow the below tips you will protect your eyes all year long (not just in the summer).

  •  Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Don’t worry we have the best brands and styles, check out our blog on 2017 trends.
  •  Don’t be fooled by an overcast day, the sun penetrates haze and thin clouds.
  •  Never look directly at the sun. This can damage your eye’s retina which is obviously not good.
  •  Throw a hat on your kid along with sunglasses when out and about. Seniors and children are especially susceptible to the sun’s UV rays.

The good thing is this is all preventable and you get to look cool being safe. We encourage our patients to wear sunglasses, just like your dermatologist recommends sunscreen because it is for your own safety.

Take a look at our segment on WZZM13’s My West Michigan, where we discuss sunglass safety in honor of National Sunglasses Day on Tuesday, June 27.

Questions? Give us a call at 1-(800)-RX-CARES. We love to hear from you.

A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE OF MACULAR DEGENERATION

As an optometrist there are very few things more defeating than having to tell a patient they are losing their vision and there is nothing I can do about it. Unfortunately this happens more than one might think. Conditions that can blind a patient have a large range. In the young it’s typically congenital conditions for example Stargardts disease, these are rare but I think most of us have had the unfortunate experience of telling a child and their concerned parent to prepare for the worst. In the elderly we see a greatly more prevalent condition called Macular Degeneration taking peoples vision at an alarming rate. Each patient will handle the situation and news differently, some I cry with, some hold their heads high and start problem solving their future and others just want a hug as they sit in dismay not quite knowing what to do next.

We as doctors sometimes have to give the worst news possible. It is also our job to give hope and direct our patients to the appropriate help when we can no longer treat the condition at hand. Many aren’t aware of the Association for the Blind and other local support that can teach them how to live independently without their vision. News of these organizations, although somewhat comforting to have a “next step”, usually don’t inspire hope for patients after receiving their diagnosis.

This brings me to something that is very exciting to our profession, hope for a cure. Stem cell research is something that has been in the news many times over the years. I am glad to say that they have found a safe way of obtaining the stem cells and are utilizing them in human trials. Currently progress is being made in a very small amount of chosen patients to regrow macular tissue. This is the area of the eye that many blinding conditions effect. Stem cells have been injected into the back of the eye in an attempt to try to regrow this tissue. Results thus far have been promising, although not perfect. The hope is to bring vision back to the blind and cure many types of macular conditions. The trial patients have gotten some tissue back and halted their various conditions from worsening. This is enough to have researchers saying that this will save the vision of those in early stages of their conditions. Thus far full vision in the blind has yet to be restored, even though motion and colors are being detected again. Much more research is needed before this will become available as many side effects and possible unforeseen complications need to be studied. Large population studies are expected to be underway.

I am so excited to tell my patients now that even though they are losing sight now and currently no treatment is available, soon there will be a treatment if not cure. There is hope, this won’t be permanent and if they can hang in there it won’t be long.

Written By: Dr. Angela Jammer, OD