Eye Health and BP Medications: What Your Patients Need to Know

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 by

A long-term eye health study done by researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has shown that there is a link between increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and the use of blood pressure medications.

Close to 5,000 participants, ranging in age from 43 to 86 years, were selected for the study that began in 1988 and was completed in 2013 as part of the Beaver Dam Eye Study funded by the National Eye Institute. Although an estimated 11 million Americans suffer from AMD due to several different risk factors, the results involving vasodilators and oral beta blockers were significant.


Although age, sex and other environmental factors were accounted for, researchers still found that patients using a vasodilator were at a 72 percent greater risk of developing early-stage AMD. For participants in the study that did not take vasodilators, early development of AMD was only found in 8.2 percent, whereas 19.1 percent on the medication developed the disease.


The results for beta blockers were much more concerning. In patients taking medications, such as Tenormin and Lopressor, there was a 71 percent increase in the risk of contracting neovascular AMD, which is a more serious form and …


Scientists Make Retina from Stem Cells

Posted on Jun 27, 2014 by

A team of researchers and scientists from John Hopkins University School of Medicine has been successful in growing a miniature retina from adult human stem cells. This incredible breakthrough brings hope for those who suffer from macular degeneration and other retinal diseases that cause vision loss.


Using a cell known as an induced pluripotent stem cell, or iPS cell, from a piece of skin, the team was able to “trick” the cell back to an embryonic state and activate genes to create the retina. This is possible because, like embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can develop into any cell type.


In this experiment, researchers were astonished to see the retina growing as though it were developing in a human embryo. At what would be comparable to 28 weeks of gestation, the retina not only had the organizational structure of a regular retina, but the team also found that it reacted to light. Essentially, the retina had developed on its own in a petri dish once the scientists had laid the framework.


This groundbreaking research may lead to technologies that can restore vision, but it also provides a means for testing the efficacy of drugs for eye diseases on human samples …


Study Shows Active Lifestyles Help Decrease Risk of Vision Impairment

Posted on Jun 25, 2014 by

The results of a study published in Ophthalmology have shown that modifiable lifestyle practices can reduce the chances of developing vision loss that is not improved by the use of corrective lenses. Included in the study were physical fitness, occasional drinking and smoking.


As part of another long-term eye study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health studied the impact of the three lifestyle practices on vision loss with nearly 5,000 adults between the ages of 43 and 84 over the years from 1988 to 2013. Over the course of the study, researchers found that 5.4 percent of the population developed visual impairment and that physical activity dramatically affected the outcome.


For the purposes of the study, patients were considered physically active if they participated in regular activities a minimum of three times per week. Only 2 percent of this group developed vision loss, while 6 percent of the sedentary group developed vision loss. After adjusting for age, this translates to an impressive 58 percent decrease in the chances of suffering from vision impairment.


Occasional drinking, defined as fewer than one drink consumed in an average week, returned lower instances of vision impairment …


Athletes Add Vision Training for Better Sports Performance

Posted on Jun 23, 2014 by

In order to perform at their best, athletes need excellent peripheral vision and the ability to shift focus quickly. Many athletes are partaking in vision training to maximize their potential. Although vision training is not a new concept, thanks to recent studies, it’s gaining prestige and value.


Vision training doesn’t actually improve vision; it improves the brain’s ability to process what it has seen faster and more clearly. The concept behind vision training is based on the idea that if the sensory neurons are engaged more often, they will be more active and more accurate when transmitting information across synapses. As Dr. Sabel, a neuroscientist from Madgeburg, Germany states, “Sensory neurons are like muscles in that if you do not use them, you lose them.” He further states that the concept applies “to athletes and patients with visual impairment” because of diseases like glaucoma, which affect peripheral vision. Dr. Sabel conducted a study, which showed a 19 percent improvement in the peripheral vision of glaucoma patients.


Although previous studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of vision training for athletes, the studies were limited both in the number of people studied and the variables that affected the …


Dealing with Difficult Patients

Posted on Jun 11, 2014 by

Developing a good rapport with your patients is tantamount to a successful practice. However, despite your best intentions, there are always some patients that are difficult to deal with. Whatever they are upset about, there are some ways to minimize their impact on your practice while providing the service they need.


There are some common factors that can help mitigate a patient’s reactions when they’re being served by your practice. As outlined by Review of Optometry, these include being proactive and explaining fees, difficult treatment procedures and possible outcomes to help your patients feel in control of their situation. This can stave off shock-like reactions. You should also develop a mission statement for your practice and a set policy so there’s no mistake about how you choose to operate. Make sure your staff is well-trained and understands how to enforce these policies.


While these tips can certainly help define your practice and let patients know what to expect, there will still be patients that require some additional attention.


Optos would love to hear how you handle difficult patients. What tips would you suggest? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.



Use of Daily Multivitamin Supplement May Lower Cataract Risk in Men

Posted on Jun 09, 2014 by


June is Cataract Awareness Month and new information may prove beneficial to male patients at your practice. In a long-term study published in Ophthalmology earlier this year, researchers shared that the use of a daily multivitamin supplement may lower cataract risk in men.


Although limited testing has been done to determine the benefits of supplement use on eye health in general, specific research on effects to eye disease is either limited or non-existent. Researchers in this case decided to use a double-blind study of 14,641 American male physicians age 50 and above over a 14-year span from 1997 to 2011. The study focused on the effects of a nutritional supplement on two of the most common eye diseases that cause vision impairment — cataract and age-related macular degeneration.


In this randomized study, half of the group took a placebo as a control while the other half took a multivitamin and supplements which included vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene. Using self-reporting substantiated by medical records, 945 cases of cataract developed in the placebo group while only 872 of the physicians that took the multivitamin and supplements developed the condition. It was also found that the risk of developing nuclear cataract, which …


Points to Consider When Purchasing New Technology for Your Practice

Posted on Jun 06, 2014 by

Advanced technologies have become so mainstream that in order to distinguish your practice and meet your patients’ expectations, adopting a strategy to incorporate it sooner rather than later, is highly advisable. In order to do so successfully, Optometric Management advises considering what your patients expect, what to invest in and how to cover the expense of the additions.


Before deciding what to purchase, first take an inventory of your current technologies used in your practice. Keeping in mind the security and privacy requirements of HIPAA, determine what will remain useful for the foreseeable future and what is likely to become obsolete in a relatively short period of time. As you’re evaluating your current technologies, determine what will enhance the practice you ultimately wish to have and make notes of what equipment will best serve your needs.


As with any large purchase, you’ll likely have items you want and items that are necessary for your practice’s development. Be sure to document your ideas and include them in the appropriate categories. As an example, if you experience a dramatic increase in diabetic patients at your practice, you’ll likely see a greater need for retinal imaging devices. Although you may wish …


June is Cataract Awareness Month

Posted on Jun 04, 2014 by

Affecting more than 24 million Americans over the age of 40 and thousands of others around the world, cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss worldwide. Direct medical costs for diagnosis, treatment, vision aids and the like adds up to a 14.7 billion-dollar annual impact on the U.S. economy alone. With these facts in mind, Prevent Blindness has declared June Cataract Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness and share prevention tips with your patients and the general public.


As an eye care provider, you’re positioned to make the greatest impact on your patients and your community. By using education, you can help reduce the number of people suffering from cataracts due to ignorance about the condition. Although generally associated with age, there are many risk factors that contribute to the development of cataracts, including but not limited to:

— Overexposure to UV rays from the sun — Diseases such as diabetes that affect the eye — Hereditary conditions — German measles or other conditions an individual’s mother may have suffered during pregnancy — Long-term smoking and steroid use — Eye disease or injury

Speaking to your patients about these contributing factors may help them make better choices about their eye care and help …