Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

15 Years of LASIK in Maine at EMG

Gretel Taska is the Clinical and Refractive Director at Eyecare Medical Group. She has been with EMG for 19 years, and has worked here since we started doing refractive surgery. Here she discusses the changes in LASIK and refractive surgery since it first began.

The physicians at Eyecare Medical Group began offering refractive surgery to their patients in 1991. The fact that there was a procedure to reduce or eliminate a persons' need for glasses was new and exciting. RK was in great demand and the EMG refractive surgeons provided successful treatment to many patients. Advances in technology brought PRK and then LASIK to the refractive world and shortly after the FDA approved the excimer laser for use in the United States, Eyecare Medical Group purchased the very first excimer laser in the state of Maine. EMG has been offering PRK and LASIK to patients since 1997. We have successfully treated thousands of people who are living life free of the inconvenience of glasses and contact lenses for most of their daily activities.

In 2000, I began to oversee the refractive department. We used the Summit Apex Plus excimer laser which was an excellent laser for its time. I even had LASIK myself in June of 2000. While I have enjoyed 20/20 vision since that time, I have also watched the advances in technology. Three more excimer lasers later and we are able to provide vision correction for myopia, hyperopia as well as astigmatism. Our bladeless all laser LASIK system provides an exceptional experience for each and every patient. With time, refractive procedures have become safer and more accurate, offering patients the ability to see more clearly and better peace of mind.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

About Diabetic Retinopathy at EMG

Darrin Landry, CRA, OCT-C, our photographer here at EMG, wrote this for our patients to help in explaining diabetic retinopathy.  Darrin has been an ophthalmic photographer for 22 years, 8 of those years with EMG.
“Wide field image of diabetic retinopathy.
Note the hemorrhages scattered throughout (arrows)”
Diabetic retinopathy is a collective term that refers to conditions of the retina as a result of diabetes. The retina is the innermost layer of the back of the eye that is responsible for sensing light and converting light to electrical signals to the brain. When sugar levels are too high in the blood, damage to the blood vessels in the retina can occur. This results in leakage of blood or leakage of serous fluid, which is the clear part of blood. When blood vessels leak into the retina, it swells or forms deposits that can interfere with normal vision.

An example of this is called macular edema, which is swelling or thickening of the central part of the retina that allows for fine detail vision. This is the most common cause of visual loss in diabetes. Macular ischemia, or lack of oxygen in the central part of the retina, occurs when the smaller capillaries in the eye close down and results in a loss of oxygen to that part of the retina. When the body senses that no oxygen is reaching these parts, it starts to form new blood vessels, called neovascularization. These new blood vessels do not supply the needed oxygen to the retina, and in fact can cause more problems. The new blood vessels are fragile and can break and bleed into the vitreous, which is the fluid that fills the back of the eye, and cause dramatic sudden vision loss. They can also scar and contract the retina, causing retinal tears or detachments.

Ischemia can also prompt the growth of new blood vessels in the colored part of the eye, called the iris, and cause a severe, blinding type of glaucoma. In cases of macular edema, or swelling, injections of a medication may be indicated to reduce the edema. Laser treatment may also be necessary to decrease the fluid leakage, and in most cases the goal is to prevent more damage or loss of vision.

In areas of ischemia, or lack of blood supply, the doctor may recommend laser treatment to eliminate the demand for oxygen in that area of the retina. Laser can also be applied to neovascularization, to shrink the vessels and decrease the chance of bleeding.

In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, surgery may be necessary, either to remove blood from the vitreous or to repair retinal tears or detachments. Prevention is the best treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Strict control of blood sugars and frequent monitoring by yourself and your doctor can significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. Early detection is crucial for a better prognosis and reduced risk of vision loss. Annual dilated eye exams are recommended for anyone with diabetes, and more frequent visits to the eye doctor may be necessary if you are experiencing any visual problems or are already diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Employee Appreciation Week at EMG

Each year, Eyecare Medical Group honors their employees with a week of “Employee Appreciation”. Employees are recognized for their hard work and dedication. There are fun activities for the staff to enjoy and tokens of appreciation are handed out to all the staff.

This year, at the annual employee luncheon, 9 employees were recognized for their hard work and dedication to EMG. They are:

Jim Fickett
Technician for Dr. Daly
10 years of service

Chelsea Cormier
Patient Accounts Specialist
5 years of service

Mary Pat Conroy
IT Manager
10 years of service

Paula Tillman
Technician for Dr. Shah
10 years of service

Susan Yelvington
10 years of service

Clem Berry
5 years of service

Dr. Steidl
5 years of service

Chris Dow
Secretary to Dr. Cassidy
15 years of service

Thank you for all your hard work!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cataract Surgery and Eyeglasses-Will I Still Need Them?

“We have two main goals for our Cataract Surgery patients”, commented Maine Cataract Surgeon Bruce Cassidy, M.D. “First, we want to remove the cloudy crystalline lens which is where a cataract has formed.” The crystalline lens is actually an optical component of the eye that provides focusing power. “The second goal of Cataract Surgery is to replace the optical and focusing power that was provided by crystalline lens by implanting an intraocular lens (IOL) so that you have the correct amount of focusing power to allow you to see clearly.”

If you wore glasses before you developed a Cataract because you were nearsighted, farsighted or had astigmatism before you developed a Cataract, it is possible for the Cataract Surgeon to use a carefully calculated IOL power or a special IOL that can correct astigmatism so that you may not need to wear eyeglasses to see at distance after your surgery. Today, it is even possible for Cataract Surgeons Drs. Cassidy, Holt, Daly, Solish and Sterrer to select IOLs that can correct both distance and near vision so that you can decrease, or even eliminate, your dependence on bifocals and reading glasses after Cataract Surgery.

If you think you have a Cataract or have been told you have a Cataract and would like to be less dependent on glasses it is worthwhile to learn more about Cataracts, Cataract Surgery and Lens Implants by scheduling an examination and consultation. Please feel free to call Eyecare Medical Group Toll Free at 888.374.2020.

Friday, May 13, 2011

EMG Optometry Seminar, Part 2

The topic of the Spring Optometry Seminar was retinal issues and emergencies. Dr. Scott Steidl’s presentation was a handful of case studies of patients with different diagnoses that he chose out of his schedule. He did an overview of 10 different patients with different diseases of the retina…uveitis, AMD, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, CRVO, and BRVO, among other things. He discussed the specific disease, how he treated that disease and what he was expecting to do further to treat the disease if necessary; how patients handled the treatment, and what the prognosis was for that particular disease in that individual. He discussed the different methods of treatment for particular issues, including surgery and injections with anti VEGF medications.

At the end of the seminar, there was a question and answer section where the doctors could ask questions about the material presented.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recovery from Cataract Surgery at Eyecare Medical Group

For patients having surgery of any type having and understanding of what to expect during the recovery period is an important piece of information. At Eyecare Medical Group we are fortunate to be able to provide our patients with a comfortable and “patient friendly” recovery from cataract surgery. Here is what you need to know:

First, if you are in generally good health it is most likely that your cataract operation will be performed in our ambulatory surgical center at Eyecare Medical Group. We have designed this eye surgery facility to be comfortable, close to home and efficient. Your entire cataract surgery procedure should take only 2-3 hours from the time you check in until the time you check out.

Second, with Drs. Cassidy, Holt, Daly, Solish and Sterrer advanced cataract surgery is most often performed with “topical eye drop anesthesia”-that is, for most patients the only anesthesia required are some eye drops along with a tablet to help you relax. Thus, there is really minimal if any “recovery” from the anesthesia used. You are usually feeling “back to normal” by the end of the day of your surgery or certainly by the next morning.

Third, with the advanced cataract surgery technique of “small incision phacoemulsification” that the Eyecare Medical Group Cataract Surgeons perform there is only a need to create a tiny incision-often just a few millimeters-through which the cataract is removed and the intraocular lens is implanted. This tiny incision is so small so as not to require any “stitches” or sutures in many cases. Thus the wound healing is very quick. Finally, depending on the type of lens implant that is used it is highly likely that your distance vision will be dramatically improved within 24 hours. In fact many patients actually are comfortable driving the next day after their cataract operation. If you have a multifocal or accommodating lens implant to correct both your distance and near vision it might take a bit longer to appreciate the full clarity of the near vision correction. So, it is pretty likely that you will be back to work in a few days and depending on your cataract surgeon’s instructions you should be able to resume all of your normal activities with a couple of days.

If you would like to learn more about Cataracts, Cataract Surgery and Lens Implants or would like to schedule an examination and consultation please feel free to call Eyecare Medical Group Toll Free at 888.374.2020.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

EMG Optometry Seminar, Part 1

Each year, EMG hosts 2-3 seminars on various topics in optometry and ophthalmology in order to assist the optometrists in the state of Maine in getting their continuing education credits.

This year, the Spring Optometry Seminar was held on April 25 at Eyecare Medical Group with about 60 optometrists in attendance, as well as about 25 EMG employees including technicians, physicians, and administrative staff.

Dr. Jackie Nguyen, one of the vitreoretinal specialists here at EMG, spoke about the management of retinal emergencies. She discussed various different retinal issues, including posterior vitreous and retinal detachment and vitreous and retinal hemorrhages. She presented time frames on how soon different retinal issues should be treated and the course of treatment she would use depending on the type of emergency. Also discussed were the different types of retinal detachments- rhegmatogenous, exudative, and tractional- as well as the differences between retinal venous and arterial occlusions, and the different methods of treatment for each. Dr. Nguyen talked about the way that anti VEGF medications have revolutionized the way patients with AMD are treated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maine Ultraviolet (UV) Eye Protection Awareness Month

Eyecare Medical Group wishes to announce that Prevent Blindness America has designated May as National Ultraviolet Eye Awareness Month. “Most people know the harmful effects that ultraviolet (UV) rays can have on the skin but many are not aware of the damage that they can cause to the eyes. Possibly the most frightening aspect of UV damage is that it is cumulative, meaning the negative effects may not present themselves until years later”, said Jordan Sterrer, M.D. of Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, Maine. “Most people do not know or appreciate the ultraviolet (UV) from the sun can cause significant damage to eye health and vision.”

“We know that extended exposure to UV has been linked to many eye problems and in some cases thought to quicken the onset of eye diseases such as cataracts, age related macular degeneration (AMD), certain cancers on the delicate skin around the eye and even photokeratitis, a type of sunburn of the cornea”, said Maine Corneal Specialist Ravi Shah, M.D. of Eyecare Medical Group.

“Most of us wouldn’t dream of staying outside in the sun or participating in water sports without putting on sunscreen lotion,” commented Bruce Cassidy, M.D. “But we also need to remember to wear both UV-blocking lenses and a brimmed hat to protect our eyes as well.”

Eye protection from UV needs to be complete but doesn’t have to be overly expensive. High quality sunglasses should block out 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays. It is also important to have UV protection in everyday eyewear which is readily available with a number of UV blocking eyeglass lens materials, specialized coatings and photochromic lenses. Patients are encouraged to discuss the proper choice of sunglasses with their eye care practioner in order to select UV protecting eyewear that provides the proper level of protection.

Eyecare Medical Group will be pleased to answer your questions about UV protection and eye disease and be happy to suggest many high quality eyewear outlets that can help you with the proper eyewear and lens choices. Eyecare Medical Group can be reached Toll Free at 888.374.2020.