Sunday, January 28, 2018

Seniors: Eye Exams Key to AMD Detection



Seniors can take an important step in preventing vision loss from Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by scheduling regular eye exams and sharing their risk factors with their eye doctor. Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among older Americans, but thanks to recent treatment advances we have dramatically changed the course of this disease for seniors. BUT, early detection is a critical first step to preserving vision!

About Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
In the United States, approximately 11 million Americans are affected by some type of AMD. AMD has two types, a wet type and dry type. While dry AMD leads to a gradual loss of vision, wet AMD leads to faster, even catastrophic vision loss and is the most advanced form of the disease. Wet AMD is responsible for 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness. As recently as 10-12 years ago, the “wet” form of AMD was considered largely untreatable and many patients went blind. Then came the introduction of injectable anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs which block formation of abnormal blood vessels under the retina that cause permanent vision loss. The usage of anti-VEGF drugs has nearly halved the incidence AMD-related blindness in some countries.

There are several anti-VEGF drugs available that are used to treat AMD. Two of these, Lucentis® and Eylea®, were designed specifically for the treatment of AMD whereas a third drug, Avastin®), was originally developed to treat various types of cancer, but is commonly used “off-label” in patients with AMD. The recommended frequency of these injections varies from every few weeks to every few months, and duration of treatment varies by case.

About AMD Risk Factors
Common risk factors for AMD include increasing age, family history, smoking, and blood vessel disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (common in cold water fish) may lower risk. Seniors need to know that in its earliest stages, AMD may not have any symptoms. As it progresses, slight changes in vision may occur such as blurry or distorted vision, blank spots in vision and colors appearing less vivid or bright.

If you or someone you know has not had a recent eye exam, especially if you are over 50 with a family history of AMD or have other AMD risk factors, please call your local optometrist to schedule an appointment. If specialty care, treatment or surgery is required, please ask to be referred to one of the physicians at Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Glaucoma: Diet, Health & Lifestyle



Glaucoma: Diet, Health & Lifestyle: What You Need to Know!
As glaucoma is a chronic eye disease, we are often asked by glaucoma patients what diet, health and lifestyle factors can helpful or harmful to their eye health. There is a need to separate fact from fiction on recommendations and yet we can all take away some useful and practical information about the effect of diet, health and lifestyle on glaucoma.

Exercise and Glaucoma
One of the typical findings in glaucoma is that patients have an elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Results from a number of studies indicate that aerobic exercise is associated with IOP lowering and according to the findings the change is greater among sedentary individuals than those who were already active and is independent of exercise duration or intensity. So, even a little aerobic exercise has a positive impact on lowering IOP! For anyone who feels they cannot incorporate exercise into their lifestyle-any kind of movement, even walking, may be beneficial. But, the key is consistency as you have to maintain your regimen because there is evidence showing as well that the effect of exercise on IOP does not continue when deconditioning occurs.

Diet and Glaucoma
There are many studies that suggest eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables-especially green leafy vegetables-is beneficial. This advice comes from studies showing that consumption of a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, or with a higher dietary nitrate intake (for which green leafy vegetables are an excellent source), seemed to protect against glaucoma. In general, there is no harm in increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables–EXCEPT that for patients taking the blood thinner Coumadin® or warfarin, you need to be aware that green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin K and should you should discuss any increase in their green vegetable intake with their primary care doctor so that medication dosages can be adjusted if necessary.

Acupuncture and Glaucoma
Today, many patients express an interest in alternative therapies such as acupuncture for managing treating their glaucoma.  In general, according to the results of a well-designed clinical study reported on acupuncture treatment for glaucoma in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, acupuncture is unlikely to be beneficial.

If you or someone you know is concerned about their risk of glaucoma please call your local optometrist to schedule a glaucoma eye exam and testing. If specialty care, treatment or surgery is required, please ask to be referred to one of the physicians at Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Glaucoma, Eye Pressure & Inhalers: No Need to Worry!



Glaucoma, Eye Pressure & Allergy Steroid Inhalers

For certain patients taking oral steroid medications for asthma or severe arthritis can actually elevate their intraocular pressure (IOP) and cause them to develop glaucoma. In the recent past, it has become very common to treat the symptoms of season allergies-such as a runny nose, itching and sneezing, with Flonase® (Fluticasone) which is administered with an inhaler. In fact Flonase® inhalers are now available “over the counter” without a prescription at your local pharmacy so that you can just buy them and begin treating yourself.  Is it safe to use Flonase® inhalers if you are at risk of high eye pressure and are you at even greater risk if you have ocular hypertension or already have glaucoma? According to the results of a clinical study, called the ICOUGH Study presented in the Journal of Glaucoma, there was no clinically significant increase in the average eye pressure in patients with well-controlled open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension after 6 weeks of twice-daily inhaled Flonase®. Thus, it is generally regarded as safe to use OTC inhalers of Flonase® without causing an increased risk of glaucoma. 

If you or someone you know is concerned about their risk of glaucoma please call your local optometrist to schedule a glaucoma eye exam and testing. If specialty care, treatment or surgery is required, please ask to be referred to one of the physicians at Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Early Detection Critical to Treating Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a major cause of vision loss worldwide. It affects more than 3 million people in the United States with nearly half being unaware they have the disease. During Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding the public that early detection and treatment can help protect your sight. 

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. Typically, the disease initially has no signs or symptoms. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone have a comprehensive eye exam at age 40. This exam provides eye doctors an opportunity to carefully examine the eye including the optic nerve for signs of damage and other possible problems that may affect vision. Individuals at greater risk for developing glaucoma include people: 
  • over age 40;
  • who have a family history of glaucoma;
  • of African, Asian or Hispanic heritage;
  • who have high eye pressure detected during an eye exam;
  • who are farsighted or nearsighted;
  • who have experienced eye trauma or eye injury;
  • whose corneas are thin in the center;
  • or who have health problems such as diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure or poor blood

Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are critical to managing glaucoma and preventing vision loss and blindness. Please call your local optometrist to schedule a glaucoma eye exam and testing. If specialty care, treatment or surgery is required, please ask to be referred to one of the physicians at Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Optic Nerves Identify Glaucoma


Photo of optic nerve discs with glaucoma. The brighter white in the center of the disc is the "cupping" of the disc that physicians measure to determine if there is any change over time. In glaucoma, this area can become larger and deeper, resulting in nerve fiber loss, which permanently reduces peripheral vision. 

If you or someone you know has questions about eye diseases, problems or conditions please call your local optometrist to schedule an appointment. If specialty care, treatment or surgery is required, please ask to be referred to one of the physicians at Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020,  or visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup.