Giving Thanks!

November 26, 2013

It’s easy to take our vision and our accessibility to quality healthcare for granted. Thanksgiving gives us a rare opportunity to take a day to focus on the positives of our lives; we are functional, we have the ability in our country to much more easily access assistance, clean water, and food than do many others in our world. If we can see, even if our abilities are encumbered by glasses, glaucoma drops, or itchy eyelids, we are better than the millions worldwide who cannot see the sun rise or snow fall.

We can try to be thankful for the snow, but, in Western New York, that may be a tall order.

Here at Legarreta Eye Center, we are thankful for our wonderful staff, and of course, our great patients & optical customers! Thank you so much for all of your support, business & recommendations. We greatly appreciate it & we are glad to serve you!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from your family at Legarreta Eye Center.


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Diabetes and Eye Health

November 22, 2013

Diabetes is often a lifelong condition which requires active maintenance and monitoring. Checking blood sugar daily (or as frequently as your doctor advises) can become routine. What should also become routine is maintaining a healthy diet and attempting to exercise within your body’s limitations. A diabetic diet can be seen as restrictive; this is certainly not the case, provided you make an effort to incorporate the wide range of healthy, advisable foods! A diabetic diet (which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) is beneficial for almost everyone, even people who do not have a current diabetic diagnosis.

Diabetes can greatly affect the eyes; it can cause permanent damage, damage to the back of the eye (via hemorrhages, active bleeding, and/or blood vessel growth), and fuzzy vision, especially with blood sugar fluctuations. Diabetes can increase the risk for blindness, glaucoma, and early cataract development. Diabetic retinopathy, an unfortunate and somewhat common occurrence in patients with diabetes, can range from mild to severe and can vary from nonproliferative to proliferative (the main distinction being the latter’s presentation of actively regrowing blood vessels which are extremely volatile, abnormal, and fragile). Your eye care professional monitors the health of your macula and retina with dilated examinations; while dilation can be somewhat time consuming and annoying for a few hours, it is vitally important to the health of the eye for diabetics to adhere to their advised regimen of dilated examinations.

With excess calorie and fat comes a rise in blood glucose; this can be devastating to patients with troubled endocrine systems. Severe or recurrent fluctuations can lead to stroke, blindness, and death.   Weight loss can bridge the gap between a healthy adult and an unhealthy adult; often, the difference between an active diagnosis of diabetes and no diagnosis is a few pounds. Though it can be difficult to lose weight, it is not an impossible task for anyone, provided they are willing to commit to being an active part of their own health.

If you have diabetes or you have a risk factor for diabetes (obesity, familial history, etc), a dilated eye exam can be beneficial to your overall and ocular health. Scheduling an annual exam (at least) for dilation is a good habit; diabetics may require more frequent monitoring, especially if the health of the retina is compromised or blood sugar control is especially poor. Our eye care professionals are skilled in diabetic care and are available for appointments!


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Keratoconus

November 5, 2013

Vigorous eye rubbing is generally discouraged by eye care professionals. It can lead to abrasions on the eye, bruising of the ocular area (if rubbing is especially forceful), temporary eye pressure increase, and even a reduction of the elasticity of the eye lids! While most eye rubbing among the general populations is accepted as relatively benign, unfortunately, a more severe condition can stem from this discouraged habit: keratoconus.

Keratoconus presents as a thinning and gradual conical bulging of the cornea, the clear “cap” of the eye. This condition is progressive and can lead to significant enough damage to the ocular surface that surgical treatments may be advised; these surgical treatments may include a corneal transplant. Vision may decrease and blur and light sensitivity can increase as keratoconus progresses. Because keratoconus is volatile and progressive, symptoms may range in occurrence and severity; they include: blurred/distorted vision, light sensitivity, decreased night vision, sudden decrease or clouding of vision, and frequent refractive prescription changes.

An optometrist or ophthalmologist can ascertain and diagnose keratoconus through a routine eye exam, though the severity of the irregular astigmatic curvature of the eye may be tested with additional tests not performed on routine examinations. Monitoring for progression is important for patients with keratoconus as there are options for treatment that are not as invasive as a corneal transplant (examples include Intacs corneal implants and riboflavin crosslinking; though, note that the latter treatment is still in clinical trials in the US).

Habitual eye rubbing alone may not be the sole factor in the development of keratoconus; even so, avoiding habits associated with increased risk of a degenerative disorder’s development can be your best method for decreasing your likelihood of developing said disorder. While the exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, risk factors for the disorder include excessive eye rubbing, prolonged contact lens wear, other conditions (including retinitis pigmentosa, retinopathy of prematurity, Leber’s congenital amaurosis, and Down Syndrome), and a familial history of keratoconus.

An excellent resource for information on keratoconus and its treatment is: http://www.nkcf.org/. This site provides informational videos and updates on keratoconus.

If you are concerned about the health of your cornea and/or if you have noticed a significant decrease in your visual capabilities, an eye examination with your eye care professional is advisable. While keratoconus is not an incredibly common disorder in the general population, it is estimated to occur to some degree in about 1 out of every 2,000 people. Any of our four qualified eye care professionals can evaluate your corneas for keratoconus during your annual eye examination. Call for an appointment today if you have any concerns or would like an evaluation!


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