Happy New Year from Innovative Eyecare! We will be closed on New Year’s Day, January 1st. We will reopen on Saturday, January 2nd at 9:30 AM.
We will be closed for the Christmas Holiday on December 24th and 25th. We will reopen on December 26th at 9:30 AM.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together, we are developing new protocols with your safety and convenience in mind. In order to protect our patients and staff, we are limiting the number of patients that may be present in our office at any one time. Appointments are now required for all services including those in our optical (e.g., frame selection, dispenses, and repairs). We request that no more than one person accompany any patient to our facility. Families with multiple appointments will be allowed into the office in groups of two. All visitors are required to wear a mask.
We will be screening everyone who comes into the office with a non-contact thermometer. We would ask that those with temperatures over 99.6, have a cough, or loss of taste or smell to reschedule any non-emergent appointments they may have. Please call our office at 512-328-0015 if you require aid during this difficult and trying time.
We are masking, disinfecting, and washing our hands more aggressively than ever. As well, our staff is being screened daily for illness. If you feel uncomfortable making a trip to our office, we will be happy to arrange to have your glasses or contact lenses shipped directly to you, or we will gladly deliver them directly to you while you wait in your car. Thank you for your understanding.
We at Innovative Eyecare are grateful for all of our wonderful patients and would like to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! We will be closed on Thursday, November 26th and Friday, November 27th. We will resume our normal hours of operation on Saturday, November 28th.
Please join us in welcoming Stefanie Taing, O.D. She is the newest member of the Innovative Eyecare team.
Dr. Stefanie Taing was born and raised in Austin, Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. Her passion for optometry was solidified when she worked as an optometric technician at Innovative Eyecare. She went on to earn her Doctorate of Optometry from the University of Incarnate Word at Rosenberg School of Optometry in San Antonio, Texas.
She completed her clinical rotations at Community Eye Care in Fort Worth, Texas and at the Amarillo Veterans Affair where she diagnosed and treated ocular diseases. She also volunteered in a mission trip to Guatemala where she provided eye care to the underserved population of Chichicastenango, Guatemala and to the orphans of the Village of Hope Guatemala.
Dr. Taing is an active member in the American Optometric Association, the Texas Optometric Association, and the Central Texas Optometric Society. When Dr. Taing is not in the office, she enjoys trying different chocolate cakes and balancing this out with long runs. She has completed several Austin Half-Marathons and plans to complete many more in the future. She is excited to return to Innovative Eyecare as a therapeutic optometrist and certified glaucoma specialist.
We will be closed Saturday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We will resume normal office hours on Monday, July 6th. Have a safe and happy holiday!
We are now seeing patients for routine annual eye exams! In order to protect our patients and staff we ask that you wear a facial covering while visiting our office. We are currently screening patients when they enter our office with a non-contact thermometer and ask that you either wash your hands upon entering or use hand sanitizer. We also ask you to limit one caretaker/parent per patient. Appointments are now required for any frame selection, dispense, or repair.
Patients that have temperatures over 99.6, a cough, shortness of breath, or have recently traveled to an area with a high rate of infection must reschedule any non-emergent appointments they may have. We have telemedicine visits available if you are currently unable to visit our office in person. Please call our office at 512-328-0015, if you require aid during this difficult and trying time.
We are disinfecting our equipment and frames more aggressively than ever and our staff are being screened daily for illness. We have also removed some chairs from our waiting areas to allow for social distancing. If you feel uncomfortable making a trip into our office, we will be happy to arrange to have your glasses or contact lenses shipped directly to you, or we will gladly deliver them directly to you while you wait in your car.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
In order to protect our patients and staff, we are screening everyone who comes into the office with a non-contact thermometer.
We would ask that those with temperatures over 99.6, have a cough, or have recently traveled outside of the country to please reschedule any non-emergent appointments they may have. Please call our office at 512-328-0015 if you require aid during this difficult and trying time.
We are disinfecting and washing our hands more aggressively than ever and our staff are being screened daily for illness. If you feel uncomfortable making a trip into our office, we will be happy to arrange to have your glasses or contact lenses shipped directly to you, or we will gladly deliver them directly to you while you wait in your car.
Age-related macular degeneration — also called macular degeneration, AMD or ARMD — is the deterioration of the macula, which is the small central area of the retina of the eye that controls visual acuity. The health of the macula determines our ability to read, recognize faces, drive, watch television, use a computer, and perform any other visual task that requires us to see fine detail.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans, and due to the aging of the U.S. population, the number of people affected by AMD is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead.
According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6.5 percent of Americans age 40 and older have some degree of macular degeneration. Other research suggests there were 9.1 million cases of early AMD in the U.S. in 2010 and this number is expected to increase to 17.8 million by the year 2050.
AMD is most common among the older white population, affecting more than 14 percent of white Americans age 80 and older. Among Americans age 50 and older, advanced macular degeneration affects 2.1 percent of this group overall, with whites being affected more frequently than blacks, non-white Hispanics and other ethnic groups (2.5 percent vs. 0.9 percent).
Wet and dry forms of macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular refers to the growth of new blood vessels in an area, such as the macula, where they are not supposed to be.
Macular degeneration mainly affects central vision, causing “blind spots” directly ahead.
The dry form is more common than the wet form, with about 85 to 90 percent of AMD patients diagnosed with dry AMD. The wet form of the disease usually leads to more serious vision loss.
Dry macular degeneration (non-neovascular). Dry AMD is an early stage of the disease and may result from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, depositing of pigment in the macula or a combination of the two processes.
Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed when yellowish spots known as drusen begin to accumulate in and around the macula. It is believed these spots are deposits or debris from deteriorating tissue.
Gradual central vision loss may occur with dry macular degeneration but usually is not nearly as severe as wet AMD symptoms. However, dry AMD through a period of years slowly can progress to late-stage geographic atrophy (GA) — gradual degradation of retinal cells that can cause severe vision loss.
No approved treatments are available for dry macular degeneration, although a few now are in clinical trials.
Two large, five-year clinical trials — the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS; 2001) and a follow-up study called AREDS2 (2013) — have shown nutritional supplements containing
antioxidant vitamins and multivitamins that also contain lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of dry AMD progressing to sight-threatening wet AMD.
But neither the AREDS nor the AREDS2 study demonstrated any preventive benefit of nutritional supplements against the development of dry AMD in healthy eyes.
Currently, it appears the best way to protect your eyes from developing early (dry) macular degeneration is to eat a healthy diet, exercise and wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Wet macular degeneration (neovascular). In about 10 percent of cases, dry AMD progresses to the more advanced and damaging form of the eye disease. With wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, which die off and create blind spots in central vision.
Choroidal neovascularization(CNV), the underlying process causing wet AMD and abnormal blood vessel growth, is the body’s misguided way of attempting to create a new network of blood vessels to supply more nutrients and oxygen to the eye’s retina. Instead, the process creates scarring, leading to sometimes severe central vision loss.
Wet macular degeneration falls into two categories:
• Occult. New blood vessel growth beneath the retina is not as pronounced, and leakage is less evident in the occult CNV form of wet macular degeneration, which typically produces less severe vision loss.
• Classic. When blood vessel growth and scarring have very clear, delineated outlines observed beneath the retina, this type of wet AMD is known as classic CNV, usually producing more severe vision loss.
Age-related macular degeneration symptoms
Age-related macular degeneration usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision. In rare cases, however, vision loss can be sudden. Early signs of vision loss from AMD include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision.
An Amsler grid consists of straight lines, with a reference dot in the center. Someone with macular degeneration may see some of the lines as wavy or blurred, with some dark areas at the center.
Viewing a chart of black lines arranged in a graph pattern like an Amsler grid is one way to tell if you are having these vision problems. This can often detect early signs of macular degeneration before symptoms occur. Detection of AMD is usually accomplished through a retinal exam.
What causes macular degeneration?
Though macular degeneration is associated with aging, research suggests there also is a genetic component to the disease. Duke University and other researchers have noted a strong association between the development of AMD and the presence of a variant of a gene known as complement factor H (CFH). This gene deficiency is associated with almost half of all potentially blinding cases of macular degeneration.
Columbia University Medical Center and other investigators found that variants of another gene, complement factor B, may be involved in the development of AMD.
Specific variants of one or both of these genes, which play a role in the body’s immune responses, have been found in 74 percent of AMD patients who were studied. Other complement factors also may be associated with an increased risk of macular degeneration.
Other research has shown that oxygen-deprived cells in the retina produce a type of protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which triggers the growth of new blood vessels in the retina.
The normal function of VEGF is to create new blood vessels during embryonic development, after an injury or to bypass blocked blood vessels. But too much VEGF in the eye causes the development of unwanted blood vessels in the retina that easily break open and bleed, damaging the macula and surrounding retina.
Who gets age-related macular degeneration?
Besides affecting older populations, AMD occurs in whites and females in particular. The disease also can result as a side effect of some drugs, and it seems to run in families.
New evidence strongly suggests smoking is high on the list of risk factors for macular degeneration. Other risk factors for macular degeneration include having a family member with AMD, high blood pressure, lighter eye color, and obesity.
Some researchers believe that over-exposure to sunlight also may be a contributing factor in the development of macular degeneration, but this theory has not been proven conclusively. High levels of dietary fat also may be a risk factor for developing AMD.
Commonly named risk factors for developing macular degeneration include:
- Aging. The prevalence of AMD increases with age. In the United States, approximately one in 14 people over the age of 40 have some degree of macular degeneration. For those over 60, the rate is one in eight (12.5 percent); and for seniors over age 80, one in three (33 percent) has AMD.
- Obesity and inactivity. Overweight patients with macular degeneration had more than double the risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration compared with people of normal body weight, according to one study reported in Archives of Ophthalmology (June 2003). In the same study, those who performed vigorous activity at least three times weekly reduced their risk of developing advanced AMD, compared with inactive patients.
- Heredity. As stated above, recent studies have found that specific variants of different genes are present in most people who have macular degeneration. Studies of fraternal and identical twins may also demonstrate that heredity is a factor in who develops AMD and how severe it becomes.
- High blood pressure (hypertension). Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science reported the results of a European study demonstrating that high blood pressure may be associated with the development of macular degeneration (September 2003).
- Smoking. Smoking is a major AMD risk factor and was found in one British study to be directly associated with about 25 percent of AMD cases causing severe vision loss. The British Journal of Ophthalmology in early 2006 also reported study findings showing that people living with a smoker double their risk of developing AMD.
- Lighter eye color. Because macular degeneration long has been thought to occur more often among Caucasian populations, particularly in people with light skin color and eye color, some researchers theorized that the extra pigment found in darker eyes was a protective factor against the development of the eye disease during sun exposure. But no conclusive evidence yet has linked excessive sun exposure to the development of AMD. A small study reported in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (January 2006) found no connection between eye disease and sun exposure. In fact, the same study found no relation at all between lighter eye color, hair color, and AMD. That finding is contradicted by several earlier studies indicating that lighter skin and eyes are associated with a greater prevalence of AMD.
- Drug side effects. Some cases of macular degeneration can be induced from side effects of toxic drugs such as Aralen (chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug) or phenothiazine. Phenothiazine is a class of antipsychotic drugs, including brand names of Thorazine (chlorpromazine, which also is used to treat nausea, vomiting and persistent hiccups), Mellaril (thioridazine), Prolixin (fluphenazine), Trilafon (perphenazine) and Stelazine (trifluoperazine).
The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that findings regarding AMD and risk factors have been contradictory, depending on the study. The only risk factors consistently found in studies to be associated with eye disease are aging and smoking.
Macular degeneration treatments
There is as yet no outright cure for age-related macular degeneration, but some treatments may delay its progression or even improve vision.
Treatments for macular degeneration depend on whether the disease is in its early-stage, dry form or in the more advanced, wet form that can lead to serious vision loss. No FDA-approved treatments exist yet for dry macular degeneration, although nutritional intervention may help prevent its progression to the wet form.
For wet AMD, treatments aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth include FDA-approved drugs called Lucentis, Eylea, Macugen, and Visudyne used with Photodynamic Therapy or PDT. Lucentis has been shown to improve vision in a significant number of people with macular degeneration.
Nutrition and macular degeneration
Many organizations and independent researchers are conducting studies to determine if dietary modifications can reduce a person’s risk of macular degeneration and vision loss associated with the condition. And some of these studies are revealing positive associations between good nutrition and reduced risk of AMD.
For example, some studies have suggested a diet that includes plenty of salmon and other coldwater fish, which contain high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, may help prevent AMD or reduce the risk of its progression.
Other studies have shown that supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin increase the density of pigments in the macula that is associated with protecting the eyes from AMD.
Testing and low vision devices for AMD treatment
Although much progress has been made recently in macular degeneration treatment research, complete recovery of vision lost to AMD is unlikely.
Your eye doctor may ask you to check your vision regularly with the Amsler grid described above.
Viewing the Amsler grid separately with each eye helps you monitor your vision loss. The Amsler grid is a very sensitive test and it may reveal central vision problems before your eye doctor sees AMD-related damage to the macula in a routine eye exam.
For those who have vision loss from macular degeneration, many low vision devices are available to help with mobility and specific visual tasks.
From the article: What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration? Marilyn Haddrill; contributions and review by Charles Slonim, MD. August 20, 2018. www.allaboutvision.com
If you live in the Austin area, chances are you suffer from or know someone who suffers from, “Cedar Fever” during the months of December, January, and February. Cedar Fever is a term used to describe an allergic reaction to the pollen of the mountain cedar trees that are native to this area. An allergic reaction occurs when the body treats something that is normally harmless, like pollen, as if it were harmful to the body like a virus.
Allergy Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of eye allergies include redness, itching, burning, and watery eyes. Other common signs of allergies may include sneezing, itching, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and headache from sinus congestion.
The easiest treatment for allergies is to try to avoid coming in contact with the substance you are allergic to. If you know you are allergic to cedar pollen, it makes sense to keep the windows in your home closed and use central air conditioning or heat to filter the cedar pollen out of the air. You should also use air filters that are specifically designed for pollen and pet dander. Remember to change your filters out on a regular basis so they continue to work effectively. Consider an air purifier if you have allergies to indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold and pet dander. When riding in or driving your car, make sure to keep the windows rolled up and use the air conditioner.
Over the Counter Medications
There are many over the counter medications (OTC) that you can use to try and relieve your allergy symptoms. Some of these work quite well in the short term, but some may not be used for long periods of time.
Artificial tears have two uses in allergy relief. They may be used to flush pollens from the eye and they also are helpful in relieving the dry eye caused by oral antihistamines. Just a few examples include: Blink, Systane, Refresh Tears, Retaine, etc.
Decongestants are drops that “get the red out.” Decongestants work by making the blood vessels in your eye constrict or become smaller in diameter, thereby reducing your redness. They treat your symptoms only, not the underlying cause. In fact, your eyes may become redder, if they are used for more than a few days. This is called rebound redness. Examples include: Visine, Naphcon, Opcon.
Lumify is the newest drop for white eyes. This drop is derived from a glaucoma medication that also constricts blood vessels, however, it does it in a manner that does not cause rebound redness. The effects of Lumify last up to 8 hours and it should be used no more than four times a day. The danger of using Lumify, as with any of the other redness relievers, is that it can mask the underlying cause of redness.
Ketotifen fumarate ophthalmic solution 0.035% is an antihistamine eye drop that is available over the counter. Brand names for ketotifin are Alaway, Zaditor, Claritin Eye, Visine All Day Eye Itch Relief, Refresh Eye Itch Relief, and Zaditor. This drop should be used twice a day as needed for allergies. Never instill this drop while wearing contact lenses. You may use the drop before inserting your contact lenses as long as you wait a minimum of 15 minutes before inserting your lenses.
Other over the counter antihistamine eye drops are also available in combination with a decongestant to relieve redness. These include Naphcon A , Opcona A, and Visine A. The dosage for these drops is four times a day. This can be inconvenient for contact lens wearers since you should never instill any medication in your eye while wearing contact lenses. You must wait at least 15 minutes after instilling a drop before you insert your contact lenses.
When you visit your optometrist he or she has several treatment options available for combating allergens. Sometimes one or more medications may be prescribed to provide you with your optimum treatment regimen.
Mast Cell Stabilizer
Mast cell stabilizers can virtually prevent the outbreak of an allergic reaction. However, it may take several weeks before this type of medication may become effective. A mast cell stabilizer must be prescribed either before a person will be exposed to an allergen or in conjunction with another more quickly acting medication until it can become effective.
More convenient stronger once daily dosage drops are now available by prescription.
Sometimes it is necessary to prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids if there is a large amount of inflammation present. These medications are generally not used for long periods of time since they can, on rare occasions, cause cataracts or increased eye pressure in susceptible individuals.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
As an alternative to corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to relieve the swelling and inflammation that may be associated with seasonal allergies. Many of the current NSAIDs on the market are very effective not only in relieving the inflammation associated with allergies but also the itching.
Suffer No More
If you normally suffer from Cedar Fever this time of year, there is no reason for you to tolerate this anymore. There are a number of treatment options available that can be tailored to your specific needs. Be sure to let your doctor know what you expect from your treatment and how intense your symptoms are. Is your allergy a first-time event or does it occur at the same time every year? Let your optometrist know if you are taking oral antihistamines. The better information you provide your doctor, the better the treatment plan he or she will be able to devise for you.