Clinical Research Study Opportunity

Dear Valued Patient,

We at Little Rock Eye Clinic are currently recruiting volunteers to participate in a clinical research study for individuals between the ages of 18 and 75 years who have moderate to severe Corneal Epithelial Disorders. Common symptoms of these disorders are blurry vision and eye discomfort. A clinical trial is being conducted to determine the efficacy and safety of an investigational ophthalmic solution compared with placebo. The study medication is in eye-drop form that patients use 4 times a day for 4 weeks to aid in healing of the cornea surface. To determine eligibility, interested individuals will be examined by Dr. Christian Hester to determine if you meet criteria to participate in the study. Qualified participants will receive study medication at no cost.

If you are potentially interested in this unique opportunity, simply tell your doctor who will discuss the benefits and risks of the study with you and determine if you are eligible to participate.

How To Combat Computer Eyestrain

For many of us, staring at a computer screen takes up the majority of our day. Even after coming home from work, we switch on our laptops and tablets to relax. However, all of this screen time is straining our eyes. Studies show that between 50 and 90% of people who work at a computer have some symptoms of eye trouble, ranging from dry eyes to blurred vision and headaches. Recently, I joined Tom Brannon on air for THV Channel 11’s Medical Monday segment to discuss how to combat computer eyestrain, especially in the workplace. You can watch the interview below and learn more by reading further down.

Can computers actually cause damage to your eyes?

Computers can definitely cause strain to your eyes. Our eyes were not built to stare at screens for hours on end. Normally, we blink 18 times a minute, which naturally refreshes our eyes. But when we’re staring at a screen, we blink half as often as we should. Also, we are typically viewing smaller text sizes and images, and we strain our eyes trying to read it.

What are some of the effects of computer-caused eyestrain? 

Dry, itchy and irritable eyes are certainly among the most common effects. Since we’re not blinking as often as we should, our eyes dry out quicker. It can also cause increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders or back.

For those who work in front of screens, what can they do to their computer to ease the strain? 

For starters, place the screen 20-26 inches away from your eyes and slightly below eye level. Angle your screen to see no reflections and remove smudges to reduce glare. Also, change your screen settings to zoom in closer on documents and web pages.

What are other helpful hints for reducing eyestrain?

Remember your 3 Bs: Blink, Breathe and Break. When staring at a screen, try to blink often to keep your eyes fresh. Steady breathing relaxes eye muscles, and during times of stress, we often hold our breath. So keep your breathing consistent. And take 20-second breaks every 20 minutes to stare at something 20 feet away. We call that the 20-20-20 rule.

If you are experiencing eyestrain due to computers, it’s always good to schedule an exam with your eye physician. A quick exam can make sure your computer isn’t causing serious damage to your eyes. Little Rock Eye Clinic has same-day appointments to help fit your schedule too.

What You Need To Know About LASIK and Refractive Surgeries

Common vision trouble often leads people to consider LASIK, which can free them up from having to wear glasses or contact lenses. While LASIK is the most popular eye procedure, there are other refractive surgeries that can be appropriate as well. Dr. Christian Hester, who specializes in cornea and refractive surgeries at Little Rock Eye Clinic, sat down with Alyse Eady for KTHV’s Medical Monday segment early this week to provide information on both LASIK and other refractive surgeries

Watch the video below to see the interview and read further down for more details.

 

 

What is LASIK surgery?

The term LASIK is an acronym for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. It is the most common type of laser eye surgery and is commonly used for the correction of myopia (near-sightedness), hypermetropia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism. So if you suffer from near- or far-sightedness or astigmatism, you are a good candidate for LASIK.

People with mild to moderate myopia, hyperopia and/or astigmatism may benefit from LASIK.  During LASIK surgery, a laser reshapes the cornea to enable proper light focus and clearer vision. There are many different styles of LASIK surgery, such as bladeless and custom LASIK. 

For many, LASIK can correct vision so that they no longer need to wear glasses or contact lenses. LASIK allows surgeons to reshape the cornea to properly refract and focus light onto the retina; often times patients will end up with 20/20 vision.

 

What are the alternatives to LASIK?

These include photorefractive keratectomy or PRK, in which epithelium is removed from the cornea; refractive lens exchange, in which the eye’s clear natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens; and peripheral corneal relaxing incisions or PCRIs, which are often done with cataract surgery. Other key factors make people candidates for surgery — excessive tears; thickness of the cornea; and irregularity (astigmatism).

Little Rock Eye Clinic offers free refractive surgery screenings. To determine if you need a screening, we have quick and easy LASIK quiz you can take that will help us assess what you need so we can communicate it back to you.

 

 

What You Need To Know About Cataracts

CataractAs you may or may not know, September is Healthy Aging Month. When you’re looking at your own personal health, it’s important and pretty easy to look at your skin condition, blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, etc. But don’t forget your eyesight.

Especially as you age past 55, you’ll need to start checking for the most common eye ailment: cataracts. Cataracts are cloudy or opaque areas in the normally clear lens of your eye. It occurs when proteins slowly build up directly behind the lens of the eye and can lead to impaired vision and even blindness.

So how do you check for cataracts?

The first thing you need to know are that cataracts generally form very slowly. So slowly, you may not notice you have them until they’ve progressed significantly. However, there are early signs you can watch for. If you notice any of the following it may be time to visit your ophthalmologist:

  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Reduced intensity of colors
  • Increased sensitivity to glare from lights, particularly when driving at night
  • Increased difficulty seeing at night
  • Change in the eye’s refractive error

So how do you prevent cataracts? 

The cause of cataracts, other than aging, is still not entirely clear. There is no proven way to fully prevent cataracts. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc with reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including cataracts, however there are several practices you can acquire that will reduce your risk of developing cataracts.

  • Have regular eye examinations
  • Quit smoking
  • Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when your outdoors
  • Choose a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid sunlamps or tanning booths

So what happens if you get cataracts?

When you first discover or suspect you have cataracts, it is important to schedule an appointment with your eye physician. Your physician should be able to diagnose your eye problem and tell you the proper forms of treatment. Typically, not everyone needs surgery; however surgically removing the cataracts is an option you should consider (if your physician recommends it), because cataracts worsen with time. Your physician may not recommend surgery for several years, but might recommend purchasing new glasses, strong bifocals, anti-glare sunglasses or other appropriate visual aids to slow the cataract’s growth.

Surgery becomes necessary when the cataract is interfering with your vision, especially if it’s impairing your ability to drive. If you need eye surgery for another reason, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, the cataract may impede the surgery and the cataract will need to be removed. If cataracts are found in both eyes, two separate surgeries are needed to remove them. There is low-risk in cataract surgery and are often successful, greatly improving your site.

Since September is Healthy Aging Month, it is important to check up on all the little things so that you can always be at your best. Eye site is a crucial element in our daily functioning and one that we so often take for granted. Remember, if you’re age 55 or older, you may be at risk for developing cataracts. Cataracts are the most common ailment of this age group; so this month when you take a look for all of those yearly check up’s, don’t forget your eyes too.

How To Shop For Glasses This Fall

With fall on the horizon it may be time to switch from your sunglasses to daily eyewear. During the summer months, it’s important to keep your eyes protected from sunrays. But now that summer is coming to an end, it’s time to look a different kind of lens.

According to the Vision Council of America, about 75 percent of adults use some sort of vision correction and most of them — roughly 64 percent — choose to wear eyeglasses rather than contacts.  And while the main purpose of corrective eyewear is to help you see … sometimes it’s just as important how you look. One of our optical lens experts, April Scott, was a guest on THV Monday morning to discuss the latest trends and fashion in eyewear with anchor Alyse Eady.  You can view the video below to see the interview and read further down for more information.

When it comes to eyeglass shopping, everyone looks at the frames first. There’s not much fashion that can be attributed to a transparent piece of glass, so the frames are where the style comes in. Your frames are going to be the first thing people will notice when they see your new glasses, so it makes sense that you want to spend some time choosing the right ones. It’s often best to go with a frame that contrasts your face shape.

Here’s a handy table to help you figure out what works best:

FACE SHAPE                                    BEST FRAME

Square                                                Oval, Round, Butterfly

Oval                                                     Most Frames Work

Round                                                 Angular, Geometric

Heart                                                   Narrow, Round, Bottom Heavy

Oblong                                                Broad, Top Heavy

 

So while frames are fun to hunt down, you have to be practical. If your frames are cool and stylish that’s great, but you have to make sure you’re being practical. You need frames that match your lifestyle. Some things to remember are:

  • If you’re active and sporty, you want frames that are extra durable and lightweight.
  • If you’re at a computer all day, you might want to make sure your glasses are designed to reduce glare.
  • Constantly on the go? You might want glasses that transition with you so you’re not always changing from regular glasses to sunglasses or perhaps your main glasses should be sunglasses.

Eyeglasses are not what they once were. In the past, glasses were more of a style detriment than they are now. Remember the high school geek always pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose? Well nowadays, glasses are in. You see more and more people choosing glasses over contacts, and as such the brands that make them have responded. Now there are plenty of brands from some of the most famous designers, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Tory Burch, Gucci, Prada, Kate Spade and Versace.

So whether you’re glasses have reached the point beyond repair or if it’s time for an update, take a step into our in-clinic optical shop to see what we selection we have available. And if you need a new eye exam to update your prescription, our expert optometrists are just a few steps away.

Back To School Eye Health For Children

Back to school time is a great opportunity for parents to consider how good vision can help a child’s physical development, success in school and overall well-being. With young children, early eye exams are the key to catching problems before they develop into serious vision impairment. I recently sat down with THV’s Alyse Eady to talk about the importance of early childhood eye care.

 

 

With school starting, vision issues can become problematic and could affect grades and social interaction. Your child isn’t likely to complain about being nearsighted, but they may talk about having difficulty seeking the blackboard, or you could possibly observe them squinting when they read. Here are some other signs to look for that indicate vision problems:

  • Close or cover an eye
  • Complain of blur
  • Mucus, tearing or crusting
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty reading
  • Eye rubbing
  • Frequent blinking
  • Crossed eyes
  • Red eyes

 

Parents should be aware that roughly 1 in 4 school-age children have some level of vision impairment. The most common vision issues for children are:

  • Strabismus – The eyes are not aligned properly and point different directions.
  • Anisometropia – A different degree of vision in each eye; for example having just one eye that is nearsighted.
  • Astigmatism – Vision is distorted and objects are difficult to see clearly close or far away.
  • Amblyopia – This is also known as “lazy eye.”

These issues can be easily addressed with corrective lenses, medicine or, in a few cases, surgery; but if not given the proper treatment some of these conditions could worsen and lead to permanent vision loss.

If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing any of these issues, or showing symptoms of troubled vision, you should see your eye doctor for early diagnosis and treatment.

Of course, it’s best to have your child’s vision checked before a problem arises.

Unfortunately, 80% of preschoolers do not get eye exams. Here are the milestones for eye exams in children:

  • Newborn:  First exam
  • Infant:  Between 6 months and 1 year old
  • Toddler:  Between the ages of 3 and 3 ½
  • School Age:  If no problems at age 5, test every 3-5 years

Early examination is the best way to find an issue before it becomes serious.

Dry Eyes – Are you Dry, Droopy, or Dysfunctional?

 
Millions of Americans are affected by dry eye disease. While a person may have mild dry eyes with little bother, another person may have a severe form that can cause blindness. Most patients with dry eye diseases can be divided into one of three categories: dry, droopy or dysfunctional. So when I evaluate a patient with dry eyes, I ask myself, “Is my patient dry, droopy, or dysfunctional?”

Here is how I can tell if a person’s eyes are dry, droopy or dysfunctional and the common treatments to fix the problem.
 

Dry.

In the dry category, people have dry eye disease because they don’t produce enough aqueous (watery) component for tears.

First-line treatments include minimizing environmental irritants, lubricating eyes with over-the-counter artificial tears up to four times a day, and/or placing plugs in the opening of the tear drainage duct so that tears stay longer. Common environmental factors include increased screen time and fans. When we look at a computer or TV screen for hours, our blink rates decrease. Every now and then you should look away and blink several times. While fans keep us cool during the summer, the circulating air can dry the eyes’ surface. If you need to use a fan and have dry eyes, make sure that it is not blowing toward the eyes.

Second-line treatments include prescription medicines such as Restasis (cyclosporine) and increasing the frequency of artificial tears. Restasis is thought to increase tear production by decreasing inflammation. If you use artificial tears more than four times a day, you should use preservative-free artificial tears (they come in clear individual vials) since excessive amounts of preservatives can damage to the eye’s surface.

Third-line treatments include serum tears and the PROSE lens. For serum tears, a patient’s blood is drawn, processed, and stored in small tubes. Serum tears contain growth factors, fibronectin, and other components produced by our bodies that promote healing of the eye’s surface. The PROSE (Prosthetis Replacement of the Ocular Surface Ecosystem) lens is a customized prosthetic device that maintains a reservoir of fluid over the eye’s surface. This treatment is a viable option when all other treatments have failed.
 

Droopy.

Gravity and age have a way of conspiring against us and unfortunately, eyes are not immune either. An under-recognized cause of dryness on the eye’s surface is a condition called conjunctivochalasis. In this condition, the transparent membrane that overlies the white of the eye becomes droopy. As a result, tears get trapped in the tissue folds and cannot properly distribute across the eye’s surface. This condition can be corrected with an in-office “nip-tuck” procedure.
 

Dysfunctional. 

When it comes to dysfunctional eyes, meibomian gland dysfunction is most common. We have approximately 75 tiny glands that reside just behind our eyelashes. Dysfunction of these glands commonly results in an imbalance in the tear-film and damages the eye’s surface through inflammation. First-line treatments include warm compresses several times a day, lid scrubs with baby shampoo or commercial cleaning cloths, and increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet through changes in eating habits and over-the-counter supplements. I particularly like the HydroEye supplement since it contains GLA, which has been shown to be helpful in treating dry eyes. Second-line treatments include the use of steroid eye drops and oral or topical tetracyclines in order to reduce inflammation and improve the quality of the glands’ secretions. Finally, the glands’ function may be improved by mechanical expression of the clogged glands.

A less common but difficult dysfunction to treat is a dysfunctional blink that traumatizes the eye’s surface. After traditional treatments have failed, the eye’s surface can be restored to normal health by injecting Botox into the eyelid muscles to weaken the muscles responsible for blinking. This intervention results in decreased blink frequency, blink force and eyelid pressure on the eye’s surface.

Dry eye disease can be a complicated eye condition to treat. In order to determine the best treatment plan, a patient should undergo a specialized dry eye evaluation. If you think you might be suffering from dry eyes or would like to learn more, contact us to schedule a quick appointment.

About the Author:  Dr. Christian Hester is fellowship-trained in cornea and refractive (e.g., LASIK) surgery. As part of his fellowship training, he worked with Dr. Stephen Pflugfelder, one of the world’s experts in dry eye disease.

 

What is Dry Eye and How Do You Treat It?

According to the National Eye Institute, dry eye affects nearly 5 MILLION Americans who are 50 years of age and older. While your risks increase with age, anyone can experience dry eye. Sometimes it’s a mild case that is simply irritating; but other times it can lead to severe damage to the eye. I got to discuss the risks and what you need to know about dry eye with Alyse Eady on THV Channel 11. You can view the interview and read more in-depth information below.

WHAT IS DRY EYE?

There are two main factors to dry eye.  The first is quantity — meaning you simply don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes adequately hydrated and comfortable. The second is quality — it’s not enough to just produce tears to avoid dry eye, the tears have to be the right consistency and can’t evaporate too quickly.

Dry eye can be temporary, for example a woman might suffer it during pregnancy. Or it can be a chronic, life-long condition like if the person has a gland dysfunction affecting the eye lids.

WHO IS MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP DRY EYE?

Women are more likely to suffer. Of the five million who have severe dry eye in this country, three million of them are women. Pregnancy and menopause can affect a woman’s tear production.

Other risk factors for inducing dry eye include:

  • Allergies
  • LASIK
  • Contacts
  • Certain Medications
  • Computer Screens
  • Autoimmune Disorders

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • Stinging/Burning
  • Feels Like Something Is In Your Eye
  • Stringy Discharge
  • Pain/Redness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Heavy Eyelids
  • Eye Fatigue

 

HOW IS DRY EYE TREATED?

To effectively treat a patient’s dry eyes, you have to identify the cause. I like to group people into three categories: dry, droopy, or dysfunctional. If a person is dry, we can use artificial tears in mild cases but serum tears (artificial tears made from their blood) in more severe ones. Punctal plugs may also be placed in their tear drainage system in order to reduce the clearance of the tears.

Droopy conjunctiva occurs when the transparent membrane that overlies the white part of the eye blocks tears from properly distributing over the surface of the eye. The excess tissue can be removed through an in-office procedure.

Some people have dysfunctional meibomian glands, which are glands that are found in people’s eyelids. The lipids released from the glands mix with the water component of tears in order to reduce the rate tears evaporate. Changes in diet, nutritional supplements, and medications can be used to correct meibomian gland dysfunction. Also, in the dysfunctional category, people may have damage and drying of the eye surface due to dysfunctional blinking. Repetitive abnormal blinking can cause significant damage to the eye’s surface. When all else fails, we can cure these patients with Botox injections in the eyelids.

Be sure to check back next week for more information on dry eyes  and how to manage them, whether they’re feeling dried out, droopy or dysfunctional.

Dr. Charles Henry Visits Peru on Medical Mission

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.03.06 AMWe are very excited to welcome back ophthalmologist Dr. Charles Henry from his trip to Peru and proud of the great work he and his team accomplished while there.

Dr. Henry traveled with a team of two physicians, two nurses, four interpreters and six vital co-workers to the Andes Mountains to serve six communities, conducting free eye exams and make appointments in Cusco for those with critical needs for eye surgery. Dr. Henry and his team were sponsored by Legend Treks, a non-profit travel company dedicating to educating customers about world needs through extensive travels.

In 2011, Larry Nutt, the director of Legend Treks, asked Dr. Henry to speak at the first International Ophthalmology meeting at UAMS. The following year, Dr. Henry and his son, Robert, accompanied by Mr. Nutt on an exploratory trip Chachora, Peru. This year, Dr. Henry returned to Peru with his wife and team to offer his expertise in eye care to Cachora and the surrounding area.

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.28.03 AM

During the first week of their trip, the team kicked off their adventure in Cachora, where they screened over 200 patients in three days. The screenings had already been well publicized on the radio and with flyers in the surrounding villages, so the screenings were well attended. Some of the villages they reached were located as high as 13,700 feet high. The team moved to Ollantaytambo to reach those villages high in the mountains. They faced a few days of cold, rainy weather, but it did not keep them from screening 40 more people in Tastayoc.

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.03.30 AMThe patients who were screened had common problems, such as far sightedness, which were treated with reading glasses. Several of the patients living at the higher altitudes were suffering from dry eyes and small corneal growths, so the team provided sun glasses and lubricants. Patients with visual impairment due to cataracts were offered cataract surgery in Cusco. A missionary in Cusco, named Dr. Nathan Henson, agreed to perform the surgeries for no cost and the team made arrangement for their transportation, meals and housing.

All together, the team screened 505 patients, identifying 24 who needed surgery to restore their vision. They hope their work will have a lasting effect on the area, not only in their eye health but introducing Dr. Henson as a free resource for eye surgery.

 

Team member Mike Webster from Cabot sits with a child while Dr. Henry (back) discusses an exam with a patient.

Team member Mike Webster from Cabot sits with a child while Dr. Henry (back) discusses an exam with a patient.

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What is Macular Degeneration and How Can You Prevent It?

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to join Tom Brannon on THV11 to provide awareness and information on macular degeneration, an eye disease common in people 65 and older that can cause you to lose areas of your vision and hinder daily activities such as reading or driving and even lead to blindness.

You can watch the interview below and read more about macular degeneration and how you can prevent it.

What is Macular Degeneration?

The inside of the eye is lined with a delicate tissue called the Retina. This takes all that we see, processes it into a signal and then send this to our brains to tell us what we are seeing. Ninety-nine percent of our vision is concentrated into one VERY small area of the retina called the Macula. In some people the macula can begin to deteriorate.  If this area deteriorates you might notice that there are areas of your vision that are missing or distorted.  This makes it very difficult to read and see faces or even watch television.

How is it treated?

There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • Dry, which is treated with vitamins to prevent progression
  • Wet (fluid leaking into the macula), which is treated by a retina specialist with medicine and sometimes laser to help prevent more damage.

Can you prevent AMD?

It’s important to know your risk factors. If you have any of these risks factors or have noticed symptoms of waviness or blurred vision and are concerned then visit your eye care professional for an exam.

Here are the risk factors that most likely lead to causing macular degeneration:

  • Having a family member with this issue
  • Smoking
  • Age over  60
  • High Blood Pressure or Cholesterol
  • Overweight
  • A diet low in Vitamins A, C, and E

You can also adjust your lifestyle to help reduce your risk. Here are a few tips to fighting off macular degeneration:

  • Eat green vegetables like:
    • spinach
    • kale
    • collard greens
    • broccoli
    • asparagus
  • Stop Smoking
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Watch your cholesterol

It’s important to know what to watch for and how to prevent macular degeneration. It is definitely treatable, so be sure to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you think yours or a loved one’s sight may be affected by macular degeneration.