Review Category : Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO

June is Cataract Awareness Month!

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel The American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are the leading cause of treatable vision loss in the United States, and it is the leading cause of blindness in the world. There are 24 million Americans over the age of 40 who are affected by cataracts, so it seems fitting that an entire month should be dedicated to education and awareness. In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, here are some common questions and answers about cataracts: What is the treatment for cataracts? Even though cataracts are so prevalent, they are very successfully treated. Cataracts are a clouding of the human lens inside the eye, which prevents passage of light into the back part of the eye. The solution to cataracts is cataract surgery, which requires a surgeon to remove the deteriorated lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL. Over 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery annually, making it one of the most common... ...

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‘Bionic eye’ is an incredible breakthrough…but not right for everyone

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel News stories about a ‘bionic eye transplant’ have gotten a lot of attention, but what is the reality of new technology for restoring sight to some blind patients? The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has sometimes been called a ‘bionic eye transplant.’ Right now it is not possible to transplant an entire human eye – only corneas and some other specific eye tissues can be transplanted. And there is no electronic replacement for the whole eye. The Argus II is a three-part device that allows some perception of light and motion in patients who have lost their vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. Surgery is done to place a small electronic device on the patient’s retina. Later, the patient wears a camera mounted on a pair of glasses, and a portable video-processing unit. Images are taken in through the camera, processed, and then sent wirelessly to the implant in the patient’s retina. The implant stimulates the living cells in the retina, and the brain interprets these... ...

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Melanoma of the eye

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel Malignant “choroidal” melanomas arise from the blood-vessel layer “choroid” beneath the retina. In North America, 6 out of each million people will be diagnosed with a choroidal melanoma each year. Malignant choroidal melanomas can spread to other parts of the body. Ophthalmologists can determine if you have a choroidal melanoma by performing a complete eye examination. This includes asking questions about your medical history, examining both of your eyes, looking into the eye through a dilated pupil at the tumor, performing an ultrasound examination, and specialized photography (to examine the circulation within the choroidal melanoma). Your ophthalmologist will also request that you have a complete general medical check up and specific tests depending upon what they see inside your eye. Ophthalmologists can correctly diagnose an intraocular choroidal melanoma in over 96% of cases (without a biopsy). Though occasionally necessary, biopsies can be avoided because they require opening the eye (which risks letting choroidal melanoma cells out) and risk intraocular hemorrhage and infection. Symptoms Most patients... ...

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A cup of coffee a day may keep retinal degeneration away!

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel Here’s something coffee drinkers can get excited about. Aside from java’s energy jolt, food scientists say you may reap another health benefit from a daily cup of joe: prevention of deteriorating eyesight and possible blindness from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetes. Raw coffee is, on average, just 1 percent caffeine, but it contains 7 to 9 percent chlorogenic acid (CLA), a strong antioxidant that prevents retinal degeneration in mice, according to a Cornell study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (December 2013). The retina is a thin tissue layer on the inside, back wall of the eye with millions of light-sensitive cells and other nerve cells that receive and organize visual information. It is also one of the most metabolically active tissues, demanding high levels of oxygen and making it prone to oxidative stress. The lack of oxygen and production of free radicals leads to tissue damage and loss of sight. In the study, mice eyes were... ...

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February is National AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month

By Mark S. Siegel AMD or Age-Related Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss affecting over 15 million adults over the age of 50. To understand how AMD affects your vision, place your left hand over your left eye. Now make a fist with your right hand. Take your right fist and place it directly in front of your right eye. The only thing you should see is images in your periphery or side vision. Now imagine that this is how you are to function within the world. AMD Age-Related Macular degeneration can develop so slowly that it’s not until the vision is severely affected that the patient will notice. Age-Related Macular Degeneration primarily destroys the sharp central vision controlled by a spot at the back of the retina called the macula. Sharp central vision is needed to read, drive, identify faces, watch television and perform daily tasks that require straight ahead vision. Risk Factors The exact cause of AMD is not known. There are a number of... ...

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What’s in your eye vitamins?

By Mark S. Siegel Americans spend billions of dollars each year on vitamins, some of which are eye vitamins. But not all of these products have the ingredients and dosages that have been proven effective in clinical trials. Researchers have analyzed popular eye vitamins to determine whether their formulas and claims are consistent with scientific findings. They found that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials. In addition, the study found that claims made on the products’ promotional materials lack scientific evidence. The leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A specific formula of nutritional supplements is recommended for AMD treatment when the disease is at certain stages. This is based on two landmark clinical trials known as AREDS and AREDS2. These studies found that high doses of antioxidants and zinc could slow the worsening of AMD in those who have intermediate AMD and those with advanced AMD... ...

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Choose safe toys this holiday season

By Mark S. Siegel No one chooses gifts with the intent to harm, but some popular children’s toys can cause serious injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 257,000 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in 2013, and almost half of these injuries affect the head or face. In fact, about 1 in 10 children’s eye injuries treated in the ER trace back to toys. Unfortunately, most of these injuries happen to children under age 15. “You’ll shoot your eye out” Some propelling toys, like airsoft guns, arrows, BB guns, paintball guns and darts can be particularly hazardous, with the potential to cause serious eye injuries such as corneal abrasion, hyphema (bleeding inside the eye), traumatic cataract, increased intraocular pressure and even permanent vision loss. The good news is that following a few toy safety tips can easily prevent most eye injuries. Top Toy Safety Tips: • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts. • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with... ...

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Maintain eye health with diabetes

By Mark S. Siegel Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Although glucose is an important source of energy for the body’s cells, too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and the small blood vessels in the eyes. When the blood vessels in the eye’s retina (the light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye) swell, leak or close off completely — or if abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina — it is called diabetic retinopathy. People who are at greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy are those who have diabetes or poor blood sugar control, women who are pregnant, and people with high blood pressure, high blood lipids or both. Also, people who are from certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, are more likely to develop diabetic... ...

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Study: Hip fractures less likely after cataract surgery

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel After practicing ophthalmology for nearly 15 years and performing thousands of cataract surgeries, I’ve recognized additional benefits beyond better vision and spectacle independence: patients improve their ability to ambulate; cognitive function and mood are improved in patients with dementia and depression; and overall quality of life improves. When older people have cataract surgery to improve their vision, they also lower their risk of falling and breaking a hip, according to a national study. People in their 80s and those who have serious illnesses such as heart disease are most likely to benefit — the research shows that these patients had about 30 percent fewer hip fractures in the year after they had cataract surgery. The study, published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared the rate of hip fractures in more than 400,000 Medicare patients who had cataract surgery with a matched group of patients who did not have their cataracts removed. Older people are more likely to fall... ...

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Sleeping in contact lenses is a risky endeavor

By Mark S. Siegel If you’re a contact lens wearer, chances are you’ve snoozed with your contacts in at least a time or two. Maybe you only do it once in awhile, when you fall asleep in front of the TV or forget to bring disinfecting solution on an overnight trip. Or maybe it’s more of a regular practice, and you leave them in for days (and nights) at a time. Either way, it’s not a good idea. When you sleep with your contact lenses in, you’re depriving your corneas of oxygen. This is analogous to wearing a plastic bag over your head when you sleep which is not ideal for oxygen exchange. The cornea receives oxygen from the air when you are awake, but when you are asleep, it gets nourishment and lubrication from tears and a gelatinous fluid inside the eye called the aqueous humor. If there’s a contact lens in your eye when you’re sleeping, then the contact lens acts as a barrier between the closed eyelid... ...

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