Fleet Week is here in South Florida and it brings to mind a patient of Rand Eye Institute who today is soaring high. Here’s his story:
It’s not often that a growing boy will turn down the chance to dive into a huge summer picnic basket, but that’s exactly what a young Steven Hollender did. Attending an air show with his grandparents many years ago, he was called away to lunch. “Not now. I want to see the planes”, shouted Steven.
Ever since that day, and even before, Steven’s career has been looking up. From as far back as Steven’s mother Carmelann Hollender can remember, “He always had an interest in planes and spaceships.”
When he graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, NJ in 2006, he announced to the family that he wanted to fly and knew just the flight school he planned to attend: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, where he was awarded a three and a half year scholarship.
He graduated from Embry-Riddle with Dean’s List honors three of his four years. Before he could become a pilot, though, Steven had one obstacle to overcome: His less than perfect vision was preventing him from sitting in the #1 seat. At his grandmother Joan Di Maio’s request, her optometrist, Dr. Steven Koganovsky from Margate, FL made a personal call to Rand Eye Institute’s Medical Director, Dr. William J, Rand. Dr. Koganovsky asked if he would please see Steven, “I want you to treat Steven like he’s your grandson”, Dr. Koganosky told Dr. Rand, and that’s exactly what he did.
Steven came to the Rand Eye Institute on July 7, 2008, where Dr. William J. Rand had the honor of personally performing the Advanced Surface Laser Procedure, or No-Flap LASIK on Steven, which restored his vision to crystal clarity, a requirement to fly for the US Navy. Almost a decade has passed and Steven’s vision keeps his eagle eyes trained on his passion.
While Steven’s future was looking up, today he’s looking down, from the cockpit of an F-18 fighter jet, where he’s a pilot in the U.S. Navy. Steven recently returned from deployment in the South China Sea and is now living back in California.
“Dr. Rand, I just want to thank you for all you have done for me in correcting my eye problems,” said Steven. “If it wasn’t for you and your staff, I would not be a naval aviator.” Steven’s mother Carmelann backs him up, “Without Dr. Rand’s help, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
Now that Steven’s deployment overseas has ended, he’s back at his home base, The Naval Air Station in Lemoore, CA, where every August, thousands of young boys just like Steven once was, put their lunch to the side to be mesmerized at the Wings over Camarillo air show.
Thank you, Steven, for trusting Dr. Rand with your LASEK at Rand Eye Institute. We’re honored to have played a small role in your vision, launching your career as a fighter pilot. We salute YOU!
For more info on the Ft. Lauderdale Fleet Week schedule here.
Healthy Vision Month is all this month, so while it’s top of mind, here are some ways to help keep your vision healthy all year long.
The first one is to pop on a pair of shades that offer 100% UV protection to block UV-A and UV-B rays. Sunglasses help prevent retina damage too and protect the delicate eyelid skin, plus they make you look CSI-Miami cool.
Smoking is a no-no on every list we make. Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. We could write an entire article on the hazards of smoking, but enough said: QUIT NOW.
Proper eye protection is a biggie. Just look over our April blogs for more detailed information on which protection is best for your particular needs, then get them.
Have a family reunion with your family history. Sure, summer’s coming. We love to get together for grillin’ and relaxing, but take time during that opportunity to get to know your family’s medical history to see if you can ward off any genetic eye problems before they occur, then, early intervention with a comprehensive dilated eye-exam can be just what the (eye) doctor ordered.
Eye fatigue, including Computer Vision Syndrome, is a real condition. Consider that more than 70% of the world uses smart phones with that tiny text. Get some relief by reviewing our blog from March here.
And finally, exercising and eating right makes perfect sense for your eyes too. Carrots REALLY do offer vision benefits.
Just as it’s warming up for summer, your kids are warming up their sports skills.
So with that in mind, we’ve got our EYE on sports eye safety for your children.
As we pointed out in our last article, more than 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented through the use of suitable protective eyewear. BUT, to help you be on the lookout for possible eye injuries this season, here are the most common eye injuries that kids incur:
1. Water and pool activities rank #1 for eye injuries. More than 1/3rd of all pool and water activities that affect the eyes happen to kids under the age of 15.
2. Basketball accounts for 1/4th of all eye injuries that will happen to kids 14 and under. Hard to imagine that such a large object like a basketball could cause an eye injury. Of course it’s possible, but injuries in basketball are mostly caused by the fingers and hands of opponents, stressing once again, the need for players to wear proper eye protection.
3. Air, gas, spring and BB-guns, though today reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments, still pose one of the biggest threats percentage-wise to your kid’s eyes. More than half of all eye injuries suffered from “toy guns” happen to kids 14 and under. Always stress to your kids that projectile-firing instruments should only be used under the supervision of a qualified adult and at a monitored and regulated facility, and of course, eye protection is mandatory.
4 – 7. Baseball, football, soccer and martial arts take up the next four categories of the highest-ranking eye injuries for kids 14 and under, with nearly 3,500 kids in that age group affected.
The takeaway here is that with summer approaching, your kids will spend a lot more time outdoors interacting in sports and that’s good. Just be aware of the need to acquire the appropriate eye protection for them, including instruction for use, so that they have an edge in preventing eye injuries while maximizing fun!
Source: AAO and Prevent Blindness
Most people believe that the best money spent is money that saves you from having to spend MORE money. So making a small purchase of just $20 to $40 to guard against eye injury or blindness could be the best EYE-vestment you’ll ever make.
With spring here and crisper weather in the air, the parks are filling up with kids and adults in their evening softball and soccer leagues. But before you slip on that baseball glove or new pair of cleats, don’t run the bases without running to the store first for proper eye protection.
Here are some guidelines to help you choose proper eye guards:
Any eye guard or sports eye protector should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved”. This is the code for eyewear that gives you the highest level of vision protection. Put this code in the notes section of your smart-phone so that you can refer to it when you shop and check the package to see if the eye protection you chose has been approved for sports use.
Don’t scrimp or save on eye guards that don’t have lenses. Only “lensed” protectors are recommended for sports use. Choose eye guards where lenses stay in place or pop out in an accident. Make sure they don’t pop in, which can damage your eyes.
Eye guards should be anti-fogging for clearest vision. Others may have side vents that let air circulate, keeping the lens surface clear.
Padded or cushioned eyewear may cost a bit more, but the more comfortable it is on YOU the more comfortable YOU’LL be, and less likely to toss them to the bench.
Until you get used to playing sports wearing eye protection, it may feel a bit strange or uncomfortable, but hang in there, you only have one set of eyes – SEE that you protect them the best way possible.
And lastly, always try on different brands and sizes of eyewear for comfort and protection. There’s nothing worse than tossing away your eye guards due to discomfort, only to suffer an eye injury without them.
As always, in the event of an eye injury, always see an ophthalmologist or your eye doctor right away, or visit the nearest emergency room at once.
Ah, Spring. What a time to be a sports fan. But while you have your eye on your favorite team’s schedule, don’t drop the ball on Sports Eye Safety. Keep these eye safety tips handy:
While each sport has specific recommendations for equipment that helps prevent bodily injuries, they all, without exception, recommend sports eye guards for every player.
Prescription glasses, sunglasses and even occupational safety glasses do not provide the eye protection one needs* while playing recreational sports.
- Baseball: a batter’s helmet and a faceguard for catchers made of polycarbonate material is a must.
- Basketball: players run the risk of an eye socket fracture or scratches on the cornea without sports eye guards.
- Soccer: players could suffer an inflamed iris or swollen retina if they don’t put on proper eye protection.
- Hockey: players MUST wear polycarbonate masks and sports eye guards to help prevent traumatic injuries.
- Football: wearing a helmet with a polycarbonate shield attached to the faceguard is the best defense.
ALL sports participants run the risk of an opposing player’s finger in the eye without the proper eye protection. So remember, if you or your young ones are playing sports, make sure proper eye safety equipment is a part of the uniform.
*source: Prevent Blindness
**PLEASE NOTE FOR EMERGENCY EYE CARE – OUR OPHTHALMOLOGISTS ARE ON-CALL 24/7
We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on our last article about wearing proper protective eye equipment (PPE) when performing tasks that could be hazardous to your eyes. As we learned, there are only so many things in life that you can control, and wearing eye protection is one of them.
But what happens when you suffer an eye injury that is beyond your control?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Rand Eye Institute present some of the ways you can treat various eye injuries.
First step FOR ALL EYE INJURIES:
- Do not touch, rub or apply pressure to the affected eye.
- Do not try to remove the offending object from the eye.
- Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
- See an ophthalmologist or a medical doctor as soon as possible.
For a cut or puncture of the eye:
- Do not rinse with water.
- Do not remove the wedged/protruded object from the eye.
- Do not rub or apply pressure.
- Try loosely taping a paper cup or eye shield over the eye for protection; then seek help from a medical professional.
- Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs as these thin the blood and may increase bleeding.
For a liquid substance in the eye, or a chemical burn:
- Rinse your eye under a steady stream of warm, fresh water for 15 minutes. Just let it run into your eye and down your face.
- After rinsing, you can put a cool, moist compress or an ice pack on your eye, but don’t rub it.
- Call your eye doctor or emergency clinic to ask what is recommended for your injury. Tell the person what kind of substance got into your eye and what you’ve done about it so far.
A direct hit to the eye, from a ball or hard object:
Apply a small cold compress, gently, to reduce pain and swelling. Do not apply any pressure.
If a black eye, pain or visual disturbance occurs after a light blow, contact your eye professional or visit an emergency room right away.
Getting particles or foreign materials in the eye:
- Do not rub the eye.
- Carefully lift your upper eyelid. Blink several times to allow tears to flush the particles. If you have sterile eye drops, try using them. If the particles remain, keep the eye closed and seek medical attention right away.
As a precautionary measure, contact your ophthalmologist or eye doctor for additional assistance. Your doctor may need to see you right away, or suggest you visit an emergency clinic at once. It’s always safest to have someone drive you, even if you think you’re ok to drive. Always err on the side of caution because we only get ONE pair of eyes.
You’ve no doubt heard of a PPO and an HMO, but have you ever heard of a PPE?
PPE stands for “Personal Protective Equipment”, and it refers to clothing, footwear, goggles, gloves, helmets and other garments designed to protect us from injury or infection. But since March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, let’s just concentrate on our eyes.
All joking aside, protecting your vision is paramount in maintaining quality of life, like seeing your grandkids or going for a leisurely Sunday drive.
Please don’t risk injury for vanity. Industrial Safety and Hygiene News reports that 70% of total eye injuries are a result of flying particles, flying or falling objects or sparks that strike the eye. Though companies can offer you eye protection and education, it’s up to you to actually put them to use.
Starting a new job? Helping a co-worker with a chemical or assisting in the construction of a project at work or home? It only takes one mishap for a life-changing event to happen that could cause you to lose your vision. Always make a note of where eye protection is located, familiarize yourself with the instructions, and most importantly, actually wear the eye protection. It’s 10-seconds of safety that could save your vision and your life.
Next time, we’ll talk about recognizing and treating eye injuries.
When people think of eye injuries at work, many conjure up the jobs that seem most risky to the eyes, like welder, construction worker, or chemical engineer (handling chlorine, acid and other chemicals). These are the types of jobs with the highest risk of having a foreign object enter the eye.
While those jobs do involve risk to the eyes, this month during Workplace Eye Wellness Month, we take a look at a more recent threat to our vision thanks to technology and convenience.
According to Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2001. For many, this is the primary way they access digital information, via texting, email, engaging in social media platforms and surfing the web. Between smart phones, laptops and digital pads, nearly everyone in the U.S. is online some time during the day or night, and your eyes know it. Not so “smart” says The American Academy of Ophthalmology.
There are some simple ways to get relief from Digital Eye Strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome.
- Observe the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20-feet away and rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use.
- Make sure that you’re looking down toward your computer screen, optimally about 4-5 inches below eye level as measured from the center of the screen and 20-28 inches from the eyes. Use an anti-glare screen when possible.
- Lighting is important. Position the computer screen away from the glare of light sources, particularly overhead lighting and windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and switch to lower wattage bulbs in your desk lamps.
- If you’re using a word processing program, you might be able to raise the % size of your font (as shown below in the upper right of figure A), without affecting your document format.
This visual adjustment is an easy way to work with larger font without reformatting.
- This is a simple one: make an effort to blink frequently, keep eye drops by your side and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
If you have uncorrected vision problems, it can increase the severity of Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome. Make an appointment with your eye care professional to see if there’s anything that can be done to improve your vision and comfort while using digital devices.
Next time, we’ll explore Personal Protective Equipment for your eyes, or PPE.
February may be the shortest month of the year, but it turns out to be the month we recognize the biggest cause of vision loss: Macular Degeneration, or AMD. More than 10-million Americans are affected by AMD, that’s more than people affected with cataracts and glaucoma combined.
The truth is that you or someone you love can be at risk for macular degeneration. Let’s outline some of the ways to see if you have the beginning stages of AMD, the leading cause of blindness in Americans 60 and older.
The first indication could be what you see or don’t see:
- Early signs of AMD include blurred vision and trouble distinguishing color and fine details.
- Difficulty seeing when going from bright light to low light and the need for increasingly brighter light to see up close.
- Colors appear less vivid and the vision is often hazy, or you see a blank or blurry spot in your central vision.
As the condition worsens, you could even lose your center of vision. Source AAO.
The Best Defense Against AMD is a Good Offense
The American Macular Degeneration Foundation recommends that you test your vision using The Amsler Grid (figure A below). It’s a lined graph that helps you determine if you have AMD.
Figure A above is the normal Amsler Grid. Wear your reading glasses and look at the grid holding it 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light following these instructions. You can print the grid here:
- Cover one eye.
- Look directly at the center dot with the uncovered eye and keep your eye focused on it.
- While looking directly at the center dot, note whether all lines of the grid are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurry or dark.
- Repeat this procedure with the other eye.
- If any area of the grid looks wavy, blurred or dark, contact your ophthalmologist.
- If you detect any changes when looking at the grid, you should notify your ophthalmologist immediately.
Figure B above is the way the chart could look to you if you have age-related macular degeneration, with wavy lines and a black spot seen at center. Use the Amsler Grid to help you spot AMD early, so you can continue to enjoy clear vision.
Imagine looking through a pair of dirty binoculars, a spyglass or a window that’s fogged up in the center. That’s what vision can look like to someone with macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60, it gradually diminishes central vision. Because detailed vision is processed by the macula, the central part of the retina, when the macula becomes damaged, daily activities like driving, reading and identifying faces become more difficult and eventually impossible.
There are two forms of macular degeneration: Wet and Dry
The dry form
The dry form is diagnosed in 85 to 90% of cases and it can occur in one eye or in both. The dry form is called “non-neovascular”, because it does not involve the leakage of blood or serum, but the deterioration of the retina, associated with the formation of small yellow deposits, known as drusen, under the macula.
The wet form
Though it occurs in only 10-15% of the cases, it results in 90% of the blindness associated with AMD. Wet AMD comes about when abnormal blood vessels begin growing behind the macula. These fragile vessels will leak fluid into layers of the retina (hence the name “wet” AMD), causing the macula to bulge or lift up from its normally flat position, distorting or destroying central vision. Vision loss from “wet” AMD may be rapid and severe.
While currently there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, those with wet macular degeneration may benefit from intraocular injections.
“With treatment, many patients have visual improvement and most patients are able to maintain their current vision without further vision loss. Without treatment, the condition usually worsens,” said Carl Danzig, MD, Director of Vitreo-Retinal Services at Rand Eye Institute.
AMD is one more reason why it’s so important to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1-2 years.
Next time, we’ll suggest ways to test for AMD and offer some strategies for your best defense and prevention against macular degeneration, during Age-related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month.