Author Archives: Lenny Balistreri

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The Zika Virus: What You Need To Know

The Zika virus is prompting great concern because of a disturbing connection to a neurological birth disorder and its rapid spread across the globe. Transmitted by mosquitos, the virus has been linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly, which causes babies to have small heads and incomplete brain development. Now a new study published in the journal JAMA suggests the Zika virus may also cause eye abnormalities in newborns. Here is an ophthalmologist’s insights on the mosquito-borne virus and its potential impact on vision.

“Babies born with microcephaly often have developmental issues, as well as hearing and vision problems,” explained Sandy T. Feldman, MD, the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego and one the nation’s top ophthalmologists. “What’s curious about the JAMA study is that more than a third of the babies tested showed signs of scarring on the optical nerve, which can cause progressive vision loss. Researchers suspect these ocular lesions were caused by the Zika virus, not the microcephaly.”

Dr. Feldman notes 10 key health points about the Zika virus:

  • There appears to be a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads and severe developmental issues.
  • All infants exposed to the virus should have a retinal eye exam. Even newborns who don’t have microcephaly but whose mothers may have been exposed to the virus during pregnancy should be monitored for signs of ocular lesions.
  • There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent the virus or treat the infection.
  • The Zika virus has been reported in 32 countries thus far, including Latin America, South America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean. Several US states have confirmed the virus in individuals who traveled to infected areas. Experts estimate as many as four million people will be infected within the next year.
  • Symptoms of the virus are typically mild, including fever, headache, rash and pink eye. An estimated 80% of those infected never know they have the disease.
  • The Zika virus is most commonly transmitted when a mosquito bites a person with an active infection, then spreads the virus by biting others.
  • The only protection against Zika is to avoid travel to areas with an active infestation. If you do travel to a country where Zika is present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisesusing an EPA-approved repellent over sunscreen, wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts thick enough to block a mosquito bite, and sleeping in rooms that are air-conditioned and screened.
  • The CDC is warning pregnant women to avoid travel to infected areas and to speak with their doctor about taking steps to avoid unintended pregnancies.
  • A clinical trial for a Zika virus vaccine may begin this year, but a vaccine won’t be available for another few years.
  • Health officials are implementing traditional mosquito control techniques, such as spraying pesticides and emptying standing water receptacles where mosquitoes breed. The CDC also encourages homeowners to eliminate any standing water.

Image Credit: Eirin Henriksen via freeimages

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“La Vie en Rose”: The Solution for Migraine Sufferers?

Light sensitivity is a well-known symptom of migraine headaches, but most people don’t realize that light can cause them as well. One surprisingly simple solution might be pastel-tinted lenses, which have been found to effectively reduce the effect of lights or patterns that trigger visual migraines or even prevent these severe headaches entirely.

“About 18 percent of women and six percent of men in the U.S. suffer from migraines. Common triggers include dehydration, stress and lack of sleep,” explains Sandy T. Feldman, an ophthalmologist and the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego. “For other people, it’s a visual trigger related to repetition and high contrast, like black words on a white background or a blinking light on a computer screen.”

People who get migraines have a more than usually sensitive (“hyper-excitable”) brain.

As the migraine takes hold, the brain partly shuts down and becomes less active. The aura that accompanies some migraines — with symptoms such as flashing lights, blind spots and difficulty seeing — is essentially this “shutting down” process spreading across the brain. Sufferers often have to lie in a dark room for a few hours until the migraine passes.

Wearing sunglasses can help to a limited degree, and wearing colored glasses—especially those with a rosy tint—can work even better. But why? One theory is that tinted lenses redistribute the “hyper-excitement” in the visual part of the brain. A University of Michigan study found that brain activity stabilized when migraine sufferers wore tinted glasses, with about 70 percent of participants reporting significant pain relief.

“The challenge is determining which color works best for each patient. For some, pale blue might be best, and for others it’s pink. It’s a process of trial and error,” says Dr. Feldman. “The glasses are tinted light enough to be worn indoors, such as in situations where an attack may be triggered, or during a headache episode to reduce its length and severity.”

Unfortunately, precision-tinted eyewear isn’t the answer for everyone. This remedy applies to only a small portion of migraine sufferers, those with headaches primarily triggered by visual stimuli.

“There is no standard treatment for migraines, but many patients find that drinking plenty of water, eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and not overdoing it with painkillers or caffeine can really help,” advises Dr. Feldman.

She adds, “While there’s no harm in experimenting with sunglasses, it’s important to consult your doctor to get a firm diagnosis and individual advice. There may be visual triggers you are unaware of or other lenses that might help your particular condition.”

Read more about “La Vie en Rose” here.

Image credit: channah via freeimages

 

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Dr. Sandy T. Feldman Shares Diet Recommendations to Improve Your Eye Health

Did you know more than 2.7 million Americans over age 40 have glaucoma, and experts suspect half of them don’t even know it?

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Since glaucoma can sneak up on you, it’s important to maintain a good diet and get regular eye exams. A poor diet can adversely affect eye health. Increased eye pressure can damage the ocular nerves, leading to partial vision loss and a susceptibility to eye disease.

Listen in as Dr. Sandy T. Feldman shares diet recommendations to improve your eye health.

Image Credit: haseeb iqbal via freeimages

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Smoothies: Nutritious and Saves Your Eyes From Glaucoma

The new year brings new goals like eating healthy and keeping fit. But are you thinking about protecting some of your most important resources, such as your eyes?

How can you whittle your waistline, boost your overall health, and ward off eye disease, all at the same time? Start your day with nutrient-dense juice or smoothie, which can prevent vision-related conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma—the leading cause of preventable blindness. Currently, more than 2.7 million people in the U.S. over age 40 have glaucoma, and experts estimate that half of them don’t even know it.

“Glaucoma can sneak up on people because there are no symptoms,” said Sandy T. Feldman, MD, a San Diego-based physician who is the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego and one the nation’s top ophthalmologists. “That’s why a good diet and regular eye exams are so important.”

While it is common knowledge that junk food packs on the pounds, it’s also possible that a poor diet can adversely affect eye pressure. When eye pressure increases to an unhealthy level, it can damage the ocular nerves; this eventually leads to a loss of peripheral vision as well as the possibility of contracting diseases such as glaucoma. Eating foods with nutrients that contribute to blood vessel and nerve health can help keep eye pressure in the normal range.

Glaucoma tends to run in families, but this is often because families share the same poor eating habits and lifestyles. People who are Hispanic or African-American are also at higher risk, as are people over 60, diabetics, and those who are severely nearsighted. In addition, chronic deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals are thought to promote damage to the optic nerve by the increasing eye pressure.

“If you are at-risk for glaucoma, it’s important to take all precautions to prevent or reduce the progression of eye pressure,” says Dr. Feldman. “Once vision is lost it’s gone forever, but if detected in time, proper nutrition and care can prevent further loss.”

People in the at-risk group should avoid fried foods, as these are very high in oxidants that cause eye damage, along with caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soft drinks, high-protein diets, and table sugar. Instead, Dr. Feldman suggests eating more fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants and phytonutrients that protect the eyes against degeneration. Smoothies are a great way to nourish your body with produce.

One of Dr. Feldman’s favorite smoothie recipes (see below) includes blueberries and peaches, two tasty sources of antioxidants that help prevent the damage to the eyes. The recipe also contains one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids—flaxseeds—to help regulate the flow of fluid in the body, preventing dry eyes and normalizing eye pressure and thereby reducing the risk of glaucoma.

“Start the New Year off right by taking steps to prioritize your health,” urges Dr. Feldman.
“Jettison the junk food, experiment with eating and juicing different fruits and vegetables, and be sure to make an appointment with your eye doctor.”

Blueberry, Peach and Flaxseed Smoothie

  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 small peach, roughly chopped or ½ cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup almond milk or favorite juice
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 ounces ice cubes (not needed if using frozen peaches)

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve immediately. A single serving contains 220 calories, less than 3 grams of fat, and nearly 14 grams of protein.

Photo credit: tsloth2 via freeimages

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Patients are Amazed at the Fast Recovery Time After Lasik

Patients continue to be amazed at how quickly their recovery time is after Lasik with Dr. Sandy T. Feldman. The very next day after the procedure, Lauren was able to wake up and see clearly (which she had not done since second grade). Kristine only missed one day of work and went on vacation seven days after the procedure. Atron said the Lasik was so quick that he was in and out of the procedure room within ten minutes.

Learn more about how this procedure can improve your life. Contact us today!

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12 Frequently Asked Questions About Eyes

In celebration of the festive holiday season, we’ve compiled a 12 Days of Christmas-inspired list of frequently asked questions about eyes. Sandy T. Feldman, MDMedical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center, answers the following eye-related questions.

  • Why does a scratch on the eye hurt so much?
  • Why do we get “sleepers”?
  • What does it mean to have 20/20 vision?
  • Why do eyelids twitch?
  • What’s the difference between an ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician?
  • Can eyes be transplanted?
  • Is it safe to clean my contact lenses with a homemade solution?
  • Will sitting too close to the television set hurt my eyes?
  • Will my child inherit my need for glasses?
  • Can nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism be prevented?
  • How safe are LASIK and cataract surgeries?
  • How long is pink eye contagious?

Want the answers to these questions? Click here to read more!

Image credit: Päivi Rytivaara via freeimages

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Jeana’s Fears of Lasik Disappeared After Her Clearview Consultation

Jeana was tired of constantly relying on glasses and dealing with eye strain and headaches while using the computer. Although she was fearful of Lasik, she decided to attend a free consultation with Dr. Sandy T. Feldman. The consultation erased all of Jeana’s fears and she immediately booked her Lasik appointment. She couldn’t be more happy with the results.

Learn more about how this procedure can improve your life. Contact us today!

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Kristine Doesn’t Know Why She Waited so Long for Lasik

Like many patients undergoing Lasik, Kristine was worried about what to expect from the procedure. Yet after meeting with Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, she was so excited to have her vision corrected.

Dr. Feldman came highly recommended to Kristine from her brother and many other trusted sources. She doesn’t know why she waited so long to have Lasik, but is very glad she chose Dr. Feldman.

Learn more about how this procedure can improve your life. Contact us today!

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Aaron Describes His Experience With Dr. Sandy T. Feldman

Aaron recently made the decision to undergo Lasik at Clearview. He could not have been happier with his experience with Dr. Sandy T. Feldman. He loved that she went over every single aspect of the procedure and made sure he felt comfortable about all the steps. He knew exactly what to expect, and was in and out of the operating room within ten minutes.

Learn more about how this procedure can improve your life. Contact us today!

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Lasik Has Been Life-Changing for Jacqueline

After wearing contact lenses for 16 years, Jacqueline was ready for a change. She was not feeling the ease of the lenses and was never a big fan of wearing glasses.

She visited Dr. Sandy T. Feldman to determine if she’s a candidate for Lasik and was very impressed with the pre-screening process and tests. Lasik has been life-changing for Jacqueline. She can now see 20/15 and is thrilled!

Learn more about how this procedure can improve your life. Contact us today!