Category Archives: In The News

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Winter Eye-Related Health Myths Debunked

Anyone who spends any amount of time online will find an abundance of eye-related myths, misconceptions and misinformation. Dr. Sandy T. Feldman offers timely and factual information related to eye health and vision during the winter season ahead.

True or False? Dry eyes can be more troublesome in the winter.

True. Dry winter air and central heating can cause eyes to be more sensitive. An easy way to prevent dryness is by using a humidifier to add moisture to the air of indoor environments.

True or False? You don’t need to wear sunglasses in the winter.

False. Sunshine in the winter months might not seem as bright as it does in the summer, but ultraviolet (UV) light still can affect your eyes—even on cloudy days. Eyelid skin is extremely thin and allowing too much UV light through can cause a number of eye problems, including cataracts and several kinds of cancer. Skiers and snowboarders should also be aware that UV radiation is more intense at high altitudes, and sunshine that’s reflected off snow can cause a sunburn on the surface of the eye.

“We tend to protect ourselves from the sun only during the summer, but it’s something to be cautious of all year long,” Dr. Feldman advises. “Be sure to wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV light whenever you go outside, no matter what the season, and consider mirrored sunglasses or goggles if you plan to be out in the snow.”

True or False? Eyes look older in the winter.

True. Surprisingly enough, studies show that people can look as much as five years older during the winter months. Why? Circles and bags under the eyes appear significantly darker in colder months, most likely due to a lack of sunlight. Also, many of us feel more tired and lethargic in the winter due to lower levels of vitamin D, which is generated by the body only when exposed to sunlight.

Click here to read more tips from Dr. Feldman about how to care for your eyes during the winter season.

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Eyes on the New Year: Healthful Foods Vitamins and Habits for Optimal Vision

When making health-related New Years resolutions, most people tend to focus on two thingslosing weight and exercising more. While those things are important, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman suggests adding healthful habits for better vision as a top priority in 2015.

Considering how much time each day people spend in front of various screenscomputers, TVs, e-readers, tablets, smart phonesits clear that we rely on our vision far more than we know,” said. Dr. Feldman.

Dr. Feldman offers some New Years tips to improve vision and prevent vision problems, including:

  • Eat more nutrient-rich foods
  • Exercise more
  • Be cautious with vitamins
  • Be mindful of your screen time
  • Use natural remedies to soothe dry eyes
  • Wear protective eyewear
  • Practice good eye hygiene
  • Use full-spectrum lighting at the office

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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!

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Eyes on the Holidays: How to Avoid a Toy-related Trip to the ER

The famous catchphrase from the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story – “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” – was a department store Santa’s response to a young boy’s request for a Red Ryder BB gun. But Santa’s reply is actually sage advice for anyone looking to buy safe holiday toys for children.

“Thousands of children end up in the emergency room every year with eye injuries from a new toy,” says Sandy T. Feldman MD, a San Diego-based physician and one of the nation’s top ophthalmologists. “That’s not a fun way for any child or parent to spend a holiday.”

Children are born with an underdeveloped vision system that develops over time. Young children are very visually stimulated, and nothing stimulates a child’s vision more than a brightly colored new toy.

“Kids spend a lot of time with their toys, so it’s very important to make sure they are safe enough to play with,” says Dr. Feldman. “When eye injuries occur, it’s usually because a toy wasn’t age-appropriate for the child.”

Dr. Feldman offers 12 simple tips for selecting safe toys for children this holiday season:

  • Avoid any toy with sharp or rough edges, spikes, or other dangerous features
  • Make sure toys are sturdy and well-built, able to withstand impact and not shatter into sharp-edged pieces
  • Avoid toys that shoot or launch small balls, darts, water, or any other objects
  • Long-handled toys – such as a pony stick or light saber – should be light-weight and have rounded edges
  • Look for the letters ASTM, which indicates a toy meets safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials
  • Sports equipment should always be accompanied by appropriate protective gear, such as eye goggles or a helmet
  • Read all warnings and directions included with a toy before giving it to the child
  • Pay attention to the age or developmental recommendations printed on toy boxes
  • Any toy labeled “supervision required” should only be used in an adult’s presence
  • Keep toys intended for older children away from younger ones
  • To prevent eye strain and fatigue, set time limits on any electronic devices gifted to older children, such as e-readers, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers
  • Dispose of toys’ plastic wrapping material and cardboard packaging, as they may have sharp edges that can cause injury

“There are a lot of wonderful toys out there. Just be diligent about what you buy, and be sure to inspect any gifts from other people before a child plays with it,” said Dr. Feldman. “By preventing unnecessary eye injuries, you’ll ensure that everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season.”

Learn more about how LASIK eye surgery can improve your life. Contact us today!

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How To Protect Your Vision This Winter

Dr. Sandy T. Feldman talks to Fox 5 San Diego about how to protect your eyes during the dry and cold winter season. She shares tips such as not using the car heater very much, and suggests using artificial tear drops. Dr. Feldman also shares the secret behind caffeine and eye dryness.

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

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Can Your Eyes Reveal Undiagnosed Health Issues?

Did you know that a routine eye exam can be extraordinarily useful for detecting significant medical issues in their earliest stages? In fact, there are a surprising number of common medical conditions that are often diagnosed first by an eye doctor, not an internist.

Most people have no idea that their eyes can reveal so much about their health. But the retina, at the back of the eye, is the only place in the body that gives doctors a close-up view of blood vessels and nerves without having to cut the body open.

“This is why it’s so important to have regular eye exams after you turn 40,” said Dr. Sandy T. Feldman. “I urge all my patients to come in for a check-up every two to four years, depending on risk factors, and more frequently after age 60. If you wear contacts, you should get an annual exam regardless of your age.”

Dr. Feldman offers several clues that might alert your eye doctor to possible underlying medical problems:

  • Eyes that bulge out could signal hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland).
  • Yellow scleras could signal a liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis (scarring of the organ).
  • A whitish ring around the cornea could signal high cholesterol.
  • Swollen or leaky blood vessels in the eyes could signal high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Severely dry eyes could signal Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which your white blood cells attack your body’s moisture-producing glands.
  • A drooping eyelid could signal Bell’s palsy or myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness.
  • Significant changes in your field of vision could signal a brain tumor or cancer.
  • Frequent bouts of inflammation of the iris in a short amount of time may signal rheumatoid arthritis (RA). About 25% of patients with RA have some type of eye issue related to the disease.

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