Thursday, January 31, 2013

Carbs and Cataracts

It turns out that high levels of carbohydrate intake cause an increase in one type of cataract! High Glycemic Index carbs, foods that cause a rapid uptake in carbohydrates from a very strong insulin spike, seem to be particular causes.

How might this occur? It turns out that excess glucose from high glycemic index carbohydrates creates damaged proteins in the lens of the eye. These damaged proteins are then poorly recognized because of the "machinery" that removes these proteins is also affected by the excess glucose in a bad way. The result is an increase in the generation of cortical cataracts.

It's amazing how much we are now learning about the risks of high carbohydrate diets, especially from high glycemic index carbohydrates, even in people who don't have diabetes. First Macular Degeneration and now cataracts. It seems there's still lots to learn about what makes an "eye healthy" diet!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The GI Symbol and Your Food Labels

 What is the GI Symbol?

The Glycemic Index Symbol is a powerful tool for quickly and reliably making healthy food choices when grocery shopping. It’s your guarantee that the GI value stated near the nutrition information label is accurate. Foods with the GI Symbol are healthy in other ways, too.
To be approved to carry the GI Symbol, foods must be a good source of carbohydrate and meet a host of other nutrient criteria including calories/kilojoules, total and saturated fat, sodium (salt), and where appropriate fibre and calcium.

The GI Symbol makes healthy choices easy choices. Most of us find it hard to work out what all of the different nutrition claims and nutrition information means, and just because a food may claim to be low GI, it does not mean that it has been tested correctly, if at all. Foods that carry the GI Symbol meet strict nutrient criteria ensuring they are healthy choices, and the GI value is certified as accurate.

Managing your blood glucose levels is one of the keys to lifelong health. Choosing low Glycemic Index carbohydrates – the ones that produce smaller fluctuations in your blood glucose and insulin levels – reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s also one of the keys to sustainable weight loss.
Low GI eating is for everybody. The GI Symbol helps you put those smart low GI carbohydrate foods into your shopping trolley and lower the overall GI of your diet.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 Tips for Reducing the GI of Your Diet

1. Pile half your dinner plate high with vegetables or salad
Aim to eat at least five servings of vegetables (this doesn’t include the starchy ones like potatoes, sweet potatoes or sweet corn) every day, preferably of three or more different colors.

2. Be wise with your potatoes
If you are a big potato eater and can't bear the thought of giving them up, you don't have to. Just choose wisely, and be careful with the quantity. Choose one or two medium-sized low GI potatoes such as Carisma, or a lower GI potato such as Nicola or Marfona or have one or two baby new potatoes with a small cob of corn or make a cannellini bean (they are white beans) and potato mash replacing half the potato with cannellini beans. Don't be afraid of trying other starchy vegetables like sweet potato, yams or taro - steamed, roasted or mashed.

3. Swap your bread
Instead of high GI white and wholemeal breads, choose a really grainy bread where you can actually see the grains, granary bread, stone-ground wholemeal bread, real sourdough bread, soy and linseed bread, pumpernickel, fruit loaf or bread made from chickpea or other legume-based flours.

4. Replace those high Glycemic Index crunchy breakfast flakes
These refined breakfast cereals spike your blood glucose and insulin levels. Replace them with smart carbs like natural muesli or traditional (not instant) porridge oats or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals that will trickle fuel into your engine.

5. Make your starchy staples the low GI ones
Look for the low GI rice's, serve your pasta al dente, choose less processed foods such as large flake or rolled oats for porridge or muesli and intact grains such as barley, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, whole kernel rye, or whole wheat kernels and opt for lower GI starchy vegetables.

6. Learn to love legumes (pulses)
Include legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas in your meals two or three times a week, more often if you are vegetarian. Add chickpeas to a stir-fry, red kidney beans to a chili, a 4-bean salad to that barbecue menu, and beans or lentils to a casserole or soup.

7. Develop the art of combining
No need to cut out all high GI carbs. The trick is to combine them with those low GI tricklers to achieve a moderate overall GI. How? Lentils with rice (think of that delicious classic Italian soup), rice with beans and chili (go Mexican), tabbouleh tucked into pita bread (with falafels of course and a dash of hummus), baked beans on toast or piled on a jacket-baked potato for classic comfort food.

8. Incorporate a lean protein source with every meal
Eat lean meat, skinless chicken, fish and seafood, eggs, milk, yogurt or cheese, or legumes and tofu if you are vegetarian. The protein portion should make up around a quarter of the plate/meal.

9. Tickle your taste buds
Try vinaigrette (using vinegar or lemon juice with a dash of extra virgin olive oil) with salads, yogurt with cereal, lemon juice on vegetables like asparagus, or sourdough bread. These foods contain acids, which slow stomach emptying and lower your blood glucose response to the carbs in the meal.

10. Go low GI when snacking
If it is healthy and low GI, keep it handy. Grab fresh fruit, dried fruit, or fruit and nut mix, low fat milk and yogurt (or soy alternatives). Limit (this means don't buy them every week) high GI refined flour products whether home baked or from the supermarket such as cookies, cakes, pastries, crumpets, crackers, biscuits, irrespective of their fat and sugar content. These really are the 'keep for the occasional treat' foods.

Keep your eye on the serving size. Remember portion caution with carb-rich foods such as rice, al dente pasta and noodles, potatoes etc. Eating a huge amount of these foods, even of the low GI variety, will have a marked effect on your blood glucose. A cup of cooked noodles or al dente pasta or rice plus plenty of mixed non-starchy vegetables and a little lean protein can turn into 3 cups of a very satisfying meal.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Health Benefits of Low GI Eating

The scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of a healthy low GI diet is overwhelming. We know from over 30 years of research from around the world that healthy low Glycemic Index diets:
  • Help to fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied for longer, avoiding over eating or too much snacking.
  • Lower your insulin levels which makes fat easier to burn and less likely to be stored.
  • Help you to lose body fat and maintain lean muscle tissue.
  • Reduce your triglycerides, total and 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Increase your levels of 'good' (HDL) cholesterol.
  • Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Help to manage your blood glucose levels and reduce your risk of developing diabetes complications.
  • Reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduce your risk of developing some cancers
  • Reduce your risk of developing certain eye diseases.
  • Improve your skin
  • Sustain your energy levels longer, improving both mental and physical performance.
Low GI eating really is for everyone.

Knowing the GI of foods is of particular value to people with diabetes who need to manage their blood glucose levels carefully. Perhaps unsurprisingly, diabetes organizations such as Diabetes AustraliaCanadian Diabetes AssociationEuropean Association for the Study of DiabetesJuvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the South African Diabetes Association encourage an understanding and use of GI in meal planning.
However, lowering the GI of your diet can also lead to better health  through improved heart health and helping to manage appetite.
Health and nutrition authorities from around the world recommend that everyone use the GI as a tool when looking for healthy food choices:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Defining Low, Medium and High Glycemic Foods

Why might the low Glycemic Index Number of your favorite Snickers bar still not be the healthiest choice for you?

Determining whether a food is high- or low-glycemic is pretty straightforward. The glycemic index is broken into high-, medium-, and low-glycemic foods. High-glycemic-index foods have the quickest blood sugar response; low-glycemic-index foods have the slowest. Here are the measurements on a scale of 0 to 100:
  • Low glycemic index: 55 or less
  • Medium glycemic index: 56 to 69
  • High glycemic index: 70 or greater
Keep in mind that high-glycemic foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy foods. Similarly, low-glycemic foods aren’t always healthy. The glycemic index simply lets you know how quickly your blood sugar will rise from eating that food.
The following table shows the glycemic index numbers and measurements of some popular foods. Some foods fall right into line with what you probably predicted: Brown rice is a low-glycemic food, and basmati white rice and spaghetti are medium-glycemic foods. But it’s not always that clear-cut. Notice how jasmine rice has a significantly higher glycemic index number than basmati rice even though both types of rice are white? This is where specific types of products vary. Even though foods of the same type may appear the same, each variety can produce a different blood sugar response for many reasons.
The Glycemic Lowdown on Some Popular Foods
FoodGlycemic Index NumberMeasurement
Peanut M&M’s33Low
Snickers bar43Low
Brown rice48Low
Whole-wheat bread52Low
Basmati white rice57Medium
Plain bagel69Medium
Jasmine rice89High
Baked potato without skin98High
Note that some candy has low glycemic content, whereas baked potatoes and watermelons have some of the highest. This doesn’t mean that candy is suddenly healthier for you than a potato or fruit. Baked potatoes and watermelons are high in many different vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well as glycemic content, and candy is high in lots of undesirable categories such as calories — and empty calories at that!

By Meri Raffetto from The Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Trends In Treating Astigmatism

The surgical revolution in treating astigmatism began with the onset of Radial Keratotomy (RK) in the late 1970's and continued into the era of Laser Vision Correction. When a cataract was to be replaced, if you had astigmatism you either had to undergo a procedure like RK called a Limbal Relaxing Incision (LRI) during or after the surgery, or a laser procedure like LASIK or PRK. These all work well.

About 5 years ago there was a new development in Intra-Ocular Lenses (IOL) that not only improved vision after cataract surgery, but also treated astigmatism: Toric IOL's. A study of refractive cataract surgeons like our Dr. White recently reported that 75% now prefer to use these new IOL's rather than LRI's in patients with astigmatism.

"We really like the Alcon Toric IOL when we are aiming to make our  Cleveland patients independent from glasses for their distanc vision needs like driving or watching TV," said Dr. White.  "Our golfers are particularly happy!"

Extra pre-operative measurements like corneal topography are necessary to choose both the power and the orientation of the IOL. Once it's in the eye it is amazingly stable!

The technology of cataract surgery now includes multiple ways to address astigmatism. Dr. White and a majority of the top surgeons in the United States are now opting for a Toric IOL in cases where astigmatism is treated during the surgery.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

About The Glycemic Index

       Intro to the Glycemic Index (GI) 

1)   What is the GI?
Carbohydrates are one of the best sources of energy for our bodies. The simplest form of carbohydrate is glucose, which is:
  • A universal fuel for most organs and tissues in our bodies.
  • The only fuel source for our brains, red blood cells and a growing fetus, and is
  • The main source of energy for our muscles during strenuous exercise.
Surprisingly, most of us don't eat too much carbohydrate, but all too often we eat the wrong kind, because not all carbohydrates are created equal. This is where the glycemic index or GI comes in. It's about recognizing the 'smart carbs' - the low GI ones - and making sure we include them in our main meals and snacks.
The GI is simply a dietary tool that helps us differentiate between the various carbohydrate foods we eat and how our bodies use them.
  • Carbohydrates with a low GI (55 or less) don't make our blood glucose levels rise very high for very long. They provide sustained energy.
  • Carbohydrates with a high GI (70 or more) are the ones that cause our blood glucose levels to go higher for longer. High blood glucose may cause damage to vital organs.
Research has shown that if we eat too many high GI foods and not enough low ones, we are at risk of developing significant health problems.
For more on the GI, visit:

2)   Good sources of carbohydrate
Carbohydrate foods come mainly from plants - cereal grains, legumes, fruit and starchy vegetables. Some dairy foods like milk and yogurt also contain carbohydrate. Common sources of carbohydrate include:
  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Fruits and their juices such as apples, pears, oranges, plums, peaches and nectarines, berries and bananas
  • Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, taro, sweet corn, parsnips, pumpkin and carrots
  • Legumes (pulses) such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and split peas
  • Dairy foods like milk, yogurt, ice cream and their alternatives
  • Sugars, honey and confectionery
  • Starchy snack foods like potato and corn chips

3)   The health benefits of low GI eating
The scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of a healthy low GI diet is overwhelming. We know from over 30 years of research from around the world that healthy low Glycemic Index diets:
  • Help to fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied for longer, avoiding over eating or too much snacking.
  • Lower your insulin levels which makes fat easier to burn and less likely to be stored.
  • Help you to lose body fat and maintain lean muscle tissue.
  • Reduce your triglycerides, total and 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Increase your levels of 'good' (HDL) cholesterol.
  • Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Help to manage your blood glucose levels and reduce your risk of developing diabetes complications.
  • Reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduce your risk of developing some cancers
  • Reduce your risk of developing certain eye diseases.
  • Improve your skin
  • Sustain your energy levels longer, improving both mental and physical performance.
Low GI eating really is for everyone.

Monday, January 21, 2013

■ Cataract surgery and hip fractures.

      A major study of Medicare beneficiaries has suggested that cataract surgery is a key contributor to improved quality of life for seniors, with fewer accidents and falls among the key factors that significantly reduced their risk of hip fractures compared to patients who have not had cataract surgery.

      Researchers tracked the incidence of hip fracture occurring within one year of cataract surgery in 400,000 Medicare patients from 2002 to 2009. They then compared the data with hip fracture incidence in a matched group of patients who had cataracts but did not have them removed. Researchers attributed the 16% decrease in patients’ adjusted odds of experiencing a hip fracture to improved vision that enabled them to avoid falling.

      The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Are Bifocals and How Do They Work?'re over 40 years old and you can't read things up close. Maybe you have to take your glasses off and you can read. Maybe you need those $3.00 cheapo glasses from the pharmacy, even putting them on over your contact lenses. But you're starting to get cranky because of all the on-and-off with the glasses stuff. What to do? It's time to talk about bifocals.

Bifocals are glasses that have both a correction for your distance vision on the top of the lens, and a correction to help you read on the bottom. The first bifocal was actually invented by Benjamin Franklin. Yup...the same guy who did the whole kite and key thing to discover electricity! Ol' Ben just glued the top half of one lens to the bottom half of another and created what we now call an "Executive" bifocal.

This very simple type of lens has evolved into into more modern bifocal lenses. The most direct descendant of the Franklin lens is the Flat-top bifocal. These lenses have a very large area devoted to your distance vision, with a smallish insert or segment that allows you to focus on objects up close. The working distance, how far away you can hold something and still be in focus, is fixed with this type of bifocal.

What about seeing things a little further away, say a computer screen? And by the way, I think those bifocals where I can see the lines make me look older. Isn't there some kind of newer lens?

Absolutely! The most modern bifocal lenses are called "No-line" or "Progressive" lenses. These lenses have a smooth change in focus from the topo of the lens (distance), through the middle (arm's length), to the bottom of the lens (reading distance). We say that there's a "column of clarity", a sweet spot for each working distance for our vision. This column is usually shaped somewhat like an hourglass.

Our favorite Progressive lenses at Skyvision are Varilux products like the Varilux Comfort or the Varilux Physio. We always try to match the strengths of a particular lens to your special visual needs. Our doctors and opticians are experts on making this match. If you are having trouble with reading come on in and learn all about bifocals!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Eye Health and Vision Questions Answered by SkyVision Centers

Wow! Look at all of the posts here on our Skyvision blog! We started out hoping to be helpful to our Skyvision patients as well as our Cleveland neighbors, mostly by talking about the stuff our doctors and staff spend their days discussing in our Westlake office. How are we doing? Are we talking about stuff you are interested in?

How about this? Tell us what kinds of things YOU are interested in. Maybe it's a question about yourself, or maybe someone in your family has an eye disease and you'd like more information. Thinking about LASIK? Perhaps there's an area of research that peaked your interest. Fashion questions for our optical staff?

Really, pretty much anything that's eye or vision related is fair game. You can leave a comment for us here on the blog, or leave a comment on our Skyvision Centers Facebook page (just search for 'Skyvision Centers'). We are on Twitter @drdarrellwhite and @skyvisioncenter, too, if you are a Twitterbug!

Let us know what YOU are interested in, Cleveland!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Do We Diagnose Dry Eye?

So you've come to Skyvision Centers with red, burning or tearing eyes. Your vision gets blurry when you look at a computer. You always feels like there's something in your eyes.   How do we know it's from Dry Eye? How do we make the diagnosis?

Well, the very first thing we do is LISTEN to you! We try very hard to hear what it is that's bothering you. After that there are several tests that the technicians and doctors do to evaluate your tears, like examining your tears themselves. Both the doctors and the technicians look at your tears. Do you have a normal amount present just on viewing? Are they clear? Is there any debris, stuff like mucous or clumps of white blood cells present?

Before we put anything into your eyes we will often use a special instrument called an osmometer to check your tear OSMOLARITY, how salty your tears are. This is a very new, fully FDA approved test to evaluate whether you have a normal amount of salt in your tears. Normal is below 300 and abnormal is above 308, with the 300-308 range being relatively non-diagnostic. This test is very helpful in determining whether or not you have the most common type of Dry Eye, especially when other signs are hard to see.

The doctor will then put a vegetable-base dye called FLUORESCEIN into your tears to evaluate their function. How long does it take before they "break up"? Tears should remain smooth over the front of the eye for at least 8-10 seconds. Does any part of the front of the eye become stained by the flourescein? Dye staining is a sign that your tears do not work well enough. Finally, tiny strips of filter paper may be placed just inside your eyelids for a test of your tear production called a SCHIRMER test. This helps us know the volume of tear production.

That's how we do it! Lots of work to make the diagnosis, but're worth it! Look for more information on how we TREAT Dry Eye.  

For even more information about Dry Eye,  visit our YouTube channel   Skyvisioncenters105   for many Dry Eye videos by our very own Dr. Darrell White at The Dr. Whiteboard.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Eyemaginations Video Education

Have you been to our Westlake  Skyvision Center's office? The first thing you see when you walk into the lobby is a great big 52 inch television screen. And on that screen is running one of the coolest things in all of eye care: Eyemaginations!  A continuous loop of animated videos to teach you all about the eye and how we take care of your eyes.         
Eyemaginations is a big part of how we interact with you at Skyvision. We always ask for your e-mail address when you call to make an appointment. One of the reasons we do so is because we want to send you an e-mail with some Eyemaginations videos about your eyes. Do you have a cataract? How about dry eyes? We can send a video right to your own home computer to start teaching you about whatever problem you might have.

Each of our examination rooms is equipped with a terminal for our electronic medical record. We have 19 inch monitors right next to your exam chair. We can show you an Eyemaginations  video right in the exam room. These animated videos have been scripted with the help of experienced eye doctors, including Dr. White who has consulted for Eyemaginations more than six years.
How about the end of your visit? After the doctors and technicians have explained your problem and given you detailed instructions, often in writing, we might ask you again if you have given us your e-mail address. If so we have the opportunity to send another batch of Eyemaginations videos to your home. 

Easy to use and easy to see, Eyemaginations Is just one more thing the doctors and staff at Skyvision Centers is bringing to you in order to provide the very best experience possible in eye care!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

SkyVision Continues to Grow and We Thank You!

WOW!  What a year!. We've worked very hard for you all, and you've rewarded us by telling your friends and family about your Skyvision Centers experience, and now many of your friends and family are coming to see us for their eyecare needs.  We are obsessed with our goal of giving you not only the very best eyecare but also the very best patient experience you could possibly have. 

We hired a couple of new staff members for our reception and technician staff.

We rolled out a new appointment notification system which has been very happily received by both patients and staff.   If you have not had the opportunity to sign up for the new DemandForce notification system just click here   SkyVision Demand Force  for appointment requests, sign up requests, our latest reviews, etc. 

We moved around our exam rooms again this year to accomodate for additional new pieces of equipment to service for our expanding number of patients .  

Our committment to you and the health of your eyes continues to be as strong as ever. We are always looking for the next, great development for you and your vision!

We look forward to seeing you, your family and friends this coming year.

Skyvision Centers....Vision Redesigned (R)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What’s Best for Kids’ Eye Health?

Some Experts Give Their Insight
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) — For generations, countless adults have urged kids to eat carrots to protect their eyesight.

“Anything that’s good for your body is good for your eyes, especially vegetables,” explained Dr. James McDonnell, a professor of ophthalmology and director of pediatric ophthalmology at the Loyola University Health System and the Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago.

But how does the average adult, without medical training, know whether the words of wisdom being doled out — whether about crunching carrots or anything else — are good advice? And what else do parents need to know to keep their kids’ vision keen?

Here’s a sampling of advice from eye experts:

How often should children have their eyes screened for vision problems?

Generally, kids don’t need any additional eye exams. Schools and pediatricians screen for eye problems and should flag any eye issues that warrant a visit to an eye specialist.

“The process is set up to screen all children for the most common eye problems,” said Dr. Erin Stahl, an ophthalmologist at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. But, she did recommend that “parents should make sure that these screenings are being done yearly.”

But, if children complain of eye pain or say that they’re having trouble seeing, take them to an eye specialist, she said. The same is true if you notice that your child’s eyes don’t seem to be aligning properly.

Children don’t always wear their glasses. Can this be harmful?

McDonnell said the answer to this question can depend on the reason the glasses were prescribed. But, in general, if an eye doctor has prescribed glasses for a child, there’s probably a good reason that he or she needs to wear them.

“Most of the time, I put kids in glasses because without them their eyes cross,” McDonnell said. “The glasses help their brains develop properly at the critical age that lets eyes work together. In other kids, I might prescribe glasses because one eye is out of focus. These kids need to wear their glasses so that their brain isn’t only receiving blurry input from that eye.”

If you’re having trouble getting a child to wear his or her glasses regularly, Stahl added, ask the doctor whether off-and-on wear will cause any problems.

Pre-teens sometimes want to wear contacts. Is it too soon?

Both McDonnell and Stahl said that the age at which contacts are appropriate depends largely on a child’s maturity level.

For the most part, Stahl said, she won’t prescribe contacts to anyone younger than 10. McDonnell said he usually doesn’t consider contacts until a child 12 to 15 years old. Any child has to be mature enough to put contacts in, take them out and keep them clean, he noted. But even then, he added, parents still need to check to be sure their children are following the proper contact care techniques.

That includes making sure they’re not sleeping with their contacts in — something McDonnell said that children should never do. Eye experts agree that sleeping in contacts increases the chance of infection.

Are decorative contacts OK?

Decorative or cosmetic contacts are lenses that kids (and adults) sometimes wear, perhaps as part of a costume, to dramatically change their eye color or make their eyes look like those of a cat or a zombie. In the United States, it’s illegal to sell decorative lenses over-the-counter, meaning that they require a prescription, even if the youngster who wants them doesn’t need lenses for vision correction.

McDonnell said that if kids are familiar with contact wear and care, and they know how to keep them clean, he doesn’t see a problem with wearing decorative contacts for a special occasion. But if it takes an adult to help a child put decorative contacts in or take them out, that should be a sign that this is a bad idea. Stahl added that she’s seen severe eye injuries from cosmetic contacts.

Will too much computer time hurt a child’s eyes?

“Too much screen time will not damage a child’s eyes,” said Stahl. That said, “too much screen time is not good for the overall development of the child,” she added.

At worst, said McDonnell, spending a lot of time in front of a screen might cause eye strain. “It’s like doing push-ups for three hours,” he said. “Give your eyes a break and look up from that near point and gaze around the room from time to time.”

What should be done to protect a child’s eyes from injuries?

McDonnell said that it’s hard to anticipate everything that could hurt a child’s eyes because even something as seemingly innocuous as a child’s fingernail can cause a serious injury. Still, he said, it’s important to try to prevent eye injuries.

“If something penetrates the eye, these can be devastating injuries,” he said. “We do our best to repair the eye, but it’s part of the brain, which makes it exquisitely sensitive, even though it’s reasonably tough.”

For starters, Stahl said, “keep your child away from fireworks, lawn mowers and trimmers, and sharp objects like sticks and hangers.” She and McDonnell both recommended that kids wear eye protection during certain sports, especially those that involve smaller balls, such as racquetball or squash. McDonnell also advised that children not be allowed to play with BB or pellet guns because of the risk for eye and other injuries.
  By Serena Gordon/HealthDay Reporter

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

John Pavley/My Phone Is Keeping an Eye on My Health

Does John's story sound like anybody you know?

Posted: 01/07/2013 8:46 am

Now that I'm over 50, watching TV is a scary experience for me. It's not the shows as much as it is the ads: Lipitor, Cialis, Abilify, Cymbalta, Plavix, Symbicort, Lyrica, Advair, Crestor, Adrogel, and all the rest. I am lucky enough to live in a part of the world where aging and stress are much more likely to kill me than hunger, disease, or bullets. A first world problem by definition, but a still a problem. I'm not even sure what all those drugs do but as bits and pieces of me age many of them will be prescribed to shore up my unraveling biological infrastructure.

While it's great that we have modern medicine and pharmacology to alleviate the embarrassing problems of the natural aging process, I'm really much too busy to "grow old gracefully." I can't imagine retiring. I am not interested in slowing down or enjoying my golden years. I still have major accomplishments to accomplish!

While I was under 50 I cared little for my health: I drank more cups of coffee a day than I can count, I ate as much as of whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it, and I exercised randomly -- if at all. I was a big man but I was as healthy as an ox (or as genetically lucky as a healthy ox).

These days my lucky genetic material is starting to wind down. For almost every aging related "disease" I'll eventually get there is a drug, a side effect, and a balance to be discovered and tuned.

I went to my doctor for a checkup and a review of my most recent blood work. I'm already on a couple of maintenance drugs and fine-tuning them is a pain. I have to get blood tests done every 30 days and meet with my doctor every 90 days. I really don't have time for all this!

During my last checkup I demoed HuffPost's newest iPhone app, that we just launched this week at CES, GPS for the Soul, to my doctor. I showed him how our app uses the built-in iPhone camera and flash as a sensor to gauge emotional state. We went through a couple of the guides and visualizations with a breathing pacer as well as videos on meditation and yoga. GPS for the Soul is not a diagnostic tool, it's an app that helps you manage stress.

Even so, my doctor was excited by how GPS for the Soul worked and kept talking about the fact that stress has a big effect on health.

Then he told me about the "smart loo." An awesome toilet made in Japan that can test your blood pressure, body temperature, weight, and urine sugar levels. This toilet will automatically share data with your personal computer so you can email your vital signs to your doctor. While it doesn't replace a blood test, it can give immediate results that can be used to fine-tune prescriptions and therapies.

We also talked about the Basis, a wristwatch-like device that can continuously measure heart rate, sleep quality, and activity levels. Basis uses USB and Bluetooth to send its measurement data to your computer or mobile phone. Basis is just the start of a new wave of "smart wearables." These devices aren't just for the sick or for professional athletes. They are for anyone who wants to pay more attention to their health and well-being.

If we put the three of these things together -- apps like GPS for the Soul that use the features of your mobile phone to check your stress level; smart household appliances, like the smart loo, that can do passive testing of your biologics; and smart wearables like the Basis that can continuously track your activity levels -- a new system emerges: A "connected healthcare management system" that could save millions of lives and millions of dollars in medical costs.

Imagine that your refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee machine, scale, toilet, office chair, wrist watch, and even jewelry were all "smart." That they could all collect data and share it over Bluetooth or Wifi with your mobile phone. Then apps like GPS for the Soul could send you notifications like: "Hey, ease up on the pizza!" or "Try to get to bed before midnight tonight!" or "Stop and take a deep breath!"

These apps could also share this data with your primary physician and alert him or her if your vital signs become really erratic. Instead of you calling the doctor, the doctor will call you!

We're not there yet. But we will be. Our aging baby boomer population and the skyrocketing cost of healthcare will demand automation and computer technology to step in and help. However, the most important time to use a connected healthcare management system isn't when you are old or sick but when you are young and healthy. Many aging related "diseases" can be delayed by proper maintenance of physical and emotional states before we get old. This is especially true with stress: The better we manage stress, the better we live.

Follow John Pavley on Twitter:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Do You Know About Your Vision Insurance?

Vision Insurance Overview - Start Your New Year Out Right!

Vision insurance policies typically cover routine eye exams and other procedures, and provide specified dollar amounts or discounts for the purchase of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some vision insurance policies also offer discounts on refractive surgery, such as LASIK and PRK.

Potentially high costs of routine eye examinations and prescription eyewear can be of real concern, especially for large families. You might be able to defray at least some of these costs by looking into acquiring vision insurance for yourself or better understanding the plan your company already provides.

Vision insurance only supplements regular health insurance. Regular health insurance plans protect you against financial loss due to unexpected eye injury or disease.

Vision insurance, on the other hand, is a wellness benefit designed to reduce your costs for routine, preventive eye care such as eye exams, eyewear and other services.

Where Can I Get Vision Insurance?

Group vision insurance can be obtained through your company, association, school district, etc., or through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid.  If you are not eligible for a group plan because you are self-employed or for other reasons, most vision insurance providers also offer policies for individuals that you can purchase separately.

Vision insurance often is a value-added benefit linked to indemnity health insurance, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) that have contracted with managed vision care networks to provide eye care services.  Indemnity health insurance is traditional health insurance that allows policyholders access to medical providers of their choice.

An HMO is a group of healthcare providers — doctors, laboratories, hospitals and the like — employed to provide health care to plan members at discounted rates. Usually, plan members are required to access health care (including vision care) only from HMO providers.

A PPO is a network of healthcare providers organized to provide healthcare services to health plan members at a fixed rate below retail prices. Plan members may opt to access out-of-network providers, but usually at a greater cost.

When you buy vision insurance, you receive the following benefits:

Access to a network of providers, including optometrists and ophthalmologists, eyewear stores, optical laboratories and LASIK surgeons

Routine, preventive eye care services at reduced rates

What Kinds of Vision Insurance Plans Are Available?

Vision insurance typically comes in the form of either a vision benefits package or a discount vision plan.

Typically, a vision benefits package provides free eye care services and eyewear within fixed dollar amounts in exchange for an annual premium or membership fee and a relatively small co-pay (fixed dollar amount) each time you access a service.

A discount vision plan, on the other hand, provides eye care and eyewear at discounted rates after you pay an annual premium or membership fee.  In some cases, a vision benefits package or discount vision plan may also include a "deductible" — a fixed dollar amount you must pay your eye care provider out-of-pocket before the insurance benefits take effect.

Both kinds of vision insurance can be custom-designed to meet the requirements of a wide range of customers, including school districts, unions, and big and small companies.

Vision insurance generally covers the following basic services:

Annual eye examinations,  eyeglass frames, eyeglass lenses, contact lenses and discounted rates for LASIK and PRK

Generally, services acquired from network providers cost less than services from out-of-network providers.

Also, a reputable vision insurance company should have a quality assurance mechanism to answer your questions and help you resolve any disputes or issues you have with a vision care provider in your plan's network.

What Does Vision Insurance Cost?

Vision insurance costs vary, depending upon how the program is designed. Costs also may vary based on your state of residence.  As an example, one nationwide vision insurance provider offers the following 2011 rates for individual (non-group) vision insurance plans to New York residents:

Vision Benefits Package

Annual membership: $170.95 for singles; $428.95 for families (includes $10 one-time enrollment fee).   Routine eye exam: covered in full (after $15 co-pay)

Eyeglass lenses — single vision and lined bifocals or trifocals; polycarbonate lenses for children: first pair covered in full (after $25 co-pay)

Eyeglass frames: up to $120 benefit, plus 20 percent off any out-of-pocket expenses (after $25 co-pay)

Contact lenses (instead of glasses): $120 allowance for cost of contact lens exam, fitting and lenses

Other discounts: 20 to 25 percent discounts for eyeglass lens options and extra pairs of glasses (including sunglasses)

Vision Discount Plan

Annual membership: $69.50 for singles; $149.50 for families

Routine eye exam: 20 percent discount,  eyeglass lenses (single vision and lined bifocals):
20 percent discount, eyeglass frames: 25 percent discount, contact lens exam fees: 15 percent discount, laser vision correction: 15 percent, non-prescription sunglasses: 20 percent

It's a good idea to comparison shop several vision insurance providers to make sure you get the best value for the eye care benefits you desire.

Typically, you pay for group vision insurance through payroll deductions or flexible spending accounts (FSAs).  An FSA, sometimes called a cafeteria plan, allows an employee to use pre-tax dollars to purchase selected health benefits such as vision insurance. You save money because you pay for the policy with income that has been set aside for health costs and is not subject to taxation.

If you purchase an individual vision insurance plan because you are self-employed or your employer does not offer vision insurance, you can expect to be billed monthly or annually.

By Madeleine Vessel; additional contributions by Gary Heiting, OD

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Alcon Cachet, a New Phakic IOL

There's some very exciting news out there for people who can't have Laser Refractive Surgery but who want to be free of their glasses and contacts. The Alcon CACHET is a new phakic IOL, a lens that is put into your eye without removing your natural lens. It has been used for years in Europe and is still in trials here in the US.  

Unlike the Visian ICL which goes in back of your pupil, the Cachet sits right on top of your pupil to give you clear distance vision. In the most important clinical trial, in which people had very high amounts of nearsightedness, more than 75% of patients had 20/20 vision or better without glasses, and 95+% had at least 20/40 vision. That's more than 95% of patients with super high prescriptions now able to get a driver's licence without glasses!!

The safety studies have continued to show that the Cachet is not only effective but safe. It's not FDA approved in the U.S. yet, but it has been used successfully for several years elsewhere in the world. If you live in Cleveland you can be sure that Dr. Darrell White and Skyvision Centers will be among the first to offer this exciting technology!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Is Astigmatism?

What is Astigmatism? It's a funny word, isn't it? Lots of people think the word is "stigmatism" and that you have "a stigmatism". That of course means that you could have one or more "stigmatisms", but that's not really how it works!

Astigmatism is an optical term that relates to how an optical system focuses, or doesn't focus, light. In our situation the optical system is the eye! There are three different parts of the eye that make up the focusing elements of our vision system: the TEAR FILM that sits on the very surface of the eye (that's why Dry Eye causes vision problems!), the CORNEA or window to the eye, and the LENS that sits in back of the pupil. Astigmatism is present when the combination of these pieces parts creates two or more focused images from a beam of light.

Most of the time astigmatism is caused by the shape of the CORNEA. In a normal eye, one without astigmatism, the cornea is like the front of a sphere; it's round like a basketball or a soccer ball. A cornea that has astigmatism is longer in one direction than the other. It's STEEPER in one direction and FLATTER in the other. In other words the astigmatic cornea is shaped like a football instead of a basketball.

Whether you are nearsighted or farsighted, if you have astigmatism you will have at least two images focused in the eye. There are lots of ways to correct this, and we'll talk about all of them as time goes on. Be sure to check here, and watch for the Dr. Whiteboard videos on the SkyVision Centers Youtube channel SkyVisionCenters105 for more info on ASTIGMATISM