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Eye Care Center celebrates 40 years serving the region

Created on: Friday, October 13, 2017

The Eye Care Center, a leading independent eye care provider offering medical and preventative services, is celebrating 40 years as one of the region’s most favored ophthalmology clinics.

“We have worked very hard to provide excellent services and products to our patients and I am so thankful for the support the community has given us over the years,” said founder and senior partner Gregory W. Kraupa, OD. “We have always tried our best to provide excellent customer service to the community.”

The Eye Care Center has been seeing patients since Aug. 1977. The company began with just Dr. Kraupa and one office assistant as a small general ophthalmology practice in North St. Paul.

“In the early days we mainly focused on routine eye care, eye examinations, contact lenses and eye glasses,” said Dr. Kraupa.

Since then, the practice has expanded to three locations and houses 7 certified optometry doctors and 50 staff members who provide highly specialized services including Cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration, diabetic eye care, foreign body removal, eye injury treatment and more in addition to routine eye exams, glasses and contact lenses. Eye Care Center locations include Fridley, Maple Grove and Maplewood.

Over the years, the field of ophthalmology has seen remarkable advances, and the Eye Care Center facility and doctors have been established as leaders in the industry.

“We pride ourselves on being technologically advanced,” said Dr. Kraupa. “We have every one of the latest diagnostic instruments in all of our locations and we have a also pride ourselves on having a well trained staff that are continually being educated and reeducated on technology but also with out patients”


Both Dr. Kraupa and partner Tina M. McCarty, OD, have been recognized as Minnesota Optometrist of The Year. Kraupa has taken the title in both 1990 and 1999 and remains the only optometrist in the state to be recognized twice. Dr. McCarty took the title in 2015.

The Eye Care Center has also received the Helen Keller Sight Award in 2001, the Community Value First Award in 2002, and the Twin Cities North Chambers of Commerce Award on 2004.

In addition to patient care, the Eye Care Center is actively involved with community organizations including the Chambers of Commerce, Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs and several community business associations.

“We feel very strongly about being active in community involvement and outreach,” said Dr. Kraupa. “Many of our staff members belong to these community organizations as well.”

Hidden in Plain Site: Sugar and Smoking are Disturbingly Similar

Hidden in Plain Site: Sugar and Smoking are Disturbingly Similar

Created on: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

I am a millennial (barely), growing up in the 80’s and 90’s.  Even then, I knew smoking was addictive and bad for you.  This consensus and broad public knowledge, even in children, came from numerous efforts.  I can still sing the catchy campaign launched in the late 80’s, “We are the smoke-free Class of 2000.”  During that same time, I ate sugary cereal every morning, a school lunch of largely processed foods with chocolate milk, TONS of candy (where don’t they sell it?), and routine trips to vending machines for pop.  Despite the expanding epidemic of diabetes and obesity in adults and now children largely linked to excessive sugar, there has been no change in how children learn to eat or a broad public consensus understanding of why it is detrimental and needs to change.  During the “healthy aging” month of September, let’s take a step towards being in the know. 

Drowning in Sugar

In March of 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new sugar intake guidelines.  For an adult with a normal body mass index (BMI), it works out to about 6 teaspoons – 25 grams – of sugar per day.  How much is that?  Well, a can of soda may contain up to 10 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar (almost double the daily guidelines!).  It is not just the obvious sugary drinks/foods found in desserts like cookies and cakes that overwhelm a healthy daily dose.  Many people don’t realize much of the sugar they take in are “hidden” in processed foods.  A tablespoon of ketchup, for instance, has 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Even some foods promoted as “natural”, “healthy” or “low fat” are laden with added sugars.  In fact, manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets.  Efforts to educate the public about how much sugar we intake have largely been ignored.  No one knows this better than celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.  

In his second season premiere of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Oliver filled a school bus with 57 tons of sand to represent the amount of sugar kids consume in flavored milk in a week.  Only 20 people showed up.  Even if you are aware of the health hazards of excessive sugar, tracking it in your food can be hard to do, unnecessarily so.  When listed as an ingredient it can take on up to 61 different names other than simply “sugar.”  When listed on nutrition facts labels, it is one of the only ingredients that does not tell you the % of daily values present per serving size.  If it did, labels like this one would tell you, based on the new WHO guidelines, nearly 100% of your daily sugar intake are found in one serving size. 


Taking Its Toll   

We all need some form of sugar for normal function, but it is easy to have a consistent diet overdose that slowly and steadily causes terrible things to happen all over the body:

  • Cavities
  • Insatiable hunger
  • Addiction
  • Cognitive decline
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Gout
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes (#1 cause of blindness between ages of 20 and 75)
  • Liver failure
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease

The growing evidence of the dangers of excessive sugar consumption are both shocking and alarming.  There is no better place to review the most recent findings than SugarScience, an “authoritative source for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health” led by the University of California San Francisco.  They have found sugar not only has an effect physically but also mentally, lighting up the same pleasure areas of the brain as cocaine or heroin. 

Where Did All This Sugar Come From?

In 1976, a Dentist in Colorado stumbled upon 1500 pages of internal documents at a closed sugar company that exposed how the Sugar Industry used Tobacco-style tactics to dismiss troubling health claims against their products, a discovery captured in the documentary Sugar Coated, available on Netflix.  These “Sugar Papers” revealed that as early as the 1950’s, the Sugar Industry was funding scientific researchers to link fat, not sugar, to the growing concerns over heart disease and dismissing the health effects of sugar while aggressively marketing its consumption.  Thus the “healthy” low fat diet was born and advertised.  What do you have to do to make food without fat taste good?  Add sugar.  A further analysis of these tactics was recently published in September 12, 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine.        

Decades ago we were blind to the health dangers of smoking.  Now it is our addiction to sugar and processed foods that is unknowingly harming us with little being done about it.  “Where we are in the sugar debate is about where the tobacco debate was in the 1960’s,” says a tobacco researcher in Sugar Coated.  It is not about simply “eating healthy” and “exercising” that will lead to healthier aging, which in turn leads to more productive lives with less burden on the health care system, it is about having a societal understanding of sugar that is as clear as smoking.  That comes from treating sugar like we do smoking.  Watching the documentary Fed Up, also available on Netflix, is a great place to start.


   By: Jordan Keith, OD, FAAO

Contact Lens Health

Created on: Thursday, August 10, 2017

Did you hear about the woman who was recently found to have 27 contact lenses in one eye?  Contact Lens Health Week is August 24th -28th and it is the perfect time to discuss the importance of proper contact lens hygiene.  Healthy contact lens wear and care practices are essential to reduce the risk of eye infections and complications that can occur with improper contact lens use.

A 65 year old woman who was preparing for cataract surgery was found to have 17 lenses clumped together under her eyelid as well as an additional 10 lenses under her lid upon further inspection.  The woman had been using disposable contact lenses for 35 years but had not been getting regular eye exams.  Surprisingly, she had only noticed mild irritation which she had attributed to her age and dryness.  She was very lucky to not have suffered any true complications, but many other people aren't quite so lucky!

The most common cause of serious eye infections is wearing contact lenses overnight.  Even lenses designed to sleep in have a significantly higher rate of complications.  When lenses are worn overnight, not only does the eye get much less oxygen, but any bacteria on the lenses sits on the eye much longer without getting cleaned.  Removing contact lenses a couple hours before bed always helps to give the eye more oxygen, and soaking the lenses overnight in solution also reduces the chance of getting an infection.

Another common cause of complications is from improper contact lens care.  The type of solution used to clean the lenses can make a big difference both in overall comfort as well as the risk of infection.  It is important to talk with your eye doctor not only about the brand of contact lenses you wear but also about the solution you use to clean them.  It is essential to rub the lenses each night and store them in fresh solution every time.

One way to eliminate most of the issues mentioned above is to switch to daily disposable contact lenses. With these single use contact lenses a patient can put the lens in each morning and then throw it away that night.  It takes away all of the cleaning and maintenance associated with reusable contacts, and also allows for increased comfort and reduced irritation from many conditions including allergies and dry eye.  New technology is available every year so be sure to visit your eye doctor every year to ensure you are wearing the best possible contact lens for your eyes!


 By Dr. Ashley Herde

Prepare for the Eclipse on August 21, 2017

Created on: Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of the United States will have a solar eclipse. The moon will cover at least part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through, anyone within a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse. The moon will completely block the sun's bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds. Day will turn into night, and (weather permitting) one of nature's most awesome sights will become visible: the sun's shimmering outer atmosphere, or corona.

The American Optometric Association, in partnership with the American Astronomical Society, is providing detailed information so that you can safely view the eclipse. A free information sheet can be downloaded by clicking here.

For more detailed information about the eclipse, its path, and timing, visit eclipse.aas.org, or eclipse2017.nasa.gov.

(Information courtesy of the American Astronomical Society)



Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)

Created on: Friday, July 07, 2017

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an arthritis that affects children age 17 and under.  Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, stiffness and fevers.  Symptoms can vary in that children may only experience the symptoms for a few months while others can experience it for the rest of their lives.  Sometimes the early symptoms that are being reported by a child may be dismissed as "growing pains".  Signs may include skin rashes, weight loss and complications of the eye.

What Effect Does JRA Have on the Eyes?

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and its effect on the eyes can start as persistent redness and progress to pain and blurred vision.  The pain and blurred vision occur when the inflammation occurs internally in the eye.  The term uveitis is used to describe inflammation in one or more structures inside the eye.  The structures that may be affected include:

  • Iris - colored part of eye controlling the amount of light entering the eye
  • Ciliary body - controls the lens shape and helps the eye focus
  • Choroid - a layer of blood vessels in the back of the eye
  • Retina- the thin light sensitive tissue lining the inside back of the eye where images are focused
  • Vitreous - the clear gel that fills the back of the eye

Sometimes however the symptoms of uveitis may be very mild which is why eye exams for patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are so important.  Treatment for uveitis includes topical steroid drops and often times a topical dilating drop to widen the pupil.

Certain medications used to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to eye complications.  The medications of concern are hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and corticosteroids (such as prednisone).  Hydroxychloroquine can cause pigment changes in the macula, the central part of the retina, which can cause blurred or fuzzy vision and possibly a decrease in color vision.  Corticosteroids used long term can lead to glaucoma, an increased pressure in the eye leading to a decrease in peripheral vision, as well as cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye causing hazy vision and difficulty with night vision and glare.

 By: Dr. Mitch Albers

Cataract Awareness Month

Created on: Thursday, June 01, 2017

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and are the leading cause of blindness in the world.  Over 24 million Americans over 40 years of age are affected by cataracts.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that leads to decreased vision.  The lens is what focuses images onto the retina at the back of the eye.  As cataracts progress, they cause cloudy or blurry vision.  Lights may cause a glare; seem too dim or too bright depending on the type of cataract.  One may also see halos around lights, such as car headlights, or you may have frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription if you have cataracts.

Risk factors for developing cataracts include diabetes, UV from sunlight, tobacco use and alcohol consumption.  While 50 percent of those over age 80 have cataracts, studies have shown that the risk for cataract development can be reduced by taking steps in one’s younger years.

While it is possible to reduce your risk of developing cataracts, unfortunately it is not 100 percent preventable.  Many factors may contribute to cataracts including family history, medications and age.

Recent studies have concluded that daily consumption of large amounts of alcohol will also increase the likelihood of the development of cataracts.  Wearing sunglasses to reduce UV radiation and choosing to quit smoking may also reduce the risk of cataracts.

What is the treatment for cataracts?

Cataracts are quite prevalent and easy to treat.  Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries performed today.  The surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens or IOL.  Only a minor incision is needed to do this procedure and it is generally completed within 15 minutes in an outpatient surgery center.

Recovery time is now a fraction what it once was and you can do almost everything you do on a daily basis the following day.

Does my doctor check for cataracts?

To find out if you have cataracts, your eye doctor will want to ask about your general medical history and any specific eye history, including symptoms that you might have experienced. A test of your visual acuity and your peripheral vision, as well as a test for glaucoma will be performed.  In addition, your doctor will perform a microscopic exam of the front of the eye to assess whether you have a cataract or not.   After dilation, the doctor will examine your retina, the optic nerve and the macula.

After this exam, your eye doctor will determine whether you have cataracts, how much they interfere with your vision and if surgery would be helpful.

In conclusion

If you are experiencing any of the visual side effects or symptoms discussed above, please visit one of the doctors at the Eye Care Center for a thorough evaluation.  Only your eye doctor can determine what might be taking place.


 By: Dr. Brad Richter

Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Created on: Tuesday, April 04, 2017

It’s a fact, significantly more women than men deal with eye related problems over their lifetime. It may be easy to guess why but I think it is important to fully understand so you can do something about it now.

  • Hormones – you name the time; Birth control, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause, hormone supplement or replacements, fertility drugs, and certain cancers specific to women all cause hormone shift which in turn negatively affect our eyes.
  • Life Expectancy – women generally live longer than men.  As a result, we have longer exposure to the environmental triggers that contribute to eye diseases.
  • Risk for Autoimmune Diseases – as a whole, the risk is higher in women than in men.  These are diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome that all can cause negative impacts on the eyes.

Tools to help preserve and enhance your vision

·         See your Optometrist for a preventive, comprehensive eye exam.

o   Should be every 1-2 years depending on your specific circumstances.

·         Take an Omega-3 Supplement.

o   Although the use of multivitamins can be controversial, the use of Omega-3 supplements show overwhelming evidence to support the health of the ocular surface and help with dry eye.

§  Ask your doctor for a specific recommendation.  They are not all created equal! It is important to understand the quality of the supplement as factors like taste, freshness, purity, mercury levels and systemic adsorption can all impact results.

·         Wear your sunglasses!!!

o   All the time when the sun is up. When we are outside our eyes are exposed to the harmful effects of UV light. One important little known fact is the risk of sun exposure problems for our eyes is worse when the sun is coming up and when it is going down. This is due to the angle of the sun and the direct hit to our eyes rather than when it is directly overhead and our facial features help control impact.

·         If you smoke….QUIT!

o   Many eye diseases are more severe and progress quicker in smokers.

·         Don’t over wear your contact lenses.

o   Have back up glasses to give your eyes a break

o   Throw them out exactly as your doctor prescribed them – there are many reasons why contact lenses have a replacement schedule and patient comfort alone can’t be trusted. 

·         Eat a healthy diet with many dark green pigmented vegetables.  These foods are good, natural sources of vitamins and minerals that help you maintain healthy vision.

Women do have increased likelihood to see their doctor and communicate openly about signs and symptoms.  In many diseases, early detection and treatment can lessen the impact and create better overall eye health. Looking forward to seeing you in the office!


 By: Tina McCarty, OD, FAAO


Quality You Can Feel

Created on: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One of the most tempting reasons to make products in the USA is the level of control you can hold over production. For STATE Optical Co. frames, made in Chicago, that means using only the finest materials and employing only the strictest quality control standards. You can feel the difference as soon as you pick up a STATE frame.

Entering the STATE quality control room just off the factory floor, all the noise and hustle of production fades away. Even though STATE frames are inspected every time they pass hands from one craftsman to another, the last step in the making of a STATE frame is final registration. This doesn’t just mean one last look over, it means every last millimeter of each frame is scrutinized against near-perfect standards. STATE cofounder and craftsman, Marc Franchi, would have it no other way; it’s the only way to produce American luxury eyewear.

Eye Care Center is proud to carry STATE Optical Co. eyewear. We encourage each of you to come in to see and feel the difference. Not only will you be supporting American jobs, for each STATE frame sold, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor to support the families of our fallen and disabled service-members.


Crafted in Chicago

Crafted in Chicago

Created on: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

There’s something about knowing where things come from that increases your appreciation of them. That’s one of the many reasons we’re featuring STATE Optical Co. eyewear this month. All STATE eyewear is manufactured, start to finish, right here in the Midwest. Each Wednesday, we’re introducing you to one of the craftsmen who makes these beautiful frames.

Aaron relocated from California to be a part of STATE’s crazy dream to build a state-of-the-art eyewear factory in Chicago. His experiece handcrafting acetate frames was invaluable in getting the facility up and running and continues to be vital in the training of a new generation of eyewear craftsmen. 

That’s the beautiful part about the STATE story, each and every craftsman plays such an important role. Eye Care Center is proud to carry STATE Optical Co. eyewear. We encourage each of you to come in to see and feel the difference. Not only will you be supporting American jobs, for each STATE frame sold, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor to support the families of our fallen and disabled service-members.

Made in America Matters

Made in America Matters

Created on: Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

Eyewear isn’t spit out of a machine fully formed. In fact, even with automation, over 50% of the work still needs to be done by hand. That means new jobs for men and women willing to learn a new skill. STATE Optical Co. crafts all of their frames in Chicago in a state-of-the-art factory that now employs 50 craftsmen. Each week we’ll be introducing you to one of them.

When you look at the hinge on a STATE frame, there’s a lot to notice. The sturdy yet streamlined construction thanks to a propietary design; the cool pyramidal shape created by Blake Kuwahara; and its precise placement thanks to STATE craftsmen like Marco Martinez.

No machine has the ability to look at a hinge the way Marco does. Precise measurements are taken to ensure the exact placement of each hinge. Careful polishing creates a smooth and comfortable look and feel. The care Marco and his fellow craftsmen take in finishing each hinge ensures you are getting the best pair of eyewear possible.

Please come check out STATE Optical Co. eyewear for yourself at Eye Care Center. Not only will you be supporting American jobs, for each STATE frame sold, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor to support the families of our fallen and disabled service-members.

Who Makes STATE Optical Co. Frames?

Who Makes STATE Optical Co. Frames?

Created on: Friday, March 10, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

We don’t often think about who is actually making our eyewear. Our featured brand, STATE Optical Co. wants to change that. There are 50 men and women in their Chicago factory responsible for making some of the finest eyewear available. We think that’s something to celebrate, so each Wednesday we’ll be introducing you to one of them.

Sheli Ptak, like every other STATE craftsman, didn’t know a thing about making eyewear before stepping into the STATE factory two years ago. How did she learn? STATE co-founder, Marc Franchi, had her and her new coworkers make 100 frames completely by hand. What better way? The rest of the six month training process is equally intense, every craftsman learns each of the 75 production steps before being assigned to the process they’re most talented at.

For Sheli, it’s hand polishing, and she now manages the polishing team. You’ll notice when you look at STATE frames that they have a unique luster. That doesn’t come from a machine. It comes from Sheli and her coworkers. Every frame undergoes three polishing steps to ensure that the materials and design truly stand out. Hours are dedicated to polishing not only because of STATE’s strict quality control standards, but because of the pride Sheli and her fellow craftsmen and women take in what they do.

This is Made in America, done right. Visit Eye Care Centers to appreciate the finished product for yourself!

Introducing STATE Optical Co. - Made in America eyewear NOW available at Eye Care Center

Created on: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

You probably wouldn’t think 75+ steps go into handcrafting a luxury pair of frames. You probably wouldn’t think there are craftsmen in Chicago doing just that, unlike anyone else before them. No short-cuts, no outsourcing, just 50 men and women determined to redefine what ‘Made in the USA’ means. STATE frames are designed with style, fit, and comfort in mind, and we’re proud to be one of the select locations nationwide to carry the collection.

At Eye Care Center, our patients and community are everything to us, and we are always seeking out the products that fit your values. Not only are we supporting American-made products, we’re supporting the men and women who have been trained in eyewear manufacturing – a new generation of craftsmen rediscovering a craft that’s been lost here for 30+ years. Furthermore, for every STATE frame purchased, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members.

This line is raising the bar on what ‘Made in USA’ means and we’d love to show you the finished product! Come in to see how American luxury eyewear is making its mark!

Watch the video below to see how STATE frames are made! (Note, there is no sound in the video) 

What is glaucoma?

Created on: Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness both in the US and worldwide.  Over three million Americans have glaucoma, but only about half of them know that they have it according to the American Optometric Association.   Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve (the connection from the eye to the brain).  There are several different types of glaucoma, and although high eye pressure can often lead to the disease, not everyone with high pressure will get glaucoma.  It is also possible to get glaucoma without having high eye pressure, a condition called normal tension glaucoma.  Unfortunately, most people with glaucoma have no symptoms until the later stages.  Once vision is lost from the disease it cannot be restored.

Who is at the highest risk for glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk than others.  Risk factors include:

  • Age: people over 60 (although it can be diagnosed at any age)

  • Race: African Americans are three times as likely to be affected compared to Caucasians

  • Family History: people with a close relative who has glaucoma

  • Medical conditions: people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are at higher risk

  • History of severe eye trauma

  • Steroid use: prolonged use of corticosteroids can increase risk

How is glaucoma detected?

Because early glaucoma usually has no symptoms, the best way to detect it is with a comprehensive eye exam.  Your eye doctor will look at measurements such as your eye pressure and the appearance of your optic nerve and determine if additional testing may be needed.  Visual field testing may be done to measure peripheral vision, and OCT (optical coherence tomography) may be done to measure the thickness of the tissue around the optic nerve.  Gonioscopy can be done to look at how the fluid drains from the eye, and pachymetry can be done to measure the thickness of the cornea.  Photos may also be taken of the retina and optic nerve.  Once this testing is complete, the doctor will analyze all of this information to determine if you have glaucoma.

How is glaucoma treated?

Prescription eye drops are the most common method used to treat glaucoma, however sometimes laser treatment or surgery is also used.  The goal of these treatments is to lower the pressure in the eye to prevent further damage to the optic nerve.  The earlier glaucoma is detected by your eye doctor, the easier it is to limit or prevent further vision loss.  If you haven’t had an eye exam recently, now is a great time to schedule an appointment to check for signs of glaucoma as well other eye diseases.


 By: Dr. Ashley Herde, OD

Careful of those Flying Champagne Corks

Created on: Friday, December 16, 2016

For most people ringing in the New Year means celebrating with friends and family, champagne toasts and cheer, but if you get hit in the eye with a champagne cork, it may mean a trip to the emergency room.

“A cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle,” says Tamara Fountain, MD, a clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Warm bottles of champagne and poor technique in removing the cork can result in serious, blinding eye injuries. Anything that travels with such momentum can have a devastating effect if it strikes your eye.”

A few simple steps can eliminate this common holiday injury. “Knowing the right way to open a bottle of champagne will make your holidays enjoyable and safe,” says Dr. Fountain.

Here are some tips on opening a bottle of champagne properly:

  • Make sure sparkling wine is chilled to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases your chances of eye injury.
  • To open the bottle safely, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and from any bystanders.
  • Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork. 
  • Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
  • Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart Campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Top Tips for Choosing Safe Toys this Holiday

Created on: Friday, December 16, 2016

No one chooses gifts with the intent to harm, but some popular children’s toys can cause serious injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 252,000 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in 2014, and and almost half of these injuries affect the head or face. In fact, about 1 in 10 children's eye injuries treated in the ER trace back to toys. Unfortunately, most of these injuries happen to children under age 15.

‘You’ll shoot your eye out’

Some propelling toys, like airsoft guns, arrows, BB guns, paintball guns and darts can be particularly hazardous, with the potential to cause serious eye injuries such as corneal abrasionocular hyphematraumatic cataract, increased intraocular pressure, and even permanent vision loss.

The good news that most eye injuries can be easily prevented by following EyeSmart toy safety tips.


Top Toy Safety Tips:

  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
  • Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.
  • Along with sports equipment, give children the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your Eye M.D. to learn about protective gear recommended for your child's sport.
  • Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity.
  • Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – an eye medical doctor.


Diabetes and Diabetic Eye Disease

Created on: Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The United States has one of the highest rates of diabetes among all developed countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 29 million or 9.3% of the population has diabetes. Approximately 8 million people have diabetes, but don’t know they have it. The CDC further reports that 86 million people in the US have prediabetes and one third of these people will go on to develop diabetes. In fact, one in three Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime. All of these numbers are growing at alarming rates. Diabetic eye disease is the number one cause of blindness in working-aged Americans. In addition to affecting the eyes, diabetes can cause problems with the kidneys, heart, brain, feet and nerves. Most of these complications, however, can be prevented with proper management and treatment.

What is diabetes?

Much of what we eat and drink is broken down into glucose. This glucose is transported throughout the body via the blood to cells where it is used by muscles for energy or stored as fat. These cells require insulin to allow glucose to enter the cells. In diabetes, there is a problem in getting this glucose into the cells so the glucose remains in the blood. The elevated blood sugar damages blood vessel walls leading to leaky blood vessels and reduced blood flow to your body’s organs. Diabetes is diagnosed by one of several tests measuring blood glucose levels. Fasting blood glucose of over 125 mg/dl or casual blood glucose of over 200 mg/dl or hemoglobin A1c of over 6.5%. Prediabetes is defined as a casual blood glucose level of 140-199 mg/dl.

Types of diabetes

Type I diabetes occurs when the insulin producing cells in the pancreas have been damaged and produce little or no insulin. This type of diabetes is usually discovered in people younger than 20.

Type II diabetes occurs when our body resists the effect of insulin or the body does not produce enough insulin. This type of diabetes is most common in people over 45 years of age.

How does diabetes affect the eye?

The retina is the thin layer of neural tissue that lines the back of the eye and it contains the photoreceptors that send visual signals to the brain. The macula is the small area of the retina responsible for our most acute vison for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. The retina requires a lot of blood flow through retinal and sub-retinal blood vessels to transport nutrients for normal function. When chronically high levels of blood glucose are present, the retinal blood vessel walls are damaged so that they leak blood or result in poor blood flow. This is called diabetic retinopathy. The early stages of diabetic retinopathy are called non-proliferative. This includes aneurysms, hemorrhages or leaking of blood fluid called exudates. There can also be swelling of the retinal tissue called cotton wool spots due to lack of adequate blood flow. The more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This is characterized by growth of abnormal new blood vessels (neovascularization). These new blood vessels break and bleed and they provide the highest risk of vision loss. The number one cause of blindness in diabetics is when these blood vessels cause swelling of the macula (macular edema)

How is diabetic eye disease treated?

The best way to avoid diabetic eye disease and to manage early diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood glucose level, control blood pressure, control cholesterol levels, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking. If vision is threatened by more advanced diabetic eye disease, retinal specialists can treat the disease with lasers and/or eye injections. A very important key to success is timely diagnosis and intervention. Therefore, it is very important for all diabetics to have a dilated retinal exam every year or even more often if you have visual symptoms.


 Dr. Greg Kraupa Dr. Greg Kraupa, OD 

Let's Protect Our Eyes!

Created on: Monday, October 17, 2016

Eye injuries can vary from minimal to severe.  Some require prompt attention or you can risk further, and in some cases long term, damage. Common eye injuries include:

1. Corneal abrasion:  Commonly known as a scratched eye, this can affect many of us at some point during our lives.  Causes of an abrasion may include being poked in the eye with a tree branch or fingernail or attempting to rub dust out of your eye to name a few.  If it is a very minor abrasion the corneal tissue will regenerate and heal often times within 24 hours aided by artificial tear supplementation.  However, a deeper scratch requires attention by your eye care provider to provide additional medical therapies to ensure proper healing or long term irritation and possible recurrent abrasions may occur.

2. Penetrating foreign object:  First and foremost, let's prevent these. Make certain to wear safety glasses at all times if you are performing a task that puts you at risk for this injury.  Should an object penetrate the cornea, it usually becomes embedded there but can penetrate deeper into the eye.  Should you suspect a possible foreign body, seek prompt attention as a delay in care can result in greater difficulty of removal and possible scarring that can affect visual acuity. 

3. Chemical burn: An unexpected splash or spray of a toxic material can cause immediate pain and redness or depending on the chemical the pain may be delayed.  Immediate flushing of water under sink if possible should occur for 15 minutes. Next contact your eye care provider or emergency room/urgent care for further assessment and treatment.

4. Subconjunctival hemorrhage:   This is the event that causes your eye to look severely red and bloody.  Most often, the eye looks much worse than the condition really is.  These can commonly occur from simple rubbing of the eye after feeling an irritant in the eye.  Patients on blood thinning medications are at greater risk for these occurring.  Generally, these will heal within 7-14 days depending on your body's natural healing response rate. 

5. Orbital blow out fracture:  A blow to the orbital bone structure surrounding the eye from a blunt force like a baseball bat or punch to the eye can result in a fractured orbital bone.  Immediate swelling typically occurs and possibly bleeding internally in the eye.  Prompt attention is a must for a suspected injury of this nature. 

Please do not take any suspected injury to the eye for granted.  The gift of sight is something you do not want to risk being compromised or taken away. 



 By: Dr. Mitch Albers, O.D.

Your Eye Pain is Telling You Something

Created on: Friday, September 23, 2016

We all experience pain, and understandably go to great lengths to avoid it.  But pain serves a very real purpose.  Some forms of pain are protective; physical pain helps us avoid damage to ourselves and alerts us a problem is occurring that needs attention.  It forces us to slow down, reminds us that we are not always in control, and helps us understand our bodies have limits.  Pain can be a social experience.  When we experience it, we put other people in the position of having to provide assistance.  Relief from pain is one of the main reasons people seek a doctor.

September is “Pain Awareness Month”.  Here are a few common causes of eye pain that you should be aware of.    

  1. Dry Eye: With every blink, our eye is producing and draining tears.  Tears are a complex mixture of oil, water, and mucous that collectively serve numerous functions including clear vision, protection, and comfort.  When one or more components of our tears are at abnormally low levels, our vision can fluctuate, the eyes can burn and/or feel like something is in them, and they can turn red.  These dry eye sign and symptoms are not normal, but are common with age, middle-aged women, certain medications, contact lens wearers, and those on a computer for hours a day.  There are numerous treatments for this common problem both over the counter and by prescription. 

  2. Hordeolum (also called a stye):  The upper and lower eyes lids contain approximately 20 glands that release the oil layer of our tears with.  Bacteria normally found in and around the eyes can infect these glands causing a red and painful bump.  Most hordeolums resolve within days with warm compresses but an antibiotic and/or steroid can help speed recover and reduce pain. 

  3. Conjunctivitis (also called pink eye):  I don’t like the term “pink eye”.  Here is why.  The white part of our eye is covered by a transparent membrane called the conjunctiva that contains small blood vessels that, in a normal eye, are barely visible.  When inflammation or infection to the eye occurs, these blood vessels get larger causing the eye to look red or “pink”.  If this happens quickly and it is uncomfortable it is called conjunctivitis, and can have numerous causes including viral or bacterial injections, allergies, and other potentially vision threatening conditions.  I have seen “pink eye” treatments over the counter in pharmacies.  How do you treat a condition without knowing the cause?  When a non-eye care provider (such as a primary care physician or a provider in a pharmacy clinic) sees a “pink eye” they commonly prescribe an anti-biotic, which is often unnecessary as most “pink eyes” are not bacterial in nature.  If one or both of your eyes suddenly turn red and there is pain, you should see your eye care provider to determine the cause and best treatment.

  4. Corneal infections (called keratitis): An inflamed or infected cornea hurts!  They are commonly viral (often the same virus that causes cold sores) or bacterial infections.  These infections are often associated with wearing contact lenses overnight, wearing lenses that haven’t been properly cleaned or over wearing lenses past their disposable date.  Newer technology contact lenses are daily disposable (vs. 2 week or monthly disposable) and have vastly diminished the rate of contact lens related infections.  These infections need to be identified and treated quickly; they can lead to blindness!

  5. Corneal abrasions:  This is one of the most painful conditions we see.  A scratch on the cornea is called an abrasion, often caused by fingernails, tree branches, or other traumatic events that poke the eye.  Luckily, the cornea heals fast, but treatment with antibiotics are necessary to prevent an infection and a bandage contact lens can be used to dramatically lower the pain while the eye heals. 

  6. Iritis or uveitis:  The iris is the colored part of the eye that is part of the uvea found inside the eye.  Inflammation of these structures is commonly associated with a red, painful eye that increases in pain when exposed to light.  If you have ever sprained your ankle, you know that it hurts to move it.  The iris moves when exposed to light, causing the pain to increase.  There are two reasons this condition needs to be identified and treated.  The first is iritis can be vision threatening.  Second, if the cause of the iritis is not related to trauma or an infection, a large percentage of them are due to an underlying condition that causes inflammation in the body and testing can identify a disease that may not have been known to exist. 

We should all be self-aware of how our bodies feel.  Pain is vitally important for survival and a warning sign that indicates a problem needs the appropriate attention.


 Dr. Jordan Keith, O.D. 

Good Vision….Important for a Successful School Year for Students

Created on: Friday, August 26, 2016

Parents everywhere are racing to get the entire back to school checklist completed; school supplies, new clothes, bigger shoes and physical exams at the Pediatrician.  Eye exams need to be worked in right at the top of that list.  Good vision is the most basic fundamental necessity to be able to learn in school. 

I hear all too often that parents rely on a screening that was done as part of a well-child check or in a school setting.  Fact is this is simply a screening and not a substitute for a full comprehensive eye exam.  While screenings can be very good at detecting nearsightedness or myopia (inability for a child to see clearly in the distance) they can miss farsightedness or hyperopia (inability to sustain focus at near), astigmatism, lazy eye and other eye teaming and ocular health related issues.  Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms making it critical to have a full evaluation not just relying on the intuition that your child sees as he or she should. 

A full eye exam includes many components to uncover any vision or eye health related issues.  We begin with a through case history and many preliminary tests to include depth perception, color vision, eye muscle movements, peripheral or side vision and pupil testing.  A refraction is done to check for any refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) as well as eye focusing and eye teaming.  Once the vision is completely evaluated, eye health is evaluated with or without pupil dilating drops. 

If a diagnosis is made our optometrists are well educated in discussing all of the available options to help your child succeed.  There are many self-esteem, self-awareness, academic competence and athletic performance concerns that kids and parents have when deciding what is best for an individual child.  Proper communication and team decision between patient, parent and eye doctor are critical. 

There is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.  We start Infant Assessments as part of a nationwide public health initiative called InfantSEE (InfantSEE.org) for infants between 6-12 months of age.  The first full comprehensive eye examination should be done at age 3 years old.  If there are no issues at 3 years old the child receives their second eye exam before Kindergarten and then every year or every other year throughout school depending on personal need and visual demands. 

Call to schedule comprehensive eye exams for your whole family today!   Doing so could be the single best investment in your child’s education, health and well-being.  


 By Dr. Tina McCarty

What Did Nearsighted Humans Do Before Glasses?

Created on: Thursday, August 04, 2016

This article was originally published on NPR at this link: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/07/07/484835077/what-did-nearsighted-humans-do-before-glasses 

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is increasing at an eye-popping rate. By 2050, scientists predict more than 4.7 billion people, roughly half of the global population, will be nearsighted.

Fortunately, humans have created a solution — eyeglasses! People can rest assured they will always be able to read the dumb bumper stickers on the cars in front of them. But how did people manage thousands of years ago?

Shots called ophthalmologists and corrective eyewear historians (yes, they exist) to find answers.

First, the prevalence of human eyesight issues has changed over time. "As long as primates have been around, there's probably been myopia," says Dr. Ivan Schwab, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, Davis and author ofEvolution's Witness: How Eyes Evolved. But he says the rates of myopia have skyrocketed over the past three centuries.

The reason likely has to do with a rise in reading, Schwab says. Though genes and nutrition may play a role in nearsightedness, he says education and myopia seem to be linked, suggesting that when people do a lot of close work, their eyes grow longer — the better to focus up close, but the worse for long-distance vision. Some ophthalmologists believe that dim light exacerbates this effect, Schwab says.

Scientists are still working out the exact mix of factors that contribute to myopia, but, on average, humans thousands of years ago probably had to squint less to see at a distance, according to Schwab. What happened to the few who were shortsighted?

"You can imagine that if people with nearsightedness had some special skill, they might even be revered," says Schwab. Fine engravings found on ancient coins, for example, might have benefited from a nearsighted artist's craftsmanship. "Now that's just speculation," he adds. "I can't prove that." Another possible upside of myopia? It couldmitigate the difficulty of seeing up close that comes with aging.

Things started to look up for the visually challenged at the end of the 13th century, when the earliest known eyeglasses were invented in northern Italy. The region was a hub for glass production, says Neil Handley, the museum curator at the College of Optometrists, London. Merchants soon carried spectacles along the Silk Road to Asia, where they served as status symbols. Some judiciary committees in China even mandated spectacles as part of the uniform. Still, they didn't become as common there as they did in Europe, where spectacles were produced.

These glasses had more in common with magnifying glasses than today's eye accessories. "You pick them up, and you feel the difference," says Jenny Benjamin, director of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Museum of Vision. "You can't wear them on your face; they'd just fall off."

Early glasses were heavy and prone to shattering, Benjamin says. They were intended to help people read, rather than aid nearsightedness. Often, glasses featured quartz instead of glass, since the latter was often turbid.

Glasses for nearsightedness likely arose in the 15th century. "Because they were seen as being unusual and rare, they were seen as having magical powers," says Handley. People who wore glasses "were in league with the devil, immoral."

But after the Reformation, when literacy rates climbed, spectacles became more common. 

In the 1700s, temple pieces — the long extensions of glasses that fit snugly against the head — allowed people to wear glasses throughout the day. Styles diversified rapidly, featuring different colors and expensive materials.

"They're still universally seen as a disability aid. And they're slightly embarrassing," Handley says of glasses in the 18th century. "But nonetheless, if you're at the richer end of the market, you can show off a bit."

Before prescriptions, customers tried on glasses and chose a pair through trial and error, often from a traveling peddler. But in the 1800s, Handley says, people began receiving eye exams for glasses. In 1862, Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen invented the standardized eye chart that taunts so many today.

Of course, glasses still present challenges. Xavier Holland of Boston, 28, has worn glassesfor nearsightedness since he was 10. The glasses fog when Holland opens the dishwasher and make 3-D glasses at the movies a pain.

But Holland appreciates another benefit ancient humans didn't get to enjoy: fashion. "It's an easy way to seem interesting or different," he says. "If you're looking for a way to jazz up your look, you can always just get some new frames." 


Protect Your Eyes this 4th of July!

Created on: Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove shares some safety tips about why people should take precautions before setting off fireworks, especially sparklers and bottle rockets.


Dr. Tina McCarty Featured in Maple Grove Magazine

Created on: Monday, June 06, 2016


Dr. Tina McCarty is one of 7 optometrists at the Eye Care Centers in Maple Grove.  She is featured in the May edition of Maple Grove Magazine discussing what it was like for her to grow up in Maple Grove, where she now practices.  Plus, she provides tips on how to maintain eye health by limiting exposure to UV rays at an early age and consuming eye-benefiting foods, like dark green veggies. 


Dr. McCarty was named Optometrist of the Year by the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) in 2015 and she is the past president of MOA.  

To read the full story, go here: http://maplegrovemag.com/eye-care-all-ages 




Cataracts - Did you know?

Created on: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in people over 40 and the principal cause of blindness in the world according to Prevent Blindness America.

A cataract is defined by a cloudy of the lens inside our eye that results in the inability of the eye to properly focus what we are trying to see.  Common symptoms that people with cataracts report include glare at night, filmy vision, and colors that are washed out.  The picture shows how a cataract scatters light that the eye is trying to focus.

There are a number of factors attributed to cataract development.  Here are a few of the more significant ones:  ultraviolet radiation (sunlight), diabetes, smoking, obesity, and previous eye injury.

If we maintain a healthy lifestyle and protect our eyes from the sun with diligent wearing of sunglasses, we can significantly reduce our risk of developing cataracts.  Also, clinical studies have shown dietary intakes of vitamin E and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin from food and supplements can significantly reduce the risks of cataracts.


 By Dr. Mitch Albers 



Dry Eye Syndrome: It’s more common than you may think

Created on: Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dry eye is caused by a lack of proper lubrication on the surface of the eye.  Nearly half of all adults have symptoms, and twice as many women are affected compared to men.  Factors that increase risk for dry eye include: computer use, contact lens wear, aging, menopause, smoking, environment, health conditions, medications, and more.

Signs can include: burning, itching, aching, redness, a heavy or tired feeling, and even blurred vision.  Many people also report the feeling that something is in the eye, and sometimes even watery eyes can actually be a sign of dryness.

There are many possible causes of dry eye syndrome, and to fully understand the process we need to know a little more about howdry eye syndrome the tears work.  There are two important components to the tear film: the liquid layer and the oily layer.  The liquid (or aqueous) layer is created by the lacrimal glands located behind the upper eyelids, and the oily (or lipid) layer is created by the meibomian glands which are inside the eyelid.  Both parts of the tear film need to work together to keep the eye properly lubricated.

If either component of the tear film does not work properly, symptoms of dry eye will occur.  For example, if the lacrimal glands do not produce enough of the liquid tears, the eye will not be fully moistened, leading to “aqueous deficient dry eye.”  If the meibomian glands do not produce enough of the oily tears, they will evaporate off the eye too quickly, leading to “evaporative dry eye.” 

An eye doctor will be able to determine if you have aqueous deficient or evaporative dry eye, or a combination of the two. Once the cause has been identified, a treatment plan can be created to properly manage the disease. For most people dry eye is not completely curable, but the symptoms can often be managed very successfully resulting in improved comfort and vision. Frequently, the earlier we catch any condition, the easier it is to treat. If you have not had an eye exam recently, now is a great time to come in for an evaluation.   

 By Dr. Ashley Herde, OD

Work Place Eye Health & Safety Month

Created on: Tuesday, March 08, 2016


March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Whether you spend hours in front of a computer or use power tools at your day job, it is always important to keep eye health and safety in mind as the gift of sight is irreplaceable. 

Today, more and more individuals depend on technology throughout the day. The added eye strain, dryness and irritation and its effects become greater. This increased use of digital devices exposes workers to long, uninterrupted amounts of time focusing on computer screens and smartphones. 

All of this screen time can result in computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome is a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use. Symptoms can range from eye twitching to physical fatigue.  

There are some things that you can do to prevent or reduce computer vision syndrome if you spend a large portion of your day in front of a computer screen. 

Utilize the 20/20/20 Rule

Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and focus your vision on something that is 20 feet away.  

Remember to Blink

When working on a computer or any other electronic device for an extended amount of time, you tend to blink less often. It's important for you to tell yourself to blink, because blinking keeps your eyes moist, preventing dry eye from occurring. 

Regular Eye Exams

The first step in preventing computer vision syndrome is to schedule a regular eye examination with your doctor. Eye exams are a great way for your doctor to assess your eye health and make sure that you communicate with your doctor to your level of daily computer usage.

Computer Eyewear

Your eye doctor may be able to prescribe eyewear specifically designed for computer use. This eye wear can actually help alleviate eye strain when using electronic devices. 

Take Breaks

If you can, take short, frequent breaks from working on your computer. Look up, and away from your screen to give your eyes a rest from focusing on your screen. 

Eye Safety 

If your job requires the use of heavy machinery, be sure to remember safety glasses. All it takes is a tiny sliver of metal, a particle of dust or a splash of chemical to cause significant and even permanent eye damage.  

The human eye is often taken for granted. While people are accustomed to eating healthy foods and receiving the proper amount of exercise, many rarely consider their vision health. When it comes to our eyes, it is most important to protect the eyesight we have been given. During Workplace Eye Wellness Month, the Eye Care Center wants to remind everyone that workplace eye safety is paramount and invaluable to maintain vision health.Almost 1,000 people injure their eyes while working every day. Of these 1000, one third of the injuries are severe enough to be treated in the hospital emergency room. The majority of injuries that happen within the workplace are due to small particles, tools, or chemicals in the eye.  Eye problems are not just attributed to injuries, as computer work alone is resulting in more and more eye problems every day.  Because eyesight can be at risk in numerous ways, it is extremely important to be aware of and practice eye safety in the workplace. The majority of workplace eye injuries are due to not wearing appropriate eye protection. Whether it is goggles, helmets, face shields, or just safety glasses, simply wearing them will protect and in many cases save eyesight.  When there is any type of eye hazard, proper eye protection should be worn at all times.People who work under fluorescent lights have a higher risk of developing eye issues, including cataracts and macular degeneration.  This is because the lights have UV radiation within them.So, continue to practice good eye health in March and remember that your eyes are too valuable to be taken for granted.  See your eye doctor and wear eye protection!   By Dr. Brad Richter

Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center Discusses Dry Eye Disease & Treatments

Created on: Thursday, February 25, 2016


Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove discusses dry eye disease and the treatments that can help during Minnesota winters. 







Age-Related Macular Degeneration Often Brings Fear of Blindness: The Eye Doctor’s Worst News

Created on: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

There are certain words you don’t want to hear from a doctor.  If it’s a dentist, maybe it’s that you need a root canal. If it’s an oncologist, cancer.  From an eye doctor, blindness.  A long list of conditions can cause blindness, but needing glasses or contact lenses is not one of them.  Patients who have high glasses prescriptions often say to me, “I am legally blind without my glasses, right?”  My response that they are not is often met with surprise.  While you may see poorly without them, you are not blind.  Blindness only occurs if we are unable to improve vision with corrective lenses like glasses or contact lenses because of an underlying medical problem.  If you have a high prescription but are best corrected to 20/20, you are not blind.  You have “perfect” vision. 

I imagine many people, as judged by several of my family and friends’ perception of blindness, think that blindness means total blackness, like being in a pitch black room.  Although this can happen, it is rare and referred to as “total” or “complete” blindness, and it is just one example of the different types and levels of blindness.  Most blind people have “partial” blindness meaning their vision is limited but they can still perceive light.  Some have central vision loss, while still others have peripheral vision loss.  Legal blindness is a level of vision loss that has been legally defined to determine eligibility for benefits.  For most states, that level is a minimum of 20/200 best corrected vision or a field of vision of 20 degrees or less.  Generally speaking, blindness is a level of vision loss that makes it difficult to do everyday activities like operate a car safely, read regular sized print like this blog, and cook, but most still have some usable vision that allows them to see changes in light and large objects. 

Diabetes is the clear cause of the most cases of blindness between the ages of 20 and 74 in the United States.  However, for people over 60, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) takes over.  Just as most of us know someone that has been diagnosed with cancer, the same is true with AMD for those age 60 and up.  A diagnosis of AMD often brings fear of losing a driver’s and independence. 

I am well aware of the fear people have of this diagnosis.  When delivering the news, I often bring hope by discussing the statistics of the disease.  First, as many of 11 million Americans have some form of AMD, but the vast majority live normal lives.  Over 90% of people have “dry” AMD, where debris slowly builds up under the macula causing loss of photoreceptors and disruption of central vision.  The good news is 90% of patients with dry AMD have adequate vision to maintain independence; only about 10% progress to severe vision loss or blindness.  “Wet” AMD is less common, representing 10% of all AMD, but much more aggressive. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels under the macula leak blood or fluid. Loss of central vision can occur quickly.  About 90% of patients with wet AMD have severe vision loss or blindness.  For both dry and wet AMD, peripheral or side vision remains. 

Second, we want to focus on the risk factors to slow the progression of the disease and not the ones out of our control.  As the graph from the National Eye Institute illustrates (Figure 1), AMD largely affects whites of advancing age.  Family history also plays a factor in how aggressive this progressive disease is.  We cannot control our age, our ethnicity, or our genetics, we can control smoking, diet, blood pressure, cholesterol, and wearing sunglasses while outside.  Certain eye vitamins have been shown to slow the progression of the disease in some. 

 Figure 1:  AMD largely affects whites of advancing age (National Eye Institute)

Figure 1:  AMD largely affects whites of advancing age (National Eye Institute)


Third, it is important to watch the progression of the disease carefully.  The most frustrating characteristic about AMD is there is currently no treatment for the dry form.  There are effective treatments for wet AMD, but early detection is critical.  A simple in-office macular scan is the best way to detect wet AMD and we do them routinely.

February is age-related macular degeneration month.  In a previous blog I talked about healthy aging and how medical advances have dramatically increased life expectancy in the last century.  This is a good thing, but because of this, more people now suffer with diseases associated with advanced age like AMD.  We should acknowledge the fear of blindness with this diagnosis, but live hopefully in the statistics that most don’t go blind. We also want to focus on what we can control to reduce the chances of it happening, including yearly preventative eye exams for anyone 60 and older, even if your vision is 20/20. 




     By Jordan Keith, OD, FAAO










January is Glaucoma Awareness

Created on: Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve (the visual pathway between the eye and the brain) that can cause permanent loss of vision that is often symptom free until the late stages.  The vision loss typically occurs from the periphery moving inward in a slow and painless fashion.  According to the American Optometric Association more than 3 million Americans have glaucoma, (it is the second leading cause of blindness) – but only half know they have it.

There are several risk factors that can increase risk of developing glaucoma:

  • Family History – if you have a parent, grandparent or sibling with glaucoma
  • Age – people over age 60 (but it can occur at any age and is being diagnosed younger now than in previous generations due to the improvements in technology to detect earlier)
  • Race – African Americans are more likely to get glaucoma and suffer permanent vision loss than are Caucasians
  • History of Severe Injury to the Eye
  • Steroid Use – topical or oral steroid use has risk for increasing eye pressure and contributing to risk of developing glaucoma
  • Medical Conditions – Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease may increase risk

While glaucoma doesn’t have a cure and isn’t preventable, it is treatable and warning signs can be detected in a comprehensive eye exam provided by your optometrist.  The key is to identify and diagnose the disease early in order to promptly treat and limit or slow the progression of vision loss.  Treatment for glaucoma includes prescription eye drops and medication to lower pressure in the eyes.  In some cases, laser treatment or surgery may be effective in lowering pressure. 

If warning signs of glaucoma are identified at your comprehensive eye exam, other more specific tests for glaucoma are scheduled to make definitive diagnosis and provide a plan.  These tests could include; visual fields to measure peripheral vision, OCT (optical coherence tomography) to measure thickness of the delicate tissue surrounding the optic nerve, gonioscopy to look at how fluid from the inside of the eye drains out, pachymetry to measure corneal thickness and optic nerve photography.  A diagnosis of glaucoma is largely putting together these pieces of information to confirm a diagnosis.   It is then valuable to have that information available as baseline to make reference to in the future to monitor for stability or progression. 

If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last year, now is the time to schedule to ensure the current and future health of your eyes is the best it can be.  In the case of glaucoma and many other problems, early detection and early treatment significantly improve the outcome. 

Dr. Tina McCarty, OD, FAAO

Brief History of Optics and Lenses

Brief History of Optics and Lenses

Created on: Monday, December 28, 2015
Author: Eye Care Care

Ancient LensesIllustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

It is said that the Roman Emperor Nero viewed the fights of gladiators through a natural magnifier made out of an emerald. Ancient civilizations knew the magnifying properties of natural lenses, mirrors and water and archeologists have found ancient lens-shaped pieces of glass and rock crystal. However, none of these were ground to what we know today as optical quality.

Most ancient lenses are convex shaped. Researchers have concluded they were used to focus light rays onto a close surface such as a wax tablet used for writing, a hearth to start a fire and possibly for treating wounds with cautery. While the ancient world is known to have produced carved gems, seals and other detailed works of art, there are few examples of true magnifiers and no evidence that any lenses were mounted and worn as eyeglasses.

Early Eyeglasses

The invention of eyeglasses is believed to be between 1268 and 1289 in Italy. The earliest eyeglasses had lenses made of natural crystal. These were handheld because they were too heavy to wear on the face. Natural crystal could not be made uniform, so vision with these eyeglasses could still be blurry. Lenses that were made of glass were lighter to wear, but had a tendency to bend light at slightly different angles. This causes a viewer to see a blurry rainbow around the edges of things, also known as "chromatic aberration." The problem was solved in 1730 by Chester More Hall who used two glass lenses together, one made of "old crown glass" and the other of a newer "flint glass," to correct the problem. The achromatic lens was a huge step forward for eyeglasses, leading to high demand for glasses from the mid-1700s on.

Original article posted at http://www.museumofvision.org/exhibitions/?key=44&subkey=4&relkey=29

Preserve Eye Health with The Great American Smoke Out - November 17

Created on: Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How much of an effect does smoking have on the eyes?  Let’s explore this topic. 

Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause blood vessels to constrict which limits the blood flow and oxygen to the eye over time.  This can have a multitude of effects.

Did you know that smoking is the #1 risk factor for Macular Degeneration??  A smoker has a 3x greater risk of developing the disease.  Macular degeneration is the disease that attacks the macula part of the retina, where our central vision occurs.   This is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans, more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. 

How about cataracts?  If you are a smoker, are you at greater risk?  Studies show people double their risk of developing cataracts as well.  A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens which causes blurred vision, additional glare, and halos at night. 


Are you a contact lens wearer who smokes?  If so, the tar and nicotine that deposits on your fingers can contaminate your contact lenses causing your eyes to burn and feel irritated.  Smoking also increases the risk of contact lens related dry eye.  And you are also 3X more likely to have a contact lens related eye infection that a contact lens wearer who doesn’t smoke. 

The mission at the Eye Care Center is to preserve and enhance vision.  We invite you to visit us to learn more about YOUR eye health and ways to preserve and enhance YOUR vision. 




By: Dr. Mitch Albers

Diabetes: It’s Complicated

Created on: Monday, November 09, 2015

One morning in Chicago at my former job as an Assistant Professor at the Illinois College of Optometry, I walked into an exam room of a middle-aged female with type 2 diabetes.  She was obese, finishing a quite unhealthy breakfast of potato chips and a pop, and my optometry student who performed the eye exam had just told me he thought she was not seeing well due to her diabetes. 

As I was examining this patient and looking careful in the back of her eyes at the retina, it was evident her poor vision was indeed because of her diabetes, which is the number one cause of blindness in adults in the United States.  When most patients come to the eye doctor not seeing well, they expect to leave with a new glasses prescription to clear things up.  It was a difficult conversation to have with a female in her fifties that changing glasses would not fix her poor vision, but instead her sight was in jeopardy, a conversation I’ve had too many times with a diabetic.  

She had it coming though, right?  She was overweight, not eating healthy, and we all know that is what causes diabetes.  The optometry student I was working with took his first case of giving bad news hard and said to me after the patient had left, “If she would have listened to her doctors, ate healthy, got some exercise, and controlled her blood sugars, she would not be in this situation.”  Until a few years ago, I might have agreed. 

In the summer of 2013 on a routine commute to work, I was listening to a TED Talks and heard Peter Attia, MD tell a very familiar story. 

One night in 2006 when he was doing his surgical residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he was paged at 2:00am to see a woman with a diabetic ulcer on her foot.  She was in danger of needing an amputation.  “Looking back on that night, I’d love so desperately to believe that I treated that woman with the same empathy and compassion that I’d shown the 27-year-old newlywed who’d come to the ER three nights earlier with lower back pain that turned out to be advanced pancreatic cancer.  I passed no judgment on her – obviously she had done nothing to bring this on herself,” says Attia.  “So why was it just a few nights later that as I stood in this same ER and determined that my diabetic patient did indeed need an amputation, why did I hold her in such bitter contempt?”  The answer: this woman had type 2 diabetes and was obese.  In his mind at the time, and quite frankly also in mine, it was simple.  If she would have just watched what she ate and exercised a little, she wouldn’t be in this position.

Three years later, however, Attia’s framework shifted. Despite eating well and exercising often, he began to gain weight himself. He developed metabolic syndrome, a pre-cursor to diabetes in which a person becomes insulin resistant. He started to question the assumptions he and the majority of the medical community made about diabetes. He wondered: could it be that insulin resistance caused obesity and not the other way around?

“What if we’re fighting the wrong war—fighting the obesity rather than insulin resistance? Even worse, what if blaming the obese means we’re blaming the victims? What if some of our fundamental ideas about obesity are just wrong?” asks Attia in this talk. “If we’re willing to be wrong, to challenge the conventional wisdom with the best experiments science can offer, we can solve this problem.”

Attia is not suggesting obesity is benign.  A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle is linked with a host of health problems including worsening of diabetes, but if obesity caused type 2 diabetes wouldn’t diet and exercise make that diagnosis go away?

In 2012 a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that helped answer that question.  The study randomly assigned more than 5000 overweight patients with type 2 diabetes either an “intensive lifestyle intervention” that promoted weight loss through diet and regular exercise or standard diabetes support.  After 4 years of observation, patients who did the intensive lifestyle intervention had partial or complete remission of their type 2 diabetes in approximately 9% compared to 2% in the standard support group.  Some can lose their type 2 diabetes, but even with intensive measures taken, most don’t. 

November is National Diabetes Month.  The statistics about diabetes are staggering.  The number of people developing type 2 diabetes continue to rise not only in the United States but globally.  Many refer to it as a global epidemic.  What we are doing to combat this disease is not working, and that includes blaming our overweight and diabetic patients.  “Most of them actually want to do the right thing but, they have to know what that is.  And it’s got to work,” says Attia. 

We could all be a little healthier by being more active and thinking about the quality and quantity of foods we eat, but diabetes can affect people of all fitness and weight levels.  Part of good health includes routine preventive care like a yearly eye exam, which can reveal diabetes.  For those with the disease (type 1 or 2), a yearly dilated eye exam is a crucial piece to their diabetes management.    

To hear Attia’s powerful story and ideas on diabetes, watch his talk.


By Jordan Keith, OD


A Positive Message About Eye Health

Created on: Thursday, October 29, 2015

 In our practice, we operate from a mission to preserve the eye health of our patients and keep their eye eyes functioning at their best.  We emphasize to patients the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams to maintain eye health and we reinforce the message that we can serve their medical eyecare needs. 

By emphasizing eye wellness in the care we provide, we show patients that we can meet their individual needs, identify and treat potential ocular health risks or disease as well as educate them on necessary intervention to avoid a future ocular health problem. 

Wellness Checks Start Young:

One example of preventative care that we use is InfantSEE Assessments.  By seeing these patients young, and providing a good quality assessment, not only can you identify health risks early but there is great potential to help the patient.  The patients return at age 3, before Kindergarten and annually throughout their school-aged years.  Children often don’t know they aren’t seeing well and have nothing to compare their vision to.  This makes wellness eye health and vision checks important enabling children to perform at their best academically, athletically and socially. 

Support of Multiple Doctors and Staff:

Due to the size of our practice of many doctors and large staff it is possible for us to focus on our patients needs at any age.  From the very young patients to the complicated contact lens patients to the patients with conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration we are able to focus on the individual needs, preserving and enhancing vision over a lifetime.

Dr. Tina McCarty

Tina McCarty, OD,  FAAO

Adapted from Review of Optometric Business – published 4/8/15

Screen Time Hurts More Than Kids’ Eyes

Created on: Thursday, October 15, 2015

It seems like children know how to operate tablets, smartphones, and computers almost from birth.

But those mesmerizing screens expose them to a number of long-term health threats.

The American Optometric Association’s (AOA) 2015 American Eye-Q® survey found that 41 percent of parents say their kids spend three or more hours per day on digital devices. It also found that 66 percent of kids have their own smartphone or tablet.

Children Eyes

Too much screen time can result in digital eyestrain, which can include burning, itchy, or tired eyes. Headaches, fatigue, blurred or double vision, loss of focus, and head and neck pain are other threats for children using screens too often and too long. 

“The short-term effect of digital eyestrain is not cumulative,” Dr. Tina McCarty, an optometrist from Minnesota and member of the AOA Public Policy Committee, told Healthline. “The eyes will get better when you give them a break and/or wear the proper eyewear in the form of lenses and coatings based on the patient’s specific needs to minimize eyestrain.”

The Eyes Have Had It

Electronic devices also give off high-energy, short-wavelength blue and violet light.

This light can affect vision and cause premature aging of the eyes. Early research shows that overexposure to blue light can contribute to eyestrain and discomfort. It also can trigger serious conditions later in life such as age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.

“We know that damage from UV light is cumulative in the eye and that a lifetime of protection is critical in protecting from certain eye-related disease as we age,” said McCarty. “Blue light is very near UV light in wavelength and energy and therefore there is concern for cumulative damage over a lifetime of exposure.”

"We know that damage from UV light is cumulative in the eye and that a lifetime of protection is critical in protecting from certain eye-related disease as we age."
Dr. Tina McCarty, American Optometric Association

The younger eye typically has a keen ability to accommodate and focus on close objects as the natural lens of the eye is smaller and clearer, she said. However, the accompanying blue light is more easily transmitted to the retina, potentially causing damage. 

Blue light can also interrupt sleep patterns and circadian rhythms when children view screens close to bedtime.

Toddlers may still be settling into healthy sleep patterns, so McCarty says it’s even more critical for blue-light exposure to be eliminated long before these children go to bed.

She said there is “increasing evidence to support a link between blue light exposure and macular degeneration.” Long-term effects of blue light exposure are still being studied, though.

Protecting Children’s Eyes

To protect their eyes and vision, children should take frequent visual breaks. Use the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.

As far as how many hours a day your child should be allowed to use a digital device, McCarty said there’s no standard for what’s safe. Taking breaks is the best way to protect their eyes.

Children should also have eye exams each year as their eyes are still developing between the ages of 5 and 13.

“Be sure that children have had an annual comprehensive eye exam to find out if the digital devices are causing any eye problems,” McCarty said.

If there’s a problem, it’s easier to correct when detected early. Vision and eye health can also affect a child’s learning capacity.

Careful How Kids Sit, Too

It’s not only the screen that can cause problems. The position a child assumes while using an electronic device is also important.

Dr. Peter Ottone, a chiropractor from New Jersey, said that poor posture from computer and tablet usage has become epidemic. 

“This problem has always affected adults but increasingly is having an effect on children's spines and postures as well. With increasing computer usage for school as well as for leisure enjoyment, the time kids are spending on computers is ever increasing,” he told Healthline.

The slouched posture students often use when at a computer workstation increases pressure on the spinal muscles, ligaments, nerves, and disks. This increases the susceptibility for neck pain, back pain, and headaches, Ottone said.

“I have noticed a large increase in teen and preteen kids with these complaints enter my office over the past several years,” Ottone said.

"I have noticed a large increase in teen and preteen kids with these complaints enter my office over the past several years."
Dr. Peter Ottone, chiropractor

He reports also seeing a lot of cases of “text neck” from extensive mobile phone usage.

For computers at desks, Ottone said that the top of a computer screen should be at or only slightly below eye level. The chair should allow the user to be as close to the mouse/keyboard as possible so as to eliminate reaching. The feet should be flat on the floor or placed upon a raised surface.

When a child uses a tablet, the same principles apply, but a pillow should go under the forearms to raise the tablet to the appropriate level so the child doesn't have to look down at the screen.

“This will also relieve some pressure from the wrists, eliminating possible carpal tunnel and tendinitis conditions,” Ottone said.

“Parents should take the time to make sure their kids are using proper ergonomics with all these devices and encourage kids to take regular breaks from these postures to help reduce the overuse syndrome risks,” he added. 


Maple Grove doctor receives Optometrist of the Year Award

Created on: Wednesday, October 14, 2015

 Dr. Tina McCarty was named Optometrist of the Year by the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) at its annual fall meeting recently. Dr. McCarty is a partner at Eye Care Center in Maple Grove, Fridley and Maplewood, where she has practiced since 2003.

Dr. McCarty is a past president of the MOA and continues to represent optometry in Minnesota as well as nationally. She was a member of the 2015 Minnesota Department of Health expert task force to review and revise the guidelines for pre-school vision screenings. In 2015, she was named a member of the American Optometric Association’s Public Affairs Committee.

She has been a frequent expert spokesperson on a variety of topics on local Twin Cities television. She has also lectured nationally in professional venues, has authored chapters in clinical research textbooks, and is a faculty member of the Vision Care Institute.

Dr. Tina McCarty receives her Optometrist of the Yea award. Her young son, Caleb, decides to come right up and celebrate with her.
Dr. Tina McCarty receives her Optometrist of the Yea award. Her young son, Caleb, decides to come right up and celebrate with her.

Dr. McCarty is a graduate of North Dakota State University and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). She was president of her class at PCO, a member of the Gold Key International Honor Society and she received honors for her clinical excellence. After receiving her Doctor of Optometry degree, she completed an optometric residency at Minnesota Eye Consultants. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

Dr. McCarty and her husband, Jason, live in Maple Grove with their three sons.

The Minnesota Optometric Association has approximately 400 member doctors of optometry around the state.

World Sight Day

World Sight Day

Created on: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Author: Eye Care Care

The Eye Care Center is excited to be participating in this year’s World Sight Day Challenge!  World Sight Day in an annual day of awareness that recognizes vision impairment and blindness around the world. This year the day falls on October 8th, however we will be fundraising during the entire month of October!

The World Sight Day Challenge is a campaign coordinated by Optometry Giving Sight, designed to raise funds for projects that provide training, establish vision centers and deliver eye care services for people who are blind or vision impaired due to refractive error – simply the need for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.  Sight is one of the most treasured senses, and it can make the difference between a life of poverty and a life of opportunity.  By donating, we can help transform lives through the gift of vision.

The ECC will be donating $5 for each pair of eye glasses sold during the month of October!  We will also be asking our patients to join us in donating to this wonderful cause, and we will be matching each donation up to $2 per person.  In addition, two Fridays in October – October 9th and 23rd, each staff member who donates will be wearing jeans and our ECC t-shirt to recognize this great cause.  We anticipate raising $2,500 as a team this year.

Transforming Lives:


Annie and Sonia are two of 1500 children who benefitted from a recent screening program in Cap Haitian, Haiti. Poor vision made it very difficult for them to see the teachers’ writing on the blackboard.  They were identified as having astigmatism and were referred to the Vision Plus Clinic, part funded by Optometry Giving Sight, for a full examination and to obtain glasses. "Thank you for helping my daughters see the world," a grateful Mrs. Charles said after her 6-year-old daughter, Sonia, put on her first pair of glasses!

To date, Optometry Giving Sight has disbursed more than US$11 million in funding from donors and sponsors to 72 projects in 42 countries.

To donate on our webpage please visit http://tinyurl.com/eyecarecenters.

Gadget Dilemma: Digital Eye Strain

Created on: Thursday, September 10, 2015

Step into any classroom and it's clear to see that technology has taken over. Textbooks have been replaced by iPads, and chalkboards have been replaced by smart boards.

"I think the new technology really has enhanced what teachers can do in the classroom, what students can do," said Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove.

The technology is impressive, to say the least, but Dr. McCarty says the constant exposure to the blue light emitted from computer screens can impact a student's vision.

"Well what we have learned is that blue light can cause fatigue," Dr. McCarty said. "It can cause eye strain and blurred vision, to have short attention span, eye strain, headaches."

She says because the technology is so new, doctors are still learning about the short and long-term effects.

"The biggest concern for a long-term effect on the eye is the enhancement on the development of age-related macular degeneration," Dr. McCarty said. "That's a disease that develops over decades of time and is very difficult to research in the short term."

20/20/20 rule

All that said, the increased use of digital devices in classrooms doesn't exactly mean doom and gloom is ahead.

"Well there is something that the American Optometric Association recommends called the 20/20/20 rule, and every 20 minutes, if you take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away and focus on that just to give your eyes a break is one tip," Dr. McCarty said.

Another tip is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam annually to find out whether the smart phones and tablets are causing any eye problems.

"Before school preferably, but once a school year just to make sure that any of those problems are identified so there's nothing in the way that can protect or inhibit that child from learning at their best," Dr. McCarty said.

If a child is diagnosed with eye issues related to digital devices, there are lenses on the market that can help decrease the amount of blue light that gets into the eye. For a less extreme measure, doctors recommend shutting off digital devices at home about an hour before bedtime.


Courtesy of:

Delane Cleveland

Sept. 8, 2015

Healthy Aging is a Mindset

Created on: Wednesday, September 09, 2015

 “I have good news today.  You are ready for your first pair of bifocals!” “Congratulations.  You have cataracts!”  “It appears there are early signs of macular degeneration.  Time to celebrate!”  Usually, milestones like these would not be the cause of celebration.  So often, normal healthy aging changes are met with gloom.  I routinely hear comments such as, “Well I’m not getting any younger,” “Growing older stinks,” or my favorite, “Don’t grow old.”  While there is no doubt that life without reading glasses or cataracts is easier, our ancestors might have viewed these milestones differently.

The average American in the late 1800’s did not suffer with any of these problems. In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States for women was 48.3 and men 46.3 (the average age when most people start experiencing changes in their reading vision is about 43).  Due to advances in the understanding of our world and our health, by 2012 those numbers have swelled to 81.2 years for women and 76.4 for men.  That is an incredible change over 112 years!  The trade offs of living longer than ever is that we must live with the consequences of aging longer.  More aging milestones are met and in more people than ever before.  Does it seem like there are more people with macular degeneration now than there ever has been?  Yes, there is, and a big part of that has to do with increased life expectancy.    

September is “Healthy Aging Month.”  Here are five common aging changes to the eyes and vision, all of which there are ways to limit their impact on quality of life.

eye clinic minneapolis

"The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible."  - Judith Regan.

Presbyopia:  When we read, a muscle in the eye contracts and changes the shape of the lens.  With every birthday the lens gets harder and loses its ability to change shape.  By the 40's, the lens is hard enough that the muscle in the eye can no longer change its shape causing images within arms length to be out of focus.  No one escapes this.  There are many options in prescription glasses and contact lenses to bring near targets back into focus. 

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty."  -Henry Ford

Dry Eye:  One of the most under diagnosed and under treated conditions, dry eye causes burning, stinging, tired, red eyes with fluctuations in vision.  One comment I hear often goes something like, "My eyes are always red.  My friends probably think I am on drugs!"  Chronically red eyes are a sign of inflammation and often due to chronic dry eye.  Tear production tends to diminish as we get older, particularly in women after menopause, leaving eyes more vulnerable to drying out.  There are different types of dry eye and depending on the type, varying levels of treatments to make the eyes more comfortable, reduce redness, and keep vision consistently clear. 

"The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you've been."  -Madeleine L'Engle

Cataracts:  Like a bright white piece of paper, the lens in the eye turns yellow over time in part due to the ultraviolet light from the sun and also due to changes in processes that work to keep the lens clear.  If we live long enough we all get cataracts.  The lens shows signs of yellowing as early as the 40's!  For most, cataracts are like a dirty windshield on a car.  It does not harm the windshield to be dirty and when we decide to pull over and clean the windshield varies person to person.  Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a clear plastic implant with your glasses prescription in it.  This procedure is one of the biggest advances in surgical history and usually performed in the 60's and 70's.  Are you in your 60's and wish you had had LASIK?  Cataract surgery will give you a similar end result!

"We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing."  -George Bernard

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD):  Over a lifetime of the retina consuming nutrients and producing waste, an accumulation of focal debris (called drusen) underneath the retina can affect vision especially if these changes occur at the macula.  An excess of drusen, just like an excess of garbage on the street, can disrupt traffic and make it unpleasant for those (cells) living nearby.  These changes occur in everyone, but the level of changes varies person to person.  Elderly Caucasians have the highest risk for excessive changes and also those with poor diets and smokers.  A lot of people have ARMD, don't know it, and it does not affect their vision enough to impact quality of life.  However, this disease is the most common cause of severe vision loss in the elderly and the hardest to treat.  There are several preventable risk factors for the development and progression of ARMD, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.  Modern research has shown that a low-fat diet rich in antioxidants and omega–3 fatty acids (through foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts) appears to reduce the risk of age-related macular damage, while a diet high in animal fat makes vision loss from macular degeneration more likely. There is also some evidence that some antioxidant supplements can have beneficial effects on age-related eye disease.

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?" -Satchel Paige

Glaucoma:  The eye has pressure in it like a car tire; too much pressure is bad and too low pressure is bad.  If the eye pressure is too high it can compress and damage the optic nerve diminishing the signal between the eye and brain.  This damage occurs slowly without symptoms until late stages.  Once damage occurs it cannot be reversed. There are no special steps we can take to prevent it. However, regular eye exams can detect it in its earliest stages, when it is easily treated. Because there are almost no symptoms until the final stages of the disease, waiting for visual loss to occur may be too late.

"Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many." -Unknown Author

Many changes (those related to our eyes and our general health) are associated with age, ethnicity, and genetics.  We cannot change this about ourselves.  Think of these as "healthy aging."  There are daily choices we make that can lead to unhealthy aging.  We should focus on the latter by getting annual eye exams, focusing on our diet and exercise with the same passion as our favorite hobby, stop smoking, and wearing sunglasses while outside. 

The next time you reach a normal, healthy aging milestone, consider taking the time to celebrate the event. 

 By Jordan Keith, OD