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COVID-19 Update March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020

To our patients, an update on the current situation at Vision Care Specialists.

First and foremost, we hope this finds you all well, healthy and free from COVID-19 related illnesses. Our thoughts go out to each and every one of our patients and their families during this time. Secondly, we are happy to report that our staff and their families are well while they stay in the safe confines of their homes.

There are some things we would like you to know. We are still here for you. If you are having any vision or eye-related problems, please call our office. We may not be there to answer the call, but rest assured we are checking the voice mails multiple times throughout the day and will get back to you as soon as possible. If it is urgent, please reach out to the doctor on call at 774-571-0505. Not all emergencies need to be seen in the office, but we will make ourselves available to you after triaging your situation. We do have the capability of examining certain conditions remotely via Telemedicine through Skype or FaceTime so please call with any concerns.

We have always strived to provide the best customer service and will continue to do so. You are our top priority. Many of you have reached out asking how you can help us during the mandated shutdown. That is truly amazing. One way you can help is by ordering your contact lenses through us. Simply call to let us know you want to place an order and we’ll take care of the rest. Or you can order through our online store, which you will find at www.e-dr.com/visioncarespecialists. We can have all products delivered to your home and we will verify all orders before they ship to ensure that you get the correct prescription.

If your glasses were ordered before we had to shut down, rest assured that we will ship them to you at no cost. Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer in person adjustments at this time, but we will be happy to make any necessary adjustments when we reopen. Replacement glasses or parts in need of repair can be ordered and shipped to you as well, just give us a call.

Please know that we look forward to seeing you again soon and will do our best to keep you updated as things change in the coming days and weeks.

All our best,

Dr. Levine

Dr. Abbondanza

On Thin Ice: The Dangers of Concussions in Hockey

playing hockey

A hockey match can be fun and invigorating, but it can also be dangerous. Hockey players suffer a high rate of concussions, like football players. A concussion is a mild brain injury that results from trauma, like a painful body-check or a puck to the head. The human brain is soft, squishy, and surrounded by fluid. It is protected by the hard bones of the skull, but when a hockey player’s head is hit by something (or hits something), the athlete’s brain may move until it impacts with the skull.

The resulting brain injury can cause symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Some of the effects of a concussion are immediate, and others may manifest themselves only days later.

A concussion can cause damage to the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes the visual information obtained by our eyes. Such damage can certainly be sustained in the event of a concussion, and may result in symptoms affecting many aspects of vision, including blurriness, light sensitivity, slower visual processing, and double vision.

Concussions can be avoided to an extent  by wearing a helmet during hockey and other sports. In addition, sports glasses (available at Vision Care Specialists) can prevent damage to eyes, which can cause severe vision issues, especially when combined with the effects of a concussion.

However, helmets and sports glasses cannot offer a blanket guarantee of protection against concussions, as evidenced by well-equipped athletes who still suffer from them. So when all such efforts fail, how can the visual effects of a concussion be treated?

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is the answer for many patients who have suffered a concussion with long-lasting effects. A highly customized therapy program of visual exercises and specialized lenses can have a big impact in the day-to-day life of a brain trauma patient. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is something that we are proud to offer patients from Southborough, Worcester County and Framingham. Call us at 508-481-8558 for more information, or to make an appointment.

Safe Driving in the Winter

Safe Driving in the Winter

In  Southborough, getting behind the wheel in the colder months comes with challenges that driving in the summer does not present. Besides the dangers of slipping and skidding in ice and snow, there are added risks because of potential impediments to your vision.

When driving during the day, the sun reflected off of white snow can cause annoying glares that interfere with keeping your eyes on the road. However, at worst, the sun’s UV rays can actually cause a phenomenon known as “snow blindness”. This condition manifests itself in eye pain and blurry vision. When driving, these symptoms can be dangerous. When driving in the snow - the danger is far greater! Sunglasses that block UV rays can be a lifesaver if you need to drive in inclement weather. Artificial tears can also assuage the symptoms of snow blindness. Both are available at Vision Care Specialists.

Nighttime driving in snow is, of course, also dangerous. High beams reflected off of the white snow can cause snow blindness. The nocturnal equivalent of sunglasses to address this danger is a pair of eyeglasses with anti-reflective coating. Such glasses protect your eyes against glare, and while helpful even in normal nighttime driving conditions, can be vital in the winter. These glasses are also available from Vision Care Specialists.

Driving in the winter cannot always be avoided - but we can minimize the dangers it presents with the right preparation. Call our Southborough eye care center at 508-481-8558 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

November 10 is World Keratoconus Day

World Keratoconus Day FB Post
November 10 will be the fourth annual World Keratoconus Day. Keratoconus is an eye disease in which the eye bulges and its shape becomes less spherical, leading to potentially significant loss of vision. Symptoms can also include sensitivity to light and red, puffy eyes.

Sometimes, a cornea transplant is required in order to treat the eyes. Often, however, patients will make use of specialty lenses (such as scleral lenses, rigid gas permeable lenses, and hybrid lenses) or cross-linking (a minor procedure involving eye drops and ultraviolet light) to obtain the clearer vision. Regular contact lenses are often too ineffective and uncomfortable for patients with keratoconus to use.

Modern research is showing that keratoconus may be far more common than we had believed. It affects those of all ethnic groups and genders, usually manifesting itself in early adulthood. People from communities worldwide experience life with keratoconus, and Southborough is no different.

At Vision Care Specialists, we offer treatment to keratoconus patients from the greater community. Being very familiar with the challenges of life with keratoconus, we join together with friends around the globe in celebrating Keratoconus Day. This annual event is a great opportunity to raise awareness of keratoconus and the treatments available to those who have it.

If you or a loved one would like to be examined for keratoconus and other eye conditions or to discuss treatment options, call us or schedule an appointment. Click here to learn more about keratoconus and the treatments we offer for it.

Blinking and Dry Eye: The Clear Connection

Dry Eye Syndrome Affects Your Blinking

Ever notice that when you blink your eyes, your vision goes out of focus?

Blurry vision does not necessarily mean that you need new glasses. In fact, a very common cause of blurry vision is called dry eye syndrome. Often confused with eye allergies, when your eyes fail to produce tears with the right balance of oils, here eyes can become irritated, red, and even itchy. Over time, this can, in a severe case of dry eye, even affect your vision and make things blurry.

Nearly every week, Vision Care Specialists sees patients who complain about the following:

  • Driving at night is difficult
  • Very light-sensitive
  • Glare from bright lights can be painful
  • Eyes are constantly red
  • Watery eyes are teary eyes
  • Continuous eye rubbing

While not everybody suffers from dry eye syndrome, there are certainly a number of shared symptoms that can indicate dry eye. One of the telltale signs, however, is when you blink and your vision goes to the focus. Because your vision is dependent on the quality of your tears, any imbalance will tend to disrupt the way your eyes can focus and receive light.

Dry Eye Specialist – Eye Doctor in Southborough

If you have noticed any of the following symptoms such as blurry vision or red eyes, schedule an appointment at Vision Care Specialists for a complete eye exam and dry eye evaluation.

Sports-Related Eye Injuries

September Is Sports Eye Safety Month!

Ocular sports trauma is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in North America. Tens of thousands of people get treated for sports-related eye injuries a year, with the most common injuries occurring during water sports and basketball. Infections, corneal abrasions, eye socket fractures, and detached retinas are just a few of the typical cases eye doctors encounter on a regular basis.

Sports Eye Safety Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to remind people to protect their eyes when playing sports. Though young children are usually the most vulnerable to eye injuries, it should be noted that professional athletes can also suffer eye injuries while on the job.

Eye accidents can happen in a split second – the effects can last a lifetime…

By wearing protective eyewear, you can safeguard your eyesight without compromising on your favorite sports activities. Athletes who wear contact lenses still need additional eye protection for relevant sports.

At Vision Care Specialists, our eye doctors, Dr. Paul Levine and Dr. Jon Abbondanza, are experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. Our team of eye care professionals and our dedicated staff are committed to providing the most comprehensive eye care to help get you back on the field again. Furthermore, we provide consultations on a wide array of protective eyewear for all your sporting needs.

What Eye Injuries Can Be Caused by Sports?

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, is the most common sports-related eye injury. When someone gets poked in the eye, the eye’s surface can get scratched. Symptoms may include acute pain and a gritty or foreign body sensation in the eyes, as well as redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision. Medical care includes prevention or treatment of infection, and pain management. If you suspect that you have suffered a corneal abrasion, make sure to see an eye doctor right away.

Traumatic Iritis

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The condition rapidly develops and typically affects only one eye. Symptoms include pain in the eye or brow region, blurred vision, a small or oddly-shaped pupil, and sensitivity to bright lights.

Hyphema

Hyphema is among the more common sports-related eye injuries, with racquet sports, baseball and softball accounting for more than 50% of all hyphema injuries in athletics.

A hyphema is a broken blood vessel inside the eye which causes blood to collect in the space between the cornea and iris, also known as the “anterior chamber”. Although the main symptom is blood in the eye, it can be accompanied by blurry or distorted vision, light sensitivity or eye pain.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of hyphema, make sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to avoid secondary complications.

Angle recession

Angle recession can develop from an eye injury or bruising of the eye, caused by getting punched, elbowed, or hit with a ball. The trauma damages the fluid drainage system of the eye, which causes it to back up, increasing the pressure in the eye. In 20% of people with angle recession, this pressure can become so severe that it damages the optic nerve, and causes glaucoma (known as “angle-recession glaucoma”).

You may not notice any symptoms at first, and it may take years before you experience any signs of vision loss. Therefore, it’s critical to visit the eye doctor as soon as possible for a complete eye exam and make sure that you follow-up with routine screenings.

Retinal tear or detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition in which the retina gets lifted or pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. If not treated immediately, retinal detachment can develop permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, floaters or little black spots in your vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires an eye doctor’s immediate attention – surgical intervention may be necessary.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This happens when a blood vessel breaks on the white part of the eye. In addition to a sport-related injury, it can be induced by rubbing the eye, heavy lifting, sneezing or coughing. For those with subconjunctival hemorrhage, the eye appears intensely red – though this minor condition will often clear up within a couple weeks on its own without treatment.

Orbital Fracture

This occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face – such as by a baseball or a fist. This is a major injury and should be assessed by an eye doctor, along with X-Rays or CT scan imaging to help confirm the diagnosis.

Black Eye or Periorbital Hematoma

A “shiner” can occur when a blunt object such as a fist or ball strikes the eye-area of the face and causes bruising. Typically, this kind of injury affects the face more than the eye. Blurry vision may be a temporary symptom, but it’s a good idea to get a black eye checked out by an optometrist in any case, because sometimes there is accompanying damage to the eye which could impact vision.

How Does One Prevent Sports-Related Eye Injuries?

One of the most important things one can do in order to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear. In fact, wearing eye protection should be part of any athlete’s routine, and should be prioritized just like wearing shin guards or a helmet.

Below are a few tips to prevent sports-related eye injuries:

  • Wear safety goggles (with polycarbonate lenses) for racquet sports or basketball. For the best possible protection, the eye guard or sports protective eyewear should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved” – which means it is performance tested.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • If you wear prescription eyewear, speak with us about fitting you for prescription protective eyewear.
  • Sports eye protection should be comfortably padded along the brow and bridge of the nose, to prevent the eye guards from cutting into the skin.
  • Try on protective eyewear to assess whether it’s the right fit and size for you and adjust the straps as needed. For athletic children who are still growing, make sure that last-year’s pair still fits before the new sports season begins. Consult with one of our eye doctors to determine whether the comfort and safety levels are adequate.
  • Keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide nearly enough eye protection when playing sports.

For athletes, whether amateur or pro, there is so much more at stake than just losing the game. Fortunately, by wearing high-quality protective eyewear, you can prevent 90% of all sports-related eye injuries.

Visit Vision Care Specialists about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from Southborough and the surrounding areas.

Welcome to our New Website

We invite you to take a look around our new site to get to know our practice and learn about eye and vision health. You will find a wealth of information about our optometrists, our staff and our services, as well as facts and advice about how to take care of your eyes and protect your vision.

Learn about our Practice specialties including comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings and the treatment of eye diseases. Our website also offers you a convenient way to find our hours, address and map, schedule an appointment online, order contact lenses or contact us to ask us any questions you have about eye care and our Practice.

Have a look around our online office and schedule a visit to meet us in person. We are here to partner with you and your family for a lifetime of healthy eyes and vision. We look forward to seeing you!

Pink, Stinging Eyes?

Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, especially in kids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even allergies to pollen, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis might be quite transmittable and quickly spread in school and at the office.

Conjunctivitis is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You can identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which produces the recognizable red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The red, itchy, watery eyes caused by viral pink eye are likely to last from a week to two and then will clear up on their own. You may however, be able to reduce some of the discomfort by using soothing drops or compresses. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so in the meantime maintain excellent hygiene, remove eye discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should notice an improvement within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to adhere to the full prescription dosage to prevent pink eye from recurring.

Allergic pink eye is not contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, to treat allergic pink eye, you should eliminate the irritant. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might prescribe a medication such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of chronic allergic pink eye, topical steroid eye drops could be used.

Pink eye should always be diagnosed by a qualified eye doctor in order to identify the type and best course of treatment. Never treat yourself! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower chance you have of giving pink eye to loved ones or prolonging your discomfort.

 

Progressive Frames or LASIK: Which Would You Choose?

senior woman wearing glassesEye doctors today can help most patients who have vision problems stemming from presbyopia. Glasses and laser surgery are both options that are available to correct vision in this circumstance. Each option to correct vision has some advantages and disadvantages.

Progressive Frames

Glasses are an effective and common way to correct most vision problems, including presbyopia. Stylish, sophisticated and funky glasses are available for every occasion and personality.

Advantages:

Glasses are easy to wear, convenient, and comfortable. Progressive eyeglasses have become a common way to treat presbyopia, as you have one pair of glasses for reading, computer work, and distance, as opposed to needing different glasses for near and far vision. The newest lens technology makes lenses light and accurate. A wide selection of coatings for lenses are available, such as anti-reflective coatings, photochromatic coatings, and polarized coatings. Special glasses can be created for those who have special needs for work or sporting events.

Disadvantages:

Glasses without high index lenses that have strong prescriptions can be thick, and heavy, and less comfortable on your face than not wearing glasses. Glasses can fog up in the cold, and lesser quality lenses can have spots that appear blurry.

Laser surgery

Laser surgery has been an available vision correction option for about twenty years. Various procedures are available, and your eye doctor will decide what method is best for you. Generally, patients can see clearly shortly after the procedure. The most important requirement for an optimal procedure is that you are a good candidate for laser surgery to begin with. The surgical procedure is often performed as out-patient surgery, and usually only takes a few minutes.

Advantages:

You will not need glasses after the laser surgery. Modern laser correction procedures correct presbyopia. For people who hate glasses and can’t wear contact lenses, laser surgery can be a great solution. The other requirements for laser surgery are that the eye be fully formed (adults only can have this surgery), your refraction has not changed in two years, and and the cornea needs to be a certain thickness. As long as you use an experienced eye doctor, laser surgery is very low risk.

Disadvantages:

As with any surgery, laser surgery is an invasive procedure, which is performed on a basically healthy eye. Some side effects and complications could include temporarily dry eyes. These symptoms can last up to twelve weeks. Also, it’s possible that the procedure, while successful, won’t completely correct your vision, and you may need to continue to wear glasses.

Still not sure which is best for you, eye glasses or laser surgery? Schedule an appointment with our eye doctor to discuss the options.

Safety and Sports Glasses

Each year, thousands of individuals sustain eye injuries due to sports and other accidents, many causing permanent damage and vision loss. Over 98% of these injuries can be prevented by proper eye protection. Further The National Eye Institute states that when it comes to children, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness and that most of these injuries are sports-related.

Just like wearing a helmet when riding a bike or swinging a bat, sports safety glasses or goggles should be part of the uniform and equipment of any high impact sport. Not only do sports glasses protect your eyes but they can also improve vision and performance. Similarly, when involved in work or hobbies that pose a danger on the eyes, such as construction, chemical use, or home improvement projects, safety goggles should always be worn.

What are Sports and Safety Glasses or Goggles?

Sports and safety glasses or goggles are specialized, protective eyewear that are made to reduce the risk of eye damage during sports or work that could be dangerous to the eyes. They are typically made from impact resistant and shatterproof materials such as hard plastics and polycarbonates (frames) or polycarbonate or Trivex (lenses) and cover a larger surface area around your eyes for enhanced protection. Depending on the type of glasses and for what sport or activity they are intended, they may have additional features such as UV protection, polarized lenses, scratch resistance or ultra flexibility or coverage.

When it comes to sports, protective eyewear is becoming more of a norm that it was in previous generations with many leagues requiring their use as a prerequisite to play. Whether it is high speed balls, elbows, debris, snow, sun or water, sports glasses come in a variety of options to suit the particular needs of the sport you play.

Many options will come with rubber padding around the frame to improve safety to the area around the eyes and increase comfort, fit and stability.

Prescription Sports and Safety Eyewear

Advances in sports and safety eyewear technology not only allow for enhanced sharpness and color vision but for corrected visual acuity for those with vision impairment. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, chances are most safety glasses are available with prescription lenses, allowing you to see and perform your best under all circumstances. Another option is to wear contact lenses under your safety eye gear.

Look for Fit and Comfort

Especially when it comes to children, comfort and fit are essential for compliance in wearing protective eyewear. Additionally, instead of enhancing performance, glasses that don’t fit will cause a distraction that hurt your ability to play or work at optimal success. Look for frames that are held in place (wraparound frames and bands help with this), don’t slip, don’t press in at the temples or nose and that fit nicely around the eyes. If you plan to wear goggles over your prescription glasses, make sure that you try them on together and that they fit properly and are able to provide full protection with your prescription glasses on. Similarly, if a helmet will be worn, make sure that the glasses fit, snug but not too tight, within the helmet.

With children who grow, it is important to reassess sports glasses each year to make sure they have not gotten too tight or small, otherwise they could be doing more harm than good.

Please read the latest updates on COVID-19.