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Dr Mary Gregory

Dr Mary Gregory – nominated for the Minnesota Business magazine Leaders in Healthcare Award

To health care professionals around the world Minnesota is known as an industry leader. But who leads within Minnesota? Minnesota Business magazine answers that question at the Leaders in Health Care Awards (http://minnesotabusiness NULL.com/finalists-announced-2014-leaders-health-care-awards) by honoring the elite of Minnesota’s health care professionals.

This year Dr Mary Gregory has been nominated for the Health Care Practitioner Award. This recognition is given to an individual who has operated at an exceptional level in their field of practice.

Dr. Gregory, co-owner of Uptown Eye Care and owner of Omni Vision and Learning Center (http://www NULL.omnivisioncenter NULL.com/), both located in Monticello, MN, was nominated for her passion and energy in promoting healthy vision development for children.

Her passion has led her to be a leading participant in the InfantSEE® public health program that is designed to ensure that vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness by providing eye health evaluations for children between the ages of 8-12 months of age at no cost. Dr Gregory was recognized for her efforts with the presentation of the David E. Sullens InfantSee Award by the American Optometric Association in June of 2014. She also conducts monthly workshops to educate parents and teachers on vision related learning problems. Dr. Gregory’s dedication to ensuring that children have the visual skills essential to function optimally in all areas of life has benefited hundreds of children in her community.

The Minnesota Business magazine’s expert panel of judges selected three finalists for each of 14 categories of the health care field. All the health care professionals and companies nominated will be featured in the November issue of Minnesota Business.

The nominees will be honored and winners revealed at a celebratory event held at the Minneapolis Marriot City Center in downtown Minneapolis on Oct. 29, 2014.

What is a Paraoptometric?

Paraoptometrics are allied health professionals who assist optometrists in providing their highest level of vision care to patients. They extend the optometrist’s capabilities by assuming routine and technical aspects of vision care services. Paraoptometrics are to optometrists what paralegals are to lawyers.

Paraoptometrics perform a variety of duties in the optometric practice. They take care of front desk procedures, billing and coding of insurance claims and patient scheduling.  They may also perform more clinical duties such as pre-testing patients, contact lens procedures, special testing and vision therapy. Paraoptometrics are also trained in ophthalmic optics and skilled at the selection, fitting and dispensing of eyewear.

As part of the vision care team, paraoptometrics help build patient confidence while working directly with an optometrist. A well-trained paraoptometric staff builds a clinic-patient relationship that is not only invaluable to the optometrist, but also ensures a high level of service resulting in patient satisfaction.

The American Optometric Association’s Paraoptometric Recognition Week

The American Optometric Association has designated September 14-20, 2014 as Paraoptometric Recognition Week. Now in its twelfth year, the recognition week is designed to honor paraoptometrics for their dedication to the patients they serve and to the profession of optometry.

Paraoptometrics are key members of the eye care delivery team in optometric offices all across the country. Their role is even more critical to providing the best patient care possible in today’s health care environment.

Linda Rodrigues, CPO, Paraoptometric Resource Center Executive Committee chair, recognized the important role of staff for a successful practice by stating, “Paraoptometrics are an essential part of the eye-care team. The potential of a well-trained optometric staff is of utmost importance and the formula to achieve a successful optometric practice. Optometrists who recognize their paraoptometric staff for their dedication, knowledge and professionalism are rewarded with satisfied patients and practice growth.”

Uptown Eye Care located at 560 Cedar Street, Monticello, MN (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/b/102384119795973095334/+UptownEyeCare/about) plans to celebrate the week recognizing their CPO & CPOA certified staff.

Healthy Eye Care Tips for College Students

Healthy Eye Care Tips for College StudentsThe start of the college semester is just around the corner, and right now most college-bound students are busy packing boxes, preparing schedules, and cringing at the price of textbooks.  For those students’ eyes, college means sleep deprivation, lots of close-up work, screen time galore, and close contact with other germs.  This can lead to eye fatigue, dry eyes and conjunctivitis or other eye diseases.  To help keep your eyes in top shape for the course load ahead, put the following tips into practice.

1.  Take frequent breaks.  Long stretches of time spent staring at a screen, reading a book, or completing homework can take their toll on your eyes, causing fatigue and dry eyes.  To prevent this, remember the 20-20-20 rule: after 20 minutes, look away at something at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.  If you are still getting dry eyes even after following this rule, keep some lubricating eye drops on hand (but do not overuse the eye drops; be sure to follow the directions on the bottle).  Try studying outside, as well, which may help you to not lean in so close to your books or computer and prevent fatigued eyes.

2.  Don’t wear your contact lenses in the pool or shower.  Contact lenses are meant for contact with your eyes and sterile liquid only.  Wearing them in the pool can introduce germs or parasites that can populate behind the lens and cause some pretty serious eye infections.  The same thing can happen in the shower (which, especially if it is a community shower, hosts lots of germs anyway).  Don’t wash your lenses with water, either; only use contact lens solution.

3.  Don’t over-wear your contact lenses.  Over-wearing the contact lenses for longer than they are designed for (typically 8-12 hours) produces the same effect as sleeping in them.  Your eyes become deprived of oxygen, and, as a result, your vision may become blurred and inflammation may set in.  If you don’t have a backup pair of glasses, you may want to purchase some before school starts.  That way, as you approach the end of your contact lens usability for the day, you can switch to glasses and prevent negative effects.  Glasses are also great for those days when you are late to class and don’t have the time to put your contact lenses in.

4.  For the ladies, use your own makeup.  You may share everything with your college roommates, from food to clothes to pens to shoes, but don’t share your makeup.  Makeup, especially mascara, is a breeding ground for bacteria, and while your eyes may not be affected by what is living on your mascara or eyeshadow brush, they may get an infection from what is living on your roommate’s brush.  Opt for the “natural look” instead of risking an infection from someone else’s makeup, because the “conjunctivitis look” is not pretty!

5.  Wash your hands frequently.  Another way of getting an eye infection in college is by touching your face (like sleepily rubbing your eyes) when your hands are not clean.  Almost everything you touch will have been touched by plenty of other students, and you don’t want those germs waiting on your hands to leap into your eyes or mouth.  This will also help prevent general illness, too.

6.  Wear eye protection during sports.  From pool chlorine and germs to flying balls and flying elbows, your eyes are at risk of injury during sports.  Make sure to wear the appropriate eyewear for your sport, and consider wearing sports glasses to protect your eyes even if they are not required for your sport.  If you wear contact lenses or glasses, sports glasses with a prescription lens is a great option to avoid broken glasses or injury from the contact lens if you are hit in the face.

{ photo credit: rachel sian (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/rachelsian/274158994/)cc (http://creativecommons NULL.org/licenses/by-nc/2 NULL.0/) }

nutrition for cataract prevention

Nutrition is an important part of cataract prevention and maintaining overall eye health.

Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye, located behind the pupil and iris, becomes cloudy. This can result in blurriness, sensitivity to light and vision loss. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness and affect millions of people in the United States, especially those over the age of 40. The only way to treat cataracts is to remove the clouded lens through surgery. The good news is that cataracts are preventable to a certain extent. Follow our tips to ensure that you are doing your part to prevent cataracts.

1. Wear sunglasses with 100% UV blocking. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays harms eyes in many ways and may be one major risk factor in forming cataracts. Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat, as well, to physically block sunlight from your face.

2. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Cigarette smoke is extremely harmful in many ways and has been linked to an increased chance of developing cataracts. Quit the habit, and your eyes, body, and those around you will thank you. Consume alcohol in moderation, as well. Just like cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol consumption leads to a host of health issues, including a greater chance of forming cataracts.

3. Manage your health problems. A higher risk of forming cataracts has been linked to diabetes and hypertension. By managing these health issues, you may also lower your risk of forming cataracts.

4. Eat right. This step is important for several reasons. First, obesity is a risk factor for cataracts. If you maintain a healthy weight, you cut out that particular risk factor. Second, studies have found that certain nutrients can help prevent cataracts from forming. These nutrients include vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids. Many of these nutrients can be found in foods like eggs, sunflower seeds, almonds, kale, spinach, and fresh fruits and vegetables. By eating a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, you will also take in a large amount of antioxidants, which may also help prevent cataracts. Plus, a healthy diet will help manage other health issues that may be linked to forming cataracts (such as in tip 3, above).

5. Have regular eye exams. Your eye doctor will be able to look for cataracts before the cataracts start affecting your ability to perform daily tasks. This can lead to treatment and prevent your cataracts from causing blindness! Schedule an eye exam now with one of our eye doctors if you have a concern about your vision or if it has been more than one or two years since you last saw an eye doctor.

{ photo credit: Aproximando Ciência e Pessoas (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/97513256 null@null N06/9041948559/)cc (http://creativecommons NULL.org/licenses/by/2 NULL.0/) }

Protecting Your Eyes in a Swimming Pool

swimming pool eye health

Swim goggles are a great way to protect your eyes from chlorine and other irritants.

As summer draws near and the temperature heats up, many people will begin heading to pools to cool off.  Nothing is more refreshing than a leisurely dip into a cool pool on a hot summer day.  But the consequence can be stinging, red eyes, especially in an indoor pool or a pool with a higher level of chlorine.

Why does the pool water affect our eyes?  What can be done about irritated eyes?

There are several reasons why pool water can have a negative effect on our eyes.  First, the water strips away the tear film that coats our eyeballs and protects it from germs.  When that tear film is gone, germs can enter the eye and cause an infection in the eye, or conjunctivitis.  In fact, the spread of conjunctivitis from pool usage is more common than one may think.  Even in chemically treated water, the chlorine does not kill all the germs, nor does it kill germs instantly, so they can still be transferred from person to person.

Second, the chlorine in pools interacts with organic compounds in the water (such as what comes off of swimmers) and creates new compounds, known as chloramines, which act as irritants.  These chloramines also enter the air and are the source of the familiar “pool smell.” For swimmers, once the tear film is gone, the chloramines can enter the eyes and cause stinging, blurry vision, and red eyes.  They also can irritate the skin, and they can irritate the lungs when they are airborne, such as at an indoor pool.

Saltwater pools can also be irritating to eyes, since the salt is turned into chlorine by a generator.  However, some swimmers say that saltwater pools do prove to be gentler on eyes and skin than traditional chlorine pools.  The best thing to do, whether you are swimming in a chlorine pool or saltwater pool (or swimming anywhere), is to wear goggles.  Goggles will protect your eyes from germs, from bugs, from chemical irritants, and from the water removing your tear film.  Also, if you wear contacts, you should remove them when swimming because algae and germs can get stuck between the contact lens and your eyeball, causing infection.  Again, goggles will provide the best protection against infection, but remove contact lenses anyway.

Finally, if your eyes do get irritated, flush them with saline eyedrops or with tap water.  If signs of an infection start to appear or the irritation does not go away within a day, you ought to see your eye doctor.

 

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choosing eye glasses frames

Choosing the right eye glasses to “frame your face” can make all the difference.

Choosing Eye Glasses to Enhance Your Face Shape

Did you know that, just like hairstyles, the right glasses can also enhance your face shape? Whether you have a rectangle or oval face, a heart-shaped or a round face, there is a pair of frames out there that perfectly complements your face shape. If you take the time to play up your face’s best features with your hair and, if you are female, with your makeup, take the time to choose the right pair of glasses, as well!

First, look at your face in the mirror and determine your face shape. Do you have a face that is broader at the temple and narrower at the chin? You may have an inverted triangle or heart shape. Is your jaw line angular, and your jaw and forehead about the same width? You may have a square face. Are your forehead and jaw lines curved, and your face long? You may have an oval face. If your face is equally long and wide, and the lines soft and curved, you may have a round face. You may also have a combination of face shapes. If you absolutely cannot decide which shape you have, simply decide whether your face is more angular or curved. That will be the top determiner as to what pair of glasses complements your face.

Create Contrast

You will want to choose a pair of glasses that contrasts with the shape of your face. If you have a round face, for example, you will want a pair with boxy angles. If you have a square face, you will want a pair that is curvy. If you have a wide forehead but narrow chin, you will want a pair that draws attention downward toward your chin, such as one that has a colored bottom rim. Following are some suggestions for specific face shapes.

For heart-shaped faces, you may want to try a pair of rimless glasses, which will appear light and airy, detracting from your forehead. Glasses that have lenses that are wider at the bottom will also help balance your face, as well as glasses that have a colored bottom rim.

For round faces, try rectangular-shaped frames. You will want the frame to be narrow and wide to create the illusion of a longer, thinner face. Bold, dark frames will help define the face, as well.

For square faces, choose a pair of frames that speaks curves. Round or oval lenses work well, as do lenses that seem to sweep up. Lighter colors add softness to the face. Rimless frames may also work well.

For oval faces, almost any pair of glasses will work. Oval faces are naturally balanced, so choose a pair that keeps that natural balance and is not too small or too big for your face. Try to find a pair that is as wide as or wider than your face, and have fun playing with different shapes.

The right pair of glasses will help balance your face shape out, whether you are a man or a woman. Choose a pair to go with your face shape, and you will help your face to look even more fantastic!

Contact Uptown Eye Care today to schedule a glasses fitting appointment with our expert team of Opticians.

 

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healthy vision month

May is Healthy Vision Month. Read our healthy eye tips and make some time to take care of your vision.

How healthy is your vision?  Have you taken any recent steps to prevent vision problems, or taken steps to treat any vision problems you may be experiencing? There is no better time to start taking care of your vision than now! May was Healthy Vision Month; so let’s keep it going by setting aside some time to follow our tips for healthy vision.

Healthy Vision Month – Eye Care Tips

  • Set up an appointment with your eye doctor to have a vision exam done.  This is the most important step in maintaining your vision’s health; your eye doctor can treat problems that you are experiencing in your vision and can also detect problems that you may not be aware of.  Steps can then be taken to prevent problems from becoming worse (or prevent problems from occurring in the first place)!
  • Wear your eyeglasses or contacts regularly.  Even if you feel you can see relatively okay without them, they were prescribed to you for a reason.  Your glasses or contacts cannot help your eyes by just sitting in a case on your dresser.
  • Eat healthy, whole foods.  The benefits of good nutrition are extensive, and just as eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables and other whole foods while cutting out processed junk do wonders for your body’s health, so will it also positively affect the health of your eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection.  Spring is in full bloom, and summer is on its way.  As you spend more time outside, it is as important to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays as it is to shield your skin from those rays with sunscreen.
  • If you smoke, drop the habit.  If you don’t smoke, don’t start.  Smoking has been linked to a higher risk of vision problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes and face.  Not only will this help protect you from picking up colds or other illnesses as much, it will also help protect your eyes from eye infections such as conjunctivitis.
  • Wear eye protection while completing tasks that could harm your eyes, such as working in dangerous conditions, using a chainsaw, or riding a motorcycle, dirt bike, or ATV.  Not a whole lot will harm your eye’s health more than an object or accident injuring it and potentially blinding it temporarily or permanently.
  • Finally, be sure to take care of your own health physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  All of these tie in together, and when you are healthy and feeling good, it helps your eyes to be at their best health, as well!

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Is Blue Light Harmful to your Vision?

Visible light is an essential part of living a healthy and enjoyable life. Until the introduction of artificial lights, the sun was the main source of light and people spent their evenings in relative darkness. Now, in most parts of the world, we are no longer limited to relying on the sun as our main source of illumination. In fact, many of us spend a large part of our evenings bathed in artificial illumination.

Visible light is the light that we detect with our eyes and it manifests itself to us as colors. The colors, arranged from longer wavelength to shorter includes red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

blue light visible spectrum - blutech

White light is dispersed by a prism into the colors of the optical spectrum.

The radical increase in our use of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptop computers in addition to energy efficient fluorescent and LED lights has drastically increased our exposure to blue light. Blue light is a very high energy, short wave length visible light. And, like so many things in life, it has both benefits and drawbacks.

Not only does blue light provide basic illumination, it also increases our feeling of well-being. Blue light has been shown to actually boost attention and mood during the day. But blue light can also interfere with our body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that helps to regulate our circadian rhythms, or deep, restful sleep cycles. Regular exposure to blue light at night can send the message to our brain to reduce the production of melatonin, leaving us awake and alert when we should be giving our bodies some much needed sleep. Studies have also associated blue light with hyperactivity in children and migraine headaches.

Perhaps the biggest threat of overexposure to blue light is the part it plays in the development of macular degeneration. Blue Light directly penetrates the macular pigment of the eye, causing retina damage in the form of photo-oxidation.  This gradual oxidation and deterioration of the macula accumulates over your lifetime, leaving eyes more and more exposed and susceptible to developing macular degeneration. The limited protection given by the lens and macular pigment of our eyes is inadequate against the intense blue light to which we have become accustomed.

People that have had cataract surgery (thus removing the protection from our natural lens), those already at risk for developing macular degeneration due to lifestyle and genetics, and children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of blue light.

Blue Light is absorbed directly into the eye, and it is not automatically screened by protective eyewear like sunglasses.  In fact, you will need eyewear that is specifically designed to screen out Blue Light. Eye Solutions Technologies have developed a BluTech lens that will filter high-energy blue and ultra violet light using ocular lens pigment and melanin infused directly into an optical lens. They have developed both an indoor and an outdoor lens that provide protection from blue light in a variety of settings.

Our optometrists can tell you if you are at particular risk for eye conditions that may be associated with exposure to blue light, and recommend a lens such as BluTech to lessen your risk of exposure. Request an appointment today!

 

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A Brief History of Eyeglasses

History of EyeglassesCan you imagine wearing glasses without the part of the frame known as the temple? How about constantly carrying around two pairs of glasses and interchanging them instead of using bifocals? Eyeglasses have come a long way since they were invented. In fact, no one is sure when exactly they were invented.

The Early Days

The earliest known lens has been found in the ruins of ancient Nineveh; this was a rock crystal that had been polished. Lenses were used in ancient times for cauterizing wounds, burning holes in parchment, and erasing letters off of wax tablets. It was not until around 1000 A.D. that lenses were first used to magnify writing. These lenses were known as “reading stones” and were the precursor to the modern magnifying glass; they were set on top of manuscripts to magnify the letters. It was not until several hundred years later, between 1268 and 1289, that the first pair of eyeglasses was developed in Italy. It was a simple pair of convex quartz stones or crystals surrounded by a frame and a handle for each stone; the handles were connected by a rivet, and the glasses were balanced on the nose or held in front of the face. The name of the inventor has been lost, but the idea took off quickly, and a crystal workers’ guild in Italy had already developed regulations for making crystal eye lenses by 1300. Several hundred years later, eyeglasses were being manufactured in large quantities.

First Frames

The first frames with temples were not invented until the 1600’s. These frames, invented in Spain, had loops of cord or string attached to them that went around the ears. The Chinese modified this version of the frames by attaching weights to the strings so that they counterbalanced the frame behind the ears. Rigid temples, such as are used on the frames we have nowadays, were not invented until 1730 by English optician Edward Scarlett.

Benjamin Franklin carried two pairs of glasses around for a while, one for near vision and one for far vision. He grew frustrated with having to switch the glasses out, and he finally cut the lenses of each pair in half and combined two halves of each in a frame. Thus, the bifocal was invented in the 1780’s, and the trifocal soon followed.

Sign of Social Acceptability – Intelligence and Wealth

Eyeglasses went through stages in social acceptability, as well. At some points, they were regarded as status symbols (such as in China when they were first introduced) or as symbols of intelligence and wealth, while at other times they were considered embarrassments because they exposed physical weakness. Thankfully, there are no negative stigmas attached to eyeglasses in modern times! Currently, they can be anything from a fashion statement to a pure practical necessity, and the eyeglass-wearing world thanks that one anonymous inventor who created the first pair of spectacles.

 

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Your Baby’s Vision Development

baby vision developmentBabies develop quite a lot in the first year of life. From physical growth to mental development, they push through growth spurt after growth spurt at a speed that is never matched for the rest of their lives. Vision is one part of this race to grow quickly; babies can barely see at birth and by six months can see quite clearly!

So how does your baby’s vision develop? When your baby is born, he sees a big fuzzy world. There are no clear lines, and your baby sees mainly dark and light; shades of color cannot be differentiated. Your baby will be drawn to contrasts as a result; your eyes have high contrast and will become one of your baby’s favorite things to stare at. The range that he will see clearest at is about 8-14 inches, which appropriately happens to also be about the range from his face to yours while nursing or bottle feeding.

First Months

During the first couple months, your baby’s eyes will learn to work together. During this stage, you may notice your baby’s eyes crossed or an eye wandering, but this is normal for the first two months. If your baby’s eyes still wander or are crossed after about 3-4 months, you ought to have him checked for any visual or muscular problems.

As your baby’s eyes learn to work together more, his focus will improve, and he will be able to see you and other things clearer. His depth perception will also improve, so that at around 4 months, he will be able to try swiping at toys with his hand and manage the distance to the toys fairly well. He will also be able to easily watch moving objects.

By five months, your baby will be able to distinguish well between different colors. He will also be improving his ability to spot small items. By eight months, your baby’s vision will be much like your own. He will be able to see across the room, and his hand-eye coordination will be in full bloom, especially as he learns to crawl. It has been found that the more a baby crawls, the better his hand-eye coordination, so encourage your baby to crawl often and try not to teach him how to walk too soon!

Baby Vision Assessment

Don’t forget to take your baby in for his first vision assessment between 6 and 12 months. This will help identify any early vision problems and allow you and your eye doctor to take steps to treat or prevent them! Uptown Eye Care offers free baby vision assessments as part of the InfantSEE program.
 
 

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