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The 2015 Annual Meeting for the Minnesota Optometric Association will be held this week, Feb 5 – 7th at River Centre in St. Paul.

Uptown Eye Care will be closed this Friday, February 6 & Saturday, February 7 so the staff can take advantage of the excellent continuing education courses being offered.

Minnesota Optometric Association Annual Meeting 2015

Uptown Eye Care to attend the Minnesota Optometric Association Annual Meeting 2015.

One of our own doctors, Dr. Mary Gregory, is teaching a course on Friday, entitled: “A guide to InfantSee Examinations”

We are looking forward to covering a wide variety of topics, from how to make a positive first impression to cultivating productive relationships with our vendors to becoming better equipped to navigate the massive changes in the world of insurance and government compliance.

We regret any inconvenience to our patients and clients, but we are looking forward to implementing our new skills and sharing our renewed enthusiasm when we reopen on Monday, February 9th at 9:00 am (click here for our directions and hours).

See you then!

5 New Year Resolutions for Your Eyes

New Year Resolutions for Your EyesThis New Year, you may have a long list of resolutions including ones revolving around health, relationships, religion, hobbies, and bucket list items. But have you ever thought about throwing improving your eye health in among your New Year resolutions? Perhaps you haven’t realized that some of your resolutions may actually affect your eyes’ health in a positive way! Following are some resolutions that may help your vision out in 2015; you may have already listed some of them, and others you may want to consider adding!

5 New Year Resolutions for Your Eyes:

  1. Quit smoking: Smoking affects your health in so many ways, but it also affects your eye health. Some of the problems your eyes could face if you continue to smoke include higher risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), damage to eye cells, damage to the retina leading to vision loss, cataracts, and dry eyes that are not able to respond as effectively to allergies.
  2. Eat right: You may have losing weight or dieting on your resolutions list, but consider simply eating well – including little to no processed foods and lots of fruits and veggies. Eating the right foods will help you lose weight, feel better, and improve the health of your body and eyes! To optimize your eyes’ health, include lots of dark leafy greens (such as spinach or kale), fish (especially salmon and tuna), eggs, and berries! See our post on healthy foods for vision for more information.
  3. Buy a good pair of sunglasses – or two! Sunglasses protect the eyes from dangerous UV rays. If eyes are exposed to enough UV rays, cataracts can form, temporary vision loss can occur due to inflammation of the cornea, and other unpleasant problems can appear. Sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays are the best sunglasses to buy, as they will protect your eyes from the sun the most.
  4. Exercise regularly: Another resolution that you may already have on your list, regular exercise improves your eye health in addition to your body health. Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce intraocular eye pressure (IOP). High IOP can cause glaucoma, so reducing the IOP reduces risk of glaucoma. Regular exercise is also linked to a reduced risk of AMD. And, because regular exercise lowers blood pressure and helps manage diabetes and other diseases, it also lowers the risk of vision-related complications to those diseases (such as diabetic retinopathy).
  5. Visit your eye doctor at least one time this year: This is one resolution you can cross off within the next month if you make an appointment today! The best way to keep abreast of your vision and eye health is by having regular vision assessments with an optometrist. Any problems that you may have or that may be developing can be detected during the assessment and a treatment plan or vision prescription put together. Contact our office during business hours and make an appointment to start your eyes’ year off right!

Here’s to a happy & healthy 2015!

Winter Sports Eye Protection

Look for goggles that have polycarbonate lenses, not plastic or glass.

With snow falling and slopes beckoning, are you also sensitive to eye safety while skiing or snowboarding? Winter eye protection is just as important as summer eye protection, and winter sports goggles are often even more stylish than summer sports goggles. We will break down the various types of snow goggles below.

Eye Protection for Winter Sports

Before looking at goggles themselves, why bother with eye protection while participating in downhill winter sports? First, since you are outside, UV protection is very important. If you are skiing or snowboarding at a high altitude, it becomes even more important to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays, as there is less atmosphere to block the UV rays. Second, skiers and snowboarders are often going at a good clip down the slopes, as well as coming relatively close to trees. Speed mixed with obstacles often result in injury, and eye protection prevents eye injuries, such as twigs to the eye or a knock to the eyes by a ski pole while falling. As an added bonus, snow goggles also help skiers and snowboarders to see better since cold air and snow are not flying into their eyes and causing them to squint.

What to look for in Winter Googles

The wrong kind of goggles can, however, cause injury, rather than prevent injury. When looking to purchase a pair of goggles for your next ski trip, look for goggles that have polycarbonate lenses, not plastic or glass, which can shatter on a fall and pierce your eyes. Polycarbonate lenses are impact-resistant, plus they do not fog up as easily as other types of lenses. You can wear prescription lenses behind the polycarbonate lenses if the goggles allow, but if possible, try to use polycarbonate prescription lenses, as well, for the most impact resistance.

Look for goggles that have 100% UV protection, as well as polarized lenses. The UV protection keeps harmful UV rays (which are usually stronger on the slopes) from your eyes, while polarization absorbs glare from the snow surrounding you, helping you to see better. One lens category you will have to choose from is color. Tinted lenses work like sunglasses, while clear lenses are better for skiing or snowboarding at night. Among tinted lenses, you can choose typical brown or gray sun lenses; rose-colored lenses, which are helpful in overcast conditions (such as if you ski on a mountain that tends to be cloudy); or yellow lenses, which improve contrast in low light. You can even get photochromatic lenses, which change shades depending on light conditions. Some goggles also have magnetic or snap-in lenses that you can carry in your pocket and put on over the goggles’ built-in lens if light conditions change

If you have to wear prescription eyewear, several options are available to you. You can wear some goggles over your eyeglasses. Make sure that you have an anti-fog coating on your eyeglasses’ lens, since this creates a fog-conducive environment inside the goggles. Also be sure that the goggles have good ventilation, as this will help reduce fogging. Another option is to get goggles that allow a snap-in prescription lens behind the goggles’ lens. And a third option is to buy a pair of goggles that has a built-in prescription lens. By purchasing a pair of snow goggles before you hit the slopes, you are investing in the safety and health of your eyes.

{ photo credit: annstheclaf (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/annstheclaf/2230026985/)cc (http://creativecommons NULL.org/licenses/by-nc/2 NULL.0/) }

Concussions and Vision Problems

Concussion Vision

With most of the United States fast approaching winter or already in the throes of freak snowstorms, ice is going to become an ever-present annoyance from day to day, especially in our state of Minnesota. With ice comes the danger of slips, falls, and injury, including concussions. Concussions are injuries to the brain that come with some injuries to the head, especially with falls, automobile accidents, and sports incidents. Many symptoms of concussions include vision-related problems, such as blurry vision, seeing double, light sensitivity, and an inability to focus properly. Even headaches, a very common concussion symptom, may be caused not by the concussion itself but by the strain placed on the visual system.

Concussions and Vision

The reason why many major concussion symptoms have to do with vision is because over 70% of neural tissue (brain tissue) is related either directly or indirectly with vision. Therefore, when the brain is injured, it usually causes repercussions in the visual system – either with vision itself or with the processing required to translate and comprehend visual data from the eyes. One of the most common visual problems that people experience post-concussion is called convergence insufficiency, which is essentially the loss of the ability to clearly see near. The reflex that allows you to see near involves three things: convergence (eyes crossing), lens focusing (accommodation), and dilation of the pupils to increase depth of focus (miosis). The part of the brain that controls these functions is often injured in a concussion, and one, two, or all three of these functions may be lost, thus causing blurry vision with reading, computer work, and other near activities.

Good News: Vision Therapy Rehabilitation

The good news is that many vision problems, including convergence insufficiency and accommodative dysfunction, can be treated with reading glasses and vision rehabilitation. If you or a loved one has had a concussion that is causing visual problems, talk to the doctor treating the concussion about the possibility of being referred for vision therapy. You can also come in and see one of our doctors for a full vision exam that can determine whether you need glasses, vision therapy, or both.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has had a concussion, seek immediate medical attention first. Because concussions are injuries to the brain, they must be treated with special attention, and any symptoms that appear in the days and weeks following a concussion ought to be reported, as well.

 

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Dr Mary Gregory - Minnesota Leaders in Healthcare AwardMinnesota Business magazine recognized the elite of Minnesota’s health care professionals at the Leaders in Health Care Awards and Banquet on October 29th, 2014.

This year our own Dr Mary Gregory received the Health Care Practitioner Award. This recognition is given to an individual who has operated at an exceptional level in their field of practice. There is no doubt that Dr. Gregory filled the requirements for this honor because of her passion and energy in promoting healthy vision development for children.

Dr. Mary Gregory and her husband, Dr. Dan Gregory, attended the awards event, held at the Minneapolis Marriott Center.  Mary Lahammer, program host and political reporter for Twin Cities Public Television, was the event emcee.

The other two finalists in Dr Gregory’s category were  Dr. Yoav H. Messinger, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (http://java02 NULL.childrensmn NULL.org/finddoctor/SpecialistDetail NULL.do?docid=15795655) and Gwen Verchota, Care Delivery Manager, virtuwell (https://www NULL.linkedin NULL.com/pub/gwen-verchota/29/87b/b93).

“As I sat in that room with hundreds of my peers I realized what an impressive group of professionals exist in Minnesota. It was an honor to part of this group of progressive and innovative individuals,” stated Dr. Gregory.

“Then, to hear my name announced as winner was so completely unexpected that I was stunned. I hadn’t even prepared an acceptance speech!”

We at Uptown Eye Care are so very proud to be able to work with, learn from, and be inspired by a doctor whose passion for her profession and love for people has led her to serve  this community.

Congratulations, Dr. Mary Gregory!

Seeing Stars in Vision Explained

Seeing Stars in Vision Phosphene

Have you ever seen spots swimming across your eyes?
This phenomenon of seeing stars in vision is called a phosphene.

Did you ever close your eyes and push on them with your fingers as a child to see waves and patterns of color float across your eyelids?  Perhaps more commonly for adults, have you ever stood up suddenly from reclining or laying down and seen spots swimming across your vision?  Or maybe you suffer from migraines that begin as flashes and spots of light crossing the visual field.  Hopefully you have never been knocked on the head hard enough to cause flashes of light, but that is another way that you may see strange spots that don’t actually exist.  This phenomenon of “seeing stars in vision” is called a “phosphene,” and is the experience of seeing light when no light is actually entering the eye.

How can I see light where no light is present?

There are several ways that the eye can see light where no light is present.  In order for us to see, our retina must be stimulated by light waves, which our brain then translates into an image.  But the retina can also be stimulated physically, electrically, and magnetically.  Most phosphenes that people experience are physically induced. When you rub your eyes or close them and put pressure on them, you activate cells in the retina, which the brain is required to interpret as a visual signal.  Thus, you see waves of color and patterns of black and white.  Since there are no light waves actually entering the eye, the brain cannot create a picture (like a floating meatball sandwich), so you simply see patterns, colors and spots. Other physically induced phosphenes can include seeing spots when you sneeze – sneezing puts a lot of pressure on the eyes and on the light-receiving cells in the eyes.

Fluctuation in blood pressure

When you have been in a reclined position for some time and then stand up, you may experience a drop in blood pressure.  The eye has a very high metabolism, so that drop in blood pressure results in a loss of oxygen to the retina, which can cause it to misfire signals to the brain.  On an opposite note, if you are experiencing seeing stars in vision while pregnant without having just stood up, this can be a signal of pre-eclampsia, a serious condition involving high blood pressure, and you should see your care provider immediately about this concern.  Another physically induced phosphene is caused by migraines.  Migraines are spasms of blood vessels in the brain, and flashes and spots that come on before a migraine are caused by spasms of blood vessels in the retina.

A bump on the head

Finally, seeing spots when you have been hit in the head is not necessarily caused by physical stimulation to the retina, but often because the part of the brain that processes signals from the retina and produces images, known as the occipital lobe, gets bumped.  This can irritate the visual cortex, located inside the occipital lobe, and in the same way that physical stimulation of the retina produces spots, physically stimulates the cells in the visual cortex to produce spots and flashes.

Seeing stars is generally not a concern for eye health

Usually, seeing spots or flashes of light is not a concern and can be explained by one of the reasons above.  However, if you are experiencing a sudden increase of flashes or spots, it can be a sign of a detached retina, which is a medical emergency because it can lead to permanent blindness within a matter of hours.  Contact your eye doctor immediately, and if you cannot reach the eye doctor, go to the emergency room.

{ photo credit: katiecooperx (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/coopzzz/4363332783/)cc (http://creativecommons NULL.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2 NULL.0/) }

Vision Therapy for Children

Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the eyes.

Many children are involved in sports during the school year. Sports require a great deal of hand-eye coordination as well as good vision in order to perform well. If your child is consistently under-performing in a sport that he or she usually does well in, could a vision problem be the issue?

Some vision skills that children require to play sports include:

  • Hand-eye coordination: Using visual information to move the hands, such as when aiming and swinging a bat.
  • Visual acuity: Seeing objects clearly at different distances, i.e. seeing a hole at a distance and close-up while golfing.
  • Eye teaming: Seeing depth and accurately judging distance while using both eyes, such as when judging how hard to kick a soccer ball.
  • Eye tracking: Keeping eyes together on a moving target or while looking from one object to another, such as while following a volleyball during a game.
  • Eye focusing: Being able to quickly keep an object clearly in focus while it changes distance, like when watching other players during a basketball game.

If any of these vision skills are lacking or underdeveloped, children can have a difficult time in sports and may not be playing the best that they could be. For example, the basketball may be thrown consistently too softly and always miss the hoop by a few inches in the front if eye teaming is poor. If the student has poor hand-eye coordination, they may understand where the volleyball is at but be unable to hit it with the correct part of their arm, causing the ball to hit the net instead of going over it.

How Can Uptown Eye Care Help?

This is where Uptown Eye Care can help. If you suspect your child has a vision problem and it is affecting the sports that the child is playing, bring him or her in for a vision exam. The specific visual problem can be pinpointed and a treatment selected. Examples of treatments that may be prescribed include a glasses or contacts prescription and vision therapy (sometimes called “vision training”). Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the eyes – it may sometimes involve exercises that work out the physical muscles of the eyes but mainly works on the “mental muscles” of the mind that are responsible for translating and interpreting the visual information sent by the optic nerve.

It is important to be sure that your child is wearing appropriate eyewear for the sports that he or she is participating in. Without protective eyewear, the chances of injury increase. Children would benefit from wearing protective eyewear in any sport that includes moving objects or physical contact, such as football, hockey, soccer, tennis, and martial arts. For sports played outside, protection from the sun is also a must. UV rays can cause damage to their eyes, so protective eyewear or sunglasses with UV-blocking coatings are recommended. Visit our clinic to view a selection of protective eyewear and sunglasses today!

 

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Paraoptometric of the Year Award

Paraoptometric of the Year Award

All of us at Uptown Eye Care would like to congratulate our Optical Team Leader, LaRae F. on being chosen as the Paraoptometric of the Year by the Minnesota Optometric Association.

Each year the Minnesota Optometric Association presents this award to a paraoptometric that has made outstanding contributions to the paraoptometric profession.

We think LaRae was the obvious choice for this award. She puts forth much time and effort to lead her team to excellence. She serves as the co-chair of the Minnesota Optometric Association’s Paraoptometric Board and has been a board member for the past 3 years. In this position she has shown dedication to her field by devoting much time and energy to finding skilled speakers and instructors to provide continuing education for all paraoptometrics in Minnesota.

LaRae - Optical Team Leader

LaRae, our Optical Team Leader and Paraoptometric of the Year Award winner.

She personally assists her team members to gain the knowledge and skills needed to become highly skilled paraoptometrics and encourages a supportive team atmosphere by setting team goals and rewarding positive results.

It is obvious to all who come in contact with LaRae that her enthusiasm for paraoptometry is a result of her deep concern and compassion for people. She is always willing to go out of her way to ensure others’ needs are accommodated. Her sense of humor and tendency toward the occasional practical joke keeps all of us on our toes and in good spirits.

LaRae was presented with the award at the Awards Banquet following the Annual Fall Meeting of the Minnesota Optometric Association on September 19th. The event was held at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest in Brooklyn Center.

Congratulations, LaRae!

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.

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