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Sunglasses: Your Most Important Accessory

How many pairs of shoes do you own? On average 20 for women and 12 for men (it’s true…I looked it up on the Internet.) Working out at the gym in dress shoes would be a painful experience indeed!

What about eyeglasses? Having listened to patients talk about their glasses for 35 years, I’d guess most people own one or two pairs.

This series of articles will discuss a variety of eyeglass and lens types, including sunglasses, task-specific glasses such as computer glasses, and lens treatments to enhance vision quality and comfort.

The most important second pair of glasses to own are sunglasses, whether they be prescription or non-prescription. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays, and unprotected, prolonged exposure to these rays can cause serious vision problems. They are also valuable for diminishing glare that can cause distractions while driving, working and playing.

What features should you look for in high-quality sunglasses? Certainly a larger frame, which will block out more of the sun’s rays. Optical quality lenses (no drugstore glasses, please,) with UV coating are a must.

I always recommend polarized lenses because they cut through glare and haze. Lenses come in all colors but experts agree that gray allows the wearer to see outdoor colors as they appear naturally, without glare or light pollution. Neutral tones are a popular choice and improve contrast, visibility and depth perception.

An alternative to sunglasses is photochromic “transition” lenses, which darken when exposed to UV radiation outdoors from the sun. They are certainly convenient because one pair of glasses can perform two jobs. My concern with this product is the lack of sufficient darkening while driving. Most windshields contain a UV blocker, which blunts the darkening effect of the lenses.

The optical experts at Classic Eyewear welcome the opportunity to discuss your eyewear needs. Prescriptions from other doctors are always welcome. Classic Eyewear is located at the offices of the Coastal Jersey Eye Center in Linwood and Cape May Court House.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 30 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget. For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, please call the Linwood office at 609.927.3373 or 609.465.7926 for the Cape May Court House office. Visit online at www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.

Shingles: To Vaccinate or Not – That is NOT the Question

Shingles: To Vaccinate or Not – That is NOT the Question

Shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox (virtually everyone), you are at risk of getting shingles.

  • One of every three people 60 years old or older will get shingles.
  • Half of these people will develop severe pain (post herpetic neuralgia) lasting months or even years.
  • One in 5 cases involve the eye, which can lead to serious complications including chronic pain, glaucoma and severe vision loss.

For reasons not entirely clear, the incidence of shingles has been increasing dramatically in the last 15 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of individuals who live to age 85 will develop shingles.

The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and the long-term problems that can ensue is to get vaccinated. Recently the CDC lowered the recommended age for vaccination from age 60 to 50 and older.

The really great news is the CDC recently approved a new vaccine, Shingrix. It is much more effective than the older vaccine (greater than 90% decrease in shingles versus about 60% with the previous vaccine).

Current recommendations from the federal agency responsible for immunizations recommends:

  • Shingrix be used instead of the older vaccine, Zostavax.
  • All immunocompetent individuals 50 or older receive the vaccine. Individuals with weakened immune systems including cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, patients with HIV/AIDS and individuals with certain allergies should check with their physicians.
  • People who have had shingles in the past should still receive the vaccine.
  • Individuals who have had the previous vaccine should have the newer one because Zostavax loses its effectiveness over time.

A prominent ophthalmologist who has written about the new vaccine puts it bluntly, ‘… getting shingles in your eye is one of the worst things that can happen to an eye. It can literally go on for the rest of your life.’

March 2, 2018

Diagnosing and Treating Dry Eye Disease

A quiet revolution is occurring in the field of eye care, namely the diagnosis and treatment of Dry Eye Disease (DED). Spurred by new research, specific treatments and changes in our patients’ lifestyles, this once largely-ignored disorder is of great interest to ophthalmologists and patients alike.

DED is a very common condition affecting millions of Americans. Estimates vary widely but between 8-30% of adults are affected. Symptoms include:

  • stinging, burning and redness
  • scratchy feeling as if there is something in the eyes
  • excessive tearing
  • discomfort and pain
  • difficulty reading or using an electronic device for prolonged periods

Recently recognized is the effect of DED on reading and computer work.  Sometimes called ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’, the lack of tears and ‘good tears’ causes eyestrain and loss of productivity.

Also, we are seeing more and more individuals with long-standing vague pain in and about the eyes. Patients were frustrated going from doctor to doctor looking for relief. Now we recognize that many of these people have previously undiagnosed DED.

The good news is that treatment can be highly successful. The mainstay of treatment is specific medications in eye drop form, including Restasis and the newcomer, Xiidra. Also, of great interest is the use of Omega-3 supplements. These must be of a very specific type in the re-esterified triglyceride form, NOT available in drugstores. Artificial tears are used for minor symptoms.

Ophthalmologists recognize that a variety of eyelid problems often play a very important role in DED. Treatment directed at these problems, e.g. blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is critical to the success of treatment.

The doctors at the Coastal Jersey Eye Center highly recommend visiting your eye care provider if you’re experiencing these problems.

February 1, 2018