The Importance of Diabetic Eye Exams

Dr. Harshman
by Dr. Harshman

Diabetic eye disease is the number one cause of blindness and vision loss in working-age adults. People with diabetes are at risk of several conditions that, when detected early, can be treated to reduce vision loss.


Diabetic retinopathy affects 5.3 million Americans 18 years of age and older. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the retina, the light sensitive tissue in the back part of your eye, become damaged and leak resulting in blurred vision and vision loss.

Diabetics are also twice as likely to get cataracts and glaucoma than someone without the disease. Cataracts develop and cause your eye lens to become cloudy, interfering with your vision. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve which can also cause vision loss.

The longer someone has diabetes means a greater the likelihood that these complications could occur.

In early stages of diabetic eye disease, there are sometimes no indicators that there is a problem. There are no symptoms or pain. Vision can start to blur as the blood vessels weaken, which is why it is so important for diabetic patients to see their eye doctor regularly.

A dilated eye exam (or optomap® exam) can detect diabetic eye disease in the retina before vision loss occurs. The earlier the detection can mean a more positive outcome of treatment.

There are several treatments for diabetic retinopathy including laser eye surgery or  pharmaceutical injections that prevent fluid leakage that can improve vision.

Ways to prevent diabetic eye disease coincide with the managing of diabetes altogether: controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol; maintaining a healthy diet and exercise; and having regular eye exams to monitor the disease.

If you have diabetes, it is important to schedule yearly exams with your optometrist in order to monitor the health of your retina. Also, make sure to come in if you are noticing a sudden change in vision or floaters, blurred vision that affects only one eye or vision changes that are not associated with a change in blood sugar.

Meet the Vision Therapy Grad: Sophie

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

When Sophie started to complain about increasing headaches, blurry and double vision, her mother, Wendy became very concerned. Her parents brought her to the pediatrician who ran tests and performed an MRI. Both Sophie’s eye doctor and a specialist diagnosed her with Convergence Insufficiency and recommended Vision Therapy.

The recommended exercises and treatment initially seemed daunting to Sophie. However, once she started noticing results, she enthusiastically responded to Vision Therapy. “My life just got easier. I went from reading one page a day to one or two books a week. I could also learn my music much quicker.”

Her parents and teachers also saw huge improvements in class with Sophie being excited about reading and learning. “My bright, confident daughter went from closing one eye while doing her homework to burying her nose in books excited about the stories she was reading.”

For more information about Vision Therapy and how it can help your child,

CVD grad_Sophie-2

Meet the Vision Therapy Grad: Allison

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Allison was referred to the Center for Vision Development last January by Dr. Brian Brightman after having problems reading and adjusting from the board to her desk in math class.

She recently graduated from the program and her father, Mark was thrilled with her progress. “It was nice to find out that there was a Vision Therapy program to help Allison. The staff was always friendly, caring and very professional. Erin was always great with Allison from caring how her day was going to how the home activities were helping her with school. Thanks for all you’ve done!”

Find out more about our Vision Therapy program:

CVD grads_Allison

Optomap: The Bigger Picture

Dr. Sandman

Your retina is a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye. It converts light and images to signals which it then sends to the brain. When there is a problem with the retina, it can impede this messaging process resulting in impaired vision or blindness.

Early detection of any retinal health issues is imperative to treating the conditions. Because the retina has no nerve endings, it is possible to have damage or another health condition and not feel it. Only a comprehensive eye exam and retinal screening by your eye doctor would detect such an issue.

ECS_optomap_blog-01Some of the more common conditions that can affect your retina:

Diabetic retinopathy
Age-related macular degeneration
Retinal detachment
Ocular melanoma

The traditional method for viewing the retina is through dilation of the pupil. This allows your eye doctor to view your retina directly and notice if there are any abnormalities or issues that need to be further looked at. Traditional dilation allows your doctor to see approximately 15% of your retina at one time.

With the new optomap® technology, your doctor now can see 82% of your retina at one time. The optomap scans your retina with an ultra-widefield view, often with no dilation necessary, and presents a digital image of your retina to your doctor. The benefits to this are that your doctor now has an almost complete view of your retina and is able to notice any abnormalities. Also, there are now digital records of your retina, and your doctor is able to compare records to note any changes.

Optomap is available at all EyeCare Specialties locations. Your doctor will be able to recommend how often you should have an optomap image taken based on your lifestyle and family history.

Meet the Frame Expert: Ashley

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

Ashley_LottHola, Ashley! Ashley loves working at EyeCare Specialties so much that she recently returned after spending a year in Spain teaching English. She enjoys taking what she learned in Europe and helping patients explore fashion and a new sense of style. Ashley has a way of helping people step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

She feels it’s important to get to know each frame line that ECS carries so she can give each patient as much information as they need to make the right decision.

Ashley looks forward to another great year with ECS, “I like working for a company that prides itself on taking care of its patients as well as its employees.” She’s also looking forward to being able to spend the holidays here with her family in Nebraska.

Myopia Control

Dr. Pfeil

What is Myopia?
Myopia is nearsightedness or difficulty seeing objects in the distance. It can also cause squinting, eyestrain, headaches and eye fatigue. Myopia currently affects approximately 1/3 of adults currently in the United States. Myopia usually starts in childhood and worsens over time.

myopia_control-01The issue lies within the shape of the eyeball in relation to the curvature of the cornea and the lens of the eye.

What causes Myopia?
No one is entirely sure. Studies show that heredity does play a part in whether or not someone develops myopia. If both parents wear glasses, there is a higher likelihood that their child will also need them. There are also some studies that suggest that reading may play a role in myopia development.

Our goal at ECS is to treat the myopic condition and to slow its progression.

There are several treatment options for myopia. Traditional glasses and contact lenses offer clear vision but do not slow the myopia. LASIK surgery can work for adults but is not recommended for children. Pharmaceutical intervention through medical eye drops can help control the progression of myopia for a while, but have negative side effects. Orthokeratology is the wearing of specially designed gas permeable contact lenses that reshape your cornea while you sleep. This can help slow the progression of myopia, but does not offer a permanent solution.

Therapeutic Multifocal Lenses
In recent research, the use of contact lenses, in which a patient’s prescription is in the middle of the contact lens surrounded by plus power, has shown to reduce myopia progression by 40-50%. It is suggested that when using these contact lenses to slow the progression of myopia that the patient utilize this modality until their early twenties.The center optics of the contact lens will correct for the myopia and deliver focused light rays on to the macula at the back of the eye. The peripheral retina is what studies have shown to be the driving force for the elongation of the eye leading to an increase in myopia. With distance only correction, the macula will have a focused image delivered to it, but the rays being delivered to the peripheral retina will not be focused on the retina, rather behind it. By placing the plus power around the myopia prescription, the light rays in the peripheral retina are focused on or in front of the retina helping to reduce the tendency for the elongation of the eye.

Doctor Q&A: What is Myopia and How is it Treated?

Dr. Pfeil

In our latest Doctor Q&A, find out more about myopia and discover how a new treatment for children may be able to slow the progression of myopia which may help to prevent cataracts, glaucoma and other eye diseases later in life.


Meet the Vision Therapy Graduate: Eva

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Last year Eva suffered headaches after coming home from classes in 3rd grade. Her parents had her vision tested and discovered that Eva needed assistance tracking and switching her focal point in the classroom. She was referred to the Vision Therapy program at EyeCare Specialties.

Eva’s parents credit the enthusiasm of vision therapists Michelle Hoatson and Rose Walker as the motivation for her progress. After several weeks, Eva’s headaches stopped and she gained more confidence in reading.

“Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes it was hard,” confesses Eva in regards to staying committed to the Vision Therapy exercises. “Now my eyes have fixed all the problems and I have met all my goals!”

Congratulations, Eva! And best of luck to you in 4th grade.

CVD grad_Eva-2

Choosing Eyewear for Children

Mindy McCormick
by Mindy McCormick

Now that kids have been back in school, they may begin to notice vision problems they didn’t realize during the lazy days of summer. After bringing your child in for a comprehensive eye exam, you may face the decision of choosing your child’s first pair of eyewear. The tough part can be deciding what option to choose.

At the end of the day, if a child won’t wear his/her glasses, it’s money out the window. It’s important to choose eyewear that your child feels comfortable in, both the way they fit and the way they feel.

IMG_7512Things to consider when choosing eyewear for your child:

You want to consider your child’s prescription and the thickness of their lenses. The stronger the prescription, the smaller the frames should be to reduce peripheral distortion.

You’ll also want to consider proper bridge fit. How the frames sit on your child’s nose will impact whether or not they slide down or fit comfortably.

There are many temple styles to choose from with children’s frames. Toddlers and younger children may benefit from wrap-around styles that go around the head or styles that wrap around the ears, so the glasses don’t fall off.

Lifestyle is very important to consider when choosing eyewear. If your child plays sports, consider getting him/her a pair of prescription sports glasses. Regular street wear is not recommended for sports play, because the risk of injury is greater than if they weren’t wearing any eyewear. If your child spends a lot of time outside, consider going with photochromic (Transitions®) lenses or a secondary pair of prescription sunglasses.

At EyeCare Specialties, we offer a great children’s package. You can get a complete pair of children’s eyewear including the frames, lenses and any coatings for 50% off. Included in this offer is our Warranty Plus program; If your child breaks or loses their eyewear, you can replace them once for just 25% of the original cost.

The Frame Experts at EyeCare Specialties can help make sure that the eyewear you select fits properly and ensures the best vision for your child. Plus, our Frame Experts have some unique insight into what’s cool with the younger crowd.

Meet the Frame Expert: Emily

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

Emily_BuschEmily’s engaging personality is apparent before she even says hello. She loves greeting patients as they walk in the door and gets excited about finding the perfect pair for each individual person and their lifestyle. Emily has a unique way of introducing color and fashion into flattering style ideas for patients they hadn’t thought to try before. She knows what can help make a patient look and feel confident, stylish and terrific.

As a new mom, she especially likes helping kids, “Being that person to help a two-year-old see their parents for the first time is an amazing feeling!”

Emily has been proud to work at EyeCare Specialties for almost three years and looks forward to continuing to learn even more about the best ways to help the patients. “I love both working for a great company that values their employees and having great people to work with!”

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