Eyes, Blood Vessels and Sugar

As an eye doctor, I spend a lot of my day looking at my patients’ retinal blood vessels.  We do this with a Dilated Eye Exam or by using Optomap technology.  An Optomap is an excellent method of assessing blood vessels as this technology provides a panoramic view of the retina.  (www.optos.com)

Allow me to connect some dots:

1.   Eyes have some of the tiniest blood vessels in the human body

2.   Diabetes affects blood vessels.  The blood vessels most affected are the smallest blood vessels.

3.   That’s why Diabetes is a leading cause of permanent vision loss in the United States.

So cutting back on sugar is a good way to protect your eyesight.  From personal experience — the more sugar you eat, the more enticing sweets become.  Gradually decrease how much sugar you eat on a daily basis and you may find overly sweet foods just don’t taste that great anymore.  Really.

You may even end up eating less processed food as  foods that shouldn’t have a sweet taste — like spaghetti sauce, soup, frozen dinners, restaurant meals– start to taste sweet to you.

The easiest way to a healthier diet is to enjoy healthy food.  It’s easy to reduce sugar in your diet when you don’t think it tastes as great as it used to.  Eat less sugar and after a few months you won’t miss it. 

A special dessert to celebrate a special event is a great pleasure for many people.   But making excessive sweets a part of your daily life increases the risk of Diabetes–  and diminishes the the grand wonder of that perfect celebratory dessert on a special day.   Make your every day life healthier and your celebrations more special by eating sweets during celebratory events and not on a daily basis.  


Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations for all age groups, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia. Her practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of  basic and high tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames for adults and children.   


Pregnancy and Eye Exams

Almost every pregnant woman has read somewhere that pregnancy hormones can affect her glasses or contact lens prescription. Because of this a pregnant woman may delay necessary eye care.

I have found pregnancy usually does not affect glasses or contact lens prescriptions. In fact, pregnant women who delay their eye exam until after delivery, or after they finish nursing, may be putting themselves at risk for the following reasons:

1. Outdated eyeglass prescriptions can reduce driving safety

2. They may end up trying to squeeze an extra few weeks out of their last box of contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses longer than approved  can cause eye infections, changes in the delicate tissue under the eyelids that will make future lens wear less comfortable, and can even cause corneal damage.

3. Pregnant women should have eye exams to check the optic nerve and retina. At GH Eye we generally do not perform dilated eye examinations for pregnant patients. Instead, we use Optomap technology to get a wide angle panoramic view of the retina. This technology does not use any x-rays.  And, because their eyes are usually not dilated, pregnant patients feel safe driving home after their eye exam at GH Eye.

Comfortable eyeglasses with a current prescription are important because pregnant women are not permitted to wear contact lenses during delivery. Also, I recommend wearing glasses and not extended wear contact lenses during night feedings.

The good news is that unlike clothes or  shoes — the eyeglass frames that a pregnant woman purchases will still fit after delivery. So have fun with eyeglass fashion — buying eyeglass frames is like buying purses — won’t matter if you have added a size or two!

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia. Her practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of  basic and hi-tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames.

What Your Eyes Say About Your Health

Yesterday, the Wall St Journal, in it’s Personal Journal section, reported something eye doctors have known for a long time–changes in the eye may signal diseases elsewhere in the body. These diseases include diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer and others.

The article specifically discussed the benefits of this technology as a method of screening for many medical conditions. I’m happy to say that I have utilized Optomap technology in my optometry practice for over 10 years!

The Optomap instantaneously captures more than 80% of your retina in one panoramic image. More traditional methods show smaller sections of the retina at one time. Plus, Optomap technology allows us to store a digital record of your retina for future comparisons. Optomap is not the same as retinal photography. Typical retinal photographs can only view 30 degrees of the retina. Optomap can image 200 degrees – a huge difference! And, although a dilated view can show up to about 240 degrees – the quality of that view depends on how well the patient can hold their eye steady while bright lights are shining in their eye. and that’s only if the patient allows you to place dilating drops in their eyes.

Bottom line – Optomap and Dilation do not show exactly the same thing. The most comprehensive eye and medical health information occurs when I perform both Optomap and Dilation.
However, there are many patients who simply do not want to be dilated. Optomap is the very best technology for those patients. And, it’s a great test for kids.

Which tests we perform is always related to the patient’s eye health and medical history. What I find works best for many of our patients is to alternate – some years we perform Optomap testing and other years we perform dilation. That way we are always checking thoroughly, but getting slightly different information each time. Optomap is a powerful diagnostic tool and we are pleased to offer it at GH Eye!