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Eye Health from Brookside Optometric

Eye health tips and information about glasses, contact lenses, Lasik, and more from the doctors of Brookside Optometric Group.

Breast Cancer Metastasis and Eye Exams

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October is no longer just an orange and black month in the spirit of Halloween. October is also a pink month—October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October is the month when major campaigns to promote early detection of breast cancer with screening mammograms and monthly self-breast exams and fundraising campaigns to fund breast cancer research occur.

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Your Eyes: The Windows to Your Health

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People say that the eyes are the windows to the soul yet they are actually a window to your health. Many people are unaware how many health issues can be detected or diagnosed in an eye exam.

The eye has two unique properties. The first is that the tissue on the back of the eye, the retina, is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be seen without any obstruction of other tissue. By examining the appearance of these blood vessels, your optometrist can see damage from systemic disease happening to the eye and if it is happening to the eye then it is also happening to the blood vessels throughout the body.

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Safe Viewing Tips for the 2017 Solar Eclipse

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A solar eclipse is a phenomenal spectacle that everyone should make the effort to see, and the eclipse of August 21, 2017 promises to be one of the most amazing of our lifetieme. Your mother's (and your optometrist's) advice about not looking directly at the sun still applies. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind. You can get more information about safely viewing the eclipse from NASA.

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Healthy Contact Lens Habits

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Many people take their contact lenses for granted. Taking unnecessary risks with your contact lenses is like texting and driving: It is an accident waiting to happen. Even people who have been fit properly and do everything right have run into problems. Here are a few key points for you to remember when using contact lenses.

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Back to School Eye Care and Eyewear Tips

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It’s hard to believe that here, in the peak of summer, some school districts will be resuming classes in July, and the rest will go back to school in August. For many students, there may be almost as much demand on their vision when they are off during the summer. With summer preparation requirements for AP and Honors Classes, possibly increased periods of intense video-gaming, or even more extreme summer exposure to sun, wind, and sports—a student’s eyes get a work-out all year long!

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Special Needs Children & Vision: Why should they visit the Optometrist?

Special Needs Children & Vision:  Why should they visit the Optometrist?

Now, more than ever before, there are greater numbers of children with special needs and challenges in the classroom. Many of these children, particularly those with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and high functioning autism (Asperger’s), have average and often above-average intelligence. But regardless of their IQs, they often struggle in school because their brains process information differently than others. Given that more than 25% of the brain is devoted to processing vision, it is not surprising that visual processing issues are often among the processing differences of the special needs child. Failing to address these visual processing issues makes the child’s learning experience more difficult than it needs to be. Sometimes it may be a combination of both visual processing and visual function (seeing, focusing, tracking, eye coordination) that is contributing to your child’s difficulty. The optometrist can help to identify what is the appropriate intervention, including treatment, therapy, and/or coordination of care with other professionals such as speech and language therapists, reading specialists and programs, neuropsychologists, behavioral therapists, specialized tutors and others.

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Low Vision Month Interview

Low Vision Month Interview

Dr. Bob Melrose served on the Board of Directors of Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired for several years. It was there he met and became friends with Joni Bauer, M.S., COMS, who has served as the Center’s Orientation & Mobility Specialist/Independent Living Skills Instructor for 40 years.

February is Low Vision Month, so Dr. Bob sat down with Joni for a discussion regarding the ways Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired serves residents of San Joaquin County who are visually impaired.

Dr. Bob: Joni, sometimes I think your organization is the best-kept secret in San Joaquin County. Could you please explain your organization’s mission and services?

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Blogging about Macular Degeneration

Blogging about Macular Degeneration

As I examine patients and ask about eye disease in their family, nearly everyone has heard of glaucoma and cataracts (although only occasional patients can remember which is which!). Relatively few patients are familiar with Macular Degeneration, also known as Age-Related Maculopathy (ARM), even though it is far more devastating to their loved one’s vision. Remarkably, ARM is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in Americans over 65 years old, and affects 2 million people.

First, a little anatomy lesson to help you understand ARM: the macula is the portion of the retina we use for all our detail vision. Whenever you look directly at something, you are using your macula to see it. For still unknown reasons, in some older folks, the vision-sensing cells in the macula selectively get destroyed. The cells can either atrophy (or degenerate), called “dry” ARM, which makes up 80% of cases, or they can become scarred, called “wet” ARM, which makes up the remaining 20% of cases.

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Glaucoma: Avoiding the Silent Disease

Glaucoma: Avoiding the Silent Disease

As we’ve kicked off this New Year feeling refreshed and looking forward to carrying out our many New Year’s resolutions (some being more realistic than others of course...), let’s add one more thing to that list: Seeing the best that you can in 2017.

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month meaning there’s no better time to start the conversation about this often talked about condition. In this article, I will try to explain what exactly Glaucoma is while clearing up some common misconceptions along the way!

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Year in Review - 2016

Year in Review - 2016

It is hard to believe another year is coming to a close. No one can say that 2016 was not an eventful year for our country and it certainly was not uneventful for Brookside Optometric Group either.

We were the recipients of the 1st place vote as Best Eye Care office in San Joaquin County in both the Best of San Joaquin Magazine and The Best of the Record contests for the 6th year in a row. We are touched and honored to receive this designation once again.

Our office completed its first year of using our new electronic medical records system. Change is always fraught with challenges and this was certainly the case with us. We are happy to report that even some of us older docs have finally become proficient with this new technology so we will look less confused as we record our exams as we enter 2017.

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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

I hope we find all of you in good health and good spirits. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Looking back at the late 80’s, students were trained to interpret a case history to determine what disease entities we should look for based on a patient’s race and age. For example, it you were middle aged and of Hispanic or American Indian descent, we would be concerned with diabetes, if you were of African American descent, we would be concerned with hypertension and glaucoma and so on. While this is not funny, consider it a medical form of racial profiling but it was clinically significant. Case histories are still important but the thinking has changed.

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Home Eye Safety

Home Eye Safety

House cleaning, home improvements and yard work: for many Americans, these projects define this time of year. But, did you know home projects like these can be a major threat to eye safety? All too often, when we’re working around the house and doing chores that we've done a thousand times before without incident, we forget about the risks we take by not protecting our eyes but all it takes is one split-second accident that could damage your vision for a lifetime." According to the American Academy of Optometry, nearly half of all serious eye injuries occur at home, yet only 35 percent of Americans wear protective eyewear during projects that could pose a threat to their eyes.

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Dry Eye Syndrome - Part I

Dry Eye Syndrome - Part I

Many patients come to our office at Brookside Optometric Group not only because they have blurry vision, but also because their eyes are often irritated, and even red. Sometimes the irritation and redness have been going on for so long that the patients think it is "normal", especially if they wear contact lenses. In actual fact, they may be suffering from dry eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome (DES).

DES is a disease of the tear film covering the surface of the eye. This condition results in ocular discomfort, blurry vison, and tear film instability that can damage the surface of the eye. This then leads to inflammation of the eye, producing red eyes, swelling, and sometimes even watery eyes. Eventually the corneal surface will be damaged, causing further pain, discomfort, and even blurred vision.

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Infant/Toddler/Children’s Vision: My First Visit to the Optometrist

Infant/Toddler/Children’s Vision:  My First Visit to the Optometrist

If you are a parent like me and have ever wondered “when should I first take my child to see the optometrist”, you are probably not alone. Many parents decide to take their children to the eye doctor for their first eye exam when they fail a vision school screening or the vision screening at the pediatrician’s office. However, there are great benefits to bringing your child in for a comprehensive optometric examination long before the presentation of a suspected or apparent vision issue.

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What is blue light, and why should you care?

What is blue light, and why should you care?

Most of us have an understanding that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is bad for our eyes. We’ve learned to shop for sunglasses that have “100% UV Protection”. This is still good advice. However, due to a dramatic increase in our use of electronic devices and energy-efficient lighting, there’s increased concern about our exposure to another part of the visual spectrum... blue light.

Blue light itself is nothing new. It’s been present in natural sunlight and in artificial light in varying concentrations since the beginning of time. It’s actually very close to UV light in the visible light spectrum (Ultraviolet = 10-380 nm, Blue-violet = 380-455 nm). The difference is the level of exposure to blue light that we’re receiving in our modern world. The majority of this increase comes from our growing dependence on electronic devices, and how quickly this trend has occurred. Let’s look at a few dates that we can probably all relate to:

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What are Cataracts?

What are Cataracts?
“You’ve got cataracts”.

These three words can still fill a patient’s mind with worry and fear when their doctor has to utter them. Memories still linger of parents and grandparents going to the hospital and needing a week of bed rest only to be chained to thick glasses for the rest of their lives once the surgery was complete. Luckily for all of us those days are a thing of the past.

These days cataract surgery is a 20-minute procedure that should not be feared. With modern implant surgery bed rest is not necessary and the visual outcomes are often nothing short of miraculous.

So what are cataracts and how do you fix them?

Everyone’s eyes have two lenses they use to see with. The cornea is the lens on the front of the eye where contact lenses are placed. The cornea’s job is to help you see distance objects clearly. If the cornea has an improper power than contact lenses, glasses or LASIK surgery is necessary to provide clear distance vision.

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Make-up Tips

Make-up Tips

In honor of Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, I want to offer some tips to my female patients regarding make-up application and removal. I am not talking about tips on how to get the perfect winged eyeliner or smoky eye (but if someone can teach me, that will be greatly appreciated). I am referring to how to put make-up on and remove it to avoid getting dry and red eyes.

One of the common causes of dry eye is meibomian gland dysfunction. The eyelid margin (also known as the waterline) is lined with meibomian glands that secrete oil to lubricate the eye. However, if there is chronic blockage of the gland, it can become inflamed and no longer produce the oil we need to keep our eyes feeling moisturized.

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Glaucoma Diagnosis

Glaucoma Diagnosis
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Visual Field Test
Direct Ophthalmoscopic Exam
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Glaucoma is a disease where a person slowly loses their peripheral due to an increased pressure within the eye that damages the optic nerve.

In the early days of glaucoma detection doctwere mainly concerned about the level of intra-ocular pressure (pressure within the eye). If it was high you had glaucoma-simple as that. We also looked at the appearance of the nerve and tested the level of their peripheral vision by having them stare at a large blank area of black cloth and brought in a white marker on a stick to see when they first noticed it.

Those days are all but forgotten now. Today’s diagnoses of glaucoma require sophisticated equipment since our understanding of the disease has evolved.

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2015 – A Look Back

2015 – A Look Back

This is the time of year we celebrate the holidays with family and friends, but it is also a time to reflect back on the last year to remind ourselves what has transpired during this particular trip around the sun.

It has been an eventful year for our office. In fact, it could be called the “Electronic Medical Records” year.  Beginning in October, this was the year that the government made EMRs a necessity in doctors’ offices across the country.  Between coding changes and Medicare rules, the ability to operate an office without an EMR system became an impossibility. 

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Good Vision Means More Than Seeing "20/20"

Good Vision Means More Than Seeing "20/20"

Now that our kids are back to school it is important for parents to feel confident that their child is seeing clearly to optimize his or her learning experience. An estimated 80 percent of information processed in school is through vision. When most people think about seeing clearly, they think of visual acuity, or being able to see “20/20.”

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Eye Spy

Eye Spy

Some of us may remember playing the game "I Spy," with my little eye, where the speaker would describe something within everyone's line of sight for the other participants to guess what they see. In a world of smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices, our eyes can see the whole world right from our fingertips.

The eye is a truly amazing organ which turns light into sight and for animals, this can mean a completely different type of vision. For example, insects and arthropods, have compound eyes that can have up to 25,000 lenses compared to the single one found in humans. This allows for thousands of images being present at once, which allows faster motion detection and image recognition, which is the reason why it can be difficult to swat a passing fly.

People and most other animals, have eyes that are similar to a camera, which use a single lens to focus images onto a light sensitive membrane on the inside of the eyeball called the retina. While these camera-type eyes are similar conceptually, most animals see the world completely different than humans.

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Seeing in the Summertime

Seeing in the Summertime

It's another of those hot central valley summers and many of us are choosing to keep cool by enjoying watersports. Boating, wave running and swimming are all excellent ways to beat the heat but there are a few things we all need to watch out for when it comes to our eyes and our eye health.

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What's the problem with cataracts?

What's the problem with cataracts?
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Normal Vision
Vision with Cataract
An advanced "Mature" cataract

"What are cataracts?” and "Do I have cataracts?” are two of the most common questions asked during an eye examination.

What are cataracts? A cataract is formed when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The lens is the part of the eye that helps focus light or an image on the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, similar to film in cameras.

When the lens is cloudy, it will interfere with the light entering the eye and imaging on the retina. Hence, vision will be blurred or hazy. Colors will be less vivid or intense and more difficult to distinguish. There may be increased sensitivity to glare from lights, especially when driving at night and difficulty seeing at night. Reading and other routine activities become more difficult to perform.

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Diabetes and Eye Health

Diabetes and Eye Health

Diabetes is a disease that affects approximately 29 million or 9 % of the American population and is the 7th leading cause of death in this country. Of those affected Americans 15% to 20% will suffer some visual impairment due to the disease. Diabetic patients are 60% more likely to develop cataracts at an younger age and 40% more likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma - both of which can cause severe vision loss if left untreated. Because diabetes is largely treatable with diet and medication, we can reduce the likelihood of these side effects from occurring or at least delay their severity.

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Springtime is allergy time!

Springtime is allergy time!

As spring approaches most of us will appreciate the beautiful flowers, blooming trees, the singing birds, and the bees. Unfortunately some of you will dread the sneezing, coughing, and the watery, swollen, and itchy eyes associated with Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC).

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC), is the condition that many patients often suffer from without knowing they have it. Unfortunately, we often do the wrong things out of habit.

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Astigmatism and Contact Lenses

Astigmatism and Contact Lenses

Doc, Can I Wear Contact Lenses?

This is a question that the doctors of Brookside Optometric are asked on a daily basis.  And, in the vast majority of cases, the resounding answer is “Yes”!  Over 38 million Americans currently wear contact lenses.  Although that sounds like a big number, it actually only represents about 16% of those who would benefit from vision correction in the U.S.  So, why don’t more people wear contact lenses?  In many cases it’s because of common misconceptions.  Let’s focus on just one of them.

I was told I can’t wear contacts because I’ve got “a stigma”

Well, you don’t actually have disgraceful or defective eyes.  You simply have “astigmatism”, which is one of the more commonly misunderstood vision problems. Like nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism is a refractive error, meaning it is not an eye disease or eye health problem; it's simply a problem with how the eye focuses light.  Refractive errors are the primary reasons why people are prescribed glasses, contact lenses or pursue corrective refractive surgery. 

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Dry Eye FAQs

Dry Eye FAQs

Q:  WHY DO MY EYES ALWAYS FEEL SO IRRITATED? 

A:  COULD BE DRY EYE SYNDROME

Next to blurry vision, our most common ocular problem in the Valley is dry eye, and many people don’t even know they have it! Studies show that up to 1/3 of people suffer from dry eye naturally, and our dry Valley air and high degree of allergens makes it even worse.

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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is a disease where the pressure in the eye rises and slowly kills off the optic nerve and leads to blindness. Here are just a few facts about Glaucoma:

  • It is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it.
  • In the U.S., more than 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness.
  • Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
  • After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans.
  • Blindness from glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
  • African Americans are 15 times more likely to be visually impaired from glaucoma than Caucasians.
  • The most common form, open-angle glaucoma, accounts for 19% of all blindness among African Americans compared to 6% in Caucasians.
  • Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.
  • Estimates put the total number of suspected cases of glaucoma at over 60 million worldwide.
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Your Vision Check: More Than Meets the Eye

Your Vision Check: More Than Meets the Eye

Sometimes the eye doctor is the only doctor people see with any regularity — especially some of us guys. Therefore it is comforting to know that there is a lot your eye doctor can tell you about your general health by examining your eyes. When you think about it, the back of your eye is the only place on your body that you can actually look at the blood vessels themselves. And the optic nerve is really a kind of cable extension from your brain. Hypertension and high cholesterol levels cause observable changes to your blood vessels.

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How to evaluate whether or not you are working with the correct laser center for LASIK eye surgery

How to evaluate whether or not you are working with the correct laser center for LASIK eye surgery

Not a day goes by where a patient of mine does not ask me about LASIK eye surgery. This life changing surgery has been available in the United States since 1999 and it is estimated that over 600,000 people have this procedure performed every year. Sadly not all LASIK centers are the same and it is important to know how to determine if the center you are working with is the best choice for you.

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Computer Vision and the importance of Computer Glasses

Computer Vision and the importance of Computer Glasses

Do you stare at the computer more than 4 hours a day? Do your eyes feel tired and strained by the middle or end of the work day? Do you regularly experience headaches by the end of your day or sooner? Does your neck and back ache as you tilt your chin and adjust your head to see the computer screen through your progressive glasses all day?  These concerns and more are all related to a condition known as computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. If this sounds like you or a loved one, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Digital eye strain affects more than 70 percent of the approximately 143 million Americans who work on a computer on a daily basis, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).

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Good Vision Improves School Performance

Good Vision Improves School Performance

School is back! And it’s time to make sure your child can learn by making sure they can see well. Many kids who do not do well in school often need glasses to improve their vision in order to help them see the classroom board or to decrease eyestrain while reading. 

If a child has a difficult time learning in school, is unable to comprehend material, or has a short attention span, it could possibly be the result of a vision problem. Before any child is diagnosed with a learning disability, he/she is required to get an eye exam first.

Here are some common vision problems:

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