The latest news from the Retina & Vitreous Center of Southern Oregon.
By Christine Gonzales, M.D., Retinal Consultant and Surgeon, Retina & Vitreous Center
As a retina specialist, I often see patients who delay seeking medical attention with new visual symptoms, assuming the symptoms will resolve spontaneously or new glasses will correct the problem. Some patients have been told they have cataracts (cloudy lenses), and they "self-diagnose" increasing blurriness as an increase in their cataract. Cataracts cause visual loss that is usually completely reversible with cataract surgery; however, the decreased vision could be due to a number of retinal conditions which can often be treated successfully if treatment is initiated early enough. Some of these conditions include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusions, and retinal detachments.
Macular degeneration is a degenerative condition in the elderly that leads to decreased function in the central retina, the macula. The retina lines the inner back surface of the eye and consists of nerve fiber layers that sense light and images and transmit this neurological information to the brain through the optic nerve. The retina is a very metabolically active organ that produces byproducts, such as free radicals. As we age our ability to remove these harmful byproducts is reduced. Progressive damage occurs in the macula which then decreases vision, initially as dry macular degeneration. In some cases, abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina as with wet macular degeneration. These vessels leak fluid and blood which damage the sensitive retinal cells in the macula, resulting in decreased vision. Early treatment for wet macular degeneration with injections into the eye and/or laser can often reverse visual loss. Antioxidant vitamins and alpha 3 omega fatty acids have been shown to decrease the rate of progression of macular degeneration.
As an ophthalmologist specializing in retinal disease, I see patients with various age-related eye diseases every day. It often surprises me how patients incorrectly assume that poor vision has to be just part of aging. Though there are several conditions that are more common as we get older, the large majority of people can maintain good vision into their eighties. I enjoy taking the opportunity to explain changes that are normal and those that can be indicative of a problem.
Lens changes are the most prevalent age-related eye development. Presbyopia, or limitation of our ability to focus at a normal reading distance, is due to hardening of the lens proteins. In many people, this becomes noticeable in our forties and is treatable with reading glasses. Cataracts begin to form in our fifties when lens protein changes cause a yellowish discoloration of the lens. Blurred vision or uncomfortable glare from bright lights can develop. Cataracts are usually mild at first, and for many years an updated glasses or contacts prescription may be the only required intervention. If cataracts progress to the point that quality of life is affected and glasses don't help, your eyecare provider can discuss cataract surgery to improve vision.
Lindsey and Jamie recently represented the Retina & Vitreous Center at the 2017 Senior Resource Fair put on by Team Seniors. The event was held on Saturday, September 9 at the Grants Pass Boys & Girls Club.
Our very own Dr. John Hyatt was on local news channel KDRV offering up solid advice for viewing the eclipse. We here in Southern Oregon were a prime viewing location.
The ASCRS Congress training that Jeanna and Jamie attended was held at the LA Convention Center. They stayed at the fabulous Hotel O.
A lot of the focus this year was on teamwork between all departments for better success of the practice, detailed billing updates, and implementation of MACRA/MIPS.
Our very own Dr. Hyatt has been interviewed by the Ashland, OR Locals' Guide website. Way to go, doctor!
In January 2016, three of our ophthalmic photographers attended “Essentials of Ophthalmic Retinal Imaging”, a program to take a deeper look into the retinal photography they do every day. Mokie Visser, Osmaida Balbuena and Adrian Guardado took a drive down to Sacramento, California to attend the class at The UC Davis Department of Ophthalmology.
Four of our newest technicians and one biller accompanied Dr. Rodden on the trip to attend the Academy of Ophthalmology conference of November 2015 in Las Vegas.
Technicians Nitia, Destiny, Jermanie, Becca and biller Jeanna all arrived in Las Vegas for continuing education.
Dr. Gonzales attended the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s meeting in Chicago in November of 2014 along with two of our billing department staff members, Kacie Hetz and Angela Stonebarger. Kacie reports on some of her highlights:
“It was a great experience to be able to take some of the anatomy classes offered; I learned more about the biology relating to the things I bill out for on a daily basis.
This year, Dr. Rodden, Julie Nelson, our office administrator, Deanna Taylor and Amanda Nelson, ophthalmic technicians and photographers, made the trip to New Orleans for the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting. Julie has previously been an ophthalmic photographer, and attended classes on imaging in past years. However, this was her first year attending administration classes.