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How to Protect Your Eyes During the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse

Recently our Doctors have heard the following question from patients a lot. "What kind of eye protection should I get and wear during the upcoming solar eclipse? How can I protect my eyes from possible damage?"
Although Florida is not in the direct path, Floridians are in for a real treat in the sky this summer. On Monday, August 21, 2017, the nation will experience a total solar eclipse, dubbed the Great American Eclipse for its North American path, lasting approximately 2 to 3 hours.
What makes the eclipse on August 21 so special is that it will cut diagonally across the United States. Click to read more.

Visible total solar eclipses are very unusual, on average they only occur every 18 months, two totalities for every three years. They are visible from some place on the Earth’s surface and mostly happen in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes the eclipse on August 21 so special is that it will cut diagonally across the United States.

It is said to be one of the most exciting sky events to watch, it is also very important to know how to watch an eclipse safely, because looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes.

As mesmerizing as watching a solar eclipse will be, it can pose some serious eye health concerns and could even lead to severe, permanent vision loss from a condition called solar retinopathy.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Astronomical Society are working together to make sure everyone knows how to watch the coming eclipse safely. Looking directly at the sun, even while it's partially eclipsed, can permanently damage vision or blind you.

The August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many people. A little preparation now can ensure that you and your family enjoy the event and keep your eyes healthy.

Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.

Steps to follow for safely watching a solar eclipse:

  • Most important and an absolute necessity is to purchase "Eclipse Glasses", they need to be CE and ISO Certified Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses with Filters. The glasses solar viewing materials should be optical density 5 or greater and are "CE" certified and verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.
  • Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • If you are watching the eclipse with your children, always supervise them using solar filters.
  • The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.
  • Talk with an astronomy-gear expert if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

For information about solar eclipses, where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out our Facebook page. Eclipse safety information provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Astronomical Society.

Information about NASA Interactive Map image shown:

  • Map centered on (latitude, longitude): (36.9664° N, 87.6709° W)
  • Cursor position (latitude, longitude): (15.9613° N, 155.3027° W)
  • Distance from last marker:
  • GE = Greatest Eclipse. This is the instant when the axis of the Moon's shadow cone passes closest to Earth's center.
  • GD = Greatest Duration. This is the location along the center line of the path of totality where totality lasts the longest.

More information at NASA.gov.

Blog: Maintaining Good Eye Health as You Age

maintaining good eye health as you age

As you age, the health of your eyes becomes more of a priority. With time, you tend to become more susceptible to common eye issues, like glaucoma, cataracts and even age-related macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration can greatly affect the way you go about your daily life. Knowing what to look for, and working with trusted eye care professionals, can put you on the path to maintaining good eye health for years.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

grandfather and grandson in park looking up

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when a part of the retina called the ‘macula’ is damaged, either through natural progression or eye-related trauma.

Usually with AMD, you lose central vision, while still maintaining your peripheral vision.

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry.

Dry AMD, which accounts for nearly 80% of all documented AMD cases, is when the macula thins over time and small protein clumps accumulate, damaging your central vision.

Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels can break and leak blood, and other fluids. This can cause scarring to the macula.

Both versions can be diagnosed and placed under control if caught early enough.

Scheduling regular visits with an eye care professional can help minimize the damaged caused by AMD.

AMD Symptoms

As you age, certain symptoms may arise that can affect your eyesight, but knowing the signs and catching them early enough can help your ophthalmologist recommend the right treatment options. Symptoms for both wet and dry AMD can include:

  • Blurry distance vision
  • Haziness and lack of color vividness
  • Difficulty transitioning from bright to low light
  • Distorted spatial recognition
  • Inability to recognize peoples’ faces
  • Gray or blank spots in vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to contact your preferred eye care specialist as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis.

Ongoing Research and Treatment

To help champion possible treatment options for the future, it’s important to advocate continued eye health research. New information and insights help us develop new ways to improve and maintain the condition of your vision.

We’re always looking for new patients to participate in our clinical studies. If you, or someone you know, qualify for any of our current or future studies, contact us to learn how you can become an important participant in ongoing research. You can also start the enrollment process today.

In the News

Retina Today — Biosimilars: Not Your Typical Generic.

Biosimilars: Not Your Typical Generic.

Although the role for this category of medicine in retina is not yet clear, cost will likely be a significant factor.
April 2017 — Retina Today: Article by S.K. Steven Houston III, MD

The Apple iPhone and Range Rover Evoque are well known and successful products. Wanting to claim a part of that success, other companies have come out with their own versions of each of these products. In the world of ophthalmology, the anti-VEGF drugs ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech) and aflibercept (Eylea, Regeneron) are also well known and successful products, and now companies are developing anti-VEGF biosimiliars in attempts to get a foothold in the anti-VEGF market, currently valued at $7.5 billion and predicted to grow over the coming decade. This article looks at the anti-VEGF biosimilars arms race and examines what effect it may have on the ophthalmic industry and profession.

Click here to the April 2017 Issue of Retina Today and continue reading
Daytona Beach News Journal: Congratulations to Doctor Dunn!

Dr. Dunn receives the President's Volunteer Service Award from EyeCare America

December 26, 2015 — Congratulations to Doctor Dunn!

Dr. William Dunn, of Florida Retina Institute, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from EyeCare America. Doctor Dunn has practiced eye care in Daytona Beach for 25 years.

Click to the Daytona Beach News Journal Article
Retina Today — What's in Your OR? Get Behind the Wheel of the Constellation

What's in Your OR? Get Behind the Wheel of the Constellation

September 2015 — Retina Today: Vitreoretinal Surgery. Article by S.K. Steven Houston III, MD

Knowing the bells and whistles of a particular vitrectomy platform widens surgical potential and increases confidence and safety. I recently completed a vitreoretinal surgery fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., where I had the privilege to operate 5 days a week over the past year with 15 talented vitreoretinal surgery attendings. Never again will I get the chance to perform 1200 surgical cases in 1 year and gain surgical proficiency so exponentially. The lessons, techniques, and skills learned have been indispensible to my career. Much like my car, I got behind the wheel of the Constellation Vision System (Alcon) for 8 to 10 hours each day, getting to know the ins and outs of the machine.

Click to Retina Today, September 2015, Vol. 10, No. 6 Issue
YAG photoablation effective first-line treatment for vitreous opacities
william dunn, examines, patient, treating color fundus, of, left eye macula, thickness, macular, cube

YAG photoablation effective first-line treatment for vitreous opacities

Verify that the floaters are stable and ensure that the patient has realistic visual expectations.

A 56-year-old certified ophthalmic technician presented for a comprehensive eye examination. He was complaining of persistent vitreous floaters in both eyes (left worse than right) for at least 10 years. Due to their large size, the floaters interfered with his visual acuity and caused obstruction of his central vision in the left eye; they were especially apparent when he read or used the computer.

The patient said he could briefly improve his vision by making rapid head and eye movements in an attempt to cause the floaters to move away from his visual axis. He denied seeing flashes, a curtain over his vision or recent trauma.

The patient’s medical history was significant for osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, hypertension, asthma, coronary artery disease, splenectomy and Raynaud’s syndrome. He was taking the following medications once daily in the morning: aspirin 81 mg, lisinopril 5 mg and meloxicam 7.5 mg.

Best corrected visual acuity measured 20/20 OD and OS. Pupils were equal, round, reactive to light and without afferent defect. Extraocular motility was full in all gazes in both eyes. Visual fields were full to finger counting in both eyes.

Article by Darcy Eberle, OD; Dianne Kowing, OD, FAAO; Ruth Hyatt, OD; William Dunn, MD, FACS, CHE

Read to Healio.com and read more
Florida Retina Institute — A Lake Mary Life "Focus Story"
lake mary life, dr cunningham

Florida Retina Institute — A Lake Mary Life "Focus Story"

"Watching a Florida sunset’s shifting shades of red, admiring a grandchild’s finger-painted portrait, gazing upon a loved one’s smiling face, or reading the last line of a beloved book – for more than 15 years, the skilled doctors of the Florida Retina Institute have been helping our friends and neighbors with failing vision see life’s precious moments. No group of retina specialists has been serving the Lake Mary/Longwood community longer, and no one stays more up-to-date on the very latest treatments and techniques.

The Institute specializes in diseases or injuries of the retina – a light-sensitive membrane in the rear of the eye that acts like a video camera, capturing and transmitting images to the brain. If that’s the most down-to-earth description of the retina you’ve ever heard, it’s not a coincidence at Florida Retina Institute.

“One of our group’s strengths is that we strive to be very approachable when it comes to treating such a complex and important part of the body,” says Dr. Thomas A. Barnard, past chairman of Ophthalmology at Florida Hospital in Orlando, who was fellowship trained in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery at West Virginia University. Dr. Barnard is currently working with the Juvenile Diabetes Research to study a new drug to treat diabetic eye conditions. “We speak to our patients in terms they understand. We treat everyone from newborn babies to patients older than 100.”

“Retinal medicine has improved significantly in the 10 years I’ve been in practice,” says Dr. Elias Mavrofrides, who was fellowship trained in vitreoretinal surgery at the famed Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami. Dr. Mavrofrides was named one of U.S. News & World Report’s top doctors in the U.S. in 2011 and 2013. “We are constantly researching and training to stay at the top of our game. There are new treatments that can slow the progression of common diseases of the retina to minimize their impact on a patient’s life. Whether the issue is basic or complex, we have the necessary experience and the latest skills to achieve the best-possible outcome.”

“The Florida Retina Institute has a long history of providing excellent care to patients with diseases of the retina,” says Dr. Matthew Cunningham, fellowship trained in vitreoretinal surgery and disease at the University of Iowa. Dr. Cunningham knew he was becoming part of something special when he joined Florida Retina Institute six months ago. “We have a great team here, and we prove it every day. I love my job, and I love the relationships I build with each of my patients.”

In addition to their remarkable credentials, Drs. Barnard, Mavrofrides, and Cunningham have something else in common − they all live in Lake Mary.

Doctor's at the Lake Mary office, which relocated from the original Longwood location in 2004, perform their modern miracles in an atmosphere of extraordinary care and compassion. Doctors and staff help patients decipher their insurance plans, educate them about their eye conditions, and help them adjust to a new lifestyle if they become legally blind.

The Florida Retina Institute also supports a host of eye-related charities throughout Florida, including the Lighthouse of Central Florida and the Lions Club International.

“Our caring doesn’t stop when a patient walks out the door,” says Dr. William Dunn, who has been serving patients in our community for more than 20 years. “We want patients to know we are going to take good care of them, and we’re going to try to help others in the community who may be struggling with vision loss.”

A retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Dunn has a history of helping others. For more than three decades he cared for servicemembers’ vision while practicing advanced retina and vitreous disease surgery.

Florida Retina Institute is often the choice of other local doctors when they need retina treatment for themselves or members of their own families, so it should come as no surprise that the Institute is staffed by a dream team of physicians.

But in final analysis, it is the love and appreciation from Florida Retina Institute’s patients that is most important. One typical example from an Air Force vet:
“Thank you for all the care and professional attention shown to me during the past year. My eyesight has been saved through your work, and I want to say what it means to me. I still share sunrises and sunsets with my beautiful wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”

Article by Peter Reilly, Lake Mary Life, Photo: Dr. Cunningham demonstrates an eye exam with the help of Nicole Winn.

Click to Dr. Cunningham
Doctors Mavrofrides, Cunningham and Barnard chosen as Orlando’s finest 2013

Doctors Mavrofrides, Cunningham and Barnard chosen as Orlando’s finest 2013

The Florida Retina Institute's Doctors Mavrofrides, Cunningham and Barnard are chosen as Orlando’s finest 2013 and highlighted in the Orlando Weekly. Board Certified Retina Specialists — Whether caused by illness or injury, retinal conditions should be treated by a skilled physician.

Drs. Elias C. Mavrofrides, Matthew A. Cunningham and Thomas A. Barnard at FLORIDA RETINA INSTITUTE are regionally recognized experts in the evaluation & treatment of retinal disease & injury. They specialize in diseases & surgery of the retina and vitreous, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, laser surgery, retinal detachment, macular surgery, penetrating eye injuries, ocular tumors & inflammatory eye disease.

The doctors and their staff have a long history of working with patients with visual difficulties and are sensitive to their needs. They are all committed to making certain that you are comfortable and confident about your surgery and follow-up care.

Click here to review the profiles and read more