Category Archives: Retina

The Facts on Flashes and Floaters

Floaters are very common and can be a very scary symptom.  Here is an article I wrote last month for EzineArticles that answers patients’ most common questions about floaters and floaters.

Flashes and Floaters – Get the Facts on This Common Eye Condition

By Dr. Richard A. Driscoll

“Doctor I saw dark spots and flashes of light in my eyes and I thought I should come in and have you make sure everything is alright” are words commonly heard by eye doctors and as a result a common cause of urgent visits to their offices. Flashes or floaters can be the signs of serious problems and as a result they should always be investigated by your eye doctor. Merely having floaters is not generally a problem; it is the recent onset of floaters that requires attention.

Flashes and floaters are the most commonly reported symptoms of changes in the vitreous humor, a very fibrous yet clear gel that makes up the back 2/3 of the eye. Floaters occur when a bunch of these fibers clump together and cast a shadow on the retina, causing a person to see a black spot. Patients often describe these floaters as looking like a cobweb. Nearsighted people experience floaters more often. Most people have some floaters, however they are either small enough that they are not bothersome or the brain has learned to ignore them. With the right lighting conditions almost anyone can see their floaters. Looking up at an overcast sky or a large, lightly colored wall improves ones ability to see their floaters. Continue reading

November is American Diabetes Month

In recognition of American Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day on November 14, Dr. Richard Driscoll and Dr. Alycia Green urge community members to schedule yearly eye exams.  Yearly eye exams are particularly important for people with diabetes or that are pre-disposed to diabetes. Approximately 25 million Americans have diabetes, representing 7% of the population, and 6.2 million Americans remain undiagnosed.  Read more facts about diabetes and how the optomap® Retinal Exam is an important aid in fighting diabetic retinopathy.

Gene Therapy Restores Vision

Gene Therapy SurgeryScientists at the University of Florida Restore Some Sight to Three Adult Patients with Congenital Vision Loss

One year ago the retina of two men and one woman in their 20s were injected with a harmless virus that contained vision correcting genes.  All three patients lived with severe vision loss from a congenital problem call Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis Type 2.  A gene responsible for a necessary protein used in the visual process is defective, gene therapy fixes the failed gene.  One year after the gene therapy treatment these patients reporting being able to see light which was a significant improvement in their vision.  One of the patients reported that she was able to see her parents clock, she had never been able to do this before.  The study has two more years to run and it is likely that more patients will be added.

This is a very exciting medical development and shows that gene therapy holds great promise.  There are so many genetic conditions, not only in the eye but the entire body, that can benefit from this type of treatment.  Much research still needs to be done, however this lays the groundwork for promising future development. The exciting thing about this discovery is that it shows that it is possible to fix bad genes and improve people’s lives.

Retinal Melanoma Diagnosed with the Optomap Retinal Exam

Here is a video where a retinal melanoma was initially diagnosed using the optomap® Retinal Exam.  The optomap® is a new generation of scanning laser ophthalmoscope that takes a series of 16 photos in 1/4 of a second and puts them together making a panoramic view of the back of a patient’s eye.  The optomap® allows us to view over 80% of the back of the eye without dilating the pupils.  The optomap® was also recently featured on the TV Show The Doctors.

The first 6 seconds of the video below is blank.

10 Must Have FireFox Browser Addons

Occasionally I depart from the usual eye care related topics and branch into something that I feel people might find useful.  My internet browser of choice is Firefox. I only use Internet Explorer when absolutely necessary, which is a very rare event indeed.  What I like about Firefox is that you can customize it with addons.  There are thousands of addons available for Firefox.  Here are a few of my must have favorites.  I use everyone of these daily.

  • Tab Mix Plus – Adds increased options and functionality to Firefox’s current tab system
  • Unites States English Dictionary – a spell checker
  • Google Toolbar for Firefox – search Google from the browser without going to the website, includes other helpful items as well
  • Adblock Plus – gets rid of pop ups and advertisements, you can tell it which pages you want the ads removed
  • Delicious Bookmarks –  Store your bookmarks online and categorize them.  Decline the option to install Yahoo’s Toolbar, Google’s is better
  • ForecastFox – gives you weather in the bottom right corner of the browser
  • Gmail Manager – Much better way to access your Gmail, especially if you have multiple accounts
  • IE Tab – sometimes only Internet Explorer works, usually only needed for an E-Commerce site
  • Remember the Milk for Gmail – My todo list integrated with Gmail
  • Sxipper – Gives me the option to enter my passwords at logon screens

That’s it those are my must have Firefox Browser Extensions/Addons.  You can search for other Firefox addons at the Firefox Addon Website.  I have also reviewed addons that are available to patients with impaired vision.

Dr. Driscoll & The Eye Doc Blog Quoted in Publishers Weekly

Two weeks ago I received an interviewed request from Sarah Robbins for the May 18 issue of Publisher Weekly regarding a blog article I wrote last month on how the Amazon Kindle could allow patients with Macular Degeneration to continue to enjoy reading books.  You can read the entire article in Publishers Weekly here.  I still like the Amazon Kindle for patients that need assistance in reading.  Look for a review of the Kindle DX soon.

The Optomap Retinal Exam Featured on The Doctors TV Show

The Doctors is a TV show carried on CBS featuring four doctors that discuss current medical topics and new technologies.  And yes one of the doctors you may recognize as “The Bachelor”.  Recently they featured the technology of the optomap® Retinal Exam.  Total Eye care is one of approximately 3000 offices nationwide that utilizes this great technology.  Check out the video below.  For more information on the Optomap Retinal Exam check out the Total Eye Care website.

Open Your Eyes to Healthy Eating Habits


(Colleyville, TX) March 11, 2009 – Doctors of optometry see millions of patients a year and are the primary providers of eye and vision care in America. This month, in celebration of National Save Your Vision Month, Total Eye Care, the American Optometric Association (AOA) and Kemin Health are educating Americans on the many preventative actions they can take to protect their sight, including eating right. More than 43 million Americans suffer from cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the two leading causes of vision loss and blindness. Research indicates that there is a strong correlation between good nutrition and the prevention of these age-related eye diseases. Eating foods rich in key nutrients – antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc – can help protect eye sight and vision.

Fast Facts On Macular Degeneration

  • In a recent survey conducted by the AOA, nearly three-fourths (72%) of respondents age 55 and older began noticing changes in their vision between the ages of 40 and 45.
  • To cope with vision loss or various eye problems, less than one-third (29%) of respondents are increasing their nutrient intake for healthy eyes.
  • Many Americans (48%) still believe that carrots are the best food for eye health, when, in fact, spinach and other dark leafy greens are the healthiest foods for the eyes because they naturally contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • In order to maintain healthy eyes, studies show that 10 mg of lutein should be consumed each day or one cup of cooked spinach four times a week.
  • More than 50% of Americans do not take in the recommended dosage of vitamin C per day.
  • One cup (8 fl oz) of orange juice per day contains 81.6 mg/serving of vitamin C, more than enough to help offset some eye diseases.

Says Dr. Richard Driscoll “In addition to increasing the daily intake of antioxidants, smokers can greatly decrease their risk for macular degeneration by stopping smoking”.

Q: I Have Been Seeing Spots Before My Eyes for About a Week, is This Serious?

A: Generally, seeing spots or “floaters” in you vision is a harmless, but annoying condition caused by particles of natural materials floating in the jelly-like fluid in the back chamber of your eye. These spots are more common with age and treatment is rarely necessary. These spots, however, can also be a symptom of retinal problems such as retinal holes or detachments or as a result of diabetic complications or hypertension. Floaters may be more dangerous if accompanied by flashes of light. These flashes may appear as lightening bolts or merely sparkles that you see to the side of your vision. Evaluation of flashes or floaters requires urgent attention. I always recommend that we see patients with flashes and floaters to differentiate the cause of these symptoms.

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