Alamo Optometry Blog

June 25, 2012

Self-Medicating

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 10:58 pm

Self-Medicating

(As appeared in Alamo Today, July 2012)         

          I consistently find patients who treat their eye conditions whether it is a red eye or allergies with over-the-counter medications or prescription medications that were originally given to a friend or other family member.  While this is the easiest route to go for treatment, it can also be a poor decision in the long-run.  Regardless of the situation, it is always best to have an eye care professional diagnose and treat the eye condition.

            To begin with, I would highly recommend that an eye care professional make the correct diagnosis and treatment plan versus a pediatrician, general practitioner, or yourself.  These medical professionals have their expertise and knowledge base, but it is not in eye care.  Just as I am not the person to see regarding a sinus infection or bronchitis, your primary care physician does not have the necessary equipment and knowledge base to make an accurate diagnosis.  In addition, I never make a diagnosis over the phone and call in a prescription to the local pharmacy.  I firmly believe in taking a thorough history and using my equipment and ancillary tests to come up with the correct solution to your problem.  Treating over the phone, self-diagnosing, or being diagnosed by a family member or friend is not conducive to alleviating the problem in a timely manner.

            Using OTC drugs without professional guidance is not necessarily wrong, and often I tell my patients that if it is warranted, to use a particular drop at their local pharmacy.  However, I do this after seeing and talking to the patient and figuring out exactly what the problem is.  For instance, there are several good antihistamines and lubricating drops that have come on the market recently that are actually very good drops.  Conversely, using Visine as an all-purpose drop several times a day without the recommendation of a professional is not necessarily a good idea.  First of all, Visine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it makes the blood vessels in the eye smaller so the eye does not look as red; but it does not solve the problem of why the eye is red in the first place.  In addition, it has a high rate of dependency and rebound effect, meaning that over time more and more drops are needed to achieve the same goal and when the drops are stopped, the redness returns worse than before treatment.  It is important to address why the eyes are red and irritated in the first place, i.e. allergies, dryness, infection, lid disease, etc. and treat that condition and the eye will get better.  

            Finally, using drops from a prior eye condition or using a prescribed drop from another family member because “your eye looks just like mine did and this drop worked for me” is not smart and could be potentially dangerous.  For certain infections, proper and speedy treatment is necessary and using Visine or another drop could make the situation worse.  Just because a prescription drop helped once, it might be the exact wrong thing to do for the current situation.  I stress to patients to use the drops as prescribed and then keep the drop in your medicine cabinet because you might need it later; however don’t use it unless it is prescribed again.

            Our office treats most red eyes, infections, and allergies.  We are on most PPO medical plans including Anthem,Aetna, United, and Cigna and attempt to get red eye visits in the office on the same day.  Regardless if you think your eye status is simple or complex, give our office a call so we can help you.

A Different Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 10:57 pm

A Different Perspective

(As appeared in Alamo Today, June 2012)

Please allow me to introduce myself.  I am Laura, Dr. K’s wife.  As our children have grown, I have become much more involved in the day-to-day business at Alamo Optometry.  I thought it might be interesting to give our readers a new perspective for the month.  Since Dr. K began writing this column, I have often suggested topics that I, as a layperson, think are interesting, relevant, or helpful.  So now I would like to share my thoughts on Dr. K and our office.

I am a pediatric Occupational Therapist by profession, however, I have been hearing about all things eye-related since the early days of our relationship, when Dr. K decided to follow his heart into Optometry.  As he applied to and decided on an Optometry school to attend, worked hard throughout the program, and graduated proudly, I watched him happily take his place in his profession.  For seven years, he worked for up to three different practices at any given time, up to six days a week, all the while hoping to find a practice he could call his own.  A practice to give his heart and soul to, grow and develop according to his own beliefs and capabilities.  In 2007, we got the opportunity to buy Alamo Optometry.  Getting the key and walking through the door on that Sunday, July 1st was completely surreal!  Knowing that the next day, he would go to work and have to pick up where the previous owner left off was incredibly daunting and exciting at the same time.  He jumped right in and has never looked back.  We are so proud to be celebrating our 5 year anniversary this July!  We are very grateful for our wonderful patients who keep trusting us with their eye care and referring us to their family and friends.  We simply could not be here without them.

Just like anything worthwhile, tending to the business has been stressful and frustrating at times, but truly rewarding.  With a small staff, I am often the “fill-in” person when needed.  As I sit at the front desk, I have had patients say to me, not knowing that the doctor is my husband, “we just love Dr. K!  We love it here.”  These times make my day!  It means that he is doing what he set out to do, creating a practice that is personable and caring.  When our patients take the time to tell a friend or write a favorable review of our practice online, we are not only thankful because of how it helps our business grow, but it also makes us happy that we are providing the kind of care we believe in, the level of care that we want to receive from other doctor’s offices that our family visits.  I am well aware that no business or person can be perfect or suit everyone’s needs, however, I am confident in knowing that my husband values every patient and that he works very hard to prove it.

A few months ago, Dr. K wrote about what it meant to him to be a small business owner in our local community.  He mentioned that owning a business has made him more aware of the importance of our support of other local businesses and I couldn’t agree more.  We are thankful to live and own our business in this Valley where I grew up and we want to show other local businesses that we appreciate their contribution and value here as well.  Especially in this economy, when even large, well-established franchises are going out of business at every turn, we recognize that our reputation depends on giving our patients great value for their money, with an emphasis on honest and caring customer service. 

Thanks for letting me share my sentimentality as we approach this milestone in our journey.  We are so excited to be celebrating 5 years in this community!  To celebrate our anniversary next month, we will be having an Open House in the evening on Thursday, July 12th.  We would love for you to stop by and say hi!

Springtime Allergies

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 10:55 pm

Springtime Allergies

(As appeared in Alamo Today, May 2012)

        Now that spring is here, we get to welcome all of the flowers, grasses, and pollen that come along with it.  I love the warmer weather, but like most people, I can definitely do without the allergies.  For the most part I hear complaints of red, itchy, tearing, irritated eyes from now until the early summer.  Besides living in a bubble for a few months, there are a few things that can be done to help alleviate, but not eliminate the symptoms of ocular allergies.

            For most people, ocular allergies also accompany systemic allergies.  Issues such as congestion, sneezing, and coughing are just as irritating and annoying as the eye problems.  The common treatment that people use to battle allergies is anti-histamines.  Medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are great remedies and generally mediate allergies.  In addition, they help alleviate the ocular symptoms of itching and tearing.  However, the ocular side-effect is that oral anti-histamines tend to dry out the eyes.  So the net effect for many people is that they help solve one problem but initiate another.  To avoid this situation, I always advise patients with ocular allergies to use topical drops that specifically target the places on the surface of the eye where allergens cause their problems without causing the dryness symptoms that oral drugs can cause.  There are many good prescription drops that work very well in addition to several drops that have recently gone over-the-counter.  Depending on the severity of the situation, we can discuss the appropriate course of treatment.  For those of you who do not like to take medications, there are several things that can still be done in lieu of the mentioned drugs or in addition to them. 

            Using non-preserved lubricating drops or simply flushing the eye with cool water can dilute the allergens in the eye and therefore bring some relief.  Cool compresses will also cause some blood constriction to the area, thus reducing some of the chemicals that are released by the blood stream in and around the eyes that make the eyes itchy, puffy, and red.  The one thing that should not be done (even though we all do it) is to rub the eyes.  The mechanical rubbing of the eyes does provide some immediate relief, but it dilates the blood vessels and therefore makes the puffiness and itching much worse.  The last thing that can be done is to wear sunglasses while outdoors.  In addition to the UV protection they provide, they also act as a shield to the allergens in the air.  Wrap sunglasses work even better as they provide more peripheral coverage.  Especially if you are outdoors where there are high pollen or grass counts in the air like sports fields and parks, they can be invaluable.  Most sunglasses can be made in prescription, and if you wear contacts, any frame and shape will work since prescription is not a problem.

            For those patients who wear contact lenses, allergies usually reduce wearing time due to increased lens sensation, redness, itching, and tearing.  For patients who don’t wear daily disposable lenses, build-up on the lenses from eye discharge and allergens in the tears not only leads to decreased daily wearing time, but decreased life of the lens.  Patients frequently have to dispose of their lenses sooner than the prescribed time because they cannot tolerate wearing the lenses anymore.  Even though daily disposables do not reduce the immediate allergic response, they do end up being more comfortable in the long run as there is a clean lens in the eye everyday, and more cost effective as you don’t have to purchase more lenses than are needed.

            We all like the spring weather and the accompanying outdoor sports and activities; we can just do without the allergies.  Since they can’t be eliminated, some of the management ideas discussed here can help make the spring months more comfortable.

Vision and Sports

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 10:52 pm

Vision and Sports

(As appeared in Alamo Today, April 2012)

             Since we are now entering spring, sports and other outdoor activities are in full swing.  The two main things that need to be addressed to ensure an enjoyable time are vision and safety.  However, depending on the activity, these are not mutually exclusive.  I will discuss some options to help you fully enjoy your sports and outdoor activities.

            The key to enjoying your sport of choice is being able to see well.  Whether you play golf, baseball, tennis, or target shoot, vision is an integral part of the game.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you can’t see down the fairway, pick up the spin on the ball while batting or while hitting tennis balls, you will never reach your full potential and will be continually frustrated.  Depending on your correction and motivation, several options are available to you.

            Assuming the interest and motivation is there, contacts are an option for a wide array of prescriptions and wearing schedules.  For those of you who only want to wear contacts for outdoor activities, weekends, skiing, etc., daily disposables are probably your best option.  These lenses allow for one-time use and are comfortable because they are thin and don’t have any build-up on the lenses and you will put them in the trash at the end of the day.  They come in a wide variety of prescriptions including those with astigmatism.  Depending on your age, your up-close vision with these lenses will need to be addressed, but this type of lens allows for good vision with no fuss.  In fact, because of the economical prices, comfort, and vision, these lenses are popular for full-time wear for a lot of my patients.

            Obviously contact lenses are not for everyone.  For those of you who cannot wear contacts because of comfort or prescription, glasses or prescription sunglasses are still a very good option.  Depending on the sport or activity, a good wrap frame with clear lenses or polarized sun lenses might be a good option.  For daytime sports, a sports sun frame from Maui Jim or Oakley can be made in a wide range of polarized prescriptions including progressive lenses.  For those of you who do not like sunglasses, a smaller and lighter frame with a little wrap can accomplish your goal of comfort and vision during your game.  Either way, we can make the lenses in polycarbonate, which will give impact resistance for those sports such as tennis and baseball where eye injuries are a possibility.

            Besides vision, the other component that needs to be discussed with sports is safety.  If you are wearing glasses, the lenses should be made out of polycarbonate when there is any risk of trauma.  For even better coverage, Rec Specs are a great option.  These frames and goggles fit closely to the face so there is a very low risk of the frame coming apart and injuring the eye if an accident should happen.  These are made in child and adult sizes with several color options and most have an elastic strap to ensure a good fit. 

            Regardless of your activity or sport of choice, there are several possible ways to enhance your enjoyment.  It might be a good pair of polarized sunglasses for water sports and fishing, or contact lenses for your baseball games or golf outings.  Next time you are in the office, we can discuss your possibilities with you.

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