800-818-8054 Pennsylvania
800-869-9768 New Jersey

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Elizabeth Dale to Ophthalmic Partners!

dr-beth-daleloresPlease join us in welcoming Dr. Elizabeth Dale to our outstanding team of glaucoma specialists here at Ophthalmic Partners. Like Dr. Marlene Moster, Dr. Michael Pro and Dr. Courtland Schmidt, Dr. Dale is affiliated with Wills Eye Hospital and offers advanced care to those patients facing the complex challenges of a glaucoma diagnosis.

As Dr. Dale states, “I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to join this prestigious practice.  I look forward to becoming acquainted with my patients and will strive to provide the best possible care at all times.”

Dr. Dale graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2001. She earned her medical degree at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, where she was awarded the Samuel and Beatrice Leib Memorial Prize in Ophthalmology. Dr. Dale subsequently completed her transitional medical internship at Saint Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, followed by her ophthalmology residency at Columbia University Medical Center’s Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute, where she was Chief Resident. She completed her glaucoma fellowship at the University of Miami’s world-renowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Dr. Dale will be providing care at our offices in Bala Cynwyd, Wills Eye Hospital and Marlton, New Jersey. She will also be seeing patients at our newest service location in King of Prussia. With the addition of Dr. Dale, we hope to increase access to high quality glaucoma care for our patients and our referring physicians.

Protecting Your Eyes this Fourth of July

ThinkstockPhotos-475498128Fireworks, barbecues and swimming pools, oh my! There are few times of year that cause as much stress for eye care professionals as the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. From fireworks and open flamed grills to simply forgetting your sunglasses on a particularly bright day, the summertime poses a number of threats to your ocular health. Every few weeks, we will be posting information about potential summertime hazards and how to avoid them. Read on to find out more about protecting your eyes this summer!

One of the most enjoyable summer activities is also one of the most dangerous. While fireworks are pretty to look at, get too close and you won’t be looking at much else. Each year, thousands of people are injured by fireworks, and it’s estimated that 1 in every 5 firework related injury is to the eyes. Nearly half of those injuries are to bystanders simply enjoying the show. Injuries from fireworks include ruptures, chemical or thermal burns, corneal abrasions, and retinal detachments, all of which can lead to further complications and even permanent vision loss.

The number one tip to avoid a firework related injury is to simply leave it to the professionals. If you are staging a professional grade fireworks display, leave the lighting to a trained pyrotechnician, and make sure to stay within a safe distance. Wear protective eyewear that meets the standards set by the American National Standards Institute. Establish clear safety barriers for onlookers, and do not leave any materials unattended. If you are attending a professional display, respect the safety barriers, they are there for a reason! Don’t bother or distract the pyrotechnicians, and if you find any unexploded fireworks, don’t touch them.

For anyone looking to set off a few fireworks or enjoy some sparklers in their backyard, at a barbecue, or a family/neighborhood gathering, take a look at your surroundings. First things first, make sure that fireworks are even legal in your state. If so, don’t set any off in areas with crowds, buildings, plants or other combustible material. It should go without saying, but never light fireworks or sparklers while inside.  In a study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, people are more likely to wear protective eye wear while cleaning or doing home repair than when shooting off fireworks, with only 10% of those surveyed said they would wear protection on their eyes. Wear protective eye gear, keep a bucket of water on hand, and never, EVER shoot a firework at another person. If you are in a party setting, don’t let anyone visibly intoxicated near the fireworks, alcohol and pyrotechnics do not mix. Visit the American Pyrotechnics Association website here for more information on safely setting off fireworks in your backyard. Don’t let young children play with any sort of fireworks (including sparklers), and always make sure older children have adult supervision. Keep in mind that children are frequent victims of firework related accidents, with nearly 35% of all victims age 15 or under.

If you do get injured, seek immediate medical attention. DO NOT rub, rinse or apply pressure to your eyes. If there are any objects stuck in your eye, leave them there. You might instinctively try to remove objects or rub your eyes, but resist that urge. Touching your injured eye will likely only make matters worse. Wait until a medical professional can remove it safely. Avoid taking any medications, especially blood thinning ones, or applying drops or ointments until you have consulted a doctor. Call 911 or get to the closest emergency room as soon as possible. The address for the Wills Eye Hospital Emergency Department is 900 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (the entrance is on 9th Street through Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience) and the phone number is 215-503-8080.

This Independence Day, be sure to enjoy fireworks safely and responsibly, and have a happy Fourth from OPP!

June is Cataract Awareness Month

Cataract awareness month, Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PAJune is Cataract Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion we wanted to share with our patients a little knowledge that might help prepare them for their next appointment. There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding cataract surgery, and by dispelling some common myths about cataracts, we hope to help our patients feel more at ease.

Myth 1: I can prevent my eyes from developing cataracts.

There is not much that can be done to prevent cataracts from occurring; they are a natural part of the aging process. Cataracts develop as the cells that make up the eye’s lens begin to die and accumulate, creating a cloudy film that makes it difficult to see. Some eye drop manufacturers make claims to prevent, or even “dissolve” cataracts. These are false claims; the FDA has not approved any drops that prevent cataracts. While eating healthily, abstaining from smoking and wearing sunglasses in bright sunlight can help slow the process, there is no way to stop it completely, just like there is no way to completely stop any part of aging.

It is important to note, too, that cataracts can develop at any age, from congenital cataracts in infancy, all the way up to old age. Other factors like frequent exposure to UV light, prior eye surgery, diabetes, steroid abuse, etc. could potentially increase the likelihood of developing cataracts. Maintaining your eye health and having regular checkups with an ophthalmologist will help ensure that you receive the proper care if and when you begin to develop them.

Myth 2: Using a computer or cell phone, doing close up tasks, or reading in dim lighting will cause my eyes to develop cataracts sooner.

While doing any of the above activities for too long a period of time could cause eye strain or give you a headache, they will not directly lead to cataracts. It is often while doing these activities that patients first notice problems with their vision. If you suddenly notice that you need more light while doing close up activities and find that changes in your eyeglasses prescription is not helping, you might have a cataract.

Myth 3: I should wait to get surgery until my cataracts have fully developed so they won’t grow back.

Once the lens has been removed, cataracts do not “grow back”. Sometimes, a membrane left in the eye after surgery can become cloudy, but this is uncommon and can be treated with a quick and painless laser treatment.

There is a common misconception that you need to wait until your contacts are “ripe” in order to have surgery. This is simply not the case and a misconception that is over a generation old. Cataracts can be treated at any stage in their development, but it is generally better to have them treated early to avoid any disruptions to your life. New technologies, such as the LenSx femtosecond laser used by our physicians, make it easier to remove cataracts during the early stages of development. This doesn’t mean you need to immediately have surgery as soon as you are diagnosed with a cataract, though. You and your doctor should come up with a treatment plan that works best for you.

Some patients actually develop cataracts between the ages of 30-50, but don’t realize it until much later when the cataracts begin to negatively impact daily life. If you notice that you struggle reading without bright light, are having trouble driving or seeing at night, notice blurry or double vision, and find that changes to your glasses prescription does little to help, talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

Myth 4: Cataract surgery is dangerous, painful, and takes a long time to heal.

Cataract surgery is safe, quick and quite painless. In the past several year, new advancements in surgical technique, intraocular lenses, and instrument technology all ensure improved vision with less discomfort and shorter recovery times. Most patients are ready to return to their usual routines the very next day.

Patients are often concerned cataract surgery is a one size fits all procedure. Though the basic procedure remains the same – removing the old, clouded lens and replacing it with a new, artificial one – there are many different lenses, instruments and techniques to choose from to match your specific needs.

Many patients put off having surgery out of fear. They don’t realize the marked improvement in day to day life once their cataracts are removed.

Myth 5: Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Unfortunately, this is not a myth. Cataracts are among the leading causes of blindness in the world, a particularly frustrating statistic as they are so easily treatable. Our physicians are working to turn this unfortunate reality into a myth. Our doctors are committed to finding new techniques and technologies to ensure both the comfort of their patients and the accuracy of their results.

Philadelphia magazine’s Top Docs™ 2015

Top-Docs-2015-LogoEvery year, Philadelphia magazine compiles a list of the area’s best physicians as voted by their peers, and this year Ophthalmic Partners is pleased to have two of our doctors receive this distinction. Dr. Marlene Moster and Dr. Leonard Nelson have been included in Philadelphia magazine’s Top Docs™ 2015 in the Ophthalmology category.

Dr. Moster has been a glaucoma specialist with Ophthalmic Partners since 1984. In addition to her busy patient and surgical schedule, Dr. Moster participates in several clinical studies, regularly contributes to different medical publications, and travels around the country giving lectures – as well as several trips abroad, including a recent trip to Guatemala to speak at the Central American Glaucoma Congress.

Like Dr. Moster, Dr. Nelson has distinguished himself in the medical community not just for his high standard of patient care, but for his contributions to research in the areas of strabismus and nystagmus. In addition to being the co-director of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital, he was recently named the Director of the Wills Eye Strabismus Center. He is also one of the editors in chief at the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology.

Dr. Moster, Dr. Nelson, and all of our physicians actively contribute to the base of knowledge in their areas of expertise, whether through clinical research or presenting at academic meetings, but what really distinguishes our physicians is their attention to patient care. We are proud of both Dr. Nelson and Dr. Moster for achieving Philadelphia magazine’s Top DocsTM honor, and hope that our patients hold them in the same esteem.

New Office Expansion!

100_0310 Ophthalmic Partners is very pleased to announce the expansion of our main office at 100 Presidential Boulevard in Bala Cynwyd.  In addition to our existing space on the entire second level of the building, we now have both clinical and administrative space on the first level.

The new Suite 150 will primarily serve our pediatric and comprehensive ophthalmology patients, as well as accommodate a state-of-the art call center and our business office. Patients who see either Dr. Leonard Nelson or Dr. Sylvia Beck in Bala Cynwyd will take the elevator to Level 1 and turn the corner to Suite 150, where a lovely reception area, three general exam rooms, a pediatric exam room, and diagnostic rooms await. Dr. Kristen Epting will also be providing care in Suite 150 on Thursdays.

front desk from waiting area We at Ophthalmic Partners are deeply grateful to our patients whose referrals and loyalty have allowed the practice to grow.  With the addition of several new doctors and the technical and administrative staff to support them, we needed more space to keep up with this growth. Suite 150 is a wonderful enhancement to our current Suite 200, allowing our patients a more relaxed experience on both floors.

As Ophthalmic Partners continues to prosper, the patient experience drives our core values. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more details about the many customer service initiatives that we are prioritizing, so be sure to check back regularly.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Katie Schrack to Ophthalmic Partners!

Katie E. Schrack, MD

Ophthalmic Partners is very pleased to introduce Dr. Katie Schrack, the newest ophthalmologist joining our team of excellence.  Dr. Schrack is a graduate of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, obtaining her medical degree in 2007. After medical school, she completed her transitional medicine internship at Crozer Chester Medical Center, where she was named Intern of the Year. During her residency in ophthalmology at Temple University Hospital, she similarly distinguished herself as Chief Resident. She received her fellowship training in Cornea and Anterior Segment at Wills Eye Hospital, under the direction of Ophthalmic Partners’ cornea specialists, Dr. Brandon Ayres and Dr. Irving Raber.

Dr. Schrack has been serving patients in a local suburban practice for the past two years, and brings her outstanding comprehensive ophthalmology, cataract surgery and cornea experience back to Ophthalmic Partners.  In addition to patient care, Dr. Schrack continues to lecture and work with medical students from Jefferson Medical College. She remains committed to the next generation of physicians even as she continues to develop her skills as an ophthalmologist and surgeon.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Katie Schrack to Ophthalmic Partners!

Innovative New Treatments for Glaucoma

78621955 Resized 500x333More than 2 million Americans are being treated for glaucoma. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are another 2 million people who have it but don’t know it. As a leading cause of blindness, it is critical to have regular eye exams—even if you have 20/20 vision. If you wait until you notice that your vision is impaired, it is probably too late. The disease is advanced at that point and lost vision cannot be restored.

“We have so many reliable technologies to diagnose glaucoma early so that it can be treated in a timely fashion to decrease the risk of blindness,” declares Marlene R. Moster, M.D., a nationally recognized glaucoma specialist at the Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania who has been at the forefront of glaucoma research for many years.

Glaucoma is a complicated disease that results in damage to the optic nerve, progressively leading to vision impairment and eventually blindness if not treated. It can happen to anyone at any time but the risk increases as you age. People most at risk include African Americans over the age 40, anyone over the age of 60 (people of Hispanic descent are particularly at risk), and anyone with a family history of glaucoma.

Marilyn Krauss’s mother, as well as her aunt and uncle on her mother’s side, went blind from glaucoma. So, even though routine eye exams had not yet detected glaucoma, she decided to see a specialist. She went to see Dr. Moster, who started to see her frequently to test for glaucoma.

After a year, Marilyn was diagnosed with glaucoma. She started with medicated drops to control the pressure build up in her eyes that often occurs with the disease. The drops made her miserable, causing her eyes to become red.

“It is critical for patients to take their medications as directed to prevent blindness, but many patients find compliance difficult,” explains Dr. Moster. “Some drops must be taken 2 or 3 times a day. They can make the eyes red and/or dry, cause allergic reactions, and are expensive. If we could remove even one drop from a patient’s treatment plan, it would greatly affect quality of life.”

Innovative micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) treatments are being developed to treat mild-to-moderate glaucoma. One of the first to be approved by the FDA is the trabecular micro-bypass stent, which is designed to increase the flow of fluid out of the eye. At 1 mm, it is the smallest implantable device and is placed during cataract surgery.

Marilyn had laser surgery a year after she started the drops, which seemed to work—until she developed cataracts. Then her eye pressure started to go up again. Dr. Moster recommended the stent. During surgery, Marilyn underwent three procedures to remove her cataracts, place the stent, and correct her vision.

“It just doesn’t seem possible. I see better at 82 than I did when I was 12!” Marilyn exclaims. “I can see the television, drive at night, and read a novel without putting on glasses—and I’m drop free. It has been a year and I haven’t had to use one medicated eye drop.”

“There are many other MIGS under investigation in the United States and around the world,” Dr. Moster declares. “This stent is just the tip of the iceberg. We are interested in safer options with fewer side effects. For now, we are very pleased that we can offer the stent to our patients.”

Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania is the region’s largest multi-subspecialty ophthalmology practice, providing advanced eye care in the areas of glaucoma and related disorders, cataract and refractive surgery, cornea and external disease, and pediatric ophthalmology.

Strabismus Surgery in Pediatric Patients

baby-before-afterJennifer almost panicked when she heard that her 12-month-old daughter, Alyza, needed reconstructive surgery in her right eye to correct strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes, but she had done her homework and had complete trust in Leonard B. Nelson, M.D., a nationally recognized expert in strabismus at Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania. Acknowledging that surgery was important for her daughter’s overall vision, Jennifer scheduled the surgery for the following month.

It is estimated that 4 percent of the population has strabismus. It occurs when an eye turns up, down, in, or out, causing both eyes to look at different points. Strabismus is often inherited and usually develops in infants and young children, often by age 3, but older children and adults can also develop the condition. Any child older than four months whose eyes do not appear to be straight all the time should be examined, as it is important to treat strabismus to avoid vision problems.

“Strabismus is a disorder of the binocular system of the brain—not a dysfunction of the eye muscle,” states Dr. Nelson. “It is critical to get the two eyes lined up so that they work together.”

The brain receives two different images as a result of the misalignment. This may cause double vision at first, but over time the brain learns to ignore the image from the turned eye. If the turned eye is not treated, it can lead to a permanent reduction of vision, a condition called amblyopia or lazy eye.

Strabismus is usually obvious to the family and the pediatrician of the affected child. Children with vertical strabismus may also tilt their head to align their eyes, which can be first mistaken for an orthopedic problem. At Alyza’s 9-month doctor’s visit, her pediatrician noticed that one eye was crossing and both eyes were “dancing.” After an unsatisfied visit to their local pediatric ophthalmologist, Jennifer and Alyza made the two-hour trip to Dr. Nelson’s office.

The first line of treatment for strabismus may be glasses and/or eye exercises. In Alyza’s case, she wore glasses for a month before Dr. Nelson determined she needed surgery in the right eye. Her left eye was already showing improvement.

Jennifer had portraits taken of Alyza on her first birthday and again in the spring, after the surgery. “The difference is a completely different child! We are brought to tears with how happy we are for saving Alyza from having impaired vision,” shares Jennifer.

Alyza is now five and half years old. She sees Dr. Nelson every six months, and she still wears glasses, for now. Her vision continues to improve, and it is possible that in the future she will not need glasses. Her eyes are no longer “dancing.”

Keeping eyes healthy from an early age is the best way to prevent the development of eye disease and to ensure that vision problems do not interfere with normal physical development and education. A number of pediatric ophthalmology conditions are treated by expert physicians at Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania, the region’s largest multi-subspecialty ophthalmology practice.

 

Protect Your Eyes From Costume Contact Lenses

3937769 Resized 400x400As Halloween quickly approaches, many of you will be putting the finishing touches on your costumes for the night.  While most efforts to transform your appearance are fun and temporary, costume contact lenses can be quite dangerous, doing more permanent damage to your eye health than you realize.

Contact lenses are actually “medical devices” regulated by the FDA. Any contacts you buy from a costume shop or online retailer without a doctor’s prescription are being sold against the law.

Even when properly prescribed and fitted by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist, contact lenses pose certain health risks to wearers. Contact lenses inhibit the supply of oxygen to the cornea, no matter how well they fit. When the cornea doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can lead to the growth of abnormal blood vessels, or “neovascularization”, which can interfere with vision. Additionally, the lack of oxygen can trigger complications in the outer layer of the cornea, potentially leading to ulcers and infections. Many contact lens wearers, even those using them for years, don’t practice proper lens management. When evaluating patients for contacts, doctors will take into consideration whether or not the patient has allergies, frequent eye infections, exposure to dust and smoke, or suffers from dry eye, and make sure their patients understand how to and are capable of handling their lenses properly. The danger in contact lens misuse is that many patients don’t experience symptoms, so they aren’t aware of the damage they are doing. It isn’t until the eye becomes red and inflammed that patients seek medical help, and at that point it is often too late.

Lenses not prescribed by a doctor pose all of these risks, but to a much higher degree. Costume lenses are often “one size fits all” and are made with cheaper materials. These contacts are usually thicker and less breathable, allowing even less oxygen to get to the cornea. Since the lenses aren’t fitted, they can scrape the outer layer of the eye, and these corneal abrasions can cause light sensitivity, pain and discharge. Corneal ulcers, which have similar symptoms as abrasions and need to be treated with medicated drops, are another serious hazard. Both abrasions and ulcers cause openings in the eye that are vulnerable to bacteria, viruses and amoebas, which can ultimately cause serious eye infections.  Scarring from abrasions, ulcers and infections can result in permanent damage to vision and, in drastic cases, blindness.

To make matters worse, costume contact wearers are less likely to practice safe contact lens management. Halloween partygoers are more likely to sleep in their contacts (a major don’t), use water instead of contact lens solution, or keep their lenses for longer than the recommended amount of time. Many wearers will couple their lenses with elaborate eye makeup, which poses additional risks to eye health since costume makeup is often cheaply made and more likely to flake.

If you must invest in a pair of costume contacts, make sure you speak with your doctor and get a prescription. Always make sure to wash your hands before putting them in, and carry contact lens solution (NOT water) to keep them clean and lubricated. Don’t wear your contacts for more than 6-8 hours and don’t keep them for more than the recommended amount of time (2 weeks for temporary lenses, up to a year for more permanent lenses). Remember that when the recommended time says 14 days, that does not mean 14 wears spread out over a period of time, it means 14 days from the time you open the lens. There are countless articles on the internet that suggest otherwise, but do yourself a favor and ignore them. Practicing good contact lens management can go a long way towards keeping your eyes healthy.  Ultimately, no costume is worth damaging your vision. Many people think of costume contacts as makeup or special effects accessories, but they are medical devices and should be treated as such!

Good News for Patients with a Common Cornea Problem

02-image_940x540Keratoconus is a progressive eye disorder affecting the cornea. While there is no cure as of yet, research is currently underway to slow its progression. “It is exciting because it is the first time we have had a treatment that may slow, or even stop, the progression of keratoconus,” exclaims Brandon D. Ayres, M.D., an award-winning cornea specialist with Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania.

Keratoconus is one of the most common eye problems diagnosed in young people—beginning after puberty through the mid-twenties. Visual disturbances caused by keratoconus include blurred vision, multiple images, glare, and halos around light.

The disorder can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in the early stages, as all symptoms can be associated with other eye problems. As a general rule, you should see a qualified eye doctor as soon as you experience any visual disturbances, even if you think it is nothing.

Establishing a good relationship with your eye doctor is important. Progression of the disorder is steady (but tends to slow by age 40). During this time, frequent exams are required to monitor changes to the cornea.

Keratoconus causes a thinning and “bulging” of the cornea. In the early stage, eyeglasses and soft contact lenses are effective in correcting the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism caused by the distortion of the cornea. Eventually, specially fitted hard contact lenses are needed. In advanced cases, patients require a cornea transplant.

“While corneal transplants are quite successful, it is still better to keep your own cornea if at all possible,” advises Dr. Ayres.

Dr. Ayres and other ophthalmologists across the country are studying the effectiveness of corneal collagen crosslinking with riboflavin (CXL) to slow the progression of keratoconus. The simple in-office procedure involves placing eye drops containing riboflavin in the eyes and then exposing the cornea to a calibrated UV light. “This combination is intended to strengthen the cornea, making it less pliable so it cannot move,” explains Dr. Ayres.

Published European studies have shown that CXL slows or arrests the progression of keratoconus. CXL is pending FDA approval in United States, but ophthalmologists are hopeful about the difference it could make for patients. The ACOS CXL trial, which is currently on-going at Ophthalmic Partners, will be accepting patients through December. If you would like to learn more about the trial, please call 215-720-1879 and ask for Irene Spanelis.

“Keratoconus tends to run in families,” shares Dr. Ayres. “So if you have a family member that has been diagnosed with the disorder, it is worth having an exam.” Some experts even recommend regularly screening children of families with a known keratoconus diagnosis beginning at the age of 10.

Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania is the region’s largest multi-specialty ophthalmology practice, providing advanced eye care in the areas of cataract and refractive surgery, cornea and external disease, anterior segment, glaucoma and related disorders, and pediatric ophthalmology.

Advanced Laser Cataract Surgery with Astigmatism Correction

Ophthalmic-Partners-ShutterstockBernard Meyers is almost blind in his right eye, making it critical to for him to have a fully functioning left eye. When his eyesight deteriorated to the point when he could no longer read the newspaper due to a cataract, he consulted Stephen B. Lichtenstein, M.D., a nationally recognized board certified ophthalmologist at Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania.

“Immediately after my advanced laser cataract surgery I noticed a tremendous improvement in my vision,” shared Mr. Meyers. “It was like night and day. I am very happy with the results.”

Cataracts are inevitable. As part of the aging process, a progressive cloudiness covers the lens in the eye, causing blurred vision, poor night vision, halo or bursts around lights, and frequent prescription changes for glasses or contact lenses. This process typically begins after age 40, and visual disturbances commonly become apparent after age 60.

The only treatment is surgery to replace the affected lens. Many people wait until a cataract seriously impacts their daily lives, such as when they can no longer drive or read, as in the case of Mr. Meyers. This may not occur until age 80. Postponing surgery may not the best idea, since one of the most common reasons for falls is poor vision. A fall in the elderly could cause a broken hip, which increases the risk of death. Fortunately, the trend appears to be that more people are having cataract surgery and at younger ages.

Ten thousand baby boomers celebrate their 65th birthday every day. By 2019, the number of Americans over age 65 is expected to double. As a group, baby boomers are characterized as educated, technically savvy, and health conscious. They are also more likely to take action at the first sign of visual changes. Cataract surgeons are anticipating the increasing number of cataract surgeries that will be required.

With the advent of health care reform, increasing scrutiny is being placed on outcomes and safety. This state-of-the-art laser system was developed specifically for cataract surgery, enabling surgeons to perform the procedure with significantly more precision and control and to correct astigmatism while they’re at it.

Dr. Lichtenstein performs an average of 50 cataract procedures per month using the laser, “The laser eliminates variability, so I get exactly what I plan. The results seen in my patients are better outcomes, fewer complications, and greater patient satisfaction.”

Mr. Meyers was certainly satisfied, “I didn’t expect the procedure to be as easy as it was. It was completely painless. I would have it done again with no hesitation. It changed my world.”

Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania was one of the first in the country to acquire the state-of-the-art “femtosecond” laser in 2011 and the first in the tri-state region. It is the region’s largest multi-specialty ophthalmology practice, providing advanced eye care in the areas of cataract and refractive surgery, cornea and external disease, anterior segment, glaucoma and related disorders, and pediatric ophthalmology. Please call 800-818-8054 for more information.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

Cataract Awareness Month Ophthalmic Partners, NJ PAAs we close out June’s Cataract Awareness Month, we wanted to take this opportunity to educate our patients about the exciting advances in cataract surgery available at Ophthalmic Partners.

Cataracts occur as a natural part of the aging process and affect more than 24 million Americans age 40 and over. The only way to treat a cataract is with surgery that removes the old, clouded lens and replaces it with a new, artificial lens to restore vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed today, so you likely know someone who has had the procedure or have even had the procedure yourself.

Until recently, all surgeons used a small, metal blade to make the necessary incisions to the eye during cataract surgery. In 2011, however, the LenSx femtosecond laser was approved by the FDA, bringing an entirely new level of precision and predictability to cataract surgery. Although everyone is a candidate for traditional cataract surgery and surgical outcomes are still very good, no two incisions are the same when made by hand and some are harder to make than others. This is especially true of the incisions in the cornea used to reduce astigmatism, which affects about 70% of the population.

With the LenSx laser, the surgeon uses computer guided technology to create precise incisions that allow for more efficient cataract removal and better management of astigmatism. The surgeons at Ophthalmic Partners were the first in Pennsylvania to offer this advancement in cataract surgery to patients, and we are proud to share that Drs. Lichtenstein and Tipperman now have the most experience with this technology in the region. They are finding that increased control and predictability from use of the LenSx laser are resulting in better refractive outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

We predict that laser-assisted cataract surgery will one day become the standard of care. How wonderful for our patients that “one day” is “right now” at Ophthalmic Partners.

66th Annual Wills Eye Conference in Philadelphia

Wills Eye Hospital photoRecently, several of our doctors attended the 66th Annual Wills Eye Conference in Philadelphia. Over the course of three days, they participated in events highlighting clinical, diagnostic, and technical advancements in ophthalmology, and shared their expertise with colleagues.

Drs. Marlene Moster, Brandon Ayres, and Leonard Nelson presented on-going research and other information relating to glaucoma surgery, pseudophakia, anisometropia, and periorbitopathy during the Free Paper Session.

For the Physicians Presentation Program, Dr. Michael Pro, one of Ophthalmic Partners’ glaucoma specialists, gave a presentation titled, “SD OCT – Tips on Effective Interpretation.” SD OCT, or Spectral Optical Coherence Tomography, is a type of no-contact imaging, similar to an MRI, that creates a cross-sectional/3D image of the eye.

Dr. Moster, another of our glaucoma specialists, shared new techniques in glaucoma surgery. In her presentation, “iStent Best Practices,” she discussed the use of the iStent, a micro-invasive device which creates a permanent opening in the trabecular meshwork to help lower intraocular pressure. (For more on Dr. Moster and micro-invasive glaucoma surgery, please see our previous post here).

For the Allied Health Program, Dr. Ayres, one of our cornea and anterior segment specialists, offered a course for technicians and clinical staff that covered the range of corneal transplants, including lamellar grafts (DSEK and DMEK), full thickness corneal transplants, and artificial corneal transplants (keratoprosthesis), as well as the pre-operative work ups, surgical techniques, and postoperative care specific to each type of surgery.

During the Physicians Program, Dr. Nelson, the practice’s pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus specialist, gave a presentation titled “Nystagmus- Is There a Fix?” Nystagmus is involuntary eye movement that can result in limited or reduced vision. Traditionally, nystagmus has been considered non-treatable, but Dr. Nelson discussed the potential positive effects of the Four-Muscle Tenotomy procedure, and how it may help reduce the intensity of the eye movement.

To end the conference, Dr Richard Tipperman, one of our cataract and refractive surgery specialists, moderated a panel discussion along with two other cataract physicians, during which they shared their experiences with advanced and complicated surgical cases.

Ophthalmic Partners and Main Line Surgery Center are Honored to host “LIVE SURGERY” Event!

Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania, P.C. and Main Line Surgery Center are honored to be hosting the “Live Surgery” symposium for the 2014 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Annual Meeting being held in Boston through April 29th. “Live Surgery” is one of the premier teaching events of the year for surgical ophthalmologists. As part of the symposium, internationally recognized cataract surgeons operate on real patients while being telecast via a live satellite feed to the meeting in Boston. Surgeons attending the meeting benefit from the learning experience as if they were actually in the operating room with the surgeons in Philadelphia. Typically, several thousand ophthalmologists attend this symposium to view the latest advances and techniques in cataract surgery.

Cataracts, which are a natural part of the aging process, affect millions of Americans. A cataract can be the reason images appear blurry, as if there is a “cloudy” film covering the eye. Unfortunately, cataracts cannot be prevented and no specific diet or nutritional supplement can eradicate or diminish the condition. The only way to treat a cataract is with surgery that removes the old, clouded lens and replaces it with a new, artificial lens to restore vision. This year, the “Live Surgery” event will feature cataract surgeries performed using the LenSx femtosecond laser and Toric and ReSTOR® intraocular lenses that address a patient’s astigmatism or improves a patient’s near and distance vision in addition to removing the clouded cataract. These advanced technology surgical options allow patients to reduce their dependence on glasses after cataract surgery.

Richard Tipperman MDDr. Richard Tipperman from Ophthalmic Partners and Main Line Surgery Center will be serving as host surgeon for “Live Surgery” in addition to performing surgery himself. This is the 5th such time that he has had this privilege, including once performing “Live Surgery” in Rome, Italy. When asked about the event, Dr. Tipperman replied, “It is a sincere honor to be asked to participate in this event even once – to participate for a 5th time is truly humbling. I am honored to be able to help my colleagues all over the world learn techniques and approaches to benefit their patients. It’s a way to ‘pay it forward’ to the many excellent mentors I’ve had during my career and training at Wills Eye Hospital.”

Dr. Tipperman is one of 11 physicians at Ophthalmic Partners who practice at Wills Eye Hospital and other locations throughout the greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region. Dr. Tipperman focuses his practice predominantly on cataract surgery, with an emphasis on higher risk eyes and the management of complications. He has long been at the forefront of cataract surgery in the nation and was one of 14 surgeons working on the original FDA core study for the multi-focal ReSTOR® intraocular lens. Dr. Tipperman was also the first surgeon in the Metro Philadelphia area to perform laser assisted cataract surgery using the LenSx femtosecond laser at Main Line Surgery Center, the first surgical facility to offer such technology in the region. Continuing to stay ahead of the curve, Ophthalmic Partners and Main Line Surgery Center now offer patients even higher customized treatment with the VERION Image Guided System that takes a unique digital “fingerprint” of the patient’s eye and feeds the data directly into the LenSx laser and subsequently the surgical microscope for greater precision, consistency, and outcomes. As one of the few units currently available in the U.S., the VERION System will be featured in “Live Surgery” as well.

Supporting Innovation for Safe and Effective Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery

Dr. Moster and patientSeveral weeks ago, Dr. Marlene Moster, one of the glaucoma specialists at Ophthalmic Partners and a leader in glaucoma care nationally, attended an FDA workshop titled, Supporting Innovation for Safe and Effective Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, in Washington D.C. The workshop was comprised of doctors and specialists from the American Glaucoma Society, independent doctors, industry professionals, and members of the FDA. Specifically, Dr. Moster gave a presentation titled “Leaving the Past Behind: Why We Are Looking Forward to MIGS.”

The purpose of this workshop was to explore various opinions from glaucoma specialists on how MIGS are changing the way glaucoma will be treated in the future. The presenters discussed issues concerning the need for new technology and surgical procedures, who will be eligible to receive them, potential risk factors, and, perhaps most importantly, what the increasing use of MIGS means for the future?

MIGS, or Minimally/Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgeries, is a growing category of new methods and procedures to treat glaucoma. Currently, the only proven treatment for glaucoma is to reduce intraocular pressure, which can be achieved through several different treatments, generally falling into one of two categories; either by inhibiting aqueous production or by enhancing its outflow. These include surgeries such at a trabeculectomy, bleb surgery or Ab interno surgery to name a few. While these surgeries have a high success rate, there is room for continued innovation. The goal of MIGS is not necessarily to replace these tried and tested procedures entirely, but instead create a safer and more efficient way to perform them. By increasing the amount of procedures available for glaucoma patients, it will ensure that each patient receives the exact care plan that they need.

Minimally invasive surgeries cause fewer complications, thanks to more efficient OR practices and little to no damage done to the cornea and surrounding tissue. Patients will also have a quicker rehabilitation period and less dependency on medication. While the more traditional procedures tend to have better results at lowering IOP, as the technology improves and becomes more widely used, MIGS will likely become the gold-standard in glaucoma treatment. MIGS will benefit patients with glaucoma-lite, those with no hereditary risk factors for glaucoma but who have a slightly elevated IOP and some visual field loss. Instead of using more aggressive surgeries, MIGS will give glaucoma-lite patients additional options, along with less dependency on medications and less frequent doctor visits.

Currently, Ophthalmic Partners uses the iStent Trabecular Micro Bypass Stent (Glaukos Corporation), and is one of the few in the area that does so, but many more surgical techniques are still being tested. During her presentation, Dr. Moster asked the FDA and her colleagues to consider the benefits of MIGS, and urged them to investigate and approve the procedures that are currently in the research and developmental stages. As more and more procedures gain FDA approval, and more doctors become proficient in the ones already available, the surgical options to treat glaucoma will grow exponentially, which will allow for a more individualized treatment plan for each patient.

First In Tri-State Region To Offer State-Of-The-Art Cataract Laser Surgery

The physicians of Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania (OPP) want you to get a new outlook on life this New Year – literally. Available now, the practice is pleased to announce that its physicians are the first in Pennsylvania and the Tri-state area to offer a new state-of-the-art laser technique for cataract surgery with correction of astigmatism, considered to be the most sophisticated of its kind to date.

The procedure, utilizing a “femtosecond” laser and computer control for unmatched precision, revolutionizes cataract surgery and astigmatic correction. The laser allows the surgeon to create bladeless micro-incisions in place of the manual, small blade incisions traditionally used to remove the cataract and correct astigmatism in the patient’s eye. As with any manual process, no two incisions made by hand can be identical – there is variability inherent in the technique. Femtosecond lasers, by contrast, emit a very brief pulse of energy to create bladeless incisions that are perfectly reproducible. How sophisticated is the femtosecond laser? A femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 31.7 million years. And now several OPP physicians have access to the femtosecond laser, and have been fully certified in its use, through their affiliation with Wills Eye Institute and the Wills Main Line Surgery Center.

“We are extremely excited about this advancement in cataract surgery that we can now offer to our patients,” says Dr. Stephen Lichtenstein. “Although cataract surgery is the most frequently performed ophthalmic procedure worldwide, advances in surgical laser technology did not cross over into cataract surgery until recently.”

Since cataracts are a natural part of the aging process, it affects millions of Americans. A cataract can be the reason images appear blurry, as if there is a “cloudy” film covering the eye. Unfortunately, cataracts cannot be prevented and no specific diet or nutritional supplement can eradicate or diminish the condition. The only way to treat a cataract is with surgery that removes the old, clouded lens and replaces it with a new, artificial lens to restore vision. For patients with astigmatism, however, cataract surgery alone will not fully correct their vision. The very outer part of the eye, the cornea, must be reshaped with micro-incisions to correct the astigmatism. The use of a femtosecond laser to assist the surgeon during cataract surgery and simultaneously correct astigmatism introduces a new level of precision unavailable before. (For higher levels of astigmatism, a special intra-ocular lens, the Toric lens, is also an option.)

“As a one-eyed patient with other complex medical issues, cataract surgery was much more risky for me than the average individual. I was very apprehensive, to say the least, but when Dr. Richard Tipperman suggested the bladeless, laser option and explained the ways it would enhance my chances of a good outcome and vision, I decided to proceed,” says Teresa Galligan. “The procedure went beautifully, my recovery was painless and my vision has been restored. My dense cataract is gone for good!”

 

Breakthrough Laser Technology Offers Precision and Accuracy not Available Before in Treatment of Cataracts