A WWII propaganda campaign popularized the idea that carrots could help you see in the dark. In fact, carrot consumption became mandatory for the British Royal Air Force during the war, and Germans were led to believe that all those carrots allowed British pilots to see German planes in the dark—even during government-issued citywide blackouts.
What the Luftwaffe didn’t realize was that carrots didn’t have anything to do with the Royal Air Force’s skill. In fact, British pilots were able to spot the Germans in the dark because of their secret radar technology. The new on-board radars saw enemy planes before they reached the English Channel. Meanwhile, the carrot story kept the Germans confused long enough to keep the radars secret.
Even still, this wasn’t the first time that carrots have been touted to improve vision, nor was it the last. Popular culture agrees that carrots can improve poor vision, but that’s not really true.
But we’re not about here to throw carrots under the bus entirely. Even though carrots cannot improve vision enough to help you get rid of your glasses, or even enough to help you see better in the dark, carrots and other vitamin A-rich foods are important in preventing or slowing down some eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of visual loss.
In the developing world, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness, and a diet that is consistently low in vitamin A can contribute to macular degeneration and cataracts.
Vitamin A, along with another antioxidant found in carrots, lutein, are important to the health of the retina and macula. In fact, they increase the density of healthy pigment in the eyes, which may have a protective effect against certain diseases.
Keep in mind that carrots aren’t the only source of vitamin A and lutein. Colorful vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, red bell peppers and kale are all great sources of these antioxidants and many others.
So while carrots, or any other vegetable, won’t let you see in the dark, we recommend that you enjoy them frequently anyway.
Have you been looking for more from your glasses? Are you, like many of our patients, looking for a lens that offers a solution to all the most common problems that patients have with their glasses, including:
Tired eyes, especially after using the computer all day
Trouble reading your smartphone
Having to switch between Rx sunglasses and your regular eyeglasses everytime you walk into or out of a store, the house or your workplace
Issues with glare, especially while driving at night or in the rain
Feeling like your progressive field is too narrow
Check out what truly makes the Ultimate Lens Package so great:
The Ultimate Progressives
With the release of the Ultimate Lens Package, Essilor introduces us to their best progressive lens to date in the Varulux X Design. This lens builds upon what patients have come to expect from the Varilux lens portfolio, while extending the corridors for the widest fields of vision at distance, midrange, and near. Essilor also introduces us to Crizal Sapphire 360 with the release of the Ultimate Lens Package. Crizal Sapphire 360 is the first anti-reflective coating to feature Multi-Angular Technology which reduces reflections from any angle of light. This reduces the amount of distracting glare we experience everyday with televisions, computers, smartphones, street lights, headlights, and so much more. Add in the convenience and benefits of Transitions Signature 7 technology, including filtering harmful blue light, and Presbyopic patients have their best vision possible for any condition.
Want Single Vision? We’ve Can Do That Too!
Single vision lens wearers don’t fret, the Ultimate Lens Package has something for you too! Eyezen + single vision lenses defend against eye strain from extended up-close viewing from devices such as our smartphones giving patient’s a boost while providing clarity associated with single vision lenses edged digitally. Eyezen + lenses accommodation recommendation is based upon the patient’s age, with 4 different levels available spanning a wide age range from 17 to 50 (not recommended for patients with a prescribed reading power greater than +1.00). This package also includes Transitions Signature 7 photochromic technology and Crizal Sapphire 360 anti-reflective coating giving our single vision patients their best sight possible.
Take advantage of this promotion through the end of the year; requiring only a current prescription, the purchase of 2 new frames, and deciding what option you would like for your 2nd pair of lenses! The possibilities are limitless!
Costume contact lenses might seem like an easy way to up your Halloween game, but we recommend that our patients skip them. Though costume lenses can be found online and in some Halloween shops, selling them without a prescription is illegal—and using them without a prescription can blind you.
Contact lenses are not “one size fits all,” and poorly fitting lenses can cause irritation, infection and even vision-threatening ulcers.
That’s exactly what happened to Julian Hamlin, a North Carolina teen, who developed an ulcer that led to multiple surgeries, secondary cataracts and glaucoma, and even the loss of vision in one eye. He purchased his colored lenses at a gas station without a prescription. Here’s his story:
Some types of contact lenses are illegal even with a prescription. Circle lenses are contact lenses that cover a large part of the eye. They go beyond the iris and extend to the whites of the eye, in order to make eyes appear larger, like those of Anime cartoon characters. These lenses are popular in Asia among teens, and we at Tarantino Cho Eye Center have had some of our teenage patients request them too. We’ve always advised against them, not only because they aren’t FDA approved, but also because the risk to the eye is too great.
Tarantino Cho Eye Center urges our patients to steer clear of any type of non-prescription lens this Halloween.
If you have had an appointment at Tarantino Eye Center with in the last several months, you probably received an access sheet for your personal patient portal. Let me explain what a patient portal is and what it means to you.
What is a Patient Portal?
Your personal patient portal is a secure, private way to access thorough summaries of your visits at Tarantino Eye Center. These summaries allow you to view information about your eye care which includes:
You also get access to our secure messaging feature when you log in to your patient portal. This allows you to communicate with your doctor at Tarantino Eye Center about your eye care. Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing an eye care emergency, you must call our office immediately at 410-590-9260.
To encourage patient engagement and autonomy, Tarantino Eye Center will enter patients into a raffle for a free pair of glasses or sunglasses if they enter their portal within 72 hours of their visit! All you have to do to be entered is log in to your portal and click “View” under the “Summary” column.
Interested in Accessing your Patient Portal?
Be sure to pick up your portal access sheet when you check out after your next appointment. If you have been to our office for an appointment recently and did not receive your portal access sheet, call Jacqui at 410-590-9260.
How to Get Started:
Your portal access sheet will give instructions on how to log in to your portal. Instructions are also listed below:
You will be asked for your name and email address, and you will be required to make a password. Hit “Register” when you’re ready.
Next you must enter the 20-letter code listed on your portal access sheet. Please be sure to enter the code exactly as it is written. That includes the dashes (-) and capitalization.
You will then be asked for your security question, which is your date of birth. You must use the format MM-DD-YYYY and to include the dashes (-).
You will be automatically sent to the “Appointments” page where you can view your appointment summaries. To send a secure message to your doctor, click “Messages” on the top menu bar, then “Create a new message.” Remember, for eye care emergencies call our office at 410-590-9260.
We hope you find your personal patient portal helpful. If you have any questions, call Jacqui at 410-590-9260.
Earlier this month, in an effort to increase transparency in healthcare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released payment data for Medicare Part-B fee-for-service providers. Though we support transparency in the healthcare system, this information, when taken out of context, can be easily misconstrued. Some providers, such as ophthalmologists, seem to collect more than others, but that doesn’t automatically translate into more profits for these healthcare providers. Other factors, such as patient population, overhead and treatments provided, play a role in both what a doctor charges, and what a doctor actually earns. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why ophthalmologists landed high on the CMS list:
Ophthalmologists have one of the highest percentages of elderly patients among medical specialties. Therefore naturally we have a higher than average proportion of our patient population covered by Medicare.
The elderly are susceptible to expensive ophthalmic diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. These diseases often require specialized technology and equipment to both treat and observe.
Ophthalmology has one of the highest overheads of any specialty.
Some specialized ophthalmologists (i.e., retina specialists) dispense and administer costly drugs for macular degeneration and other chronic retina diseases. This actually accounts for 20% of Medicare payments to ophthalmologists. Comprehensive ophthalmology practices such as ours do not normally administer such drugs.
If you have further questions, feel free to contact me, Jacqui, at the number or email address below.
Thanks for reading the Tarantino Eye Center blog!
Tarantino Eye Center
410.590.9260 [email protected]
If you’ve been reading our blog, you might already know that there a handful of nutrients that have been linked to improved eye health. Though we often recommend supplements to many of our patients with certain eye conditions, the body absorbs nutrients better when they come in directly from food.
Omega-3 Lentil Loaf
Doctors of several different specialties are recommending that their patients increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids, and ophthalmology is no different. Not only have these healthy fats been linked with cardiovascular and skin benefits, but they can also improve eyelid inflammation and dry eyes. See our blog post on this topic here.
This Lentil Loaf makes a delicious, healthy and filling main dish. Not only is it low in fat, low in cholesterol and high in protein, it also boasts 1240 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. Enjoy it with roasted mixed vegetables and half of a baked sweet potato to make it a complete meal, full of eye-healthy nutrients.
½ white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained (no need to press)
2 stalks celery, chopped
¼ chopped walnuts, ground in a food processor
1 ½ cups cooked lentils
1 ¼ cups quick oats
3 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium soy sauce is best)
2 tablespoons ketchup (plus more for topping)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons freeze-dried poultry seasoning (or you may substitute a mixture of equal parts thyme, rosemary and sage)
-Preheat your oven to 350° and spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
-Sauté garlic, celery and onions over high heat in a few tablespoons of water or low-sodium broth until tender, then remove from heat and let cool.
-Mash tofu in a large bowl. Stir in all ingredients and mix well.
-Empty mixture into loaf pan and top with ketchup to taste.
-Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean.
Nutrition Facts per 1/6-loaf serving (with regular-sodium soy sauce):
Calories: 226 Fat: 8.2 g (1.1 g Saturated) Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 13.8 g Total Carbohydrate: 27.4 g Dietary Fiber: 6.8 g Sodium: 524.1 mg Omega-3: 1240 mg
Antioxidant Kale Salad
We often recommend that our patients with macular degeneration take special “eye vitamins,” supplements with high doses of vitamins A, C, E and Zinc. For some patients though, these supplements may be contraindicated, or simply too large to swallow. For those patients, we often recommend a varied diet that includes leafy greens and carrots –and this recipe has both!
This cool, refreshing salad is a great source of vitamins A and C, providing your entire daily intake recommendation of each in just one serving. Many people are not used to eating raw kale, but massaging it with lemon juice, avocado and just a hint of salt will tenderize these healthy greens.
4 cups of kale, (about 1 bunch), stems removed, and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium avocado, mashed slightly
juice of ½ lemon
½ – 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, (to taste)
½ red onion, chopped
A small pinch of salt, to taste
1 navel or caracara orange or 3 clementines, chopped into bite-sized chunks
-Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and add the salt, lemon juice and avocado.
-Massage the avocado, salt and lemon juice into the kale, making sure that the kale is uniformly covered with those three ingredients.
-Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss.
-If needed, letting this sit, covered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes will help it tenderize more.
Nutrition per serving (1/6 recipe):
Calories: 91 Fat: 4.8 g (0.7 g Saturated) Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 2.7 g Total Carbohydrate :11.9 g Dietary Fiber: 4.7 g Sodium: 80 mg Vitamin A: 273.4% DV* Vitamin C: 113.4% DV*
*Percent daily values are based on those of a 2,000-calorie diet.
The terms “bladeless” and “laser” have caused quite a stir in the field of medical technology recently. Doctors now employ laser technology in fields as diverse as vascular surgery, podiatry, gastroenterology and, most widely known, in vision-correcting surgeries such as LASIK. It is hard to overstate the benefit of laser technology in these realms; many laser techniques are minimally invasive and offer a quicker recovery and sometimes a better result than traditional methods. Patients therefore are understandably attracted to the lure of “laser” and “bladeless” techniques whenever they become available. Naturally then, when laser-assisted cataract surgery became available recently, it instantly caught the attention of patients and practitioners alike. Some patients even were willing to pay an extra one to three thousand dollars per eye for this new technology, as this version of cataract surgery is not covered by insurance.
Since Tarantino Eye Center opened its doors fifteen years ago, our physicians have performed thousands of successful cataract extractions. Thanks to cutting-edge research and developing technologies, the way in which we perform cataract surgery has become an incredibly refined and effective procedure, and patients are very satisfied with their visual outcome. But before we embrace any new technology (especially one as costly as the femtosecond laser), we must have proof that it offers our patients some significant benefit, be it increased safety, a shorter recovery, or a better visual outcome, over other established techniques. So far, there is little to no evidence to suggest that laser-assisted cataract surgery fulfills any of these requirements. We’ve chosen to use this space to inform our patients, and the wider community, of how this method differs from the standard method, and if it is worth its price tag.
How does laser-assisted surgery differ from other contemporary methods?
Keep in mind that laser-assisted cataract surgery is just that, laser assisted. No one can completely remove a cataract with a laser, and the majority of the procedure is the same for both techniques.
Entering the Eye
The first step of cataract surgery, after preparation and anesthesia, is to enter to eye in order to retrieve the cataract (the cloudy lens inside the eye). In both procedures, this is done via a tiny incision made on the edge of the cornea (the clear outer covering on the front of the eye). Most surgeons make the incision manually with a precision blade. This under three millimeter incision is cut in such a way that is self-sealing and rarely requires sutures. In laser-assisted cataract surgery however, the laser, called the femtosecond laser, makes this same incision for the surgeon.
There have been claims that the laser is able to cut more precisely and accurately than a metal blade, but, for all but the least experienced surgeons, the precision and accuracy of the incision is a nonissue. The vast majority of cataract surgeons are very comfortable making this incision and the complications due to errors in creating the incision are low–practically nonexistent for most surgeons. As of now, we do not have sufficient evidence to support the claim that a laser incision is safer than a manual incision, especially when performed by an experienced surgeon.
Extracting the Cataract and Inserting the Lens Implant
After the initial incision, the laser-assisted and standard methods do not differ much at all. Though the laser can be used to open the cataract’s front covering and partially break it up, the majority of the lens extraction is exactly the same in both methods. In both types of surgery, the cataract must be broken up with an ultrasound and then extracted using suction. Afterwards, an artificial lens, called an intraocular implant, is then inserted into the eye to replace the natural lens’ focusing power. These two steps (i.e., the bulk of the surgery) are completed the same way for both methods of cataract surgery.
Does the laser-assisted method offer patients a better outcome?
Since the two methods are so similar, it is reasonable to assume that the outcomes for each are also similar. There again haven’t been any extensive, peer-reviewed studies to support the claim that laser-assisted surgery leaves patients with better outcomes than their counterparts who had traditional surgery. Complication rates are similar for both methods of cataract surgery and, in the early stages of implementation, they may even be higher with the laser, as it takes time for surgeons to master new techniques. Most patients experience significant visual improvement after both kinds of cataract surgery, and this improvement is due not to the use of the laser, but to surgeon skill, correct calculation of the lens implant power, and the patient’s underlying eye health.
Can the femtosecond laser leave patients free from glasses?
Sometimes, but so can standard cataract surgery. In most cases, whether or not the patient needs glasses after surgery is based on the lens implant, and the same types of lenses are used in both types of surgery. A patient and their doctor must choose the most appropriate lens.
The standard lens– This lens is covered completely by health insurance. Depending on the patient’s desires, it can leave patients less dependent on glasses in the distance or at near (but not both), especially if they do not have astigmatism.
The multifocal lens– This lens isn’t covered by insurance and usually costs around $2,500 per eye. It can leave patients mostly free from both reading and distance glasses. This lens is not available for patients with astigmatism.
The toric lens– This lens also isn’t covered by insurances and costs the patient about $1,200 per eye. It corrects astigmatism and can leave patients less dependent on glasses in the distance or at near-but not both. Some patients then may end up hardly needing glasses at all if they choose the multifocal lens, but for patients with astigmatism, this lens is not an option. That’s where the femtosecond may be useful. During the surgery, the femtosecond laser can be used to correct the patient’s astigmatism, and then a multifocal lens can be inserted, leaving the patient generally spectacle-free. So for patients with astigmatism who don’t want to use glasses at all, laser-assisted surgery may be a great option. Patients should be aware, however, that toric multifocal lenses are now being used in Europe, and are expected to be available in the United States in the near future. This would also allow patients with astigmatism to be generally free from glasses without using the femtosecond laser at all.
Is laser-assisted cataract surgery worth $1,000-$3,000 per eye? So far the answer is “probably not.” While many patients are persuaded by the terms “laser” and “bladeless,” we warn patients to not automatically assume that they need to pay extra for laser-assisted surgery to experience a good outcome. Cataract surgery is refined, precise and extremely satisfying for the vast majority of patients. If you are under the care of a well-trained surgeon, you should feel confident that either technique you choose is a good choice for your eye health.
The femtosecond laser may hold promise for the future, but we just aren’t sure yet. We, like most cataract surgeons, will carefully watch for scientific evidence that laser offers some benefit over standard surgery. If peer-reviewed evidence to suggest that laser is advantageous becomes available, we will look to adopt the laser method so that we may offer our patients the most beneficial technologies. For now, we will regard laser-assisted cataract surgery with guarded optimism, and we recommend that the community do the same.
The Bottom Line:
Laser-assisted cataract surgery and standard cataract surgery have much in common; most of the procedure is exactly the same in both methods, as it is impossible to remove a cataract with a laser.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery has not been shown to give faster recovery or better outcomes than standard cataract surgery.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery is not covered by your insurance.
If you have any further questions about cataract surgery, please don’t hesitate to call our office.
“I’ve heard that cataracts have to be ripe before you can take them out. How can I tell if my cataracts are ripe?”
This is one of the most commonly asked questions we hear about cataract surgery. This was a valid question many years ago, when cataract surgery was a more risky and invasive procedure. Doctors in the past were right to encourage their patients to wait until their cataracts were quite large, or “ripe.” Today, though, we don’t follow the standard definition of “ripe.”
In recent years, cataract surgery has become one of the most common and refined procedures performed. The recovery and healing period is shorter than our predecessors ever imagined, and new technologies have made it a very safe procedure. The surgery isn’t entirely without risk, however, so we do make sure that patients meet the following criteria before we offer the option of cataract surgery:
1. The symptoms from your cataracts are affecting your lifestyle.
If you are having noticeable blurred vision, glare, or other visual symptoms that limit your daily activities, then you may be ready to consider surgery. For example, you like to sew but can no longer see to thread a needle; you work at night, but glare from headlights bothers you; or you enjoy painting and are having trouble distinguishing between black and navy blue paints.
2. Your cataracts are large enough to remove.
Only your eye doctor will be able to tell you if your cataracts are large enough to remove. This usually happens when they have become moderate in their severity, but not always. Cataracts no longer need to be very dense, or “ripe,” in order to have cataract surgery.
For patients with more complicated eye diseases or medical conditions, we may advise against surgery. Please feel free to call if you have any other questions about the surgery.