Glaucoma, What is it and how is it detected?

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. It is usually a painless, irreversible loss of vision starting with your peripheral vision (side vision). Basically, it is nerve loss caused by eye pressure; the higher the pressure the greater the chance of vision loss. Few people with glaucoma feel anything and since it usually affects peripheral vision first, patients often don’t notice anything until it is too late or advanced. The goal in glaucoma treatment is early detection and control. Not everyone with high pressures gets glaucoma and some with normal pressures do (called: normal tension glaucoma).

So the dilemma is how to find it early? Besides measuring eye pressure we look at family history, age, medications, systemic conditions (like sleep apnea), and ethnicity. We look for changes in the nerve and peripheral vision but peripheral vision changes may not be detected until after there has been a significant amount of nerve loss.

In the last few years, technology has been developed that can measure the nerve thickness of the back of the eyes (in thousandths of an inch), compare the thickness to normal eyes of the same age and look for changes in an eye over time. No single test can detect glaucoma 100% of the time but this is a much needed addition to our ability to detect glaucoma. We recently obtained one of these instruments (an OCT) and are using it to better detect glaucoma and other eye diseases earlier, like macular degeneration, another leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

If we think you have a higher risk for glaucoma we may recommend this test to evaluate your risk and to provide a baseline finding for earlier detection of nerve loss.

We are pleased to be able to offer our patients this new technology. Helping you to see better and preserving your vision is our goal.

Dr. LaFont

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May is Healthy Vision Month

May is Healthy Vision Month!

May is Healthy Vision Month!

May is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI) in May 2003. NEI is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Millions of people living in the United States have undetected vision problems, eye diseases, and conditions. Healthy Vision Month is designed to elevate vision as a health priority for the Nation by promoting the importance of early detection and treatment, as well as the use of proper eye safety practices, in preventing vision loss and blindness.

One of the most important things people can do to protect their vision is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. In this painless procedure, an eye care professional examines the eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs. A comprehensive eye exam can detect eye diseases and conditions in their early stages, before vision loss occurs. Early detection and treatment can help to save your sight.

Contact our office to schedule your comprehensive eye exam today.

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2011 Newsletter

Greetings from Dr. LaFont

Here we are ending another year.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are in the past. Seems like a great time to look back on 2011 and share with our patients a little about our past year. I keep reading about how the recession has been over for a year, if so it’s not apparent to me but I’ll leave that to the ”experts” and move on.

As many of you may know I had a thyroid surgery this year. The doctors had been observing a nodule that had been growing and it was finally decided it needed to be removed. Fortunately, upon removal, it was found to be a benign cyst. I spent the first night of my life in the hospital and I’ll be very happy if it was my last, ever! After numerous visits to various doctors this past year I have become a connoisseur of doctor’s offices. Observing what I like and don’t like of their styles, staff and office procedures. I am trying to use my observations to positively affect the procedures at our office and make sure your visit here is a superior and pleasant experience.

Tjarko, Aimée, Bobby, Louis, Dr. LaFont, Élodie, Annie, Cameron, Claire

Now I will bring you up to date on my family. Claire our youngest just turned 11 and I have many patients who are surprised by her age, since they recall her birth. She is in 5th grade and has tried swimming, gymnastics, singing lessons, piano, girl scouts and is an altar server at church. She is an excellent student and a great reader. When she gets hold of a book she likes, the rest of the world disappears. Right now she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time and can’t put them down. Bobby is living in Bellevue, WA; he enjoys colder weather and likes the area. He is trying to find a job and does some app writing. He has taken one of the dogs with him, Coco, and he really enjoys her company. Aimée and her husband Tjarko are living in San Francisco and both work for startup companies. Aimée works for DemandForce, the company we use for email, text messaging and review/surveys from our patients. Tjarko works at The Climate Corporation which writes weather insurance, mostly for farming. They enjoy international travel when they can. Louis continues to work with us and his wife Annie teaches 3rd grade in Fullerton.

But the big news this year is that they had a baby!

Élodie, our first grandchild! She was born May 15th and weighed 9 lbs. 3 oz. and was 21” long. She is now 7 months old and just started crawling and pulling herself up to a stand. She is a beautiful little girl and I don’t think I’m prejudiced. A baby is a real life changer as many of you know, but she is God’s newest gift to our family and can put a great big smile on my face anytime. She is a true blessing!

Cameron & Dr. LaFont

In September I again participated in Cycle Oregon “Going Coastal”, 7 days of biking and camping (500 miles) with 2200 riders. This time we were in southwest Oregon with 3 days spent on the coast. Cameron wanted to join me but wasn’t interested in riding, so she volunteered with the organization and helped coordinate the local volunteers at the lunch stops. We had a great time; good food, entertainment, amazing scenery, and it was extremely well organized. In July we vacationed in Palm Desert where Louis, Annie & Élodie were able to join us. I did a couple of training rides, in 105°F+ heat, where my water bottles practically boiled.

All in all, 2011, was a memorable year and we want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and hopefully more prosperous New Year.

DemandForce

We are constantly striving to better and more conveniently communicate with our patients. Our office mission statement stresses that we want to provide the best eye care and that we want our patients well informed. Over the years we have seen the modes of communication change greatly. First we used postal mail and landline phones, then answering machines, then pagers, mobile phones, now email and texting. In our high-tech world of iPods, smartphones, and tablets, LaFont Family Eyecare doesn’t fall behind to say the least. You can now confirm your appointments online or send us your reviews via email. We also offer a free WiFi connection available while you are visiting our office. Matrix barcodes will take you directly to our webpage to schedule an appointment.

We have recently started using a company, DemandForce, to help us communicate with our patients more efficiently. We have had many patients comment about how much they appreciate the electronic communications. We are collecting emails and cell phone information so we can confirm appointments, text a reminder, or let patients know when their glasses or contacts are ready. An added bonus is we are able to easily send out surveys and get feedback as to how we are doing. We also have a Facebook presence; you can friend us at LaFont Family Eyecare. Call or email us your electronic contact information and we will update your records. With all these new forms of communication, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the phone and speak to one of our friendly staff. Feel free to call us or drop in anytime.

Glaucoma

In California Optometrists have been able to test for and diagnose glaucoma for quite a few years, but until recently it was almost impossible to be licensed to ‘treat’ glaucoma unless you were affiliated with a clinic or school. In 2011 the laws changed and there is a new process for optometrists to become glaucoma certified. In order to continue to give you the best possible eye care, I have decided to go through the steps for certification. Currently I have completed two of the three steps and expect to be finished in early 2012. What this means is that if you are diagnosed with glaucoma and we are a provider on you medical insurance plan we won’t need to refer you out for treatment. Glaucoma is a serious disease and one of the most common causes of blindness in the United States. The usual treatment is a lifetime of eye drops and scheduled monitoring. I want to be your doctor of choice when it comes to treating and monitoring your glaucoma. Your eye health is our top priority.

EHR and new equipment

          It’s that time of the year when we reflect on the changes that we made in our lives. For some of us the change may have been for the better. For others, the change may have turned out to be more difficult.  But in every essence, these changes embody our growth, the “really living” of our lives. One of our guiding principles is that “if you’re not moving forward you are falling behind” in other words you can’t just coast along and still remain successful. At LaFont Family Eyecare, we took a leap and changed to electronic health records, EHR, aka going paperless. While it is an exciting venture involving new technology, there are always hurdles to overcome. It’s sort of like driving a new car with all the bells and whistles, but you just don’t know how to use all those bells and whistles yet. For those of you who had your eyes examined with the new automated phoropter, you know that it’s faster, allowing a wider field of vision, and of course, makes plenty of robotic clicking sounds. Our new auto-refractor used during pretesting (the tree has been retired) can auto-adjust to estimate the patient’s refractive error and corneal curvature within seconds. These new instruments were updated to assist us in transferring data to our EHR for storage and retrieval. An added benefit is staff no longer has to translate the doctors’ handwriting. We also have been constantly upgrading our computer program. I look at some of the updates and think “2 steps forward and 3 steps back” and sometimes I think “I didn’t appreciate paper enough” but eventually they get it right. At our office I think that when it comes to technology, lenses and patient care, we are always driven to be moving forward.

Whatever changes you may have noticed at LaFont Family Eyecare, please know that they were inspired to give you highest quality eyecare while still providing our personal touch. Therefore, you can always rely on our friendly staff:  Heidi and Louis to help you at the front desk; Nicci and Wendy to assist you with frame and lens selection and Dr. LaFont and Dr. Vu to take care of your eye health and visual needs.

Free-Form Lenses

Exciting things are happening in the optical industry as well. Lenses can now be fabricated to create a lens surface that is precise from point-to-point using computer-assisted equipment. The results are called free-form lenses. They are free of most distortions which are noticed primarily in the periphery of the lens. Progressive lenses generated this way will allow patients to have a wider field of vision and for patients new to progressives the ability to adapt more easily. Our experienced opticians, Wendy and Nicci, have had much success with the Shamir Autograph II free-form progressive based on the patients’ responses and their personal experience from wearing the lens. “Phenomenal” is the word they used. I, Dr. Vu, had a “wow” experience when first wearing my  Single Vision Individual free-form lenses. My world instantly became sharper especially when glancing off to the sides. I feel as if I really do have “eyes behind my head“ – somewhat important to keep those kids of mine in line. This brings me to tell you a little about the jewels of my life, Brian, 10, and Kaitlyn, 7.

Hello from Dr. Vu

          For those of you who advised me to “enjoy your kids while you can,” I thank you. I can attest to how quickly children grow. One moment my kids still want a hug, the next moment I am instructed not to hug or give kisses in public. “It’s just not a “cool” thing to do, Mom.” So that’s the way it has to be for my 10 year old son. That’s okay because I at least still get some at home. ☺  Brian excels in Math and Science. He enjoys basketball, soccer and of course, video games. He makes friends quite easily. My daughter, Kaitlyn, on the other hand is more introspective. She recently discovered that writing and art are her fortés. She would write to her friends to express her disagreements with them, and to me to request that I spend more time with her. Her teacher recently commented that Kaitlyn is showing a real talent for art. If it is true, she didn’t get that from me.

In closing, I want to thank you for your continuing trust in me for your eye care. I am grateful to those of you who shared your life stories and experiences in parenting with me. As the economy took a dive and some of you lost your jobs, I miss seeing your familiar faces. I want to extend my sincere empathy. So with this, I want to wish everyone much hope and love in your hearts now and always.

 

Nicci, Louis, Heidi, Wendy, Cameron, Dr. LaFont, Dr. Vu

We are your Eye Doctor

As many of you know from past experience, at LaFont Family Eyecare an eye exam is much more than reading an eye chart. We review your medical history and evaluate how it may affect your eyes. We examine the health of your retina when we dilate or take an OPTOS image. We evaluate how well your eyes team
 when doing visual tasks. We test for dryness, allergies and infections and if found we can prescribe medication to remedy these complaints. We test for glaucoma which is a disease that can silently cause loss of vision or blindness. And with all these tests we explain and make sure that you understand what is going on with your eyes. Many a patient has commented that our exam was the most thorough eye exam they have ever experienced. Occasionally, it becomes necessary to refer you to your primary care physician or a specialist for disease treatment or cataract extraction. Unfortunately, often after we refer you for treatment, we never see you again. We bring this up because we want you to understand that after your issues are treated and resolved, you can return to us for your annual eye exam.  We are your Eye Doctor, now and hopefully for always.


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