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Thursday, March 19th officially marks the first day of Spring! While you may be excited about the approach of warmer weather and longer days, for those who suffer from allergies, spring also marks the start of weeks or months of unpleasant and potentially debilitating symptoms.
Although a myriad of substances can cause allergies, by far the biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Pollen is tiny, almost microscopic grains that are released from trees, grasses, and weeds in order to fertilize other plants. When pollen particles get inhaled by someone who is hypersensitive to pollen, it triggers an autoimmune response called an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions happen when the body mistakenly identifies the pollen as a dangerous invader and, in order to protect itself, releases antibodies to fight against the invader. Along with antibodies, the body also produces histamines, which are chemicals that enter the bloodstream, triggering the typical symptoms that are associated with allergies.
How allergies can affect the eyes
Allergies affect different parts of the body including eyes. Some of the most common ways in which the eyes are affected by allergies include:
– Itchy eyes or burning eyes
– Red eyes
– Eyes that are swollen
– Eyes that are watering excessively

you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak to your eye doctor to determine if you have an underlying problem or if you are suffering from spring allergies.
6 Tips for dealing with spring allergies
We understand that dealing with allergies that affect your eyes can be frustrating and can potentially limit your day to day activities. Here are our top tips for easing your symptoms this spring:
1. Don’t wear contacts. If you usually wear contact lenses, it is advisable to switch to glasses while your allergies are acting up. This is because the surface of contact lenses can attract and accumulate any airborne allergens, making your symptoms much worse. If you can’t wear glasses, change to using daily disposable lenses so that they can be discarded each day.
2. Wear glasses or sunglasses outside. This will help to keep pollen out of your eyes when you are outside.

3. Take eye makeup off at the end of the day. Any cosmetics that you wear on your eyes could attract pollen particles that could end up sticking to your eyes for the duration of the day. By removing any makeup, you can help eradicate these and limit their allergic effect.
4. Use eye drops. Eye drops aren’t just for diseases like conjunctivitis or dry eye disease. There are also some which can be used to help relieve itchiness, redness, excessive watering, and other symptoms of allergies.
5. Take antihistamines. Antihistamines are medications that are designed to control the level of histamine in your blood—eliminating many of the symptoms of allergies, including itchiness, swelling, redness, and more.
6. Steroid medications. In some instances where their symptoms are particularly significant, patients may be given a prescription for steroid eye drops. These have ingredients that helps to reduce inflammation and other allergy symptoms. These must be taken exactly as directed and are advised for short term use only.
For more spring allergy tips, or if you are experiencing eye allergies and would like more advice from our expert doctors, please schedule an appointment with Grin Eye Care in Olathe, KS, Leawood, KS, or one of our satellite locations today.

Chairman’s Column | Macular Degeneration Association Newsletter

Lawrence Hoffheimer, Chairman of the Board for the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA) is proud to announce the addition of Jeffry Gerson, OD, FAAO to the Medical Board as Optometry Medical Director. In 1997, Dr. Jeffry Gerson graduated from Indiana University, School of Optometry. He then completed a VA residency concentrating in low vision and ocular disease. Dr. Gerson has practiced in several different types of settings including a retina referral practice where he participated in numerous large clinical trials. Currently, Dr. Gerson is in private practice that
collaborates with both ODs and MDs. He sees primary care patients with an emphasis on retinal care. He enjoys having 4th year optometry interns with him and the challenges that they present. Dr. Gerson continues to participate in clinical trials and utilizes many different diagnostic modalities. Dr. Gerson is a frequent lecturer in the US and abroad and writes regularly for various
optometric publications. He is on numerous advisory boards which often times allows him early access to technology. He is a member of the American Optometric Association as well as the
Kansas optometric association which named him their 2008 Young OD of the Year. He is a fellow of both the Academy of Optometry and Optometric Retina Society. Dr. Gerson has two boys, 10 and 16. As a family, the Gerson’s enjoy watching the kids play sports, particularly soccer. They have traveled together extensively and love exploring new places. In his spare time, Dr. Gerson trains for triathlons.

The Macular Degeneration Association would also like to welcome two new additions to our medical board –

Pamela A. Lowe, OD, FAAO, Dipl. ABO and Leo Semes, OD, FAAO.
Dr. Lowe is currently Director and President of Professional Eye Care Center, Inc. which is a private practice she founded in 1992 on Chicago’s northwest side. She received her Bachelor of Science
degree from Loyola University of Chicago in 1984 and graduated with honors from the Illinois College of Optometry in 1988. The college named her the Alumnus of the Year in 2002.

Dr. Lowe has lectured and authored on many topics including retinal disease, cataract extraction, laser vision correction and currently travels throughout the country speaking on new technologies for early detection of macular degeneration, dry eye disease strategies and myopia management. She has had the distinction of serving as a Clinical Examiner for the National Board of Optometry, Past Chair for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation State Board for Optometry and Past-President of the Illinois College of Optometry Alumni Council.

Leo P. Semes, OD, earned his OD from Pennsylvania College of Optometry and completed his residency at The Eye Institute of Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). He currently holds an appointment as Professor Emeritus of Optometry and Vision Science at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Semes has authored numerous articles, book chapters and posters. He is a fellow of the AAO. Dr. Semes is a founding fellow of the Optometric Glaucoma Society where he has served as Secretary and on the Executive Committee. In 2015, he received the Educator of the Year award from the Alabama Optometric Association. He also was recognized in 2016 with the Dean’s Distinguished Service award. Dr. Semes authored and contributed to the AAO’s Clinical Practice Guidelines and was recognized as among one of the 50 most influential in eye care in 2015.

Thank you for your support!

We are pleased to announce the newest retina and optometric practices awarded the distinction MDA AMD Centers of Excellence!

Arizona Retinal Specialists
Bay Area Retina Consultants
Brown Retina Institute
California Retina Consultants
Carolina Eye Associates, P.A.
Center for Sight
Central Massachusetts Retina & Uveitis Center
Charles Retina Institute
Clear View Vision Care
Colorado Retina Associates
Connecticut Eye Consultants
Connecticut Retina Consultants LLC
Contact Lens & Vision
Dr. Dorothy L. Hitchmoth, PLLC
Eye Associates of Boca Raton, P.A.
First Eye Associates
Forest Hills Retinal Diagnostic Center
Global Retina Institute
Grin Eye Care
Island Retina
Janigian Retina Associates

Kirby Eye Center
Lehigh Valley Eye Center, P.C.
Long Island Vitreoretinal Consultants, PC
Low Vision Doctors of Ohio
Low Vision Optometry of Southern California
Medical Center Ophthalmology Associates
Mid Florida Eye Center
Mississippi Retina Associates
New Hampshire Retina
OLIC – Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island
Ophthalmology Associates PSC
Orange County Retina
Pacific Eye Surgery Center
Palmetto Retina Center, LLC
Paul Vision Institute
Professional Eye Care Center
Dr. Joseph R. Podhorzer
Premier Eye Care of Eastern Idaho
Rancho Mirage Eye Care + Optometry
Retina & Vitreous Consultants of Virginia, P.C.
Retina Associates of Orange County

Retina Associates of Utah, P.C.
Retina Associates of Western NY, P.C.
Retinal Consultants of San Antonio
Retina Consultants of Southern Colorado, P.C.
Retina Macula Specialists of Miami
Retina Specialists of Ohio
Retina Vitreous Associates of Florida
Rockland Retina – Dr. Louis M. Maisel
Silverstein Eye Centers
The Eye Associates
The Macula Center
The Retina Center
The VitreoRetinal Eye Center
Thomas Eye Group
True Vision Eyecare
University of California Davis Eye Center
University Retina and Macula Associates, P.C.
Vitreo – Retinal Consultants of New York
Woolf Eye Care Center

Early detection with ForeseeHome

by: Jeffry Gerson, OD, FAAO- Medical Director of the Optometric Board for the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA)

For those with macular degeneration, a question I often hear is “What can I do?” Hopefully, if you are in this “boat” you have heard about the importance of eating a healthy diet with green leafy vegetables and less refined carbohydrates, not smoking, exercising some and being a normal body weight, taking care of systemic issues like high blood pressure, and taking the appropriate vitamin as prescribed by your eye care provider. All these things are important and help to try to prevent the onset of wet macular degeneration. However, even with best efforts, some people will progress to wet AMD and need treatment. A crucial fact here is that the vision you have when you get the first injection for wet AMD may be the most important factor in how well you ultimately do.
This means that earlier identification of wet AMD may help allow a better visual outcome. The best way to do this is monitoring your vision between your office visits. Many of you have probably been told about an amsler grid that when done correctly is a reasonable tool to catch change in vision. However, much more accurate than an amsler grid is an at home digital monitoring system that is FDA cleared and the patient remotely monitors for change. It is a test that is recommended to be done daily, and needs to be done at least twice a week and is more likely to pick up the earliest symptoms of wet AMD before you even notice it. If there is a change from normal, an alert will be generated and your doctor will know to have you come to the office in short order to verify if there is any change or not and if treatment is needed.
The clinical study for this equipment worked so well that they needed to stop it early…it wasn’t fair to not offer it to everybody with how improved the outcomes were in the group using it. The bottom line was if somebody converted to wet AMD, they were more likely to end up with vision good enough to drive and read if they were using this device. It is not approved for all dry AMD patients, so you can ask your doctor if this is right for you. The program is called the ForseeHome AMD Monitoring Program, and you can learn more about it by going to The ForseeHome device is easy to use and is covered by Medicare.

About Dr. Gerson:
Dr. Jeffry Gerson is Medical Director of the Optometric Board of the Macular Degeneration Association
Dr. Jeffry Gerson graduated from Indiana University school of Optometry in 1997, after which he went on to do a VA residency concentrating in low vision and ocular disease. He has been in
several different practice settings, including a retina referral practice where he participated in several large clinical trials.

Currently, Dr Gerson is in private practice that is a collaboration of both OD’s and MD’s. He see’s primary care patients, and has an emphasis onretinal care in his practice. He enjoys having 4th year optometry interns with him and the challenges that they present. He still participates in clinical trials and utilizes many different diagnostic modalities.

Dr. Gerson is a frequent lecturer in the US and abroad, and writes regularly for optometric publications. When not at work, he enjoys travelling, working out and spending time with his family.

This article belongs to the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA)

In The News

MDA did an educational webinar for Optometrists and had over 1300 attendees.
This webinar was conducted by Jeffry Gerson, OD FAAO, and Joshua Mali, MD to educate optometric care providers. With the ultimate goal that patients get the best possible care.
Educational Videos for patients coming in July — you will find them on the front page of the website @
There will be a monthly blog by Joshua Mali, MD called: Eyes on Sight.

Your premier source for news, information and resources for macular degeneration disease on the web.


Is Blue Light the Real Cause of Eye Fatigue and Sleep Loss?
By: Harry -Ocushield

In a fast-changing digital world, it’s hard to ignore the immense conveniences that come with developments. Overwhelming amounts of information are at the palm of your hands, you can have a real-time conversation with somebody on the opposite side of the world and you can even receive goods and services without setting a foot outside the door! However, these wonderful benefits come at a high price – jeopardizing your health.
According to The Vision Council, more than 6 in 10 adults spend 5 or more hours on their digital devices every single day! Consequently, a lot of patients nowadays complain to doctors about eye fatigue and having a difficult time catching sleep. Could it be a coincidence? I think not! Emerging research evidence is pointing an accusing finger at blue light from electronic digital devices.

What is Blue Light?
Blue light is a High-Energy Visible light that is emitted naturally by the sun and artificially by digital devices such as smartphones, computers, LED television screens and LED fluorescent light bulbs. The sun has both ultraviolet light which is invisible and visible light which appears as white light. Visible light has a spectrum that constitutes all the colours of the rainbow. Blue light is one of those colours and it has the shortest wavelength and the highest energy content hence the name, HEV light.

Blue light from the sun is beneficial and it’s responsible for keeping you alert, boosting your moods and cognitive functions. However, the body was not meant to be exposed to blue light at night so that’s why exposure to artificial sources is detrimental to your health.

How Does Blue Light Cause Eye Fatigue
The eye’s cornea and lens are adapted to blocking ultra-violet rays. That is not so for blue light; it
can penetrate right through the cornea and lens
and reach the retina which is very sensitive to blue light. Staring at a screen for a long time will lead to eye fatigue which is a condition known as digital eye strain.
Optometrists describe digital eye strain as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged use of digital devices. Its symptoms include sore, dry and red eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and neck pains. The condition is made worse by the fact that most people use smartphones and computers very close to their faces.

How Does Blue Light Cause Sleep Loss?
The circadian rhythm or the body’s internal clock is regulated by blue light from the sun. At night, the lack of blue light signals the brain to trigger the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Once it’s released into the bloodstream, body temperature starts dropping and you are lulled to sleep.
In the morning, blue light from the rising sun penetrates the eye where the photosensitive receptor melanopsin signals the brain to halt melatonin production. The body temperature then rises and your body begins to wake up.
When you continue to use digital devices at night or are exposed to bright LED light, blue light from them confuses the brain. The brain continues to think its day time so melatonin production is suppressed and you remain alert. This shifts the normal circadian rhythm which usually 24 and a quarter hours to slightly longer. The result is that you’ll have a hard time falling asleep as well as staying asleep.

How Do You Reduce the Effects of Blue Light?
Use Screen Protectors with Blue Light Filters

Screen protectors are physical blue light filters that
are placed on smartphones, laptops or computer screens. They are designed to block all or part
of blue light produced by the screen depending
on which one you choose. Smartphone screen protectors also protect against scratches and breakages. Some computer screen protectors even have the privacy screen feature to hide what you’re doing from nosy people.

Use Blue Light Filtering Glasses
Blue light filtering glasses are specialized eyewear that block out or absorb blue light. They are designed to block a specific wavelength light range so make sure you have one that covers at least 455nm range.

Use Software Filters
Software blue light filters like Night Shift and F.lux are simply turned on at night to filter out blue light. It gives the screen a yellow tinge. You can manually put it on and off or set the times that it can automatically turn on and off.

Keep Your Distance

Sit at least an arm’s length away from the screen to keep such direct blue light from your eyes.
For all your blue light filter needs, Ocushield provides a variety of high-quality products including screen blue light filters and blue light filtering glasses. Visit us today and save yourself expensive trips to the doctor’s office.

From Prevent Blindness:
How Does Blue Light Affect the Eyes?
Almost all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. This light may affect vision and could prematurely age the eyes. Early research shows that too much exposure to blue light could lead to:

Parts of the Eye
Digital eyestrain: Blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decrease contrast leading to digital eyestrain. Fatigue, dry eyes, bad lighting, or how you sit in front of the computer can cause eyestrain. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.

Retina damage: Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.



Without ongoing contributions from generous donors like you, the Macular Degeneration Association would be unable to fund Research and Education for the millions of people living with macular degeneration.


Phone, Mail or Online
Phone: Please call (941)893-4387 today to speak to one of our Donor Services Representatives.
Mail: Send your check or money order today payable to: MACULAR DEGENERATION ASSOCIATION 5969 Cattleridge Boulevard, Suite 100 | Sarasota, FL 34232
Online: Please visit today and click on the Donation tab.

Stocks, Securities, Mutual Funds and IRAs
Please give serious consideration to the donation of stock and mutual fund shares as this offers numerous opportunities to make a most gracious gift and receive tax advantages.

Wills, Bequests and Planned Gifts
Please give serious consideration to the designation of MDA in your Will, Charitable Trusts, Life Insurance, Appreciated Securities and Real Estate as this offers preplanned giving opportunities that will serve the macular community for years to come. Please call Lynne Henry (941)893-4389 at the Macular Degeneration Association, today, for personal assistance in initiating this effort.
The following language has been reviewed and is deemed a legally acceptable form for including such a bequest in a will:
“I give and bequeath to the Macular Degeneration Association, 5969 Cattleridge Blvd. Suite # 100 Sarasota, FL 34232 for discretionary use in carrying out its aims and purposes, (the sum of $_____) or ( a sum equal to _______% of the value of my gross estate at the time of my death under this will or any codicil hereto).”
The Macular Degeneration Association Federal ID number is 27-3025707


Honor a family member, friend or special event by donating to MDA. Pay tribute to someone you love whose life has been impacted by macular degeneration. In lieu of flowers, please consider designating Macular Degeneration Association as your charity of choice.


Launch a Giving Campaign
Please consider leading a team at work by encouraging your colleagues and staff to join together to help those living with macular degeneration. Launch a workplace giving campaign today.

Ask about Matching Gifts
Many gracious employers double or even triple charitable donations made by individual employees. Some companies will match gifts made by retirees and or their spouses. Contact your employer for matching gift eligibility as this allows you to maximize your personal donation.

Thank you!

Macular Degeneration Update is published quarterly by the
Macular Degeneration Association, a nonprofit organization located at:
5969 Cattleridge Blvd. • Suite 100 • Sarasota, FL 34232.
The material in this newsletter may be reproduced, but credit must be given
to the Macular Degeneration Association. © Macular Degeneration Association, 2020

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