Jamaica Hospital Initiative Focuses on Vision Saving Service for Premature Babies

Retinopathy of prematurity Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding eye disorder that affects premature babies. It results in the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina (the layer of cells at the back of the eye that allows us to see).

According to the National Eye Institute, ROP “is one of the most common causes of visual loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness.”  It is estimated that 15,000 children living in the United States are diagnosed with ROP each year. The disorder can occur in babies that are born before 31 weeks of gestation and weigh 2 ¾ pounds or less.

Although some premature infants are at risk for developing ROP, advancements in medicine such as timely laser therapy, intraocular medications, and initiatives such as Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s ROP Continuity of Care program reduces the chances for the disease to cause further complications.  Serious eye problems that can develop as a result of ROP include detachment of the retina, glaucoma, strabismus and blindness.

Jamaica Hospital’s ROP Safety Net program aims to educate the community about the disorder, provide quality care to premature infants, and improve follow-up rates for patients who required ROP screening or treatment during their stay in the NICU. “ROP is an issue that affects our community but many people are unaware of the disorder, we want to change that,” explained the hospital’s ROP Coordinator Maria Estevez.

The hospital’s multi-leveled approach to care has made its ROP Continuity of Care program a success.  At birth, premature babies who are at risk for ROP are screened for the disease by way of a thorough ophthalmological evaluation. If it is found that a baby has active ROP, a specially trained ophthalmologist will determine the best course of action to treat the patient.  Treatment can include a series of examinations, as well as laser therapy or intravitreal injections.   Education and support are offered from birth until the child matures to eighteen years of age. “Our team monitors the health of each patient diagnosed by constantly following up and coordinating their appointments. We send reminders and offer additional tools to help parents stay on top of their child’s healthcare and eye care,” said Estevez.

Since implementing the ROP Safety Net program in 2016, Jamaica Hospital has experienced a significant incline in follow up rates.  Prior to implementation, follow up rates were 58.2%; the hospital currently boasts a rate of 92.2%. “We are pleased with these numbers.  They are a reflection of our efforts to educate parents and encourage them to actively follow up with the necessary care for their children,” shared Dr.  Julia Shulman, Chairperson of Ophthalmology at Jamaica Hospital, and Director of the ROP Service.

ROP is an avoidable cause for blindness. Jamaica Hospital hopes that by initiating programs such as the ROP Continuity of Care, it can decrease the incidence of visual loss or blindness associated with the disorder. The hospital plans to link its community with a system of ROP care where support and comprehensive services are offered on a long-term basis.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

October is Home Eye Safety Month

October is recognized as Home Eye Safety Month to bring awareness of all of the hazards that can be found in the home and provide information on ways to prevent eye related injuries.  Statistics show that almost half of the accidents that involve the eyes occur within the home. It is estimated that over 125,000 eye injuries occur in the home annually and are due to improper use of household products.

Some of the ways eye injuries in and around the home can be prevented include:

  • Wearing safety goggles when using hazardous chemicals
  • Ensuring that areas are well lit
  • Keeping paints, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals in a secure location
  • Making sure that children’s toys don’t have sharp edges.
  • Keeping scissors, paper clips, knives, coat hangers, pens and pencils out of reach of small children
  • Checking to make sure that there are no objects with sharp points left in places children can reach
  • Playing with fireworks should be avoided by everyone but especially young children

If an eye injury occurs, it is important to seek medical care immediately. Do not rub, touch or apply pressure to the eye. Never apply ointments or medication to the eye without being told to by a physician. If a chemical gets into the eye, begin flushing it out with water right away. Foreign objects in the eye should only be removed by a trained professional.

If an injury occurs to the eye, seek medical attention immediately by calling 911 or going to the closest emergency room. Your sight is very important and a little precaution can go a long way to making sure nothing happens to cause you to lose it.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Traditionally, the month of August is when children around the United States starting getting prepared to return to school. Often this will require them to visit their pediatricians for physical exams and vaccinations. One of the most important exams is an eye exam.

The American Optometric Association recommends that children get their first eye check-up when they are six months old. They should receive another check-up at the age of three, and again when they are either five or six. After the age of six, children should have their eyes examined every two years unless they wear contact lenses or glasses which require annual visits to an eye doctor. It is also recommended that your child visit an eye doctor if they exhibit signs and symptoms of a vision disorder. These include:

• Lack of interest in reading
• Not able to see things far away
• Constant tilting of the head
• Squinting when watching TV
• Frequent blinking and rubbing of the eyes
• Seeing double
• Holding a book close to the face
• An eye that wanders
• Covering one eye
• Inability to stay focused on an object

Eye health and eye health are very important. If you would like to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-5900.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated June as Cataract Awareness Month. The purpose of this designation is to help educate the public on what cataracts are and how to treat them once they are diagnosed.
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. This will result in blurry vision, and since less light is being transmitted, objects will appear darker as well.
It is estimated that 25 million people in the United States age 40 and older will be diagnosed with a cataract, and by the time people reach the age of 80, more than half of the population of the United States will be affected with the disease.
Risk factors for developing cataracts include:
• Age
• Diabetes
• Smoking
• Prolonged exposure to sunlight
• Obesity
• High blood pressure
• Hereditary factors
• Prior eye injuries
Cataracts are classified by what causes them. Age is the biggest factor, followed by eye trauma, congenital causes and secondary to taking certain medications like steroids.
There are a few ways to lower the risk of developing cataracts, but they may not be completely successful.
Wearing sunglasses when outdoors
A diet rich in vitamin C foods
Avoiding smoking
Treatment for cataracts involves a surgical procedure which removes the old lens of the eye  and replacing it with a synthetic one. It is a very common procedure and considered relatively safe. If you would like to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-5900.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

May is Healthy Vision Month

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 90 million Americans over the age of 40 have eye problems. That is about 60 percent of the population. May has been designated as Healthy Vision Month to bring attention to our eyes and the problems that we can encounter. While prevention is always the best route to follow, treating eye problems early, should they occur, can prevent further harm to our vision.
One of the reasons people neglect their eyes is because if they don’t think there is a problem, they aren’t going to get checked. While older adults, especially women,  are usually the group that experiences more age related vision problems, it is becoming more evident that school age children are also experiencing vision problems. Children who can’t see well probably have difficulty reading, and this can affect them in school.
Many eye problems can be traced back to family history. While not a guarantee that someone will experience an issue with their vision if a parent had an eye problem, it certainly is something to be mindful of.  Certain chronic illnesses, like diabetes can also predispose people to vision problems.
It is important to protect your eyes from things that can harm them. Doctors recommend wearing sunglasses if you are going to be outdoors during daylight hours for prolonged periods of time. It is also recommended to wear safety glasses if you are going to be working in hazardous environments. Many of us spend long periods of time looking at our computer screens. To avoid problems we should follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes look away from the screen and focus on something twenty feet away for twenty seconds. This will help to prevent the eyes from getting tired and the muscles of the eyes from becoming weak.
Other ways to protect your vision include:
• Regular comprehensive eye exams
• Proper diet (with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and dark leafy vegetables)
• Quit smoking or don’t start
• Maintain a proper weight
• Wash hands before placing or removing contact lenses
The National Eye Institute recommends a regular comprehensive dilated eye exam be performed on a regular basis, usually once a year. If you would like to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-5900.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Save Your Vision Month

March is Save Your Vision Month
How often should you have your vison checked?
A) Every year
B) Every two years
C) Every three years
D) Only when something is wrong
According to the American Optometric Association a healthy person should have a regular eye exam once a year. People who have any conditions that may affect their eyesight, for example diabetes, glaucoma, macula-degeneration, should be examined more frequently.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-5900

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You Have Dry, Itchy, Irritated Eyes?

There are a number of ailments that can cause your eyes to be red, dry and itchy.  The two most common are Pinkeye and Dry Eye Syndrome.

Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is the redness and swelling of the mucous membrane that lines the lid and surface of the eye causing a discharge and can be caused by many things including, but not limited to, an infection, dry eyes from lack of tears or over exposure to wind and sun, chemicals, allergies and smoke.

Pinkeye is very common, is usually not serious, can be viral or bacterial, is highly contagious and can spread very easily. Therefore, preventing its spread is important.

There are home remedies such as removing your contacts and applying cold or warm compresses. These remedies may help reduce your pain and keep your eye free of drainage. Symptoms usually last 5 to 7 days, but some cases can last for up to 3 weeks.

Dry Eye Syndrome is a more chronic condition in which you don’t have enough tears to lubricate and nourish your eyes.  A lack of sufficient or quality tears in the eyes can be problematic since tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye, as well as providing clear vision.

According to the American Optometric Association, some symptoms of dry eye are:

  • Gritty, irritated, scratchy or burning eyes
  • The feeling of something in the eyes
  • Excess watering
  • Blurred vision

Dry eyes can develop for a number of reasons including environment, medical conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disease, aging, your gender or certain medications you are taking that can reduce tear production.

In mild cases of dry eyes, symptoms can often me managed using over the counter artificial tear solutions.

In either case, if symptoms persist you should seek medical attention.  If you are experiencing prolonged symptoms and would like to make an appointment to see one of our doctors, please call the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 for an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You See “Floating” Spots in Your Field of Vision?

Have you ever experienced small specs or thin lines in your field of vision? Those spots, lines, or other shapes you see before your eyes are commonly referred to as “floaters.”  In almost all cases floaters, while annoying, are no cause for concern and should not interfere with your sight.

Floaters earn their name by moving around in your eye. They tend to dart away when you try to focus on them. They usually come and go over time and appear most often when you look at something bright.

The onset of floaters usually occurs in individuals 50 years and older and once you get them, they usually don’t go away. Most people who experience floaters state that they notice them less over time.

Floaters come in many different shapes, such as:

  • Black or gray dots
  • Squiggly lines
  • Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
  • Cobwebs
  • Rings

Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen that are part of a gel-like substance in the back of your eye called the vitreous. As we age, these protein fibers that make up the vitreous shrink down and clump together, forming a shadow on our retina – or a floater.

Floaters are more common in those who are nearsighted or have had cataract surgery. It’s rare, but floaters can also result from:

  • Eye Disease
  • Eye injury
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye tumors

Most people ignore floaters and learn to live with them. Only in rare cases do they get bad enough to require treatment. The best way to temporarily remove floaters from your field of vision is to circulate the fluid in your eyes by shifting your eyeballs up and down.

If however you have so many floaters that your vision is compromised your doctor may suggest surgery called a vitrectomy. During this procedure, the vitreous is removed and replaced with a salt solution.

If you only have a few eye floaters that don’t change over time, don’t sweat it, but go to the doctor immediately if you notice:

  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters
  • Flashes of light
  • A loss of side vision
  • Changes that come on quickly and get worse over time
  • Floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma
  • Eye pain

The risk is low, but these symptoms may indicate a tear or a more serious break in your retina. You should treat a possible retinal break or detachment as an emergency. Treatment may save your sight.

To speak to an eye specialist at Jamaica Hospital’s Ophthalmology Center, please call 718-206-5900.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that mainly affects people who are middle-aged or older, but it can affect anyone at any age. There are more than three million people in the United States and 60 million people worldwide who suffer from glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness.Typically the disease starts to develop suddenly, often without symptoms,  and once vision is lost, it is permanent. As much as 40 percent of vision can be lost before some people even notice a problem. It usually starts with loss of peripheral vision.Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve so that the brain isn’t able to receive images from the eyes. There are two types of Glaucoma, Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma where pressure inside the eye increases on its own and damages the optic nerve and Secondary Glaucoma where another disease causes the pressure in the eye to increase and that results in optic nerve damage. Both types will eventually lead to blindness.

Early detection of Glaucoma can help to slow down the progression of the disease. Regular eye exams are very important. To schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-206-5900.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Why Eye Exams Are Important For Your Overall Health- What Will Your Doctor Check For?

Many people decide to see an eye doctor when they have experienced a change in their vision. However, it is advised that whether or not there has been a change in your sight, you should make checking your eyes a priority.

Comprehensive examinations can help doctors to not only detect existing and potential eye problems but can also provide signs of other health complications that may be developing in your body.

Routine exams can identify signs of eye problems that develop silently as well as serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and brain tumors.

How often you receive a complete eye exam depends on several factors including, age, family history, if you wear glasses or contacts and if you are at risk for developing eye disease. Most eye experts agree that you should have your eyes examined every one or two years.

During your visit, your doctor may perform the following tests or procedures to help determine the current status of your health:

  • Visual Acuity Tests- to measure the sharpness of your vision.
  • Cover Test- to check how well your eyes work together.
  • Slit Lamp Exam- to examine the structures of your eye. Several eye diseases and health conditions can be detected during a slit lamp exam such as diabetic retinopathy, corneal ulcers, macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Glaucoma Test- to measure the pressure of your eyes and identify signs of glaucoma.
  • Pupil Dilation- to obtain a better view when looking inside your eyes. This allows the doctor to perform a thorough examination which is crucial for people who are at risk for developing eye disease.

Getting your eyes checked as recommended is highly important for your vision and overall health.  Your doctor can identify and create a successful care plan for many diseases while in their early stages.

The Division of Ophthalmology at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offers a full range of comprehensive medical, diagnostic, and surgical services. From annual eye examinations to surgical procedures, our board certified and fellowship trained ophthalmologists are dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of eye disorders and ophthalmic conditions. To schedule an exam, please call 718-206-5900.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.