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Many people know the dangers that exposure to sunlight can pose to the skin, but did you know it can also severely damage your eyes?

Here comes the sun! Get outside, but be sure to protect your eyes

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

The weather is warming up, and sunshine, swimming and the great outdoors are on everyone’s mind. While there is a lot of fun to be had in the summer, we must also consider how to adequately protect our eyes and skin, which can be damaged by prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Wear sunglasses with UV protection

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation can cause sunburns and in some cases lead to cancer. UV radiation can also be a catalyst for cataracts, an eye condition marked by blurred vision. The best way to keep your eyes safe in the sun is to wear sunglasses with UV protection that prevent UV rays from entering the eye.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) determines the safety of ophthalmic sunglasses and verifies that they can prevent ultraviolet radiation from damaging the eye. Look for the “ANSI” symbol and “UV protection” when purchasing sunglasses. Keep in mind that cheaper shades are more affordable and trendy, but they may not offer you any protection from ultraviolet radiation.

In fact, wearing sunglasses without protection from ultraviolet radiation can actually do more harm than wearing nothing at all. When you wear nothing over your eyes, your tendency is to squint or keep your eyes closed, and the brightness naturally makes your pupils constrict, allowing fewer harmful rays to enter your eye. But your eyes dilate slightly when you wear tinted lenses, which lets more harmful rays enter your eye.

Apply sunscreen around your eyes

Additionally, the eyelid and eyebrow region is especially susceptible to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which make up 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers. Because the skin around the eye is very thin and contains very little subcutaneous tissue, it makes it easier for tumors to spread to nearby nasal and orbital cavities. Sunscreen with SPF is a simple way to prevent damage to the skin, but people often overlook applying sunscreen to their eyelids and area around their eyes as it often irritates their skin.

Buying facial lotions formulated for sensitive skin and applying a small amount with your eyes closed can prevent it from burning. Some people find that applying their daily facial cream first and allowing it to dry before applying SPF lotion helps prevent sunscreen irritation.

Get out there and enjoy the sunshine, but don’t forget to apply SPF sunscreen around your eyes and wear some UV-protected sunglasses!


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April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, the perfect time for women to learn more about eye issues that affect them more regularly than men.

Women, here’s what you should know about your eyes

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Eye health and vision issues can affect everyone, but there are certain conditions that are more common in women than in men. April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month and a great time for women to learn more about the issues that uniquely affect them.

Dry eyes, migraines

With women’s hormonal changes being so frequent throughout their lifetime, including changes associated with birth control, it’s no wonder that women experience eye and vision issues linked with hormonal changes. Two such issues include dry eyes and migraines.

Dry eyes can be annoying and debilitating, but the good news is that they are easy to treat. Artificial tears, emulsions, gels and ointments can offer relief for dry eyes. If heavy lubrication with artificial tear eye drops is not working to manage your symptoms of burning, redness and irritation, speak with your eye doctor about alternative treatment options.

Migraines are severe, painful headaches sometimes accompanied by symptoms of nausea, numbness, light and noise sensitivity, and vomiting. But they can also cause visual disturbances known as scintillating scotomas. These moving lights and patterns, sometimes called a visual aura, can mimic the signs of a retinal detachment or tear. If you see flashes of light or spots in your view, be sure to have a dilated eye exam within 24 hours of these symptoms.

Eye issues linked to obesity

With diabetes and cardiovascular disease on the rise, Americans – both men and women – are struggling with obesity. However, overweight young women of child-bearing ages are at an increased risk for a condition known as idiopathic increased intracranial pressure, or pseudotumor cerebri. This condition causes an increase in brain pressure, damaging the optic nerves and potentially leading to blindness.

Women with pseudotumor cerebri often complain of headaches, ringing sounds in their ears and mild visual blurriness, though sometimes visual symptoms are not present at all. If you think you may be at risk for this condition and are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.


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UK Advanced Eye Care clinic now open.

UK Advanced Eye Care clinic opens in Shriners building

UK Advanced Eye Care opened the doors of its new clinic this week, ushering in a new era of expert ophthalmic care in Kentucky.

UK Advanced Eye Care, formerly located at the Kentucky Clinic, now occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the new Shriners Hospital for Children Medical Center  Lexington building. The Shriners building is located at 110 Conn Terrace, across the street from the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. The new state-of-the-art clinic will be the flagship location for advanced ophthalmic care, research and education in Kentucky.

Designing a patient-friendly space

The patient-centered clinic is designed for ease of navigation and convenience. Patients can park in the UK HealthCare parking garage on Transcript Avenue and reach Shriners directly via a pedway located at Level C of the parking garage. Once inside the Shriners building, patients will take the elevator to the fourth or fifth floor, depending on where their appointment is.

Both clinic floors offer spacious reception areas for patient registration. The fifth floor, where pediatric specialists see patients, includes a playroom and resources for children and families.

The space is designed to move patients through testing and procedures efficiently in a pleasing and private environment. The new clinic has nearly double the number of exam rooms as the previous clinic, allowing our providers to care for more patients each day and offer shorter wait times.

UK HealthCare Optical is located near the fifth-floor lobby for patients who wish to purchase their eyewear on location. It offers a special section of pediatric eyewear for UK’s youngest patients. The fifth floor accommodates the administrative offices for faculty and staff. It also includes dedicated teaching space for residents and medical students, including a surgical skills lab and a medical library.

Dr. Julia Stevens, a provider at UK Advanced Eye Care, works with a pediatric patient.

Improving care with advanced medicine

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences has long offered patients access to the most current and leading-edge technology for enhanced treatment. The clinic recruits elite physicians, researchers and scientists to support its clinical services, education and research program.

“UK has a long-standing commitment to world-class biomedical research, contributing to several major scientific discoveries and medical advances in the past few decades,” said Dr. Mark Kleinman, an ophthalmologist at UK Advanced Eye Care. “Our laboratories developed the first intraocular drug implants to treat vision-threatening eye infections and inflammation, engineered the first RNA-targeted therapeutics for the treatment of advanced dry macular degeneration, and identified several new biomarkers for age-related retinal diseases. We continue to build on these important and exciting research programs to improve our abilities to cure blindness and provide the most leading-edge eye care to our patients.”

UK’s research efforts related to pediatric eye care were recently given a boost with the addition of advanced pediatric electroretinogram, or ERG, equipment thanks to a gift from the Susan Bradley-Cox Tri For Sight program. This important equipment will allow full evaluation without sedation of children with unexplained vision loss, providing better understanding of genetic eye diseases for both research and clinical care.

Where people want to go

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences sees about 60,000 patients each year for everything from preventive eye care to treatment for the most challenging ocular diseases.

“The new clinic will gives us the infrastructure we’ve needed to meet the high-quality care that we already provide,” said Dr. Andrew Pearson, chair of UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. “We want to be the place that people of the state and region want to go to for complex eye care.”

UK has the largest multispecialty eye care group based solely in Kentucky. In addition to the clinic on the main medical campus in Lexington, UK has multiple outreach clinics throughout the state and works with community providers to offer the most comprehensive eye care available. Outreach clinic locations include Campbellsville, Corbin, Harlan, Lexington, London, Maysville, Nicholasville, Morehead, Paris, Richmond and Somerset.


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How often should you have an eye exam?

How often should you have an eye exam?

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

There is a widely held belief that if you don’t have any vision problems, you don’t need an eye exam. But this isn’t the case. Getting eye exams, especially for children, is necessary for maintaining healthy vision throughout life. So, how often should you see your eye doctor?

It’s recommended that all children between birth and 6 months old have a vision screening. Depending on the findings of the exam, children may need another exam in six months. If there are no abnormal findings, children can be seen every two years until they’re 6 years old. Then, depending on symptoms and exam results, exams can occur every five to 10 years until the age of 40.

It’s imperative for children under the age of 6 to be screened regularly because that is when the brain is developing strong connections to the eyes. If there is a problem with the eyes turning, blurry prescriptions, or with the eyelids or lens inside the eye obstructing vision, it can lead to a visual impairment known as amblyopia, or lazy eye. The good news is amblyopia can be prevented with adequate and frequent care.

Individuals with no systemic health issues, visual complaints or strong family history of medical conditions don’t have to be examined as frequently. However, anyone with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, vascular disease or neurological disease and those with visual complaints (blurry vision/headaches) should be seen yearly.

There are some symptoms that are urgent and require immediate attention. Please call your local eye care provider right away if you experience new-onset vision loss, flashing lights, new floaters, painful red eyes, extreme sensitivity to light or any distortions in your vision.

Eye exams are important for maintaining healthy vision, and they can detect changes in your overall health, too. So be sure to schedule regular eye appointments for you and your loved ones.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Advanced Eye Care, which provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages with eye and vision conditions.
  • On March 20, UK Advanced Eye Care is moving to a state-of-the-art location in the new Shriners Building on the UK HealthCare campus. Find out more about our new location.
A floater is a dark spot or squiggly line that enters your vision when the eye moves. They can be bothersome, but how can you tell if they're serious?

Eye floaters are common with age but may signal a more serious problem

Dr. Claire Fraser

Written by Dr. Claire Fraser, an ophthalmologist at UK Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Have you ever noticed the sudden appearance of a black dot in your field of vision that moves around when you move your eyes? It could also look like a cob web. You try blinking, but it just won’t go away. It’s called a floater, and it can be quite bothersome especially if you’re trying to read or do other close work. But what exactly are floaters?

A floater may appear as a dark gray or black spot, circle, or squiggly line that drifts in the vision as the eye moves. Floaters are most noticeable in bright sunlight or when looking at a white background. What we see as a floater is actually a shadow cast by a small condensation of something inside the eye called vitreous gel.

Does everyone have floaters?

No, but they are very common and are more likely to occur with age. Vitreous gel liquefies with age, causing spots of condensation within the gel. Those become the floaters that we see. Eventually the vitreous gel separates from the retina, forming a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

This happens to most people at some point during their lives. A new central floater often appears when the PVD occurs and intermittent light flashes may be present. The risk of a retinal tear is highest during the month after a PVD occurs because gel that is stuck to the retinal surface may cause a tear as it separates.

When should I be concerned?

You should seek immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist if you see new floaters, the floaters are accompanied by flashing lights or part of your vision becomes dark. Floaters that appear red could indicate bleeding inside the eye, which is another indication for urgent evaluation.

Symptoms like flashing lights, multiple new floaters, decreased vision or bleeding inside the eye can be the first sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment, which can lead to permanent vision loss. Early treatment offers the best chance for preservation and recovery of vision. A retinal tear can often be treated with an in-office laser procedure to prevent retinal detachment and loss of vision.

Other important causes of floaters include diabetes, injury to the eye, inflammation (uveitis) and infection.

Will my floaters go away?

Over time, the brain learns to ignore floaters in the eyes. This process usually takes months. The floaters themselves may also settle to the bottom of the eye and move out of center vision.

Occasionally floaters can impair vision enough that a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy is needed to remove the vitreous gel. Most people find that floaters become much less noticeable over time and surgery is not needed.

Laser treatment of floaters to break them up into small particles has significant risk and has not yet gained wide acceptance. Eye drops and diet modification have not been shown to decrease floaters.

Most patients find that time is the best medicine.


UK Ophthalmology, now known as UK Advanced Eye Care, is moving! Beginning March 20, all appointments will be located in leased space within the new Shriners Medical Center for Children building, just across South Limestone from UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.  This new space is not only beautiful, it’s state-of-the-art and will allow us to better serve our patients. We hope you’re as excited as we are.


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age-related macular degeneration

5 questions about age-related macular degeneration

Dr. Claire Fraser

Dr. Claire Fraser

Written by Dr. Claire Fraser, an ophthalmologist at UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. Dr. Fraser specializes in treating macular degeneration, an eye disease that can cause vision loss. Here, she addresses five of the most frequently asked questions about age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is very common in the United States and in Kentucky. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over the age of 50.

What kind of vision loss is experienced in AMD?

In general, AMD affects central vision and tasks such as reading, writing and driving. Patients with AMD may notice blurred central vision, blind spots and distorted vision with straight lines appearing wavy or crooked. Early AMD may have no symptoms.

Are you at risk for developing AMD?

Risk factors include:

  1. Age over 60 (but it can occur sooner).
  2. Smoking, which increases risk of the disease and rate of progression.
  3. Race. AMD is more common in Caucasians.
  4. Nutrition. A high-fat, high-cholesterol diet can increase the risk of AMD.
  5. Family history. Having a family member with a history of AMD increases your risk.

What is the difference between dry and wet AMD?

Dry AMD is most common and is usually milder than wet AMD. Visual changes in dry AMD are caused by changes in the retinal pigment epithelium under the retina. Dry AMD can progress to wet AMD. Wet AMD is less common and usually has more severe and rapid vision loss. Loss of vision in wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels developing under the retina that can bleed or leak fluid.

What can be done to reduce the risk of developing AMD or slow the progression of the disease?

  1. Avoid smoking.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  4. Eat a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.

Can AMD be treated?

  • Vitamin supplementation using the Age-Related Eye Disease (AREDS 2) formula may reduce the risk of progression from dry AMD to wet AMD by up to 25 percent in some patients.
  • Wet AMD treatments include medications such as Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea, which may reduce abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. These medications are administered directly to the eye, and may result in some visual recovery.

If you are at risk or suspect you have symptoms of AMD, it is important to see an eye specialist for evaluation including a dilated eye exam and any additional indicated testing.

UK Ophthalmology, now known as UK Advanced Eye Care, is moving! Beginning March 20, all appointments will be located in leased space within the new Shriners Medical Center for Children building, just across South Limestone from UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.  This new space is not only beautiful, it’s state-of-the-art and will allow us to better serve our patients. We hope you’re as excited as we are. 


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Your eyes are sensitive and important organs. If you wear contact lenses, protect your eyes by taking care of your contacts.

Could your contact lens habits put your eyes at risk?

Written by Dr. Shaista Vally, OD, as part of an ongoing series about eye care.

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

We all love the freedom of contact lenses: They don’t fog up if we step outside, they don’t slide off our noses when we bend over and they don’t need constant adjusting. But like all freedoms, lenses come with responsibility. They can pose a serious health risk if they’re not worn properly.

What are the health risks of contact lenses?

The biggest risk to your eye from using contact lenses is infection, which can lead to a scar-forming ulcer and in turn to an irreversible loss of vision. Other possible risks include new blood vessel growth and inflammation and swelling of exposed surfaces (under eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva). With correct care and management, these risks can be greatly lowered and prevented.

General rules to follow

Infections and other health risks can usually be avoided by properly caring for your contacts:

  • Wash your hands prior to handling your lenses.
  • Never wear torn or ripped lenses.
  • Don’t sleep in your lenses.
  • Don’t wear lenses longer than 10-12 hours.
  • Never expose the lens to water.
  • Replace lens cases every 2-3 months.
  • Use fresh disinfectant solution every night.
  • Clean and air dry cases during the day.
  • Contact your eye doctor if you have signs of eye redness, irritation, a change in vision, light sensitivity or pain.

Your eyes are sensitive and important organs. For contact lens wearers, protect your eyes by taking care of your contacts.


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