What to Expect After Glaucoma Surgery in WNY

There’s a reason why we call glaucoma the ‘silent thief of sight,’; 10% of patients who receive treatment still experience vision loss. Each year, more than 120,000 Americans experience blindness from this disease.

Glaucoma causes an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the eye’s optic nerve over time. While glaucoma is typically managed through medication and lifestyle changes, there are instances when glaucoma surgery becomes necessary to halt its progressive damage. This article explores the treatments available and how glaucoma surgery in WNY can save your eyesight.

When is Glaucoma Surgery Necessary?

Progressive damage to the optic nerve is the primary concern in glaucoma management. In the early stages of the disease, doctors prescribe eye drops or oral medications to lower IOP and prevent further damage. These medications work by reducing the production of aqueous humor (the fluid inside the eye) or increasing its drainage. However, not all patients respond well to medications, and some may experience continued optic nerve deterioration despite consistent treatment.

When glaucoma’s progression cannot be adequately controlled with medication alone, surgical intervention becomes necessary. Doctor’s base this decision on a careful assessment of the patient’s optic nerve health, visual field tests, and the rate of disease progression. Surgery creates alternative pathways for drainage aqueous humor, thus reducing IOP and preventing further damage to the optic nerve.

Medication intolerance is another factor that can necessitate glaucoma surgery. Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to the components of glaucoma medications, leading to unpleasant side effects or an inability to tolerate the prescribed eye drops. Common side effects of glaucoma medications include redness, burning, stinging, and changes in heart rate. These complications significantly impact the patient’s quality of life, so doctor’s may explore alternative treatment options like surgery.

Advanced glaucoma presents a critical scenario where surgery is often the only viable option. In advanced stages of the disease, optic nerve damage is extensive, and visual field loss is significant. Medications alone may no longer be sufficient to control IOP and prevent further vision deterioration. Surgical intervention is crucial in these cases to salvage the vision and halt further progression.

What are the Different Types of Glaucoma Surgery?

Glaucoma surgery offers a long-term solution for individuals who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to medications. Glaucoma surgery encompasses various techniques and procedures aimed at reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) and preserving the health of the optic nerve. The choice of surgery depends on the type and severity of glaucoma, the patient’s medical history, and other factors. Some of the different types of glaucoma surgery include:

  • Trabeculectomy is one of the most common and traditional surgical procedures for glaucoma. In this procedure, a small flap is created in the white part of the eye (sclera), allowing aqueous humor (the eye’s fluid) to drain out of the eye. A filter is formed under the conjunctiva (the clear covering over the sclera) to collect and regulate fluid drainage. Trabeculectomy is performed in open-angle glaucoma cases to help reduce intraocular pressure.
  • Tube shunt implantation involves inserting a small tube or shunt into the eye to create a drainage pathway for aqueous humor. The tube is typically placed in the front part of the eye (the anterior chamber) or the back part of the eye (the vitreous cavity), depending on the specific type of tube used. This surgical approach is often chosen when trabeculectomy is less likely to succeed or has failed in controlling intraocular pressure.
  • Goniotomy and trabeculotomy are minimally invasive procedures typically performed in infants and children with congenital glaucoma. Goniotomy involves using a specialized lens to access and open the eye’s drainage angle, allowing better fluid outflow. Trabeculotomy involves making tiny incisions in the trabecular meshwork (the eye’s drainage system) to enhance fluid drainage. These procedures treat congenital or pediatric glaucoma by improving the fluid drainage from the eye.
  • Laser surgeries are less invasive than traditional surgeries and can be performed in an outpatient setting. Laser surgery is often used as a primary treatment or adjunct to medication, especially in open-angle glaucoma. There are several types effective for glaucoma management:
    • Laser trabeculoplasty involves using a laser to treat the trabecular meshwork, enhancing fluid drainage.
    • Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) targets specific cells in the drainage system, reducing IOP.
    • Laser cyclophotocoagulation aims to decrease fluid production by treating the ciliary body.
  • Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) procedures are a group of less invasive techniques designed to lower IOP with fewer complications and a shorter recovery time to traditional surgeries. Some common MIGS procedures include iStent, Hydrus Microstent, and Xen Gel Stent. These devices are typically implanted during cataract surgery or as standalone procedures and are suitable for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma.
  • Cyclodestructive procedures involve destroying or reducing aqueous humor production by treating the ciliary body. These procedures are for advanced or refractory glaucoma cases. Options include cyclophotocoagulation using lasers or cryotherapy (freezing) to target the ciliary body.

The choice of glaucoma surgery depends on various factors, including the type and severity of glaucoma, the patient’s overall health, and the surgeon’s expertise. Individuals with glaucoma must consult with glaucoma specialists to determine the most appropriate surgical approach for their specific condition.

What to Expect Following Glaucoma Surgery in WNY

Like any major surgery, there will be a recovery period after your glaucoma procedure.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Glaucoma Surgery

Glaucoma surgery reduces IOP and preserves the health of the optic nerve, especially when conservative treatments like medications have proven ineffective. The recovery period after glaucoma surgery varies depending on the specific procedure performed, the individual’s overall health, and the extent of the surgical intervention.

Immediate Post-Op Period

The immediate post-operative period spans the first few hours after glaucoma surgery. During this time, patients are typically monitored in a recovery area to ensure no immediate complications. You may experience some discomfort, redness, or blurred vision immediately after the surgery. Always have someone accompany you for transportation home as your vision may be impaired.

First Few Days After Surgery

In the first few days after glaucoma surgery, it is common to experience some discomfort, mild pain, and blurred vision. The eye may be sensitive to light, and you may notice some redness and swelling around the surgical site. The use of prescribed eye drops or ointments is essential during this period to prevent infection and promote healing. It’s crucial to follow the medication schedule as prescribed by your surgeon.

Your doctor will advise you to avoid activities that could increase intraocular pressure, such as heavy lifting, straining, or bending over. Additionally, driving may be restricted during this time due to vision impairment. Most patients are advised to take it easy and rest as much as possible during the first few days.

Week 1-2

During the first week or two after glaucoma surgery, the initial discomfort and redness typically subside. Your vision may start to improve, but it may take some time to stabilize fully. Many patients can gradually resume light activities, but should still avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding activity levels.

Attend follow-up appointments with your eye surgeon as scheduled during this period. These appointments are crucial for monitoring your progress and making any necessary adjustments to your medication regimen. Your surgeon will also assess the success of the surgery in reducing intraocular pressure.

Week 2-6

Between the second and sixth weeks after glaucoma surgery, your eye should continue to heal and stabilize. Vision improvement may be more noticeable during this time, although it can still vary from person to person. Many patients can gradually return to their regular daily activities, including work, with the approval of their surgeon.

The frequency of post-operative check-ups may decrease during this period, but it’s essential to continue using prescribed eye drops as directed. Your surgeon will monitor your IOP and evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the surgery.

Long-Term Recovery

Long-term recovery from glaucoma surgery extends beyond the initial weeks and can last several months. While you may experience significant improvement in vision and IOP control, it’s important to remember that glaucoma management is a long-term effort that requires ongoing steps. Regular follow-up appointments with your glaucoma specialists are essential to monitor the health of your eyes and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Tips for Glaucoma Surgery Aftercare

No matter the type of glaucoma surgery, the most important advice is to follow your doctor’s orders diligently. For example:

  • Adhere to the prescribed medication schedule diligently, as eye drops or ointments are critical to preventing infection and promoting healing.
  • Take it easy during the early recovery period. Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and activities that could increase intraocular pressure.
  • Keep all scheduled follow-up appointments with your glaucoma specialists to monitor your progress and ensure the success of the surgery.
  • Wear the protective eyewear your surgeon recommends, especially during activities where there is an injury risk.
  • A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, can contribute to your overall eye health and well-being.
  • Educate yourself about glaucoma and its management. Understanding your condition can help you make informed decisions about your care and improve glaucoma management for the long haul.

Consult the Experts at ECVA for Glaucoma Surgery in WNY

Glaucoma surgery in WNY starts with a visit to the experienced practitioners at Eye Care & Vision Associates (ECVA). We are glaucoma specialists with a track record of the most innovative procedures to manage your condition. Contact ECVA today for glaucoma management in Williamsville, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Orchard Park.

The Role of Genetics in Eye Health: Understanding Inherited Eye Conditions

Some eye conditions are related to specific genetic markers. As a result, these eye conditions can be inherited. By understanding what conditions have genetic factors, it’s easier to anticipate your risk of developing them. In turn, it can help you take a more proactive approach to your eye health, which can make a significant difference in overall outcomes.

Here is a look at some common eye conditions that can be linked to genetics.

Myopia and Hyperopia

Both myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) can have a genetic component. Anyone with a first-degree relative with either condition is significantly more likely to develop it than individuals without family members with the condition.

Research involving myopia in children also demonstrates that specific demographics are more likely to develop the condition. For example, one study showed the prevalence is far higher in South Asian children, coming in at nine times greater than among white Europeans.


Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness worldwide, as the condition can permanently damage the optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye. Having a family history of glaucoma puts you at far greater risk, making you four to nine times more likely to develop the condition.

Additionally, people of Hispanic descent are at greater risk than those of European descent. Individuals of Asian descent have a heightened risk of angle-closure glaucoma than other demographics. Glaucoma is also up to eight times more prevalent in the African-American community than in the Caucasian community.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – an eye condition that leads to a damaged macula, which causes a reduction in central vision – also seemingly has a genetic component. According to research, an estimated 20 percent of patients with AMD have a family member with the condition, and having a family history makes you four times more likely to develop AMD.

Studies also suggest that Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD than African Americans. Data on whether individuals of Hispanic descent are more or less likely to develop AMD than Caucasians is conflicting, with some reports showing a higher occurrence while others a lower one.


While cataracts are common as people age, specific occurrences of the condition have genetic components. Congenital or childhood bilateral cataracts autosomal dominant inheritance was present among 44 percent of cases examined in one particular study.

Specific ethnic heritages are also at greater risk of developing cataracts in general. For example, African Americans and Latinx Americans are at greater risk than Caucasian Americans.

While a genetic predisposition to specific eye conditions is often concerning, being proactive makes a difference. Proper care and monitoring can lead to an earlier diagnosis, allowing for treatment plans that can slow disease progression and preserve eye health and vision.

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re concerned about whether you’re developing an eye condition with a genetic component or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.

Postoperative Care Tips for Successful Cataract Surgery Recovery

Postoperative care plays a significant role in a successful cataract surgery recovery. By using the right approach, you can ensure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible. If you want to make sure that you’re on the best possible path, here are some postoperative care tips for a successful cataract surgery recovery.

Follow All Instructions from Your Eye Care Provider

Your eye care provider will provide you with postoperative care instructions, and it’s critical to follow them precisely. The guidelines are designed to ensure your safe and speedy recovery, including reducing your chances of various complications, such as infections.

Review the instructions with your eye care provider before your procedure, and ask questions if you need clarity. Additionally, reach out to your eye care provider if you need clarification as you recover, as they’ll be happy to assist.

Protect Your Eyes from Trauma and Irritants

After cataract surgery, some eye discomfort is expected. However, you want to make sure that you don’t rub your eyes, as that can cause damage. Additionally, you want to protect your eyes from irritants like dust and pollen.

Since light sensitivity can also come with cataract surgery, wearing wraparound sunglasses is wise. Along with reducing the amount of light that hits your eye, they can help shield your eyes from potential irritants.

Similarly, wear your eye shield while sleeping. That ensures you don’t accidentally rub your eyes in your sleep or when first waking, as well as prevents accidental contact with bedding.

Don’t Participate in Strenuous Activities

Strenuous activity can increase eye pressure, which can hinder your recovery after cataract surgery. As a result, it’s best to avoid heavy lifting, high-intensity workouts, or similar activities after the procedure.

Additionally, try to avoid bending down into positions where your head ends up lower than your waist. That can also increase eye pressure, so it’s better to find alternative body positions while you recover.

Avoid Direct Contact with Water

While good hygiene is critical after cataract surgery, water directly contacting your eyes can increase irritation and put you at risk of infection. Exercise caution when showering, ensuring water streams don’t hit your eyes. Additionally, avoid swimming and hot tubs.

Embrace General Health Best Practices

Many best practices for maintaining your health are also critical to a successful recovery from cataract surgery. Maintain a healthy diet, as nutritious foods and drinks ensure your body has the nutrients it needs. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

While you heal, you also want to avoid alcohol, as it can lead to dehydration and makes postoperative infections more likely. Similarly, don’t smoke, as smoking increases inflammation, heightens your risk of infection, damages blood vessels, and impairs oxygen delivery to your healing tissues.

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re experiencing cataract symptoms, are considering cataract surgery, or simply haven’t had an eye exam in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.

SLT Laser Surgery for Glaucoma: Redefining Care for Lasting Visual Health

Glaucoma, often called the “silent thief of sight,” is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, leading to progressive vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Traditional treatment methods for glaucoma primarily involve medication, eye drops, and, in more severe cases, surgical intervention.

In recent years, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) has emerged as a revolutionary approach to treating glaucoma. This advanced laser surgery offers a promising alternative to traditional methods, redefining the landscape of glaucoma care and aiming for lasting visual health.

What is SLT?

Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) for glaucoma is an innovative and advanced medical procedure to treat the chronic eye condition that leads to optic nerve damage and vision loss. SLT targets the drainage system of the eye, known as the trabecular meshwork, to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), a critical factor in the progression of glaucoma.

Unlike traditional laser procedures that aim to create permanent tissue damage to increase drainage, SLT laser treatment for glaucoma takes a more precise and selective approach. This type of glaucoma laser surgery utilizes short pulses of low-energy laser light to target specific cells within the trabecular meshwork. These cells contain melanin, a natural pigment that readily absorbs the laser energy. When exposed to the laser, these melanin-containing cells undergo subtle changes that improve the drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid that fills the front of the eye.

The term “selective” in SLT refers to the laser’s ability to target only specific cells while leaving surrounding tissues unaffected. This targeted treatment approach distinguishes SLT from earlier forms of glaucoma laser surgery, which were associated with higher levels of tissue damage and potential complications.

SLT’s non-destructive nature is a key factor in its success. The body’s natural healing response triggers after SLT, leading to sustained improvements in aqueous humor drainage and, subsequently, a reduction in intraocular pressure. This reduction in pressure is crucial in managing glaucoma, as elevated IOP is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage and visual field loss.

An important advantage of SLT is its potential for repeatability. Unlike some surgical procedures that create permanent changes, SLT can be repeated in the future if necessary, making it a valuable tool for long-term glaucoma management.

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma has gained popularity for its effectiveness in lowering intraocular pressure, its minimal invasiveness, and relatively quick recovery period. Patients who undergo SLT typically experience minimal discomfort during and after the procedure. The absence of surgical incisions reduces the risk of infection and complications, contributing to a smoother recovery process. Many individuals can return to normal activities shortly after the procedure, enhancing the overall patient experience.

How Does SLT Laser Surgery Work?

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is a cutting-edge medical procedure transforming management of this debilitating disease. There are six specific processes at work within this type of glaucoma laser surgery:

1. Targeting the Trabecular Meshwork

The key to SLT’s success is its ability to target the trabecular meshwork, a specialized tissue structure located at the junction between the iris and the cornea. The trabecular meshwork plays a crucial role in regulating the drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid filling the front part of the eye. In glaucoma, this drainage system becomes compromised, leading to a buildup of intraocular pressure that can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss.

2. Low-Energy Laser Pulses

During SLT laser treatment for glaucoma, a specially calibrated laser emits short pulses of low-energy light. Unlike traditional laser treatments that aim to create permanent tissue damage, SLT is non-destructive. The laser’s energy is selectively absorbed by melanin-containing cells within the trabecular meshwork. Melanin is a natural pigment found in the body, including the eye.

3. Stimulating Cellular Changes

When the melanin-containing cells absorb the laser energy, they undergo subtle but important changes. These cellular changes trigger a series of biological responses within the trabecular meshwork, leading to improved drainage of aqueous humor. As a result, the pressure within the eye gradually reduces, alleviating the strain on the optic nerve.

4. Natural Healing Process

One of the remarkable aspects of SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is its reliance on the body’s natural healing mechanisms. The laser-induced changes within the trabecular meshwork prompt the body to initiate a healing response. Over time, the treated area undergoes healing and remodeling, further enhancing the drainage pathways. This healing process contributes to the sustained reduction in intraocular pressure achieved through SLT.

Pros of SLT Laser Treatment for Glaucoma

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is highly effective. One study showed a 70% effectiveness rate at reducing IOP with no medications needed six months after treatment. Some of the benefits of SLT laser treatment include the following.

Targeted Precision

SLT laser treatment for glaucoma offers a remarkable level of precision. Unlike traditional surgical methods, SLT’s laser energy targets melanin-containing cells within the trabecular meshwork. A targeted approach promotes enhanced drainage of aqueous humor, reducing IOP and preventing further optic nerve damage. The precision of SLT ensures that surrounding tissues remain unaffected, minimizing the risk of complications and preserving overall eye health.

Lasting Effects

SLT’s impact endures over time, contributing to its effectiveness in glaucoma management. By triggering the body’s natural healing response, SLT laser surgery for glaucoma creates sustained improvements in aqueous humor drainage and lasting reductions in IOP. The procedure’s effects are especially valuable for patients seeking a long-term solution for their glaucoma. The option for repeat procedures allows eye care professionals to tailor treatment plans based on individual needs and disease progression.

Minimally Invasive

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients do not need to stay in the hospital overnight. The procedure is relatively quick, completed within a matter of minutes. Because it involves a laser, no surgical incisions or stitches are required. As a result, the risk of infection and complications is minimal. Patients typically experience minimal discomfort during the procedure and can return to normal activities shortly afterward.

Decreased Reliance on Drops

Another significant advantage of SLT laser treatment for glaucoma is its potential for repeatability. Because the procedure does not cause permanent tissue damage, it can be repeated if necessary. Some patients may require multiple SLT sessions over time to maintain the desired reduction in intraocular pressure. This adaptability is valuable for long-term glaucoma management, reducing or eliminating the need for daily drops.

Who is a Good Candidate for SLT Laser Surgery?

SLT laser treatment for glaucoma has revolutionized glaucoma management by providing a minimally invasive and effective treatment option for lowering intraocular pressure (IOP). Only some people with glaucoma are suitable candidates for SLT, but the procedure can benefit specific individuals. Below are key considerations that make someone a good candidate for SLT laser surgery.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, occurring when the eye’s drainage angle remains open but becomes less efficient. This condition increases IOP and damage to the optic nerve. SLT laser treatment for glaucoma is particularly effective for individuals with open-angle glaucoma, as it targets the trabecular meshwork, the main site of drainage resistance in this form of glaucoma. The selective laser pulses stimulate cellular changes that improve drainage, effectively reducing IOP and slowing down the progression of the disease.

Primary or Secondary Glaucoma

Primary (occurring independently) and secondary (resulting from other medical conditions or eye issues) glaucoma patients can benefit from SLT. The procedure’s ability to enhance drainage pathways makes it a viable treatment option for various forms of glaucoma.

Medication Challenges

Patients experiencing challenges with glaucoma medications, such as non-compliance, side effects, or difficulty administering eye drops, may be excellent candidates for SLT. The procedure can reduce or eliminate the need for multiple medications, simplifying the treatment regimen and improving patient compliance. By lowering IOP through SLT laser surgery for glaucoma, individuals may experience improved comfort and quality of life without the burden of managing complex medication regimens.

Mild to Moderate Glaucoma

SLT is most effective for individuals with mild to moderate glaucoma. While the procedure can provide significant benefits in reducing intraocular pressure, it may not be suitable for advanced cases of glaucoma where more aggressive treatment approaches are necessary. Eye care professionals carefully assess each patient’s condition and stage of glaucoma to determine the most appropriate treatment strategy. However, for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, SLT can offer a powerful tool for managing the disease and preventing further vision loss.

What is the Cost of SLT Laser Treatment for Glaucoma?

SLT laser treatment for glaucoma ranges from a few hundred to more than $1,000 per eye. This cost generally covers the procedure itself, pre-operative evaluations, equipment use, eye care professional’s expertise, and any post-operative care. However, this is a general estimate, and actual costs vary widely.

Costs vary based on the geographic location of the medical facility, the experience of the eye care professional, or the specific clinic or hospital chosen. A patient’s insurance coverage or healthcare also plays a role in determining the out-of-pocket cost for the procedure.

SLT laser surgery is a medical procedure rather than a cosmetic one, meaning health insurance plans that include glaucoma treatments might cover it. However, insurance coverage policies differ significantly, so patients should contact their insurance providers to determine whether the surgery is covered.

Is SLT Laser Surgery Right for You? Consult the Glaucoma Specialists at ECVA

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is a transformative treatment option. By enhancing the eye’s drainage system and reducing intraocular pressure, SLT can slow down the progression of glaucoma and help preserve lasting visual health. As always, consulting with an experienced ophthalmologist is crucial to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual patient needs and the specific characteristics of their glaucoma. ECVA offers glaucoma patients several options for treatment, including laser surgery. Talk with our glaucoma specialists in Williamsville, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, or Orchard Park today about how we can protect your vision health at every stage of your life.

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams for the Whole Family

The start of the school year is on the horizon, so many households are taking the time to get ready for the upcoming academic year. One critical part of that equation is a back-to-school eye exam, ensuring children are able to see clearly when they’re in class. 

However, regular eye exams aren’t just critical for students; they’re essential for the whole family. Here’s why. 

Early Detection of Vision Problems 

Regular eye exams allow for the early detection of vision problems, ensuring prompt intervention and treatment. In children, undetected vision issues can lead to difficulties in school, delayed development, and social challenges. By scheduling regular eye exams for children, parents can identify and address vision problems early on, preventing any potential negative impacts on their education and overall well-being. 

For parents, regular eye exams can detect age-related eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Many of these conditions don’t produce noticeable symptoms in their early stages, making comprehensive eye exams critical for early diagnosis and timely treatment. 

Prevention and Management of Eye Conditions 

Eye exams are not just about identifying existing vision problems; they also play a crucial role in preventing eye issues and managing existing conditions. Eye care providers can assess your eye health, evaluate risk factors, and provide guidance on preventive measures that’s customized based on your unique needs. 

Regular eye exams are also crucial for individuals with existing eye problems. These exams help monitor for changes caused by the conditions. In turn, it’s easier to identify treatments that can resolve issues or prevent further deterioration and begin them as quickly as possible. 

Prescription Updates 

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, regular eye exams ensure that your prescriptions are current. Vision changes typically occur gradually, and you might not even realize that your visual acuity is shifting. Regular eye exams help identify changes in your vision and allow your eye care provider to update prescriptions as needed to maintain proper visual acuity. 

Overall Health Assessment 

Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and certain autoimmune diseases can lead to specific eye-related changes. During an eye exam, your eye care provider can identify abnormalities – such as changes in blood vessels, optic nerve damage, or deposits in the eyes – that may indicate underlying health issues. By catching these signs early, individuals can seek appropriate medical care and manage these conditions effectively. 

Setting a Good Example 

Regular eye exams for the whole family set a positive example for children and emphasize the importance of proactive healthcare. When children see their parents prioritizing proper eye care, they’re more likely to value and prioritize their own vision as they grow older. By making regular eye exams a family practice, you instill lifelong habits of self-care and promote overall well-being. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re preparing for back-to-school season or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Family looking at eyeglasses

Common Age-Related Eye Problems

Vision plays a crucial role in everyone’s daily lives. But over time, age-related eye problems may arise, affecting a person’s ability to see clearly and perform common tasks. If you’d like to know about some common age-related eye problems, their causes, symptoms, and potential management strategies, here’s what you need to know. 


Presbyopia is one of the most common age-related eye problems. This condition is the result of the loss of elasticity in the lens, making it difficult to focus on nearby objects. People with presbyopia may experience eyestrain, headaches, and might start holding reading materials away from them to improve clarity. Fortunately, presbyopia can be easily managed with reading glasses, bifocals, or multifocal contact lenses. 


Cataracts are another prevalent eye problem among older adults. They occur when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision, faded colors, and increased sensitivity to glare. 

Although cataracts are a natural part of aging, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood that they’ll occur. For example, smoking, excessive sunlight exposure, and diabetes can accelerate the development of cataracts. 

In many cases, cataracts can be treated with surgery. The procedure involves replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial one, and the artificial lens restores clear vision. However, if symptoms are mild, using brighter lighting, wearing anti-glare glasses or sunglasses, or other less invasive options may work well. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye condition that impacts the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. When a person has AMD, it typically causes a gradual loss of vision in the middle of the visual field. That makes it challenging to read, recognize faces, or perform tasks that require fine visual acuity. 

While the exact cause of AMD isn’t known, specific factors can play a role. For example, genetics, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure can increase the risk. 

Although there is no cure for AMD, early detection and lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet and protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, can help slow its progression. 


Glaucoma is a set of eye conditions that harm the optic nerve, typically due to increased pressure in the eye, which leads to damage. The most widely experienced type of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma. In most cases, it develops slowly and painlessly, gradually affecting peripheral vision. 

If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. Regular eye examinations, along with medications, eye drops, or surgical interventions, can help manage glaucoma and prevent further damage. 

Dry Eye Syndrome 

Dry eye syndrome is when the eyes don’t produce enough tears or when a person’s tears evaporate too quickly. Tear production usually decreases as a person ages, leading to dryness, irritation, and a gritty sensation in the eyes. 

Environmental factors, medications, and specific underlying health conditions can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears, lifestyle adjustments – such as blinking more frequently and using a humidifier – and prescription medications can help manage dry eye syndrome effectively. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re concerned about age-related eye problems or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Summer Eye Care Tips 

It’s officially summer, a time of year when people spend more time outdoors enjoying the excellent weather. However, it’s also a season that comes with specific eye health risks. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your eyes in fantastic shape by taking some simple steps. Here are some summer eye care tips to get you started. 

Protect Against UV Light 

Ultraviolet (UV) light can harm your eyes. UV exposure is connected to a variety of eye conditions, including macular degeneration, photokeratitis, uveal melanoma, and many others. 

UV rays are present even when it’s cloudy outside. As a result, it’s critical to protect your eyes against UV light at all times. Often, the simplest way is to wear wraparound sunglasses with complete or full-spectrum UV protection. You can even purchase wraparound sunglasses that have your prescription, ensuring you can see clearly while shielding your eyes from harm. 

Wear Goggles When Swimming 

When you go swimming, wearing goggles is a must if you want to keep your eyes safe and healthy. In lakes, rivers, and the ocean, visibility can be low, so the goggles can protect your eyes against unexpected debris. 

Plus, natural bodies of water can contain tiny particles, bacteria, and microorganisms, all of which can damage the eye. By wearing goggles, you prevent them from reaching your eyes. 

If you’re swimming in a pool, chemicals like chlorine in the water are an eye irritant, so putting on goggles helps you avoid that irritation. Plus, pools can contain a wide array of contaminants, so it’s best to keep goggles on to avoid exposing your eyes to them. 

Apply Sunscreen and Bug Spray Carefully 

Sunscreen and bug spray both contain ingredients that can irritate the eyes. As a result, you want to exercise caution when applying either. Avoid spraying sunscreen or bug spray over or near your eyes, opting for a hand-based application instead. Additionally, keep both away from the eyelids entirely. 

If you’re sweating, causing your sunscreen or bug spray to drip across your skin, dab (don’t wipe) the sweat away using a clean cloth, napkin, or similar item. That ensures you don’t accidentally move the drips onto your eyelids or into your eyes. 

Wash Hands Regularly (and Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes) 

Pollen, dust, and dirt can all end up on your hands throughout the day, often irritating the eyes. Regular hand washing is a simple way to reduce your odds of exposing your eyes to contaminants or foreign objects if you touch your eye area, keeping your eyes safe. 

Additionally, it’s best to avoid rubbing your eyes at all. If there are particles or other materials in your eye, rubbing can increase irritation and may lead to more damage, such as scratches. Instead, use safe flushing methods to remove anything in your eyes, as that’s the safer approach. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’d like to learn more summer eye tips or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Laser Cataract Surgery: Everything You Need to Know

If you live long enough, you may have laser-assisted cataract surgery. By age 80, 50% of Americans will likely have laser surgery for cataracts. Laser cataract surgery can restore vision when age-related cataracts threaten it.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Cataracts cause blindness more than other common conditions like diabetic eye disease or macular degeneration. What is a cataract, and should you worry that you’re developing the condition?

A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, leading to a gradual loss of vision. The lens, usually clear and transparent, is located behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) and is responsible for focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina then converts the light into electrical signals sent to the brain, allowing us to see. As a cataract develops, the clouding of the lens obstructs the passage of light, causing blurred vision, light sensitivity, faded colors, and eventually blindness.

Fortunately, cataracts are very slow to develop. Doctors can remove cataracts with safe and effective laser surgery. This article will help you understand everything you need to know about the procedure known as laser cataract surgery.

What is Laser Cataract Surgery?

Laser cataract surgery, or femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS), is an advanced technique used to remove cataracts from the eye. Cataracts are a common age-related eye condition and cause the natural lens to become cloudy, leading to blurry vision and visual impairment.

In laser cataract surgery, a femtosecond laser performs the procedure. The laser creates precise incisions in the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye, and also performs the capsulotomy, where an opening is made in the front portion of the lens capsule. Additionally, the laser fragments the cataract-affected lens, facilitating its removal. These steps are followed by the extraction of the cloudy lens and the implantation of an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore clear vision. Laser cataract surgery offers potential benefits of enhanced precision, reduced surgical complications, and faster recovery times, making it a promising option for certain patients. However, the choice of surgical method depends on individual circumstances and the surgeon’s expertise.

Who Performs Laser Surgery for Cataracts?

Ophthalmologists perform laser surgery for cataracts. Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons who specialize in cataract surgery, receiving specialized training in using femtosecond laser. These ophthalmologists are experienced in various aspects of cataract treatment and use the laser technology to enhance the precision and efficiency of the procedure. Laser cataract surgery is a highly specialized technique, and ophthalmologists must be well-versed in the intricacies of the equipment and its application. Patients can have confidence in the expertise of these skilled professionals, ensuring safe and effective outcomes for their vision correction needs.

Cataract Surgery Laser vs. Traditional

Whether laser or traditional cataract surgery is better is a topic of ongoing debate in ophthalmology. Both techniques have advantages and limitations, and the choice between them depends on various factors, including the patient’s specific needs and the surgeon’s experience and expertise. The most significant difference between laser cataract surgery and traditional is who makes the eye incisions. In conventional cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist makes the cuts by hand. During laser-assisted cataract surgery, the laser technology completes the incisions.

Here’s a balanced comparison of the two approaches:

Advantages of Laser Cataract Surgery

  • Enhanced Precision: The femtosecond laser allows for more precise and customizable incisions, capsulotomies, and lens fragmentation, potentially leading to improved surgical outcomes.
  • Reproducibility: Laser technology can offer consistent results, reducing the variability seen in manual cataract surgery.
  • Astigmatism Correction: Laser-assisted incisions tailor to correct astigmatism, offering improved vision without glasses after surgery.
  • Potential for Reduced Energy Usage: Laser fragmentation of the cataract can reduce the amount of ultrasound energy required during surgery, potentially leading to less stress on the eye’s tissues.

Advantages of Traditional Cataract Surgery (Phacoemulsification)

  • Proven Track Record: Phacoemulsification has been the gold standard for cataract surgery for decades and has a well-established safety and success record.
  • Surgeon Experience: Phacoemulsification is widely practiced, and experienced cataract surgeons have mastered the manual technique, achieving excellent outcomes.
  • Versatility: Traditional cataract surgery can be adapted to handle various cataracts and is suitable for a wide range of patients.
  • Cost: Traditional cataract surgery is generally more cost-effective than cataract surgery.

Perhaps surprisingly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says, “Studies do not show that laser surgery results in fewer complications. Also, studies haven’t found that laser surgery provides better outcomes.” Ultimately, the “better” option between laser cataract surgery and traditional cataract surgery depends on individual patient needs and the specific cataract characteristics, and the surgeon’s experience. Some patients may benefit from the added precision and astigmatism correction potential of laser cataract surgery, while others may achieve equally successful results with traditional surgery at a lower cost.

Patients must have a detailed discussion with their ophthalmologist, considering all relevant factors, to make an informed decision about the most suitable approach for their cataract surgery. Both techniques can provide significant improvements in vision and quality of life for those with cataracts.

Surgeon Skill, Experience, and Precision

When facing a surgical procedure, the accuracy and precision of your surgeon always affect your healthcare outcome. In the case of laser or traditional cataract surgery, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says, “Your outcome depends in large part on the skill and experience of your surgeon.” The difference with laser-assisted cataract surgery is that the technology maps the eye structures allowing the surgeon to direct the machine with increased accuracy. The laser creates a precise 3-D image of the exact curve of the eye. Then, in seconds, the machine makes the incision exactly where it should. The laser also ends up softening the cataract for removal. Laser surgery is particularly beneficial for:

  • Patients suffering from hard cataracts.
  • Patients with astigmatism, which are irregularly shaped corneas.
  • Patients seeking to replace their corneas with customized premium IOL devices to correct vision like contacts or glasses would.
  • Difficult surgeries where incisions are challenging to create.


In laser surgery for cataracts, a femtosecond laser performs the procedure. A femtosecond laser emits ultra-short light pulses. These lasers are high-speed and precise, making them valuable tools in various fields of science, medicine, and technology. allowing for safer, more accurate, and less invasive procedures than traditional methods.

Here’s how the cataract surgery process typically works:

  • Corneal Incisions: The femtosecond laser creates precise incisions in the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. These incisions allow access to the cataract-affected lens.
  • Capsulotomy: The laser precisely opens the front portion of the natural lens capsule. This step is essential because it allows the eye surgeon to access and remove the cataract without damaging the rest of the lens capsule, which will hold the new artificial intraocular lens in place.
  • Lens Fragmentation: The laser breaks the cataract-affected lens into smaller, manageable fragments. This fragmentation allows for easier removal of the cloudy lens.
  • Cataract Removal: After the laser prepares the lens, the surgeon removes the cataract fragments from the eye. This step is typically performed using ultrasound energy in a process called phacoemulsification.
  • Intraocular Lens Implantation: Once the cataract is removed, an artificial intraocular lens is implanted into the lens capsule to replace the natural lens. The IOL serves to restore clear vision.

What are the Benefits of Laser Surgery for Cataracts?

Laser cataract surgery offers three benefits over traditional surgery. However, both laser-assisted and traditional cataract surgeries are safe and effective procedures. Deciding between the two techniques should be made based on individual patient characteristics, the surgeon’s expertise, and the availability of laser technology. Patients should consult their ophthalmologist to determine the most appropriate approach for their cataract surgery.

Benefit #1: Astigmatism Correction

One of the significant benefits of laser cataract surgery is its ability to correct astigmatism during the procedure. Astigmatism is a common refractive error caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, leading to distorted and blurred vision. In FLACS, the femtosecond laser can create precise incisions in the cornea that are customized to correct astigmatism. This targeted approach can reduce or eliminate astigmatism, providing patients with the potential for improved vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery. This aspect is particularly advantageous for individuals with cataracts and astigmatism, as it simultaneously addresses two vision issues.

Benefit #2: Reduced Risk of Complications

Laser cataract surgery can offer potential advantages in terms of safety and reduced risk of certain complications. The femtosecond laser’s accuracy allows for precise incisions, capsulotomies, and lens fragmentation, minimizing the possibility of human error during these critical steps. Additionally, the laser’s ability to create a consistent and well-centered capsulotomy can reduce the risk of complications related to the IOL’s placement, such as decentration or tilt. Moreover, the laser’s capability to pre-soften the cataract can reduce the amount of ultrasound energy required during lens removal, potentially leading to less stress on the eye’s delicate structures and a lower risk of thermal injury.

Benefit #3: Reduced Risk of Complications

The femtosecond laser’s ability to fragment the cataract-affected lens into smaller, more manageable pieces is another benefit of laser cataract surgery. This efficient lens fragmentation can make the subsequent removal process more precise. By reducing the amount of phacoemulsification energy needed to break up and remove the cataract, the procedure may be gentler on the eye, contributing to faster recovery times and improved patient comfort. Additionally, the reduced phacoemulsification time may lower the risk of endothelial cell damage, which is important for maintaining the cornea’s clarity.

What to Expect After Laser Cataract Surgery

After laser cataract surgery, patients can typically expect a straightforward and relatively quick recovery process. Some mild discomfort and blurry vision may occur in the immediate postoperative period, but this usually subsides within a day or two. Most individuals experience improved vision within the first week, but recovery may take a few weeks. It’s essential to follow the postoperative instructions provided by the surgeon, which may include using prescribed eye drops, avoiding strenuous activities, and protecting the eyes from bright lights or potential sources of infection. Your clinical team will schedule regular follow-up appointments to monitor progress and ensure optimal healing.

How Much Does Laser Cataract Surgery Cost?

Laser-assisted cataract surgery can cost $3,500 to $7,000 per eye. The price varies by the type of IOL you use, where you live, and if you have insurance, whether the doctor is in-network or out. Generally, major health insurers do cover cataract surgery. How much and what they cover varies by the carrier. Medicare typically covers about 80% of the cataract removal procedure. You can use your health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to pay for your surgery.

Is Laser Surgery for Cataracts Right for You? Consult the Experts at ECVA

Eye Care & Vision Associates (ECVA) is one of the top cataract surgeons in Williamsville, Orchard Park, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo, New York. Talk with our team today about how laser-assisted cataract surgery can help restore your vision and get your life back.

Myths About UV Protection and Your Eyes

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are harmful, including to your eyes. Since July is UV safety month, it’s the perfect time to consider how you can protect your eyes from this damaging form of radiation. To help you get started, we’re going to dispel some common misconceptions and myths about UV protection and your eyes. Here’s what you need to know. 

Myth: All Sunglasses Protect Against UV Rays 

Sunglasses don’t inherently protect against UV rays unless they have coatings designed to offer that protection. When selecting sunglasses, look for pairs that list UV-blocking capabilities on the lenses, preferably with a very high percentage, with 100 percent protection being the best option. 

Myth: Polarized Lenses Offer UV Protection 

While sunglasses can be polarized and offer UV protection, the fact that they’re polarized isn’t what blocks UV light. Instead, polarized lenses only cut back on glare. As a result, it’s critical to make sure that the product information lists that the lenses block UV light. 

Myth: You Only Need UV Protection on Sunny Days 

While clouds may reduce the amount of UV rays that reach you, the reduction is very limited. That means you’re eyes are still exposed to a significant amount of UV light when it’s overcast, so wearing UV-blocking sunglasses is still recommended. 

Myth: You Don’t Need UV-Blocking Sunglasses When in a Vehicle 

While it’s true that many vehicle windshields block the vast majority of UV rays, side windows don’t offer the same level of protection. As a result, it’s best to wear UV-blocking sunglasses when in a vehicle to adequately protect your eyes. 

Myth: Full-Spectrum UV Protection Sunglasses Are Expensive 

Full-spectrum UV-blocking sunglasses are available at practically any price point, and there are many highly affordable options on the market. Often, it’s possible to find a suitable pair for less than $20 at big box stores or through online retailers. 

Even prescription sunglasses with UV protection often cost less than most people assume. As a result, it’s possible to cover that need with prescription lenses without spending much more than you would on regular prescription glasses. 

Myth: Darker Lens Tints Offer More UV Protection 

How dark sunglass lenses are tinted doesn’t impact the level of UV protection. Instead, it only alters how much visible light reaches your eyes. As a result, any lens that offers a high percentage of UV-blocking will perform similarly to others when it comes to shielding your eyes from harmful rays, regardless of how dark the tint is on the lens. 

Myth: UV Damage Is Reversible 

In most cases, UV damage to the eye is functionally cumulative, causing it to add up over time. Additionally, most of the harm is irreversible once it occurs. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re concerned about possible damage to your eyes caused by UV exposure or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

What Is Eyelid Dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis is a form of contact dermatitis, a skin condition that occurs when you come into contact with a triggering substance, such as an allergen, dust, or irritating chemical. After contact, the eyelid experiences a reaction, leading to various symptoms.  

Whether you’re trying to determine if you’re experiencing eyelid dermatitis or would simply like to know more about the condition, here’s an overview of what causes eyelid dermatitis, the typical symptoms, and details about treatment.  

What Causes Eyelid Dermatitis  

Generally, eyelid dermatitis comes in two forms. First, there’s irritant contact dermatitis. As the name implies, this occurs after contact with a substance, such as a chemical or dust.  

Second, there’s allergic eyelid dermatitis. This version also occurs when there’s contact with a substance, but the substance is specifically an allergen in this scenario.  

In both cases, symptoms from eyelid dermatitis can develop quickly or slowly. Generally, this varies due to the substance involved, the amount of exposure, and the person’s degree of sensitivity to it.  

Common Symptoms of Eyelid Dermatitis  

Eyelid dermatitis can come with a variety of symptoms. Reddening of the skin is one of the more common ones, along with issues like skin swelling, thickening, or scaling. An itching, burning, or stinging sensation also frequently accompanies eyelid dermatitis. In some cases, pain and blistering can occur.  

Unlike eye irritation caused by an infection, eyelid dermatitis is not contagious. Primarily, that’s because eyelid dermatitis isn’t triggered by bacteria or infection. 

Will Eyelid Dermatitis Go Away Without Treatment  

Mild cases of eyelid dermatitis may clear up on their own, suggesting that no additional exposure to the substance triggered the reaction. However, eyelid dermatitis can lead to other conditions if it’s not treated swiftly. For example, it can increase a person’s chances of developing an eye infection.  

Additionally, the symptoms of eyelid dermatitis can align with the symptoms that occur due to other eye conditions, including infections or other potentially serious medical concerns. As a result, it’s best to consult with your eye care provider if you have symptoms of eyelid dermatitis.  

Treating Eyelid Dermatitis  

For mild cases of eyelid dermatitis, treatment isn’t always necessary. For more severe cases or situations where the discomfort is significant enough to make everyday activities challenging, working with your eye care provider to find a better treatment option is wise. They may precisely topical or oral corticosteroids or allergy treatments, or calcineurin inhibitors, depending on the cause of the reaction.  

It’s also wise to take specific steps if you have symptoms of eyelid dermatitis. Don’t wear makeup even if it isn’t likely to be the cause, as it may irritate the condition. Consider whether the triggering substance is potentially related to a new item in your home – such as lotion, laundry products, or anything else that may have contacted the eye area – and stop using it if it’s a potential irritant. Avoid scratching or touching the eye area, too.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of eyelid dermatitis or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.