Orange You Glad You Ate An Orange?

orange fruit

Eating just one orange a day can slash your risk of developing macular degeneration by 60%. A recent study in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition followed 2,000 patients over the age of 50 for 15 years and found that the patients who ate an orange a day had a significantly decreased risk of AMD (age related macular degeneration) compared to those patients who ate no oranges at all. Usually research involving oranges concentrates on the effects of the vitamin C, E, and A the oranges contain, but this study put an emphasis on theflavonoids found in oranges. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that have immune and anti-inflammatory effects and are found in most fruits and vegetables. sliced orange fruits on round white ceramic plateThe study examined other foods that have flavonoids such as tea, apples and red wine (yes please) but for some reason oranges were the only food that aided in the prevention of AMD. The authors of the study acknowledge that more research has to be done before doctors can definitely prescribe an orange a day to keep AMD away.

Dry Eye Syndrome

drop-1237410-1279x613As a dry eye patient myself I empathize with my fellow dry eye sufferers. For many of us, dry eye is a chronic condition that waxes and wanes for myriads of reasons. Dry eye sounds innocuous but anyone who has experienced it knows it can severely affect the ability to see both clearly and comfortably. Dry eye is a condition in which a person does not have enough “quality” tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. I give the example of driving with a dirty windshield – in order to see clearly to drive you need the wipers and the washer fluid in tandem to make the window clear and allow you to see well. So too if the tears and the eyelids are not working well together the vision will be impaired – like driving with a filthy windshield.

One reason for having dry eye is inadequate production of tears. This can be caused by age, gender (females), medications (such as antihistamines) and certain medical conditions. A dry and windy climate will also contribute to dry eye. Winter in New Jersey is tough on dry eye – the low humidity combined with artificial heating systems, especially the forced air types, wreak havoc on an already dry eye. Another reason for dry eye can be poor quality tears. I will address this more in length in another blog.

So how do we treat dry eye once it is diagnosed? Treatments are tailored specifically for each patient depending on the underlying cause for the dry eye. Ocular lubricants (fancy term for eye drops) are the mainstay of treatment and there are both over the counter and prescription options. If blepharitis (inflamed and irritated eyelids) is the culprit then lid hygiene is initiated as well.

In future blogs we will talk about more specific dry eye situations such as dry eye in contact lens wearers, dry eye in patients with underlying autoimmune diseases, and even dry eye in children.

Achoo! Part 2

pexels-photo-193038.jpegFor many allergy sufferers mere avoidance of the offending allergens is not enough to prevent symptoms. The first line of treatment is to use high quality over the counter artificial tears which help to lubricate irritated eyes as well as to wash out and dilute the pollen that reaches the eye. Cool compresses are another natural way to relieve symptoms. Although there are a myriad of over the counter topical allergy drops on the market, it is hard to figure out which ones might be right for you, don’t hesitate to make an appointment so we can figure it out. Prescription antihistamine and mast cell inhibitor drops are very effective, and if these are still not enough we can prescribe a pulsed dose of topical steroids to get things under control. In some instances a consult with an allergist may be necessary if there are other systemic symptoms such as asthma, coughing and rashes that are not being addressed. Oral medications or immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be helpful as a more long term solution.

Many other eye conditions can mimic allergy, so it is important not to self-diagnose. Dry eyes can also cause itching, and using an antihistamine, either orally or topically, can make dry eye worse by drying out the ocular surface. Very often contact lens wearers will have to temporarily discontinue contact lens use during allergy season or switch to daily disposables. Putting a fresh contact lens in the eye every day goes a long way in preventing further exposure to pollen and irritants.

Spring and summer should be a fun and enjoyable time of year – don’t let allergies get in the way. Make an appointment with any of our skilled doctors who will tailor an allergy attack plan specifically for your lifestyle.


Yay! My Eye Doctor Prescribed Chocolate!


A recent study written up in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Ophthalmology compared the ocular effects of eating a bar of milk chocolate vs. a bar of dark chocolate.  (Where was I when they were looking for subjects to participate in this study?) The results showed that after the subjects ate dark chocolate “small enhancements in visual acuity” were noticed.  Subjects were tested two hours after eating the chocolate but the duration of the increased visual effects past two hours is unknown. Interestingly enough, enhancements in vision were noted after eating the milk chocolate as well, just not as much as after eating the dark chocolate. So what’s the science behind these findings? Researchers think that the flavanols found in dark chocolate help enhance blood flow to the central and peripheral nervous systems, specifically in this case to the retina and macula which contain a lot of blood vessels. There were however some limitations to the study including the size of the study (only thirty subjects), possible knowledge of the type of chocolate ingested based on taste, and lack of clinical relevance to improving vision by eating chocolate. Personally, I’m always willing to eat more chocolate — maybe I’ll conduct my own research….who’s in?

Achoo! Part 1

pexels-photo-244988.jpegAlthough I’m not 100% sure that spring has actually sprung yet, one thing is for sure – allergy season is in full swing. From a pure ocular perspective, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between allergic conjunctivitis and all the other types of red eyes that are out there. Classic ocular allergy symptoms are red, itchy, and watery eyes that can sometimes be accompanied by swollen eyelids. Many patients will also have a concurrent runny nose with sneezing that appears every season and that makes the diagnosis easier. Outdoor allergens tend to be grasses and tree pollen in the spring and ragweed in late summer/early fall, while indoor allergies (unfortunately annoying all year round) are molds, dust, and pet dander.

Okay, so I have allergies, now what do I do? The best treatment is prevention of the allergic reaction. This of course means not going outside during peak pollen times and/or living in a bubble. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to do that, so some more practical ideas are running a HEPA filter in the house to trap allergens, keeping windows closed and the AC running, and making sure to shower at night so that when you sleep you are not rolling around breathing the pollen stuck in your hair. Washing bedding and towels frequently as well as dusting and vacuuming is key in removing allergens that are brought in from outdoors as well as the ones that lurk inside. Wraparound sunglasses are great not only for UV protection, but for physically stopping allergens from blowing into your eyes.

In the next blog we will discuss what to do if simple avoidance of allergens is not enough to prevent symptoms.


Chani Miller, OD