Area doctors: Keep an eye out for vision problems

By Josette Keelor

Problems with vision are not something people see coming. Though a family history of poor eyesight can indicate a need for vision correction, some of the more serious issues that affect the eyes can come on quickly and require immediate attention.

Area eye care specialists warn that a sudden change in eyesight or eye comfort is a warning to seek help, or risk lasting damage.

The most obvious symptoms can be the most telling, said Dr. John A Stefano, an ophthalmologist with Shenandoah LASIK and Cataract Center and co-founder of the Eye Surgery Center of Winchester.

Blurry vision, pain and excessive tearing can be a sign of something serious, and requires attention soon. Those who wait too long for help with such eye issues risk infection.

Flashes of light or floaters in the eye are also signals that immediate care is necessary, according Dr. Alla Hynes, an ophthalmologist with Eye Care Physicians & Surgeons, which has locations in Winchester and Woodstock.

“It can be the sign of retinal detachment,” she said.

Noticing something like a veil over the eyes or experiencing loss of sight when waking can also indicate a stroke in the retina, she said, and “they need to be seen right away.”

Hynes advised patients with a systemic disease like diabetes to have a yearly exam, because they might not have symptoms of a greater problem.

She also warned that those working with power tools or even doing lawn maintenance should wear protective eye gear to prevent a tragedy.

“They may have done it for 25 years and nothing happens. They can have devastating injuries,” she said, “…which can cause blindness.”

But patients shouldn’t wait for an emergency to happen before seeing an eye doctor. Bi-yearly exams after the age of 40, or earlier for patients with poor eyesight or a family history of vision problems, will allow doctors to spot changes before patients might.

A family history of glaucoma, even in non-immediate family, can suggest a patient’s greater chance of developing the condition. Often there are no signs or symptoms until it’s in a later stage of damage, she said.

“The eye doctor is the only doctor that will detect glaucoma,” said Hynes.

“The same thing if somebody in the family has a lazy eye, then the child should be checked for the lazy eye before she goes to school,” she said. “The lazy eye only we treat as a child.”

The sooner a child sees an eye specialist for a lazy eye, the better, she said. After the child is age 7, it’s too late to correct the problem.

Eye doctors also can spot other unrealized health issues. The windows to the soul, eyes can also tip off doctors to other things affecting a patient’s good health.

“Once in awhile I might see a patient and it looks like they might have a high blood pressure,” she said. “This may be the first doctor to suspect that there may be some other problem.”

Call Eye Care Physicians & Surgeons at 540-409-5234 or Shenandoah LASIK and Cataract Center at 540-722-6200.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or

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