Why Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month is Important

Why Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month is Important

Did you know that diabetes could cause eye disease? It’s actually the leading cause of blindness and many don’t experience symptoms. Early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care are the only ways to prevent vision loss.

“Diabetic patients require special eye care not only to manage their blood sugar, but also to ensure the whole body is cared for,” says Dr. Shofner. Scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year is a vital part of that care, considering potential eye complications such as cataracts, macular swelling, and optic nerve damage.

What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness. Diabetic eye disease can result in the following:

  • Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina that lines the back of the eye. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults.
  • Diabetic macular edema (DME). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula.
  • Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cataract. Cataract also tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma.Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

How can diabetic eye disease be detected?

A comprehensive dilated eye exam includes visual acuity testing, Tonometry, pupil dilation and Optical coherence tomography (OCT). These tests allow the doctor to check the retina for:

  • Changes to blood vessels
  • Leaking blood vessels or warning signs of leaky blood vessels, such as fatty deposits
  • Swelling of the macula (DME)
  • Changes in the lens
  • Damage to nerve tissue

Shofner Vision Center will provide consistent and mindful care to help diabetic patients keep their vision and treat impairment. Contact your local vision care center professional or if you are in the Nashville area, contact Dr. Shofner at (615) 340-4733.

Share and use these hashtags below to help spread this important awareness.

#DiabetesAwarenessMonth, #diabeticeyediseaseawarenessmonth, #diabetes

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Posted in Cataract, Eye Health, General


As Halloween festivities are being planned, some may want to intensify their look by wearing extreme costumes, face masks, body/face paint and cosmetic contact lenses. Every year, there are several hundred eye injuries related to costumes and masks treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Dr. Stewart Shofner provides trick-or-treaters and partygoers helpful tips to enjoy a safe Halloween.Protect Your Eyes this Halloween

Face Masks – Ensure you or your child’s face mask allows enough space to see clearly. When vision is obstructed while in motion, one could easily trip, fall and could become injured.

Costume Accessories – While a pitchfork, axe, horns, crown, swords may complete your look, those pointy objects could cause eye injury. It’s important young children stay supervised and refrain from using their costume as weapons.

Eye Bling/Makeup – Don’t be ghoulish with the glitter or glue this year. Ensure the facial paint is hypoallergenic and safe to use around the eyes. Be sure to apply very carefully and avoid entering inside your eye, especially if it contains glitter. Body jewels, especially for small children should be kept away from eyes and eyelids. It’s also recommended to have false eyelashes applied by a skilled technician to avoid mishaps while applying the glue.

Cosmetic Lens – This one has increasingly become very popular as so many online suppliers are offering theatrical lenses without a prescription. While novelty contacts are designed for fun, they still are considered medical devices and cannot be purchased legally in the United States without a contact lens prescription.

Dr. Shofner suggests if you choose to wear cosmetic lenses, schedule an appointment with your local eye doctor for a contact lens exam and have the lenses properly fitted. It’s important to know that a poor lens fit can lead to eye infection, corneal ulcer, decreased vision and even blindness.

Practicing these safety measures will ensure your child enjoys a safe Halloween and prevent a night of treats from turning into a night of tragedy. Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween.




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Posted in Contact Lenses, Eye Health


Eyelashes protect the eyes protection from wind, dust and other debris. For others, eyelashes and enhancing them has become a new trend. Many consumers are receiving more and more options to enhance their eyelashes that offer thicker, fuller, longer lashes. Options include false eyelashes, eyelash transplants, eyelash extensions and liquids such as Latisse.Eyelash Extensions

All of these options promise to offer consumers an alternate to using mascara, however some don’t realize the dangers of using these products. It’s strongly recommended that an aesthetician or technician should apply eyelash extensions, as the procedure requires precision when placing individual eyelashes, however, it can still be risky. The glue that is used to bond extensions into place contains chemicals such as formaldehyde, which can cause eye irritation or allergic reactions.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) likewise responded to reports cautioning consumers about the dangers of cosmetic eyelash extensions. AAO cites the following specific dangers of using eyelash extensions:

  • Swollen eyelids
  • Infection of the cornea
  • Infection of the eyelid
  • Temporary or permanent loss of eyelashes

Additional complications with eyelash extensions may include forceps wounds, reactions to solvents used to remove the extensions, and reactions to the tape that may be used to hold your lids closed during the procedure, however these are less common.


Dr. Stewart Shofner encourages those that desire eyelash enhancements should seek professional salons or facilities and be applied only by skilled and certified technicians. “I do not recommend eyelash extensions for patients that have dry eye, as the extensions may cause the eyes more discomfort,” says Dr. Shofner. It is also important to check the eyelash adhesive ingredients before use to prevent allergic reactions.

Additionally, if you suffer from sore, red eyelids, you could have blepharitis, a common inflammation of the eyelid margin. In some cases, blepharitis also causes loss of eyelashes (madarosis). Contact your local vision center to schedule an appointment if you are experiencing any eye problems or concerns. You may also contact Shofner Vision Center for a comprehensive eye exam at (615) 340-4733.

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Posted in Eye Health, General

Why does the sun cause me to sneeze?

Why does the sun make me sneeze?Have you ever desperately needed to sneeze, but it just won’t come?  Did you look at the sun, or a lightbulb, and successfully sneeze?  Some would say “Yes!” and think fondly of how well that worked.  But for the rest of us, bright sunlight doesn’t affect us that way at all.

There is a name for the quirk that affects about a third of the population in the world today – Photic Sneeze Reflex.   It is a phenomena that has interested philosophers and scientists for thousands of years. Aristotle reasoned that the heat of the sun on the nose was responsible for the sneeze.  Some 2,000 years later, English Philosopher Francis Bacon de-bunked the theory by walking outside with his eyes closed – the heat was still there, but he didn’t sneeze.  The new theory became that the sun made the eyes water, which in turn tickled the nose and caused the sneeze.  Of course today, we know that our tear ducts work much slower than the millisecond it can take us sneeze when we are exposed to a bright light.

Today’s generally held belief is that the wires in the brain get crossed, causing the photic sneeze reflex.  A sneeze is usually triggered by an irritation in the nose sensed by the trigeminal nerve.  This nerve is close to the optic nerve, which is what would sense a sudden bright light entering the retina.  As the optic nerve tells the brain to constrict the pupils, the trigeminal nerve mistakenly thinks the message is intended to indicate an irritation in the nose, and causes the sneeze.  It is amazing how much information fires from our nerves through our brain and back with unbelievable speed!

Because the phenomenon is harmless and not linked with any other medical condition, not much research has been fielded to study the reflex.  Luckily however, some scientists are interested in studying this because of the potential insights into migraine headaches and epileptic seizures.  Migraine sufferers often have photophobia, or an extreme sensitivity to light, and epileptic seizes can be triggered by flashing lights.  If scientists could learn more about the gene that causes the reflex, they may be able to learn something about the visual pathway and other reflexes that affect these diseases.  With very limited studies conducted, one thing we do know is that the trait is autosomal-dominant, meaning that the gene is neither on the X nor the Y chromosome and only one copy of the gene has to be present for the person to have the reflex.  If you have it, it is likely that half your children will too.

The best news is the simplicity of the cure!  All you have to do to negate the reflex is put on sunglasses before you go outside!  For all your eye protection needs, visit us at Shofner Vision Center.

Posted in Eye Health, General

Sports and Eye Injuries

soccer-team-webIt’s fall in the South, and that means fall sports!  Football, soccer, field hockey, baseball, cross-country, wrestling, and the list goes on!  With so many people participating in fall sports, it is important to keep some eye protection tips in mind.  Sports cause more than 40,000 eye injuries each year, and 90% of those injuries could have been prevented with proper care and equipment. Basketball causes the greatest number of sports injuries, followed by water sports, baseball, and racquet sports.

The most common types of eye injuries are blunt trauma, penetrating injuries, and radiation injury from the sun.  Blunt trauma happens when something hits you in the eye and is the most common eye injury cause by sports.  If you have had a black eye, you have experienced bruising of the eye and eye lid, which looks ominous, but is usually not a serious eye injury.  More serious blunt trauma injuries include a detached retina, a ruptured globe (broken eyeball) and an orbital fracture.  Examples of a penetrating injury are being poked in the eye with a finger or object, such as the shuttercock of a badminton set.  Radiation injuries involve burning of the retina by the sun’s rays and is most common in summer sports such as skiing, swimming and water polo.

So how do you protect your eyes?  First, be sure you wear the proper eye protection while playing sports.  Polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant and come in both prescription and non-prescription varieties.  These are your best line of defense.  It is a common belief that wearing a helmet will protect you from all kinds of head injuries, but they don’t cover the eyes, the often-overlooked area vulnerable to injuries.

Less serious injuries generally do not require a doctor’s visit – the team coach can usually make the call on continuing in the practice or game, or not.  But if you have a serious eye injury, you should quickly be examined by a licensed ophthalmologist, such as Dr. Stewart Shofner.  Dr. Shofner is an avid sports fan, and will provide your eyes with expert care.  It won’t be long, and you will be released to the sport you love when your eye is healed, and your vision is back to normal.

Posted in Eye Health, General

5 Great Reasons to have your Eyes Corrected with LASIK

Shof-clea-gla-esMillions of people all over the world suffer with poor vision.  Are you one of the people that either spends money month after month on contacts, or spends time each day cleaning and re-cleaning their glasses, not to mention has to remember where you put them when you take them off?  For so many people LASIK vision correction is the answer to their vision problem.  If you are considering your options, here are our top 5 reasons to call us for a LASIK consultation today:

  1.  You will see clearly!  For many of us, waking up in the morning means stumbling around to find your glasses or get your contacts in.  How wonderful would it be to wake up and be able to just see?
  2. You will increase your eye comfort!  People that wear contacts often complain of itchy eyes, allergies and irritations.  People with glasses may suffer from headaches from too much pressure or a prescription that is not quite right anymore.  Since your vision deteriorates so slowly, it can take time to realize that you are just not seeing as clearly as you did, even with your contacts or glasses.
  3. Very little downtime!  For most, recovery time is a matter of hours, not days or weeks.  And many experience even better vision than their corrective devices afforded them.
  4. LASIK pays for itself by eliminating the need for repeat purchases of contacts and glasses.  Some insurance plans will pay for some or all of your surgery, and pre-tax dollars put into Flexible Spending Accounts may allow you to use the funds for your surgery.
  5. Dr Stewart Shofner is a renowned opthamologist who has successfully performed over 30,000 LASIK surgeries, giving people in Middle Tennessee and across the country the gift of clear vision. You can trust your eyes to him and his experienced staff.

Call Shofner Vision Center at615-340-4733  and schedule a free consultation.  You will be glad you did!

Posted in General, LASIK/PRK

The Quick Healing Eye

heal-ey-02If you’ve ever been at the beach and had a grain of sand or dust blow into your eye, and you rubbed it to get rid of it, you probably made it worse and scratched your cornea. A corneal abrasion is very painful and causes your eyes to water, and sometimes burn. But the good news is that our eyes are some of the quickest healing tissue in our entire bodies. Some injuries heal in just hours, where a scratch on the skin will take days to heal at best.

The cornea is the clear, protective lens in front of the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil (the black circle in the middle of the eye). A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea, and it can be caused by a whole host of things:

  • Being poked in the eye, with a fingernail, pen, make-up brush, etc
  • Dirt, ash or sand blowing into your eyes and getting trapped under the eyelid
  • Chemical burns
  • Poor fitting or dirty contact lenses
  • Some types of eye infections

The issue is that symptoms of an abrasion may take a while to develop, so you may not know what actually caused the problem. The first instinct when symptoms do appear is to rub the eye, which of course should be avoided. Instead, try blinking a lot or rinse the eye with clear water. If you still feel like something is caught in your eye, see an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Now, how does that eye heal so quickly? The reason for the rate of healing is the type of cells that make up the outer-most layers of your eyeball. When your eye is scratched, a layer of cells is actually scraped away from the surface of your eye, and has to be replaced with new cells. Lucky for us, the surface of your eyes consist of living cells that have the ability to rearrange themselves and migrate to where the cells are missing. This is different from a scratch on your arm, for example. The outer layers of skin on your arm consist of non-living cells, layered 3 or 4 cells deep. Because these top layers are already dead, they can’t move around and you have to wait for new layers of cells to work their way up to the surface (by sloughing off the dead cells over time) for the healing to take place.

Your eyes are incredibly valuable and should be treated with care and professionalism when any issue occurs. Rely on the experience and expertise of Dr. Shofner and his staff to care for your eyes and ensure the best vision possible for as long as possible.

Posted in Eye Health

The Muscles of our Eyes

shofner-eye-boy-muscMost of us know that we need strong muscles to be able to function well in every day life.  They help our bodies move, and allow us to perform normal, every day tasks like dressing, cooking, driving, and more. But did you know that your body is made up of approximately 700 named muscles?  Let’s take a look at the muscles that help your eyes work their best.

The eye muscles are the fastest reacting muscles in the whole body, contracting in less than 1/100th of a second.  The synchronized tension of the muscle group that allows for clear vision is fascinating.  The eye muscles work together to carry out no less than seven coordinated movements, allowing the eyes to track many different kinds of moving objects.

Each eye is held in place by three pairs of extrinsic muscles that constantly balance the pull of the others. The superior rectus acts to roll the eyeball back and up, but it is opposed by the inferior rectus. In the same way, the lateral rectus pulls to the side, while the medial rectus pulls toward the nose, and the two oblique muscles roll the eye clockwise or counterclockwise. All of these muscles are working together simultaneously to move your eyes in unison. No wonder your eyes get tired at the end of a long day!

Tremor, drift and flick are types of movement that result from the constant, opposing muscle tension of your eyes.  Tremor causes an almost unseen trembling of a point image, and drift makes the image move slowly off-center.  Before the movement becomes noticeable, there is a quick flick to bring the image back to center.  These constant, tiny movements ensure that the image you are seeing constantly moves over unused parts of the retina, and that the receptors at any spot on your eye don’t get overloaded with images.  The result is clear vision.

Your eye uses smooth pursuit movements to follow objects at high speed, such as word to word or line to line when reading.  Another eye movement is called vergence.  It helps the eye turn inward to direct the images directly onto small, rodless areas of the retina.  Your brain registers the amount of distance and uses it to estimate the distance of the object you are looking at.  And while all this is happening, the intrinsic muscles of the eye are focusing the eye and dilating the pupil to control the amount of light that enters.

Your eye muscles work as a synchronized team to produce clear and accurate vision.  Keep your eyes working their best with an annual visit to Dr. Shofner’s hard-working team of eye professionals.  They will inspect the eyes, and recommend solutions for any vision issues to ensure you see well for as long as possible.

Posted in Eye Health, General

Do you really eat with your eyes?

Eat-with-your-eyesOur eyes are such an essential part of our daily lives, but in more ways than you may have even thought about.  For instance, your eyes largely influence how your brain responds to food – you really do eat with your eyes first.

Studies have shown that how food is presented, including the color of the dish it is served on, can influence your perception of the taste of the food.  A recent study, conducted by Polytechnic University of Valencia and Oxford University (published in the Journal of Sensory Studies) found that hot chocolate served in an orange- or cream-colored mug made the beverage taste sweeter and was found to be much more aromatic. The study also found that strawberry mousse tasted better served on a white plate than on a black plate.  There doesn’t seem to be a rule about the specific colors that make food taste better – it is just important to give your eyes something appealing to digest first, and that means using colors that make the food stand out.

Of course the food industry has known this fact for a very long time.  The fact that a well shot food product with the correct lighting, background and accent pieces can actually make you want to go buy that food is testament to the power of our eyes when it comes to our appetite. The best chefs put as much effort into “plating” the food, as they do preparing it. It is important to give your eyes something to absorb, so it can send signals to your brain to want that food.  Charlie Palmer, chef and owner of Aureole and the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant in New York City says: “Everything looks better using brilliant white china.  With a bright white plate, the food really stands out, the colors are more vibrant and the food more appealing”.

Layering the food to draw the eye’s attention to the focal point of the dish is another commonly used technique.  Alex Guarnaschelli, acclaimed Iron Chef, author and restaurant owner, says: “I like to build a plate by layering all the components on top of one another.  It traps the eater into getting all the flavors in every bite!”  So if you have picky eaters at home, experiment with plating your food differently.  Try a different color plate or bowl, and layer the food so the protein is on top of the side dish for instance.

Keep your eyes and your appetite healthy with regular visits to your ophthalmologist.  Your stomach will thank you for it.

Posted in General

Summertime Eye Safety Tips

Summertime is here! Swimming, cookouts, outdoor concerts and festivals, and family get-togethers are all part of the fun of summer. Surprisingly, these activities include threats to your vision and eye health. Dr. Shofner offers these tips to help protect your eyes during these hot summer months.

  1. fam-swProtect your eyes from damage due to prolonged exposure to the sun. We remember to put on sunscreen and protect our skin from prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays that can lead to premature again and even skin cancer. Did you know, that you can also get a sunburn on your cornea? It’s called a corneal flash burn, or ultraviolet keratitis. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause this sunburn, as well as other concerns like pterygiums (additional “skin” growth on the eye). Dr. Shofner recommends wearing good quality sunglasses—specifically with polarized lenses, and if you are going to be outside for a long time, wearing a hat as well.
  2. Swimming is a key summertime activity but if your eyes hurt when you get in/out of a pool, it is likely that the chemicals are not properly balanced. Rinse your eyes with preservative free moisturizing drops, and if you do go back into the pool, wear a good pair of goggles that can protect your eyes from the unbalanced chemicals. If you are swimming in a lake, or the ocean, avoid wearing contact lenses. These waters are not clean and you run a higher risk of something getting stuck under your contact lens, and infecting your eyes. Again, swimming goggles can help here, but just take the contact lenses out before you swim!
  3. Beware of physical dangers to your eyes! Outdoor sports pick up in the summertime, with baseball, badminton, and tennis high on the list of things to do. Flying balls can hurt your eyes so wear protective gear, such as goggles, or at a minimum, good sunglasses. And think before you set out to mow the grass, or swing a hammer for that honey-do project you are finally getting around to. Debris slung out by a mower moves really fast – often too fast to see before you are hit by it. Wood chips, or mulch have sent many a person to the E.R. to remove the smallest of chip that has imbedded itself in the cornea.
  4. Leave the fireworks to the professionals! Despite strong warnings every year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that 8,500 people get hurt by fireworks every year, and 2,000 of those are eye injuries. Of the 2,000 eye injuries each year, one-third results in permanent eye damage.

Have fun this summer, but remember to protect your eyes along the way! Invest in polarized sunglasses that will keep the UVA and UVB rays at bay, protect your eyes from flying objects, and rinse your eyes with moisturizing drops as needed.

Posted in Eye Health, General