Can Your Heart Affect Your Eyes?

Hypertension, a general cardiovascular disease, can have repercussions throughout the body, including the eye. “Hypertension can predispose you to having a variety of eye problems,” says Dr. Stewart Shofner. Along with causing heart and kidney issues, people with untreated high blood pressure may experience changes in their vision or develop eye disease known as hypertensive retinopathy.  Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the area at the back of the eye where images focus. The damage can be serious if it is not treated.

What are the Symptoms?

Current research suggests that hypertensive retinopathy disease may be spotted early through a regular eye exam because symptoms of the condition may be spotted in the eyes sooner than they are spotted in the body. However, some patients might experience symptoms such as: headaches, tension and vision changes.

How Is Hypertensive Retinopathy Diagnosed?

Optometrists or ophthalmologists can detect early signs of heart disease during preventive eye exams. Through careful examination of the retina, your eye doctor can view small changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eye, which can indicate more serious systemic disease. Using an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that projects light to examine the back of the eyeball, the doctor will look for signs of retinopathy that include:

  • Narrowing of blood vessels
  • Spots on the retina known as cotton wool spots and exudates
  • Bleeding in the back of the eye
  • Swelling of the macula and optic nerve

How to Prevent Hypertensive Retinopathy?Hypertensive Retinopathy

To prevent hypertensive retinopathy, it’s important to keep your blood pressure under control by reaching and maintaining your optimal weight, sticking with a diet recommended by your physician, regular exercise, and taking appropriate medications as prescribed by your physician. Dr. Shofner recommends, “Check in with your doctor regularly for follow-up care and be sure to discuss high blood pressure with your vision care provider.”

If you have experienced vision changes or if it’s been more than a year since your last eye exam, we encourage you to contact Shofner Vision Center to schedule an appointment. Visit us online or call (615) 340-4733 today.

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Posted in Eye Health


How many made resolutions this year? How many have already tossed those resolutions to the side? Most of us have good intentions at the beginning of a new year. Maybe your resolutions include efforts towards a healthier lifestyle or establishing a strategic plan to grow professionally. Whatever your goals may be, never give up on yourself.

Improve Your VisionImprove Your Vision

As we age, most of us begin having difficulty seeing, especially at night and reading.  Since many times the changes are subtle, we learn to adapt or use glasses or contacts to help us see better and complete our daily activities. But what if there was something better than glasses or contacts to improve vision? GOOD NEWS…THERE IS!


While eyeglasses and contact lenses help improve your eyesight, there is no comparison to the freedom LASIK vision correction surgery provides. Laser in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is an outpatient surgical procedure used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. With LASIK, your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) uses a laser to reshape the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) to improve the way the eye focuses light onto the retina. Dr. Shofner has performed more than 40,000 LASIK vision correction surgeries, offers a free LASIK consultation/exam and special discounted pricing to all Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighters and EMTs.


Although LASIK vision correction surgery improves your vision, the problem might be cataracts.  But don’t be alarmed, cataract surgery is very safe and opens up a world of possibilities to see better. Your vision can improve dramatically after cataract surgery. Dr. Shofner, Nashville’s top cataract surgeon, has performed more than 20,000 ocular surgeries.


Did you know Dr. Shofner offers a long-term solution to patients with presbyopia with Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay?  Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay improves near and intermediate vision by simply reshaping the front part of the eye. Raindrop is a small transparent disc called an inlay. In a quick, LASIK-like procedure the Raindrop is designed to help you regain your near vision without the need for reading glasses. Schedule a complementary Raindrop screening to learn more and see if you are a candidate.

By improving your vision, you can improve your lifestyle. Any of these circumstances listed below sound familiar to you…

  • Ever have comfort issues while wearing contacts or glasses?
  • Can you swim, play sports, perform yard work, or other activities wearing contacts or glasses?
  • Have you ever found yourself away from home without your contact supplies?
  • Do you wonder where you placed your readers or have a pair in every room?
  • Too young to sport a chain around your neck to hold your glasses?

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions above, it’s time to schedule an appointment. Improve your vision this year and remember, the decision to have any eye procedure or surgery is the patient’s, and we at Shofner Vision Center respect that decision. Contact us to schedule an appointment today at (615) 340-4733 or schedule online.

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Posted in Cataract, Contact Lenses, Eye Health, General, LASIK/PRK


Over 3 million people in the United States, and over 60 million worldwide, have Glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase. Why is Glaucoma Awareness Month so important? “Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and also referred to as “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms,” says Dr. Stewart Shofner.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages. Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

Types of Glaucoma

Chronic open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common form of glaucoma in the United States. The risk of developing chronic open-angle glaucoma increases with age. The drainage angle of the eye becomes less efficient over time, and pressure within the eye gradually increases, which can damage the optic nerve. In some patients, the optic nerve becomes sensitive even to normal eye pressure and is at risk for damage. Treatment is necessary to prevent further vision loss. Learn more about specific types of glaucoma on our website.

Who’s at RiskGlaucoma Awareness

People of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent are at higher risk of developing glaucoma. Some studies indicate that diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease may increase the risk of developing glaucoma. Also those that have experienced a severe trauma, such as being hit in the eye, can result in immediate increased eye pressure. Dr. Shofner recommends those at higher risk for glaucoma should have routine eye exams to prevent vision loss.

Schedule an Eye Exam

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if your doctor diagnoses glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately. Check with if the necessary eye tests can be performed with your local eye doctor or schedule an appointment online at Shofner Vision Center.

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Posted in Eye Health, General

Holiday Festivities – Bloodshot Eyes

December is a month filled with fun and Holiday cheer. It is also a month common to stress, long days, late nights, decorating, cooking, baking, and don’t forget the festive parties…one or all of these can contribute to waking up with bloodshot eyes.Bloodshot Eyes

What causes bloodshot eyes? The redness occurs when tiny blood vessels under the eye’s surface get dilated or inflamed. This is usually a response to external irritation.

No one wants to wake up with itchy or watery eyes. Here are a few recommendations to make the red streaks disappear and provide some relief:

  • Use over-the-counter, preservative free artificial tears. Dr. Stewart Shofner recommends preservative free because the preservatives can irritate the eye even more causing more harm than good. Refresh, Refresh Optive, Systane, and Thera Tears are all great products.
  • Use over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops with a steroid—if you’ve been previously diagnosed with red eyes due to allergies.
  • Place cool compresses or washcloth on your closed eyes a couple of times a day. Try swapping the cloth with a couple of cucumber slices for a refreshing treatment.
  • Avoid smoke, fumes, pollen, dust, chlorine/cleaning products, pet dander or other irritants.
  • Wash your hands often, not touching your eyes unless you’ve just washed your hands, and using clean bedding and towels daily.

Bloodshot eyes should clear up within a few days and up to a week. If your eyes are still red or irritated you may have an eye infection and should schedule an appointment with your family physician or paediatrician. Dr. Shofner recommends seeing a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Redness or discomfort lasts more than a week.
  • Fever or overall sickness.
  • Pain in or around your eyes or unusual tenderness.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Eyes encrusted with mucous.
  • Exposure to pink eye (conjunctivitis), especially for children attending school.

If you have experienced vision changes along with any of the symptoms listed above, an Ophthalmologist can offer a comprehensive eye exam for a more-detailed evaluation. Feel free to contact our vision care providers at Shofner Vision Center if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment at (615) 340-4733 or online. Hope you enjoy the Holidays!

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Posted in Eye Health, General


Scratched CorneaSnowball toss, eagerly unwrapping presents, flying toys, open fires, champagne corks…this month can be a very active and exciting month. It’s common to wear eye protection around July 4th or while trimming the yard in the summer, but this time of year our guard is often lowered. No matter how careful we are, accidents happen and a corneal abrasion (scratched eye) is one of the most common eye injuries.

Symptoms – Anything that makes contact with the surface of your eye can cause injury.

The cornea is one of the most sensitive parts of the body; even a very small abrasion can be extremely painful. Additionally, one may feel a gritty sensation, experience redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headache and changes to your vision.

Treatment – Minor corneal abrasions will heal on their own in a few days, however if your symptoms persist, Dr. Stewart Shofner recommends you schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist may treat a corneal abrasion with antibiotic eye drops or ointment or use steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation and reduce the chance of scarring.

Who’s at Risk – People that have dry eyes or wear contact lens have an increased risk of a corneal abrasion. For example, eyes can dry out while sleeping; the eyelids may stick to the cornea and after awaking the lids can tear and dislodge a portion of the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium), causing a painful abrasion. Those that wear contact lens too long or if the lens are damaged, they could cause the cornea to become scratched.

We at Shofner Vision Center have treated patients with some unique eye injuries. Please be careful this season and if you think you may have suffered a corneal abrasion and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, seek medical attention right away.

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Posted in Eye Health, General

Tired of the ON, OFF, ON, OFF conversation?

Many over the age of 40 may experience changes in their vision and as a result they are becoming more dependent on reading. Symptoms may include having difficulty seeing up-close to read an email, text, menu or if you catch yourself holding books and newspapers at arm’s length to be able to read them. A basic eye exam can diagnose specific vision concerns and confirm if you have presbyopia, which is very common for people in their 40’s.

According to Visioneering Technologies, Inc. (VTI), Presbyopia is estimated to affect approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide. In the US alone, there are more than 152 million people over the age of 40, of which approximately 65%, or 99 million, use some form of vision correction. “This increase is a result from our aging baby boomer generation,” says Dr. Stewart Shofner. 

What if there was another option to read your emails without your reading glasses?  The new Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay is designed to improve near vision so you can once again see fine print, menus and your phone without reading glasses.

Raindrop treatmentRaindrop is the world’s first inlay to change the shape of the cornea (the clear, front part of the eye) to improve near vision. Raindrop is incredibly small – about the size of a pinhead and less than half the thickness of a human hair – and is bioengineered to mimic the natural cornea. The outpatient procedure takes about 10-minutes and patients go back to most of their daily activities the next day.

In the FDA clinical study, within one week after the procedure patients on average gained 5 lines of near vision on an eye chart without the need for reading glasses. Their vision continued to improve over the next several weeks and months.1

“We’ve been following this remarkable Raindrop technology for some time, and I think it is a very effective solution designed for people who want to reduce or eliminate their reading glasses,” said Dr. Shofner. “If you’re frustrated with the inability to see close-up, there’s nothing to lose except your reading glasses.”

If you or a loved one would like more information about Raindrop Near Vision Inlay or other vision correction treatments contact Shofner Vision Center at (615) 340-4733 or online. Shofner Vision Center is also offering a complimentary Raindrop® screening now thru Dec 31, 2017, schedule yours today.

1 Raindrop Near Vision Inlay Prescribing Label, ReVision Optics, Inc.

Please see Professional Use Information and/or Patient Information Brochure for a complete list of Potential Risks, Warnings and Precautions.

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Posted in Eye Health, General, LASIK/PRK

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