Eating Right for your eyes

People ask me what should I eat for eye health?  There are so many supplements out there which claim to be healthful for the eyes.  Billberry, Eye-brite, various eye vitamins, lutein, antioxidants, omega 3’s are all said to improve eye health.  In fact, scientific studies are a little inconclusive on what helps the eyes, but we do know that some anti-oxidant vitamins such as Vitamin C, E, and Zinc reduce the progression of some forms of Age related macular degeneration.  Lutein is thought to be eye healthy as well.  Omega 3’s are helpful for dry eyes, and may help for macular degeneration as well.

So what to do?  I recommend that you don’t worry about supplements from the drug store or health food store at all, but just make sure that your diet includes foods rich in these vitamins.  Make sure you eat fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.  Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, etc. contain nutrients which are good for the eyes.  In addition, most fresh fruits contain valuable nutrients as well.
Happy Eating!


Eye Exam Equipment

Year after year, you go to your eye doctor for your routine yearly exam. How many times have you wondered what the machines are measuring and what the doctor is looking at? 

Let’s start with the instrument that most resembles a butterfly, a phoropter (or phoroptor), which is used to determine eyeglass prescriptions. Typically, the patient sits behind the phoropter, and looks through it at an eye chart. The doctor or refractionist then changes lenses and other settings, while asking the patient for feedback on which lenses give the best vision. The eyeglass prescriptions is then determined based on the combination of lenses in different powers which provides the best vision.

 Another instrument that is used is a tonometer. A Tonometer is used to measure the pressure inside the eye. The test is used to help detect glaucoma. Numbing drops are used for the type of tonometer that actually touches the eye. Some doctors use the less accurate air-puff tonometer in which no numbing drops are needed. Measuring eye pressure is critical in assessing the health of the eye. Patients with glaucoma often have elevated eye pressure.

A retinoscope is used to shine light into a patient’s eye for an eye doctor to observe the reflection off the retina. The light is moved back and forth across the pupil, and the doctor or technician uses this information to help determine the best lens power to correct the vision. A retinoscope is especially useful in prescribing corrective lenses for patients who are unable to give oral feedback to the eye doctor, such as young children.

 A slit lamp is a microscope with a light attached that allows the doctor to closely examine the eye. This instrument is used to view structures of the eye such as the cornea, iris, and lens. However, with special lenses, it is possible to examine the back of the eye as well. A slit lamp allows the practitioner to have an amazing view of the structures of your eyes.

In diagnosing retina disease or neurological deficits in the visual pathways between the eye and the brain, visual field testing is essential. It is the primary tool for detecting visual field loss resulting from glaucoma, strokes, artery and vein occlusions and tumors along the optic nerve pathway and brain.

 There are a number of other instruments and equipment that can be used to examine the eye and a conditions affecting the eye, however, these are the most commonly used. Don’t forget to schedule your routine yearly exam, so you can see these instruments up close and personal!


Mana Means Communications 1088 Bishop St. Ste. 1209
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Ph 808.521.1160 Fax 808.521.1104


Aspirin use and Macular Degeneration


A recent study made a connection between taking aspirin and the incidence of severe forms of macular degeneration.  The study suggested that there was a significantly increased risk in those taking aspirin.

There are a lot of folks who take aspirin, even daily aspirin to reduce the liklihood of heart disease or stroke when they have risk factors for these vascular diseases. Should you consider stopping aspirin if you take it regularly?

The answer in most cases, is no.  If there is a good reason for you to take aspirin and your primary care doctor recommends it, it should not be stopped based on this new study.  In fact, if you look at the actual data of the study, there were relatively few patients who had severe macular degeneration and who took aspirin.  Of about 5000 participants in the study, there were only 36 or so who both had severe macular degeneration and took aspirin.  It’s hard to draw a whole lot of conclusions based on such relatively small numbers.

My conclusion is that if you take aspirin just because you want to take it, perhaps cutting back or stopping may be a good idea. But if you take aspirin because your doctor has recommended it, you probably should continue.  In any case, it is best to check with your own doctor.

Be Safe This New Year’s Celebration

It’s December 31st and lots of you are getting ready to celebrate with firecrackers and some bright lights. I wish you a safe celebration this evening. I’m going to re-post a press release we issued earlier in the ear for Independence Day. I wish you a Happy New Year from the Hawaiian Eye Center family.

It is important for parents to keep fireworks out of the hands of children, and make sure they stand well away when others are using fireworks. While seemingly innocent, small fireworks such as sparklers and bottle rockets can be the most dangerous. “Children are fascinated by sparklers. Parents need to realize that they can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” explains Dr. Christopher Tortora, M.D., of the Hawaiian Eye Center. “Rockets and aerials can be unpredictable and can shoot off in the wrong direction, even injuring bystanders. It is important to use protective eyewear when handling or standing near ignited sparklers or firecrackers.”

“Eyes are the second most commonly injured body part when it comes to fireworks.” said Dr. Christopher Tortora. “It is important to take precautions to protect the eyes while participating in the use of fireworks. Whether you are observing, or setting them off, there is the potential for serious injury to the eyes.”

Recently, the city and county of Honolulu passed a law that bans the use of any fireworks other than firecrackers by the general public. A current concern is that people who possess leftover and now illegal fireworks will be using them in unsupervised and dangerous ways. In order to use firecrackers legally, you are required to purchase a permit from the city. If you decide to partake in an activity involving fireworks or firecrackers it is important to take every safety precaution available. Always use fireworks outdoors and be sure to have a bucket of water near by in case of emergencies.”

Holiday Toys and Eye Safety for Toddlers

‘Tis the season of giving! Children will be waking up to presents and toys this holiday season and it is important to consider safety issues when purchasing presents for the little ones.  We all want a safe and jolly holiday season with friends and family. Parents should avoid toys with:

  • sharp edges
  • rough surfaces
  • loose and removable parts
  • long objects that can hurt the eyes
  • small objects that can be swallowed i.e. marbles
  • fast impact, elastic contraptions i.e.  sling shot
  • toys for older children but harmful to younger children (please read age specifications on toy package)
  • toys that contain toxic liquids

What are some toys that are suitable for those under 2 years old?

  • child-sized household items like brooms, vacuums, rakes, lawn mowers, refrigerator and stove sets
  •  outside toys like sandboxes, kiddie pools, riding toys and backyard gyms and swings
  • magnetic letters
  •  toy cash registers

Additionally, diligent parental supervision while toddlers open and play with their new presents is a must.

Also, some toys are simply not safe and may be recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For a list of toy recalls, call (800) 638-2772 or visit  Remember, be safe and be merry this holiday season!

Salty Vision: High Sodium Diet Could Result in Cataracts

I’d like to share a press release about sodium consumption and its relations to cataracts. It is important to monitor your salt consumption during the holiday celebrations. Read below to see why.


CONTACT: Janet Scheffer / Michelle Jamieson
Mana Means Communications (808) 521-1160
DATE: August 1, 2011



High Sodium Diet Could Result in Cataracts

(Honolulu, Hawaii), August 1, 2011 – Watch those chips and pretzels! Recent studies suggest that reducing sodium intake could help prevent cataracts. Researchers have found that diets high in sodium are associated with posterior subcapsular cataracts, a condition which often requires surgery to correct. In an effort to remind people of the preventative measures they can take, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes August as Cataract Awareness Month.

Research shows that people who consumed 3,000mg or more per day were twice as likely to develop significant cataracts compared with those who consumed around 1,200mg daily. Early symptoms of posterior subcapsular cataracts include blurred vision and difficulty with bright lights, glare, and halos around lights.

“A posterior subcapsular cataract develops toward the back portion of the lens and usually progresses more quickly than other types” said Dr. Christopher Tortora, Medical Doctor at the Hawaiian Eye Center and expert in “small incision” cataract surgery. “The cataract shows up as a small white cloudy area just under the back capsule of the lens which blocks the light traveling to the retina. As cataracts worsen they can cause significant loss of vision if they are not treated.”

A cataract is an eye disease in which the proteins in the eye’s lens clump together and create a cloudy area in the normally clear lens. This blocks light entering the eye, resulting in cloudy or blurry vision. The condition has little effect on vision at first but over time, cataracts grow larger and, if untreated, can eventually cause blindness by blocking light completely. Subcapsular cataracts are fairly common and the removal procedure is painless and easy for the patient in the hands of skilled surgeon.

Although cataracts are not completely preventable, there is evidence that diet and lifestyle considerations can reduce the development of cataracts. Reducing sodium intake is important. Many find this difficult due to high sodium levels in manufactured foods.

In addition, quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses, and eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables will likely reduce the risk of developing a cataract. In addition, don’t forget to visit an eye doctor regularly to monitor any vision changes.

Dr. Tortora, a board certified ophthalmologist, is host of The Hawaiian Eye Show, a weekly informational radio program about healthy vision. He and his colleagues at Hawaiian Eye Center are committed to educating the public about the importance of preventative eye care. To learn more about other health issues, please call Hawaiian Eye Center at 621-8448 where “life has never looked better.”

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Mana Means Communications 1088 Bishop St. Ste. 1209

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 Ph 808.521.1160 Fax 808.521.1104

How do I know if my cataract needs surgery?

     Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process.  I like to tell my patients, “Everyone gets a cataract if they live long enough!”  In the early stages, cataracts cause little effect on the vision, and need no treatment.  As a cataract develops, though, and becomes more advanced, it begins to interfere with the vision and will need to be removed surgically.  Fortunately, modern cataract surgery is a quick, painless procedure with a rapid return to normal function and normal vision.  In fact, vision is often improved within several days following surgery.

So, how do you know if your cataract needs surgery?  We recommend cataract surgery if the cataract is causing difficulty with the vision such that it is harder to do things you want to or need to do.  work, recreation, hobbies, if you can’t do them, and the cataract is causing the trouble, it should be treated.

The first step in treating a cataract is to see your eye specialist.  Make sure it’s someone with lots of experience.  Cataract is a quick procedure, but requires a lot of skill on the part of the surgeon. You may also want to consider having your vision improved after surgery with premium cataract care to reduce your need for eyeglasses.  Special techniques and special lenses offer a unique opportunity to improve vision with less need for eyeglasses at the time of cataract surgery.  This can only be done at the time of surgery.  Once it’s done, you’ve lost the opportunity for this type of vision correction.

To learn more about cataracts and cataract surgery, take a tour of a cataract procedure on our web site.  Learn the steps needed to have this short and often very rewarding procedure.