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Getting the Most of Your FSA and HSA Benefits Before the Year Ends

How to Use FSA and HSA Benefits Before the Year Ends

Health insurance offers year-round benefits that provide extra help when you need it the most. But you will also want to get the most from your vision care before the year ends, especially if those benefits do not roll over to the next year.

As December approaches and the holiday season settles in, it is easy to devote time and money to other priorities. But being familiar with flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA) can help maximize your benefits before year’s end.

Flexible Spending Account

Offered by many employers, a flexible spending account can be the extra help you need to pay for your medical expenses. You will want to make use of it before December 31st since FSA savings do not roll over to the new year.

The amount accumulated in this account is dependent on the amount of money you decide to contribute toward it. This money is deducted from your salary before income taxes, and in turn, lowers your tax liability. If you put in the maximum amount of $2,550 in your FSA for the year, you may have some leftover cash to spend elsewhere before it is forfeited to your employer.

Fortunately, these funds can be used on almost anything health related. Here are some great uses for your remainder savings:

New Eyeglasses

Even though many of us need eyeglasses to see clearly, the style of those eyeglasses can become outdated over time. With trends constantly changing, it might be time to change up your glasses style. Logan Eye care offers a variety of styles and our staff is happy to help you find a new frame that best suits you.

Your FSA funds can also be used for prescription sunglasses. It is a great benefit that will help protect your eyes from exposure to the sun.

Eye Exam

It is easy to overlook an annual eye exam when your eyes feel healthy. However, eye exams play an important factor in catching early signs of serious eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and detached retina. If you, a spouse or a dependent is overdue for an eye exam, your remainder funds can help avoid future risk for you or your loved ones.

Contact Lenses

If you have considered getting contact lenses, now might be the time, and your FSA savings may help fund the purchase. Contact lenses have a natural feel as they move with the eyes and correct vision problems, such as near sightedness, far sightedness, and astigmatism. They are convenient for sports and outdoor activities and can allow you to feel confident about your physical appearance overall.

If you feel additional spending is not a good use of your benefits, then consider making a claim for a past medical expense that was not covered during the year. For example, an FSA claim could cover travel costs for medical care or even an annual exam that was not accounted for. Additionally, flexible spending accounts can also be used to cover medical costs for spouses and qualifying dependents.

Health Savings Account

Fortunately, rushing to use your benefits before the end of the year does not always have to be the case. A health savings account, also known as HSA, is a pre-tax personal savings account for medical expenses that rolls over to the next calendar year. That means your savings will not surrender to your employer, unlike a flexible spending account. And because an HSA rolls over, it allows more room for savings than an FSA.

HSAs also make a great investment tool. Since an HSA rolls over to the next calendar year, it gives an opportunity to grow your savings without being penalized. Also, some companies contribute to your investment through stocks and mutual funds. And even though HSAs are built to cover medical costs, it has become common to invest in them as a 401k replacement. If that is your plan, look for an HSA that is low cost yet high performing.

You are only qualified for a health savings account if you are enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan. This means that you have a minimum deductible of $1,300 and an out-of-pocket maximum of $6,550. Once you are eligible for Medicare at the age of 65, you can no longer contribute to your HSA.

When it comes down to it, both HSAs and FSAs help minimize out-of-pocket health expenses. Understanding what each account has to offer is a good start to using your benefits toward eye care before they expire at the end of the year.

How to Catch and Treat Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes affects millions of people every year, and the maintenance of this disease can often be difficult. If not treated properly, high blood glucose can affect more than just your sugar levels. Whether it is type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes, it is possible to suffer health problems that are often overlooked.

Eye problems correlated to diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy, are generally not conditions that serve as an initial concern for those who suffer from diabetes. However, it is important to take the possibility of optical issues into consideration when treating the disease.
Diabetic retinopathy is one of many eye conditions that stem from diabetes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue (called the retina) if blood sugars are not controlled properly. This condition can ultimately lead to permanent loss of vision if not treated in a timely manner.

Although there is no cure for diabetes, there are ways to make sure your eye care remains a priority.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Unfortunately, symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may not be visible in the early stages, but it is important to stay alert in order to catch them before they actively affect the vision.

Initial changes in vision may include:

Floaters
Blurriness
Dark areas of vision
Difficulty perceiving colors

Failure to treat symptoms may lead to a more advanced stage of the condition called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. At this stage, new and fragile blood vessels begin to grow in the retina and are more prone to leakage, causing a higher chance of permanent vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Treatment to diabetic retinopathy in the early stages is important, as the condition can cause irreversible damage over time. Here are a few guidelines to follow in order to avoid permanent vision damage:

Schedule an annual, diabetic dilated eye exam with Dr. Logan to catch abnormalities in its earliest stage
Control the common diabetic symptoms, such as maintaining proper blood glucose levels. It is important to share your blood sugar and A1C results with Dr. Logan at your annual exam
Monitor and maintain steady levels of blood pressure and cholesterol

Treatment for the proliferative stage of diabetic retinopathy is more involved and could require up to two or more sessions of scatter laser surgery. This surgery uses tiny laser burns to shrink abnormal blood vessels in the retina area. This treatment works best prior to the occurrence of any leakage in the new blood vessels.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among those with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness among middle-aged adults.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about diabetic retinopathy or getting an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam, contact Logan Eye Care in Lake Mary, or schedule an appointment today.

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Getting Down to the Details of Dry Eye Syndrome

Could you be one of the millions of Americans affected by dry eye syndrome? Everyone experiences periods of their eyes feeling more irritable than usual. However, if you have chronic feelings of discomfort such as aching, burning or a lack of moisture in either or both eyes, you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Though dry eye syndrome is commonly self-diagnosable, it is important that you see an optometrist if you notice symptoms.

Meibomian Glands and Optical Health 

There are several causes of dry eye syndrome. Each lead to inadequate moisture of the eye, blockage of the tear ducts and glands, or inflammation. Some cases are more severe than others.

In many instances, dry eye syndrome is the result of meibomian gland dysfunction. These glands are located just above and below the eyelids near the eyelashes. Their main purpose is to secrete oils which surround the eye, preventing tears from evaporating too quickly. Any abnormality with the meibomian glands can result in a blockage of the necessary oils needed to be released to retain saturation. Without these oils, the tears have nothing sealing their moisture to the eye, leading to dry eye syndrome.

Symptoms, Relief Methods and Causes 

You should not dismiss apparent signs of dry eye syndrome. At times, dry eye symptoms may seem common and easy to overlook. Pay close attention to your optical health, and contact a physician if you experience any of the following symptoms frequently:

Sore eyes
Heavy, tired eyelids
Constant itching or burning sensation in the eye
Redness
Sensitivity to light and electronic screens
Blurred vision
Feeling of a foreign material or “grit” in the eye
Frequent blinking

While recognizing symptoms is important, it is helpful to have the knowledge to combat them as well.

Use artificial tears to provide temporary relief
Drink plenty of liquids to keep the body hydrated
Eat nutritiously and avoid overly processed foods

Though some cases are due to genetics, age and other factors beyond your control, there are ways to lessen your chances of being diagnosed with dry eye syndrome. Avoid arid, dry or windy climates as much as possible. Smoking greatly increases the likeliness of having dry eyes and several other eye problems as well. Excessive computer, television or handheld device usage can also lead to eye complications, consequently resulting in dry eye syndrome.

If you believe your sight may be suffering due to dry eye syndrome, do not ignore the signs. Though symptoms may seem manageable, it is crucial to your long-term health that you have an eye examination with a trained optometrist. Make an appointment with Dr. Logan at Logan Eye Care today.

The Importance of Back-to-School Eye Exams

Schedule Your Child’s Back-to-School Eye Exam Today

Back-to-school eye exams might not be on the top of your to-do list this school year, but it is something you should consider adding to ensure your children fully absorb materials and lessons within and outside classroom walls.

One out of four children have vision problems and yet only 50 percent of parents with children under the age of 12 have taken them to visit an eye care professional. If you have never visited the eye doctor with your child, we have listed some definitions and tips, so you are fully prepared for your first appointment.

Eye Exams vs. Vision Screenings

There are very important differences between an eye exam and a vision screening. A comprehensive eye exam checks for visual acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and makes sure your child’s eyes are working together in harmony. Screenings, on the other hand, only determine the eye’s visual acuity, or sharpness of vision from a distance.

Many schools offer free visual screenings for children, but these do not check for near vision issues, which can cause farsightedness to be missed all together. This can mean that a child can pass a vision screening because they are able to see the board, but they may not be able to easily see the textbook in front of them. To ensure your kids are learning at their best, schedule an eye exam at Logan Eye Care for a full checkup.

Determining If Your Child Has a Vision Problem

A child with a vision problem is not likely to speak up to their teachers or parents about it because, more often than not, they might not realize the issue. Therefore, it is vital for parents as well as teachers to watch for certain symptoms, such as:

Frequent headaches
Tendency to look away from their work and fidget
Excessive eye rubbing and blinking
Short attention span for close work
Poor reading ability
Squinting repetitively 

Several of these symptoms sound like those related to ADHD, and that is no coincidence. It can be frustrating for a child to not be able to focus on close up objects, thus making it difficult to concentrate on their schoolwork.

The vast majority of learning at school is visual—make your child’s eyesight a priority this school year. Logan Eye Care provides thorough comprehensive eye exams for children ages five and older. Schedule a back-to-school eye exam with Dr. Logan today to ensure your kids are seeing and feeling their best.

If you have any more questions about keeping your eyes safe and healthy while swimming around this summer, contact Dr. Logan at Logan Eye Care in Lake Mary, Florida.

Think About Your Eyes Before Jumping Into the Pool This Summer

Summer Splashes Can Cause Harmful Damage 

There is no better way to beat the heat than by taking a splash into a cool, crisp swimming pool. When we hit the pool, we often follow the rules of no running, no diving, wear sunscreen, but what about the rules to protect your eyes?

Swimming can be hard on your eyes and cause a symptom called swimmer’s eye—irritation and redness from the water’s chlorine—and can eventually lead to damaging infections or conditions.

If you are planning on heading to the pool this summer, keep reading to learn about the harmful effects from swimming pools and how you can prevent them.

The Harsh Effects of Swimming Pools

Swimming pools mainly affect the tear film in your eyes. Tear film coats the surface of your eyes and allows them to stay moist and clear. But chlorine and other pool chemicals wash it off and give us those red, itchy eyes while swimming. And if this happens consistently—say swimming in a pool every day of the summer—it can lead to dry eye syndrome.

Without your tear film, your eyes can also get infected or damaged from all the bacteria and chemicals floating around in the water. Even worse, if the bacteria survive the chlorine, it can cause pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis.

How to Protect Your Eyes While Swimming

So, to prevent swimmer’s eye, dry eye syndrome or pink eye putting a damper on your summer pool days, here are our top four tips to swim safely while still having fun:

Wear goggles. You may think that goggles are just for professional swimming, scuba diving or snorkeling, but any time you splash into a pool, you should wear protection. Goggles are the ultimate protection from chlorine and pool chemicals. There are also goggles made with SPF protection found in some retail stores.

Splash off your eyes. Every time you get out of the pool, try to get into the habit of washing your eyes off with fresh water. The water will wipe away any residual chlorine or chemicals on your eyelashes and eyelids. On top of that, it will soothe your eyes if they are irritated or red from the pool water.

Use eye drops. To help keep your tear film balanced, use artificial tears or eye drops before and after swimming. And just like fresh water, they will help reduce any irritation and redness from the chlorine.  It is best to use a preservative-free drop, but there are other artificial tears on the market such as Refresh or Blink.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can hinder tear production and disrupt your tear film. Without your tear film, you will be even more susceptible to the bacteria living in the pool. While the pool cools you down, it does not hydrate you. Don’t forget to take short breaks and drink up some H2O.

If you have any more questions about keeping your eyes safe and healthy while swimming around this summer, contact Dr. Logan at Logan Eye Care in Lake Mary, Florida.

Why Sunglasses Are So Important for Eye Health

The Sun’s Rays Can Cause Life-Long Damaging Effects

While we tend to wear sunglasses that are stylish or chic, these shades serve as much more than a fashion statement. Their main purpose is to protect our eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can be extremely harmful.

In light of National Sunglasses Day on June 27th, our team at Logan Eye Care wanted to talk about the short-term and long-term damage that UV rays can cause and how to properly shield your eyes with sunglasses.

Why You Should Wear Sunglasses

Most people know UV rays are harmful on our skin, but some might not know that they are just as bad for our eyes. Hanging out on the beach, running errands around town or just doing daily tasks outside without sunglasses can cause some of the following damaging eye conditions:

Cataracts

A cataract occurs when your eye’s natural lens begins to cloud and causes blurred vision. About 20 percent of cataract cases are caused by excessive UV exposure.

Macular degeneration

The leading cause of blindness in the U.S., macular degeneration results from deterioration to the retina, which damages central vision. Extended exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing macular degeneration.

Pinguecula

Pinguecula is a growth that forms yellow spots or bumps on your conjunctiva, the clear, thin membrane covering the white part of your eye. Pinguecula often appears on the side of your eye near your nose and causes dryness, irritation, blurred vision and sometimes feels like there is something in your eye.

Pterygium

Sometimes starting as pinguecula, pterygium causes a wedge-shaped bump to form on your eyeball, starting on the white of the eye and can eventually invade the cornea. Pterygium can disfigure the eye and cause blurry vision.

How to Choose the Right Sunglasses

To prevent any damaging or irreversible effects on your eyes, it is important to choose the right sunglasses. To make sure your eyes are getting their fullest protection, keep these tips in mind:

Look for sunglasses that have 100 percent UVA and UVB radiation protection.

The bigger, the better—buy sunglasses that give you full protection and even wrap around so sun cannot enter from the sides.
Do not let color influence your decision. Certain colored lenses do not block more sun.

Take the steps today to protect your eyes. If you are looking for a pair of sunglasses or even prescription sunglasses to keep your eyes as healthy as possible, contact Logan Eye Care.

How to Slow Down Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AREDS Has Proven Nutrients to Help You Keep Your Vision

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious eye condition that millions suffer from every year. It is the irreversible deterioration of the macula, a tiny area of the retina that is responsible for our central or “straight-ahead” vision. The macula allows the eye to discern detail and provides our color vision.

Although AMD does not lead to complete blindness, it does impair daily activities, such as driving, reading, writing, cooking and the ability to see faces. Macular degeneration is fairly widespread, affecting about 11 million people in the U.S. who are 60 years or older. The number of those affected is projected to reach 22 million by 2050.

Specific nutrients have been proven to reduce the progression of AMD. It is important to familiarize yourself with these options because AMD progresses at different speeds for every person.

AREDS

The age-related eye disease study (AREDS) conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) is the “only large-scale randomized controlled clinical trial.” It revealed a beneficial effect of nutritional supplementation of 25 percent in reducing the risk of progression in patients diagnosed with intermediate or advanced levels of macular degeneration.

Based on results from advanced AMD and a five-year follow up, the recommended AREDS formulation includes beta-carotene, zinc with copper and vitamins C and E.

AREDS recommends only those with intermediate and advanced AMD to take these supplements, as there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend preventive use of the supplements for healthy adults.

AREDS2

AREDS2, the second study conducted to improve the original AREDS formula, found that lutein and zeaxanthin, when taken together, showed to be a safer and more effective alternative to beta-carotene. The AREDS 2 formula has powerful anti-aging properties for patients.

A common concern among consumers is whether they can continue to take their daily multivitamins. The AREDS formulation actually supplies consumers with much higher doses of vitamins and minerals than can be found in the typical multi-vitamin pill, so there is no need to continue taking one while on the AREDS recommended formulation.

People who suffer this vision impairment should learn about the proven benefits of the formulations produced by the AREDS and AREDS2.
Whether you have intermediate or advanced AMD, or you are simply curious about your chances, it is important to stay informed. Visit Logan Eye Care to learn more about these supplements and speak to Dr. Logan about the best option for you.

Are You a Candidate for Intraocular Lenses?

How Intraocular Lenses Work for Many Patients

Are you living with cataracts or exploring your options to sharpen your vision? You may have heard the term “intraocular lenses” from a friend who saw success with this type of correction or an eye doctor getting to know your vision needs. But, what exactly are those lenses and how can they work for you? Here’s what you need to know about the different types of intraocular lenses and whether they are right for you

What Are Multifocal Intraocular Lenses?

Multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs) offer cataract patients or baby boomers the chance to reduce their dependency on glasses or contacts because they are implanted inside the eye to correct vision both up close and far away.
Before multifocal IOLs, this surgery was performed to provide patients with clearer distance vision—think driving or watching TV. When it came time to read the menu at a restaurant or work on the computer, these patients needed to wear bifocals or reading glasses to correct presbyopia—loss of near vision focus—brought on by surgery. With multifocal IOLs, presbyopia can be addressed and corrected, so you can seamlessly transition from one activity to the next without the need to pull out your glasses.
In instances where patients need astigmatic correction, multifocal toric IOLs are available for those patients. The toric IOL component corrects the patient’s astigmatism.
Although multifocal IOLs may not be able to fully correct vision in all patients, most patients report they can go glasses-free comfortably or only need glasses for certain activities. Multifocal IOLs are available for patients with and without astigmatism.

Are You a Candidate for Multifocal IOLs?

While multifocal IOLs offer the convenience of being less dependent on glasses, there may be some compromise in the quality of vision. Accepting or refusing this compromise plays a big role in determining if you are a good candidate for multifocal IOLs.
Multifocal IOLs are ideal for patients with cataracts and are best implanted during laser cataract surgery to ensure proper placement for the best results. To be a candidate for multifocal IOLs, your eye specialist may require choosing a laser procedure for your cataract surgery. For a small percentage of patients, a LASIK enhancement procedure may be necessary to obtain the desired surgical result.
Finally, other pre-existing conditions, like macular degeneration, may mean multifocal IOLs are not right for you. However, only your eye doctor can recommend the best plan of action to regain your vision.  A thorough pre-operative consultation would address if you are considered an ideal surgical patient.

Other IOL Considerations

Implantable Collamer Lens
If you are between 21 and 45 years old and have moderate to severe myopia, implantable collamer lens (ICL) may be your answer. During the procedure, an eye surgeon will place a permanent soft lens called the ICL behind your iris, which makes it unnoticeable to the naked eye, and can correct extreme nearsightedness.

Refractive Lens Exchange
In the absence of cataracts, refractive lens exchange (RLE) can correct farsightedness, nearsightedness, and presbyopia. During the surgery, your natural lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens to give you sharper vision.

If you are exploring your vision correction options and are unsure which procedure best suits your needs, make an appointment with Dr. Logan today. She can advise you the right direction to start seeing your best.

Can Blue Light Affect Your Vision?

Setting the Facts Straight About Blue Light

Whether you are scrolling through your phone, typing on your laptop or watching a movie on your tablet, your eyes are exposed to blue light.
The largest source of blue light is sunlight, and you often encounter other sources that contain it, like fluorescent lights and LED lights. But, you tend to look at blue light through electronic devices much closer and for longer lengths of time.
We live and work in the digital age and spend hours upon hours every week staring into our screens. So that begs the question, will this consistently close exposure give you eye problems down the road? Let’s take a look.

How Can Blue Light Affect Me?

There is no scientific evidence that shows blue light exposure from your digital devices can negatively affect your vision. The discomfort you feel after staring at a screen is called digital eye strain.
Some recent, laboratory studies have shown that there is a chance that blue light affects light-sensitive cells in your retina (the layer at the back of the eye). These changes in the retina resemble macular degeneration, a disease, which causes vision loss.
Although scientists need to conduct more research to learn how much blue artificial light the human eye can handle, eye doctors are concerned it can increase the risk of macular degeneration. To decrease this possible risk, there are a few options you can weave into your daily life to reduce your blue light exposure.

Ways to Reduce Blue Light Exposure

The 20-20-20 Rule

This rule gives you a break from your electronic devices and helps with digital eye strain. Every 20 minutes, find an object at least 20 feet away and stare at it for 20 seconds. Even though it’s difficult taking multiple breaks for long periods of time, try staying consistent and set an alarm every 20 minutes to remind yourself.

Blue Light Filters

There are a variety of companies that offer screen protectors or built-in technology for phones, tablets and desktops that filter blue light. You don’t have to worry about the filter changing the display or color because these protectors do not heavily distort the viewing experience.

Computer Glasses

Similar to the screen protectors, computer glasses can block blue light. They can be purchased without a prescription or worn along with contacts. But, if you wear eyeglasses, they can be prescribed specifically for when you are looking at electronic devices.

Although scientists haven’t fully discovered the risks of blue light, it’s best to take preventive measures against it to keep our eyes healthy and safe for years to come.

At Logan Eye Care, we make it our goal to provide the best eye care available in Lake Mary. If you are interested prescription computer glasses or have further questions on blue light, schedule your appointment with Dr. Logan today.