June is Cataract Awareness Month

Three Things Patients Should Know About Cataracts

Cataract awareness…hmmm…what does that mean exactly…wouldn’t someone know if they have cataracts or not?

I get asked that question all the time and more times than not, the answer is “no”.

Presbyopia Reader         Road-blurry-clear1


Take Billy for instance, one of my golfing buddies and close friends.  While he didn’t mention any vision problems, once I saw him in the office and told him he had cataracts, he was almost relieved that there was a reason for not being able to see his golf ball as well as in the past.

So this blog is for all my friends and family and patients who are over 50.  Don’t take your precious eyesight for granted. The cataract process starts in all of us by age 50 and there are a few facts we should know about cataracts:

  • Age isn’t the only risk factor for cataracts. Though most everyone will develop cataracts with age, recent studies show that lifestyle and behavior can influence when and how severely you develop cataracts. Diabetes, extensive exposure to sunlight, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and certain ethnicities have all been linked to increased risk of cataracts. Eye injuries, prior eye surgery and long-term use of steroid medication can also result in cataracts. If you have any of these or other risk factors, come see us.


  • Cataracts cannot be prevented, but you can lower your risk. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and brimmed hats when outside can help. Several studies suggest that eating more vitamin C-rich foods may delay how fast cataracts form. Also, avoid smoking cigarettes, which have been shown to increase the risk of cataract development.


  • Surgery may help improve more than just your vision. During the procedure, the natural clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens, which should improve your vision significantly. Patients have a variety of lenses to choose from, each with different benefits. Cataract surgery is outpatient, painless, and highly successful with minimal recovery time.  Studies have shown that cataract surgery can improve quality of life in all areas.


A life-changing surgery
For Billy, life now is so much better.  “I see perfectly!  In fact, I cannot remember seeing this well.  I no longer need glasses except to read.  As a medical doctor, being able to operate without the need for glasses has been amazing.  And my golf game…well let’s just say its a work in progress!”

How about you…overdue?  Like many conditions, cataracts can gradually worsen vision and the changes over time can be subtle.  All it takes is a brief eye examination to determine if you have anything to worry about.

Life is short.  Let us help you to see your best.

From our family to yours…happy summer!

Dr. Kloess Headshot 2012





Cataract surgery – a game changer

Cataracts are a leading cause or poor vision worldwide.  The U.S., in this case, is no exception.

When we think of the impact that cataracts have on people, the decline in vision is typically gradual and is commonly first noticed with night vision problems from the glare and halos associated with oncoming headlights. What is much more important than the vision loss itself is the negative impact on patient’s quality of life. Recent research describes the effect on patient quality of life before and after having cataract surgery. The researchers compared patients with no known cataracts of the same age, health and lifestyle to those who had cataracts before and after cataract surgery. When compared with the general population, cataract patients had much lower health-related quality of life than those without cataracts in five areas:  seeing, moving, hearing, and performing their usual activities as well as general discomfort and symptoms. Then at 12 months after cataract surgery there was significant improvement in the quality of life index. While this seems obvious, it is a reminder that cataracts and vision loss affect more than just vision.  There is no reason to avoid suffering if you feel that your vision might be impacting your quality of life.

A recent practicing OB/GYN physician describes his life before and after cataract surgery with Dr. Kloess:

“I knew I was not seeing well.  It kinda crept up on me and I ignored it for several months.  My initial response after seeing how poor my vision really was and being told it was due to cataracts was a mixture of relief and disbelief (“I’m too old to have cataracts, right?”).  Dr. Kloess made the surgery remarkably easy and I am amazed to have my sight restored to crystal clear, normal vision again.  My wife even said I seem happier and she was not afraid to let me drive at night anymore.  I guess cataracts really did effect more than just my vision.”

If you or someone you know suspects or has been told they have cataracts and would like to learn more about cataract surgery and lens implants, please call Alabama Vision Center in Birmingham at 205-592-3911, visit http://www.alabamavisioncenter.com or our facebook page.

Alabama Vision Center is the leading provider of cataract and LASIK surgery in Birmingham.  We have locations in Mountain Brook, Greystone/Liberty Park and Alabaster.



March is Eye Protection month

Eye Injuries at Work

The personal and economic toll of eye injuries at work is alarming. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 workplace eye injuries happen each year. Injuries on the job often require one or more missed work days for recovery. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace eye injuries cost an estimated $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment and worker compensation.

These injuries range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss and blindness.

The most important thing you can do to protect your vision at work is to always wear appropriate protective eyewear, which can prevent more than 90 percent of serious eye injuries.

“As Ben Franklin once said, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,'” said ophthalmologist Price Kloess, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It takes very little effort to protect yourself from on-the-job hazards that can cause blinding eye injuries. We strongly advise workers and their employers not to let their guard down when it comes to eye protection.”

Watch Out for Eye Dangers

Common causes for eye injuries are:

  • Flying objects (bits of metal, glass)
  • Tools
  • Particles
  • Chemicals
  • Any combination of these or other hazards.

Protecting Your Eyes

There are three things you can do to help prevent an eye injury:

  • Know the eye safety dangers at work.
  • Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls.
  • Use proper eye protection.

Wear protective eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear. This is particularly true of workers involved in welding, which poses a high risk of on-the-job eye injury.

The type of safety eye protection needed depends on the hazards in your workplace and should be compliant with OSHA regulations for eye and face protection. OSHA also provides information about the types of filter lenses required for specific welding and cutting activities (PDF 181 KB), and cautions about the danger of eye irritation from welding fumes (PDF 405 KB) as well. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that task.

Always be sure your eye safety wear is OSHA-compliant and has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to meet their eye protection standards.

If an eye injury occurs, see an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately, even if the eye injury appears minor. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

Learn How to Recognize an Eye Injury

Because eye injuries can cause serious vision loss, it’s important to be able to recognize an injury and appropriately respond to it. DO NOT attempt to treat a serious eye injury yourself.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone else, get medical help right away.

  • The person has obvious pain or trouble seeing.
  • The person has a cut or torn eyelid.
  • One eye does not move as well as the other.
  • One eye sticks out compared to the other.
  • The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape.
  • There is blood in the clear part of the eye.
  • The person has something in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t be easily removed.

Low Vision…a thing of the past?

Many of us have older family members who “went blind’ later in life.  Oftentimes these stories were legendary and spoken about in whispers as aging family members who were not accustomed to or able to go to the doctor didn’t…so exactly why they lost sight remained a mystery.  The burden on family and society was palpable with so much care needed for those who could no longer see to care for themselves.

Today with incredible advances in diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities in eye care, we now know that this mysterious  disease that afflicted so many of our older relatives and friends was Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD.  AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65 years of age.  It comes in two forms, dry and wet.  Dry AMD is a generally slowly progressive condition of the specialized part of the retina called the macula, where central reading vision decreases.  People with dry AMD may develop the Wet form and suddenly lose central vision when a hemorrhage occurs.  The financial impact of vision loss from AMD nationally is estimated to be $40 billion.

Thankfully now there are some excellent treatments for AMD that can maintain vision for doing activities we all take for granted such as driving and reading.  Oral supplements containing lutein and zinc are recommended as well (see Macularhealth.com).

February is National AMD Awareness Month.  Maybe for this Valentine’s Day (after the chocolates & flowers of course), make “low vision” a thing of the past by making an eye appointment for your loved one.

Dr. Holly Young

January – a New Year’s Resolution to consider

Many of us have mixed emotions about “Januaries”…both excitement and apprehension about a new year; and, those new year’s resolutions that, if we are honest, we should rename new “month” because that’s about as long as they ever last.

We hope 2016 is a great year for everyone…& we have one resolution we encourage you to make…& keep…but more about that in a minute.

Ever lose anything of great importance?  Remember how you could not rest until you found it?

Imagine losing your eyesight?  Well that happens to thousands of Americans ever year from a very common disease called Glaucoma.  Glaucoma is a painless, easily detectable, non-symptomatic condition where the pressure in the eye is elevated and sight is gradually and irreversibly lost.  Did you catch the “easily detectable”, “non-symptomatic” and “irreversible” part of this?   This condition is easy to diagnose and treat through having a routine eye examination.   Am I saying thousands of people every year lose the most precious of the five senses by putting off their annual eye examination?   The answer is yes!

January, among other things, is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.  We encourage you to make this your personal lifelong resolution to make an appointment for an eye examination & do this annually.  Problems will come and go but this is one you can take control of…and avoid.

We look forward to seeing you & keeping you seeing in 2016!



A must “read” for those who cannot read anymore


Ahh…reading glasses…just the thought of them makes us feel older,

like we are falling apart in our mid-forties. Much of my time is spent seeing

patients who can no longer naturally see up close to answer the cell phone,

apply make-up, or read; and, with beach trips looming, being able to read

naturally while soaking up those rays is a must!

We all have or will experience the inability to read in our 40’s requiring the

need for reading glasses or, for those already wearing glasses, bifocals.

This condition is called Presbyopia

The good news is, for those who prefer not to wear bifocals or

reading glasses, there are ways to restore our natural reading vision!

What is Presbyopia?

Within the eye, there is a flexible lens that allows us to “auto focus” on objects

at different distances. This lens is attached to thousands of tiny rope-like

strands called “zonules.” Small muscles pull on the zonules to change the shape

of the lens.  These muscles fail as we age causing Presbyopia, or the inability to

naturally see at near.

There are excellent surgical options for treating Presbyopia. The two

most popular are Bifocal Implants (Refractive Lens Exchange with a multifocal

intraocular lens like ReSTOR) or monovision LASIK laser vision correction (one

eye corrected for reading and the other for distance). To learn more about

alternatives to reading glasses, make an appointment to see Drs. Kloess or

Velazquez by calling 205-991-2021 or visit us at


Light Eyes + Drugs + Sunlight

Most Americans Unaware that Common Drugs, Light-Colored Eyes Can Increase Vulnerability to UV-Related Eye Disease
Results of American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Harris Poll show need for greater awareness of factors that increase sun sensitivity
ImageSAN FRANCISCO – April 30, 2014 – The American Academy of Ophthalmology today released results of a Harris Poll that shows that a majority of Americans are unaware that taking common drugs and having light-colored eyes can make people more vulnerable to UV exposure, a contributing factor to certain eye diseases and conditions.
Studies have shown that, in addition to skin cancers, accumulated ultraviolet exposure from the sun can heighten the risk of eye diseases such eye cancer and cataracts, a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Intense UV exposure can also cause temporary blindness known as photokeratitis, while extended sun exposure is linked to growths such as pterygium, or surfer’s eye.
To assess how much Americans know about eye health risks posed by UV rays and what people do to protect themselves, the American Academy of Ophthalmology – the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons – commissioned a national Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults. The results revealed two major gaps in UV safety knowledge:
  • One-third of adults use medications that may increase photosensitivity, or increased susceptibility to damage from UV rays. However, 49 percent are unaware or do not believe those medications can cause photosensitivity. These photosensitizing drugs[1] include antibiotics containing tetracycline or floroquinolones (like Cipro), some birth control and estrogen pills and certain anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).[2]
  • More than half (54 percent) of Americans have light-colored eyes (blue, green or hazel). Yet, only 1 in 3 (32 percent) of those with light eyes and 29 percent of all polled know light eyes are more susceptible to UV damage. While people with eyes of any color can develop UV-related eye diseases, light eyes and sun exposure are associated with an increased risk of rare eye cancers, such as iris and uveal melanomas.[3]


Ophthalmologists recommend that all individuals – especially those with increased photosensitivity – wear 100 percent UV-safe sunglasses. While the survey found that 83 percent of Americans wear sunglasses, only half (47 percent) said they check for a UV protection label before buying them. Also, less than a third (32 percent) make their kids wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
“Wearing 100 percent UV-protective sunglasses is one of the easiest and the most important things children and adults can do to protect their eye health,” said ophthalmologist Anne Sumers, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It isn’t just about fashion or comfort – it’s about preserving your sight! So make wearing sunglasses a priority, especially if you have light eyes, work outdoors or take certain medications.”
Tips to Protect Your Eyes
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following tips to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation:
  • Choose glasses that block 100 percent of UV rays.  Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either “UV400” or “100% UV protection.” Don’t go by darkness of the lenses, which doesn’t indicate strength of UV protection. Close-fitting wraparound styles offer the best coverage.
  • Wear sunglasses even if it’s cloudy. Damaging UV rays go through clouds and can burn skin and eyes even when the sky is overcast.
  • Put a lid on it. Wear a hat with a wide brim as well as sunglasses and sunscreen. Studies have shown hats decrease the risk of eye disease related to extended UV exposure.[4]
  • Pills and rays don’t always mix.  Certain medications may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so take extra precautions if using those treatments.
  • Watch out for sun, sand and water. When at the beach or in the pool, remember that rays reflected off sand, water or pavement can burn your eyes.
  • Don’t rely on contact lenses. Contact lenses may have UV protection but cannot protect the entire eye area from burning rays that can increase risk of disease and blindness. Remember your sunglasses, which provide more coverage.  


The American Academy of Ophthalmology promotes UV safety throughout the year. Learn more about how to protect your eyes and get additional sunglasses shopping tips at the Academy’s public education website, GetEyeSmart.org.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons —
Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org. The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
About the Survey
Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the United States on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology between March 31 and April 2, 2014, among 2,027 adults ages 18 and over who reside in the U.S. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and complete definition of direct selling, please email
# # #

[2] Poll results showed:          
  • 86 percent did not know some birth control and estrogen pills could increase vulnerability to the sun’s rays
  • 83 percent polled did not know some anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) have also been associated with photosensitivity, though the reaction is rare
  • 72 percent did not believe antibiotics containing tetracycline or floroquinolones (like Cipro) can make individuals photosensitive
[4] Sandra, C. et al. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(5):750-757

What’s It Like To Have LASIK…. An Insider’s Experience!

See that girl on the right side of the picture below? Wait……..you can’t really see her that well can you.


Well, that’s me, and that picture is pretty close to what it feels like to be nearsighted (aka blind at a distance.)

OK, that is almost what it’s like. It’s much more like someone smudged Vaseline all over my eyes.  You get the idea. My world without contacts or glasses is pretty blurry, unless I’m holding something  right up to my face.

Maybe this is better….


Much better!! Like I said,  that’s me (Lesli), and that is how I like to wear my glasses. I ONLY want them to be stylin’ sunglasses that are either on my head holding my hair back or protecting my eyes from the sun. With the aid of my contact lenses, that had never been a problem, but sometimes that just was not good enough…

As you can see from the picture above, I work at an eye care practice with wonderful doctors and staff. On a daily basis I witness our doctors helping patients to see their world with crystal clear vision. In many cases, they receive a life without contact or glasses. This is especially true for those who come in to have laser vision correction, also known as LASIK. I stand in awe on a weekly basis as I see those transformations. I’m not kidding. I get to see the ACTUAL change that takes place in those patients because I assist in LASIK surgery. To this day, I have never stopped being amazed by the process of it all.  I also must admit that I never stopped being slightly jealous of those patients as they ditched their contacts or glasses.

I know you’re thinking…. “Well, why don’t you have LASIK?”

I just did. I had LASIK with the wonderful Dr. Kloess!

So, if you’ve ever wondered what it is like to have laser vision correction, this is your opportunity! I’m giving you my unique perspective as I become the patient.  After all, how many people do you know get to be on both sides of the laser?

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll detail my experience through the process of having LASIK surgery. I’ll tell you the why, the what, and more importantly the feeling of the whole experience. Please join me, and I’m sure I’ll answer some questions you may have, and some that you may not have even thought of.  I hope you visit the page in a few days to see how my  journey started. If you have friends who might be interested, please share this with them as well!



LASIK Center opens in Shelby County

The Alabama Vision Center opened the first LASIK center in Shelby County on April 3, 2014. LASIK is an out-patient vision correction procedure used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Dr. Kloess with patient“We were the first in Birmingham to perform bladeless, all laser LASIK,” says Price Kloess, MD, Medical Director of the Alabama Vision Center. “ We are happy to now bring this same life-changing technology to Greystone, Liberty Park, Chelsea Park and other Shelby County communities”.

DR. VELAZQUEZ-ORGINIALThe LASIK center is located at the St. Vincent’s Health and Wellness Center at One Nineteen. “The demand for LASIK is very strong in this community,” reports Dr. Andrew Velazquez, Co-Director for the Center. “Offering the best LASIK technology available at a world-class facility like One Nineteen is a perfect fit for these communities”.

Schedule a free LASIK consultation today by calling 205-991-2021.

Sports-Related Eye Injuries Blind Thousands of People Each Year

Ophthalmologists encourage athletes to wear eye protection as spring sports season begins

SAN FRANCISCO – March 31, 2014 – As millions take to the playing field this spring, the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons warns the public that thousands of people are blinded by sports-related eye injuries. In support of Sports Eye Safety Month this April, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds coaches, parents and athletes of the importance of wearing eye protection – whether for Little League or the Majors.

Of the 100,000 eye injuries resulting from sports each year, an estimated 42,000 people are treated in the emergency room, and 13,500 end up legally blind.[1] In fact, according to a January 2014 study of consumer product related injuries requiring emergency room treatment, sports equipment – including balls, bats, and rackets – was responsible for[2]:

  • 41 percent of emergency room visits for children age 10 to 14.
  • 25 percent of emergency room visits for people age 15 to 24.
  • 20 percent of emergency room visits for children age 5 to 9.

In addition to injuries from sports equipment, many also suffer eye injuries caused by another player’s errant finger or elbow to the eye.

Eye injuries resulting from athletic activities range from corneal abrasions (scratches on the surface of the eye) to the more serious, potentially blinding injuries, such as an orbital fracture (bones around the eye are broken) and detached retina (when the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye is pulled out of place). Fortunately, 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable by wearing protective eyewear.[3]

EyeSmart®, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s public education program, provides the following sight-saving tips about sports-related eye protection:

  1. Youth who play sports should wear appropriate eye protection, such as polycarbonate lenses or masks, that meets the requirements of the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) – even if the league does not officially require it.
  2. People who wear contacts or glasses should also wear appropriate protective eyewear, as contacts offer no protection and glasses are not sufficient protection since lenses may shatter when hit by a projectile.
  3. To preserve the vision they have left, all functionally one-eyed athletes – those with one normal eye and the other eye with less than 20/40 vision, even when corrected with glasses or contacts – should wear appropriate eye protection for all sports.
  4. Functionally one-eyed athletes and those who have had an eye injury or surgery should not participate in boxing or full-contact martial arts because of the high risk of additional serious injury that could lead to blindness.
  5. For sports in which a facemask or helmet with eye protector or shield must be worn, such as football and lacrosse, it is strongly recommended that functionally one-eyed athletes also wear sports goggles that conform to the requirements of ASTM F803.
  6. Sports eye protection should be replaced when damaged or yellowed with age, as they may have become weakened and are no longer protective.

“Every year I treat dozens of kids with eye injuries from sports, especially at the beginning of the season,” said Rahul N. Khurana, M.D., ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Whether they get a finger in the eye, or are slammed in the face with an errant ball, all are injuries that could have been easily avoided with safety goggles. Spending a little money on goggles could make a big difference in preventing a life-long eye injury.”

 Learn more about how to protect eyes while enjoying athletic activities by visiting http://www.geteyesmart.org.


About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit http://www.aao.org. The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit http://www.geteyesmart.org or http://www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
[1] U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Sports and Recreational Eye Injuries, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 2000
[2] Chen, et al. Age and Consumer Product-Related Eye Injuries in the United States. Rhode Island Medical Journal. January 2014.
[3] Harrison, et al. Eye injuries in the youth athlete: a case-based approach. Sports Medicine, 2002. 31(1) 33-40