6/1/2018 - Welcome Dr. Karen Grucci Brown
Chicopee Eyecare welcomes Karen Grucci Brown, O.D. to our practice! Dr. Grucci, as we’ll call her in the office, will be joining our practice in July, working three days a week along with helping our colleague and owner of Ludlow Eye Associates, Dr. Katarzyna Babinski, two days a week. (Dr. Babinski, who speaks fluent Polish, works in our practice one Saturday morning a month.)
Dr. Karen L Grucci Brown is a native of West Springfield, Massachusetts. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts. She then went on to complete her Doctor of Optometry degree in 1996 at the New England College of Optometry (NECO) in Boston, Massachusetts.
Since graduating from NECO, Dr. Grucci has been practicing optometry in North Carolina. She began her career at Coastal Carolina Eye Clinic, a group ophthalmology practice in Wilmington, North Carolina where for 13 years, she was the contact lens specialist. Since 2009, Dr. Grucci has been practicing with Risk Optometric in Hendersonville, just outside of Asheville, in the mountains of North Carolina.
“I will miss my patients in North Carolina, but I feel it is time to come home,” says Dr. Grucci. “Chicopee Eyecare has a longstanding reputation for providing the highest quality and advanced care to its patients. I have known Dr. Momnie and Dr. Latka for many years before becoming an optometrist myself. I am delighted for the opportunity to work with them.”
Dr. Grucci is a member of the North Carolina Optometric Society and former treasurer for the Mountain District chapter. She is also a member of the American Optometric Association. Dr. Grucci has been married for 19 years to David Brown and has 2 children, Connor, 16 and Jillian, 10. She is happy to that she and her family are now able to spend free time with extended family.
5/14/2018 - What makes McDonald's successful won't be found in our office
Sure, we run Chicopee Eyecare like a business. We provide goods and services (eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye care) to our patients who are really customers. And at the end of the year, after paying all of our expenses, we hope there is a profit. This allows us to invest in new technology, update our equipment and computer system and even replace worn carpeting. But let’s look at how McDonald’s achieves success versus the way we do it. For one, their high volume, fast, assembly line-like process makes them very profitable. For us, we need a certain amount of uninterrupted and focused time with our “customers” to properly diagnose and treat their problem so unlike McDonald's, we limit the number of patients we see in a day. Secondly, supersizing eye care with unnecessary tests or treatments is not good for our patient’s visual health or their pocketbook. And thirdly, while customers patiently wait in line at McDonalds and people don’t as a rule cut in front of others, we at Chicopee Eyecare occasionally have to move an emergency to the front of the line, resulting in regularly scheduled patients being slightly inconvenienced. However, if you’ve been in the office recently, I’m betting that you were seen within fifteen minutes of your appointed time. We now leave openings in our busy schedule for emergencies and have made a serious effort to be on time with our valued patients, whose time is often just as valuable as ours.
4/4/2018 - Light-Myopia is on the Rise
Dr. Momnie discusses, Seeing the Light-Myopia is on the Rise, and Screens May Be to Blame
3/21/2018 - News for Visine Addicts
In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lumify, (brimonidine) an over-the-counter eye drop to help “get the red out.” A similar drop in a much higher concentration (brand name Alphagan) was approved in 1996 to treat glaucoma by lowering the pressure in the eye and has been clinically proven to be safe and effective. Drops like Visine and Murine which constrict both arteries and veins, are more likely to lose effectiveness over time and patients often develop a rebound effect where the redness worsens when the eye drop is no longer used or reduced in dosage. Lumify selectively constricts only veins and enhances oxygen to the surrounding tissues of the eye, significantly minimizing any rebounding effect.
While this drop does not treat the underlying cause of many red eyes, for example infection, allergy or dry eyes, for many people Lumify will be a game changer, safely offering long-lasting porcelain-white eyes.
3/20/2018 - Healthcare reform 2018
Despite a new administration, health care will most likely continue to evolve in 2018. In addition to the President and Congress, several private companies are interested in providing solutions to the nation’s health care problems. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway (think Warren Buffet), and J.P. Morgan Chase are all interested in using new technology to reduce employee costs and improve employee satisfaction. Furthermore, a new bipartisan, non-profit organization called “The United States of Care” has been launched by the former administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services “to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans regardless of health status, social need or income.” According to a recent article in Helios, the organization plans to achieve these principles by harnessing public and expert opinion to craft policies and offering support and resources to state and federal policy makers.
Chicopee Eyecare is a private practice and the doctors and staff treat every patient like they would treat a member of their own family. Despite increasing federal and state regulatory demands, we will continue our efforts to stay off of the high volume “medical treadmill” and offer quality, timely and personalized care to our valued patients.
2/8/2018 - Good News for patients with dry eyes!
Restasis is the brand name for cyclosporine and is an eyedrop that has dramatically improved the lives of thousands of people with severe dry eyes since it was first approved by the FDA in 2002. Restasis is used to increase tear production in patients who have dry eyes from insufficient tear production (as opposed to evaporative dry eye which is treated differently.). While Restasis is often covered by most Medicare and commercial insurance plans, it’s not always covered and copayments can be very high. For private paying patients, the cost can be over $500 a month. However, recent court rulings are paving the way for generic cyclosporine, a move that would result in lower drug prices and make it more accessible to patients.
One of the problems with Restasis is that it takes time to work—sometimes patients don’t feel relief from their burning and gritty dry eyes for several months and some patients never get any benefit from the drops. Restasis has a complicated manufacturing process and there is no guarantee that the generic version will work as effectively as the brand formulation.
We at Chicopee Eyecare are anxiously awaiting the release of generic cyclosporine and think it will benefit the majority of our patients with severe dry eyes.
1/18/2018 - Why we don't recommend cheap sunglasses
Even with the shorter days of winter, bright sunny days with increased reflection from the snow suggest that sunglasses aren’t just for the summer months. We are sometimes asked if there really is a difference between high quality sunglasses and inexpensive ones found in department stores.
Our first recommendation is to always be sure you’re getting 100% UVA and UVB Ultraviolet light protection. As consumer testing has shown, a sticker on the glasses is no protection for unknown brands. Furthermore, optical quality, warpage and impact resistance (how “shatterproof” they are, although this term is not used in the industry) can all be compromised in cheap sunglasses.
As with most purchases, you get what you pay for. See the article below on quality polarized sunglasses.
12/29/2017 - Pioneer Valley Leadership Scholarship
For the past two years, Dr. Momnie has helped organize the Pioneer Valley Leadership Scholarship for a New England College of Optometry (NECO) student. About twenty-five local alumni of the college contributed to the four-year scholarship and wilalso serve as mentors to the recipient. On December 5th, Drs Momnie and Guzek-Latka attended a continuing education lecture hosted by NECO and at the meeting, the scholarship was presented to first-year optometry student Parthavi Patel of Easthampton, MA. Parthavi hopes to return to Western MA and join a private practice following her graduation in 2021.
12/10/2017 - Our new intern
Dr. David Momnie and Dr. Camille Guzek-Latka welcome their new student intern, Christopher Mariella from Hamilton, Ontario. Christopher received his Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University in Toronto and will receive his Doctor of Optometry degree in May from the New England College of Optometry.
Christopher's previous rotation was with the Hudson Valley VA Hospital in the Albany, New York area and his final rotation in three months will be at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.
Welcome soon-to-be Dr. Christopher Mariella!
12/9/2017 - A New Office Sign!
Many of you were patients of Chicopee Eyecare when the office was at 48 Center Street.
The second floor office was between Dr. Emil Ferris, a popular Chicopee pediatrician and his brother, Dr. Basil Ferris, a dentist.
The practice relocated to its current building in 1987. After thirty years, we decided it was time for a new office sign! We kicked around several different styles and colors, trying to maintain the post Civil War motif of the building and came up with this maroon background with gold lettering.
11/5/2017 - Eye Tattoo
Twenty-four year old Canadian model Catt Gallinger added another body art tattoo and it cost her some sight in one eye. A purple tattooing of her sclera, the white part of the eye, became complicated resulting in pain and a serious vision impairment. The young model shared her story on Facebook, hoping that others won’t undergo the procedure. The practice of tinting the white of the eye started about ten years ago and is gaining popularity around the world but according to Dr. David Flug, a New York eye surgeon who has treated several similar patients, the practice is dangerous. No disagreement from us on that statement! Gallagher wrote on her Facebook page “research who you get your procedures by as well as how the procedures should be properly done.” We optometrists at Chicopee Eyecare say don’t get the procedure done in the first place!
10/4/2017 - Dr. Paul E. Momnie
In the spring of 1967, forty-one year old Paul Momnie, went to his doctor complaining of a backache. Two weeks later his doctor shared the results of the bloodwork, he had a rare blood disorder called multiple myeloma and had about 4 months to live. He died on September 15 and so two weeks ago marked the 50th anniversary of his death. I was the oldest of five children, having just turned 17 shortly before his passing. Shortly after his death, I made the decision to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in optometry. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am grateful that I learned from him the satisfaction that comes from helping people see better
10/1/2017 - Marijuana and glaucomaMassachusetts and 6 other states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and an additional 16 states have legalized it for medical use only. Cannabis was first used for treating glaucoma in 1971 when a study found it to lower the pressure in the eye for 2-4 hours. However, despite many anecdotal reports since that time, there have been no long term studies. If not treated effectively, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
The two main chemicals (cannabinoids) in marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is psychoactive and cannabidiol (CBD) which is not. Many people have smoked marijuana for years, insisting that it’s safe and denying any side effects but reported side effects include addiction, structural brain changes, decreased IQ, psychotic disorders, pulmonary (breathing) diseases and increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
The jury is still out on marijuana’s role in treating glaucoma and further studies may or may not find that it plays a role in treating patients with this disease.
9/12/2017 - A busy summer at Chicopee Eyecare
It was somewhat of a hectic summer at Chicopee Eyecare. Our exam rooms were painted and much of the equipment and furniture and everything on the walls had to be removed. And on a recent weekend in August, most of the office had to be cleared for new carpeting. Installers worked Friday evening and all-day Saturday and Sunday so the office could reopen Monday morning.
Dr. Momnie lectured to Physician Assistant students at Springfield College in July and both he and Dr. Latkawere interviewed by Channel 22 and Channel 40 about the solar eclipse. Dr. omnie was interviewed by Danny New and Lauren Zenzie of 22’s Mass Appeal T.V. show the week before the eclipse and Dr. Latka was interviewed by Ryan Walsh of Channel 22 and Maggie Lomiller of Channel 40 the day after the eclipse.
We hope you were able to enjoy the solar eclipse with solar glasses or a pinhole camera. We had several patients view the eclipse from our parking lot with solar eclipse glasses we provided. To the best of our knowledge, there were very few cases nationwide of solar retinopathy, permanent damage to the retina from viewing the solar eclipse without the proper solar glasses.
Thank you again for choosing our office. Our goal is to safeguard your eyes and help you achieve a lifetime of clear and comfortable vision.
08/26/2017 - Possible causes of reduced visionDr. Momnie recently gave a lecture to students of the Physician Assistant program at Springfield College, as he has for the past ten years. Dr. Momnie spoke on possible causes of reduced vision. In the past, he has lectured on glaucoma, neurology and the eye, ocular side effects of systemic drugs and the eye and systemic diseases (like diabetes and hypertension.)
07/2017 - Solar Eclipse on August 21!
The upcoming total solar eclipse (being called the "Great American Eclipse") of the sun! The last total eclipse to cross the entire continent of the United States was in 1918 For most people, watching it will probably be an unforgettable event but viewing it incorrectly can damage your eyes permanently by causing solar retinopathy.
The eclipse is one of the most spectacular naturally occurring events in the world and it’s going to be hard not to keep your eyes glued to it. So, go ahead and look, but be sure to watch it through a pair of solar eclipse glasses. The glasses need to be CE certified and they need to meet the international standard for ISO 12312-2. Homemade filters and ordinary sunglasses, even if they are very dark, are not appropriate. The solar glasses are not expensive and are available at Amazon.com.
Your mother’s advice as a child was, “don’t stare at the sun” but on this August 21 with a proper pair of protective glasses, you’re allowed to stare away and enjoy this spectacular event.
06/2017 - A New Way To Relieve Dry Eye
You’ve probably seen the ads on TV. Dry eye is in the spotlight again because of Xiidra, the first new prescription drug in 13 years hitting the market last year. Thanks to a national media campaign, more patients than ever are asking us about their burning and gritty eyes.
Restasis was the first treatment approved by the FDA for treatment of dry eyes in 2002. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on the lacrimal gland, promoting normal tear production by the gland. Last year, Xiidra was approved by the FDA and works in a similar but different way. However, unlike Restasis which can take up to six months to work, some patients using Xiidra have experienced a reduction in their dry eye symptoms as early as two weeks.
Our first line of attack for dry eyes at Chicopee Eyecare is a combination of over the counter artificial tears, omega 3 supplements (fish oil capsules) and using warm compresses (we like the microwavable Bruder mask) on your eyelids for ten minutes several times a week.
If you are still having symptoms of dry eyes, schedule an appointment to find out if one of the above prescription drops may be of benefit.
05/2017 - Fluorescent lights - your eyes often don’t like them
Fluorescent lights are popular because they’re inexpensive to run. Unfortunately your eyes may be paying the price with symptoms of burning and eyestrain, headaches and trouble concentrating. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL), a common substitute for incandescent bulbs also produce the same ultraviolet light. Periodic use of artificial tears are helpful to keep you eyes moist. Some people benefit from an anti-glare coating on their glasses. And the best advice I can give is to “stretch” your eyes by taking periodic breaks from prolonged close work during the day.
03/2017 - Dr. Guzek-Latla featured in recent article
Dr. Camille Guzek-Latka was featured in the March 6, 2017 issue of Business West titled “Help, Hope Available for Vision Problems Caused by Aging.” Dr. John Papale and Dr. Andrew Jusko, Springfield ophthalmologists, discussed surgical advances for cataracts and glaucoma and Dr. Guzek-Latka discussed age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which she said in the article is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over the age of 50.
She also discussed what people can do to reduce the risk of developing AMD and mentioned a new FDA approved implantable device that is partially restoring sight in people with advanced macular degeneration.
Click here to read the entire Business West article.
03/2017 - An inter-professional team approach
Our patient population as a whole has a multitude of health issues, the most common being diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Because there is a link between many systemic diseases and diseases of the eye, we communicate on almost a daily basis through phone calls and written reports with health care providers outside of our office. Here is a list of some of the specialists we corresponded with: Internists--endocrinologists--neurologists--rheumatologists--podiatrists--pharmacists--cardiologists--physician assistants/nurse practitioners.
And a new study at the Mass. Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston found a link between glaucoma and gum disease with recent tooth loss. According to Dr. Louis Pasquale, a possible link is the release of chemical factors that travel to the eye and trigger an inflammatory response. So most likely dentists will be added to the above list of professionals we communicate with.
02/2017 - An alarming increase in nearsightedness?
A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by Brittany Murphy of Western MA News (Channel 40, 3 and Fox 61) about children’s vision and the alarming increase in nearsightedness (myopia).
And while the incidence has increased to about 25% in the U.S., it’s a global phenomenon with a prevalence of up to 90% in some Asian countries like South Korea and China.
I told Brittany that nearsightedness is the result of a complicated interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental exposures. Unfortunately, too many children are spending several hours a day staring at a screen eight inches away, even while riding in a car. (I recall as a teenager riding in a car and looking out a window playing a license plate game. Kids are now texting or watching a video on
long car trips).
What can parents do? First, limit a child’s exposure to no more than two hours a day. And second, Kick your kid outdoors! The underlying mechanism is unclear but there is evidence that two hours a day outdoors has a significant positive effect on children’s eyes.
02/2017 - Corneal Inlay Surgery: Enjoy life without depending on reading glasses
I read the above headline recently but before I address the article, a little background.
There is no escaping presbyopia. The natural lens of the eye, located just behind the iris (the colored part of te eye), begins to lose flexibility with age and by the time we’re in our forties, presbyopia kicks in. Our arms just aren’t long enough! Some people can avoid reading glasses or progressives (bifocals)—they’re nearsighted and can read without their glasses, or they’re nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other eye. But most of us become dependent on reading glasses.
There is now a new technology called a corneal inlay that can reduce this dependency on glasses. It’s a small, thin, plastic wafer that is surgically implanted on the non-dominant eye. The KAMRA inlay, according to the company, is intended for patients between the ages of 45 and 60 years old who have not had cataract surgery and who need reading glasses with +1.00 to +2.50 diopters of power. Some of the risks include dry eye, glare, halos, and more difficulty driving at night.
We at Chicopee Eyecare have a better solution for patients who need reading glasses—contact lenses. Wearing a single contact lens in the non-dominant eye achieves the same effect as the above corneal procedure. And one-day disposable lenses cost as little as $0.50 each. Disposable bifocal contact lenses have improved significantly in the few years and are very affordable. So, the choice becomes between corneal inlays, a $4,000 surgical procedure, reading glasses or contact lenses. Or move reading material back and forth at arm’s length like a trombone player!
02/2017 - When you hear hoofbeats ...
A medical school professor told his students over 70 years ago “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” In other words, when the patient tells you about their problem, the doctor thinks of the most probable conditions first.
So when one of my patients on a 10 minute phone conversation told her primary care physician (PCP) last summer that she was getting headaches, the PCP suggested she try an over-the -counter migraine analgesic. However, before they hung up, the PCP changed her mind and suggested the patient also get an MRI. Something about their conversation (maybe the fact that the patient had no prior history of migraines) made the doctor think of the possibility of “zebras.” It turned out the patient had a brain tumor (benign), underwent surgery and now has an excellent prognosis.
We at Chicopee Eyecare use this same “think horses, not zebras” philosophy when we examine your eyes and when the your symptoms and our exam findings agree, our diagnosis is invariably correct. But when things don’t quite add up, we need to think outside the box and widen our differential diagnosis possibilities. Don’t ever hesitate to discuss with us concerns you have about your eyes when you think something isn't quite right.
We hope you're enjoying this mild winter. And if you're a skier, sorry! Whether you are a new or returning patient, thank you for the confidence you have placed in us as your optometrists. And if you have never been to our office, we welcome the opportunity to serve you.
01/2017 - A recent article in an optometry journal talked about eye color
Here are a few excerpts.
Melanin is the pigment in the body that gives skin its color and also partly determines eye color.
Brown: Brown eyes contain the most melanin and are the most common eye color in the world, especially in Asia, Africa, and eastern and southern Europe.
Blue: Blue eyes are less common than brown eyes and are more common in Ireland, England and northern Europe.
Green eyes are even more rare and are likely to occur in people of whose ancestors were from Ireland, Iceland or Germany.
Hazel: More common in Lithuania, Russia, and Finland.
In addition to the concentration of melanin on the back of the iris, the scattering of light passing through the iris gives the blue, green and hazel appearance to the eyes and these colors will vary slightly depending on the lighting conditions.Which is why people may argue over whether your eyes are blue or green or insist that your eyes change color!
12/2016 - Something in your eye?
We call something in your eye that doesn’t belong there a foreign body. Maybe you were raking leaves or gardening or simply going for a walk on a windy day. And in an instant, one of your eyes feels like something is in it. What next? If you're wearing contact lenses, remove them as soon as possible!
Now the most important rule is “don't rub your eye!” This could result in a corneal abrasion, literally, a scratch on your eye.
Next, wash your hands with soap and water and gently pull your lids apart while looking in a mirror. You might very well see the object in your eye and if that’s the case, try flushing it out with lukewarm water. Using an eyecup or a small glass completely filled, place your open eye directly into the cup or glass. If this doesn’t work, next try positioning your eye under a faucet, allowing a gentle stream of water to flush it out.
If the foreign body is in the corner of the eye, on the white part or under the lower lid and the above methods didn’t work, try gently lifting it off with a wet cotton swab or twisted piece of tissue paper.
There may be some mild discomfort of the eye after the foreign body is removed and using. artificial tears several times a day will help.
Never try to remove a piece of metal from the eye as you may push it deeper into the tissue making it harder for us to remove.
Our office staff will always accommodate you during our normal business hours if you have a foreign body that needs to be removed and we will usually have you drive immediately to our office. If the office is closed, we strongly recommend that you do not go to an emergency room as one of us is always on call nights and weekends and our answering service will reach us.
In a future issue, I’ll discuss what chemicals are damaging to the eye and which ones are only irritating.