Workplace Eyewear – Protect Your Eyes in Every Profession

What do you think of when we say “Eye Protection in the Workplace”? Clunky safety glasses with large side shields usually come to mind, however eye protection can be that and so much more. With increasing numbers of professionals using computers in the workplace, digital eye strain is giving the traditional thoughts of eye protection a whole new meaning. Industry approved safety glasses are still required by OSHA for many jobs but computer glasses, anti-glare and blue light blocking screens and coatings are taking the optical industry by storm, and not because they are trendy, but because the way we do business has rapidly evolved over the last 20 years.

With the number of computer users teetering around 3 billion worldwide in 2019, well over half of those are being used in the workplace or in schools. With increased access to information through the internet, we are spending more time staring at a screen for business and personal use than ever. But what does this mean for our eyes, are we doing more damage to them short and long term? While the jury is still out on the residual effects of increased blue light exposure, what we do know for sure is that eye strain, fatigue and dryness is at an all time high.

Digital Eye Strain:

Computer Vision Syndrome is one of the leading patient complaints in optometry and ophthalmology practiced throughout the US. Extended use of computers, tablets, smart phones and screens in general are the main culprit. Our blink rate reduces when we are focusing intently on a project, screen or book and this dries the eye out. Coupled with an old, outdated or even non-existent glasses prescription, scratched lenses or eye strain due to glare and we’ve created the perfect storm for C.V.S. to occur. So how do we combat these issues, reduce eye strain and discomfort and make our eyes happier? 20/20/20

In addition to the 20/20/20 Rule we also recommend:

Safety Glasses:

OSHA approved safety eyewear is required for many occupations and when worn consistently and correctly can protect eyes from serious injury. Prescription safety glasses can be ordered through most workplaces and at independent optical dispensaries as well. Lens thickness, lens material, and side shield protection are all OSHA regulated in order to be considered safety grade eyewear. Failure to wear OSHA approved safety eyewear can jeopardize your sight and vision. Mechanics, carpenters, hospital staff and landscapers…safety eyewear is important to them all.

Wearing safety glasses can reduce foreign bodies imbedded in the cornea, chemical burn to the eyes and specialty masks for welding and grinding of metal can reduce flash burn and metal deposits in the eye. These types of injuries can be very painful and take a long time to heal if not treated right away. If you suspect that you have an eye injury, foreign body or flash burn, call to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an emergency visit immediately. For more information about OSHA requirements on safety eyewear visit:

Eye Wash Station:

Many workplaces are equipped with an eyewash station, but how many employees know where it is located or even how to use it? Eye wash stations can be used incase of chemical burn to the eyes and to rinse out any foreign contaminants. They are simple to use and can save your eyesight. If you work in an environment where the use of an eye wash station may be required, be sure to know it’s location and be familiar with how to operate the version that is accessible to you. If no eyewash station is available, rinsing with water from a sink or bottled water may be the only option, so keep some on hand for such circumstances.

Eye health and protection is an important part of job function for many occupations. Make sure that you are prepared to take care of yourself and your eyes no matter what you do for a living. Vision is important not only to function in your job but in daily life in general. Be safe, wear eye protection, know what to do in an emergency, take visual breaks, see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular eye examinations and wear your most recent prescription for optimum visual clarity. Take care of your eyes and they will take care of you.

Dry Eye – The Rough Truth About Corneal Dryness

Dry Eye Management and Treatment Options

Anyone who has experienced it can tell you that something as simple as dry eyes can make the simplest daily tasks difficult to accomplish. Dry eye can affect eye comfort, clarity of vision and can create secondary issues like blepharitis. Serious cases of dry eye can cause degenerative corneal problems that often times lead to the need for corneal transplants. But whether it is due to seasonal dryness, contact lens wear or systemic tear film deficiencies, temporary and chronic dryness can be a pain in the eye.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye happens when an eye does not produce enough tear film, or when it does not produce enough good quality tear film. There are three layers of tear film that combine together to keep eyes lubricated:

  • Lipid Layer – The lipid layer is the outermost layer produced by the meibomian glands. This layer keeps the surface smooth and stops the tear film from evaporating too quickly.
  • Aqueous Layer – The aqueous or water based layer is the middle layer of the tear film that is produced by the lacrimal glands in the eye lids. This layer makes up the majority of our tear film and helps to rinse away dirt, dust and debris from the eye surface.
  • Mucous Layer – The mucous layer is the innermost layer which is produced by the conjunctiva. Without this layer the other layers would not stick to the eye surface to do their job of keeping the eye moist.

Our eyes produce these tear film layers continually to keep the eye moist and the vision clear. The eye will increase the production when it is irritated, or when we cry. But unfortunately sometimes our eyes don’t produce enough of these layers or something affects the tear film production, resulting in dry eyes.

Dry Eye Symptoms:

How do you know if you have dry eye? Some of the symptoms seem pretty clear and obvious, others seem to indicate overproduction of tears! How can you tell if what you are experiencing is a symptom of dry eye or not?

  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Redness or Irritation – especially in wind or around smoke
  • Blurred vision – especially later in the day, when reading or using the computer for extended periods of time
  • Scratchy, gritty or foreign body sensation in the eye
  • Strings of mucus in or around the eye – in the morning or even throughout the day
  • Blurred vision or discomfort with contact lens wear
  • Excessive watering (wait…what?)

How can my eyes be dry if they water all the time? We get asked this question all of the time, and although it seems counterintuitive, excessive watering is a symptom of dry eyes, and here’s why…

When the surface of the eye becomes dry the tissue goes from smooth to being rough and irregular. When we blink our eye lids notice the rough surface and it stimulates the lacrimal glands to increase the tear film to re-lubricate the eye’s surface. Since the corneal tissue can only absorb so much of the new tear film created to lubricate the surface, the excess spills over and the eyes begin to “water”. This is where artificial tears come into play. (Did you just get a confused look again? If my eyes are watering, why on earth would I add MORE liquid to them? We’re getting there, don’t worry…)

Dry Eye Causes:

Being an ophthalmology practice based in New England we can tell you that winter is hands down our busiest dry eye season, followed by summer (yes summer). Coupled with spring and fall allergy symptoms and you can see how we keep busy all year round. But dry eyes can happen for several different reasons, including:

  • Autoimmune Diseases: Sjogren’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Thyroid Disease
  • Contact Lens Wear: Contacts absorb tear film and can cause an imbalance in corneal exposure to your eyes natural tears
  • Computer Vision Syndrome: Reading, Computer or Electronic use for a prolonged period of time reduces the frequency in which we blink, which is how tear film is dispersed across the corneal tissue
  • Medications: Thousands of medications have dry eye side effects – Read your pharmacy inserts, ask your pharmacist and prescribing doctor for more information and tell your eye doctor about all of the medications you take
  • Refractive Corneal Surgery: LASIK, ASA, PRK can make dry eye symptoms worse. Be sure to have dry eye testing done BEFORE you have laser vision correction
  • Environment: Dry air due to heat or air conditioning, excessive wind, exposure to smoke or allergens can exacerbate dry eye symptoms
  • Lid Disorders: Blepharitis (redness, dryness, irritation and swelling of lids), Ectropion or Entropion – malposition of the eyelids (turning inward or outward) can effect tear production and absorption of tear film


Any of this sound familiar? Want to know what you can do to treat your dry eye symptoms? We have several options for treating dry eye in it’s varying degrees of severity. Keep in mind that every “body” is different and consultation and treatment directed by your eye doctor will give you the best results. Diagnosis through Schrimer’s tests, tear breakup time (T-But) and corneal staining with fluorescein are just a few ways for ophthalmologists and optometrists diagnose and document dry eye in patients. Note: these tests are often required if over the counter treatments are unsuccessful and prescription treatments are necessary. Traditional treatment for dry eye can include:

  • Artificial Tears: Using artificial tears on a regular basis, before the eyes begin to water, can help to combat dry eye symptoms. (We like to use the example of dry hands in the winter.  One application of hand lotion to dry, chapped hands will provide temporary relief – and often sting since it is touching tissue that usually doesn’t receive exposure, but regular use will heal the skin and cause the tissue to smooth over and not sting with exposure anymore.  Your corneal tissue works essentially the same way). There are several brands and preparations out there for varying severities. Tears can be used up to 4 times a day, if used more frequently it is recommended that you use a preservative free drop. Thicker drops in gel form are available as well and although they stay in the eye longer, they can blur vision. Gels and ointments are usually recommended for night time usage.
  • Punctal Plugs: Your eye doctor may recommend inserting a small plug in the lower (and sometimes upper) punctal openings in your eye lids. This stops the tears from draining out and away from the eye, therefore staying on the eye surface to keep it lubricated. There are temporary and permanent plugs, and in some cases surgical closure of these punctal openings is recommended.
  • Lid Hygiene: Blockage of oil glands, dry skin on eyelids and inflammation of lid tissue can create and cause dry eye symptoms or even make them worse. Using warm compresses, lid massage and keeping lids and lashes clean with daily lid scrubs can help combat blepharitis, which is common in patients suffering from dry eye.
  • Treat from the Inside: Increasing water intake and even use of non-prescription Omega3 oral supplements is recommended by some eye doctors. Always consult your primary care physician before beginning any new medication or over the counter supplement.
  • External Factors: Use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air around you (especially in the winter when the heat is on which dries out the air quicker), wear sunglasses with more curvature and wrap to the front of them to block wind and debris when outside
  • Prescription Eye Drops: If over the counter treatments and lifestyle changes prove to be ineffective in making your dry eye symptoms decrease, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may elect to start prescribed dry eye therapies. Restasis and Xiidra are two prescription medications that eye doctors use in conjunction with traditional dry eye treatments to improve corneal health and reduce symptoms over time. Usually these require documentation of failure off of OTC alternatives alone, dry eye testing results and a prior authorization for use from your health insurance company. They are also not an alternative to artificial tears, but rather intended to be used in conjunction with artificial tears and traditional therapies mentioned above. The tears keep the eye lubricated, but the prescription medications help your eyes to create their own, better quality tears or reduce inflammation due to dry eye disease.
  • Corneal Transplant: If dry eye becomes severe enough and damages corneal tissue, corneal transplants or keratoplasty may be the final option. Visit out Corneal Transplant page for more information about this process.

So if dry eye symptoms are plaguing you, there are treatments to help. Call the office today to schedule a dry eye evaluation and start on your path to clearer vision and better daily comfort.

Giving The Gift of Sight for 2020


Giving the Gift of Sight

December is the month of giving, and receiving. Traditionally gifts are given and exchanged as part of most culture’s way of showing love, appreciation and even respect. But have you ever considered giving the gift of sight?

There are so many ways to help others see clearly again or even for the first time in their lives. The doctors at Eye Physicians of Northampton are no strangers to volunteering their time and resources in the US and abroad, helping to restore vision to thousands of people in need, but did you know that there are ways you can help too?


Donate Old Glasses

Partnering with The Lions Club – All of our Eye Physicians of Northampton locations are equipped with donation boxes for old glasses. These glasses must be in full working order (no broken frames, or lenses without a frame) per the Lions Club. Donated glasses are collected, “tuned-up” (cleaned, screws tightened, nose pads replaced), neutralized to determine the prescription, categorized by power and then distributed to people in need of that prescription (or one very close to it). Our patients who have had LASIK and laser vision correction, or cataract surgery to correct their vision are particularly excited to make their donations after their procedures!

Become an Organ Donor

Healthy, donated corneas for vision saving transplants are in short supply. Many patients require corneal transplants due to corneal disease and conditions such as keratoconus, Fuch’s Dystrophy, dry eye, corneal injuries or infections. Together with Keralink, our corneal specialists are able to access screened and donated corneas, restoring vision, reducing pain & discomfort and improving quality of life to our patients. Registering for organ donation is easy. You can update your organ donation preferences when registering to vote, renewing your licence or state ID. For more information about organ donation please visit:

Charities We Support

Direct donation to a reputable organization is always another good option! Not sure where to start? Want to make sure that your money goes to the cause and not to the corporate structure to run it? Here are some of our recommendations. Why these groups particularly? Because our providers and staff have worked with these organizations closely, donating our time and resources. We get to see the good these non-profits create first hand and are proud to be a part of it:

SEESEE International

NECPNevis Eyecare Program

RAM – Remote Area Medical

Make it Personal

Know a friend or family member who is long overdue for a pair of new glasses? Think your active teen is ready to wear contact lenses and want to give them the gift of vision and independence from their current eye glasses? Tired of wearing glasses and wonder if laser vision correction like LASIK is right for you? Gift certificates to Eye Physicians of Northampton are a great way to share the love (and the gift of sight) this holiday season. Available in various increments – you can give as little or as much as you want. From simply paying a copay for someone who can’t afford it, to having the family chip in and surprise Grandma with Multifocal Cataract Surgery (because let’s face it…she deserves not having to wear glasses anymore!), Gift certificates from EPN are a great way to give the gift of sight right here in your own back yard.

So whatever the way, whatever the reason,

consider giving the gift of sight this holiday season!

Diabetic Eye Disease and You

Normal Vision

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.  Although it seems a bit counter-productive to talk about blood sugar levels around Thanksgiving, perhaps that is why the AAO decides to choose this month to bring diabetic complications to the forefront of conversation in and out of the doctors office.

Over 425 million people are currently living with diabetes, with almost 1 in 2 still undiagnosed, and as the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, diabetic eye disease is becoming one of the top diagnoses for optometrist and ophthalmologists throughout the world.  Although there are fewer than 200,000 new cases of Diabetic Eye Disease diagnosed each year, these chronic secondary complications due to diabetes can only be treated , not cured.

Diabetic retinopathy and Diabetic macular edema is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retinal and macular tissue at the back of the eye, including formation of new or abnormal blood vessels. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels are the primary contributor to the retinal changes that can be seen with a dilated eye examination.

Vision with Diabetic Retinopathy

Early symptoms of macular and retinal changes include floaters, intermittent blurred or distorted vision, dark areas of vision, and difficulty perceiving colors. If left undiagnosed and untreated blindness can occur. Most mild cases can be treated with careful diabetes management including diet modification, medications and insulin with overseeing by an endocrinologist and/or primary care physician, but advanced cases may require  treatment with a retinal specialist including:

  • Surgery
  • Victrectomy
  • Laser Coagulation and Laser Surgery
  • Blood Vessel Growth Inhibitors
  • Steroid Injections

Diabetes can also double the chances of developing glaucoma. People with diabetes can also develop cataracts at an earlier age than people without diabetes. Researchers think that high glucose levels cause deposits to build up in the lenses of the eyes at a more rapid rate.  Diabetic patients can reduce their risks of developing diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and early onset cataracts with self-care regimes including:

  • Blood Glucose Management
  • Diabetic Dietary Changes
  • Refrain from Smoking
  • Regular Exercise
  • Yearly Diabetic Eye Examinations

It is recommended that pre-diabetic, type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients are seen for a dilated retinal examination on a yearly basis with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.  Early detection is paramount in diagnosis, and treatment of diabetic eye disease and in preserving the vision long term in diabetic patients.

To schedule your yearly diabetic eye examination today, please contact our office at (413)584-6422.  Yearly diabetic examinations are covered by most major health insurances.  If you are unsure if your visit will be covered, please call and speak with our staff, they can confirm coverage for your dilated diabetic examination with your insurance and schedule your next visit with one of our providers at your convenience.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Diabetes Association, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

How to Maintain Your Eye Health as You Get Older

September is Healthy Aging Month and Eye Physicians of Northampton located in Amherst and Florence wants to provide patients helpful tips to encourage healthy eyes and vision as we get older.  The process of aging is an inevitable part of life but growing older doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your vision health. There are several easy and natural ways to improve the health of your eyes in your everyday life!


Diet and nutrition play an essential role in your overall health and vision. Consuming nutrient-rich colored vegetables, and dark leafy greens and berries which contain vitamins, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants really benefits the eyes.


Physical fitness and aerobic exercise can reduce the symptoms of glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Exercises for your eyes include blinking, rolling the eyes, focusing on objects up close and at a distance, and moving your eyes in a figure-eight motion.

Daily Habits

There are several healthy habits you can adopt in your everyday life. One of these habits is to take breaks from working long hours on the computer by looking away from the screen every 20 minutes, or even getting up and away from the desk every so often. When reading, always make sure that the room is properly lit to prevent any unnecessary eye strain. If you wear glasses, make sure that your prescription is up to date so that they are not causing your eyes more harm.


One of the most important things is to make sure you get plenty of sleep! Just like our bodies, our eyes require rest and they have to work much harder when they have inadequate sleep.

Eye Exams

Finally, it is crucial to have routine, comprehensive eye exams performed by your eye doctor. During an exam, your doctor does much more than determining your glasses or contacts lens prescription. Eye exams are critical in the prevention and early diagnosis of various eye conditions and diseases! It is recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam once every one to two years, and more frequently for patients that are at risk for eye disease.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Eye Physicians of Northampton at (413) 584-6422 or click here.

Fireworks Eye Safety


Independence Day is right around the corner and while it is a fun summer-time celebration, it is also a dangerous day due to amount of injuries that occur from fireworks.  As a matter of fact, nearly two thirds of fireworks-related injuries treated in the ER during the period of time surrounding the 4th of July. A substantial amount of the fireworks-related incidents are eye injuries.

Eye Physicians of Northampton wants to bring awareness to the potential dangers of fireworks.  To prevent eye injuries, the best way is to just not purchase or handle fireworks. It is safer to attend public fireworks viewings that are put on by professionals instead. If you do handle fireworks yourself, be sure to follow these safety tips:

  • Always set off fireworks in an outdoor area that is free of flammable materials and away from structures or buildings.
  • Do not set off fireworks near other people.
  • Do not point fireworks at other people.
  • Do not allow children to handle fireworks.
  • Keep a container of water within reach in case of emergencies.

In the unfortunate event of an eye injury, it is important to act quickly.  You can minimize the damage to the eye by following these tips:

  • Do not rub or put any pressure on the eye
  • Do not attempt to remove any foreign object from the eye
  • Do not try to rinse the eye
  • Do not apply any type of ointment to the eye

Keep all of these safety tips in mind when you’re celebrating America next month!  Please call Eye Physicians of Northampton for any questions or concerns about eye safety at (413) 584-6422.

Glaucoma Awareness and Treatment

What is Glaucoma and How is it Treated?

Glaucoma is a chronic disease defined by characteristic optic nerve damage. It is a complex and common disease, affecting over 40 million people worldwide. Glaucoma is a slowly progressive and irreversible disease and in most cases, causes a painless loss of eyesight.

The damage to the optic nerve is commonly caused by pressure in the eye, as well as possible decreased blood flow to the optic nerve. Lowering the pressure inside the eye can slow the process of optic nerve damage. The amount of pressure lowering that is necessary to prevent glaucoma from worsening is different for each person and each optic nerve. The more advanced the optic nerve damage, the lower the pressure needs to be to prevent further optic nerve damage and vision loss.

If your doctor has diagnosed you with glaucoma they have informed you that if it not treated, you may experience vision loss and eventual blindness. Commonly, eyedrops are used as a first line of treatment. In many situations, multiple medications are tried to achieve the desired pressure level. However, there can be difficulties with using eyedrops and laser therapy is commonly substituted as a first line of therapy. There are other alternative treatments available, but they generally have higher potential risk.

Recently there have been significant advances to better control the pressure inside the eye. Micro-invasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS) involve bypassing the normal pathway for fluid to leave the eye. MIGS, including the iStent, CyPass, Kahook Dual Blade (KDB), and the OMNI are surgical therapies for patients who have mild to moderate open angle glaucoma. These surgeries are designed to improve the outflow of fluid from the eye, lowering the pressure inside the eye and reducing the need for glaucoma eyedrops. This helps reduce the risk of future vision loss from glaucoma.

Istent® and CyPass are implants that are placed in the drainage area of your eye at the time of cataract surgery. The implants stay in the eye to allow for lower pressure.
KDB and the OMNI are not implants, but are used to open up the drainage system in the eye to allow for lower pressure. These may be performed on its own or at the time of other eye surgeries.
Your surgeon will determine which one of these devices is best for you and your eyes.

All of these options are elective procedures. As your surgeon has discussed, these procedures are potentially beneficial in helping to lower the eye pressure and reduce the number of glaucoma medications that you take. If you decide not to have this procedure, other treatment options may be recommended and should be discussed with your physician to better control your glaucoma.


These procedures should not be performed in eyes with angle closure glaucoma, including uveitic (inflammatory) glaucoma. They should not be performed in patients with neovascular glaucoma or in patients with thyroid eye disease, Sturge-Webber syndrome or any other type of condition that may cause elevated episcleral venous pressure.

Am I a candidate for MIGS?

Only a thorough and comprehensive consultation and evaluation of your open angle glaucoma with an experienced ophthalmologist will determine MIGS candidacy. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Shatz or Dr. Shield, please contact our office through our website, or call 413-584-6422.