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

Halloween Eye Safety

When planning your Halloween costumes, did you consider your vision and how it will affect your eyes? Remember these tips when planning your outfits and reduce your risk of eye related injuries and infections:

  • Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision. Never drive with a mask on as it can impair your field of vision and prohibit you from seeing objects and people around you. Be sure to keep makeup away from eyes, lids and lashes unless it is FDA approved for application near eyes.
  • Test the makeup you plan to use in advance. Put a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, that’s a sign of a possible allergy. Check the package and make sure that you are wearing a hypo-allergenic certified makeup product.
  • Vibrantly colored makeup is popular at Halloween. Check FDA’s list of color additives to see if the colors are FDA approved. If they aren’t approved for their intended use, don’t use them. This is especially important for colored makeup around the eyes. Follow product guidelines properly, especially regarding instructions about application around the eyes.
  • Don’t wear decorative (colored) contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional for a proper fitting and been given instructions for how to use the lenses. Never buy contact lenses without a valid fitting and prescription from an eye care provider.
  • Don’t wear fake eyelashes or extensions unless they are applied by a professional asthetician.  Be sure to test eyelash glue for allergies before applying to your own lashes/lids.
  • Avoid pointed props such as swords, spears, wands and stick, brooms, canes.  They can endanger your eyes and others if not being used safely and properly.

Take good care of your eyes this holiday season and reduce your risk for scarring, infection, and permanent vision reduction or loss by following these healthy Halloween eye safety tips! Have a happy and safe Halloween!


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.