UV Rays and Eye Safety

June 18th 2012

UV Rays and Increase Risk for Eye Diseases like Cataracts, Macular Degeneration

Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons Offers Tips for Safe Fun in the Sun

Lincoln, NE – It’s summertime, which means the days are longer and people are enjoying more time outdoors. But, along with risks to your skin, UV rays can be dangerous for your eyes. Studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer.

The good news is sunglasses, hats, and a little bit of knowledge can go a long way to protect your precious vision. That’s why the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons is reminding the public of the simple tips to protect their precious vision this UV Safety Awareness Month.

“UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens,” said David Ingvoldstad, MD “Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose to their vision, and this can lead to potentially blinding eye diseases.”

The Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons offers these tips to protect your eyes from the sun:

  • Wear sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection. Regardless of the cost or color of your shades, make sure they block 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays and wear them anytime you are outside or driving during the day.
  • Choose wrap-around styles: Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
  • Wear a hat: In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
  • Don’t rely on contact lenses: Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
  • Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside. It’s especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
  • Don’t be fooled by clouds: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds. In fact, sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
  • Don’t forget the kids: Everyone is at risk, including children. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.

“The longer you are outside in bright light, the greater the risk for eye damage,” says Dr. Ingvoldstad “Don’t forget that UV rays can cause eye damage year-round as well, regardless of whether it is sunny or cloudy.”

Excessive exposure to UV light reflected off sand, water or pavement can damage the eyes’ front surface. In addition to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, sun exposure can lead to lesions and tumors that may require surgical removal. Pinguecula, tiny yellow bumps on the eye, are common from too much UV exposure. They begin on the white part of the eye and may eventually disrupt your vision.

Damage to the eyes from UV light is not limited to the outdoors; it is also a concern with indoor tanning beds. Tanning beds can produce UV levels up to 100 times what you would get from the sun, which can cause very serious damage to the external and internal structures of the eye and eyelids.

For more information on keeping eyes healthy or to find an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) in your area, visit www.geteyesmart.org.


The mission of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons is to promote the highest quality medical and surgical eye care through public and professional education, membership services, and legislative advocacy

Iowa Eye Association Annual Meeting

Save the Date! – The Iowa Eye Association Annual Meeting will be held June 22-23, 2012 at  The University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Iowa City, Iowa

Join colleagues for a continuing education conference featuring leaders in the field of Ophthalmology. This year’s agenda will focus on Retina, Cataract/Comprehensive Ophthalmology, and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Join us for stimulating lectures, interesting case discussions, and interactive workshops.

For more information contact Joe Schmidt at: 319-384-8529 or joe-schmidt@uiowa.edu or visit: http://webeye.ophth.uiowa.edu/rounds-calendar/iowa-eye-meeting

Vigorous Exercise May Prevent Vision Loss

Vigorous Exercise May Prevent Vision Loss

Exercise may have yet another benefit – vision protection. In a recent U.S. study, researchers found that vigorous exercise reduced the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.  The study tracked approximately 41,000 runners for more than seven years. It suggested that people can possibly lessen their risk for these eye diseases by taking part in a vigorous fitness regimen. On average, running 2 to 4 km (1.2 to 2.5 miles) a day reduced the risk by 19% and running more than 4 km a day reduced the risk by 42% to 54%, compared with those who ran less than 2 km a day. It seems exercise could provide similar protective benefits for the eyes as it does for the heart and other bodily systems.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens, your eye becomes like a window that is frosted or yellowed. Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss, especially as we age. Age-related macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina. Macular degeneration can cause sudden, severe loss of vision in the middle of your visual field. For more information on these and other eye diseases, visit http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmartTM campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Eat for Eye Health

Eat for Eye Health

The old adage that eating carrots will improve your vision is not entirely true. It is actually vitamin A, a nutrient found in carrots, that helps protect your eyes; this is the same nutrient that is found in many other vegetables including leafy greens, spinach, broccoli and sweet potatoes. The important thing is to make sure to include a variety of vegetables in your diet for good eye health.

Want to learn more about eye-healthy foods, including delicious recipes from celebrity chefs? As part of its National Give the Gift of Sight campaign, EyeCare America is offering a free, colorful recipe book, called Feast Your Eyes on This! The cookbook makes for a wonderful gift filled with eye-healthy dishes and can be printed out at www.eyecareamerica.org.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart Campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2012 Released

Proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2012 Released-Confirms 30% SGR Payment Reduction
2012 ASC Rule with New Quality Reporting Program/Penalties Also Released

As expected, the proposed 2012 Medicare physician fee schedule – released today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – includes a 30 percent reduction in payments due to continuation of the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The ongoing, SGR-driven uncertainty around what physicians will be paid is bad for everyone involved. Tell your member of Congress that physicians need stability and a Medicare program partnership that they can rely on.

CMS anticipates that the conversion factor will be 23.96 in 2012, as compared to 33.97. The final rule due later this year may make significant changes to that amount, depending on what happens in any SGR legislation considered this year.

If the SGR cut is halted as in similar years, ophthalmology payments in general would increase by 2 percent in 2012, according to CMS.  As an example, the payment for cataract procedures (66984) would increase to $753.67 in 2012, up from a 2011 rate of $742.38.

Additionally, CMS has proposed that the AMA Specialty Society Relative-value Update Committee (RUC) do an extensive review of the Evaluation and Management codes, citing a belief that the work and intensity of those services when provided by primary care physicians has increased. Further, CMS is calling on the RUC to include several other high-volume services that have not been RUC reviewed since 2006. There are several eye codes on that list, including 66982 complex cataract, 92083 visual field and 92235 fluoroscein angiography.

Finally, the rule includes proposed quality and cost measures that would be used in establishing a new value-based modifier that would reward physicians for providing higher quality and more efficient care. There is one eye care related measure included:  Measure 13: Diabetes Eye Exam. The Affordable Care Act requires CMS to begin making payment adjustments to certain physicians and physician groups on Jan. 1, 2015, and to apply the modifier to all physicians, including ophthalmologists, by Jan. 1, 2017.

CMS has fact sheets available on the 2012 proposed rule.

Regarding the ASC rule and new quality reporting requirements, more details will follow in next week’s Washington Report Express. Note: the proposed ASC payment update for 2012 is 0.9 percent.

Notable Proposed Changes to PQRS and E-Prescribing

The Academy is pleased to announce that CMS has included a new Academy-advanced cataract measure group in the proposed 2012 schedule. Although ophthalmology was one of the top three performing specialties in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2009, we have been working to improve success rates. We believe the measure group will facilitate greater ophthalmology success in 2012.The measure group includes:

  • Measure 191: Cataracts: 20/40 or Better Visual Acuity within 90 Days Following Cataract Surgery
  • Measure 192: Cataracts: Complications within 30 Days Following Cataract Surgery Requiring Additional Surgical Procedures
  • New: Cataracts: Improvement in Patient’s Visual Function within 90 Days Following Cataract Surgery
  • New: Cataracts: Patient Satisfaction within 90 Days Following Cataract Surgery

If the measure group is finalized by CMS, ophthalmologists who choose to report the group will qualify for the PQRS incentive by reporting the measure group for 30 patients over the course of the year. Final specifications for the group reporting will be available later this year.


Under current CMS rules, ophthalmologists are required to e-prescribe 25 times during the 2011 calendar year in order to avoid a 1.5 percent payment adjustment/penalty in 2013. CMS has announced changes to the 2013 and 2014 Medicare e-prescribing penalties that will allow physicians more time to avoid penalties in 2013 and 2014. CMS also proposes to include prescriptions electronically transmitted in conjunction with all Medicare Part B services provided during the reporting period, whether or not the service is included in the e-prescribing measure denominator. This change will allow surgeons who prescribe medications outside of the office visit to successfully e-prescribe.

CMS has also proposed to eliminate discrepancies in the system requirements for e-prescribing and meaningful use. Physicians with a certified electronic health record (EHR) system would be allowed to use their EHR system to e-prescribe and avoid future penalties, even if the certified EHR does not meet the CMS system requirements for the e-prescribing program. A similar change was proposed for 2012 e-prescribing earlier this year but has not been finalized.

If you have questions, contact the Academy’s Governmental Affairs office at 202.737.6662.

American Academy of Ophthalmology Leadership Development Program

The Academy is very pleased to announce that the following twenty Eye M.D.s were chosen via a competitive selection process to participate in the Academy’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) XIV, Class of 2012.

A sincere thanks to all the state, sub specialty and specialized interest societies who submitted nominees. In addition, the international participant who was selected, Michiyo Stern, MD of Japan, was nominated by the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

As participants on the LDP Selection Committee, we can personally express what a difficult job we had in selecting amongst an impressive pool of nominees. Based on program evaluations, we are committed to maintaining a small class size to maximize interaction and collaborative learning.

Congratulations to the LDP XIV, Class of 2012!

Wesley H. Adams, MD – Montana Academy of Ophthalmology

Natalie A. Afshari, MD – Ocular Microbiology & Immunology Group

Ronald A. Braswell, MD – Alabama Academy of Ophthalmology

Susan K. Burden, MD – North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons

Geoffrey G. Emerson, MD, PhD – American Society of Retina Specialists

Sidney K. Gicheru, MD – Texas Ophthalmological Association

Neeru Gupta, MD, PhD – Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

Don O. Kikkawa, MD – American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Alan E. Kimura, MD – Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons

Mark R. Nelson, MD – Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology

Tatyana Milman, MD – American Society of Ophthalmic Oncologists and Pathologists

Nicholas M. Mittica, MD – New Mexico Academy of Ophthalmology

Daniel E. Neely, MD – American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus

Millicent Palmer-Johnson, MD – Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons

Jeff H. Pettey, MD – Utah Ophthalmological Society

Nathan M. Radcliffe, MD – American Glaucoma Society

William W. Richardson II, MD – Kentucky Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons

Michiyo Stern, MD – Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology

Eric. R. Thomas, MD – South Dakota Academy of Ophthalmology

Anthony J. Viti, MD – Virginia Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons
The class will begin with an Orientation Session held in conjunction with the Academy’s Annual Meeting in Orlando. The LDP XIV, Class of 2012, will be joined by participants in the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology’s Curso de Liderazgo for this orientation session as well as for their January 2012 session in San Francisco.

If you have any questions about the Academy’s Leadership Development Program, please contact
Gail Schmidt, Director of Ophthalmic Society Relations.

Are Your Child’s Eyes Ready for School?

Are Your Child’s Eyes Ready for School?

Healthy eyes and vision are necessary for school success and an enjoyable life. Parents naturally want to help their children learn and succeed in school and enjoy life. Vision and eye health are key to students’ ability to do well in the classroom, on the playground, in sports and when studying at home.

Since children usually don’t complain about subtle problems with their eyesight or eyes, it’s important that they receive vision screening and eye health check-ups with a primary care doctor, pediatrician or other qualified health professional during well child exams, when they enter school or whenever a vision or eye health problem is suspected. If a vision or eye problem is detected, your healthcare professional should refer you to an Eye M.D. (ophthalmologist). For more information on eye health, visit: www.geteyesmart.org.