Eric Donnenfeld, a clinical professor of ophthalmology, sorts through what puts one’s vision at risk, and what’s saving eyesight for more and more patients.

Mediaplanet: What is one area of eye health that you have seen innovation raise?

Eric Donnenfeld: Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the United States today, and also one of the most effective. Innovation, with ophthalmologists partnering with industry, has improved both the safety and efficacy of cataract surgery. New technology, such as laser cataract surgery, has improved the precision of the procedure while new replacement lens designs now give us the opportunity to give our patients freedom from glasses for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. There are even lenses that give patients vision for distance and reading, providing complete spectacle independence.

MP: What is one aspect of eye health that our readers should pay close attention to, for their own health.

ED: Interestingly, the old wives’ tale that you should not read in the dark and that it would ruin your eyes is simply not true. Reading in the dark may make it harder to see but does not damage your eyes. In fact, the opposite is true. Too much light is bad for your eyes, especially ultraviolet light. When outside, especially on a sunny day, we should all wear UV protecting sunglasses or a hat with a brim to reduce the risk of skin cancer around the eyes, cataracts and macular degeneration.

"Nutrition may not be exciting technology, but it is extremely effective."

MP: How can our readers keep their eyes as healthy as possible?

ED: We work in the high-tech specialty of ophthalmology and, ironically, one of the best ways we can keep our eyes healthy is by following the low tech, basic premise of good nutrition. There are a number of studies that have shown that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) dramatically improves the quality of our tear film and reduces the risk of the most common complaint that patients have when seeking eye care: dry eye disease.

Most omega-3 fatty acids are processed to remove impurities that make them safe but also change their ability to be absorbed. New generation omega-3 fatty acids are converted back to their natural triglycerides and improve their therapeutic efficacy. Nutrition may not be exciting technology, but it is extremely effective.

MP: Where do you see the eye industry advancing five years from now?

ED: The eye industry is advancing at a remarkable pace and I see the quality of vision and safety of eye surgery, while already exceptional, becoming truly remarkable. Patients who are undergoing cataract surgery or laser vision correction (LASIK) can expect to have a procedure that not only improves their vision but the quality of their lives.

In fact, the line between cataract surgery and laser vision correction is beginning to blur, as they merge together to give patients the opportunity for spectacle independence. New medications are also coming that will reduce or eliminate the need for eye drops following surgery. In fact, just last year the first FDA approved medication, Omidria, placed in the eye during routine cataract surgery has been show to be safe and effective at improving cataract surgery outcomes.