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Diabetes affects millions of Americans. During the month of November communities put forth great effort to educate regarding the prevention and management of this disease.

We would like to do our part in discussing how Annual eye exams are vital to maintaining your vision and overall health. In honor of #DiabetesAwarenessMonth we feel it is useful to relay how optomap® with its 3D images can assist our team in their quest to preserve your vision. The first time a new patient is seen in our office for an annual eye exam our doctors dilate as normal, establishing a baseline. A welcome benefit to our patients –following their initial dilated exam–is that that a routine exam can be performed without dilation, if there are no additional findings to suggest otherwise. The image produced is unique and provides Drs. Del Negro, Senft, Glatman, Shah, Wiedeman, and Carniglia with a high-resolution 200° image in order to ascertain the health of your retina. This is much wider than a traditional 45° image. It’s an excellent screening tool.

Many eye conditions can develop under your radar. In fact, early on you may not even notice a change in the clarity of your vison. Fortunately, diseases or damage such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal tears or detachments, and other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure can be seen with a thorough exam of the retina. Early intervention is critical in helping you maintain your current vision. #eyesareeverything #diabetesawareness2019

Overall health and dexterity can improve daily lifestyle–from navigating your home to exercising and everything in-between.

As we age, we may notice that some tasks become more difficult, especially related to Hand-Eye coordination.

What is Hand-Eye coordination? According to Jim Brown, PhD, it is the ability to perform activities that require simultaneous use of the hands and eyes. With a decline in hand-eye coordination, the brain has trouble communicating efficiently when telling the hands to carry out a movement.

Tasks affected by a decline or loss of Hand-Eye-Coordination:

  • Writing
  • Driving
  • Sewing
  • Inserting a key into a lock
  • Buttoning a shirt or blouse
  • Tying a tie
  • Striking keys on a cellphone
  • Reaching for an object (without knocking over another object in the process)
  • Playing a sport

The good news is that we can work against this decline by participating in activities, such as yoga, that engage and actually look to improve these specific functions. Yoga can play a huge part in developing your personal sense of hand-eye coordination. According to Christian Valeriani, owner of EvenFlow Yoga based in Red Bank, “Yoga has many benefits which include stress management, mindfulness, balance and physical flexibility and strength.” Valeriani goes on to explain, “When a practitioner performs unilateral poses, or poses on one side, and then alternates sides, the hemispheres of the brain become more equanimeous. Many poses also require the activation of the extremities like fingers and toes. In turn, neurotransmission, or brain communication to the body, is refined, which positively affects physical movement and sensory acuity. Additionally, practitioners also enhance proprioception, or the sixth sense, which governs how one ‘holds’ themselves in space. Enhancing proprioception is critical as we age. For example, if one has vision issues, the way the world is perceived is slightly skewed and the ‘language’ between the brain and eyes can be confusing. Consequently, the stronger eye compensates and ultimately bears the load.”

In this respect yoga builds the body up. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” Valeriani aptly puts this concept into perspective, “So yoga, with its various movements and orientations to gravity, stimulate and challenge the senses to delay deterioration. Even simply sitting in a chair and moving the eyeballs in different directions is Yoga! The net effect is maintaining functionality of tasks such as tying knots, driving, writing, etc. Simply activating mindfulness to any movement keeps the brain alive and laser sharp, which can only improve your relationship to yourself and the world around you.”

Christian Valeriani is a contributor to our Vision & Yoga blogs


Daniel Kish is using his skill of echolocation to teach others who are blind. Amazingly, he navigates the world by creating a clicking sound with his tongue and sending it out, knowing that he will gain the information needed to create a view of his surroundings–solely based on sound. According to Victoria Gill, “People who use ‘echolocation’ employ it in a very similar way to bats–producing clicks that bounce off objects and ‘sonify’ them into a picture of the surroundings.”  In her BBC News article, Gill highlights the findings concluded by Dr. Lore Thaler’s research. The skill variations of eight volunteers were studied in a controlled environment. The findings were published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. Daniel Kish explained echolocation to BBC News as “a bit like opening one’s eyes.”

Echolocation is an additional layer that can aid the blind in navigating their surroundings. Dr. Andrew Kolarik adds some insight by pointing out: “[The technique] can also be very useful at providing information at face or chest height, to avoid objects like low hanging branches that might not get detected by the white cane or a guide dog. . . So teaching echolocation skills could provide blind people with the means of exploring new places [through sound].”

Click here to read Victoria Gill’s article, “How humans echolocate ‘like bats.’”

If you or a loved one recently lost vision in one eye, you may assume that your sighted eye will automatically compensate and it will be life as usual. Unfortunately, a transitional period does exist in which you will need to work toward feeling more comfortable and capable of managing all daily activities while relying solely on your monocular vision. Simply put, it is quite an adjustment. It may take six to nine months to adjust, according to Diane Whitaker, OD, chief of the Duke Eye Center’s vision rehabilitation service.

Dr. Whitaker developed a protocol to jumpstart adults who have lost vision in just one eye (monocular vision loss), no matter how the vision loss came about. Dr. Whitaker explains that many eye doctors have underestimated the process of re-learning and developing new behavior to compensate for this loss. There are exercises that can build up and make you more aware of your senses, which have a cumulative effect in your performance of daily activities, like tracking an object and driving your vehicle.

Visual Training Activities:

  • Reaching for and grasping objects
  • Orientation and mobility exercises to learn how to modify behavior to be more cautious when walking
  • Taking part in a rehabilitation program to become safer drivers using training and or adaptive equipment

Tackling such a comprehensive program will speed up recovery and improve confidence, according to Dr. Whitaker.

There are local programs that focus on this type of rehabilitation, so be sure to inquire through your ophthalmologist or optometrist. Putting in the time will be a great benefit to your independence and lessen any anxiety associated with your monocular vision loss.

Contact us at 732-774-5566 for more information.

Learning To Live With One Eye,” Duke Health Blog

Yesterday we had the pleasure of participating in Hackensack Meridian Health’s Mitchell-Vassar Vision Awareness Day held at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge. Dr. Stacy Doumas and keynote speaker Jennifer Rothschild captivated the audience with stories of inspiration and emotional harmony.

Dr. Dumas discussed “Emotional Harmony” citing various techniques to ensure that our emotions are in agreement–to secure emotional stability as we go through our daily lives. She spoke about a simple concept that is often forgotten: We have the power to change how we react to behavior. It is in our hands. Don’t be overwhelmed, know you have the strength to get through the anxiety and difficult times, even if you wind up “sitting” in that difficult, uncomfortable space for longer than you had intended. Know that you can take the time, adapt, develop a resilience, talk to people, keep perspective and, most importantly, keep a positive outlook always. As Dr. Dumas reminded us: “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Jennifer Rothschild, at the young age of 15 was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative retina condition which ultimately leads to complete blindness. In Rothschild’s words “light was replaced with darkness.” Through her story we saw that this was indeed a devastating diagnosis, but she chose to change her perspective. She shared that her condition did not define her, but, rather refined her path for the rest of her life. She turned to new outlets, experiences, and challenges to express herself living each day beyond her limits. She took on challenges and fought against doubt. She chose to make blindness her ally. Throughout her engaging discussion Rothschild explained that you can be the boss, your self-imposed disability DOES NOT define you, it actually helps you to grow. The key is trading fear for faith/flight. And, above all else always say, and believe, “I Can!” This positive perspective has allowed Rothschild to enjoy a rich life filled with personal as well as professional accomplishments and has been a great source of inspiration for those who received her very poignant message.

So grateful to The Mitchell-Vassar Bright Future Legacy and all the organizers at Hackensack Meridian Health who made this very special and educational day possible. The event, in loving memory of Janice Mitchell-Vassar, provided a poignant pep-talk for all attendees.

This year’s mission trip to the DR was another wonderful success, thanks to all the amazing volunteers that pitched in at every level. Drs. Ralph and Robyn Del Negro were accompanied by their youngest daughter, Isabella, and were very proud to join this amazing team of professionals.

Eye physicians and surgeons performed 400 surgeries including:

  • 166 cataract procedures
  • 8 Pterygium
  • 87 strabismus
  • 23 plastics
  • 38 SLT (selective laser trabeculoplasty)
  • 13 YAG capsulotomy
  • 3 dermatology OR
  • 62 minor procedures

In addition to the above surgical procedures, 1,214 primary eye care consultations took place, and a number of ocular prosthetics were used to replace the absence of a person’s natural eye, making a huge impact.

Here are some pictures from this year’s VHP DR Mission: