Please Explain: The Eye

Friday, May 02, 2014

On this week's Please Explain we'll find out how the human eye works and how it enables us to see the world around us. Dr. George A. Cioffi, Chairman and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of the Department of Ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, tells us how to keep our eyes healthy; why our vision changes; and how problems like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration affect our vision.


Dr. George A. Cioffi

Comments [36]

This was so good and clear. I didn't hear him say 'uh' a single time. Dr. Cioffi is my hero.

May. 02 2014 01:03 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Anita, unless the clinic specialized in glaucoma, many of the people you mention may have been there for diabetic retinopathy, the #1 cause of blindness in people who have diabetes, which is more common in African Americans.

May. 02 2014 12:55 PM
mike from long island

i called to ask about vision correction exercises, waited on hold for 15 min, but never got to ask. i was an ice hockey goalie till i was 44, great vision. 3 months after i stopped playing, needed 1.00 glasses to read. now i'm up to 2.75 and distance is lousy too. does the bates method, or other methods help? there is a phone app that guides you thru the bates method, but i havent tried it yet. thanks

May. 02 2014 12:54 PM
mike from long island

regarding blepharitis, i suffered from it for 25 years. it would lead to monster chilazions that would have to be lanced by an ete doctor. the the pain and swelling was brutal, as well as looking terrible. doctors never had any answers for me. i used to do the hot potato compress. i found out on my own about tobradex, an antibacterial and steriod. as soon as i felt an itch, i knew one was coming. if i let it go, full blown chalazion. one drop of tobradex , and it would go away. now, i havent used tobradex in a few years, because i wash my eyes with dandruff shampoo. i used the cheap stuff from CVS, and it works. havent has a flare up in years. there is still a little bit of lid redness, but minor, and zero irritation. good luck, i hope this helps.

May. 02 2014 12:50 PM
genejoke from Brooklyn

My vision was impressively sharp for 40 years. I was always a bit far-sighted but it was never a problem.
My job as a photographer and retoucher involves quite a bit of eye strain. Combine that with age and my vision has been on a sadly downward trajectory for the past year.
I've tried adjusting my lens prescription a few times and my current prescription seems to work well, but it takes a minute or so to adjust my vision when I remove my glasses. Is this normal? And does wearing glasses make the eyes more reliant on glasses, and weaker?

May. 02 2014 12:42 PM

I was prescribed Plaquenil in 2006 after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. i was warned that Plaquenil can cause glaucoma. It did, I now have narrow cone glaucoma for the past four years. Will symptoms subside if I discontinue taking this medication?

May. 02 2014 12:40 PM
Anita from nyc

I went to get my examined for glaucoma and noticed that all of the people in the waiting room in this particular clinic were minorities. On the show I heard the stat regarding glaucoma and AfrWican Americans. Why is it so common in that population?

May. 02 2014 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Ashley, I've read that doing a lot of reading in childhood can increase the risk of nearsightedness, & that children should be taught to look up & focus in the distance every 15 minutes or so while they're reading to decrease the risk.

May. 02 2014 12:35 PM
Lindsay from Hastings on Hudson

Can stem cells be used to cure macular degeneration? If so, when do you think stem cells will be available?

May. 02 2014 12:35 PM
Elizabeth from Stone Ridge, NY

My mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration at age 65, what can I do to protect myself from getting this too?

May. 02 2014 12:34 PM
John O from Brooklyn

Which vitamins for eye health?
Thank you
John foim Brooklyn

May. 02 2014 12:34 PM
Lem from NYC

What is nystagmus? I'be been told I have this condition and there is nothing to be done to correct it/

May. 02 2014 12:33 PM
ben from Brooklyn

Has there been any research done it not the effects of using the iPad, especially with the retina display?

May. 02 2014 12:30 PM
Lise from Manhattan

When we were children we were children we were warned to sit back several feet from televisions to avoid straining our eyes. As adults we sit for hours with a screen a few inches away. What if anything have we learned about the relationship between our eyes and staring at screens?

May. 02 2014 12:29 PM
Rita B. from Brooklyn, NY

Why would standard eye drops to reduce eye pressure not be effective. Is glaucoma necessarily caused by high eye pressure? Is there anything else one can do to retain sight?

May. 02 2014 12:29 PM
Robert from NYC

I've recently been diagnosed with macular degeneration in my left eye and when I close my right eye everything is just skwused together and gauzy and blurred to make seeing what I'm looking at just a blur. Is there anything in the near future to correct that? I was told there might be within 3-5 years.
Thank you

May. 02 2014 12:28 PM

Hi. What are floaters? How can I reduce them?


May. 02 2014 12:28 PM
Bruce from New Jersey

I'm writing a book. What would have to happen or not happen to the eye for something NOT to be seen - viz., to be invisible? Thanks!

May. 02 2014 12:27 PM
Ben from Brooklyn

Is it ok to go to an eye-wear store ophthalmologist for an eye exam, if you have not had one before and you are in your 40's? Or should you go to a doctor?

May. 02 2014 12:27 PM

Is there a cure for chronic blepharitis? I recall having been given a steroidal medication several years ago, which helped a lot, but I don't think it is recommended these days.

May. 02 2014 12:26 PM
Judith Candullo

Are there fewer risks with femtosecond cataract surgery compared to standard cataract surgery?

May. 02 2014 12:26 PM
Tam from Brooklyn

A follow-up to Antonio's great question about the purpose of eye color--what kind of tissue gives the iris color? Is it a coloring "system" like skin or hair color? Does eye color fade with age?

May. 02 2014 12:26 PM
B.Tversky from NYC

Re torqued lenses. I was born with an extreme astigmatism (more than 6 diopters) in my left eye, uncorrected until I was 7. In cataract surgery in my 60's I got a torqued lens (correction to 4.5 diopters). It was a mistake as I lost 3D vision and I now have difficulties recognizing objects and parsing scenes. Of course acuity is better in that eye, but there's far more to vision than acuity. I wish ophthalmalogists knew more about seeing!

May. 02 2014 12:25 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Could Dr. Cioffi discuss the effect of normal long-term ultraviolet light exposure on vision?

May. 02 2014 12:25 PM
val from morris county nj

do chronic reactions to seasonal alergies as evidenced by significant mucus on the eye in the mornings during alergy season increase the probability of eye problems later in life?

May. 02 2014 12:25 PM
tom from astoria

Im an artist full time who doesn't have glasses, although lately i need help reading tiny print. Can we exercise the eyes to keep from becoming far sighted? I believe we can. Has anyone developed a system to stretch or strengthen the eye.

May. 02 2014 12:24 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Is it the eye or the brain that corrects our peripheral vision for color, & how does it do this?

May. 02 2014 12:21 PM
Eileen from westport, ct

In the morning the "sleep" or mucus in my eye comes out as a string. It is the length of the entire radius of my eye. It's been like this my entire life. What is this and is it abnormal?

May. 02 2014 12:20 PM
antonio from baySide

What is the purpose of 'eye color?'

May. 02 2014 12:18 PM
Paul from Boston, MA

What are some of the reasons for lack of depth perception? What can be done about it, if anything?

May. 02 2014 12:18 PM
Manhattan41Di from New York City

Question: Can I expect macular degeneration, from which my father suffered, even though I don't follow his much greater use of alcohol and tobacco?

Thank you!

May. 02 2014 12:18 PM
Riley Jones-Cohen

Curious about eye stroke (my definition). Apparently I had one and had 1 injection to see if it could be improved. My first understanding was that we would try the injection a couple of times before surgery would be considered. However, after 1 injection, the physician decided not to inject or cut. My vision is impaired with my left eye fairly blurry and occasionally I see double.

May. 02 2014 12:17 PM

Does the amount of reading one does correlate with nearsightedness? In my family it seems that the ones that read have worse vision (glasses and/or stronger prescriptions) than those that don't read as often.

May. 02 2014 12:12 PM
Lucy Sisman from Manhattan

There's a lot of misinformation out there about vision therapy: can it actually improve sight or correct problems such as double vision?

May. 02 2014 12:09 PM

I'd like to know if it is universal that eyes develop farsightedness at around age 40, or if it is genetic like nearsightedness. Also - what about the safety of laser surgery for nearsightedness?

May. 02 2014 11:20 AM
Ed from Larchmont

It seems to me that the eye looks like the bloom of a flower, how wonderful.

May. 02 2014 08:59 AM

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