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Eye Witness

New Technology at St. Charles Vision's Metairie location (3200 Severn Ave., Metairie, 887-2020) is enabling doctors there to see more clearly into the vision health and other potential health problems of their patients, usually without the need to dilate the eye.

The office is the only one in the region that offers Optomap technology, a machine that takes a laser scan and photographs of 200 degrees of the retina. Other machines in use allow imaging of only 30 degrees.

"It's all done with digital technology, so the ability to see details is truly amazing," says Dr. Ivan Bank, who owns St. Charles Vision with Dr. Charles Glazer. "We've found people with associated diseases from colon cancer to glaucoma to high lipid levels in the blood."

After the laser scan is completed, the images can be displayed on a screen and even printed out to show patients any problem areas. In addition, Bank says he can email the images to the patient's physicians to help in treatment of any detected conditions.

Being able to scan the retina without dilation helps patients avoid the blurred vision caused by dilating drops as well as the hours-long sensitivity to light. "[Some] people have refused dilation because of the discomfort and inconvenience, because they're busy, and diseases get missed," he says.

The Optomap exam takes only a few seconds.

"We can do it during their regular eye exam appointment," Bank says. "It's linked up to computer monitors in our exam rooms, and the patient views the information with us. When the patient can see what we're looking at immediately, they can see why they need to get their eyes examined regularly. It makes them more compliant."

The Optomap is not the only improvement at St. Charles Vision. Bank says there now are contacts available for people who have had less than optimal results from laser eye surgery.

"Laser surgery reshapes the cornea, and there are times when it is misshaped; there are two new contacts that help," he says. Those contacts help to reshape the cornea to give the wearer more visual clarity. They also are comfortable and allow air to move through the lenses, which is healthier and more comfortable for the eye.

St. Charles Vision, which works with laser surgeon Dr. Stephen Brint on pre-op and post-op care, is presently introducing Intralase technology, in which a laser cuts the flap for cornea reshaping, which is more precise than some other methods and cuts recovery time to a minimum.

Although Optomap and Intralase are only offered at the Metairie location, contact fitting and other services are available at all St. Charles Vision offices (138 Carondelet St., 522-0826; 624 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-8064), and a new location is opening soon at the corner of St. Charles and Carrollton avenues.

Among the most popular offerings are bifocal contact lenses, says Dr. Charles Glazer. "This is new technology," he says. "One bifocal size (for one eye) is larger than the other bifocal (for the other eye), so you maintain clarity. You monofit one eye for distance and one for reading. This is perfect for many patients. ... Many individuals who are just nearsighted and wear contacts can't see for reading up close with contacts on, so many are into this new kind of bifocal."

St. Charles Vision also offers the new Ciba Night and Day contacts, a lens that is safe for patients to wear continually for about a month.

"It's almost like you don't have a contact lens on," Glazer says. "This lens also is made out of silicone-based plastic ... so it repels deposits of calcium and protein that usually adhere to lenses and cause inflammation and infection."

Dealing With Addiction

A host of speakers will address the problems of drug abuse during a free public seminar from 1:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 16 at the J. Bennett Johnston Health and Environmental Research Building (1324 Tulane Ave.).

The seminar, hosted by Tulane University's neuroscience program, will address how to deal with drug abuse, addiction, relapse and remediation.

For more information, call 588-5449.

World-class Race

Competitive runners have a chance to participate in a world-class race, the 26th Crescent City Classic, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 10. The race, sponsored by The Times-Picayune and Kentwood Springs Water, recently was rated the second most competitive race in the word by Running Times Magazine.

Runners can register for the 10k race at www.ccc10k.com, or get an entry form at The Athlete's Foot, Sav-A-Ceter, Academy Sports, Whitney National Bank or Subway. In addition to the race, there will be a two-day Crescent City Classic Health and Fitness Expo from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel (500 Canal St.). It will feature more than 100 booths offering information about health, fitness and running.

HIV Discussion

The increasing incidence of HIV among heterosexual African-American men is the subject of a panel discussion at 6 p.m. April 29 at the Tulane University School of Medicine (1430 Tulane Ave.).

The panel discussion, which features New York Times writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis and others, is sponsored by the Society of Young Black Public Health Professionals and Healthy New Orleans: The City That Cares Partnership/Center for Empowered Decision Making.

The discussion is free and open to the public, and free, confidential HIV testing and counseling are available. For more information, contact Mandy Roberts at 883-2682.

Sign Language Classes

In honor of Deaf Awareness Month in April, the Irish Channel Action Foundation is sponsoring sign language classes from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday (except for Easter week) through May 4. Classes are $5 each -- family rates and scholarships are available -- and will be held at the Irish Channel Action Foundation (1813 Magazine St.). Handouts will be provided at the classes, conducted by instructor Barbara Lovas. For more information and to reserve a spot, call 525-1940.

Dr. Ivan Banks of St. Charles Vision demonstrates the benefits of the new Optomap technology for eye exams.
  • Dr. Ivan Banks of St. Charles Vision demonstrates the benefits of the new Optomap technology for eye exams.

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