When I first arrived in Helena I began writing the Vision of Health.  This series of articles has been going for over 12 years now. I have written on nearly every subject that I have encountered in ophthalmology training.  This week’s article is the one that I knew would be very difficult to write.  Now it is time.  This week’s article is about why I practice ophthalmology and what keeps me motivated to provide a vision of health.

This week’s article starts in the 8th grade when I got my first “C’ in geometry.

This week’s topic is laser surgery for eyes.  Lasers have many uses in the treatment of eye disease and vision correction.

One of the most popular uses of lasers in eye surgery is the excimer laser.  This is the laser used to perform LASIK surgery.  This powerful laser is used to reshape the surface of the cornea.  This improves the focusing power of the eye and allows many patients to go without glasses. 

Another laser used in eye surgery is the Yag laser.  This laser is often used to remove scar tissue that can form on lens implants after cataract surgery. 

This week's article covers the subject of glaucoma.  Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to the retina and optic nerve.  It is commonly associated with high pressure inside of the eyes.  It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. and the world.  Most forms of glaucoma have no symptoms until very late stages of the diseases.  This makes glaucoma a very sneaky thief of vision.

Inside of the eye is a layer of nerve cells.  The million or so retinal nerves come together to form one large optic nerve.  The optic nerve then connects the retina and the eye to the brain. In most forms of glaucoma the pressure in the eye is high enough to damage the retinal and optic nerves.  This damage is permanent and leaves blind spots in the side vision.  If the glaucoma is not treated the blind spots will become larger and eventuality destroy the vision. 

Welcome back to a Vision of Health for 2018.  This week’s topic is the eye care team.

It takes a team approach to treat and provide quality eye care.  This team consists of an ophthalmologist, an optometrist and an optician working together to diagnose and treat eye disease.  This has been described in the past as the “three O’s”. 

The ophthalmologist provides eye exams and surgical treatment of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease.  The optometrist assists with diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and prescribes glasses and contact lenses.  The optician fits glasses and contact lenses to provide quality vision.

The Helena  Eye Clinic was the first clinic to provide all of these services under one roof for the past decade.  Dr. Harberts has been the optometrist with the clinic providing an integral part of this care.  Now Dr. Harberts is joinng his family in Bozeman and will continue to provide excellent care in that community.

    Congratulations Helena High Science Olympiad Team!

Helena Eye Clinic would like to congratulate the Helena High School Science Olympiad Team for their state victory last month.   In addition to promoting a Vision of Health, Helena Eye Clinic encourages and supports our students as they pursue a future of excellence.  The HHS Science Olympiad Team will now represent the State of Montana and travel to Fort Collins, CO for the National Competition in May 2018; however they need your support to make the trip possible.  The Olympiad team is raising money to fund the trip to Nationals.  Helena Eye Clinic will match any donation until the team’s funding needs are met.  Please help support these bright students and this incredible journey they could experience!  All donations are tax deductible and can be sent to HHS Science Club 1300 Billings Ave Helena, MT 59601.  Thank you!


This week’s topic is a continuation of the topic of red eyes.  Last week I reviewed relatively minor causes of red eyes.  This week I will outline causes of red eyes that can cause significant damage to the eyes if not treated promptly.

This week’s article was written while I was in  Tanzania, where despite jet lag, I had a great time being part of a dedicated and talented team who also traveled to deliver eye care.  This week’s topic is the red eye.

When I began my ophthalmology training, I was given the “red eye lecture”.  This was a great lecture that covered the causes of red eye from the harmless to the dangerous. This topic is important because so many eye disorders starts out with the symptom of a red eye. 

Color Blindness

Color Blindness is a group of disorders affecting the ability to distinguish colors.  In most cases, the person can still see colors.  A person with red/green color blindness may confuse the two colors, but see blue and yellow without problems.  In extreme cases there is no color perception at all.


Corneal Transplants

I have been asked if the eye can be transplanted.  The short answer is no.  However, parts of the eye can be transplanted.  This week we’ll explore cornea transplants.

The cornea is the transparent portion of the front of the eye.  It is the window into the eye.  It maintains its clarity by having 
few cells or blood vessels in it.  It is mostly composed of proteins that arranged to allow light through.  If those proteins are altered light doesn’t pass through very easily.  The cornea has a layer of cells on its inner surface.  These cells are responsible for pumping water out of the cornea to prevent swelling.  Swelling can alter the proteins and lead to clouding of the cornea.


Medical Mission Trip

I have enjoyed a wonderful career full of challenges and great rewards.  Preserving and restoring vision have been the goals of every patient visit, every surgery and every article in this series.  The greatest potential for vision preservation and restoration during my career has been during overseas mission trips.

Mission trips often involve assembling a team of volunteers who travel, at their expense, to treat large numbers of patients in a short period of time.