Devine, Pfeil and Mackrill Provide Eye Care in Haiti

Last month I had the pleasure of joining Dr. James Devine, Dr. Todd Pfeil and our non-profit co-founder, Troy Kirk, on a trip to Haiti. As this was our first official trip for Shared Vision International, we were unsure of what to expect. However, each day exceeded our expectations, and hundreds of lives (400 to be exact) were affected even more than we could have hoped. It is hard to accurately describe the feeling of being able to share sight with others. The employees of EyeCare Specialties know this feeling very well as we have this privileged opportunity every day. Before our trip, I took that feeling for granted because we see hundreds of patients each day at our clinics and help to enhance their lives through complete vision care.

There was something special that occurred in Haiti when we looked into the eyes of a 68 year old Haitian woman (who was unaware how poor her vision really was), placed the new frames on her face, and witnessed her experience in that first moment of clear sight in 68 years. That initial moment of clear sight was just a glimpse of the many moments to come in her transformed life.

I wish I could share each story with you, but the few that will follow in this blog series are some of the most memorable stories that we were able to share while serving the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. This trip would not have been possible without the support and donations of our patients, employees, and other industry connections. Many contributed funding and others contributed frames, lenses, services, equipment, etc. Every bit of it was a necessary piece for the trip’s success, and we thank you. We are confident that this was just the first of many trips Shared Vision International will embark upon, abroad as well as locally. We are all fortunate to have been blessed with the resources and skills to help others, and we look forward to continuing in this partnership together that we might share with those who are less fortunate. Together we can share vision in order to enhance and transform lives.

The goals and mission of Shared Vision International (SVI) are easily explained within its own name. The purpose of SVI is to provide resources to assist and share in the provision of relief, including the restoration of everyday visual acuity through the charitable distribution and education of eyewear and eye care to those in need both domestically and internationally. We have a passion to share all the resources we have been blessed with in order to help others see life more clearly, starting with their eyes. We strongly believe that the rest of a person’s life can be dramatically enhanced with improved vision. We want to assist in the visual restoration of lives by sharing our compassion, time, people, leadership, philosophy, funds, and education. We also intend to partner with other non-profits by joining their trips and inviting them on ours. Sharing resources with other for-profit and non-profit groups can affect many more lives. The “Vision” part speaks not only to our role as eye care professionals, but also to our optimistic vision for our world. We desire to share a vision that creates a sustainable, long-term relationship with those lives we come into contact with. We want to cultivate relationships with individual recipients, our donors, and our partner organizations so the enhancement of vision remains and grows to positively affect the greater restoration of lives. Although the name includes “International” we do intend on charitably distributing part of the funds and resources locally as well as to international causes. Our goal is to create a full-circle connection with the donors and the recipients by sharing the story of how one shared vision with the other, whether it be their eyewear, their funds, etc. We believe a by-product of this full-circle concept will create the intrinsic drive to share that story with others and both lives will be enhanced, which again is just a glimpse of the greater goal of restored lives.

EyeCare Specialties Wants To Hear From You

We want to thank our patients for choosing and recommending EyeCare Specialties over the years. One of the ways we have been able to successfully grow our optometry practice has been by reading your excellent comments and questions.

Since we sincerely value your opinions, we have made it easier for you to let us know how we are doing as a company. For your convenience, we are offering an online comment card. The online comment card lets you give us feedback at your convenience and only takes a few minutes to complete.

On the online comment card, you will see questions about when and where you had your appointment and whether or not it was easy to make. You will have the option of including additional comments that address your unique experience, as well as including your contact information, so that we can quickly answer your questions. We also ask how you heard about EyeCare Specialties so we can learn the best ways to get information out to our current and future patients.

Following your next appointment, please go to our website, click on the comment card icon on the homepage, and tell us about your visit. No business grows without the honest feedback of its patients and we want to hear what you have to say.

Learn Your Macular Degeneration Risk at EyeCare Specialties

Do you or someone you know have Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are currently 1.8 million people with AMD and 7.3 million are at risk for the disease. AMD is currently the leading cause of blindness in adults 55 and older and studies estimate that 1 in 3 adults over age 65 will be diagnosed with AMD.

Many of you have probably heard of macular degeneration but may not be exactly sure what it is. The macula, a highly-pigmented spot about the size of a pencil eraser, has the highest concentration of visual cells in the retina and is responsible for your fine-detailed central and color vision. Over time, the macula can deteriorate which can progressively lead to blindness. Many of us think of blindness like living in a dark cave. AMD, however, affects your central vision, leaving your peripheral vision intact. This can leave a dark or empty spot right in the area of our vision we use most and take for granted. We use our macula for many of our daily tasks, such as driving, watching TV, working on your computer or smartphone, or reading the newspaper. Major risk factors for macular degeneration include uncontrollable factors like age, family history (genetics), female gender, and light skin and eyes. Factors you can control are smoking, excessive sun exposure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, poor diet, and lack of exercise. Studies have also shown that low protective pigment levels in the macula of lutein and zeaxanthin are also risk factors. Lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients we get through our diets or by taking nutritional supplements. Scientists have found that the higher the concentration of these nutrients we have, the better protected we are against AMD.

At EyeCare Specialties we are able to measure the amounts of these key nutrients in your retina using an instrument called the Quantifeye. This painless device gives us a reading of your Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD). Once we have this number we are better able to assess your level of AMD risk. Quantifeye is currently only available at our Beatrice location.

Macular degeneration can be a devastating ocular disease but there are steps you can take to help better protect yourself. Start by eating a diet of dark, green leafy vegetables and colorful fruits, eat fish rich in Omega 3’s several times per week, get plenty of exercise, and if you smoke, Stop! Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses to better protect against harmful UV radiation and give EyeCare Specialties a call to set up a time to have your MPOD tested. EyeCare Specialties also carries dietary supplements that can help decrease your risk of developing or possibly slow the progression of macular degeneration.


Eyewear: The Finishing Touch to Any Wardrobe

Eyeglasses can be more than functional: they can serve as the finishing touch – or main focus – of your wardrobe. At EyeCare Specialties, we update our frame lines frequently so you have the latest designer options to choose from. Each designer has a different personality. We hope you find the designer and frames that match your personality and lifestyle. Some of our favorite lines are listed below; you can find these and more at our locations.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen has been a fashion icon for years. His eyewear ties together influences of modern and traditional design. His designs incorporate the use of contrasting materials like titanium and natural wood for a modern twist. We like these frames because they are artistic and sophisticated.

HUGO BOSS is known for classic, well-made style. These frames are smooth and sophisticated. Many people like them because they are elegant and timeless. These frames will take you from work into evening without worry.

Jimmy Choo
Jimmy Choo sunglasses reflect the same highly-fashionable yet wearable style as its creator’s luxury shoe line. The British designer features youthful, innovative eyewear designs with classic elegance and stunning beauty. These frames are modern without being ostentatious.

Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs’ eyewear collection gives a nod to vintage style, crafted with subtle designs and attention to detail. This youthful line provides elegance
that enhances anyone’s style and adds a bold, sophisticated look.

Kenneth Cole New York & Kenneth Cole Reaction
Kenneth Cole’s eyewear lines capture both sides of the coin. Kenneth Cole New York captures the essence of the urban young professional while Kenneth Cole Reaction offers stylish, affordable frames with a contemporary twist.

Tom Ford
We love Tom Ford eyewear collection because it pairs classic style with quality and authentic materials. Tom Ford is fashion-forward no matter what your style. The women’s frames are elegant while the men’s frames are masculine. Tom Ford is an EyeCare Specialties favorite for customers and employees alike.


Sports Vision: How to Keep Your Eyes Safe

When you think of sports equipment, what comes to mind? Probably bats, gloves and balls; maybe jerseys and kneepads. What you probably don’t think of is eyewear. Sports eyewear is an extremely important, and an often overlooked, necessity when it comes to playing your favorite games.

Sports can be extremely visually demanding. There are two categories when it comes to sports eyewear. First, you probably want to improve your game. When playing, the eyes move in rapid and precise ways, which helps the brain interpret and predict things like an object’s path and speed. It is also important to see the contrast of objects, for example, finding a fly ball against a cloudless blue sky.

The second category is ocular safety. When playing sports, there are many uncontrollable elements that can be detrimental to your eye health. There are the obvious hazards like balls and objects that are swung – bats, racquets, hooks and even hands – but there are also environmental objects like sand, dirt, grass, turf, and pieces of broken equipment that can all come in contact with your eyes, often at high speeds.

At the very least, we recommend contact lenses for sports because of the increased peripheral range of vision without the risk of a frame damaging your face or eyes. Though sport-specifc eyewear is the best option, contacts are still better than regular prescription frames.

While EyeCare Specialties does offer urgent eye care services, we want you to take preventative steps and keep your eyes safe. Below is a list of some common (and not so common) sports and the benefits of sport-specific eyewear.

Airsoft: Airsoft pellets travel at high speeds, which means you need eyewear that will stand up to the challenge. Airsoft glasses are lightweight and have high-level UV protection along with the impact-resistance to keep your eyes safe.

Baseball: Those sunglasses your favorite major league player wears aren’t just for looks. The lenses are specially made to withstand high-velocity impacts that may occur in baseball.

Cycling: Cycling puts you outside, often during sunny hours, and moving at high speeds. We recommend lenses that are polarized, impact-resistant and lightweight for comfort.

Basketball: Basketball can be a sport of flying elbows. Basketball eyewear helps protect your eyes, and sometimes your nose, from impact. A good eyeguard will be shatter-proof with facial padding and anti-fog to help you see clearly.

Fishing: While fishing is often viewed as a relaxing activity, there are plenty of risks to your eyes, as well as benefits of specific lenses. Polarized glasses help you see into the water, which makes seeing the fish and any underwater hazards much easier. They also protect against flying hooks or pieces of debris that may get tossed into the air.

Racquet sports: Racquetball is one of those sports where it’s obvious that you should have protective eyewear. There are several dangers, including the size and velocity of the ball and swinging racquets. Most racquetball courts require eyewear before entering. If you play often, it is a smart idea to purchase your own pair of glasses that fit you well and are fog-resistant for when the match gets intense.

Shooting: Whether shooting for target practice or competition, protective eyewear is vital when your eyes are in close proximity to projectiles. Shooting glasses are lightweight and comfortable with UV protection and polarizing tint to help visual contrast. They are also safe against high-velocity impacts that may occur from shell casings and other items.

Snowboarding/Skiing: Because UV exposure increases with altitude and the light is reflected off the snow, it is extremely important to make sure that your goggles have a high UV protection factor. They should also fit comfortably and have an anti-fog coating to keep your vision clear on the way down the slopes.


UV Protection is a Hot Topic!

By now, I hope that everyone is aware of the importance of protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. Our eyes should be no exception because they are equally affected by the damaging effects of sunlight. There are some important factors to look for when choosing your sunglasses.

The most important thing is UVA and UVB protection. Not sure if your sunglasses protect against both? If you are buying your sunglasses at a convenience store, chances are you are getting the bare minimum UV protection required by law (UVB only) in a material not suited for optimal vision. UVB radiation causes sunburns, so it stands to reason that we want to protect ourselves from that. Most sunglasses have UVB protection. The windshield of your vehicle, however, also offers decent protection from these wavelengths. UVA radiation, on the other hand, is the more damaging wavelength to skin and eye tissue. Wrinkles, cataracts, macular degeneration, and age spots are all caused by UVA. Our windshield does not protect us from these wavelengths nearly as well. It takes a quality pair of sunglasses to block 100% of both UVA and UVB light. Designer names like Oakley and Maui Jim always provide full UVA and UVB protection in a superior optical quality material.

That brings us to the second most important thing. Good sunglasses will not adversely affect the clarity of your vision. Just like your prescription eyeglasses, your sunglasses should be optical quality. Have you ever noticed that non-prescription sunglasses can give you a headache and make you feel that your vision is not as clear and crisp? That is because poor quality materials cause visual discomfort. When you buy a pair of designer sunglasses, you can be sure that your visual quality will not suffer.

To enhance the quality of your vision even more, I recommend polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses have a built-in filter that reduces the blinding glare from surfaces such as water, snow, and chrome. Polarization helps reduce the intermittent blind spots in your vision when you are dazzled by a very bright light. These lenses are the best for driving, boating, or any other outdoor activities. In a recent industry survey, polarized lenses scored the highest among consumers. 98% of people who purchased polarized lenses said they would choose it for their next pair of sunglasses. They come in various tints to best suit your lifestyle and preference.

Sunglasses are a great way to look good and see great! Please stop in and see our wide variety of sunwear. We’ll help get you in a pair that suits your vision needs and keeps your eyes healthy.


See Us First for Your Urgent Eye Care

During the course of their lifetime, most people will encounter an urgent eye injury or illness. The optometrists at EyeCare Specialties have a wealth of experience in diagnosing and treating a wide range of urgent eye care needs. We have created Urgent Eye Care Services so we can be more available in case a problem with your vision occurs.

During the summer months as people spend more time working outside, we see an increase in cases of foreign objects, like dirt or sawdust, in the eye. Often, debris gets into the eye and can scratch or damage tissue. The object usually needs to be removed and treated with medication. To avoid the possibility of eye injuries, remember to wear safety glasses when trimming your lawn and hedges, cutting tree branches or working on home improvement projects.

As summer turns to fall, cases of “pink eye” appear more, which coincides with children going back to school and the cold and flu season. This infection is important to treat early because it can be highly contagious. If left untreated for too long, pink eye can lead to scarring, which affects vital parts of the eye.

Throughout the year, we see many patients visit our office with flashes and floaters. Any time these symptoms occur, we recommend that you have your optometrist do an immediate check because it may be linked to a problem with retinal tears or detachments.

We take great pride in being eye care specialists, which is why we offer services to be available when you need us most. Our Urgent Eye Care Services are available six days a week. Our optometrists have advanced diagnostic equipment and are prepared to treat your eye health problems. When an unexpected problem occurs, see us first for specialized, professional urgent eye care.

Continuing Education Improves Patient Service

At EyeCare Specialties, we value education. We value it so much that we provide resources to help our employees keep their certifications current. Ensuring that our staff be up-to-date on the latest in eye health sciences, services and technology is incredibly important to maintaining high quality care at EyeCare Specialties.

Four times a year, the American Optometric Association (AOA) offers an exam for eye care professionals. The Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) exam evaluates participants on several branches of optometric knowledge: anatomy, dispensing eyewear and contact lenses, basic pharmacology, and front office procedures. It is made up of 120 questions and takes up to two hours to complete.

To prepare for the upcoming exam, clinic technicians at EyeCare Specialties have been studying since May. EyeCare Specialties clinic technicians are responsible for performing preliminary tests for refraction findings, visual fields, color vision, depth perception and more, before a patient meets with an optometrist. These tests help the optometrists gain a better understanding of each patient’s unique vision needs.

Certification by a nationally-recognized and respected third-party organization sets a high benchmark for our technicians. Passing this exam signifies an elevated level of dedication to learning, knowledge of current procedures, and improved quality care in the work field. I believe that certification tests help us provide better service to our patients through increased technician efficacy, which translates to more confident and well-versed professionals.

Learning is contagious. Our technicians desire to understand how and why things work. Once our technicians attain their CPO certification, it is a natural progression to the next level and many work toward becoming a Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA). This desire to continue learning is what differentiates jobs from careers at EyeCare Specialties. It is inspiring to see how many people work to increase their certification and knowledge, and I am proud to be part of a company where this is revered and encouraged.

When our employees take the time to invest in themselves and broaden their knowledge within the Optometric industry, EyeCare Specialties returns the favor and invests in them. After successfully completing the certification exams, we reimburse them for the full cost of taking the test and provide all of the study sessions and materials free of charge.

We also offer other courses in addition to CPO prep classes. Currently, we have groups studying for the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) Certification testing in November 2011 and the National Contact Lens Examiner (NCLE) Certification testing in November 2012.

Save on Two Pairs of Eyewear with Our Multiple Pair Discount

We are very excited to have launched our Multiple Pair Discount. This is a great opportunity for you to have more than one pair of glasses. This discount allows you to purchase a second complete pair of glasses for 50% off on the day of your visit, or 30% off within 30 days. Because there is no one pair of glasses that will address all of a person’s visual needs, we wanted to provide a way for our patients to purchase the glasses they need. Everyone truly does require more than one pair of glasses, but many cannot afford them.

We really want to communicate the importance of having at least two pairs of eyewear. The primary pair can be used for most typical activities, like working and reading. The second pair could be sunglasses for daily driving or any outdoor activities. Our new Multiple Pair Discount provides the opportunity to purchase a pair of quality sunglasses.

Sunglasses are probably the most overlooked second pair, but they are extremely important. Sunglasses are beneficial not only because they are visually more comfortable, but also because they provide an added measure of visual safety and promote better eye health. A high quality pair of sunglasses – whether prescription or not – will provide protection from UVA and UVB radiation. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation can damage the eyes and surrounding tissues. Sunglasses will help tremendously to protect your eyes on a daily basis.

The configuration of the multiple pairs, however, depends entirely on the visual needs of the person. You can get a good primary pair and a back-up pair. This is especially useful for people with a higher prescription. If you are a contact lens wearer, you can purchase a pair of glasses for the times you are tired of wearing contacts and a pair of non-prescription sunglasses. Presbyopic patients may want to get a primary pair of progressives, but supplement that with a specialized pair of computer glasses, or simply reading-only glasses. This offer gives patients an opportunity to fulfill their vision needs at an affordable price.

We are thrilled by the positive response we have already received from our patients. It truly is our goal to provide quality services and products while keeping price and convenience in mind. Consider the benefits of what multiple pairs can offer and the way that your daily routine can be made more comfortable by a second pair of frames.

Dr. Devine Recommends Back-to-School Eye Exams

Back-to-school season is upon us and it is time to consider the health of your child’s eyes. All parents want their children to be well-prepared to excel academically and good eyesight is imperative to do so. On the list of things to do when preparing your kids for school this fall, be sure to include an eye exam.

Growing eyes need attention and a child’s sight can change dramatically from one year to the next.

Growing eyes need attention and a child’s sight can change dramatically from one year to the next. Even if you do not think your child needs glasses, you should schedule an appointment to make sure their vision is in good health. Some children need glasses, but have learned to compensate and do not tell anyone. Researchers estimate that between 75-80% of what we learn comes through our eyes and visual systems. By making sure your child’s vision is clear, you are solving what could be the reason for processing delays or classwork deficiencies.

Two notable things change as children age. First, both textbooks and leisure books are printed in smaller type, which makes the eyes work harder. Second, children begin to spend more time in front of computer screens. Some students’ visual skills may not be up to the task of processing these more difficult formats. A child’s natural response is often to avoid reading or computer work to lessen these visual demands. Unfortunately, when school work is avoided, their overall education begins to suffer.

If your child has not had an eye exam in the last year, I encourage you to schedule a comprehensive visual exam soon. By taking action early, you help to ensure you child is at peak visual performance. An exam can also catch warning signs of larger vision-related learning problems, which are always more effectively treated when detected early.

Dr. James Devine is a co-founder and President/CEO of EyeCare Specialties in Lincoln, NE. He brings years of experience to the EyeCare team, with a genuine interest and concern for his patients. He is a graduate of the Southern College of Optometry. Since graduation, he has won recognition for his skills in the field of optometry, served on the governing boards of major optometric associations and is currently a member of the American Optometric Association.