Virtual Reality and Vision

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith


If it’s not on every kid’s Christmas list this year, it will be soon enough. Virtual Reality (VR) is the next big thing in gaming and, with Google having released the Daydream View phone recently, VR will really start to change how people get their entertainment.

While Virtual Reality headsets have seen some slow and expensive development over the years (Oculus Rift), Google is really changing the landscape by offering Virtual Reality viewers made out of cardboard for mobile phones that when paired with a VR app can offer the viewer a 360-degree, 3D interactive experience.

How it Works

VR works by presenting a slightly different image to each eye, so that when the brain puts both images together, it creates a 3D effect. The apps in the phone then additionally track your head movements to put you in a simulated environment.

The Bad

The most common side effects so far with VR are nausea and disorientation which can be even worse if the experience is poorly rendered. Looking at any object for too long of a time can create eye strain. Doctors also worry about the development of myopia in youth which many of these games are targeting. As a matter of fact, some people feel that children shouldn’t use the VR technology at all, since we aren’t sure of what the negative effects might be.

Something else that can be a concern with VR technology is the exposure to too much blue light. Too much blue light exposure can interfere with circadian rhythms making restful sleep difficult, and there are concerns that it could be responsible for retinal damage.

Some of the negative effects depend upon the brightness of the VR screen, the contrast of light vs. dark, and both the frequency and duration of play. As with any digital viewing, we recommend the 20/20/20 rule. After 20 minutes of any activity, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds just to break things up and give your eyes a break.

Another negative effect with VR is called past-pointing which happens after use. Your brain becomes used to viewing objects in the virtual world which can be slightly off from reality. After taking the headset off, the gamer can have a difficult time adequately estimating distance (for example try to grab something when it appears closer or further away.) This can really impede hand eye coordination and make moving around a bit dangerous.

The Good

Believe it or not, there are some great benefits to this technology. Because each eye needs to work with the other eye, and the brain has to interpret what is being seen, the visual system has a self-correcting property. The eyes and brain learn to work together. This self-correcting property is what is currently being used in some Vision Therapy clinics through Vivid Vision. Vivid Vision has developed some programming specifically designed to help people overcome such visual processing issues such as amblyopia and strabismus.

As VR tech continues to take off and find its way into homes, it will be more and more important to study its effects. Hopefully as it becomes more sophisticated, the negative effects will become less significant and the positive ones will create a viewing experience that can be beneficial for the eyes as well as entertaining.…

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Mindy’s Story


10.3_Mindys-Story-FBMindy McCormick is not the kind of person that relishes attention. She’s kind, intuitive and hardworking. She’s a great leader because she knows that the strength of any organization is in the team and encourages all of her team members to do their best for the entire unit. One person is not above the group.

If it weren’t for the cancer, she wouldn’t want an article written about her.

Mindy McCormick is the Retail Coordinator and Frame Buyer for EyeCare Specialties. She has been helping patients find the perfect eyewear solution for 13 years. Mindy also trains and educates opticians to do the same.

It was a summer day at the beginning of June. Mindy had gone in for a routine mammogram. Because she had an aunt who had been recently diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, she knew the importance of having a thorough exam. She insisted on the 3D mammogram to make sure her doctor had the complete picture. The technicians requested more tests. They did an ultrasound and then brought Mindy back in for an ultrasound biopsy.

A few weeks later while she was at work, her doctors left a message, but Mindy was so busy taking care of her own patients that she didn’t get a chance to call them back until after hours. They returned her phone call right away. Mindy had tested positive for stage 1 breast cancer.

The next few days were a whirlwind. They were immediately scheduled to visit with  a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer and an oncologist. In a two-week span, Mindy had her appointments scheduled and started right away on chemotherapy.

According to Mindy, chemotherapy is a roller coaster. She is currently 2/3 of the way done with her six treatments. Her last session is scheduled for the end of October after which she will undergo surgery. She typically feels not too bad for the day or two after treatment, but then hits a wall. Because the type of chemo her doctor has prescribed is such an aggressive one, the treatment leaves Mindy feeling very weak, tired and achy.

Mindy’s family has been incredibly supportive throughout her entire experience. Her husband and children pitch in and do the cleaning and housework. Friends and neighbors have been offering meals and gift cards to area restaurants. Mindy says the outpouring of support has been overwhelming and gratefully appreciated.

At her first visit with her oncologist, Mindy found out that her particular type of breast cancer is the most common and can be easily treated when detected early. That was when the lightbulb went off over Mindy’s head. She knew it was her mission to promote early detection and spread the word to women how important it is to have regular screenings.

Even though she tends to shy from the spotlight, Mindy wants to become an advocate for women to stand up for their health and insist on proper screenings. She encourages everyone she knows that even if they have a hint of family history of breast cancer to get regular mammograms. Because her own cancer was only discovered through the 3D mammogram, she advocates for the most comprehensive technology for anyone who feels that they may be at risk.

Optimism can be hard to come by when fighting breast cancer. But Mindy sees hope every day. She finds hope in coming to work and being able to help EyeCare’s patients. She finds hope in interacting and proving to herself what she’s capable of. And she finds hope in being able to help other women and advocate for early detection.

This October, we are so proud of Mindy and the other women who fight for their health and for that optimism. EyeCare Specialties will once again be participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on October 23 and will be raising money in various forms to help the cause. If you’d like to support our team and raise money for the American Cancer Society, please click here.

Aging and Your Eyes

Steve Jacobsen
by Steve Jacobsen


It’s inevitable, as we age, so do our eyes. There are several age-related conditions that can happen no matter how healthy of lives we live or whether or not we’ve got a fantastic set of DNA handed down to us by our relatives.

Presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs typically after the age of 40. This can be noticed as blurred vision when doing up-close work. People start to notice it when they need to hold books, menus, etc. farther and farther away in order to see clearly. Presbyopia occurs because of a hardening of the natural lens inside your eye, and it is very common. Almost everyone will experience it in various forms. Optical treatment is usually the best remedy via reading glasses, progressive lenses or bifocals. There are also options for contact lens wearers as well.

Reduced pupil size. As we age, our pupil size starts to gradually become smaller and makes us less responsive to changes in lighting. Older individuals might find themselves needing more light to read and have difficulty moving in between light and dark environments quickly (from a dark theater to sunlight). This is also one of the causes for difficulty driving at night. Adjusting from darkness to bright oncoming traffic can make driving at night difficult. There are many optical products that can help this situation. A photochromic lens (like Transitions™) or anti-glare coatings on lenses can help older drivers adjust to differing light conditions more easily.

Dry Eyes. As we age, we may experience itchy, dry eyes. The condition affects many people, especially women after menopause. They may experience scratchy burning sensations in various conditions and may find that traditional over-the-counter eye drops don’t seem to remedy the problem. There are actually several different types of Dry Eye Disease, and your optometrist could help you determine which one you suffer from by examining the quality of your tears. Treatment for Dry Eye Disease can include prescription eye drops or in-office procedures like LipiFlow that can provide relief.

Loss of peripheral vision. On average, as you age your field of vision decreases by one to three percent every decade. Peripheral vision loss can also be a sign of glaucoma and serious ocular disease, so it important to have it checked out. This type of loss can make driving dangerous as it can be difficult to see objects not in your direct vision. Whether your peripheral vision loss is gradual or sudden, it is important to bring up your concerns with your eye doctor to see if there is a serious underlying medical issue.

Frames & Fashion Styling Tips

If you wear glasses, they are a constant piece of your daily look – but, rather than simply a constant, why not make them a flattering fashion accessory? In order to use your frames to your fashionable advantage, you want to ensure they pair well with your clothing to create an overall style. These top 3 styling tips will help you accentuate your look when choosing your next pair of frames…or three.
Tip #1
Sport a solid color style when pairing fun fashion frames. These patterned frames by Fendi are a perfect way to create a “classic meets fun” style that is great for anytime and anywhere.
Romper + Bag: Tsuru Boutique
Tip #2
From simple to fun frames, use bold accessories to accentuate your look. We love these Tommy Hilfiger frames that are simple, yet unique, to pair with a fun pop of accessory.
Dress + Bag: Tsuru Boutique
Tip #3
Basics don’t have to be so basic. The unbelievable softness of this chambray shirt makes it a perfect between-seasons piece over the striking simplicity of the black maxi. The long pendant necklace tells a story, and the round Tory Burch shades create a polished simplicity.

Meet the Vision Therapist: Ashlie

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Ashlie WebAshlie graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska in 2015 with a degree in Exercise Science. As an athlete, she’s always been intrigued by working in a therapeutic environment. When she came across the opportunity to learn more about Vision Therapy and found out she’d be working with mostly kids with visual issues, she knew immediately that she found what she wanted to do.

When kids come to Vision Therapy for the first time, Ashlie can see how frustrated they are with school and reading. With the help of Dr. Rachel Smith, she gets to work creating a plan to help set goals for the patients. She enjoys getting to know each child and helping them build confidence in themselves and in their ability to read.

“When they finally realize that they can cross their eyes or read without skipping a line, the joy on their faces really makes my job fun!”

Ashlie has been a part of the Center for Vision Development team for a few months and has been enjoying the camaraderie with her co-workers. “They love what they do, and it shows when they walk in the door to work every day!”

Ashlie knows she’s had a good day when her patients leave feeling accomplished. She feels that making sessions fun and as stress-free as possible is the key to making each child feel successful and confident.

To find out more about Vision Therapy and how it might be able to help your child do better in school, click here.


Dan Novak

cataractsCataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye due to protein build up. There are several different types of cataracts, but the most common are age-related cataracts. The development of these begins around the age of 40. Treatment for cataracts can include surgery. Your eye surgeon will remove the cataract and then replace it with a clear artificial lens.

You may notice a cataract if you are noticing blurry vision, faded colors or halos at night. Particularly if you are over the age of 40 or if you are diabetic, it is important to have your eyes checked by your eye doctor.

Cataracts are very prevalent. There are more than 24 million Americans over the age of 40 with cataracts, and more than half of people over the age of 65 experience the condition.

While cataracts cannot be prevented completely, there are a few things you can do to slow their progression. Avoid tobacco use and exposure to UV rays. Incorporate a healthy diet and exercise into your daily activities. Good foods to include in your diet are antioxidants like vitamins E and C, beta carotene and selenium. Find ways to incorporate dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, butternut squash or even sunflower seeds and almonds into your diet.

Make sure to visit your eye doctor regularly to be checked for cataracts as you age, especially if you are diabetic or have other health issues. While cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness, they are treatable and your optometrist can advise a course of treatment to restore your sight.

Nutrition and Eye Health

Dr. Tucker
by Dr. Tucker

Nutrition 550

It goes beyond carrots.

Proper nutrition is as much a part of eye health as receiving regular eye exams. Even if you aren’t experiencing a problem with your vision right now, healthy nutrition will help your eyes stay healthy for as long as possible. There are many different nutrients that are essential for maintaining healthy eyes.

Lutien and Zeaxanthin are found in a wide variety of leafy greens and in eggs. Recent studies have shown that both nutrients can help reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Vitamin C can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts and has been reported to help slow visual acuity loss. Vitamin C can be found in bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries and of course, citrus fruit.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that help protect the eyes from pollutants and free radicals. Some studies show that Vitamin E can help prevent the development of cataracts and can help slow the progression of retinal damage. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes.

Essential Fatty Acids found in fish and flaxseed, olive, canola and sunflower oils help with the metabolic processes in the body. They are shown to improve brain function and can help with heart function as well. In the eyes, essential fatty acids are important for proper visual development and help the retinas to function as they should.

Zinc is a mineral that helps boost the immune system and helps the brain to function properly. The macula in the back of the eye contains high levels of zinc so maintaining proper levels will help with vision. Also Zinc helps create melanin which can protect the eye from UV damage.

Make sure to talk to your eye doctor about your diet to see if you are getting adequate levels of these nutrients. If you aren’t getting enough from your regular diet, your optometrist may suggest supplements or have other suggestions for you so that your eyes are receiving the benefits of proper nutrition.…

Focus & Go: Lincoln Marathon Recap


The Lincoln Marathon was Sunday, May 2, and our three Focus & Go athletes hit the road after months of training. We thought we’d check in with them after the race to get their thoughts about the event.



So how’d it go?

The race went well! I walked a whole lot less than I thought I’d have to! There’s something about the atmosphere and being surrounded by thousands of excited runners that makes up for a little lack of training. It only took two days of hobbling like a zombie before my legs were fully recovered. Huge win.

Was it what you were expecting?

I knew what to expect with the course. Although I’d been watching the weather for two weeks leading up to the race, I’d been hoping the forecast would miraculously change the day before or the morning of. I wasn’t expecting to run in the rain the entire time, but cool weather is better to run in than hot even if it did take an hour for my hands to thaw post-race.

What were some challenges?

The rain and the cold were challenges. In a perfect world it would have been sunny and just a few degrees warmer. But running is about the challenge. It isn’t about always having the perfect day to get in the miles. That’s part of what makes it fun. I was worried about overdressing/underdressing, and neither of those things happened. I felt cold, but prepared for it with my jacket, gloves, and hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. I brought my SMITH sunglasses along for the ride in case the sun decided to pop out, but unfortunately that never happened.

What was the best thing that happened to you?

The best thing that happened is that I walked far less than I expected to. I thought for sure I’d have to take a little walk break every mile, but I went six miles before even thinking about it. I walked though a couple of water stations (THANK YOU, VOLUNTEERS!), and then again a few times in mile 12. I’m thrilled at my body’s ability to do the race at 18 weeks pregnant with minimal training. Our bodies are so resilient!

Are you going to do it again?

Absolutely! It is one of my favorite races of all time. I’m going to run the Lincoln Half for as long as my body allows me to.



So how’d it go?

The race went very well! I ran it in 1:45 which was 15 minutes slower than I anticipated, however given the cold and wet rain I am happy with how I finished.

Was it what you were expecting?

I would say the race exceeded my expectations! I was surprised by the amount of community support being consistent throughout the race. I anticipated many spectators around the start/finish, but was pleasantly surprised to see them at every mile.

What were some challenges?

This being my first half, I faced a few challenges which, honestly, I had been warned about. The hill along the country club stretch really ate some time. I had also over dressed for the weather having too many layers on which weighed me down as they got wet. I suppose coffee and a Cliff Bar weren’t the best pre-race foods either.

What was the best thing that happened to you?

The best thing to happen was seeing so many familiar faces along the way cheering you on. Hearing your name among a crowd of people has a special way of making the pace more obtainable. My parents and friends managed to see me at 3 locations on the route which made for motivation to keep going. Miles 10-13 onset the mind games, so staying focused on my form and pace was a constant battle.

Are you going to do it again?

I am gladly going to run again. Knowing what to expect and how I felt mid-race, I will be making some changes to my workouts. I recommend it to anyone, even if walking; the experience is well worth it. I have already signed-up for the Good Life Halfsy on Nov. 5 and motivated a few friends to join me.



So how’d it go?

The conditions for the race were great. Nice and cool with a little moisture. Because of that, the run was less draining on my body as a whole. That said, since it was cool and wet out, there were fewer spectators out which made the second half of the race more difficult to power through. My run was going well through about 19 miles and then, my legs started getting pretty weak. I cramped up at about mile 23 but was grateful for different water stations that supplied orange slices to make it through to the end. Running into the stadium was an amazing experience. I was grateful for the hospitality throughout the race and especially at the end of the race.

Was it what you were expecting?

I was not expecting the weather to be as it was and I had hoped more spectators would have been around during the second half of the marathon. That said, I didn’t realize the extent of the beauty of Lincoln. I loved running along Sheridan and Normal Blvd and noticing the full bloom of Spring.

What were some challenges?

I cramped up around mile 23 which made it challenging to continue. Additionally, the hill going up to Holmes Lake was a bear to get through; my legs became heavy and my breathing was labored.

What was the best thing that happened to you?

I got to see my three kids at mile 4. I stopped and we took photos. My kids inspired me to finish strong. Also, I had a few friends and my wife praying and telling me Bible verses along the way.

Are you going to do it again?

My plan is to run the full again next year. Lincoln puts on a really good event.

Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Harrison

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Dr. Steve Sandman referred seven-year-old Harrison to the Center for Vision Development after his mother had noticed how much he was struggling in school. Harrison had also been experiencing motion sickness in the car and had problems maintaining balance and riding his bike. Dr. Sandman thought that he would be a good candidate for Vision Therapy.

“He was actually on the verge of getting a referral for OT/Special Education/Title I help,” says Shannon, Harrison’s mother. “Since starting Vision Therapy, he has improved greatly. He has moved up in reading groups. His report card and testing scores have dramatically improved to an above average student.”

Shannon credits a lot of Harrison’s success to his hard work and the patience of Rose, his Vision Therapist. For more information on Vision Therapy and how it can help your child, click here.


Focus & Go – Lincoln Marathon Profiles: Steve



Steve has been a pastor in Lincoln for the past nine years. In addition to having ministered at UNL, he is currently a pastor at Grace Chapel. Steve has been married for 14 years to Jen, and they have three children. Jen is also a runner and will be running the half-marathon. They enjoy running together when they can.

1. How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since high school, however most of my running was through sports that only required short distances. I vowed to never run again until a friend was looking for a running partner in grad school. I’m not sure how my friend coaxed me into it, but somehow he convinced me to come out and run in the park with him. That first run was 5.5 miles, and it was horrible. But my friend was such a great influence that I tried again and started to get hooked. I blame a great friendship. We could talk, think and enjoy the park and the miles started increasing. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon and then focused on training.

2. Is this your first marathon?
This is not my first. I’ve done the Chicago Marathon twice and I trained for the MarineCorps Marathon but got a fracture at the very last minute.

3. What has your training been like?
This time around, it’s been pretty good. With my wife training for the half, it’s been very nice to be able to support each other. Running is such a time commitment to train, so having a partner that supports you is incredibly important. I feel strong, but I definitely notice the difference in how my body feels this time around. My short runs are good to work on time but my body definitely feels older.


4. What do you run for? What motivates you?
On the surface, I need a goal to be able to become healthy. If I don’t have monetary investment or a goal it’s hard to just exercise.

A deeper motivation is my nine-year old daughter Amelia. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was a baby and had many complications with the chemotherapy. She developed meningitis and experienced brain trauma. She now suffers limited mobility and is in a wheelchair. She can’t walk or run or dance. There are lots of things she can do, but there are limitations. I watch her struggle through the day with her physical limitations and I keep that in mind when I run. She tests her limits every day. I think about that when I’m hitting the 17th or 18th mile about how I’m just scratching the surface of what she has to experience on a daily basis. It encourages me to push myself even further.

5. Do you have a running mantra?
My running mantra is “Mind over Matter.” It’s what I see every day in Amelia, how she hangs in there. It’s amazing to see what can happen. “Mind over Matter” originally came to me as part of our wrestling practices in high school. Our coach would push us during practice and then have us run at the end. Encouraging us to use our minds to convince our bodies to do more.

6. What gear is important to you when running a marathon?
Moisture wicking clothes are very important. The sun can be very bright and changes throughout the marathon, so having a good pair of SMITH sunglasses is very important so you can keep your mind on your race. Great socks and of course, a great pair of shoes are super important too.

7. Favorite running songs on your playlist?
I do not run to any recorded music, but when I get to around Mile 20, I sing songs in my head to alleviate the loneliness. “Eye of the Tiger” is one that I hear in my head. Also my friend, Hannah Huston is on the Voice, so “House of the Rising Sun” has been running through my head a lot lately.

8. Why do you love the Lincoln Marathon?
What I love about the Lincoln Marathon is the same thing that I love about Nebraska. Nebraska is a loyal place which can sometimes be hard to understand to outsiders. People come out. They cheer you on. We have a great crowd that wants to be about something bigger than themselves, and the marathon is glimpse of that. Nebraskans like to rally around something that is outside of ourselves. Here, you have communal support.

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