Blog & News

Help Us Wipe Out Cancer

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

ECS_OctPromo3_edited-2EyeCare Specialties (ECS) is proud to host a special fundraiser in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Help us wipe out cancer by purchasing a bottle of special pink lens cleaner at any EyeCare Specialties location for just $4. Half of the proceeds from each bottle will benefit Making Strides Against Breast Cancer from the American Cancer Society.

Our team members have been supporting Making Strides for over 5 years to help find a cure for breast cancer. 

At ECS we are moved to do what we can for Making Strides because we all know someone in our lives that has been affected by breast cancer, including several employees who have been directly affected. 

As a company, we are definitely driven to be involved in our community and involved in the things that matter most to our patients and our employees. Because ECS employees enjoy being heavily involved in many community events throughout the year, it’s just natural that we should support the two most important things to us: our patients and our team.

It is important for us to let them know how much we care.

Meet the Contact Lens Expert: Jillian

Austin Mackrill
by Austin Mackrill

ECS_Team_Contacts_JillianJillian works at our Superior Street location and joined the ECS team after years of working with patients through the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. She loves helping people and particularly likes her work with specialty contact patients. It’s one of her favorite things about working at EyeCare Specialties.

“My husband has specific contact lens needs, and it makes me proud knowing that EyeCare Specialties is able to help him. There are so many patients out there that would be out of options if it weren’t for the specialty contacts that we offer.”

Little known fact about Jillian: She was the 2012 Lincoln City Dart Champion. While she doesn’t have the time to give lessons, she will help ensure that you have the best eyesight possible while you’re shooting for the bullseye.

Computer Eye Strain

Dr. Reins

eye_strain-01It’s a sign of the times. We are spending more and more time with our eyes focused on a screen in front of us. Whether we are avid Facebookers or tweet constantly on our phones or even just spend all day at work in front of a computer monitor, our eyes are constantly getting a work out. Heck, you’re even reading this right now on some kind of digital device.

If you find yourself in front of a computer all day long and suffer from any of these symptoms:

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • neck or shoulder pain

you could be experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). It is a real thing. 50-90% of people who work at a computer have symptoms.

Computer Vision Syndrome is difficult for adults who have to sit in front of a computer for work, but now as schools are replacing text books with digital media, CVS is quickly becoming more prevalent with school-aged children.

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in which the muscles of the wrists become stressed because of repetitive movement, muscles of the eyes fatigue after doing the same thing over and over. Add to that the other problems that come with digital visual stimulation such as screen/light contrast, flicker and glare. This can all result in further stress on the eyes which is even more bothersome when a vision problem like near or farsightedness is already present.

What can you do?

1. Like Oprah, it’s all about the proper lighting. A too-bright office could be a culprit. The contrast between your overhead florescent lighting and your monitor could be causing your eyes additional stress. Your ambient lighting should be about half of what it is in a typical office. Consider drawing the blinds and adding floor lamps instead of the stark overhead fixtures.

Another source of stress for your eyes is the light coming from your office windows. Consider placing your monitor to the side of windows instead of having the window in front of you or behind you.

Glare on walls can cause additional eye strain. Consider painting the walls a darker, matte color to reduce glare.

2. Adjust your monitor settings. The brightness of your display should be the same as the rest of your work station, and you should adjust the text display so you can comfortably see it. On PCs you can do this in the Control Panel. On Macs, you can go to System Preferences for more information.

3. Break out the ruler and protractor. Your computer screen should be approximately 20-24 inches from your eyes, with the center of the screen 10-15º below your eyes.

4. Blink More. The simple act of blinking helps to naturally moisten your eyes. You could also consider lubricating drops as a way to refresh the eye. There is a difference however between lubricating drops and redness-removing drops. Redness-removing drops are not formulated to moisten your eyes and can actually make the problem worse.

5. You deserve a break. Many experts (myself included) recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away. This will help give your eyes a break and stop your focus from “locking up”.

Of course if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, bring them up with your optometrist. He or she can make some additional recommendations, including prescribing specific glare-reducing lenses if you wear glasses or contact lenses that are specifically made for heavy computer users.

Meet Specks!

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

EyeCare Specialties Vision Therapy program has been helping hundreds of kids in the Lincoln and surrounding communities overcome their vision disorders through vision therapy.

Vision therapy helps patients who have problems with eye focusing, eye teaming, lazy eye and crossed eyes. These vision disorders can be discovered in children as they encounter difficulty with school work.

While we’ve been talking with their parents about the benefits of vision therapy, we wanted to develop a way to communicate with the kids in a way that could inspire and motivate them throughout our program.

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce to you, Specks!Print

Isn’t Specks charming? We love his name because it’s based off the word “spectacles”. This word has a unique, double meaning that is related to vision/sight in different contexts.

1. (Noun) Anything presented to the sight or view, especially something of a striking or impressive kind.

2. (Noun) Spectacles, eyeglasses, especially with pieces passing over or around the ears for holding them in.

Why an Owl?

Owls are a symbol in western culture of wisdom and intelligence. They are known for their upright stance and famous for their binocular vision. While unable to see close up, owls have tremendous eyesight at distance and use both eyes to perceive depth and navigate flight at night. Bird mascots also evoke forward momentum. And, owls are incredibly cute.

Specks the Owl is also a gender neutral name and can be easily adopted by both boys and girls. He is approachable, engaging and thoroughly adorable.

So if you see this awesome owl at EyeCare Specialties or our Center for Vision Development, consider yourself already acquainted. We hope our patients enjoy this mascot as much as we do.

Fall Allergies

Dr. Tucker

It’s that time of year. The leaves are changing, the temperature’s dropping and everyone is yelling, “Go Big Red!” Hopefully, they aren’t talking about your itchy, watery eyes.

Fall allergies can make things very difficult for people. Ragweed is very active this time of year and according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health department, the rates for ragweed pollen in August and September are very high.

There are a few things you can do to get relief:

1. Avoid the allergens. Staying inside with the windows closed is one way to avoid the allergic trigger and can help you find relief. Also wearing glasses, sunglasses or goggles outside can help you stay away from the pollen. 

2. Ask your doctor about antihistamine drops. It is the histamine in your eyes that creates the itching sensation. When you rub your eyes you activate the histamine making the problem worse. Your optometrist can recommend an over-the-counter solution or can write you a prescription for special drops.

3. Consider daily disposable lenses. Allergies can actually stick to the surface of your contact lenses. While proper cleaning can eliminate some of the allergen build up, switching to daily wear can significantly reduce your exposure to allergens. You can throw the contaminated contacts away and start with a fresh new pair every day.

If you suffer from fall allergies and would like to find even more solutions, schedule an appointment with your optometrist. We would love to be able to find the right solution for you.


Browse Online and Shop with the Experts

Mindy McCormick
by Mindy McCormick

Life can be crazy with work, school activities and errands; that is why online shopping can really be helpful. It’s one thing to buy clothes or theater tickets online, but when it comes to your eyewear, it’s better to browse online and then shop with an expert. 

In a recent study, researchers discovered that nearly half of all glasses (44.8%) ordered online either contained an inaccurate prescription or didn’t meet the safety standards designed to protect the eyes.

When you purchase eyewear from EyeCare Specialties, your glasses are fitted to your face and to your lifestyle. Our optometrists and opticians work together to make sure that your lens prescription is accurately portrayed in your frames.

EyeCare Specialties Frame Experts (Opticians) will help you select frames that not only flatter your features, but will work best with the types of lenses your optometrist recommends. They will also help situate the position of the frames and lenses on your face so that you are realizing your ideal vision, measuring optimal pupil distance and making sure your frames are comfortable.

Finally, ordering your frames online can be risky if the retailer has a substandard return policy. Other questions that you should consider are: Do they offer any warranties? Are there additional costs for shipping or “extras”? Do they accept your insurance? Will they help you with routine maintenance and fittings?

But of course, it is fun to browse online. 

We'd like to introduce you to the perfect pair.That’s why we are introducing our Online Frame Browsing feature. We want to encourage our patients to browse online before their appointments. This will save you precious time after your eye exam as your Frame Expert will be ready with the frames you want to try on. 

Our online frame browsing feature allows you to search by women’s, men’s, and kid’s frames. You can also filter your search by color, rim type, price and more. Simply login and choose your favorites. Then our Frame Experts will have them ready for you to try on at your appointment. 

Our hope is that we can combine the convenience of browsing online and pair it with the expertise of our Frame Experts. This way, you know you will be completely taken care of. 

As with all EyeCare Specialties purchases, we offer our Warranty Plus plan. We also accept many forms of insurance and make sure that you know exactly what is included with your purchase. Our Frame Experts will even be available after your purchase for routine maintenance and can help tighten screws, replace nose pads and fix any minor problems.

We hope you like what you see as you browse our large selection of frames and sunglasses online. Simply email us your order and we will connect with you to make sure you get the perfect frames and fit. 

Source: “A Closer Look at Ordering Eyeglasses Online” from the American Optometric Association.

Reading and Vision Therapy

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Did you know that 80% of what we learn in school comes from our vision? Much of that comes from how well we can read. Reading is fundamental to a child’s success in school and truly forms the foundation of our education.

At EyeCare Specialties Vision Therapy Program, we treat students who struggle with reading due to a vision disorder. We often find those students also have problems with other subjects like math, history, science, geography and technology. Our goal is to examine the student and determine if the child may be struggling with a vision disorder that is affecting their learning abilities.

There are over 20 different visual skills involved in the process of reading, but for teachers and parents looking for more information, the American Optometric Association ( categorizes these skills in seven key areas: visual acuity, visual fixation, accommodation, binocular fusion, convergence, field of vision and form perception. Of those seven skills, only one is routinely covered in a basic eye screening done at the pediatrician’s office.

Visual acuity is the ability to see clearly. This is the skill the basic eye chart measures at the pediatrician’s or school nurse’s office. The test usually measures how clearly a child can see both close-up and at a distance of up to 20 feet. If there is a problem with seeing objects clearly, the student should be referred for a comprehensive exam with an optometrist.

Visual fixation is the ability to aim the eyes on fixed or moving objects. The ability to fixate vision requires split second timing in order for the eyes to transmit information immediately to the brain. Just a slight delay can cause comprehension and fluency problems which can be discouraging to the young learner.

Accommodation is the ability to refocus the eyes back and forth between different points of focus. In the classroom, this would mean being able to transition between focusing on the board in class to text on a desk. This extremely important during tests and other activities that require quick changes in focus.

Binocular fusion is the ability for both eyes to work together at the same time. When a child has eyes that fail to work together properly, one eye can overcompensate for the other, resulting in decreasing vision in the underutilized eye. A child with a binocular vision disorder may be found closing one eye when trying to read.

Convergence is the ability for both eyes to turn inward in order to focus on close up images. Because most school work is done at a close proximity, this is an important skill to have.

Field of vision is the entire picture that the eyes see. The ability to see out of the corner of one’s eye is important to the process of reading. Having good center vision and peripheral vision will help the child receive all vision cues that are important for learning.

Visual and form perception are links between the shapes of objects being seen and the brain’s interpretation of those shapes. When a child struggles with form perception, it can slow down the reading process and make it difficult for the child to increase reading fluency.

A comprehensive eye exam will discover if a student is struggling in any of those areas. Treatment could include corrective lenses, vision therapy or both.

Vision Therapy is a series of treatments and exercised designed to address any of the above situations. We will customize a course of treatment for each patient with a goal of increasing the student’s reading fluency, comprehension and vocabulary.

I have found that when a child’s vision problems are addressed, his/her confidence soars. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a child who previously struggled with reading and schoolwork, become motivated to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Information from and

ECS Frame Expert – Meet Maggie

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

Maggie_smallMaggie has been a Frame Expert at EyeCare Specialties for 2 years. She loves college football and is counting the days until Husker Season.

“My favorite brands are Ogi, Oakley and Kate Spade because they all have both simple and complex designs that blend fun, practicality and sophistication. I wear a single vision lens with Trivex, Transitions and glare-free. I never leave home without my polarized sunglasses. Whether it’s finding the right frames, the right lens selection, helping with the proper fit or trouble-shooting, I can enhance people’s lives through vision.”

Why Back-to-School Eye Exams Are So Important

Dr. Brightman
by Dr. Brightman

With the days of hanging out at the pool or chasing fireflies in the front yard coming to an end, now is the perfect time to schedule your back-to-school eye exam.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the flurry of back-to-school activities, but making sure your child’s eyes are healthy is extremely important to his/her success in school and overall health.

According the the Nebraska Optometrics Association, 80% of what a child learns in school is acquired through vision. Children often don’t know they have a vision problem because they get used to not seeing adequately.

Sometimes children can perform well on the basic vision screening conducted at the pediatricians office and still have a vision disorder. The basic screening is designed to check visual acuity (how well your child can see at a distance) but does not check other vision disorders that can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist.

According to the Nebraska Optometrics Association,

“Every child needs to have the following vision skills for effective reading and learning:

  • Visual acuity — the ability to see clearly in the distance for viewing the chalkboard, at an intermediate distance for the computer, and up close for reading a book.
  • Eye Focusing — the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance from objects change, such as when looking from the chalkboard to a paper on the desk and back. Eye focusing allows the child to easily maintain clear vision over time like when reading a book or writing a report.
  • Eye tracking — the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes along a printed page, or following a moving object like a thrown ball.
  • Eye teaming — the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for class work and sports.
  • Eye-hand coordination — the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or trying to hit a ball.
  • Visual perception — the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.”

By scheduling your child’s eye exam now, your optometrist will be able to determine if any of these skills are lacking and can help your family take steps to ensure the best possible vision, making school and learning a more successful and enjoyable experience.

ECS Frame Expert – Meet Chris

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

chrisChris has been a Frame Expert at EyeCare Specialties since February 2014. Chris loves to spend his time with great food and great company. His time in the Northwest has helped him appreciate a good cup of coffee and hanging out with friends.

“My favorite brands are Pro Design, Ray-Ban and Oakley. I prefer rectangular frames and love both metal and plastic frames. Crizal No-Glare lenses are a must. They offer protection against the dangers of UV and fight glare, scratches, smudges, dust and water. I love my job here at ECS; I get to help people while keeping up with technology, design and fashion. Educating people on caring for their vision, and doing it fashionably, is an incredible responsibility.”

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