Blog & News

ECS Frame Expert – Meet Charles

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

Charles_webCharles has been a Frame Expert at EyeCare Specialties for five years and is an ABO Certified Optician. He has a rescued terrier-basset hound mix named Marvin, and can speak German (the Frame Expert, not the dog).

“My favorite brands are Seraphin, Ogi, Prodesign and Lafont. I tend to wear European lines – big and bold frames with a lot of personality. Glare-free is a must for the amount of time I spend on the computer, at home and at work. I really enjoying updating patient’s eyewear. If a patient has been wearing the same pair for 10 years, I love helping them pick a more modern style.”

ECS Frame Expert – Meet Krystal

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

Krystal_webKrystal has been a Frame Expert at ECS for 4 1/2 years. She is an ABO Certified Optician. This certification means that not only is your optician wonderful and amazing, but that she has a unique skill set to ensure accuracy as well as fashion.

“My favorite brand is Oakley eyewear for the comfort and the sporty look. I love sunglasses so I have more pairs than I should! I own Oakley and Maui Jim  sunglasses, along with various other brands. I had lasik corrective surgery and no longer need a prescription, but still like to wear my Gucci ophthalmics with Plano lenses. My job is important because we help people everyday to see well and look good!”

Vision Therapy at ECS

Austin Mackrill
by Austin Mackrill

As COO of EyeCare Specialties, I decided to go through Vision Therapy more to evaluate and learn about the entire process rather than to be an actual patient. However, I quickly realized that I actually needed Vision Therapy as an adult after hearing about the symptoms and common frustrations that occur while reading. Those symptoms were validated as one of the tests proved that my eyes do not team well together and they tend to bounce around and move back-and-forth while reading. I thought that everyone had those issues and that I just needed to push through it. I have always loved the “idea” of reading but as a result of my frustration with bouncy eyes, I never actually liked to read. In high-school and college I thought the reasons why others read better or got their college tests done before me was simply because they could read faster. So, this issue with my eyes not teaming well was kind of an “Aha!” moment for me. One of our therapists, Michelle, noticed that I may be also having contrast sensitivity issues with the black text on white paper. Once again, I just thought the “ghosting” or fading of the black letters was normal. She tested my reading with a few different color filters placed over the page. The moment she placed a specific color of green over the page, all the annoying fading effects of the text disappeared. I could read clear and smooth like never before.

Over the next several weeks, I had the pleasure in working closely with Dr. Morrissey and each Vision Therapist we had on staff. It was quickly apparent that Dr. Morrissey and our Vision Therapists were not simply working intently with genuine enthusiasm just because I was the COO, but rather because they all truly believe in what they are doing. They have a dramatic and direct hand with enhancing vision with kids and adults in ways that are unique. In ways that most people take for granted and in ways that others simply think that their only option is to push through the difficulty like I had done all those years. You see, I have 20/20 vision without the need for glasses and was always praised for how well I could see. So, I thought I had no visual issues at all. This Vision Therapy team has a chance to work with patients that may have prefect or subpar visual acuity and enhance that patient’s life in new ways that glasses simply can’t completely fix at times.

Through the various exercises and instruments our therapists used, it was also quickly apparent that my left eye lagged a little in catching up to meet my right eye when focusing from near to distance. Working on these exercises in the clinic and at home helped improve the speed of eye-teaming with my left eye. In fact I noticed a significant improvement with lining up my putting game while playing golf. I wish I could say that Vision Therapy shaved 10 strokes off my game. However, that is not the case, but it isn’t the lack of positive effects from Vision Therapy but rather my lack of practicing at my golf game. ;) I bring this up because as an adult, I need to practice more often than the kids do with keeping my eyes teaming up. I use the home computer program often that the Therapists gave me early in the process. I do notice that when I haven’t used the program in a while or any other home techniques, that my reading can tend to feel slightly frustrating. However, I quickly notice reading improvement after spending some quality one-on-one time with my computer program and exercises.

The amount of time I spent with the Vision Therapy team and all the hours of home practicing was a commitment, but for me the benefits far outweighed the time invested. I wish I would have known about Vision Therapy in high-school or even college. It would have saved me from numerous unnecessary moments of frustration.

The Lens Difference

Justin Hoatson
by Justin Hoatson

A recent study showed that most patients don’t pay as much attention to their lenses as they do the stylish frames that hold them. The frames may be great, but what difference do the lenses make? Lenses can vary greatly in quality depending on where you purchase them, and at EyeCare Specialties, we make it a priority to provide our patients with the latest lens technology available.

Here’s why.

Everyone’s eyes are different. Some patients prefer progressive lenses, while others may fill this need with multiple pairs with specific functions. Whatever the case, most of our patients need some level of customization to make sure they are getting the correct lens system to provide them with the visual quality they expect. The extent of customization that can be done depends on the type of technology that’s available. Since EyeCare Specialties is an independent practice, we get the benefits of using the latest technology that many manufacturers are unable to offer to chain stores, value stores or online distributors. It is because of this technology that we are able to provide the latest in lens designs to meet the visual needs of our patients.

At ‘value’ stores, you tend to get what you pay for. These stores generally sell the most basic, most inexpensive frame and lens options they can access. Often the frames offered are styles that are phased out or discontinued. This is how ‘value’ stores are able to offer you complete pairs of glasses for a significantly lower price, including “buy one, get one,” discounts.

Similar to value stores, lenses from online vendors typically do not measure up to the quality and customization that are standard at EyeCare Specialties. Since many online vendors produce their frames and lenses outside of the United States, their labs may not always be required to meet the same safety and quality standards as labs in the US.

The biggest drawback with buying glasses online comes from the distant nature of the internet. Unless an online website also has a physical location to visit, patients ordering glasses online don’t have the option to meet with an optician to discuss their specific needs. Certified opticians play a vital role in recommending the best glasses for a patient because they ask about your lifestyle, are able to get the most accurate fitting measurements, and make sure the frames are the right shape, style and size needed to fit your lens style. Eyewear has to be selected, measured and fit correctly so that a patient isn’t missing out on the best visual quality available.

The EyeCare Specialties Difference
All of the lenses at EyeCare Specialties meet the ANSI safety standards set by the federal government, and they are made from materials that exceed the minimum standard for impact resistance by 60 times. To preserve eye health, we also strongly recommend that your lenses provide 100% UVA and UVB protection. All of these features are available with virtually any lens options you choose at EyeCare Specialties.

Frame Experts
Our Frame Experts are ABO Certified Opticians who are dedicated to providing quality care and patient service. They give each patient the personal attention needed to assess and prescribe the best possible eyewear solutions. The Frame Experts ask about your work and hobbies to tailor your frames to fit the way you live. Stop in at any of our four locations and meet with a Frame Expert today.

See how much we care

Devine, Pfeil and Mackrill Provide Eye Care in Haiti

Austin Mackrill
by Austin Mackrill

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

Lindsay Kruse
by Lindsay Kruse

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

Dr. Sandman

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

Jessica Yesilcimen
by Jessica Yesilcimen

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

Dr. Pfeil

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!

Dr. Brightman

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.


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