Doctor Spotlight: Brian Hinkley, OD

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Over 30 years ago, a young man accompanied his girlfriend to her eye appointment. For Dr. Brian Hinkley, it was love at first sight. His sweetheart eventually became his wife and favorite companion. But he also fell in love with the field of optometry. Dr. Hinkley, who had always imagined an occupation in the medical field, was now excited about the idea of helping people realize their best possible vision.

Dr. Hinkley loves seeing the smiles on patient’s faces when he can help restore their vision or help them with a medical need. And he looks forward to seeing entire families of children, parents and grandparents who he has been treating over those past 30 years.

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In 1998, Dr. Hinkley helped start a free eye clinic in a small closet at the People’s City Mission and has had the pleasure of watching it grow ever since. He still volunteers there once a month, helping Lincoln’s homeless and uninsured with their eye care.

Dr. Hinkley’s personal motto, “To find joy in everything I do,” is apparent in every aspect of his life. Whether treating patients, volunteering for the homeless or enjoying time with this family, Dr. Hinkley’s bright optimism influences everyone he meets.

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.

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 (aoa.org) 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 aoa.org and education.com.

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.

 

See Us First for Your Urgent Eye Care

Dr. Harshman

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

Lindsay Kruse
by Lindsay Kruse

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.

Dr. Devine Recommends Back-to-School Eye Exams

Dr. Devine
by Dr. Devine

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.

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