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Lucy’s First Glasses

Survey says! Parents talk about back-to-school eyecare

VSP (Vision Service Plan) Vision Care released the results of a survey (see full article here) sent to 1,000 US parents on the topic of children’s eye exams this month with interesting results:

  • 80% of parents say “back to school eye exams are important for my kids” … yet only 50% of parents actually do it
  • One third of parents think that annual eye exams are unnecessary
  • Half of parents don’t know that 1 out of 4 kids have some kind of vision problem
  • 83% of parents take their kids to the dentist every year, but only 56% of parents take their kids to the optometrist every year

When as much as 80% of a child’s learning is visual- we would love to see these survey numbers grow to show a more proactive approach to children’s vision and eye health in Whatcom County.

I told our friend Lucy’s mom Carly about these survey results and she was kind enough to share her story about Lucy’s experience with getting her first pair of glasses at five years old:

Lucy’s First Glasses

“I knew something was up. She was always saying that she could see just fine, but it was in the little things, like inching closer to the tv and complaining about bright lights. The thing was, it didn’t stop my feisty five-year-old from turning cartwheels, hitting baseballs or even reading. And even when I brought up my concern at her yearly checkup, it wasn’t clear if Lucy’s vision was  impaired or if it was just her age. And so I put it off.

But after getting a recommendation from Lucy’s kindergarten class, I finally made an appointment to see an optometrist. My suspicions were right and actually much worse than I would’ve guess. She’s near-sighted, far-sighted and her vision was warped from astigmatism. As I understood it, if she were an adult, this would make her legally blind. BUT since we caught this early enough, we are working towards improving and reversing this.
The fun part was picking out new frames. We headed over to see Caitlin at Binyon Vision and she and the staff at Binyon were incredibly helpful and patient with helping us find and fit the perfect pair for Lucy. She loves her red frames!
I remember when she first put them on how she started giggling and pointing to her brothers “dots” (moles) on his face that she had never seen before, and how she was silent (a rarity) the whole way home while looking out the car window. It’s opened up a new world of clarity and detail.
The best part about getting started with glasses now, is her steadily improving vision. Over these past nine months, her prescriptions have incrementally corrected her eyesight, and have helped her eyes develop and become stronger on the own.
After learning that 80% of learning is visual for kids, and that 50% of parents choose to skip annual eye exams, I hope Lucy’s story encourages other parents to have their kids’ eyesight tested early and regularly.”
photographer: Carly Navarette (lifestyle photographer in the Pacific Northwest – learn more here)

Lafont Paris Trunk Show Coming June 6, 2017

You’re Invited to the 2017 Lafont Paris Trunk Show!

What?  Every spring, our wonderful Lafont Paris sales rep Michael brings all his bags – every frame from every Lafont collection in every color.  Yes, that’s a LOT of wonderful, handmade, unique and colorful frames.

In addition to frames, we have great refreshments, a photobooth, raffle prizes from some of our favorite downtown shops and this year! a special guest.  Marlene from Lipsense will be in the office during the trunk show with her collection of amazing products – smudge-proof lip color in a wide variety of colors.  How fun will it be to pick out a great pair of glasses and the perfect shade of lipstick to go with them?

When? June 6, 2017 from 10am – 4pm

Where? Binyon Vision Center – 411 East Magnolia Street

Why? Because we love Lafont and you will too!

No RSVP necessary – please come by!  We look forward to seeing you!

See photos of last year’s event here!

See the Facebook event here and say you’re interested to be reminded on the day of!

The Beauty of the Northwest Captured by Peter James Photography

Peter James Photography and Web Design

I hope that you’ve noticed the beautiful photo of Mt. Baker on the top of our website and of Whatcom Falls in the slide show on our website.  There’s no question that we live in one of the most beautiful, picturesque areas of the world.  Peter Klco of Peter James Photography has an amazing eye for capturing an overall breathtaking photo of our landscape with an attention to the small details that will leave you mesmerized.

Peter also does web design and we had the great pleasure of working with him on our website last summer.  He makes the design and site construction process very personalized, very well organized and brings a wealth of knowledge on the ever changing landscape (intended pun) of marketing yourself successfully on the internet.

Photography and Optometry – Visual Geeks!

We found many similarities between our worlds of photography and optometry- centered on the visual system and how to create the best possible images for our consumer.  Peter has a variety of cameras, lenses and equipment to create his images – while Dr. McEathron will sometimes prescribe a variety of glasses prescriptions to help create the clearest image at different distances (distance, reading, computer).

There are many choices of medium to print Peter’s images on and he’s lately chosen metal as a substrate of choice because of how vivid and bright the images appear.  We have many choices in lens materials and lens designs to offer our patients in glasses- but first recommend digital freeform lenses that provide vision most accurate to the prescription and highly customized for how the patient wears the prescription in their particular frame.

It was a joy to work with Peter and his team and we’d like to invite all of you to become familiar with his fantastic photography work and to seek him out for assistance with a website if the need arrives!  In addition to providing high quality work, the team is committed to giving back by planting 100 trees for every photo purchased and website created through the Trees for the Future campaign.

The Things Patients Say…

We have the unique opportunity to be present for an awesome “WOW!” moment in many peoples’ lives… the moment the world becomes clear!  Inspired by the adorable viral video last year of a baby seeing her mom for the first time (see here) the Binyon team would like to present our first edition of…

The Things Patients Say

“Everything is so sharp – I haven’t taken them off!” – – C, who thought she just needed her glasses for driving and wouldn’t wear them often
“I can see the points on the stars!” – – O (10 years old) about the star stickers on the ceiling of his bedroom

“I can see raindrops on the cars!” – – K, after putting on her contacts for the first time

 

<< QUIET … then big smile >> – – 10 month old C who was crying crying crying as Christie put her first pair of glasses on and she looked at her mom
“The roof has lines on it.” – – J, first time contact lens wearer talking about the shingles

I can’t believe how trees look- I can see the leaves when before it was a big blob of green.” – – R, 11 years old, first time glasses wearer

“Dr. McEathron – you saved my marriage – you showed my husband how the world looks when I don’t have my glasses on and he’s so much more understanding now.” – – L, 63 years old, very nearsighted
“I can see the mole on your face Mommy!” – – L, 8 years old when asked what she could see with her new glasses
“OH! Where did all those wrinkles come from!” – – C, 52 years old, putting on her first progressive lenses

 

A new world appears with clear vision – are you seeing to your full potential?  Come on in!  We’d love to share a WOW moment with you!

Seven Reasons to NOT Buy Glasses Online- Part 2

In a previous post, we focused on how the lenses in online glasses could present vision and safety problems.  We return to this topic of comparisons by focusing on the frames first…

Reasons 4 – 7 to NOT buy Glasses Online…

4. How long do you wear shoes that don’t fit right?

If you’re a long time glasses wearer you might know what we mean here…  A poorly fitting pair of glasses can really ruin your day.  You’re constantly pushing them up your
nose, your head feels like it’s in a vice or where it curves behind your ears seems to hit a pressure point that is aching by the end of the day.

It is obvious that you wouldn’t know about any fit issues unless you try the glasses on.  Some online companies allow you to do that- which helps. However, a few minutes on your face doesn’t necessarily equal a full 16 hour day of wearing the glasses with your lenses (which are heavier than the demo lenses).  The shoes felt so comfortable in the store when I tried them on…

We’d like to strongly advocate having a professional optician who is trained to see and explain any fit issues help you find something that fits comfortably!

Speaking of opticians- they are also trained to adjust glasses.  While they help you find the proper pair of glasses they are evaluating whether or not it’s possible to make adjustments to the frame to make it more comfortable or not- in some instances it’s not.  With a plastic bridge without nose pads (fixed bridge) – if it slides down your nose- it will always slide down your nose- there’s nothing that can be adjusted to prevent that.  However- if it bugs you where it’s sitting behind your ear?  Or is it sitting crooked because gasp!  your ears are slightly asymmetrical (don’t worry that’s 99% of the population).  An optician is here to help.

An ill-fitting frame can really cause a lot of problems.  Headaches, fatigue, red marks on your skin due to imbalanced weight of a frame on your nose… there are many well made glasses out there that will fit your face well and comfortably saving you lots of grief.

5. Just a slight adjustment = sweet relief

On the topic of frame fittings…  nothing stresses a trained optician more than adjusting low quality frames.  Inexpensive materials used to make inexpensive frames do not cooperate well and often lose form soon after an adjustment because of the shortcuts made in the manufacturing process to keep costs down.

Please consider this friendly warning- you might be beating a regular path to the optician’s chair for adjustments with online glasses.

The way glasses sit on your head can not only affect comfort, but vision as well.  Especially with progressive lenses, even the slightest adjustment can bring you into or out of focus.  Having a licensed optician dispense glasses they ordered for you with the proper measurements and adjust to your maximum vision potential and comfort leads to a successful glasses-patient relationship.  Happy eyes = Happy day!  Well, maybe not but I promise you- unhappy eyes can really ruin your day!

 

6. What’s the warranty?

The online glasses retailers who carry many name brands often do not have a relationship with the manufacturer themselves and cannot rely on the service and warranty available from the manufacturer.  In fact, many of the name-brand frames you find online at low prices are discontinued models.  Depending on the manufacturer, the lifetime for a glasses frame model may be 3-4 years on average.

When a frame is out of production- if the temple breaks, nosepad arm falls off, lenses get a scratch, unfortunately you’re looking at buying another pair of glasses.

What happens if the prescription isn’t working for you?  You might go in to see your optometrist again and find out the prescription numbers were not exactly right for your purpose… is there an option to have your glasses remade?  The relief of a patient satisfaction policy and warranty against damaged frames and lenses for a valuable medical device that helps you… see… is absolutely worth it.

7.  All Anti-Reflective Coatings are not created equal

There are two types of people in the world – those who love anti-reflective coating and those who hate it.  And you can spot the glaring difference a mile away.

A great anti-reflective coating provides many benefits – glare from light sources are all around us.  Shine that glare through an uncoated lens and it bounces around the lens- creating reflections.  When an anti-reflective coating is properly applied the light doesn’t stay in the lens and instead of bouncing around it passes through the lens into your eye.  Yeah- where it’s supposed to go.  This does two great things- allows you to see better, clearer even because you’re not competing with glare- you’re seeing the full picture.  Second the lenses look better.  You don’t see the glare and neither does the world looking at you!  They get to see your eyes- instead of a lens full of glare.

However- applying this coating to a lens is a complicated process!  A certified clean chamber for the coating to be applied is necessary- any dust that’s on the lens before it’s coated creates a flaw that can grow and grow into a cloudy lens that just won’t ever feel clean.  Have you had non-glare coating like that?  It might be a bad enough experience to put you in the hate crowd.

We’d encourage you to give anti-reflective coating another chance- from a store that can educate you about the quality of their coatings and has a warranty against scratches and damage to back up their quality claims.

 

Thank you for bearing with us for this discussion on a topic we’re passionate about- helping the glasses wearing community understand their options in eyewear and hopefully providing some reasons why online glasses are not the best choice.  If you have any questions- feel free to email us!  We’d be happy to respond in a future blog post.  Thank you again and best wishes for happy eyes!

Use it- Don’t Lose it – Benefits expire December 31st!

<< our series on why to NOT buy online glasses will continue in the next post!>>

Have you been paying for vision insurance or into a flexible spending account all year?  Are you familiar with the details of your insurance plan?  Many benefits expire at the end of the year- let us help you find out more details about yours!

Calendar year vision benefits

Many plans are on a calendar year cycle – meaning they renew on January 1st, no matter when you used them last.  A common plan in our area that has this benefit is the Uniform/Regence plan that is an option for employees at Western Washington University.  Patients can use this benefit to their advantage by using the hardware allowance that is designated for glasses or contacts for glasses in December of 2016 and contacts or a second pair of glasses in January 2017.  Of course that means the hardware would not be available again until January 2018, but it is a way to maximize your benefits in a fun way at the end of the year if they are still available.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Some employers offer their employees the opportunity to defer part of their salary to a tax-free savings account that can be used towards medical expenses.  These are “use-it-or-lose-it” plans that will expire with the funds going away either at the end of the year- or in some cases on March 15th (depends on the plan).  Talk with your employers or the manager of your FSA fund to make sure you understand the balance in your account and when it might expire.

Money saved into flexible spending accounts can be used for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance- but must be medically related.  In our world that means – eye exams, copays, glasses, contact lenses and prescription sunglasses.

There might be no better time to update your glasses or stock up on contact lenses!

Please give us a call to check on your vision benefits or to answer any questions on how you could maximize the money you’ve saved in your FSA account!

Also, we have a large number of frames in our “red-dot” sale section right now- all 30% off!  We look forward to seeing you this year!

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Seven Reasons to NOT Buy Glasses Online- Part 1

I read a blog post recently – “How to save money like by thinking like a millennial” (credit here) with interesting tips like opening a checking account that refunds all your ATM withdrawal fees, signing up for Amazon Prime and downloading the browser extension coupon finder Honey.  Then I reached – “Stop getting ripped off on glasses by getting Warby Parkers.”

Hmm…

Thanks to the tv show “60 minutes” and viral College Humor videos, the dominance of one company over the eyewear industry and the high margins they enjoy by cutting costs and cutting quality has created a cloud of distrust over the professional dispensing of an eyeglasses prescription by brick and mortar optical retailers.

But when you see a price tag difference of $39 for online glasses to over $200 from a store- you at least wonder why.  I’d like to break down the differences and hopefully convince you that even for $39… online glasses are not worth it.

Seven Reasons to NOT Buy Glasses Online

1. Standards do not apply

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has developed comprehensive standards (14 to be exact) that describe the acceptable degree of error in a set of prescription eyeglass lenses to the written prescription by the doctor.  Here’s an example:

If your prescription is -2.50 in your right eye, the acceptable range of power for the lens is -2.13 to -2.63 (±0.13).

What do these numbers mean?  With every click of the phoropter when the doctor is measuring your prescription and asking “Which is better, 1 or 2?” there is a change of 0.25 diopter.

A summary of the standard for manufacturing eyeglasses lenses can be found here.  The standards are developed by a team of doctors and manufacturers to represent what is acceptable to the patient’s visual needs and manufacturable.

When a prescription is outside of this tolerance, well first off, you won’t see as clearly as possible.  Imagine using a pair of binoculars to see something in the distance- turning the dial until you see the image clearly.  Then you move the dial even slightly one direction or another.  That’s kind of how wearing a prescription that’s close- but not close enough can feel.  Less than perfect vision is in itself is a disadvantage but also has potential effects such as eyestrain, headaches or double vision.

For children, wearing the incorrect prescription can have even worse consequences- as their visual system is developing wearing the incorrect prescription could cause one eye to work harder than the other and ultimately throw off the eye’s ability to work together and a muscle imbalance could lead to amblyopia (lazy eye).

At our office, we use a lensometer to double check every pair of glasses that is ordered to the doctor’s written prescription and reject any lenses that are outside of tolerance.  Do online retailers do the same?  According to a study performed by the American Optometric Association (see here) where 154 online glasses were ordered and analyzed, 29% of these had an inaccurate prescription.

One out of every 3.5 pairs of glasses that ships out from an online retailer will not have an accurate prescription.

Every pair of glasses that is dispensed by our opticians will have a prescription within the tolerances laid out by the ANSI standards.

2. Duty to Warn

Optometrists have a professional and legal “duty to warn” patients about the proper use and safety issues associated with ophthalmic products (aka glasses and contacts).

Having an optical professional- an optometrist or licensed dispensing optician provide a educated recommendation for lens materials and lens options is important for protecting one of our most valuable assets- our eyes.

Thankfully there are also manufacturing standards in place to address the integrity of glasses lenses.  Among the ANSI standards that are discussed above are criteria for impact resistance for dress glasses (safety eyewear is more extensive).  How do glasses purchased from an online retailer match up to the safety standard?  Not well.  In the same study by the American Optometric Association referenced above, 23% of online glasses failed impact resistance testing.

Almost 1 in 4 online glasses do not pass ANSI safety standards for impact resistance.

Definition of failure of the impact resistance test?  Cracks through the entire lens thickness into two or more pieces.

3. Those licensed dispensing opticians?  Armed with knowledge and experience.

An average conversation about lens styles, lens materials and lens options at our office is at least ten minutes long.  An optician should ask lifestyle questions about how you use your eyes and what your visual needs are before making any recommendations on which lens will be best for your needs.  Explaining the features and benefits of different lens materials in relation to your prescription can help you make an informed decision between Trivex and Hi-Index plastic.  A quick honest conversation about how you take care of your glasses will help the optician recommend the best anti-reflective (non-glare) coating to meet up with your glasses care routine.

Becoming a licensed dispensing optician is a three year apprenticeship program in Washington state combining both on-the-job training and supplemental instruction through classes and individual study.  After a written and practical exam, an apprentice becomes a licensed optician and along with the continued in the field experience to fine tune their craft, there is a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education required every three years.

Licensed opticians bring experience and knowledge to help each patient make educated decisions on the best choices for their individual eyewear needs.

Even Siri doesn’t have the answer to which progressive lens will work best all week at the computer, Saturday at the golf course and withstand your habit of wiping the lenses on your shirt.

This is getting a little long, so we will continue with an additional 4 reasons in the next blog post.  We are presenting a total of 7 reasons why to not to buy glasses online.  I can think of one good reason to buy online glasses as stated above- you will save money on the initial purchase.

I hope you take our reasons to not buy online glasses into consideration before making a decision to purchase an important medical device at bargain basement prices.  The purpose of glasses is to help you see and shouldn’t cause harm to your vision or put your eyes at risk in the process.  Please carefully weigh your options and let us know if you have any questions!

Thank you and have a great day!

Digital Eye Strain – Problems and Solutions!

Digital Eye Strain Exposed

Do your eyes feel tired, uncomfortable, achy or strained after at least two hours on a digital device?  A few facts on digital eye strain from the Vision Council:

  • Nearly 90% of American adults use a digital device for more than 2 hours per day.
  • Over 60% of American adults use a digital device for more than 5 hours per day.
  • 65% of Americans report symptoms of digital eye strain including neck and back pain, eye fatigue, blurry vision, headaches and dry eyes.
  • 90% of Americans do not discuss their digital device usage with their optometrist.
  • 27% of Americans do not realize that computer eyewear can help protect against digital eye strain.

 

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms after extended digital screen time?

  1. Eye strain
  2. Headaches
  3. Neck and/or back pain
  4. Blurry vision
  5. Dry eyes

Relief is here!

A conversation with the optometrist is the best way to start the process to relieving your digital eye strain.  The doctor can write a prescription if necessary that will relieve the strain on your eyes while working at a particular distance.

If you are presbyopic (the age-related inability to see up close) there are some specialized progressive lenses that can provide optomized for vision at multiple distances- taking into consideration keeping your head in an ergonomically correct position.  A great example is the Shamir Autograph II Office Lens- specifically designed to provide a comfortable field of view between 15′ (seeing the wall clock) and looking at the computer screen and checking texts on your phone.  Many of our patients and Dr. McEathron wears these lenses throughout their workday with much appreciation- reporting more rested eyes and resulting greater energy at the end of the day.

A good option for a younger patient who is in front of the computer all day but strictly farsighted or nearsighted is a single vision computer prescription.  Our patient Zac reports:

After purchasing my first pair of computer glasses, I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my energy and clarity.

In addition to specific lens styles, there are also lens options that are designed to relieve digital eye strain.  These two products discussed below specifically target filtering out high energy blue light from device screens.  Blue light has a very short wavelength, and so produces a higher amount of energy. Studies suggest that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause short term and potentially serious long-term damage to your eyes.

BluTech is like a subtly colored lens filter available in specific lens designed designed to filter out blue light.

 

Similarly, Crizal Prevencia anti-reflective coating combined a non-glare coating with a high-tech filter to significantly reduce the amount of blue light getting into the eye.

There are many more details to discuss with one of our opticians on which lenses and lens options might be best for you and your workspace.  Stop by soon to talk to Jim, James or Sarah about getting the relief your eyes need today- and look forward to less strain and more energy!

Let’s talk about the glare out there…

Rain – SUN – RAIN – SUN

The weather today could NOT make up it’s mind!  When I dropped my kids off, it was pouring- my 3 year old cried, “We need a boat Mom!” as we ran into her preschool.  When I picked them up four hours later- the sun was out, sky was blue, a perfect PNW afternoon.  But… the road was still wet… so I was temporarily blinded by the concentrated sun rays hitting the puddles going right into my eyes until… I put my polarized sunglasses on.  Sweet relief.

polarizedI’ve recently come across some really great explanations of how polarized lenses work to reduce glare – and I hope to shed some light (pun intended) on how these work- so you can hopefully gain a new appreciation of this great technology!

The glare of the sun on flat wet surfaces- such as roads, the surface of the ocean, snow reflects from that horizontal plane- concentrating all that light into a blinding reflection.  Polarized lenses have a polarized filter oriented vertically to block light coming in horizontally.  Besides removing the intensified and scattered horizontal light, the vertically aligned light polarize lenses allow to pass is preferable to the visual system- creating a significantly more comfortable view.  Non polarized sunglasses indiscriminately filter all light- horizontal and vertical.  Glare is reduced but not eliminated.
By filtering all components olight- a less sharp image is the result.  The selective light filtering of a polarized lens actually creates a sharper picture!

Summary of the benefits of polarized lenses:
  • Eliminates glare
  • Improves visual comfort
  • Improves contrast and clarity
  • Reduces eyestrain
  • Reduces reflections

There are many polarized lenses on the market and not all are created equal.  The glare reduction depends on the quality of the filter used and how the lenses are manufactured.  Drug store “polarized” sunglasses may only cut out 10% of light, where premium polarized lenses such as Xperio lenses by Essilor cut out 99% of reflected light.

Next time you’re driving on a gorgeous day when the storm has lifted and the sun is shining down on large puddles of morning rain and reflecting right into your eyes- consider an investment in a quality pair of polarized sunglasses.  Your driving experience will be greatly improved!

Back to School!

The First Exam of the Year Should be an Eye Exam!

As you’re preparing for the upcoming school year, it’s important to make sure a comprehensive eye examination is on the family’s to-do list.  Children’s vision can change dramatically from one year to the next and 80% of learning is experienced through vision.  A thorough eye exam is a necessary step to making sure your child is ready for the school year!

The Affordable Health Care Act designates Pediatric Vision as one of the ten essential health benefits.  What does that mean to you?

Qualified health plans must include benefits for an annual comprehensive eye exam and vision materials (glasses or contact lenses) for members 18 years old and younger.

Please give us a call today with your insurance information and we can check on the details of your plan!

We want to help you get ready for back to school!

During the month of September…

  • Come visit Dr. McEathron or Dr. Hoekstra for your annual eye exam
  • Order one complete set of glasses or an annual supply of contacts (may be covered by insurance- call us and we can check!)
  • PICK YOUR SAVINGS!  Either:
    • The lenses for your back-up glasses will be discounted 50%
    • OR…
    • Receive complementary Transitions® lenses! ($100 value)