With a mixture of joy and sadness, we announce Dr. Mark McEathron’s 43 years of service at Binyon Vision Center will be coming to an end in 2023. Dr. McEathron has faithfully cared for patients in Bellingham since September 1980. The transfer of ownership to Dr. LeClaire in September 2021 has been very smooth and he has full confidence in Binyon Vision Center’s future in providing quality care for the eyes of Whatcom County.
He is thankful for the many patients and families with whom he has built relationships and is honored to have cared for two and sometimes even three generations. The ability to help each patient see their best has been an extremely rewarding career. In his retirement, he looks forward to more travel with his wife, Mary, and spending more time with his seven grandchildren.
The Binyon team will be looking for a full-time replacement optometrist for Dr. McEathron. He will be available part-time to schedule appointments for the foreseeable future. Please call for availability and we will announce his last day on our website along with an introduction of our new doctor.
We offer our endless thanks to Dr. McEathron and wish him all the best in retirement!
Binyon Optical Company was founded in 1911 in Seattle then quickly expanded across Washington
Dr. James R. Binyon opened the first Binyon Optical Company in 1911 on First Avenue in Seattle. He went on to open several other offices in Everett, Tacoma, Spokane, Richland, Yakima, Bremerton and Bellingham, which opened in 1934. At one time, it was estimated one of every three Washington families wore glasses dispensed by Binyon Optometrists. Binyon optometrists and opticians were trained to be masters of their craft- providing an excellence in glasses and service not found elsewhere. Today there are three remaining operating clinics with the Binyon name in Bellingham, Burien and Seattle, each operating independently.
Binyon Optical- a presence in downtown Bellingham since the 1930’s
The Binyon office in Bellingham has always operated out of downtown- on Holly, Cornwall, Railroad Avenue and since 1993 on the corner of Garden and Magnolia Street. The Holly Street storefront opened in 1934 with Dr. J. H. Peterson practicing. The office moved to Cornwall Avenue in 1947. In 1951, Dr. Binyon’s nephew Dr. LeRoy Freeman moved to up to practice in the Bellingham office. Binyon made another downtown move to the corner of Railroad and Magnolia Street in 1974. Dr. Terrence Hansen joined Binyon Optometrists as an associate during that time. In 1980, Dr. Mark McEathron joined the practice. When Dr. Freeman passed away in 1985, Dr. McEathron, who was a partner at that time became the sole owner. In 1992, the office moved three blocks east on Magnolia into the former Pietro’s Pizza restaurant. This location offers over 1,000 square feet dedicated to frames displays and off-street parking. In 2019, Dr. Heather LeClaire joined Binyon Vision Center as an associate. After two years, she purchased the practice from Dr. McEathron, making her the first woman owner.
American History through Binyon Newspaper Advertisements
We have a unique opportunity to look at a business- in this case an optometrist office that provides eye exams and glasses- through the eyes of its newspaper advertisements. While today we have instant access to an internet search of “Bellingham optometrist,” even as recently as the 1990’s, newspaper marketing was vital for being seen by prospective and returning patients.
The Bellingham Herald was founded in 1890 as the Fairhaven Herald, and after a few mergers (just like our city), was renamed the Bellingham Herald in 1903. An amazing online resource – newspapers.com is the largest online newspaper archive – containing archives back to the 1770’s from over 23,900 newspapers including the Bellingham Herald. A search for “Binyon” in the Bellingham Herald brought up advertisements and press releases going back to the 1930’s. The creativity and current event references in these advertisements are a peek into marketing, US history, optometry, and downtown Bellingham. Here is a breakdown by decade of the historical advertisements for Binyon in the Bellingham Herald.
Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1930’s
During the 1930’s, years of depression and economic hardship for the United States and Bellingham, Binyon advertisements focused on the importance of eye exams and subtly hinted at the stress on Bellingham resident’s finances. “We do not prescribe glasses unless absolutely necessary” appears in a few adverts.
An emphasis on the science of visual defects, having skilled, registered optometrists, and modernized equipment highlights eye health and vision as an important part of overall health and establishing credibility in the health profession.
An often repeated slogan is “Binyonize Your Eyes,” and by this point, Binyon Opticals had been operating for 20 years in other locations and had gained a healthy reputation for quality and service.
Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1940’s
In the early 1940’s the themes of the past decade’s advertisements continued – “Your Eyes Deserve the Best” and “Truly Friendly Service” are notable phrases the company used to distinguish itself. The advertisements include higher quality artwork and reference the entire chain of Binyon plus wisely pointing out the doctor’s name and address for the Bellingham location.
When the United States entered WWII, you see a definite shift in the messaging to relate the importance of having good vision to help the country’s wartime effort. It is fascinating to see the connection of one of the key times in US History to a local optometry’s advertisements. Visual efficiency is even called a patriotic duty and essential to help with wartime production. To note, the Bellingham Shipyard was the largest privately owned shipyard in the US in the 1940’s. They produced minesweepers during the war for the United States Navy.
Other interesting additions in the 1940’s ads are the discussion of children’s vision and its effect on school work:
When the war ends, the advertisements go back to focusing on quality and service. One ad shows the proper steps to taking care of glasses. Binyon advertisements give solid advice for getting the most out of your glasses, the last step being to visit a quality optometrist for adjustments and new glasses when necessary.
The quality of glasses is a frequent theme in advertisements, including the importance of taking proper measurements and lens manufacturing. This is also an introduction to the “look” of glasses – the idea they can make you look younger and have style.
Like we see every November on social media – there is an advertisement posted to remember to vote.
There are also lifestyle advertisements in the later 1940’s – addressing specific tasks and their visual needs and how Binyon glasses can help address. “Enjoy Good Vision… Enjoy Sports More” is one tagline.
In 1947, the office moved to a new location, announced with a press release and a change in logo in some of the proceeding advertisements.
Stay tuned for advertisements from the 1950 – 2000!
The advertisements from the Bellingham Herald by Binyon Optical Company in the 1930’s and 1940’s are an extensive walk through this important time period, in the most used medium of the day. There are five more decades to cover, with the newspaper advertisements becoming less each decade as other forms of marketing emerge. Stay tuned for the additional treasures to come in next month’s blog post!
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all virtues.” – Cicero
The Binyon staff took some time to pause and give thanks this month:
To all our patients brand new to our office or who have been coming for years- thank you! We appreciate how you trust us with your eye health and vision needs. We are so thankful.
Throughout the year, our gratitude to our local community inspires us to give back and donate a portion of our profits to local non-profits in our area focused on meeting the needs of our community in so many important ways. See our page here “We’re Thankful We’re Giving” for more information on our community donations.
Becoming an optician is a combination of on the job training and study. Our new opticians learn about visual disorders, the physics of lenses and the variety of progressive lens designs from texts and webinars at the same time as they work with patients and apply this knowledge. The combined approach is really important and results in a lot of “a-ha!” moments. The opticians in training listen to a patient’s past experience and might be able to solve problems because of a webinar on freeform progressive lenses. It is great to watch this new crew learn on the way to becoming highly trained professional opticians!
We are thankful for many wonderful resources the opticians in training are using including:
ECP Advantage from Walman Optical – on demand and live webinars from the optician training department at Walman Optical.
Our product partners including Lauren from Shamir, Addie from l.a. Eyeworks and Feb31st eyewear, Ciara from Lafont, and many more!
The part-time veteran opticians who provide in person training a few times each week – Jill and Margaret!
With strong attention to detail, a desire to learn, and a natural focus on problem-solving customer service – our three new opticians are in just a few months becoming amazing opticians. Becoming a licensed optician is a three year process. The requirements include 6,000 hours of job hours and passing two board certification tests, ABO and NCLE*. We’re excited to support the opticians in training in this goal as they help patients achieve the best vision in their glasses on the way!
*American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examination
Did you know there’s a rumor that the Northwest has the highest sunglasses sales in the nation?
The thought is we don’t wear our sunglasses for 9 months out of the year so we lose them.
We disagree! Sunglasses are a year round accessory – even in Washington State! How many times has the sun broken through after a February rain shower and you find yourself squinting through the glare reflections as you drive down I-5? There’s no better time to grab a pair of polarized sunglasses than right now at Binyon!
All in-stock sunglasses (except Maui Jim) are marked down 30%! We currently have amazing styles from Lafont Paris, Face a Face, American Optical, Garrett Leight and NW77th. Many come with polarized non-prescription lenses and all can be made into prescription sunglasses! If you wear prescription sunglasses, be sure to ask about our multiple pair discounts for lenses when you come into the office!
A recent post about the popularity of Aviators is here!
We are open from 8:00 – 5:30 Monday – Friday! Feel free to call 360-647-2020 to set up an appointment with an optician to look at our sunglasses frames or come on by! We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you find your next sunglasses!
In our not-so-biased opinion – being an optician is one of the coolest jobs. Helping people to see by working with a patient to fill glasses prescriptions is incredibly rewarding. We are so excited to watch our new optician apprentices embark on this journey.
Heather and Jordan both come from strong customer service backgrounds. Being able to listen and help meet patient’s needs is critical for this role. With that foundation, they are working on adding the technical components of the job. These include:
Incoming quality inspection of all glasses orders
Repairing and adjusting glasses for patients
Understanding all the lenses, lens materials, and lens treatment option
Understanding the components of frames and which work well for different prescriptions and faces
Taking measurements for patient’s glasses
Entering orders and working with the lab who makes all our lenses.
Proper measurement for a pupillary distance is a critical part of making glasses! We have a small tolerance for error because we have seen patients experience unintended distortion and discomfort with glasses made to the wrong pupillary distance. Our optician apprentices practice taking the pupillary distance for the entire staff and compare to the measurements from our experienced opticians. We troubleshoot technique until they are repeatably and accurately taking the measurements!
This is a fun journey we look forward to sharing with you! If you come in the office in the next few months, you may work with one of our optician apprentices as they are still shadowing or in training. Thank you for your patience as we place a high value on training our opticians to help you find the best frames and lenses possible!
Our patients love us because we love what we do. We are looking for an equally enthusiastic optician to join the team at Binyon Vision Center and help us serve more of the Bellingham community with amazing eyewear.
We have been taking care of eyes in downtown Bellingham since 1935. Our two doctors provide a thorough eye exam and our opticians guide patients through our independent frame lines and educate on the latest innovations in lenses. We’ll all argue Bellingham is the best place to live in the world and the community support for independent businesses is very strong.
As we grow we are excited to add to our team an optician apprentice or licensed dispensing optician with exceptional customer service skills. Optical experience is a plus, but we have on the job training available as well. An ideal fit for this position is someone with a passion for helping people and an eye for style. Our patients are our highest priority always, so excellent customer service is a must! Experience in customer focused jobs (retail, sales, food service, etc.) is mandatory. This is a full time position. We offer competitive salary based on experience, benefits and a matching 401k plan.
Primary responsibilities include but are not limited to:
– Assisting patients with frame and lens selection
– Prescription verification and dispensing
– Adjustments and repairs
– Inventory management
– Order placement
Experience with Crystal Practice Management, DVI and VSP billing is a plus. Optimal candidates will be passionate about eyewear, eyecare and delivering top service and quality products to our patients. Must be able to work as a part of a close-knit team. To apply for this position with Binyon Vision Center, please submit cover letter and resume here. Emails preferred, no phone calls please. Compensation depends on experience.
Job Type: Full-time
Pay: $17.00 – $23.00 per hour
Paid time off
8 hour shift
COVID-19 considerations: All staff must be fully vaccinated. Staff and patients must wear masks in the office.
Ability to commute/relocate:
Bellingham, WA 98225: Reliably commute or planning to relocate before starting work (Required)
When Top Gun was released in 1986, the next seven months saw a 40% boost on the sale of Aviator sunglasses (Goh, March 17, 2020). We won’t know the impact on the classic style’s popularity for a few months, but it’s safe to say that Top Gun: Maverick released May 27 ,2022 will spur another surge. It’s easy to see why – Aviators are ageless… a lot like the movie’s star who wears them so well – Mr. Tom Cruise himself.
The actual sunglasses worn in the movie are manufactured by Ray-Ban, a Luxottica-owned company that has enough dollars behind it to guarantee exclusivity in a movie with a production cost of $170M. It’s easy to find the frame model number online with a quick search, but, interestingly, another article (Homes, June 1, 2022) mentions the exact pair Tom wore was custom made for the star- not the model you would buy off the shelf.
How to Choose the Best Aviator Sunglasses for Your Face
Since even Tom Cruise had a custom pair of aviators made for his face, we know the subtleties in aviator design can make a big difference for which model looks best on your face. First let’s define what makes a pair of sunglasses “Aviators”
thin metal frames with double or triple bars across the bridge (piece across the nose, connecting the lenses)
large lenses, double or triple the size of the eyes
while many associate the teardrop shape with traditional Aviators, many of the current designs are more square, can even be round and more flattering
Speaking of shape – frames flatter face shapes in contrasts – a square or angular face is softened by a frame with rounder edges and a round face is flattered by an angular cat eye or square frame. Maintaining proper proportion with the size of the lenses is very important – look at the temple (side) pieces of a frame when it’s on your face – it should be about a finger width from your temples. If it’s touching your temples- it’s too small which is not good aesthetically or for comfort!
We often see in Aviators the oversized look going too far. If the lenses extend way beyond the edges of the face- it will not provide the best sun coverage – allowing bright rays to penetrate and reflect back into the eye and also look… too big. Thankfully many sunglasses manufacturers are manufacturing petite Aviator frames. One of our favorites is the Baby Beach by Maui Jim:
Thankfully with the popularity of the basic Aviator design- there are so many different styles- that will account for the shape and size suggestions we gave above. As we describe on our Frames page, working with independent eyewear manufacturers is important to us. We align with these companies’ patient-first mission and notice significant differences in quality and customer service compared to large corporate brands. If this is also important to you, here are some of our favorite independent manufacturers of Aviator sunglasses, available at Binyon Vision Center.
Independent Manufacturers of Aviator sunglasses
Maui Jim favorite styles: Baby Beach, Maverick (obviously), Cliff House
Each of you who trusts us with your eye health and glasses needs are invaluable to our business. From each of us – thank you to our patients. This month we celebrate YOU.
Our community’s support of local, independent businesses is above and beyond. Inspired by the “think local” campaign – we’ve put together a drawing with prizes from some of our favorite local businesses and multiple ways for our patients to enter!
Here are the ways you can earn entries to the drawing:
Purchase a year supply of contact = one entry
Order a new complete pair of glasses = one entry
Order multiple complete pairs of glasses – two pairs = three entries, three pairs = five tickets, four pairs = seven tickets
Optical supply kit – spray, fog spray, kim wipes, key chain screwdriver, Zeiss lens wipes, cleaning cloth (3 available)
2 tickets to Lockbreaker Escape Rooms
$10 in Farmers Market Bucks and Tea Towel
$10 Gift Card to Pure Bliss
Cute but Crazy Socks (4 available)
Gift Certificate for 2 orders of Pelmeni Dumplings
$20 Gift Certificate for Village Books
All qualifying purchases will be automatically added to the drawing throughout the month of April and the winner will be notified the first week of May! Thank you again for your incredible support of our business! We appreciate you!
Also! Keep a look out on our Instagram page for a special social media giveaway this month!
A recent very extensive, scientific poll of the broad audience of our Instagram followers revealed 13 out of 13 respondents had an increase in computer/device/screen time in the last two years that was directly related to the pandemic.
Well, it might not be from an extensive or scientific survey’s results – we do feel confident that a lot of us are staring at a computer or another type of screen for more hours per day than we did a few years ago. Or if someone is not – it’s possible they always did most of work on a screen. And that’s a key word too – working – we’re working on screens, staring at text, graphs, spreadsheets, zoom calls with less face to face meeting breaks or interruptions.
And your eyes are feeling it.
This topic is now brought up with almost every patient in the exam room with Dr. LeClaire and Dr. McEathron. Dr. LeClaire said the only patients she doesn’t talk about screen time with are the youngest ones! Our doctors have a few recommendations for helping your eyes cope with screen strain. They explain there are three main causes for the computer strain:
– fatigue in your eye muscles caused by staring at a fixed distance for long periods of time – irritated, dry eyes created by staring without blinking enough. Normally we blink every 4 seconds, on a computer it can be between 40 seconds between blinks! – the glare from devices causing additional visual strain
Here are some steps to take to address these three causes for eye fatigue directly:
Schedule an eye exam. There are two reasons this is a great first step, first – you might need a new prescription. Eye strain can change your prescription more quickly than usual. In addition, our visual needs at computer distance are often different than your needs for driving or reading. During an exam, the eye doctor will take a look at how screen time is affecting your eyes’ health and offer suggestions. As mentioned above, when we’re concentrating on a screen our blinking often lags behind what our eyes need to stay hydrated, healthy and feeling good. The symptoms you experience and the doctor will observe are dry eye indicators. The doctor will be able to tell by taking a close look at your eyelids and cornea and make a recommendation for lubricating drops (many are over the counter!) and how often to use them to help your eyes. In Whatcom County? Schedule an eye exam with our doctors here.
Take frequent breaks. It’s hard to remember as we work away, so we recommend setting a timer. Set your watch or phone for 20 minutes and every time it beeps, look away for twenty seconds and hit the reset button on the timer to start again. A common rule is 20-20-20, every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. During this short rest time, concentrate on taking intentional full blinks. Blinking fully and more often will activate the oil glands in your eyelids and help hydrate your eyes. Changing your eyes’ focal distance and reducing the glare stare consistently throughout the day will make a noticeable difference.
Speaking of glare… if you’re already looking through glasses and then at a screen there will be light bouncing around that plastic lens in front of your eye creating noise and distraction to your visual system. Make sure your lenses have a high quality anti-reflective coating to minimize the additional straining effects of glare on your eyes. Also, in your home office/work space/work area design- think about the lighting and whether or not it is contributing extra glare to your work area. This article from one of our favorite resources, “All About Vision” describes this more in point 9: https://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm. It has some other fantastic tips on this topic also.
We hope we’ve offered a few easy ideas to help with screen-induced eye strain. While we can hope screen time inflation will go down – it’s hard to say if and when that could happen so please, take care of those eyes in the meantime.
BINYON VISION CENTER
411 E. Magnolia Street, Bellingham WA 98225