We are dedicated to safe environment to provide eyecare to our patients. Here is an overview of our current COVID-19 procedures. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact us.
We are seeing patients by appointment only for all services including repairs and adjustments. This allows us to maintain appropriate building capacity and allows for proper social distancing.
All patients and employees are required to wear a face mask while in our building. Employees have been trained in proper personal protective equipment protocol from the Washington State Department of Health.
All patients are asked to fill out a COVID prescreening questionnaire before their appointment or at arrival.
We strive to maintain a 6′ distance between people as much as possible using visual markers. Employees use face shields for some procedures.
We clean and disinfect all common surfaces and tools between use.
We are proud of the efforts our team has made to keep our office safe. Here are some comments from surveys we’ve sent to patients who have recently visited:
They are doing an excellent job making you feel safe during this pandemic!
During these odd times, I felt very comfortable visiting the office, as they took every safety precaution they possibly could to keep their patients healthy!
Thank you for doing the right thing and keeping all of us patients safe during this pandemic. Their staff take each patient’s temperature as you walk in and adhere to all social distancing/masking/sanitizing protocols.
The office follows strict Covid precautions which eased my anxiety.
If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call. Best wishes and stay well.
At the end of the year, our waitlist for appointments can get long… filled with patients wanting to use insurance benefits and medical savings dollars before they expire. We called a waitlist patient near the end of 2019 – and he was delighted an earlier appointment time came available. He came in to use up his benefits for an annual eye exam and had no specific complaints, just needed more contacts. What started as a routine exam turned into a surgical procedure at a specialist office the same afternoon. We are all very thankful the patient was able to come in sooner than his scheduled appointment.
The patient had not noticed any vision changes, flashes or floaters in his vision and had not experienced any pain but when Dr. McEathron dilated his eyes he saw a slight blood leakage on the patient’s retina. Dr. McEathron sent him directly to Bellingham Retinal Specialists for further evaluation. The same day, the ophthalmologist at the office performed a laser procedure to the patient’s eye to stop the retina hemorrhage and prevent permanent vision loss.
Optometrists can uncover asymptomatic eye problems with potential to become large problems and when they do- it’s quite memorable. Dr. LeClaire recalls a similar event to the one described above when she was practicing in Seattle. “Many people mention in the exam room they do not want to be dilated,” she reflects. “I make sure they understand the benefits of us being able to really see what’s happening in the back of their eyes.”
Routine Physical for your Eyeballs
Dr. LeClaire likes to think of an eye exam as a routine physical for your eyeballs. The doctors discuss eye health and family history to make personalized recommendations to promote long term eye health. Key to creating a great understanding of your eye health is talking about if you experience eye strain and headaches and your daily exposure to electronic devices and computer screens.
Before getting into the physical exam, the doctors will test your vision using the Snellen Chart. See this last blog post for more detail on reading 20/20 and visual acuity measurement.
Your eye movement is studied throughout the exam- how your eyes track and work together. Sometimes a patient who has 20/20 vision but is experiencing headaches, might have delayed focusing or a tracking problem contributing to eye fatigue and strain.
The doctors test your peripheral vision to look for any defects that need further attention. They will also look at your eyelids, eyelashes, tear ducts, blood vessels and iris appearance. When you have this “eyeball physical” done regularly the doctor will record observations and note any variations and the first sign of any issues that could present a long term problem are caught early!
What about the part of the eye you can’t see?
I’ve described the study of how the eyes are moving and the examination of the outside of the eye, but as you can see in the image above- there’s a lot going on under the surface. Two thirds of your eyeball lie below the skin and the best way for the doctor to take a peek at the back of the eye is through that little black hole- your pupil. When the pupil is dilated by the special drops- the doctors can get a much better picture of the back of the eye- the blood vessels and optic nerve.
No, the doctors are not just trying to torture your vision for a few hours- they look at what the back of your eye looks like and create a record of the appearance. Then year after year they will note any changes to these key parts of the eye that work to make you see.
What kind of changes might they be looking for? Well, like for the patient discussed above, blood leakage or tears in the retina can be asymptomatic but when they grow they could lead to permanent vision loss. Abnormal optic nerves could be a sign of glaucoma, which also can lead to permanent vision loss when not treated. Unusual pigmentation on the macula could be an indication of macular degeneration, another eye problem with irreversible vision loss. A brief overview of common eye conditions can be found here.
20/20 Vision for Life!
As you can see, the optometrists performing detailed eye exams do more than measure your ability to read the 20/20 line. The doctors look for any signs of issues that could cause future vision loss. When you schedule an eye exam you will definitely be reading the eye chart, but you’re also taking care of your ability to SEE the eye chart throughout your life. This year of perfect vision we urge you to make eye exams a part of your routine maintenance. Schedule the annual eyeball physical to keep 20/20 vision a reality throughout your life!
A Dutch ophthalmologist, Dr. Herman Snellen, developed the 20/20 measurement system for visual acuity in 1862. Could he even have dreamed that 158 years later optometrists all over the US would be doing a happy dance that the year 2020 is going to be their year.
What is 20/20 vision?
In the Snellen measurement system- the top number represents the distance between the person and the eye chart. In the US, this distance is 20 feet. At this distance, one of the smaller lines at the bottom of the eye chart has been declared the standard- to correspond with normal visual acuity. If you can identify the letters on this line, but none of the smaller letters on lower lines, you have 20/20 vision.
The letters get larger as the lines go toward the top of the chart and each line corresponds to worse visual acuity. The smaller letters in lines below the 20/20 line correspond to better than 20/20 visual acuity. If you can read the 20/10 line- your visual acuity is two times better than someone who can only read the 20/20 line.
The single “E” at the top of the chart represents 20/200 vision. If this is the smallest letter you can read WITH corrective lenses in front of your eyes, you are legally blind.
Why do you keep saying 20/20 visual acuity?
While we tend to say “20/20 vision” a more proper term is 20/20 visual acuity. Vision is a term that is too general to accurately describe what the 20/20 measurement denotes. Why? Well, 20/20 vision is measured statically for one- in other words while the person is not moving. Also the measurement is using high contract- black letters on white background. This measurement is useful for a relative comparison of clarity of vision in a standard situation. It is a poor indicator of a person’s ability to see colored objects, moving objects or depth perception- all qualities of one’s vision. A more comprehensive description of vision would include eye tracking ability, contrast sensitivity and focusing speed.
An optometrist measures visual acuity with an instrument called phoropter in a procedure called a refraction. You’ll remember this from the eye exam when the doctor asks which is better one or two? and moves knobs or buttons until you can read the 20/20 line. The resulting numbers represent the strength of lenses needed to help you see 20/20.
The quest for perfect vision
As discussed above, 20/20 visual acuity is a measured by eye doctors. There are even smart phone apps that can measure visual acuity. Using this reference will catch most visual disorders such as farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. Unfortunately certain eye conditions will prevent correction to 20/20 even with corrective lenses in glasses. These conditions include cataracts, macular degeneration and even extreme dry eyes. Often these conditions are progressive- meaning the vision degenerates more and more over time. There can be preventative measures to slow and even stop progression but in some cases the vision deterioration is irreversible. Read more information here about proactive eye care. Annual eye exams are extremely important to evaluate eye health and look for any early signs of these damaging conditions. An comprehensive eye exam is much more than seeing if you can read the 20/20 line. Every time you write “2020” let that be a reminder to visit the optometrist and congratulate them on the year of perfect vision. Click here to schedule your appointment today!
Much of the information in this blog post was gleaned from Dr. McEathron, Dr. LeClaire and the fine writing at www.allaboutvision.com.
The end of the year is a busy season and we’re here to help make sure you’ve got clarity going into the new year in more ways than one!
First order of business – our office will be open our regular office hours of Monday – Friday 8:30 – 5:30, closed for lunch 12:30 – 1:30 except for the following days: Thanksgiving and the day after, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Our office will be closed those dates.
Next – let’s talk about vision insurance and flexible spending accounts. 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. This means 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. This plan is an option for employees at Western Washington University. Patients can use this benefit to their advantage by using the hardware allowance for glasses in December of 2019 and contacts or a second pair of glasses in January 2020. That means the hardware would not be available again until January 2022, but it’s a fun way to maximize your benefits if they are still available.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Some employers offer their employees to defer part of their salary to a tax-free savings account. This can be used towards medical expenses. These are “use-it-or-lose-it” plans. These plans will expire with the funds going away either at the end of the year- or in some cases on March 15th. 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! We would love to help you see 2020 going into the year 2020!
Photos by Katheryn Moran Photography. See more of her excellent work here!
Dr. Heather LeClaire has fortunately landed here in Bellingham by way of Minnesota (born and raised), Ohio (optometry school) and Seattle (because she fell in love with the PNW after visiting a friend during optometry school). Interested in leaving the big city life for the Bellingham area where she had friends, a mutual colleague connected us and she joined our team in October 2018.
The past three months have slipped by quickly during our busiest time of year while Dr. LeClaire has seen patients Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Fridays all day. A proper introduction is overdue- but here are some important things to know about Dr. LeClaire:
In her own words…
Most days you can find me… exploring our new home town and area. It is such a great combination of city and outdoors, and it is all easily accessible!
I love serving the world by… helping people see and feel better about how they look and feel in their glasses and contacts. I love to educate people about their eyes and their health.
The things I’m most passionate about in life are… friends and family, food and art.
When I’m not busy checking eyes you can find me… with my nose in a book, searching antique or thrift stores for possible treasures, hanging out with friends, and exploring Bellingham and the surrounding area
My favorite part of my job is… working with a great team of people, and meeting such a variety of people from all walks of life and with such varied interests, and being able to help them see and feel the best about their eyes and health.
It must be said too- Dr. LeClaire is a talented crafter- she created beautiful cross-stitch ornaments of each staff member’s glasses! And they are so lovely!
Dr. LeClaire is currently accepting new patients from most insurance plans. For more details please contact our office or consult our online appointment scheduling tool here!
When I contacted Shelly Clark about photographing her family for the latest “Glasses of Binyon” blog she responded- “Could we meet at Whatcom Falls Park? We kind of live right in the park.” I thought that might mean on the road leading into the park but as Kevin works for the Department of Fishery for Washington State- they literally live in the park. It was a joy to watch the family in their backyard and picture the kids growing up in one of Bellingham’s most beautiful parks. Kevin, Shelly, Chester and June have been patients of Dr. McEathron’s for many years and they each have unique and interesting stories about their journey with their glasses.
Let’s start with Chester.
Shelly tells me he’s worn glasses for as long as she can remember. His first eye exam was when he was four years old- with concerns of family history of nearsightedness. Shelly remembers this appointment vividly- that Dr. McEathron kindly recommended they try again the following year when Chester knew more letters. He received his first pair of glasses the next year and Shelly comments that he’s always taken very good care of his glasses- probably because he’s “blind as a bat” without them. His high astigmatism doesn’t make him a great candidate for contact lenses- but he wears glasses well and appreciates the help from the opticians to find him a great fitting pair that is stylish.
Shelly was also proactive with an early eye exam for daughter, June.
When she was 5 she sat in Mom’s lap for her first eye exam. The next few years she came in for regular checks- but Dr. McEathron found no need for glasses. As 3rd grade rolled around, some reading struggles were noted. We made some reading glasses, but Dr. McEathron also recommended a consultation for vision therapy. June now sees Dr. Bearden at Optometric Physicians Northwest to help with excessive convergence. She wears her reading glasses for close work but with the improvement she’s seeing in vision therapy, she might not need them for much longer.
Shelly recalls Kevin coming home with his first pair of glasses in 2012 and being amazed…
at what he had been missing out on because he couldn’t see! He spends a lot of time outdoors- so he tried Transitions darkening lenses but didn’t like the amount of time it took for them to change back to clear- so he invested in his first prescription sunglasses made by Maui Jim. He describes those as the ultimate treat- and necessary for his work around bodies of water to be able to see clearly through the glare.
I saved my favorite story for last!
Shelly was very nearsighted and had Lasik performed in 2010 and was glasses free for 4 years after wearing them since she was a little girl. She remembers the news that she would need glasses again as being disappointing – “It’s because I’m getting older right?” she asked Dr. McEathron. “Well, it’s because you keep having birthdays,” explained Dr. M. Shelly loves how he took her negative and turned it into a positive. She says she’s fine wearing them now and even likes them! When she lost her glasses she got the same frame in another color. This was smart because she found the lost glasses again and now has two very cute similar but different color frames!
It was a fun adventure to get to know this family better in their beautiful back yard and hear about their unique glasses experiences. A special thank you to Shelly, Kevin, Chester and June for sharing their glasses stories and to Katheryn Moran of Katheryn Moran Photography for taking this awesome family’s pictures!
When the kids and I walked into Galbraith Mountain Pediatric Dentistry office for the first time, I was understandably nervous. The three year old wore her tiara and lugged along her stuffed elephant (named Sugar- great choice for going to the dentist) and the one year old is always unpredictable, because he’s one. As new patients we were brought into a big room with an exam chair, and several bins of toys – mostly stuffed animals all outfitted with huge sets of teeth and giant toothbrushes. A woman with cute glasses and a kind face entered the room and introduced herself as Susan, the dental assistant who would help us out on our first visit.
I noticed her glasses right away
Susan made sure the kids knew they could play with the toys in the room and explained this first visit is all about making sure they feel comfortable.
We sat down to look over the paperwork I filled out. I answered a few questions then she said- “Oh! I see you work at Binyon, I’ve been seeing Mark for years!” (True story – I found her initial patient paperwork dated April 1992.)
“I wondered!” I answered, “I recognized your Lafont frames! And these are Mark’s grandkids!”
“Too funny!” she replied, “That must make you Caitlin, I’ve known you since you were a kid!” Before Susan worked at Galbraith, she worked for Dr. Richard Todd’s office where I’d been a patient growing up. My memory went back to a tall, energetic woman with short brown hair that would call us back to the exam rooms and we laughed at the connection in our small Bellingham world. Her hair is a beautiful silver now and her energy and smile are just as I remember.
Then it was her turn to come to the doctor!
A few months after our re-acquaintance at the dentist, Susan came in for her eye exam and was planning on updating the lenses into her current Lafont frames to her new prescription.
“You know I love fun glasses… Do you have anything new?” she asked. I couldn’t wait to show her the new Anne et Valentin collection – bold looks with many petite options that I knew fit her style perfectly. I grabbed a light pink frame and said, “This one.” She put it on… and couldn’t take it off. “Yes- this one.”
Later we came to photograph Susan in her element- helping kids at the dentist. She explained she doesn’t always wear these new frames to work – she had a collision with another employee a few months ago which sent her glasses flying and we ended up repairing a broken temple. She has several pairs of fun glasses and she tells me, “If you have to wear glasses, make it a part of your wardrobe! You need different frames and lenses for different needs and outfits.”
… and in Andy’s case, it’s two pairs of glasses. As systems administrator at a local credit union, Andy spends between 10-14 hours per day in front of a computer screen.
All Photos: Katheryn Moran Photography
Andy has worn prescription computer glasses for several years. Before the specialized glasses, his eyes were always tired and he fought daily headaches. In contrast, Dr. McEathron’s computer prescription brings the screen into focus for Andy and relieves his eye strain.
Digital Eye Strain
The Vision Council (www.visioncouncil.org) defines digital eye strain as physical discomfort that can occur after 2 hours of computer or other digital device use. Types of physical discomfort include eye fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and neck and back pain. So, why does digital eye strain occur? When you work at a computer, your eyes are having to focus and refocus as you read, look at your keyboard, look around the room and back to the screen. In addition, the screen adds constant glare, contrast and flicker – plus it emits high energy blue light. Blue light gives screens their brightness. Likewise, that bright, high energy light that can overload the visual system and add to the eye strain.
Shamir Blue Zero
Andy’s most recent lenses, computer glasses, use a new material called Shamir Blue Zero. This material absorbs blue light, but appears clear unlike many blue-light blocking products that have a yellowish tint. Finally, it combines excellent blue light protection with optical clarity- something that’s not available with any other similar product available on the market. Blue Zero is available in single vision, office progressive and general progressive lenses manufactured by Shamir USA. Contact us if you have questions on availability of this material.
Furthermore, when he’s not on the computer, Andy wears a different pair of glasses. These are his distance prescription so they work well for driving, watching movies and hiking with his wife and dogs. He finds himself putting them on as soon as he goes away from the computer because he likes seeing the world around him more clearly.
Andy is wearing the OGI Eyewear 4807 in grey demi.
Thank you to Andy for participating in this photoshoot and your feedback on your computer glasses.
Grattitude to Camber Coffee for allowing us to use your beautiful location.
Much appreciation to the very talented Katheryn Moran of Katheryn Moran Photography.
We recently started working with a patient communications company that has expanded our ability to communicate with our patients electronically. We wanted to bring you up to speed on the new ways that you are able to make contact with us and schedule appointments, through our online patient communication system.
Scheduling Appointments – Online!
Do you go over your to-do list in your head at the end of the day? Now it’s easier than ever to cross off that “Schedule Eye Exam” task… On the top of our webpage, there is a “Request Appointment” link that will take you to a separate window to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. First select the appointment type – the only choice here is if you’d like a contact lens exam in addition to a regular eye exam, or just a regular eye exam for a non-contact lens wearer.
Are you looking to schedule another type of appointment? In this case, please call 360-647-2020 so we can properly assess the immediacy of your visit. You can also text this number (see below)!
Then you’ll select the doctor (or provider) you would like to see. This is the best part – it will show a calendar of that doctor’s available times for the next six months. Select a date and time that would work in your schedule. Fill in your information and submit your request. We will review your request as soon as possible. If the appointment time is still available, we will confirm your appointment and you will receive an email saying YES we will see you at this time. If that appointment time does not work for whatever reason we will let you know that we will need to find another time by email (this rarely happens). Give it a try! It’s so easy!
If you’ve provided us with an email address and/or phone number that can receive text messages you will receive reminders of upcoming appointments through these channels. Let us know that you can make it by following the confirmation instructions provided. If you cannot- an email or text response is a great way to let us know. If you don’t like this style of communication and would like us to send you postcards for your yearly eye exam and give you a call to remind you of an upcoming appointment it is easy to opt-out of these types of online patient communication, please follow the directions in the text or email to opt-out.
We love and appreciate feedback. If we have your email address, after your visit you will receive a request for a short survey. Please feel free to add comments- it’s very helpful for us to know how we can better serve you! Being a small, independently owned office we appreciate that we can make local decisions that best fit our patient’s needs. Let us know what they are by responding to a survey.
Texting is an easy, quick, any time of day way to send us a question or concern. You can text our general phone number: 360-647-2020 and we will respond to you as quickly as possible. We also might reach out with glasses arrival information, insurance information and more using this media. Texting is not a secure messaging platform and could be viewed by third parties. Before sending any confidential HIPAA protected information we will ask for your consent. Let us know if you would like to opt-out of this online patient communication method.
As technology has brought us more options to communicate we want to use these to reach our patients, and remain respectful of their wishes. If you have any feedback feel free to give us a call (360-647-2020), send us a text (360-647-2020) or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! We’d love to hear from you any way!
As a reminder – we also love to communicate with Facebook and Instagram! Follow us for the latest frame styles, doctor’s advice, schedule updates and more!
Just two weeks ago, a patient walked in the office for her yearly eye exam. Nothing strange going on- just wanted to see if she needed to update her glasses. She didn’t expect to be going into emergency surgery for a retinal detachment later that afternoon.
Despite a lack of symptoms, this patient was fortunate enough to be caught before the eye damage was irreversible. This was a good reminder for us to bring to light a few visual phenomenons that should alert you to contact us immediately.
Spots – small cloudy specks that become noticeable when they fall in the line of sight
Floaters – a dark or grey or spot or speck that passes across your field of vision and moves as you move your eye.
Flashes of light- appears as lightning bolts, flickering lights or random sparks in the field of vision.
These three signs can be normal visual occurrences and some- especially floaters- increase gradually with the more birthdays we have. However- if one of these symptoms suddenly expresses itself, a patient must seen immediately. Because retinal detachment causes no pain – it’s important to know about these signs.
When a retina detaches the tissue on the back of your eye becomes separated from the supporting tissue. When separated it cannot function and process the information that creates visual images in your brain. If a retina does not get reattached surgically, the vision loss can be permanent.
Please get spots, floaters, and flashes checked out if they suddenly appear in great frequency.Also – remember to stay up to date with yearly visits to the optometrist!
BINYON VISION CENTER
411 E. Magnolia Street, Bellingham WA 98225