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Cheers to Beertopia 2021!

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We are excited to welcome BACK Beertopia in 2021! Saturday, February 20th, join us to sample a variety of craft and imported beers and a wine bar. Your drinks will be accompanied by dishes of your favorite local restaurants, live music by Kettle Fish, raffle tickets and a silent auction!

We’re so excited to be holding the event at the Manatee County Fairgrounds Arena this year, giving us more room to host the event safely and socially-distanced.

This event and its proceeds will benefit the Vision Foundation. In 2013, Eye Center Inc. established the Vision Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to providing eye care and glasses to underprivileged children. Its purpose is exclusively charitable. Through the Vision Foundation, and with the direction and guidance of the Manatee County school nurses, we will provide MORE free eye exams and MORE free pairs of glasses to the Manatee County students in need.

Additionally, this event will benefit The Hernando De Soto Historical Society, Inc.- of which Dr. Michael Mackie is a longtime member. Since 1939, this nonprofit organization of 225 “Conquistadors” celebrate the historical significance of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’s landing near Manatee’s mouth in May 1539.

Beertopia is presented by Funky Buddha. Get ready to enjoy:

  • Anna Maria Oyster Bar
  • Urban Taco
  • Demetrios
  • Dockside
  • Riverhouse
  • Innovative Dining
  • Signature Events & Catering
  • Sea Hut
  • Bourbon and Bones
  • Woody’s River Roo
  • Cottonmouth
  • Mellow Mushroom

This is an event you won’t want to miss. Click here to get your tickets!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Spooky Season

As the month of October rolls around and the first days of Fall pass us by, our focus seems to shift less on safety and more on the upcoming holiday season. It can become so easy to be swept away in the changes of season and reuniting with friends and family- but protecting ourselves and loved ones is just as important! As you prepare your Halloween costume, here are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent any harm to yourself (especially your eyes) from your friends at Eye Center, Inc.

Halloween Safety Tips:

  • Costume Safety: We know you want to look and feel the part as much as possible, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • Add reflective patches to custom to draw attention to yourself and night time
    • Invest in inflammable materials to avoid any risks
  • Halloween Makeup: This holiday allows you to express yourself and your artistic ability and why not through makeup? However, remember to always…
    • Remove makeup before heading to bed to prevent further irritants to your eyes and skin,
    • Try your best to not put glitter close or into your eyes, as that could cause harm, and
    • Consider testing the product on a small area first before applying to make sure it is non-toxic
  • Accessories: Now to add the final pieces of your look and now you are ready to go!
    • Halloween gear, such as non-prescription contacts could lead to further issues.
    • The use of cosmetic lenses can lead to issues, such as pink eye, corneal scratches, corneal ulceration, and even permanent loss of sight.

Overall, the spirit of Halloween can be quite enchanting but we must remember what’s important: the safety of you and others. Please keep in mind these tips and ‘tricks’ if you decide to venture off and Trick or Treat! As always, your friends at Eye Center, Inc. are happy to help with any eye assistance you need.


Tips for Healthy Eye Aging

September is Healthy Aging Month, and our focus this month is to promote and remind ourselves about the importance of eye care. As the years’ pass, our personal health becomes more of a concern, and your eyes should not be overlooked. Similar to visits with your primary care physician, it is recommended to have your eyes checked regularly by your eye care professionals at Eye Center, Inc.

Symptoms that should be evaluated by your eye doctor:

  • Blurry vision or sudden changes in vision
  • Light or glare sensitivity
  • Flashes of light or new floaters in your vision
  • Eye pain
  • Redness or swelling

If you have not experienced problems with your eye health or eyesight, you should still report annually for a comprehensive eye exam. Common ocular conditions such as Glaucoma, Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, and Dry Eye Syndrome may not present with symptoms right away, but it is important to detect them in their early stages and treat or monitor as necessary.

Daily Health Tips:

There are also a few lifestyle modifications you can make in order to become proactive about your eye health, like taking a multivitamin, eating more fruits and vegetables, protecting your eyes from sunlight (wear sunglasses or a large hat), and taking frequent breaks when using the phone or computer. It is also recommended not to smoke, as smoking is associated with conditions that negatively affect our eye health.

Click here to read more information about common eye problems and symptoms.



Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Diabetic Retinopathy, the most common form of Diabetic Eye Disease, is the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in working-age adults. Often happening without warning, diabetic eye disease can feel like it comes out of nowhere, and we, at Eye Center, Inc., want to ensure our patients are well educated on the topic.

Diabetes affects the blood vessels in our body and can damage the small blood vessels in the back of our eyes. Fortunately, the blood vessels in our eyes are visible with a routine dilated eye exam. If you have Diabetes, you should be getting a dilated eye examination every year.

Below is an example of how your eye doctor can detect diabetic retinopathy in your eyes:

diabetic retinopathy vector

There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of Diabetic Retinopathy, but symptoms can include:

  • Blurred vision or a sudden change in vision
  • Double vision
  • If left untreated, severe vision loss can occur

You can reduce your risk of Diabetic Retinopathy by:

  • Keeping your blood sugar under control.
  • Monitoring your blood pressure.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Getting an eye exam at least once a year.

At Eye Center, Inc, we care about you and your vision, so please schedule your Diabetic Eye Exam today. If you have a family member with Diabetes, consider asking them when their last Comprehensive Eye Exam was, and encourage them to schedule one soon.

Vision In The Digital Age

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“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” If you’re not familiar, the local newspaper press or paperboy may have shouted this phrase in the early 1900s announcing breaking news, while trying to sell the crowd a newspaper. These days, however, most of us have live news updates and an infinite amount of information available at our fingertips the second we turn on our television, log into our computer, or start browsing the web on our cell phone.

There is no doubt that the average American spends an increasing amount of time looking at digital devices. Workplaces are more productive with the use of computers. Some school systems are offering virtual learning and online classes, and children and adults alike are enjoying expanding their social networks via digital social media and cell phone use. Recent studies show that American screen time averages between 7.5 and 10.5 hours per day.

At Eye Center, Inc., many of my patients wonder about the impact prolonged digital viewing has on their eyes and their vision, and how they can promote healthy screen use in the future.

First and foremost, proper eye care and eye health begin with an annual comprehensive eye exam. Your doctor can assess your vision and prescribe the appropriate eyeglasses or contact lenses. Nonetheless, prolonged screen time can be strenuous, and is associated with a group of symptoms that the American Optometric Association now defines as Computer Vision Syndrome, affecting more than half of computer users.

The symptoms include eyestrain, fatigue, redness, burning, blurred vision, and/or double vision, and can also include neck and shoulder pain and headaches. Symptoms are associated with several factors, including overworking our eye’s focusing system, dry eyes from reduced blind rates, distracting glare from surrounding lights, and improper placement of the computer screen.

Fortunately, there are some strategies we can implement to make digital screen use as comfortable and healthy as possible.

First, when doing any digital work or near task, apply the “20/20/20” rule, which suggests that for every 20 minutes of work, take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at an object that is at least 20 feet away. This gives your focusing system a chance to relax. This short break also gives your eyes a chance to refresh their tears, and I’d recommend using this time to use an over the counter artificial tear drop if needed.

Next, evaluate and modify your work environment if possible. Ideally, sit approximately 25-35 inches from your computer and have your computer about six inches below eye level, screen tilted slightly down. Keep your screen not much brighter than the surrounding light, limiting or adjusting sources of glare such as windows and overhead lighting.

In addition to the symptoms experienced during Computer Vision Syndrome, extensive amounts of daily screen time can also inhibit normal melatonin release and disrupt our sleep patterns. One study showed that each hour of digital screen use was associated with 3-8 fewer minutes of nightly sleep. Several studies agree that digital use, especially before bed, is associated with shortened sleep duration and poorer quality sleep in general.

For better nightly sleep, try to encourage daily “screen-free” time, avoid screens at least one hour before bedtime, and discourage the use of digital devices (including television) in the bedroom. Your mind needs this time to “unplug” and relax and reset for another day.

Written by: Dr. Paige Laudicina

Use It OR Lose It!

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If you’ve already met your deductible, December is a great time to take advantage of your earned insurance benefits before you lose them and have a new deductible to meet in the new year. Most employer health insurance plans include a Flexible Spending Account, and many of these accounts expire at the end of each year. At that time, you must forfeit most of the unused benefits that you’ve earned.

Many vision insurance plans include annual comprehensive eye examinations and allow you to also apply at least some funds towards eyewear or contact lenses. Be sure to call your insurance company or plan administrator to verify your coverage and benefits under your Health FSA, as some employers may restrict the list of qualified medical supplies available for reimbursement.

The shortlist of what will qualify for reimbursement under Flexible Spending Accounts is your eye exam and eyewear, of course, but usually, eye drops, prescription sunglasses, and computer eyeglasses. It’s a great time to stock up on contact lenses, too, so be sure to visit us at Eye Center, Inc., especially if you’ve been considering sampling a different brand. We offer a wide variety of contact lenses and help you find the perfect fit for your eye.

If you’ve been putting off a visit to our office, now is the perfect opportunity for your annual eye exam. Also, if you don’t recall when you last had a comprehensive eye exam, give us a call at (941) 756-2020 and we’d be happy to look up your records but don’t wait until the last minute… appointments are filling up fast!

COVID-19 and Contact Lenses- Are They Safe?

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommends avoiding touching your face to prevent COVID-19… but what about those who wear contacts? Is it safe? We’ve got all of the answers to your worries.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can enter the body through the mouth, nose, and eyes, leaving contact wearers wondering if it’s safe to continue wearing contacts. “I don’t think the issue is so much the contact lenses as it is hand hygiene before inserting or taking out the contact lenses. You certainly want to wash, and you don’t want to use an alcohol-based hand rub because you’ll feel it in your eye. But wash your hands well before inserting and taking them out,” says Dr. Poland in an article by Mayo Clinic.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) reinforces that contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction. They recommend the following to ensure proper wear and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Contact lens wearers should always practice good hygiene practices and frequent washing of the hands
  • One should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before the insertion and removal of contacts
  • Do NOT touch your eyes, or face, without washing your hands first
  • Use proper disinfecting contact solutions such as OPTI-FREE Puremoist and Biotrue.

Overall, contact wearers should not worry about wearing lenses during this time. However, they should remain vigilant and careful when inserting, removing, or adjusting contact lenses throughout the day. Rubbing or touching your eyes without washing your hands puts you at a higher risk of infection. ALWAYS wash your hands first!

Why You Should Be Wearing BluTech Lenses… Prescription, or not.

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As we continue to adapt to our new “normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic, school, meetings, and even jobs full-time are turning virtual, increasing our daily screen time and challenging our eyes in a whole new way.

BlueTech technology is the gold standard in blue light protection. At the Eye Center Inc., we strongly encourage wearing BluTech glasses while being exposed to digital devices, but why?

If our eyes are exposed to digital devices for long periods of time, your chance of suffering from digital eye strain are extremely high. Digital eye strain is temporary but causes extreme discomfort following two or more hours of straight digital use.

Symptoms include:

  • Red, dry or irritated eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches

BluTech Lenses are for people of all ages – children, teens and adults. They’re designed for anyone that regularly uses electronic devices, such as smartphones, computers, flat-screen TVs and tablets, for several hours a day.

Designed to help reduce eye strain, fatigue and discomfort, BluTech Lenses offer protection from harmful ultraviolet and blue lights, help to increase depth perception and enhance contrast. They can even help to improve night vision, according to BluTech Lenses’ website.

The Benefits of BluTech lenses include:

  • Reduced Glare
  • Crisper Acuity
  • Improved Contrast
  • High Impact Lens Material
  • Lightweight and Comfortable
  • Enhanced Performance

Our Manatee Avenue office has non-prescription BluTech glasses available to try today! Or you can browse online from the comfort of your home by clicking here. Then, give us a call at (941) 756-2020 and we will have your selection shipped directly to your home!

Eye Center, Inc. COVID-19 Update

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Presently at the Eye Center, Inc., we continue to operate all three locations at Phase 1 of our reopening protocol. We are happy to see you for anything you need: routine eye exams, contact lens checks, office visits, or emergencies, but we feel it prudent to continue to keep our schedules at a minimum.

There will be only one doctor per location at any given time and we will be seeing a limited number of appointments. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but we feel this is an appropriate decision to do our part to mitigate any subsequent rise of COVID-19 in our cherished local community.

Here at the Eye Center Inc., we have always maintained high standards when it comes to the safety of our patients, but we implemented even stricter sterilization protocols that we plan to leave in effect indefinitely. Our doctors and staff are all wearing masks, and if you have a mask, we ask that you wear it to your appointment. When picking out glasses, there are bins where you’ll replace the glasses after trying them on. They will be sanitized before being returned to the board. We are keeping patients in the waiting room to a minimum, but if you prefer to wait in your car, please call and let us know and we can arrange that for you. You can rest assured in the knowledge that we are providing the safest possible environment during your exam and subsequent optical experience.

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment for an eye exam, please feel free to call us at any of our locations. For now, we will continue to be your trusted provider for all your eye care needs, knowing that we are taking every precaution necessary.

Stay Safe, Stay Well

We hope you are all staying healthy and safe in these uncertain times. Due to current events, ALL routine eye care in the state of Florida has been suspended. We will be delaying all routine care (for all age groups) until at least May 4, 2020, and will be seeing EMERGENCY and ESSENTIAL eyecare only. This direction has come from recommendations from the CDC. This means that a patient’s need for an appointment will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

We will continue to handle medication prescription refills, we will ship contact lens orders free of charge, and we will deliver your glasses via curbside. Should you lose or break your glasses, we are still here to help! Simply call the office and we can assist you in getting a new pair. The Eye Center, Inc on Cortez Rd. is able to provide one hour service in many cases! For all you contact lens wearers: do not wait until your last pair of contacts to reorder; due to high demand, there is a delay in shipments and we are getting contact orders in a week to 10 days versus our normal 1-2 day shipment.

If you have an appointment scheduled during the closure, you will be hearing from us soon as our team proactively works to reschedule appointments.

Please remember that urgent care will be seen by appointment only and will continue along with our COVID-19 pre-screening guidelines.

We apologize for any inconvenience this temporary slowdown may cause and want to reassure you we will do our absolute best to help with any emergencies that may arise during this time.

We miss you all, and we cannot wait to see you all healthy and happy next month!

– Drs. Michael Mackie, Sarah Mackie, Paige Laudicina, Brad Laudicina, Madison Easterling, and Doug Black