vegasIt’s Vision Expo West week in Las Vegas!  And you better believe it –  we’re going to be there. Each year we try to bring something bigger and better than what we’ve done in the past and this year is no exception. Here are three reasons why you should come check out our booth (LP-11109) at Vision Expo West.

1) We’re bringing back the Amcon Roulette Wheel!  We had so much fun last year with our Amcon roulette wheel that we are bringing it back again. When you place an order at our booth you will get a chance to spin the wheel to either receive a discount off your order, get free shipping or win a great price.

2) We’ve got free (and A LOT of) lens cleaner!    In setting up the booth this year we decided that we needed an interesting focal point that would help communicate the fact that we have the highest quality and best priced lens cleaner in the business.  So… we built a tower of different sized lens cleaner. If you’ve never used Amcon’s lens cleaner, this is the perfect opportunity to try some. Just please don’t knock down our tower.

3) We’ve doubled the size of our booth! This means we have we have many more products on display, so you can get your hands on a lot of the items you see in our catalog. A bigger booth also means more space for us to visit and get caught up – come by and say hello.

Now you have no excuse, come over to Amcon’s booth (LP-11109) at Vision Expo West and say hello to your Amcon friends.

Contact Lens Box StickersYou can learn a lot about Ancon products by hanging out in the Amcon warehouse. Just last week I was chatting with long-time employee, Pat, in our warehouse while she was packing up an order of red contact lens box (or vial) “right” and “left” stickers.  These stickers are used to indicate which box or vial of contact lenses are intended for the patient’s right eye, and which ones are made for the left. While Pat was packing up the order, she mentioned, “we sure sell a lot of these red stickers, a lot more than the black ones.”

Really?  Her comment took me by surprise because I would have assumed we sell a lot more black ones.  We actually carry the black “right” and “left” contact lens box or vial stickers in a Spanish version (“D” and “L”), but  the red ones – only in English.

I mentioned Pat’s statement to our Director of Advertising who immediately assumed that Pat was wrong. But, nevertheless, she decided to pull up some numbers and look into it anyway. Low-and-behold – we were both surprised to learn that we actually do sell over 1000 packs more of the red stickers and than the black counterpart. Pat was right.

So why is it that our customers are buying red stickers more than black? Is it because they stand out better on the boxes and vials? Do our customers just need a little more color in their life?  Who knows – but the bottom line is… why are we not selling the Spanish version in red if that is the more popular option?

I will definitely be asking these questions at our next new product meeting, and will let you know if there are any product additions. Thank you Pat for your insightful observation.  I’m heading back to the warehouse to see what else I can learn.

prescription swim goggles

What kind or prescription swim goggles do your customers need?

New product meetings at Amcon often trigger lively discussions and many unanswered questions. We give a lot of thought to the items we bring into our product line, because we want to be sure that what we offer is what our customers actually want.

Last week at our new product meeting, we looked at some prescription swim goggles. The swim goggles we were considering had fixed powers in both lenses, which differed from prescription swim goggles we had reviewed in the past that could be customized with two different powered lenses.

There are pros and cons to both types of prescription swim goggles. The pros of the swim goggles with set powers in both lenses are that they are made already. There is no need to go to a lab, so they would be less expensive and readily available. The pros of the swim goggles with customizable lenses are that they can be made to your exact prescription.

As we debated which type of swim goggles our customers would really want, I posed the question, “what percentage of the population has an eyeglass prescription that is different in their two eyes?” How many people would even need to have their swim goggles customized with two different powers?

After pitching these questions to Google with a lack of results, I posed the same questions to my father-in-law, ophthalmologist, Tom and my brother-in-law, ophthalmologist, Paul. ( Dr. Tom said that he would estimate that more than 50% of the eyeglass-wearing population has two different powered lenses in their glasses. Dr. Paul estimated that 20% of the population has more than 1 diopter prescription difference between their two eyes.

While these numbers are much greater than what I would have anticipated, I think it’s important to keep the context in mind: how perfect must your vision be when you are swimming laps? Is it really necessary to match your exact prescription when you are under water? Dr. Paul agreed, but added, if you do buy prescription swim goggles off-the-shelf, you should buy them in the power of your dominant eye.

While our prescription swim goggle product line is still being decided, we would love to hear your thoughts. What type of prescription swim goggles would best suit your patient population? Why?

Posted by: juliegriffey | August 25, 2014

Top five ways your glasses got broken and how to get them fixed

dog chewing glassesIn honor of Amcon’s new frame repair service, I decided to do a little research on how people’s glasses tend to get broken. Even though I would love to see people take advantage of Amcon’s new frame repair service, maybe we could all learn something from other people’s mistakes and keep our frames from getting broken in the first place.

With that in mind… here are the top five ways people tend to break their glasses.

1) They fall asleep with their glasses on.  Many people (myself included) wear their glasses to read at night then fall asleep with their glasses on.  And the next thing you know, they are rolling around on top of them in the middle of the night.  Don’t think this could happen to you?  Take some Ambien before bed and then talk to me.  Trust me – I could fall asleep with food in my mouth after taking some Ambien.  Take your glasses off before you start to feel really sleepy.

2) Their kids or dogs destroy them.   Fortunately for me, this is not an issue.  No dog, and kids are old enough not to be using my glasses as a chew toy.  Put your glasses up and out of reach from these creatures.

3) They sit on them.  It’s easy to leave glasses on a chair, a bed or other surface that may come in contact with your behind.  Suggestion?  See #2 above.   Put them away or purchase a protective eyeglass case.

4) They break them playing sports.  Save your glasses for non-contact sports, and wear some contacts instead.  Sport glasses are now available that can be customized with your prescription.  I am sure many of our customers retail these Rx sport goggles in their office.  (Spoiler alert!  Amcon has been looking to bring in a line for the 2015 catalog).

5) They run into something.  This can happen, people.  Look up from your cell phone once in a while while you are walking down the street.  We can all get absorbed in a funny text exchange, but then BAM – next thing you know – your face has encountered a light post and your glasses are a wreck.

I hope this ounce of prevention will save a few pairs of glasses this week – but for the ones that need to get fixed – don’t forget about Amcon’s frame repair service.


Posted by: juliegriffey | August 16, 2014

Can pinhole glasses replace your prescription glasses?

Pinhole glasses

My daughter models some super cute pinhole glasses

Most people aren’t aware of the fact that I wear glasses.  I actually forget that I wear glasses – until I can’t remember where I put them.  For the most part I wear contact lenses – except for when it’s about 8 PM when I take them out and putter around the house in my ratty pajamas and my 10-year-old eyeglasses.  A few weeks ago I panicked because I misplaced my glasses and not having them totally disrupted my routine. It forced me to wear my contacts until moments before I fell asleep.  Annoying.

The last thing I want to spend money on these days is a new pair of glasses since I am considering lasik . Fortunately the glasses turned up after a few days – but recently I discovered a potential substitute glasses that might have helped get by when my glasses were missing.

Have you ever seen pinhole glasses? Until I was browsing a gift store in Amana Colonies, Iowa last weekend – I never knew such a thing existed. Pinhole glasses are plastic frames with tiny perforations punched in the opaque, plastic lenses. So, needless to say they look a little odd. The ones in the gift shop were especially groovy because they had St. Louis Cardinals logos on them.

Pinhole glasses work just like a pinhole occluder in that the holes in the lenses only allow a very thin beam of light to enter the eye which increases depth of field and can improve clarity of an image in eyes with refractive error. Some manufacturers of pinhole glasses claim that you can actually improve your vision by prolonged wearing of these glasses – but no one has ever proven that to be true.

Maybe I should do my own experiment and kill a few birds with one stone: have a spare pair of glasses (on the cheap), improve my vision and look super cool at the same time.

Posted by: juliegriffey | August 11, 2014

How can my optical practice be found by Google searches?

Search engine optimization tips for your optical practice

Search engine optimization tips for your optical practice

Besides writing this blog on a weekly basis, my main job at Amcon involves working on the Amcon web site and internal web applications. When people hear that I work on web sites, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is “how do I get better visibility from search engines?” Good question! We are actually trying to figure that out at Amcon as well. When people search for some of our most popular products like lens cleaner, post myds and flat packs – how do we ensure that Amcon comes up in a Google search??

Unfortunately the only people who can answer that question with 100% certainty are the people who work at Google – and probably only the programmers who work on the search algorithms. The bottom line is – no one really knows – even “search engine experts,” which is kind of a bummer – because for all of us who don’t work at Google, we can only speculate and try different things to try to get our sites ranked higher by Google.

With that said – here are a few things I have learned about how Google seems to work.

1) Your content can’t lie. If your goal is to show up on the first page of Google when users search for “Omaha optometrist,” then those terms must appear in your content. More specifically – these terms should appear in your page title, headings and in your URL strings (a technical issue I just overcame on our site – yay!)

2) Be realistic about search terms. Sure – it would be nice if your web site appeared anytime someone searched for “optometry office,” but do you really need it to? A person in Alaska is not a target customer for your optometry practice in North Carolina. You don’t need to capture that general of a search. Focus on more narrow and specific queries.

3) Create some content that relates to the issues you face in your office. The more content that you create associated with target searches the more likely you are to capture them. Start blogging – not only will it boost your search engine rankings – if anyone looks up your practice they will see how smart and engaged you are about the optical field.

4) Learn to love social media. I  get it.  People can be SUPER annoying on Facebook – but when it comes to getting info out there about your specials, your new products, etc… a Facebook following is a captive audience. Set up a page for your optical practice and ask your friends and family to like it. The more likes you can get – the more people will hear your message.

5) When all else fails – advertise! It’s pretty inexpensive and simple to create web based ads that are shown to users when they search for topics related to your desired keywords. If you monitor these ads you can easily determine whether you are getting your money’s worth.

Good luck – and when it comes to search engine visibility – we’re in this boat together.

Posted by: juliegriffey | August 3, 2014

Kids sunglasses – not just for looking cute

kids-sunglassesFor some reason we seem to think that it’s absolutely adorable seeing babies and toddlers in adult styled clothing and accessories which is why kids’ clothing lines like J Crew and Burberry that often mimic adult styles are so popular.  Apparently we like to dress our kids like little mini-mes.  For many, it may be the urge to dress a young child like a grown-up that is the motivating factor in buying their little one a pair of shades. But according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, it shouldn’t be.

“Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays because their ocular lenses aren’t yet mature and can’t filter UV light as effectively as adults, causing damage to the retina. The average child takes in about three times the annual UV exposure of the average adult, and an estimated 25% of a person’s lifetime exposure occurs before age 18.”

Excessive UV exposure can lead to cancer of the eyes or eyelids, increased risk of cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Understanding these facts – it becomes especially clear that sunglasses are actually a more essential accessory for kids than they are for adults  – especially if your little one has light colored eyes which are even more susceptible to damaging UV rays.   But how do you get the sunglasses on the kid and to stay on the kid?  The author recommends kids sunglasses in “softer, more flexible material easy for them to tolerate.”  Helloooo?? Have you seen the Amcon children’s sunglass line?  That is exactly what we carry.

While I knew it was important to protect my kids eyes from the sun – I had no idea it was more essential than protecting my own.  But now I am a believer, and I’m packing my kids’ shades wherever we go.  After all, if we are going go be super diligent about sunscreen, shouldn’t we be as committed to protecting our kids’ eyes?  And what’s so wrong with dressing them like little mini-mes anyway?

hyphemaMy husband works in an ER, so it goes without saying that he sees a lot of people who are in BAD shape.  Therefore, I get an ear-full of REALLY gory stories. On a road trip recently, I was trapped in a car for several hours with my husband and unable to avoid his unsolicited medical lectures, so I learned all about a phenomena called “hyphema,” where your eye can take on the appearance of an eight ball.  The conversation got a little bit more interesting when I realized that Amcon products could be used for the prevention and treatment of this condition.

Hyphema can be caused by a variety of reasons (advanced diabetes, cancer and certain blood diseases), but the most common is trauma, i.e. you get whacked in the eye.  The trauma causes blood to fill the anterior chamber of the eye which results in a partial or full eight-ball appearance in the center of the eye.

Treatment plans for hyphema depend on the severity of the situation.  If it is mild, the blood in the eye is simply absorbed by the body and the eight ball look disappears naturally. It the bleeding recurs, then bed rest, sedation and medication (like cycloplegics and steroids) may be needed to diminish pressure in the eye.

The best way to deal with hyphemas is to avoid them altogether. After seeing many patients come into the ER with this condition, my husband has learned that not all hyphemas are due to bar fights.  Some are simply the result of an accident and could have been avoided by taking preventative measures. Unless you want your eyes to look like eight balls, safety glasses are the best method of avoiding a hyphema.


Bruder eye hydrating compress

Bruder eye hydrating compress provides dry eye relief

This week at Amcon – our items of the week are two products that help to alleviate dry eye symptoms: the Bruder Eye Hydrating Compress and the Niteye Bubble Eye Bandage. The Bruder Eye Hydrating Compress is a microwaveable, warm compress in the shape of a sleep mask that helps unplug oil glands. The Niteye Bubble Eye Bandage is intended to be worn while sleeping, protecting the eyes from drying conditions by sealing in moisture. Both of these products can be godsends for people suffering with dry eye syndrome.

I have read a lot about dry eye over the years and am fairly familiar with some of the diseases and conditions that cause it.  But recently I learned about a treatment for a condition that can cause dry eye: RAI treatment for Graves disease.  And they way I learned about RAI treatment for Graves disease was via my co-worker at Amcon who is afflicted with this condition.

Graves disease is a condition where you have an overactive thyroid. It can be a real pain: it will make you (among other things…) irritable, anxious, have heart palpitations and lose weight despite eating normally.  Fortunately, though, Graves disease can be treated.

A common treatment for Graves disease is radioactive iodine therapy, and the way it works is that the radioactive iodine (RAI) will kill the overactive thyroid cells.   However, one downside to RAI treatment is that it can be so effective that the treatment can lead to hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and supplemental hormones must be given to bring the thyroid function back to a normal level.

Another side effect of the RAI treatment is temporary dry eye.  Fortunately the dry eye is usually not permanent, but while the symptoms are present – products like the  the Bruder Eye Hydrating Compress and the Niteye Bubble Eye Bandage can provide a lot of relief.  And lucky for my coworker, he has easy access to these great products working here at Amcon for when he starts his RAI treatment.

Do you all see patients with dry eye syndrome due to RAI treatment in your office?  What other products do you recommend?

optical bulbs

The Amcon catalog makes it easy to find the right bulb for your optical machine

In the Amcon catalog, we dedicate 8 pages to our line of bulbs for all your optical machines. This adds up to over 100 bulbs which can be a bit overwhelming when you are trying to pick the exact one which works with your machine.  For this reason we have tried to take the guesswork out of ordering the right bulb.

Probably the easiest way to find the correct bulb for your machine is to go to the Amcon web site and type in the brand and model number of your machine, and or the machine type.  This will bring up the associated bulb.  With clear pictures and extensive descriptions you should be able to confidently pick out the right bulb for your machine, especially if you are holding on to the bulb you are replacing.

If you happen to still have the original bulb packaging, and (if you purchased the bulb from Amcon), the Amcon product number will be on the box.   If you don’t have the original bulb packaging, you still may be able to identify the bulb ID code from the  manufacturer as it is often stamped on the bulb base.  You can search for either of these codes on the Amcon web site and quickly pull up the bulb.

The Amcon print catalog is also really useful for identifying the right bulb for your machine.  Most bulb images are displayed to scale.  (Some bulbs are very small and displaying them to scale would make them difficult to identify.)  Either way, for each bulb, accurate dimensions are listed, and a ruler is printed on the bottom of the page so you can measure the bulb in hand to double check your dimensions.

It appears that we have been successful in helping our customers identify the correct bulb.  Our customer service rep, Courtney, reported that rarely do we see a bulb return due to a customer purchasing the incorrect bulb.

Didn’t know Amcon carried an extensive line of bulbs for slit lamps, ophthalmoscopes, projectors and more?  Be sure to check out our web site next time you need a bulb for one of your optical machines.  If you don’t see the one you need listed on our web site or in our catalog, we may be able to special order it for you.


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