Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | April 17, 2015

Negative Effects of Blue Light on Your Eyes

Negative Effects of Blue LightIn today’s world of iPhones, tablets and computers, we are constantly exposed to more and more blue light. These devices undoubtedly help us stay connected and entertained. But did you know that the light emitted from these devices can be harmful to your health? According to Harvard Medical School, “Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.” Many researchers believe that blue light significantly decreases the amount of melatonin in our bodies. That decrease can not only lead to poor sleep, but also some cancers, eye disease (such as macular degeneration), diabetes, and heart disease.  Digital eyestrain is also a concern, which symptoms include dry and irritated eyes, headaches, blurry vision and neck pain.

So how exactly does our body absorb light?  The retina contains rods and cones, which are called photoreceptors (neurons that convert light into signals that can stimulate biological processes).  Until recently, these were thought to be the only two types of photoreceptors. “A third class of photoreceptor cells was discovered during the 1990s: the photosensitive ganglion cells. These cells do not contribute to sight directly, but are thought to support circadian rhythms and pupillary reflex.” (Wikipedia).  Shorter wavelengths of blue light can also penetrate the skin.

The important thing to remember is that you can minimize the negative health effects by following some basic guidelines.

  • For indoors, in low light or at night, wear protective ophthalmic lenses with a blue light filter coating.
  • When outdoors, wear sunglasses that are polarized or tinted. Amcon has a variety of options.
  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light changes your circadian rhythm melatonin the least.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • Consider wearing blue-blocking glasses if you work or use electronic devices at night.
  • Install an application on your electronic devices that “warms up” the colors during evening hours.
  • Keep the screens on your electronic devices clean to prevent glare. Our microfiber cleaning cloths are ideal for this task.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day. This will not only help you sleep at night, but will also have a positive effect on your mood during the day.
  • When you are using an electronic device, take a “20/20 Break”:  every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  • Ask your eye care professional about any concerns you have regarding blue light and UV exposure/protection.

At the recent Vision Expo East, Amcon introduced Microfiber Photo Cloths. Now, you can personalize your cleaning cloths with a favorite photo or color graphic. Your store front, office staff, patients, or pets are just some ideas.

Several customers have already ordered this great product and we have received positive feedback.

In addition to cleaning eyeglass lenses, patients are now using microfiber cloths to clean their computer monitors and cell phone screens.

Giving these cloths out to patients and at events will keep your practice and brand in everyone’s pocket.

Contact your Amcon sales representative today for details! Don’t forget to ask about other promotional products we offer.

Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | April 7, 2015

Amcon’s Optical Supply Donations are Helping the Community

These children are sporting donated eyeglasses.  This picture was taken by the team from West Plains, MO that went to Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica to run a medical clinic. The clinic is sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in West Plains, MO. A team of doctors, nurses and assistant staff  goes every February for a week to operate a free medical clinic for those that slip between the cracks of the socialized medicine

These children are sporting donated eyeglasses. This picture was taken by the team from West Plains, MO that went to Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica to run a medical clinic. The clinic is sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in West Plains, MO. A team of doctors, nurses and assistant staff goes every February for a week to operate a free medical clinic for those that slip between the cracks of the socialized medicine

According to, “Corporate philanthropy is one of the major sources of nonprofit funding. Over the past few years corporate philanthropic programs have contributed about $15 billion annually to nonprofits throughout the United States.”

Amcon is proud to support our community via donations and participation in charitable events.  Recently, one of our employees used their discount to purchase readers for a free medical clinic in Jamaica. We have also made donations to the Lions Club, mission trips to Columbia and Mexico, and student organizations, in addition to providing products for various optical fairs and wellness training programs for low income areas. Annually, several of our employees participate in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s”, “Pedal the Cause” and other such fundraisers. Keep up with us on Facebook to see details for future donations and events, and ways you can get involved.

Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | March 30, 2015

Social Media and Your Optical Practice

Marketing Your Optical Practice with Social MediaRecently our marketing department has been researching ways to improve our social media presence. Over the past few years, we have seen a huge increase in social media usage. According to Experian Marketing Services, online ratings and reviews have increased 30% in the past 2 years. Using social media is becoming more cost effective and visible than traditional forms of marketing. Where a small optical shop used to do little to no advertising, they can now create a whole campaign at no cost using Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. Here are some tips to help get your social media marketing campaign off the ground:

  • Consistency is key! Make sure all of your marketing materials have a similar look and message.
  • Do your research. Find out who your target audience is and what they are looking for.
  • Be flexible. Social media platforms change quickly. Adapt to these changes when they happen.
  • Pick your platform. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or all of the above, choose a platform that is best suited to your office’s goals. Get familiar with the platform. There is a ton of information online to help you use the different sites.
  • Create Goals. Decide what you are hoping to achieve through your marketing campaign. For example: increase traffic to your website, create brand awareness/identity, communicate with key audiences, generate more sales.
  • Make a plan. With your target audience and goals in mind, create a step-by-step plan for implementation. You can always tweak it as you go.
  • Create Content. Develop a variety of content, such as pictures/videos, surveys and blogs. Update your page with new content consistently and respond to any customer feedback.

Right now, the Amcon sales team is on their way back from New York City after having exhibited at the 2015 Vision Expo East show.  By all reports, the show was very busy and the team is coming home with loads of orders.

We were very proud this year to show off our Empire State Building of Cleaner which was probably the most eye catching attraction in our booth. It was made out of hundreds of bottles of AR lens cleaner (made in the USA) and integrated battery-operated lights on the inside.  This creation in addition to redesigns of many of our displays made the Amcon booth look fantastic this year.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by!  See you at Vision Expo West this fall.


We’ve redesigned all our displays to feature our most exciting and useful products.


It’s the Empire State Building of Lens Cleaner! And how cute is our Amcon team?

Amcon's booth is the place to be at Vision Expo 2015

Amcon’s booth is the place to be at Vision Expo 2015

Posted by: juliegriffey | March 16, 2015

Anatomical eye model could boost patient compliance

This week at Amcon, we are offering our anatomical eye model at a special price (the item of the week). I’ve always thought this was a cool little decorative eye model, but I’ve recently learned that the anatomical eye model can be a useful tool to promote patient compliance.

Studies have shown that in order for patients to comply with their course of treatment, they need to understand their affliction. Unfortunately, some medical conditions (with their big fancy names and processes) can be difficult to comprehend. Many people simply don’t get what their doctor is trying to tell them. In the medical field, patients who don’t understand their disease or condition are referred to as being “health illiterate,” and it is estimated that approximately 70% of the U.S. population fall into this category.

The problem is that it’s tricky for physicians to assess patients’ health literacy and take measures to improve understanding. One strategy is to use a closed loop communication system where patients are asked to reiterate what their doctor is telling them. Visual aids are another strategy used to help communicate the medical problem. When a patient sees where the problem is – they can better understand it, especially if they are visual learners.

And this is where the anatomical eye model comes into play. This model is highly detailed and dissects into 7 parts that include: top section, vitreous body, bottom section, lens (2 parts), iris, cornea. Using this eye model, doctors can clearly articulate a patient’s affliction, improve health literacy and better the patient’s compliance.

Posted by: juliegriffey | March 9, 2015

Worry-free travel with contact lenses.

Keep your glasses and contacts together when you travel.

Hello from New Mexico!  This week I’m traveling and while I’m having a great time here in the Land of Enchantment – the trip definitely did not start out so great.  The whole experience is making me re-think my packing philosophy to ensure I can actually see the next time I’m traveling.

Let me explain.  Saturday evening I arrived at the St. Louis airport with plenty of time to make my flight.  (This is not always the case – but it just happened to be this time.)  Anywho… I switched flights in Denver – again plenty of time for the connection – and I smoothy sailed into Albuquerque.   Unfortunately my bags did NOT.  And since I was on the last flight of the night from both Denver and St. Louis into ABQ – there was no chance I was going to get my luggage until the next morning – IF i was lucky.

Ugh – this was terrible!  I had carried nothing on –  besides my purse, computer and a heavy book I didn’t need.   I figured the hotel could provide me with some toothpaste and a tooth brush – but what about my contact lenses?  I had no solution or extra case.   Fortunately the hotel did have some contact lens solution but, of course, no contact lens case. I had no other option but to improvise by putting them in solution in a cup.

Trying to fall asleep I stewed over the state of my contact lenses.  Would they make it through the night in their make-shift “case?” What if they dried out?  I had no spare pair nor did I have my glasses.  Would I be walking around in a blur the next day?  How would I drive?   And why the heck did I not carry a contact lens case in my purse?  For the love of God – I work at an OPTICAL SUPPLY COMPANY!!  Amcon even sells the perfect product exactly for this purpose: the new Dual Eyeglass / Contact Lens Case which provides a protective, compact carrying case for both your glasses and your contacts.

When I get home – I swear I’m turning over a new leaf.  I promise to carry my new Dual Eyeglass / Contact Lens Case (preferably in lime green) in my computer bag with my glasses whenever I travel.  Or maybe I’ll finally get lasik…

designer-contact-lens-casesThe first time I worked the Amcon booth at Vision Expo East, I was amazed by how many people wanted to buy our designer contact lens cases right off our display. I don’t get it. I’m one of those people who only keeps her contacts in the medicine cabinet. But I must be in the minority because – people LOVE those designer contact lens cases and we certainly sell enough to prove it.

Each year when we put together the new Amcon catalog, we take a look at what designer contact lens cases are selling like hotcakes and which ones are not. We then eliminate the lowest selling designs to make room for some fresh new styles. Lori Alstat, director of advertising at Amcon, spearheads this effort every year. Here’s what inspires Lori when coming up with new designs for the designer lens cases.

“There are a number of factors that go into coming up with new designer lens case designs.  I first look at product requests.  Often our customers tell us what designs they would like to see.  I also get inspiration from current trends – such as the recent Duck Dynasty craze.   People seem to be obsessed with hunting-themed merchandise so we responded by introducing a “Big Buck” contact lens case.  Designs that have sold well in the past provide ideas as well and I try to build on that momentum.  For example, our beach themed designs sell really well, so this year I introduced the very preppy A’Hoy case. “

We hope you are as enthused as we are about our new designs featured in the new Amcon 2015 catalog scheduled to drop in the next few weeks.  We’ve already listed them online, so take a sneak peek and start placing your orders.

Posted by: juliegriffey | February 23, 2015

Why does my doctor need to dilate my eye?

dilated-eyeDilating a patient’s eyes is an important part of an eye exam.   The drops used for dilation make a patient’s pupils widen and allow in more light to give the practitioner a better view of the back of your eye.  The downside of dilating a patient’s eyes is that it makes that patient more light sensitive until the pupils return to their normal size.  Therefore, many patients don’t relish the process of getting their eyes dilated.

So why do practitioners do it?  An exam of a dilated eye  can be lifesaving, as described in a recent story published in the Review of Optometry.  In the reported case study, a 43-year-old white male came in for his first eye exam because “something was off” with his vision.  The optometrist performed a routine exam which included dilating his eye to get a better look.  To her surprise, she found “an amelanotic melanoma taking up about 30% of the inside of his eye.”  Because this form of melanoma spreads so quickly and can be so deadly, the patient’s eye was removed 3 weeks after this first eye exam.

Many other diseases can be diagnosed in an eye exam when eyes are dilated, including diabetes, hypertension and multiple sclerosis.

So, patients, suck it up. Having your eyes dilated can save your life.

Doing a lot of dilating in your office? Amcon’s got you covered. Check out our line of dilation glasses and other post myds.

Posted by: juliegriffey | February 16, 2015

With all this snow, your eyes are at risk for snow blindness

snow blindnessHoly snow!  That’s all I can say after viewing pictures posted by my friends in New England.  Apparently Boston has received over seven feet of snow over the past two weeks making it the snowiest February on record.  With seven feet of snow  at your front door – I don’t even know how you make it out of the house.  But assuming you eventually do – you need to be thinking about your eyes.

When you are surrounded by snow – you are at a greater risk for snow blindness.  Yes – this is true – snow blindness really exists and the proper name for it is: photokeratitis. Snow blindness is like getting a sunburn in your eyes.   This is not only painful – it is also damaging to your eyes and puts you at greater risk for developing melanoma in the eye.

The reason why snowy environments can be so dangerous to your eyes is because fresh snow reflects about 80% of the sun’s UV radiation.  Compare this to a sandy beach that reflects just 15% of the sun’s UV radiation. So if you think you need sunglasses at the beach – you REALLY need sunglasses in the snow.

The best way to protect your eyes from snow blindness is to wear sunglasses or goggles when in snowy environments.  If you are caught in the snow unexpectedly – you can protect your eyes by covering them with some type of black fabric (or even duck tape) with slits that allow you to see.   This is all assuming that you can make it out the door!


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