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!


Posted by: cindyletchworth | February 9, 2015

The Blinks Have It – Why blinking is good for your eyes

Blinking is good for your eyes.

Blinking is good for your eyes.

I had been researching polar bears for an hour on the internet. Suddenly I squeezed my eyes shut so hard I felt like my lids were going to rip. I wasn’t sure why I had been so forceful, but as I opened my eyes I realized how sore they were. I started blinking rapidly then squeezed them shut again. No relief. I grabbed my lubrication drops and put some in. That helped, but the whole experience made me realize how little I had been blinking.

According to experts, the average person blinks about 15 to 20 times per minute. This is nature’s defense against dirt and debris, and also helps keep the eyes healthy by providing moisture. When we have enough fluid to lubricate the eyes, it lessens eye fatigue. Anyone who sits in front of a computer all day, staring at the screen, knows how tired your vision can become. Reason is, you can’t stare and blink at the same time, so dryness wins out.

Humans have several types of blinks. Dr. Patricia deWinter, from the University College of London, says we have spontaneous, reflexive and voluntary blinks. Voluntary blinks are something you do purposely, like the ones that happened during my research. You force yourself to blink.

Spontaneous blinks keep our eyes from drying out. This type of blinking is something we aren’t really aware of. They occur naturally. Some studies show that dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter and hormone, appears to affect how often one blinks. If someone is given a drug that alters a person’s dopamine levels, the blink rate changes. This could explain why folks with Parkinson disease blink less often than other folks. My father has this nervous system disorder and he complains of dry eye all the time. Now I know why. Parkinson patients have low dopamine levels.

The reflexive blink happens when something occurs that you hadn’t anticipated. Say you’re playing tennis, and the ball veers up towards your face. You will blink as a reflex. It’s a marvelous defense mechanism shielding your eyes from harm. Even things like loud noises will cause your eyes to close momentarily. A reflex blink also lasts slightly longer than a spontaneous one.

So blinking, it turns out, is actually a wonderful thing. We have a built in function that provides moisture and protection from elements and danger. If anyone gives you trouble when looking away from your computer for a bit, just tell them it’s necessary for overall eye health. If dry eye sets in anyway, lubricating drops or a hydrating mask can work wonders for restoring a pleasant environment for you and your eyes.

protective goggles

Protect your eyes when playing sports

I, like the millions of other Americans, watched the Super Bowl yesterday. Although –  I have to admit – I was more interested in the Katy Perry half time show then the game – but nonetheless – I did take in a bit of the actual game play.  But, since I don’t actually understand the rules of football – I found myself thinking about other things – like the (well-documented) dangers of playing football.

But here’s the interesting thing… when it comes to ocular injuries – football is NOT the most dangerous sport.  Basketball and baseball rank highest as the most dangerous sports for your eyes.   Football is still on the list as a threat to a player’s ocular health – but other more seemingly benign activities like tennis, fishing and martial arts can lead to serious eye injuries.

The types of injuries that can be sustained during sporting activities include blunt trauma, penetrating injuries and radiation injury from the sun.  A blunt trauma injury is the most common – and occurs when something hits the eye – like a racquet or a ball. A penetrating injury occurs when something gets into the eye – like a fishing hook when you are fishing.  (Yes – this actually happens.)  A radiation injury occurs when the eyes get too much sun exposure, if you forget to wear sunglasses or goggles when skiing or participating in water sports.

According to the American Association of Family Practitioners, the best way to protect your eyes when playing sports is to wear protective googles with 3mm polycarbonate lenses.  If you are participating in outdoor sports its important to wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection.

Now that the Super Bowl is over – it’s time to get off the couch and actually start playing some sports. But before you do – make sure to consider your eyes.

Check out Amcon’s protective eyewear selection.  We have been considering adding a line of Rx – able sports goggles – let us know what you think.

Kids sunglasses birthday gift

Thanks for the best birthday gift – EVER

Today is my daughters 9th birthday and I’m bracing myself for the onslaught of one dozen third grade girls that are about to arrive at my house in the next couple of hours. It will be crazy for sure – but that’s not the part of the birthday party experience that I dread; it’s the one dozen gifts that will arrive with all these little people.

Sounds horrible, right? But I do not know what to do with another craft kit or more Legos. We haven’t yet cracked opened the ones from her birthday party last year. Parents – for the love of God –  please stop this insanity of giving these types of gifts. How about something practical that doesn’t take up a lot of space that kids will actually enjoy and use?

Here’s a crazy idea. How about giving a kid some cool sunglasses with a fun case and some lens cleaning supplies? I’m sure this idea may not come to mind for most parents pressed to find a birthday gift – but as a retailer of kids’ sunglasses – you can plant the seed.  Make a sign next to your retail display: “Kid’s sunglasses and cleaning kit: a fun and practical birthday gift!”  I am betting you will bring in some extra retail dollars and mothers of gift recipients will thank you.  Trust me….

Posted by: juliegriffey | January 18, 2015

Keeping Ice Off My Goggles – Wishing I had Stocked Up for Skiing

gogglesToday we spent the day skiing in New Hampshire and it was not pretty. It was cold and wet. It started snowing, then the snow turned to rain, and then the rain turned to ice. After a few runs skiing in rain, I was literally covered in a sheet of ice. I bent my elbows, and my jacket crunched… lovely New England skiing.

I can ski with a frozen coat.  But when your goggles are covered in ice, it’s very difficult to see and ski. Everyone in our group had iced over goggles and were frankly, pretty miserable.   One would assume that the member of the group who works for the optical supply company (me) would come to the rescue with a lens cleaning cloth.  Um.  No.  Not so much.  I have access to every type of lens cleaning cloth and I’ve got nothing. I vow to be better prepared next time.

But this also gave me an idea.  I am guessing that many of our customers are located in places near ski resorts.  Why not put together a skier / snowboarder emergency goggle de-icing kit?  A lab size lens cleaning cloth and some anti-fogger cleaning cloths would be a highly sought-after item for skiers caught in ice. So how about this for a new retail item?

Posted by: juliegriffey | January 12, 2015

Online color vision tests – do they really work?

Color Vision Test

Last week we learned (the hard way – blowing through our daily budget in minutes) that maybe we needed to rewrite our Google Web Ads.  After launching the campaign, we noticed that we were getting tons of clicks on our ads for our Color Vision Tests.  We quickly realized that the people who were clicking on our ads were not looking to buy a professional color vision test – they were trying to find a web-based application to test for color blindness.  Weird.

We immediately suspended the offending ad group, but the experience left us with a lingering curiosity as to whether you could really test for color blindness online.  In short, the answer is no.  The huge variation of brightness and color display across different computer and monitor types can make a web-based test only suitable for screening – not diagnosing color blindness.  For an accurate diagnosis of color blindness, it is recommended that a patient get assessed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist under controlled conditions.

Since we are in the business of selling color vision tests, it is good to know that a professional diagnostic tool is still relevant and necessary.  Now we just need to rethink our ads!

Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | January 2, 2015

Your eyes are what you eat! Resolve to eat well for your eye health.

food for optimal ocular healthCan a carrot a day keep the optometrist away? Perhaps! According to WebMD, “Vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids all play a role in eye health. They can help prevent cataracts, clouding of your eye lens. They may also fight the most-likely cause of vision loss when you’re older: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).” There are many foods in addition to carrots that can benefit your eyes.

Lately it seems like everyone in the foodie world has been talking about kale. Kale is a green vegetable unlike any other I’ve tried. If I had to pick a close relative, I’d call it a mix between collard greens and spinach. You can prepare kale in several ways. Salads made with raw kale are fabulous with nothing more than an acidic salad dressing (such as vinaigrettes) and a pinch of Parmesan cheese. If you massage the kale before preparing the salad it brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable and makes it more tender. You can also sauté it or use it as an ingredient in a main dish. Kale is full of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect eyes from sunlight and air pollution.

Are there any seafood lovers out there? Oysters and crab are great sources of zinc, which keeps your retina healthy. Salmon, sardines, and herring are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation and improve overall eye health.

Carrots have been known for improving eye health because they contain beta carotene. This nutrient converts to vitamin A, which can help with night vision. Pumpkin, apricots, and sweet potato are also good options.

Whole grains promote your overall eye health. Look for quinoia, whole oats, whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Try making a quinoia or brown rice pilaf with carrots, sweet potato, peas and almonds to create a dish containing several of these beneficial foods. Serve it on the side of a nice piece of salmon atop some sautéed kale and you have a delicious and eye-healthy meal!

Posted by: juliegriffey | December 22, 2014

De-fog your loved ones this holiday season.

Fogged glasses can be a real nuisance

Fogged glasses can be a real nuisance

Today in St. Louis it is cold and rainy, and driving around town my windshield is fogging up like crazy. Fortunately today I am wearing my contacts and NOT my glasses.  I have a feeling that people in glasses are having quite the fog-fest today.

It then occurred to me that having some Zero-Fog spray would be quite helpful on a day like today. Zero-Fog is comprised of the most used anti-fog material in the world. Zero-Fog prevents fogging on eyeglasses, safety glasses, ski goggles, swim goggles, automotive instrument panels, and much more. Don’t like spray?  Well – check out the Zero-Fog wipes.

If you are faced with damp, foggy weather – why not stuff some stockings with Zero-Fog spray or wipes for the eyeglass, safety/ski/swim goggle wearing people in your life and keep them from fogging up?

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