Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | May 19, 2015

Eyeglasses: A Look Back In Time

In our recent Marketing Meeting, we received a suggestion to post a history of eyeglasses on our Facebook page by asking our followers to submit pictures of themselves, family or friends in eyeglasses throughout the years. I did a quick Google search and found a ton of information on different styles that have gone in and out of popularity.

According to Wikipedia, the first eyeglasses were created in Italy in the late 13th century and “consisted of two magnifying glasses riveted together by the handles sot that they could grip the nose.” Benjamin Franklin “suffered from both myopia and presbyopia”. He is credited with inventing bifocals, though some argue that there may have been others that preceded him. “The modern style of glasses, held by temples passing over the ears, was developed some time before 1727″, but the first designs were not terribly successful and styles with attached handles (like lorgnettes) remained popular thru the early 19th century.

Over time, eyeglasses have evolved from being seen as unfashionable to trendy. A large part of this is credited to famous people that wore glasses (such as musician Buddy Holly known for his thick black horn-rimmed glasses). Styles have also expanded because of functionality.

Here are some of the most famous styles:

Browline Glasses

  • Popular in the 1950s and 1960s. It is estimated that they accounted for nearly half of eyeglasses worn in the 1950s.
  • Came back into popularity in the 2010s
  • First brand was the “Ronsir”
  • Top portion of the frame is much thicker than the bottom
  • Famous figures who wore browline glasses include Malcom X and Colonel Sanders
Malcom X

Malcom X

Bug-Eye Glasses

  • Popular in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
  • Began as a square shape and later evolved into larger rounder frames
  • Famous figures who wore Bug-eye glasses include Audrey Hepburn, Paris Hilton and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
FRANCE - 1964:  Audrey Hepburn, British actress. Paris, 1964. HA-1532-25.  (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

FRANCE – 1964: Audrey Hepburn, British actress. Paris, 1964. HA-1532-25. (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

Cat Eye Glasses

  • Popular in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Temples are angled upward at the top
  • Famous figures who wore these include Elizabeth Taylor, Brigette Bardot and Marilyn Monroe
Bridgette Bardot

Brigette Bardot

GI Glasses

  • Originally designed to be worn with gas masks in World War II
  • The US Government issues these to recruits during training. After training there is a “Frame of Choice” program.
  • In 2012 the S9 design was replaced by the 5A that is smaller and unisex
The new 5A glasses

The new 5A glasses

Horn-Rimmed Glasses

  • First became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Regained popularity in the 1950s-1960s, again in the 1980s-1990s and yet again in the 2010s.
  • Characterized by their material (horn or tortoise shell) and bold appearance
  • Harold Lloyd, a 1910s comedian, was the first to popularize this style. Others such as Buddy Holly and The Blues Brothers were famous for wearing these in later years.
Harold Lloyd

Harold Lloyd


  • The “Hard Bridge” or “fingerpiece” variety was popular from the 1890s thru the 1950s
  • The “C-bridge” variety was popular from the 1820s thru the 1940s
  • The “Spring Bridge” or “Astig” variety was popular from the 1890s thru the 1930s and became scarce after that
  • “Oxford Spectacles” and “Nose Spectacles” are two types of frames that are not exactly Pince-nez but resemble them
  • Pince-nez “are supported without earpieces, by pinching the bridge of the nose. The name comes from French pincer, “to pinch”, and nez, “nose”.” (Wikipedia)
  • Several fictional characters are remembered as wearing this style, including Hercule Poiroit in the TV Series Agatha Christie’s Poiroit and Morpheus in the Matrix film trilogy
Matrix character Morpheus



  • Have never gone completely our of fashion, though they were most popular in the 1800s-1960s, 1980s, and the 2000s-2010s
  • Mounted directly to the bridge by using screws or bushings
  • Popularized by Theodore Roosevelt and Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

The British Optical Association Museum has an excellent online exhibition on the history of eyeglasses. You can visit it at

To see how lenses have changed over time check out this infographic from VSP


Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | May 12, 2015

Color Blindness – What is it, who gets it, and why?

When I was writing last week’s blog about dog vision, I became curious about color blindness in humans and decided to do some investigating. “Color blindness, or color vision deficiency, is the inability or decreased ability to see color, or perceive color differences, under normal lighting conditions.” (Wikipedia) Before I began researching color blindness, I thought that there were only a couple of types of color blindness. As it turns out, there are several types of color blindness as well as multiple causes.

In 1798 chemist John Dalton wrote “Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours”. This paper presented the first scientific findings about color blindness. Dalton decided to write the paper when he realized that he did not see color the same as others. Even though his findings were not well known in his time, his research paved the way for future research on the subject.

Color blindness is most often caused by mutations of he X chromosome and most people are born with it. Other causes are eye disease (such as age-related macular degeneration), drugs, retinal damage, and Vitamin A deficiency. You may recall that our eyes have three types of cones. These cones each contain a different pigment:  blue, green and red. In the most basic terms “color blindness can occur when one or more of the color cone cells are absent, nonfunctioning or detect a different color than normal.” (American Academy of Opthalmology). The National Eye Institute provides the best descriptions about the types of color blindness:

Red-Green Color Blindness

The most common types of hereditary color blindness are due to the loss or limited function of red cone (known as protan) or green cone (deutran) photopigments. This kind of color blindness is commonly referred to as red-green color blindness.

* Protanomaly: In males with protanomaly, the red cone photopigment is abnormal. Red, orange, and yellow appear greener and colors are not as bright. This condition is mild and doesn’t usually interfere with daily living.

* Protanopia: In males with protanopia, there are no working red cone cells. Red appears as black. Certain shades of orange, yellow, and green all appear as yellow.

* Deuteranomaly: In males with deuteranomaly, the green cone photopigment is abnormal. Yellow and green appear redder and it is difficult to tell violet from blue. This condition is mild and doesn’t interfere with daily living. Deuteranomaly is the most common form of color blindness.

* Deuteranopia: In males with deuteranopia, there are no working green cone cells. They tend to see reds as brownish-yellow and greens as beige.

Blue-Yellow Color Blindness

Blue-yellow color blindness is rarer than red-green color blindness. Blue-cone (tritan) photopigments are either missing or have limited function.

* Tritanomaly: People with tritanomaly have functionally limited blue cone cells. Blue appears greener and it can be difficult to tell yellow and red from pink. Tritanomaly is extremely rare.

* Tritanopia: People with tritanopia, also known as blue-yellow color blindness, lack blue cone cells. Blue appears green and yellow appears violet or light grey. Tritanopia is an extremely rare autosomal recessive disorder.

Complete color blindness

People with complete color blindness (monochromacy) don’t experience color at all and the clearness of their vision (visual acuity) may also be affected.

There are two types of monochromacy:

* Cone monochromacy: This rare form of color blindness results from a failure of two of the three cone cell photopigments to work. There is red cone monochromacy, green cone monochromacy, and blue cone monochromacy. People with cone monochromacy have trouble distinguishing colors because the brain needs to compare the signals from different types of cones in order to see color. When only one type of cone works, this comparison isn’t possible. People with blue cone monochromacy, may also have reduced visual acuity, near-sightedness, and uncontrollable eye movements, a condition known as nystagmus.

* Rod monochromacy or achromatopsia: This type of monochromacy is rare and is the most severe form of color blindness. It is present at birth. None of the cone cells have functional photopigments. Lacking all cone vision, people with rod monochromacy see the world in black, white, and gray. And since rods respond to dim light, people with rod monochromacy tend to be photophobic – very uncomfortable in bright environments. They also experience nystagmus.

Optometrists and opthalmologists use several tests to diagnose color blindness. The most common of these is the Ishihara Color Test. This test involves the patient looking at special circles with dots in varying colors and sizes and identifying the shape those dots create. Other tests include the Cambridge Color Test, an anomaloscope, the HRR Pseudoisochromatic Color Test, the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test, and the Farnsworth Lantern Test (used by the US Military).

Color Blindness Types - ishihara

While there is no cure for congenital color blindness, most people learn to adapt. Some individuals choose to manage via special glasses, contact lenses, and apps for smart phones. Today, scientists are developing new methods to assist color blind people see colors. A group of researchers recently tried using gene therapy in adult male squirrel monkeys, who are all red-green color blind. The gene therapy seemed to work but translating this into use on humans will take some time.

Past Blogs about color blindness

What’s the difference between red / green color blindness and total color blindness and why is testing so important?

Online color vision tests – do they really work?

Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | May 5, 2015

What can your dog actually see? and do we really know?

The question has often been raised about what dogs see versus what their human companions see.  Many people believe that dogs only see the world in black and white. I was one of these people until my husband and I adopted Dorothy. After witnessing her pick out the orange ball from the other colored balls several times, we both came to realize that dogs must see color to some extent. That prompted me to do some research.

Dorothy through a human's eyes VS Dorothy in

Dorothy through a human’s eyes VS Dorothy in “Dog Vision” (image created at

Aside from just 2 articles, one published in 1995 and one in 2013, I was surprised to find very little scholarly research on the subject. “Because a multitude of factors are involved in the sensation of vision, the outwardly simple question of how well dogs see is, in reality, quite complicated.” (Vision in Dogs by Paul E. Miller, DVM and Christopher J. Murphy, DVM, PhD).  Even though just a few studies have taken place, research has lead to some common conceptions among scientists.

We know that different breeds of dogs have different vision just based on the fact that their eyes are different sizes, shapes and locations. A lot of this has to do with what the breed was “born to do”. Wikipedia states that “many long-nosed breeds have a “visual streak” – a wide foveal region that…gives them a very wide field of excellent vision. Some long-muzzled breeds, in particular, the sighthounds, have a field of vision up to 270 degrees (compared to 180 degrees for human). Some broad-headed breeds with short noses have a field of vision similar to that of humans.” In addition to the variances between breeds, there is a difference amongst dogs of the same breeds, just as humans of the same ethnicity have different vision. Visual acuity in dogs is thought to have a Snellen fraction of about 20/75. That means, if a person with normal vision acuity (20/20) stood 75 feet away to see an object, their dog would have to stand 20 feet away to see the same object.

Dogs only have 2 types of cones in their eyes. Humans have 3. This means that a dog’s ability to see color is less than a human’s. Most scientists compare a dog’s color vision to that of a human who is red-green color blind. Until a 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, many researchers believed that dogs respond to brightness variation in colors more than the colors themselves. The new study concluded that dogs can perceive the difference in both colors and brightness, and perhaps that color is more of a deciding factor. The study only consisted of a small group of eight dogs so it is difficult to say how much the findings represent dogs as a whole, but it is still interesting research. You can view the entire article at

Dog Color Spectrum

Dog’s ancestry and breeding has prepared them to be great hunters and their sight has evolved accordingly. For example, if you have ever had a dog, you probably noticed that they respond to moving objects much more than they do stationary ones. Dogs can also see better than humans when it comes to low light environments (like dawn or dusk) and they have remarkable night vision. We all know that dogs, like humans, use all of their senses. Our senses help us to determine what is around us. One major difference in humans and canines is that while our dominant sense is vision, theirs is smell. So, it stands to reason that dogs rely much less on their sense of vision and that the differences in our vision versus theirs has no real meaning to them.

All in all, we still have a lot to learn about dog vision, and we will probably never know the whole story.

Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | April 28, 2015

What is an “Acephalgic” or “Silent” Migraine?


Recently we received a question from one of our readers about silent migraines:

I was wondering if in one of your blogs you could discuss and explain silent migraines.  A month or so ago for the first time ever I started seeing zigzag lines in one eye.  It scared me since I never had this happen before.  Thought maybe I was having a mini stroke or something.  I call my doctor and the nurse said it sounded like a silent migraine.

There are 4 phases to a migraine:  Prodrome, Aura, Headache, and Postdrome. People typically associate migraines with the “headache” phase. However, some people suffer from “silent” or “acephalgic” migraines, those in which the person does not experience head pain, but does have the other 3 phases of a migraine. Any type of migraine can be silent.

While each type of migraine is different, some shared symptoms exist. During the prodrome phase, mental and physical changes occur such as irritability, confusion, depression, thirst and fatigue. Light and sound sensitivities are also characteristic of the prodrome phase. Aura is a change in one’s perception. During this phase, the migraine sufferer might begin to see wavy or jagged lines, dots in his or her vision, tunnel vision, and flashing lights. They may also experience a disruption to their sense of hearing, smell, and/or taste. In the postdrome phase irritability, confusion and fatigue are common.

Silent migraines have several possible triggers, many of which are triggers for other headaches as well. These triggers include poor nutrition, lack of sleep, noise, hormones, and stress.  According to Wikipedia, “Acephalgic migraines typically do not persist more than a few hours and may last for as little as 15 seconds. On rare occasions, they may continue for up to two days.”

WebMD offers the following tips to cope with migraines:

  1. Keep a daily diary of symptoms. Try to track all of your food and beverages, changes in your sleep or stress levels, and any other triggers. Also, keep track of your symptoms and the times they begin and end.
  2. Talk with your doctor. Based on your symptom diary and medical history, your doctor may be able to diagnose your silent migraines. In rare cases, the symptoms of a migraine are a sign of a different, more serious medical problem, such as a stroke or bleeding in the brain. To rule out these problems, your doctor may advise further testing, such as a CT scan or MRI, and a complete exam by a neurologist.
  3. Weigh the pros and cons of medications. There are more than 100 medications used to treat migraine, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Be prepared to try different drugs to find the right one for you. Be sure to tell your doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you’re taking to avoid problems with drug interactions.
  4. Practice prevention. Try avoiding your personal migraine triggers as much as possible. For severe or chronic symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a medication or device used to prevent migraines.
  5. Practice good self-care. Eating well, getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly, and learning stress-management techniques can do wonders to ease and prevent your migraine symptoms.
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 and 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.

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