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4 Optometric Practices That Demonstrated Next-Level Community Outreach in 2018

They made a priority of making a difference in 2018.

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Classic Vision CareKennesaw, GA

Orchestrating Your Outreach

Translating good intentions into action isn’t always easy. Sometimes all you need is the right partner. Classic Vision Care, a community-minded practice in Kennesaw, GA, found a willing collaborator in MUST Ministries, a faith-based organization headquartered in neighboring Marietta that has been providing food, shelter and basic medical services to the less fortunate in its local community for decades. MUST were planning their health fair for the homeless when Ankit Patel of Classic Vision reached out looking for a way to give back to the community. MUST suggested he participate in the fair, but, according to Kaye Cagle, the charity’s vice president for marketing and public relations, “He took it a step further and said he would also help with some of our [non-homeless] clients who are in need.” Classic Vision Care now provides screening and eyewear to those that can’t afford it, as identified by MUST. Patel describes the payoff as “endless from personal to business. I have always enjoyed giving back to the community either by volunteering or donating.” Beyond that, the deeper community involvement has benefited Classic Vision materially: “People think of us when in need of eyecare. There are tax benefits since we donate our chair time, doctor time, and optician time … and we donate the lenses, either single vision or bifocals,” Patel says.

Great Spectacles
Stockton, CA

Turning Trash into Treasure

Recycling. If you’re talking about aluminum cans or PET bottles, it’s no hassle. For something more complicated—say, those frame boxes that clutter up your storeroom—it gets more challenging. As with most things in independent retail life, sometimes you’ve just got to come up with the ideas yourself. Lynda Winter at Great Spectacles in Stockton, CA did just that; she started saving frame boxes, figuring they must be good for something. That “something” was supplied by a retired educator who “asked to take the boxes to the Children’s Museum to use for projects.” As Winter jokingly puts it, a “reach-out recycle business” was born. “We save them for a variety of different teachers at many different schools around our area. We consistently collect them all year long, and once we have a bagful we reach out to our customers who are teachers. It’s first-come-first-serve, unless there has been a specific request.” In just one example, the kids at nearby Rainbow Elementary School were studying Italian architecture, and replicated Renaissance cathedrals using Winter’s humble frame boxes.
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Special Eyes Pediatric Vision Clinic,
New Bern, NC

Something Special

Special Eyes Pediatric Vision Clinic’s origins are traceable to a particular patient. In late 2014 Dr. Cathy Doty examined an 18-month-old boy named Joseph who arrived at associated practice Family Eye Care in New Bern, NC, with an untreated strabismus that had notably delayed his general development. Troubled by the fact that Joseph’s parents, as members of a public health scheme, had been forced to wait three months to see her, Doty made the decision to dedicate herself to pediatric and special-needs optometry. Her partners were agreeable, and by May 2015 she had opened Special Eyes Pediatric Vision Clinic. Doty now sees patients up to 16 years of age and special needs patients of all ages, offering comprehensive exams and same-day emergency visits with pediatrician referrals. “No two days are the same, that is for sure! Some of the patients come in on gurneys from residential facilities,” she says. Doty’s not one to talk about herself, but she does admit to being “just blessed beyond measure to have a supportive husband, partner, amazing staff, and community that have all supported this endeavor.” She took a leap of faith, she says, “and God has provided. I can’t even put a price on what this has all meant to me personally.”

Eye & Vision Care
Santa Barbara, CA

Fundraising Par Excellence

Since 1988, Eye & Vision Care has worked closely with a host of local charities to benefit vision-related programs and the community. The jewel in the crown of this impressive local outreach is an annual golf tournament that raises money for groundbreaking research conducted at the University of California, Santa Barbara, along with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Last year’s tournament drew more than 100 golfers to the Santa Barbara Golf Club and, aside from the main competition, included activities such as giving sighted folks an opportunity to experience golfing blind. According to optical manager Joe Vega, the rewards have been “amazing” in terms of the fund-raising, the business returns, and bringing staff together. “The love we get from our town is a great reward,” he says—and so are the referrals.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at heath@smartworkmedia.com.

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UK Gets Nationwide Contact Lens Recycling Program

It’s available to all soft contact lens wearers.

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LONDON — Johnson & Johnson Vision announced that it is launching the Acuvue Contact Lens Recycle Programme, the United Kingdom’s first free nationwide program that “enables consumers to easily recycle their contact lenses and the blister and foil packaging after use.”

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The program is available to all soft contact lens wearers, regardless or which contact lens brand they use, according to a press release.

The program aims to reduce plastic waste in landfills and waterways by providing a simple and practical alternative to the UK’s 3.7 million contact wearers, according to the release. That includes the 20 percent of wearers who reported that they currently dispose of their lenses by flushing them down the toilet or the sink.

“The end result will see the recycled contact lenses, blister and foil packaging turned into new products such as outdoor furniture and plastic lumber,” the release explained.

“Seventy-seven percent of British contact lens wearers said they would recycle their contact lenses if they could and we share their interest in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment,” said Sandra Rasche, area vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Vision Care, Johnson & Johnson Medical GmbH. “As a business, we are committed to doing our part to combat climate change, protect our planet’s natural resources and reduce waste, and this new UK recycling programme represents the next step in our company’s sustainability commitment.”

Consumers will have the option of either having their contact lens material collected, or dropping it off through a network of recycling bins at public drop-off locations at optical stores across the UK, including retailer Boots Opticians Ltd. The recycling partnership with Boots Opticians and a number of independent stores aims over time to provide over 1,000 public drop-off recycling locations for contact lens waste across the UK.

Johnson & Johnson Vision is collaborating with TerraCycle, a leader in the collection and reuse of non-recyclable post-consumer waste, to run the program.

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Man Who Threatened to Drive Into Optometrist’s Office Is Sentenced to Probation

He’s also been ordered to attend anger management classes.

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A man who threatened to ram his automobile into a Florida optometrist’s office has been sentenced to two years of probation.

Thirty-one-year-old Richard Madigan of Melbourne, FL, was alleged to have become upset in September when Optical Outlets in Melbourne wouldn’t see him, Florida Today reports.

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He allegedly threatened to drive into the business, then drove his Jeep in reverse onto the sidewalk in front of the establishment before leaving. He allegedly came close to hitting the front door.

His threats “sent people running,” according to an earlier report in Florida Today.

The newspaper reports that on Nov. 27, Madigan pleaded no contest to reckless driving and operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license — both misdemeanors — as well as to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.

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He was not technically convicted, as adjudication was withheld on all of the counts, according to Florida Today.

Madigan has been ordered to attend anger management classes.

Read more at the Florida Today

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Eyecare Equipment Firms Will Combine to Form New Company

It will be called Advancing Eyecare Holdings.

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STAMFORD, CT — Private equity firm Atlantic Street Capital announced that it will form Advancing Eyecare Holdings with the partnership of its portfolio company Lombart Instrument — a distributor of ophthalmic instruments to ophthalmologists and optometrists — and Marco Ophthalmic Inc., a high-tech instrumentation supplier.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

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Gordon Siteman, CEO of Lombart, said, “Creating Advancing Eyecare with the partnership of two leaders in the eyecare instrumentation marketplace increases our ability to provide the doctor both the service and product offerings that suit their budget and their technology requirements. When completed, the combined organization will deliver the best solution at the best price for every practice’s needs.”

Upon completion of the transaction, David Marco will continue as a meaningful investor in the business and will join Advancing Eyecare as co-chairman of the newly formed company and help advise the senior management teams.

Marco said, “With this strategic partnership we will be ideally positioned to maximize value for both our customer and employees. It allows for expanded service capability for Marco and greater technology offerings for Lombart. The combined entity enhances and accelerates our unique abilities to modernize and maximize efficiencies of the Eye Care platforms.”

Bryan Bevin, senior operating adviser to Atlantic Street Capital’s portfolio companies, will serve as co-chairman of the Advancing Eyecare board.

Both he and Marco will oversee the operating and strategic guidance of all Lombart assets in the medical eyecare marketplace in North America, including Lombart Instrument, Marco Ophthalmic, Enhanced Medical Services and INNOVA Medical Ophthalmics (Canada and Mexico).

Andy Wilkins, managing partner of Atlantic Street Capital, said, “Since our acquisition of Lombart in 2016, we have steadily built the business through organic growth, as well as expanded into Canada with the acquisition of INNOVA and enhanced our pre-owned ophthalmic business with the acquisition earlier this year of Enhanced Medical Services.  The addition of Marco is another significant investment to strengthen Lombart’s position as a key partner for its customers, further extending our ability to deliver a breadth of clinical solutions.”

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