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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Made it to Seventy Without Wearing Glasses

I Made it to Seventy Without Wearing Glasses
By Sam Sewell

When I was young, bold, and full of myself I would brag that “I can tell the sex of a flea on the leg of a hawk, five hundred feet in the air.” I liked that phrase; it had a poetic ring to it. I was blessed from birth with good vision. I am a former Naval Aviator and even among my fellow pilots I seemed to notice details and pick out objects in the sky or on the ocean with more alacrity than my peers.

I turned seventy years old recently and I had begun to notice problems with my vision. I spend lots of time writing and reading on my computer. Reading was getting more difficult. I began increasing the font size of the text, rather than considering the alternatives. I didn’t want to admit that I might need glasses.

I also noticed that my long distance vision was becoming blurred. Our town has many streets with one lane change adjustments, and I began finding myself in the wrong lane, and needing to navigate into traffic at the last minute because I didn’t see lane changes coming. Once I actually missed a stop sign in our neighborhood, and had to brake hard to keep from hitting a bicyclist.

I decided it was time to swallow my pride and face the reality that “perhaps” I needed glasses.

My supportive wife and I went to her optician, Todd VanBuskirk, owner of VanBuskirk Opticians at  798 Neapolitan Way 649-1011.There are several places to buy glasses closer to our home on Vanderbilt Drive.
However, we prefer doing business with local people. Todd provides personalized customer service, Specialized and prescription lenses and jazzy, Designer Frames that just aren’t available at chain stores. VanBuskirk Opticians is a family owned business, serving Naples since 1973.  Todd’s parents are now retired, but since Todd grew up in the optical business, I was confident that he really “knew his stuff.”

The first thing I learned is that VanBuskirk Opticians have a Doctor of Optometry on staff at their facility. Doctors of Optometry test, diagnose and determine what correction a person needs to rectify vision problems.  Opticians “fill” that prescription by providing lenses, frames, and professional guidance.  The fact that there was a Doctor of Optometry on staff saved me from the inconvenience of first needing to go to a doctor’s office and then finding an optician to fill the prescription.

One of the things the eye doctor mentioned is that long before retirement age he usually sees early signs of macular degeneration in most of his patients, and taking extra antioxidants is one way to maintain eye health. Perhaps the fact that we use Shaklee CarotoMax, with lutein, lycopene, and; beta carotene to protect not only eyes, but also heart, skin, lungs prostate and; cervical health, accounts for my overall eye health, even tough I am past 70 years old.

Their doctor, who has worked with them for many years, did his examination and told Todd what my prescription should be. Todd spent much of his valuable time helping us select frames and lenses that were best for my situation, educating us and patiently answering our questions. I chose attractive glasses with an invisible “progressive” bi-focal feature, and “transition lenses” that automatically darken when I am in sunlight.

A few days latter Todd called us and said that my glasses had arrived. Todd custom fitted the glasses to my unique cranial features, and I was amazed at the result. I could barely feel them on my face.

I drove home like I was in a brand new world, with every detail sharp and clear! I felt like a kid with a new toy! The fuel gauge that had been a blur now had all the increments visible! I could read license plates on other cars clearly! I experimented with looking at things without my classes and with them on. I was astounded at the difference my new glasses made.  Evidently I needed glasses more than I realized!

When I got home I went straight to my computer. Again, there was a startling difference. I didn’t need to increase font size. Web pages seemed to jump out at me!  Videos were far more enjoyable. I realized that my computer monitor had a high definition capability.  Now I could select the HD option on videos, and actually tell the difference between ordinary video and HD.

Emotionally I was experiencing a brand new high.

That evening I sat down to watch TV. I enjoy watching “nature” programs. Again I found myself mesmerized by the detail I could now see in HD programs. I remember saying excitedly to my wife, “Look Honey, I can see an individual hair sticking up on the head of that bear.”

I now regret that I had procrastinated for so long about getting glasses.  Being able to see clearly again is a precious blessing to my life. 

Tell me, what IS the sex of that flea on the leg of a hawk, five hundred feet in the air?
(More CartoMax, please!)  :-)

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I asked Todd VanBuskirk to tell us about his parent’s missionary work in Jamaica.  Here is his report
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 More than twelve years ago my parents, Richard and Sally VanBuskirk, with a small group of Neapolitans, were founding members of The Jamaica Outreach Program, a local 501c3 publiccharity.  What do you think my dad and mom wanted to offer to the “dirt-poor” residents of the third world city of Kingston, Jamaica?  You might have guessed—they set up an optical clinic, with Dr. Jason Eugenides doing the very first basic eye exams and the VanBuskirk family making the eyeglasses in their Naples lab, then delivering them to our Jamaican patients.  We never realized what this would mean to these people—but for them it was no less than a miracle!  Over the last dozen or more years my parents, along with countless volunteers from this community, have made 20 optical trips.  I took time off and worked with them on one trip—what a thrill!  Novices are quickly trained to complete the necessary tasks.  Now they have teamed up with surgeons from Ohio who have made 3 cataract surgery trips in the past few years—charitably restoring vision for many people whose condition was so severe that they were about to go completely blind.  Amongst the tears, these grateful families shouted for joy.  A typical trip looks like this:   450 eye exams with two optometrists; 180 cataract surgeries if the surgeons are with us; and dad comes back to our Naples lab to make about 350 pair of custom eyeglasses.

To learn more about this mission

It is a joy to serve as Naples’ oldest Optical Center, and to be able to give back to people who might otherwise go without. We thank you for your business and for your support of The Jamaican Outreach.


Todd VanBuskirk

798 Neapolitan Way S
Naples Fl 34112

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