Eye Center, Inc.
Main Office • 2003 Cortez Road West • Bradenton, FL Three convenient locations to serve you! 941.756.2020


Staff Feature: Erin Ellis

Staff Feature: Erin Ellis

At Eye Center, Inc. we want you to feel welcome and comfortable when you visit us for your eye care. Getting to know our staff on a more personal level will add an element of friendliness when you visit one of our offices and see a familiar face. We’ve decided to periodically feature members of our staff, beginning with Erin Ellis, an insurance manager with Eye Center, Inc.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

EE: What I love most about my job is the sense of family around our workplace. Our company truly values people on a personal level.

Describe yourself using only film titles.

EE: 9-5 or It’s a Wonderful Life

Tell us about your approach to customer service.

EE: Customer service means going above and beyond to keep patients happy, whether that means answering any questions they may have or resolving issues with a positive attitude.

What is your signature comfort food?

EE: My Mom’s pot roast.

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

EE: A trip to Disney!

What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?

EE: ”She’s the only one that remembers to feed me.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

EE: My Grandmother told me not to sweat the small stuff like a messy house when the kids are little… because they grow up so fast. I remind myself of this almost everyday.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be and why?

EE: Pink, because it’s girly.

What’s the last song you listened to?

EE: Coldplay – “In My Place”

If you could be on any TV game show, which would you choose?

EE: Big Brother

What’s “your” karaoke song?

EE: Beastie Boys – “Intergalactic”

Photo courtesy of exploregeorgia.org

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

EE: The view from the top of Brasstown Bald Mountain.  

What’s your pizza order?

EE: White pizza with broccoli and garlic

If you had just a toaster oven-sized box for all of your stuff, what would you put in it?

EE: Baby pictures of my boys.

Give us a call at 941-756-2020 to schedule your comprehensive eye exam today. You might just see Erin during your next visit, and if you’re a Disney lover or Coldplay fan you’ll have plenty to chat about!


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August is Children's Eye Health Month

August is Children's Eye Health Month

Cooing, crawling and walking are signs that your baby is growing at a healthy pace. Your baby’s vision has stages of development too, but the signs marking progress with your baby’s eyesight are not as evident.

Those little eyes will be the windows she uses to learn almost everything about her new world. It’s up to you to help guarantee she sees her new world clearly and accurately.

Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, the American Optometric Association recommends scheduling your baby’s first eye assessment at 6 months of age.

At Eye Center, Inc. we are proud to announce that our very own Dr. Madison Easterling is a participating InfantSEE provider. Developed by the AOA and Johnson & Johnson Vision, InfantSEE is a public health program designed to ensure eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness.

Under this program, Dr. Easterling provides a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.

Dr. Easterling will test for the following:

  • excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
  • eye movement ability
  • eye health problems

These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this young age. Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.

Many eye conditions have no symptoms that can be identified by a parent or in a well baby check-up. Early detection is the best way to make sure your child has healthy eyes and appropriate development of vision.

Why should I take my baby to an InfantSEE provider?

Many eye problems emerge from conditions that can be identified by an eye doctor in the infant’s first year of life. One in every 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems. Moreover, many children at risk for eye and vision problems are not being identified at an early age, when many of those problems might be prevented or more easily corrected.

Approximately 3.9 million children were born in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In approximately 4 percent, strabismus will develop, and amblyopia will develop in 3 percent. This equates to as many as 200,000 infants born each year who are at risk for serious eye and vision problems.

Early intervention is critical to successful and cost-effective treatment. Despite the nation’s present system of preschool vision screening, the importance of periodic professional eye and vision assessments is widely overlooked.

What is the optometrist looking for during an assessment?

Some eye conditions are strongly linked to family history, so the first step for the optometrist is to compile a history on the child.

Assessment of visual acuity for infants and toddlers may include tests to assess that the infant can fix his eyes on an object and follow the object, or at which objects the baby prefers to look, and at what distances.

The doctor may use lenses and light to assess the refractive status, or how the eye responds to particular targets.

Using her hands, a light, or a toy, the optometrist catches the baby’s attention and observes how the baby’s eye movement follows the object.

By covering one eye at a time, the optometrist gathers information about the eye muscles, eye alignment and binocular potential.

The optometrist will examine the eye’s structure as well as eyelids, tear ducts, and other parts of the eye for overall eye health.

Call Eye Center, Inc. today at 941-756-2020 to schedule your InfantSEE appointment with Dr. Easterling.

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How to Choose the Perfect Sunglasses

How to Choose the Perfect Sunglasses

Summer is a time to break out the sunglasses and protect your eyes from UV rays. It is also a time to shine a little light on your favorite fashion trends. It can be difficult to choose which frame shapes are best for your face, so here is our guide to choosing the right sunglasses.

Oval Face

An oval face is characterized by balanced features and a chin a little narrower than the forehead. It is a beautiful blank canvas for selecting frames — you can wear almost any style confidently. Embrace the opportunity to play with a variety of textures, colors and angles that’ll spotlight your best features. Wide frames, bold looks and full coverage are great for you. Choose frames that are equal to or larger than the widest part of your face. Have fun with textures and shapes to suit your personal style, and choose sunglasses that cover your eyebrows and cheekbones.

Round Face

A round face is defined by a soft, circular shape where the width and length are nearly equal. Round faces have youthful features that pair well with contrasting geometric eyewear. Shop for striking rectangular shapes, and choose thinner frames that add length to your rounded face. Angular lines will sharpen soft features and balance your overall shape. The ideal eyewear should lack curved features while emphasizing sharp angular lines that will help elongate your face and make it look thinner and sharper. Frames with a contrasting bridge color or material will also help widen your eyes.

Heart Face

A heart-shaped face has a broader forehead and narrower jawline and chin. Heart-shaped faces feature high cheekbones (lucky you) and a well-defined narrow chin. Go for a playful look with frames that are wider than your forehead, and choose thinner temples to enhance the symmetry of your face. Choose frames slightly wider than your forehead, and keep in mind that bottom-heavy frames will balance out a pointed chin.

Square Face

A square face typically features strong, well-defined angles in the forehead, cheeks and jawline. They are generally the same length and width across the face. These angles are complemented and softened by round and oval shaped frames. Work those angles with thin, curved frames, and don’t be afraid to experiment with cat-eye and semi-rimless styles. Seek rounder, thinner frames to soften angular features. Play with semi-rimless frames to balance your jawline. Choose a frame wider than your cheekbones.

At Eye Center, Inc., we have 3,000+ frames in stock and can always order your dream shades from a designer we carry. Come in to our Cortez, Manatee or Parrish offices to try on sunglasses and choose the right ones for your face!

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Protect Your Eyes From UV Exposure This Summer

Protect Your Eyes From UV Exposure This Summer

With summer in full swing, the beach is calling, boating season is upon us, and the threat from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays has reached a peak. The sun supports life on our planet, but its life-giving rays also pose dangers.

Excess sun exposure can put you at risk for short- and long-term eye problems. This is true for people of all ages, year-round. Fortunately, prevention is simple. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet radiation. But how do you know if your sunglasses are qualified for the task?

When shopping for sunglasses, always look for a tag or label that says 100% protection against both UVA and UVB or 100% protection against UV 400. UV protection is the essential piece you need to look for in a pair of sunglasses. Darkness, color and price tag do not indicate the strength of UV protection. Even inexpensive sunglasses can offer adequate protection.

If you no longer have the tag for your favorite pair of shades, take them to an optical shop like our Cortez location. Any shop that has a UV light meter can test your sunglasses.

There is no doubt about the negative impact of the sun’s rays on your eyes. UV rays can burn the cornea and cause temporary blindness in a matter of hours. Like a “sunburn of the eye,” photokeratitis can be painful. Symptoms include red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. These symptoms are usually temporary and rarely cause permanent damage to the eyes.

Long-term sun exposure is linked to more serious eye disease, such as cataracts and eye cancer. A lifetime of exposure also likely increases progression of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can cause blindness.

To provide adequate protection for your eyes, sunglasses should:

  • block out 99% to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation
  • screen out 75% to 90% of visible light

If you spend a lot of time outdoors in bright sunlight, consider wearing wraparound frames for additional protection. Wearing a hat with a broad brim has also been shown to significantly cut exposure to harmful rays.

Don’t forget protection for children and teenagers. They typically spend more time in the sun than adults. This is the time of year to get outside and enjoy Florida! Just keep the future bright and protect your sight. At Eye Center, Inc. we offer a wide selection of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses that meet these qualifications. Come in a grab a pair today!

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Red, white, blue... and eye injuries, too!

Red, white, blue... and eye injuries, too!

Red, white, blue… and eye injuries, too! Your eye health care team at Eye Center, Inc. would like to remind you that the safest way to enjoy Fourth of July fireworks is by sitting back and letting the professionals put on a great show.

Fireworks contribute to thousands of injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Naturally, more fireworks occur during the time surrounding the Fourth of July.

In 2016, an estimated 7,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments surrounding the 4th of July period. Males accounted for 61% of fireworks injuries and 31% of fireworks injuries were to children under age 15. The head, face and ears were injured in 20% of these cases.

Fireworks have gone hand-in-hand with celebrating 4th of July since before the Declaration of Independence was even signed. John Adams envisioned fireworks as a part of the festivities. In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

We agree that fireworks should remain a staple of the celebration forever more, but there are precautions you can take to prevent injuries. The best defense against kids (and grown-up kids, too) suffering severe eye injuries and burns is to not let children play with any fireworks, even if his/her friends are setting them off. Sparklers burn at 1800º Fahrenheit, and bottle rockets can stray off course or throw shrapnel when they explode. Aside from leaving it to the professionals, the best defense against a Fourth of July eye injury is to wear protective eyewear.

If an accident does occur, minimize the damage to the eye. In the event of an eye emergency:

  • Do not rub the eye. 
  • Do not apply pressure to the eye itself. 
  • Do head to the emergency room.

Be safe and aware of the risks this Fourth of July. We want you to have fun, and avoiding an eye injury is the best way to keep spirits high and enjoy your celebration!


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June is Cataract Awareness Month

June is Cataract Awareness Month

Cataracts are inevitable. A cataract is something we’re all likely to experience, and at Eye Center, Inc. we are here to guide you through the treatment process. A cataract slowly develops over many years. It’s not dangerous or life-threatening, and there is a simple procedure to correct the problem.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which bends or refracts the passage of light into the eye. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the colored iris, and it is supposed to be clear. The lens helps to focus images onto the retina – which transmits the images to the brain. When a cataract forms, your vision may become blurry or dim as the cataract prevents light from properly passing to your retina. It’s like you’re looking through a dusty car windshield.

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 in the United States. More than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old, and they are the principle cause of blindness in the world. However, cataracts can also occasionally be found in young people or even newborn babies.

What causes cataracts?

The exact cause of a cataract is unknown. Most often, a cataract is simply a natural part of getting older. As you age, your likelihood of developing a cataract increases. There are several possible contributing factors for cataracts, such as:

  • Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
  • Events before birth, such as German measles in the mother
  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Inflammation in the eye
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Hereditary influences
  • Eye diseases
  • Eye injuries
  • Smoking

Generally, a cataract does not cause tears, redness or pain. The following problems may indicate that you have a cataract:

  • You have double vision, ghost images, blurred vision, or the sense of a “film” over your eyes.
  • You change eyeglass prescriptions often and the change does not seem to help your vision.
  • Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are “dazzled” by strong light.
  • You may also be able to see the cataract in your eye. It could look like a milky or yellowish spot in your pupil.

Why do cataracts cause blurred vision?

Your eye works like a camera. A camera needs a lens to focus on an image. But if the lens is dirty or cloudy, the camera can’t take a clear picture. The same occurs with your eyes. Your eye lens focuses rays of light on the nerve tissue at the back of your eye (the retina). The retina then transmits a clear image to your brain. But when a cataract clouds your eye’s lens, light rays don’t pass through as well and the retina cannot transmit a good picture.

What are the types of cataracts?

Age-related – 95% of cataracts are age-related, usually after age 40.

Congenital – These are present at birth, usually caused by infection or inflammation during pregnancy; possibly inherited.

Traumatic – Lens damage from a hard blow, puncture, cut, chemical burn or intense heat may cause cataracts.

Secondary – These cataracts are caused by eye infection, eye disease, some medicines, or diseases such as diabetes.

Cataracts usually form in both eyes but at different rates. They can develop slowly or quickly, or progress to a certain point and stop getting worse. As a result, you may notice gradual changes to your sight rather than an immediate, significant difference.

When is it time to get surgery?

Each year in the U.S., more than two million cataract surgeries are performed. Cataract surgeries are successfully performed without any complications in over 95% of cases. Nonetheless, it’s natural to have concerns and questions about the procedure.

Cataract surgery is your choice, and Eye Center, Inc. is here to guide you in the decision-making process.

When you reach a point where you are unable to do all the things you want to do while wearing your glasses, it is likely time to consider surgery. If you decide to have surgery, we will work together with you as a team to determine the best treatment plan — the one you are most comfortable with.

It is not advisable for individuals to have cataract surgery if the follow scenarios apply:

  • cataracts have not prohibited you from doing the things you want/need to do
  • your vision will not improve with surgery due to other eye problems
  • glasses or contact lenses can provide satisfactory vision
  • you are not well or fit enough for surgery
  • you do not want surgery

At Eye Center, Inc. we will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your cataracts. Give us a call today to make an appointment!


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Introducing: optomap imaging

Introducing: optomap imaging

Eye Center, Inc. is proud to bring optomap® to Manatee County. The optomap ultra-widefield retinal image is a unique technology that captures more than 80% of your retina in one panoramic image. To put this into perspective, traditional imaging methods typically only show 15% of your retina at one time.

Your retina is located in the back of your eye and is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be viewed directly. This means that in addition to eye conditions, signs of other diseases (diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and hypertension) can also be seen in the retina.

Early signs of these conditions can show on your retina long before you notice any changes to your vision or health. While eye exams generally include a look at the front of the eye to evaluate health and prescription changes, a thorough screening of the retina is critical to verify that your eye is healthy.

What happens during the process?

Getting an optomap image is quick, painless and comfortable. It’s completely noninvasive and nothing touches your eye at any time. To have the exam, you simply look into the device one eye at a time as if you’re looking through a keyhole. You will see a gentle flash of light to let you know the image of your retina has been taken.

Typically, dilation drops are not necessary while getting an optomap image. The capture takes less than a second, and images are immediately available. You can see your own retina – even with 3D animation.

Without the need for dilation, optomap is a great option for anyone with a busy lifestyle. It is perfect for a career-driven individual with only a quick lunch break to pop in for an appointment or a busy mom who can’t afford to leave the visit with dilated eyes. Even the children can have imaging done on their eyes. It is suitable for the whole family!

Benefits of an Optomap procedure

There are several benefits of having an optomap ultra-widefield retinal image taken:

  • optomap enables early protection from vision impairment or blindness
  • Early detection of life-threatening diseases like stroke, cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • The unique optomap ultra-widefield view helps your eye care professional identify early signs of retinal disease more effectively and efficiently than with traditional eye exams
  • Early detection means treatments can be administered to reduce the risk to your sight and health.

Schedule your optomap imaging today at any of our three convenient Eye Center, Inc. locations in Manatee County! Give us a call at 941-756-2020 to visit our Cortez, Manatee or Parrish offices.



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May: Healthy Vision Month

May: Healthy Vision Month

Your eyes are a window to the world, from the moment they open in the morning to the moment they close at night. They deliver 80% of the information you consume daily — the people you care about, the career you pursue and the things you love to see and do! Naturally, it’s extremely important to keep them safe and healthy.

In 2003, the National Eye Institute (NEI) established May as Healthy Vision Month. During this annual observance, Eye Center, Inc. encourages Americans to make their eye health a priority and learn how to preserve their eye health and safety.

Most people are quick to say they don’t think they have an eye problem. Many eye diseases don’t show symptoms in the early stages, so without an eye exam there are no warning signs. It is projected that by 2030, 3.7 million will have age-related macular degeneration, 4.2 million will have glaucoma and 11.4 million people will have diabetic retinopathy.

This year, Eye Center, Inc. is highlighting the importance of prevention, especially among young adults ages 25–35 who may be at risk for vision issues in the future, based on their health and lifestyle trends now.

Get an eye exam: More than 23 million American adults have never had an eye exam. If your eyes feel healthy, it’s natural to assume they are healthy. But getting an eye exam is the only way to guarantee the status of your eye health. When it comes to vision, you may not realize your need for glasses or contacts. And with the lack of warning signs associated with most serious eye diseases, it’s very possible to have an eye problem and not know it. An eye exam is the best way to be confident in your eye health! Learn more about eye exams.

Know your family history: You might have your mother’s upturned eyes and your father’s blue eyes, but did you know eye health can be hereditary too? Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and older siblings about their eye health. It’s valuable to be aware if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease. This will help determine whether you are at a higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself!

Protect your eyes at work and play: About 2,000 people in the United States get a serious work-related eye injury every day. And how crazy is this: people with sports-related eye injuries end up in the ER every 13 minutes! The good news is you can protect your eyes from injury by wearing protective eyewear, like safety glasses, goggles, and safety shields. To make sure you have the right kind of protective eyewear and you’re using it correctly, talk with your eye doctor.

Give your eyes a rest: Do your eyes ever feel dry or exhausted at the end of the day? If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing intently on a specific project, you might go extended periods of time without blinking. This can tire your eyes. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your work and focus about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This reduces eyestrain and helps your eyes feel better at the end of the day.

Wear sunglasses (even on cloudy days): Your shades can protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays — and help keep your eyes healthy and your vision sharp. When shopping for sunglasses, look for a pair that blocks out at least 99% of both UVA and UVB radiation. Bonus: add a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection!

Eat eye-healthy foods: The old tale is true: carrots are good for your eyes! In fact, a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables — especially dark leafy greens, like spinach or kale — is crucial for eye health. Research also shows that fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, tuna and halibut — can help protect your vision.

Stay at a healthy weight: Your likelihood to develop diabetes and other health problems that can lead to vision loss increases with obesity. If you struggle with your weight, talk to your doctor about how it could be impacting your vision.

Get plenty of physical activity: Regular physical activity benefits your entire body. It can boost your mood, reduce stress, help you stay at a healthy weight — and protect you from serious eye disease! Anything that gets your heart beating faster — like taking a quick walk or dancing — can contribute to maintaining your eye health.

Healthy Vision Month is a time to raise awareness about eye health and strategies to help prevent vision loss and blindness. There are many ways to get involved, but priority #1 is to get an eye exam — and encourage the people you care about to do the same! Call Eye Center, Inc. today to schedule your Comprehensive Eye Exam at any of our three convenient locations: 941-756-2020.


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