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


December 2017



Hello from the Eye Center, Inc.! 

Spend your remaining Flexible Spending Account dollars with us before the end of 2017.

Most employer health insurance plans include what’s called a Flexible Spending Account, and many of these accounts expire at the end of each year. At that time, you’re forced to forfeit most of the unused benefits that you’ve already earned.

This account allows you to set aside up to $2600 (in 2017) of pre-tax money that you can spend on healthcare-related expenses.  Especially if you’ve already met your deductible, December is a great time to take advantage of your earned insurance benefits before you lose them forever… and before you have a new deductible to meet in the new year.

Many vision insurance plans include annual comprehensive eye examinations and allow you to also apply at least some funds towards eyewear or contact lenses.  You also may qualify for a 15-30+ per cent discount on certain services and products (percentage depends on your tax bracket).

On the short list of what will qualify for reimbursement under Flexible Spending Accounts is your eye exam and eyewear of course, but usually also eye drops, prescription sunglasses and computer eyeglasses.

Read more on our blog >


Save The Dates

Upcoming Events & Promotions at Eye Center, Inc.  

This Holiday Season

Give the gift of eyewear when you shop our wide variety of prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, and more!  Visit any of our three locations to check out our selection.

Saturday, Jan 13 – Eyewear Trunk Show

Save big on the latest designer fashions!  Sample colored contacts, meet new optometrist Dr. Madison Easterling, enjoy light bites, and celebrate 2018 with a champagne toast.

Saturday, Feb 24 – Beertopia

Mark your calendar today for the best FUNdraiser of the year!  With great live music, craft beer from around the world, some of the finest local cuisine, Beertopia is a fabulous way to spend an evening supporting Eye Center, Inc’s Vision Foundation.


From all of us at Eye Center, Inc., we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.  We look forward to seeing you in 2018!


– The Eye Center, Inc.

Drs. Mike Mackie, Sarah Mackie, Paige Gillenwaters-Laudicina, Brad Laudicina, Doug Black & Madison Easterling



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Founder's granddaughter joins Eye Center, Inc.

Founder's granddaughter joins Eye Center, Inc.

Dr. Madison Easterling is a Manatee County native whose grandfather founded Eye Center, Inc. in 1966. 

Eye Center, Inc., proudly announces that the granddaughter of practice founder Dr. John Marcin, Dr. Madison Easterling, has joined the practice as a full-scope optometrist with particular interest in pediatric eye care.

After graduating from Palmetto High School, Dr. Easterling attended University of Florida and University of South Florida, before continuing her higher education with Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University where she earned her Doctorate of Optometry.  While in Optometry School, she served on a medical mission trip to Haiti to deliver eye care to those in need. During her rotations, she traveled all over the country learning different specialties of Optometry and earning Honors in her Ocular Disease, Pediatric, Primary Care, and Contact Lens externships.

Dr. Easterling practices full-scope optometry, including but not limited to: primary eye care, emergency eye care, the fitting of contact lenses (traditional and custom lenses), pediatrics (including infants), geriatrics, and the treatment and management of ocular diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and diabetic eye care.

Additionally, Dr. Easterling enjoys seeing patients of all ages, and is pleased to be an InfantSee provider. This program allows her to provide a comprehensive eye assessment on infants between the ages of 6-12 months free of charge. Dr. Easterling is a member of the Junior League of Manatee County, Manatee Chamber of Commerce and the Manatee Optometric Association and enjoys being involved in her community and church. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, boating, and many other outdoor activities.

Eye Center, Inc. is a family eye care practice with three convenient Manatee County locations, serving the area for 51 years.  Our six Board-certified optometrists practice a proactive and preventative approach to medicine, ensuring the best possible care for your eyes.  Visit our ALL-NEW website online at eyecenterinc.com, or call  (941) 756-2020 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Madison Easterling today.



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Eye Center, Inc. Doctors Out & About at Fall Community Events

Eye Center, Inc. Doctors Out & About at Fall Community Events

Our doctors love being active and involved in the community!

It’s been a busy event season already this fall, with Eye Center, Inc. doctors out and about supporting their favorite charities and organizations.  Read on to learn more about the organizations and special fundraising events which we proudly support. 


Pictured above are Drs. Brad Laudicina, Madison Easterling, Michael Mackie, Sarah Saputo Mackie, and Doug Black at the annual Manatee County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited Banquet on November 2, 2017.   Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.

Dr. Michael Mackie chaired this amazing event again this year, which is well-known in the area for having a fabulous food menu as well as awesome raffle prizes and auction items.  Thanks to everyone who came and supported DU!


Dr. Doug Black and his wife Helena Black attended the Rockin’ Lobster beach party, benefitting the Children First on November 4, 2017.

At Rockin’ Lobster, guests watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico while dining on delicious Maine Lobster under a large tent on the beach. The Rockin’ fun began with live music by Version 3.0, delicious food, a silent auction, and exciting beach activities and ended with a lantern release, where guests made a wish for a child and family in our program and release a lantern in their honor.

Children First offers a Head Start and Early Head Start programs in sarasota county and serves over 550 of Sarasota County’s lowest income children.


Drs. Sarah and Michael Mackie, along with Suzanne and Randy Dillingham, at the South Florida Museum’s annual Snooty Gala, this year themed “Elements.”

Dr. Michael Mackie is also a past member of the Board of Trustees for the South Florida Museum and continues to support this incredible community asset in various ways.  He and his wife, fellow Eye Center, Inc. optometrist Dr. Sarah Mackie joined hundreds of Museum supporters at the 25th annual black tie event on Saturday, November 4, which featured the sounds of Serenade of Souls, dinner by Michael’s On East and a high-end silent auction and raffle.

The South Florida Museum is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the South Florida Museum offers engaging exhibits as well as educational programs which interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world, and our universe.  The SFM complex also includes Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Aquarium which is home to a world-renowned manatee rehabilitation program.


Drs. Sarah and Michael Mackie at the South Florida Museum’s annual Snooty Gala, this year themed “Elements.”









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Digital Eye Strain

Digital Eye Strain

Many of us in 2017 spend a tremendous amount of time interacting with digital devices like smartphones, tablets, and computer screens on a day-to-day basis.  

Digital eye strain is a real medical issue that affects millions of Americans. According to a 2014 report by Dr. Scott Sikes writing for Optometry Times, “approximately 28 percent of people spend 10 or more hours in front of digital devices daily. The number only goes up from there, as approximately 65 percent spend between three to nine hours per day in front of a digital device. In 2011, Internet usage alone was up to 2.2 billion users compared to just three million users in 1990, only twenty years earlier.”

The Vision Council has data showing that Americans report experiencing the following symptoms of digital eye strain:

  • 32.6 percent report experiencing eye strain
  • 22.7 percent report experiencing dry eyes
  • 21.4 percent report experiencing headache
  • 22 percent report experiencing blurred vision
  • 30.8 percent report experiencing neck and shoulder pain

Digital eye strain unfortunately affects our older patients in a more pronounced way.  As we age, our eyes become drier and lose their ability to focus as well as in earlier years, and the impact of blue light is amplified. That blue light emitted by digital device, over time,, causes the most harmful long-term effects on our eyesight. 

Redness and dryness (due to decreased blinking), blurry vision and headaches from screen glare and blue light emissions, and even neck/back pain from poor posture are all symptoms of digital eye strain caused by 2+ hours of daily device use.  If you’re experiencing any of these, it may be time to talk to your Eye Center, Inc. optometrist.

D – EYE – Y

There are also some tricks you can try at home or work to avoid digital eye strain.

Blink often.  It sounds silly that we have to be reminded to blink.  But when we’re scrolling through News Feeds, sometimes our brain ignores the eye’s innate trigger to blink and moisten our eyes.  Remind yourself to blink every time you hit that “like” button.  You can also try artificial tears, which are helpful for treating the symptom, but fail to address the cause of dryness.

We also love the 20×4 rule.  Screens should be at least 20 inches from your face, and every 20 minutes of use, take a 20 second break to stare at something 20 feet away.  This will relieve strain on your eyes and also helps to combat general fatigue.   

Your friends may tease you at first, but increasing the font size on your devices can help reduce eye strain as well. You’ll have the last word when you’re experiencing fewer headaches.

If you tend to use your computer in the evenings, you can install a blue light filter on your PC or Mac that helps reduce some of the light emitted.  At night time, blue light’s effect is amplified and can lead to difficulty sleeping.

Adjust your screen light or your room lighting so there isn’t as much contrast between a bright screen and dim room, for example.  You’ll find that you have less trouble with glare over time.


Let’s break down the reasons why the blue light that our beloved devices emit is harmful to our eyesight.  Our perma-patient, Ashley, recently chatted with Dr. Paige Gillenwaters-Laudicina who helped us make sense of all the science.

A:  All this blue light talk is making my head spin.  Can you explain exactly what the sources of blue light are?

PGL: You encounter blue light in almost every daily activity. Fluorescent lighting in your office, each and every electronic screen you see (phones, tablets, computers, TVs, etc.), and even the sun emits damaging high-energy blue light.

A:  How does blue light harm our eyes?

PGL:  Blue light causes the gradual deterioration of the macula over your lifetime, leaving our eyes susceptible to macular degeneration.  

A:  Ok… so what is macular degeneration?  

PGL:  The progressive deterioration of the macula and is the leading cause of visual impairment. This loss of vision affects reading, writing, driving, color perception, and other cognitive functions… and serious complications can lead to blindness.

P:  But what exactly is the macula?

PGL:  The macula in the human eye is the point where light is focused, through the cornea & lens.  This is what takes the picture that is sent to the brain, where vision is processed.  

A:  Sounds important.

PGL:  Yes, the macula provides us with the ability to read and see in great detail (whereas the rest of the retina provides peripheral vision). The high degree of sophisticated structure in the macula is one of the things that separate man from other beings on earth.  It’s VERY important to the structure of the macula to be undisturbed, and relatively dry, in order for images you see to be clear and your vision to be good.

A:  I’m in front of a computer 9 hours a day… and it feels like the other 15 hours are spent on my phone!  What should I do?

PGL:  Well, definitely start with the tips we discussed above that slow blue light’s effect on your macula.  And be sure to ask me or another Eye Center, Inc. optometrist about BluTech Lenses.  


In scientific terms, the BluTech Lenses that Dr. Laudicina mentioned earlier filter high-energy blue and ultra-violet light using ocular lens pigment derived from the auto-oxidation of 3- Hydroxykynurenine (3-OHKyn). The ocular lens pigment is then combined with melanin and isolated in a durable material. When used in an optical lens, this infusion of pigment provides the same protection, contrast enhancement, and color perception to the eye as the natural yellow-brown coloration of the human crystalline lens.  

And now in real talk, BluTech Lenses create a barrier for the macula by directly infusing the perfect amount of ocular lens pigment and melanin into the lenses.  This allows for optimal eye protection – without altering or distorting color perception.  Your eyes are shielded from the dangers of UV rays and the harmful high-energy blue lights we’re discussing today.  

Our practice recommends BluTech Lenses especially for those who work at a computer throughout most of the day, or tend to spend a significant proportion of time during non-daylight hours on a phone or tablet.   The benefits of these products beyond protection against UV and blue light are improved natural depth, color perception, visual acuity, night vision, contrast and a reduction in glare.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms that could be related to digital eye strain, it’s important that you call us today at (941) 756-2020 and schedule an appointment with any of our six optometrists at the Eye Center, Inc. We offer three convenient optometry offices and optical centers in the Manatee County area.


Check out this great infographic from AllAboutVision.com:

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Back to School Vision Basics

Back to School Vision Basics


At the Eye Center, we believe that good vision is essential to a child’s academic success, and feel strongly that each child should have their eyes routinely evaluated with a comprehensive eye exam. Decreased vision can interfere with a child’s ability to see the board clearly at school, or to read or do their homework for prolonged periods of time. Often a child will cope by avoiding these activities, unaware that their vision is holding them back. Also, it’s difficult for most children to vocalize a vision problem, as most don’t understand they could be seeing more clearly or more comfortably.

With the school year now in full swing, it is possible for a child to begin facing challenges with their vision, so let’s take this opportunity to define some common vision conditions and suggest possible signs and symptoms to watch for.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is probably the easiest to detect. As the name implies, someone who is nearsighted sees well up close, but has trouble with their distance vision. You may suspect someone is nearsighted if they squint in order to see distance objects (for example; the board at school, especially when sitting in the back of the classroom). Recent studies reveal approximately 10% of school aged children are myopic. Myopia tends to worsen as a child grows, so an annual trip to the optometrist is necessary, along with prescription changes when needed.

In contrast, someone who is hyperopic, or farsighted, sees distance objects quite well but complains of trouble up close. In my experience, these symptoms can be more subtle for patients. Someone who is farsighted may have the ability to read things up close, but experiences fatigue, eyestrain, or headaches after a prolonged period of time. If a child frequently comes home from school with a headache or with tired eyes, a comprehensive eye exam is warranted.

Astigmatism is a term that is commonly used and poorly understood. Astigmatism refers to the shape of the front portion (the cornea) of the eye. In an ideal world, the cornea would be completely round, and light would hit each part of the cornea and focus perfectly on the retina. When you have astigmatism, the cornea has an atypical shape, creating multiple points of focus on the back of the eye, and a blurred image for the viewer. Depending on the amount of astigmatism a person has, symptoms may vary from mild strain and headaches to very blurred vision at both distance and near.

Each of these conditions is easily detected during an eye exam, and can be corrected by glasses or contact lenses. Some prescriptions may require full time wear, while others only part time.

One last point of mention is, it is important to differentiate a vision screening like the ones performed at the pediatrician’s office or at school, from a comprehensive eye exam done at an optometrist’s office. Screenings typically only measure acuity, or your child’s ability to resolve detail. A comprehensive eye exam will go into much more detail, measuring refractive error (the need for glasses), eye alignment and binocular vision (how comfortab

ly the two eyes work together), and color vision, along with a full ocular health evaluation encompassing the front and back of the eye (seen with dilation).

In summary, I recommend adding a comprehensive eye exam to your back to school checklist, to ensure your child’s eyes are ready to take on the visual demands of another school year. Set your child up for success!

This article originally appeared in Next-Gen Magazine’s October-November issue on pg 86-87.

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The ABCDE’s of Back to School

The ABCDE’s of Back to School

Since in September, we’re all settling into a routine once again, we thought it important to share some Back-to-School themed reminders for your eye health, especially for those younger sets of eyes!  Even if you don’t have little ones at home, now is a great time to schedule your comprehensive eye exam before the holiday hustle begins.

Activities – kids these days are involved in more after-school and weekend activities than ever before.  Especially for outdoor sports, eye safety is crucial for developing eyes and the use of sunglasses cannot be understated.

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day for developing minds.  Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast helps kids stay focused throughout the day.

Communicate – talk to your children about their day, but also ask pointed questions about their health and wellness.  This will teach children how to listen to their bodies from a young age so important issues don’t go undetected.

Dates – Create an easily-updated family calendar. We love Google Calendar because it syncs automatically across multiple devices and sends reminders however you wish to receive them.

Eye Exam –  Even if there are no complaints over the summer about blurry vision or headaches, children still need to have frequent eye exams. Just like their bodies are rapidly growing, children’s eyes are changing as well.  

For proper education, children need the following skills related to eyesight:

  • Near vision
  • Distance vision
  • Binocular (two eyes) coordination
  • Eye movement skills
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Hand-eye coordination

Nearsightedness is the most common condition for children, and  can worsen rapidly, especially between the ages of 11 and 13.  This means that an eye prescription can change dramatically over a short period of time. Never fear, mom. Changing eyesight is not a reason for worry, and vision tends to stabilize in the later teenage years and early twenties. During the growing years, it is important to make regular eye appointments with your child’s eye doctor. Making comprehensive eye exams a part of your back-to-school tradition guarantees that your children’s eyes are examined at least once every year. These exams also mean that you have the opportunity to obtain updated prescriptions, ask questions of your eye doctor, and get recommendations for when to schedule the next exam.

Comprehensive eye exams can also detect other eye conditions besides nearsightedness. Some children may have good distance vision but may struggle when reading up close. This is known as hyperopia or farsightedness. Other eye issues such as strabismus (misaligned  eyes), astigmatism or amblyopia (lazy eye) are also detectable through an eye exam. For some eye conditions, vision can be permanently affected if the problem is not corrected. Regular exams mean earlier diagnosis and earlier treatment.

Another reason for a back-to-school comprehensive eye exam:  learning challenges.  Have you been told your child has a learning problem or trouble paying attention? That might be a misdiagnosis. Watch this Youtube video by CBS’s Dr. Max Gomez, where he reports the real problem might be your child’s eyes, even if they have 20-20 vision. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ciptj3OSMEE)

At Eye Center, Inc., we are proud to be your entire family’s eye care provider.  

Schedule yearly, comprehensive eye exams

A comprehensive eye exam from an eye doctor is one of the best investments you can make in your child’s education and overall well-being. Not only will an eye exam make sure your kids can read their devices comfortably, it will make sure their eyes are healthy. Through the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, parents can take advantage of yearly comprehensive eye exams for children ages 18 and younger.  

And don’t be misled by thinking the screening that your school, or even your pediatrician may offer is complete. Many school screenings test only for distance visual acuity, but a child who can see 20/20 can still have a vision problem. Research from the American Optometric Association (AOA) American Eye-Q® Survey shows that 89 percent of parents mistakenly believe that vision screenings are an effective way to detect vision problems in infants and children.

The 20-20-20 Rule

To give the eyes a break, the AOA recommends the 20-20-20 rule: when using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

Comprehensive eye exams performed by an eye doctor are the only way to accurately assess eye health, diagnose an eye disorder or disease, and determine the need for glasses or contact lenses. To schedule your appointment, call Eye Center, Inc. at (941) 756-2020 today to schedule your appointment at one of our three convenient optometry offices in the Manatee County area!

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Staring at the Sun: Do’s and Don’ts for Experiencing the Solar Eclipse

Staring at the Sun: Do’s and Don’ts for Experiencing the Solar Eclipse

Do’s and Don’ts for Experiencing the Solar Eclipse in Bradenton, FL

At the Eye Center, Inc. we completely understand that many of our patients would like to witness this once-in-a-lifetime total eclipse.   Especially for young students, a solar eclipse offers a unique opportunity to witness basic principles of science and mathematics in action, so it’s an important teaching tool for young minds who might be encouraged to pursue STEM education as a result of experiencing an eclipse.

As your eye doctors, we encourage you to SAFELY watch the solar eclipse, but it is our responsibility to make you aware of the real risks associated with viewing this phenomenon, and offer you some safety suggestions.  

It’s important to know that the risks are real.  Researchers who documented solar eclipses in 1966, 1979, and most recently in 1999 recorded dozens of cases of eclipse-related eye injuries.  These injuries were caused by not wearing proper eye protection.  In one case, 52 injuries were reported and within six months, only half of those eyes were restored to 20/20 vision.  Most notably (and perhaps not surprisingly…), “males under age 20 were more likely to sustain eclipse-related eye injuries and that the patients were aware of the dangers of unprotected viewing of the eclipse but chose not to comply with warning messages.”

We hope you’ll find these Do’s and Don’ts useful on Monday, August 21, 2017 as North America witnesses this amazing astronomical phenomenon.

    1. Don’t stare directly at the sun without proper protection.

This is pretty basic advice that your mama would echo, but it’s the most important. If you don’t have *approved* solar eclipse glasses, do not look directly at the partially-eclipsed sun.  And folks, unless you’re traveling to a part of the map in the path of totality (when the moon will 100% cover the face of the sun), here in the Bradenton, FL area, we’re not going to see totality at any point.  So according to the experts at NASA, since we’re outside the path of totality, “you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.”  

If you purchased solar glasses in advance, make sure your frames have the ISO 12312-2 marking on the side which means they meet safe sun exposure standards.

2.  Don’t use unapproved filters to view the solar eclipses

We’ve heard that in Manatee County, solar eclipse glasses are now sold out, and it’s probably too late to order online so if you missed out, don’t try to wing it.  We strongly advise against the use of:  photographic film of any kind, sunglasses, food wrappers, smoked glass, space blankets (whatever those are).. Oh, and if your grandfather still has his solar glasses from 1979, inspect them extremely carefully.  Any signs of damage, scuffing or scratches, and these should be tossed out.

3.  Do DIY it

The most effective way to safely view the eclipse without approved glassware is to create a pinhole projector.  This is an easy project that will just take a minute, and a great way to get children engaged in the process and excited about the eclipse.

To create a pinhole projector, simply use a thumbtack to poke a hole or multiple holes in a sheet of paper to form an image of the sun on a nearby surface.  More detailed instructions are available here.

You can also use a small mirror to project an image of the sun onto a wall in a shaded room.  

4.  Don’t assume you’re fine if you don’t “feel” differently right away

Even if your eyes don’t hurt immediately following a direct gaze at the sun, there still could be damage.  Often we might not see signs of blurred vision or retinal scarring for a few days.  Those of you who are already at risk for retinal damage (and you know who you are!) or who have had LASIK or other retina-related procedures should take absolutely every safety precaution.

5.  Don’t miss the eclipse!

Be sure to follow our precautionary advice to ensure safe viewing of the eclipse.  While we love seeing our patients every day, the last thing we want to do is treat some of you later in the week who present with blurry sight… and it turns out that your retina was burnt!  

That being said, we try not to be “fun sponges,” so your doctors at the Eye Center, Inc. do encourage you to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!  We can’t wait to hear what you thought of the 2017 solar eclipse.

About the Eye Center, Inc. 

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