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Village Eyecare

by Lindsey Getz
…From the pages of Art of Living Well…

A Family Practice
Dr. Halim starts seeing patients as young as 6 months old and emphasizes that routine eyecare is essential for the whole family.

When Dr. Sally Halim opened Village Eyecare in Woolwich, she had a long-term vision in mind. She wanted an office that stressed the importance of eye health, utilized the latest in medical technology, streamlined the examination process, and provided patients with an attractive office environment. With Halim’s straightforward and health-oriented approach, Village Eyecare is growing into the practice that she always pictured.

Patients appreciate that a visit to Halim’s practice is not solely focused on getting glasses or making expensive purchases. Often when patients visit the eye doctor, they feel pressured to buy a pair of glasses each time they come in—and that can make the experience unpleasant. But that’s not how Halim operates. “My focus is really on eye health,” she says. “We can tell a lot about our patients’ overall health just by checking their eyes. With each examination, we screen patients for major medical conditions like hypertension and diabetes as well as eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and amblyopia (lazy eye). We’re not here to pressure you about buying a new pair of glasses every year.”

Vision correction is definitely important and Village Eyecare certainly offers a wide array of the latest eyewear trends. With the resurgence of the “geek chic” look, Village Eyecare carries the latest frame styles by brands such as Ray-Ban and Tiffany & Co. As far as optical materials, Village Eyecare offers the most cutting-edge products in lenses and coatings (including digital lenses) on the market today. Halim stresses the significance in purchasing the proper eyewear for each patient, noting the importance of offering options such as polarized lenses to patients that purchase sunglasses. “Fashion is certainly important, but function and eyewear that protects a patient’s eyes in terms of things such as UV light is just as critical,” states Halim.

The bigger picture, she insists, is about eye health. “Good eye health is the most important reason you should go to your eye doctor,” emphasizes Halim. “During a yearly eye exam, we check the back of the eye and make sure everything looks healthy. If there are issues with a patient’s general health, they tend to show up in the small blood vessels in the back of the eye. Since the eye has some of the smallest blood vessels in the body, medical conditions can show up there before affecting some of the larger blood vessels in the body, especially structures like the heart or the kidneys. Therefore, conditions like hypertension or diabetes can show up in the eye before they affect other organs.”

Halim starts seeing patients as young as 6 months old. “Eye health is really important when it comes to children,” she says. “Children don’t know how they’re supposed to be seeing, so they usually don’t complain about their eyesight. I see patients as early as 6 months and then age 1, 3 and 5—and after age 5, I see them on a yearly basis. Undiagnosed vision issues can lead to learning issues, so we want to be proactive in diagnosing and treating younger patients. Children can have trouble with reading, tracking, or can even develop a disconnect between what their eyes see and what their brains comprehend (perception issues) and yet pass a vision screening. With these young patients, it is especially critical to bring them in early to get them used to the eye exam process. School nurses and pediatricians do a great job at screening children. The next step is giving them comprehensive care.”

While many people think they can skip their yearly eye exam if they aren’t noticing vision problems, many serious eye conditions don’t actually exhibit symptoms until some damage has been done. “Glaucoma (a degenerative disease that takes away a patient’s peripheral vision) is one of those conditions that does not present with any obvious symptoms. Most patients do not realize they have glaucoma until permanent damage has already occurred,” Halim says. “That’s why it’s so important to get a regular eye exam.”

Plus, there’s more to eye health and even general health than vision, adds Halim. “You can be seeing well but still not be in optimal health,” she says. “And there’s a lot we can see from an eye exam, so we can actually catch things before another doctor would—symptoms of everything from thyroid disease, MS, and brain tumors can be evident during an eye exam.”

A visit to Village Eyecare is streamlined and simple for the patient. Village Eyecare stresses a technologically advanced office experience. “Before patients come in, our staff sends them an email with a link to a patient registration form so that they can get that done in advance,” she says. “This saves time at the check-in process, which patients appreciate. We also do a lot of upfront work to verify insurance coverage and explain what costs might be involved to patients before they even come in.”

Halim has also modernized her practice by using electronic medical records instead of paper files. In addition, the practice makes use of the Internet whenever possible. “We communicate a lot with our patients via Facebook and email and also do e-prescribing directly to the patient’s pharmacy. We also have a link on our website for patients to order contact lenses if they are out of town or need to order them off hours. We try to make everything as convenient for patients as possible.”

Since opening the practice’s doors in August 2011, Halim has been proud to watch Village Eyecare grow. She’s also become increasingly active in the community, recently participating in a career day, getting involved with some charity work by donating her time and services to those in need, and doing vision screenings at health fairs. “My husband and I live right here in Woolwich and we just had our first child (a son) five months ago,” shares Halim. “As we continue to grow in the community, I hope to get even more involved. I enjoy getting to know my patients and making a strong commitment to the area.”

Village Eyecare
120 Center Square Road
(856) 832-4950

Published (and copyrighted) in the Art of Living Well pull-out section of Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 8 (October, 2012).
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