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As the Director of Optical Operations for the Indiana Eye Clinic, Jason Braggs oversees the optical shop at both of the IEC locations in Greenwood and Plainfield. His duties include overseeing sales, customer relations and purchasing.

His daily routine is organized around a simple principle: helping people find eyewear they absolutely love. The goal of the optical shop is to make sure every patient walks out satisfied that their glasses will be comfortable, attractive and meet their vision needs.

Jason has been in the optical industry for 18 years. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in business administration, he started as a manager for the branch of a large retail chain. Later he was promoted to be their corporate trainer. He then moved to a similar position with an optical chain, and eventually became a district manager overseeing 25 locations across six states.

While discussing his desire for new challenges with his wife, an alert popped up on his phone from a recruiter inquiring about the position with IEC. Jason took this as a sign, joining the team in August 2017.

In his few months with the team, Jason believes he has already discovered what is special about the IEC team.

“IEC has an amazing family environment that not only applies to staff, but also to their patients. You can see it from the front door all the way to the back offices,” Jason said. “The doctors, administration and staff are outstanding people who care about their patients, and it shows.”

Beyond helping customers, Jason’s favorite part of his role is training and promoting staff.

“I’ve lost count how many people I’ve trained into general manager and district manager level positions over the years. Their success is my success,” he said.

In his spare time, Jason and his wife are active participants and leaders in their church, especially helping people in the process of finding their faith. They participate in many charitable racing events for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Jason is an avid Crossfit devotee.

By Dr. Charles McCormick III

Most people experience dry eyes from time to time, usually due to adverse environmental circumstances such as dust, pollution or wind. But there’s a big difference between occasionally dry eyes and a chronically dry ocular surface.

This is known as ocular surface disease, or OSD, and it has emerged as a developing specialty area of eye care. Some promising new treatments are being developed to help deal with it, improving upon the various eye drops that have long been used to address chronically dry eyes.

Chronically dry eyes usually present with eyes that are red, irritated and scratchy, and may produce variations in vision quality.

OSD is more common in older people, which adds a little more complexity to medical affairs. Sometimes medications seniors take for other ailments can negatively impact tear secretions. There’s also a certain degree of tissue vitality, which tends to degrade as we age, that has a lot to do with how the eye retains its moist, preserved.

One common cause of dry eyes is Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, in which the glands that secrete moisture to the eyes become blocked. It’s highly associated with blepharitis, a kind of dandruff-like desiccation of the eyelid, which influences the amount of oils secreted to the eye. Impaired oil secretion can lead to reduced tear film integrity.

MGD is frequently treated with hot compresses to the eyes, accompanied by antiseptic eyelid swabbing to lower the level of germs and dust mites responsible for blepharitis. Tiny demodex dust mites, which inhabit the follicle at the base of the eyelashes, can get down into the glandular pores and cannibalize the oils secreted, robbing the patient of functional secretions that support the normal physiology of the ocular surface.

Tea tree olive derivatives are known to remedy demodex blepharitis. Ivermectin is an oral medication that fights parasites such as demodex dust mites.

Patients who develop MGD often have had some sort of other eye dysfunction going on for many decades, as much as 40 years, along with chronically dry eyes. OSD is not to be confused with a three-day bout of pink eye.

The treatment approach for chronically dry eyes utilizes a variety of supportive methods, from eye drops and compresses to oils that optimize the tear glands, and taking steps to protect the ocular surface from harmful conditions, such as wearing protective goggles against the wind and sun.

Other treatment options include punctal plugs, which prevent the drainage of sustaining tears from the eye, spectacle shields or wraparound glasses frames and autologous plasma eye drops, which are usually prepared by an apothecary pharmacy.

For acute cases there is the option of tarsorrhaphy, a surgical fusion of the upper and lower eyelid margins, shortening the palpebral fissure and reducing the exposure of the ocular surface.

The use of certain medicines, such as chronic antihistamines and antidepressants, are known to contribute to dry eyes. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple drug sensitivities, stem cell deficiency and depression are more prone to OSD. It’s also a hazard for people who work outdoors with high exposure to wind and sun.

Awareness and treatment opportunities for patients with OSD has been on the rise along with recent medical education trends. New procedures are coming out that show promise, including using warm, clarified butter or ghee in an eye bath.

Hot compresses, eye drops and light massage to the eyelid margins remain good starting points, but talk to your eye doctor if you are troubled by chronically dry eyes.

Tiffany RobertsonTiffany Robertson earned her degree in medical assisting in 2009, and always had a love of healthcare in her heart. She liked being part of a field dedicated to helping others. But she soon decided that she would rather work in the administrative/business side rather than the clinical side.

That led to her to seek and earn an associates degree in medical billing and coding, including obtaining a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification in 2011. That same year Tiffany joined the Indiana Eye Clinic as an Account Services Representative after completing an externship at a medical management company.

Her job duties include coding, claims management, data entry, processing and posting patient and insurance payments, answering billing questions, and research in reference to medical policies and reimbursement. In essence, she helps guide IEC patients through the often-confusing maze of health insurance to ensure they receive the best vision coverage possible.

“My favorite part of the job is finding solutions and resolving matters, whether it be regarding a claim with an insurance company or being able to inform and help a patient understand his or her insurance better,” Tiffany said.

She’s stayed at IEC because of the atmosphere of caring for both patients and members of the staff. “What makes IEC special is we treat each other more than just co-workers. We treat each other as family.”

In her off time, Tiffany enjoys playing games with her husband and stepson, Kamden, watching his baseball games or just relaxing by the fireplace. She also enjoys reading and exercising, especially Zumba classes and BODYPUMP.

Christy WamplerAs a Technician at the Indiana Eye Clinic, Christy Wampler assists doctors and patients in every way imaginable. This includes processing patients, writing prescriptions for the physicians to sign, pre-operative measurements and calculations, ordering drugs and other medical materials, and running all sorts of vision tests.

Although she has always worked in ophthalmology, Christy began her stint at IEC six years ago working the front desk as a patient representative. Though she enjoyed the position, she found herself interested in the delivery side of healthcare.

“After about a year, I wanted to learn more of the medical side of it, so I asked if I could become a tech. I have since chosen to learn as much as I can about every aspect of my career — and keep wanting to learn more,” she said.

She’s stayed at IEC because of the family atmosphere, both in how employees relate to each other and how they treat patients. Christy is passionate about helping people overcome poor eyesight and achieving a higher quality of life.

“My favorite part of my job is being able to watch a patient who comes in with poor vision due to cataracts have surgery and then be able to see and have a quality of life after surgery.  It’s why I do what I do every day,” she said.

Christy and her husband have three daughters they adore.

Sandy SmartSandy Smart is a Registered Nurse (RN) who has assisted the Indiana Eye Clinic medical team in a number of capacities, helping ensure patients receive the best possible vision outcomes, while also seeing that they receive excellent care and customer service.

At times, she has worked in the Ambulatory Surgery Center operating room, assisting IEC physicians with delicate and complex eye procedures. Currently, she is in charge of overseeing the preoperative and postoperative operations of the surgery center.

In this capacity, Sandy helps patients get ready for their surgery, ensures the proper medications have been given, and helps make sure they have everything they need for a quick and desirable recovery.

“I love the contact with the patients and sharing their amazement at how great their vision is, and what a difference it has made in their life,” she says.

Sandy received her nursing degree from Indiana Central University, now known as the University of Indianapolis. Before coming to IEC 18 years ago, she worked as an RN in other healthcare fields, including obstetrics, pediatrics and even a stint as a school nurse.

She came to IEC through her friendship with Paula Baker, who was then director of the ambulatory surgery center. She began working as a part-time employee, but it soon turned into a full-time position.

“I guess it was a match made in heaven!” Sandy says. She’s stayed so long because of the great team and the satisfaction of delivering a consistently excellent level of care.

“Our doctors are the best in the state, and I feel like we are always on the cutting edge of new technology,” Sandy says.

On her off days, Sandy enjoys sharing time with her family, especially her three granddaughters, as well as exercising, shopping and traveling.

Indiana Eye Clinic is now performing iStent® implantation during cataract surgery, an innovative new technique that can reduce the effects of glaucoma and lower the chance of progression.

iStent is a tiny medical implant that can help restore the eye’s natural fluid outflow and reduce pressure inside the eye. Intraocular pressure (IOP) is one of the most important risk factors for glaucoma. iStent is the world’s smallest medical implant, only about 1-millimeter long.

Patients who have cataracts and glaucoma, or are at risk for glaucoma onset, now have a chance to have both conditions addressed during a single procedure.

Most glaucoma patients who receive the implant can reduce and sometimes eliminate the need for daily eyedrop medication. iStent® has an excellent safety record, and is covered by Medicare and most private insurance companies.

“Indiana Eye Clinic becomes one of the first ophthalmic practices in Central Indiana to offer iStent,” said Dr. Nicholas Rader, co-founder of IEC. “We’re proud to have been leaders in bringing the newest eye procedures to this area for more than 30 years.”

Marian University Photo

Marian University pre-med students now working at IEC are (l-r) Luke Elsener, Baylen Shoemaker, Annie Getzin and Madelyn Lindsay.

Four pre-med students from Marian University have begun working at Indiana Eye Clinic to fill a gap for ophthalmic assistants and technicians. This innovative solution came about with the help of our Ambulatory Surgical Center Director, Nathan Gehlhausen, who went to Marian and reached out to his alma mater when the challenge presented itself.

While attending the recent American Academy of Ophthalmology national conference, the IEC leadership team was presented with the problem of all of the Indiana schools for ophthalmic assistants and technicians closing their doors. These had helped produce a fresh stream of young, talented people to fill these positions, who perform may technical tasks that allow our veteran eye surgeons to focus on conducting procedures and delivering the best vision care possible.

Other solutions have been floating around the industry, including creating training programs to transition healthcare workers from other fields into these roles. But the IEC had a better idea: hire aspiring medical students during their first or second year of college. These are some of the brightest, most dedicated students out there, and they often are expected to work for free in healthcare just to have something to put on their medical school application.

This way, students can get hands-on experience while earning money to help pay for their expensive education to become physicians. We’re hoping some of them will eventually choose a specialty in ophthalmology are the great experience they have at IEC. In return, the clinic obtains critical support staff to assist us in our mission.

After meeting with the Marian Director of Career Development and the Sponsor for the Pre-Med program, Indiana Eye Clinic presented its opportunity to students, and were rewarded with a quick and positive response. Four of them — Luke Elsener, Baylen Shoemaker, Annie Getzin and Madelyn Lindsay — were interviewed and offered positions. They were thrilled about the chance to have a part-time job while pursuing their education. The Sponsor for the Pre-Med program also allowed them to receive credits towards graduating from this opportunity.

All four of our pre-med students/assistants are progressing quickly and are on track to become Certified Ophthalmic Assistants (CAO). Sometimes thinking out of the box can deliver a win-win for everybody!

Catch our new billboard!

IEC Billboard

Check out our new billboard, which can be seen along southbound Interstate 65 near the 100-mile marker, just north of Greenwood city limits. We think it clearly shows the benefits of seeing the Indiana Eye Clinic team for all your vision needs!

The 14-foot-by-48-foot digital display will show our sign approximately 75 times per hour, or more than 50,000 times during the four-week contract. With a daily traffic volume of more than 90,000 vehicles on that stretch or road, that’s a lot of eyeballs!

John Goodman

Lots of people deal with chronic eye and vision problems — including the rich and famous.

For instance, John Goodman took time off from his busy film career a few years ago to have his cataracts removed. Though he had just turned 60, his vision had deteriorated enough to make daily life a challenge.

Goodman chose to have his natural eye lenses replaced with an advanced intraocular lens (IOL). The Indiana Eye Clinic has a number of options on advanced lens for cataract patients.

It’s a common fallacy that cataracts only affects senior citizens. In fact, we frequently see patients in their 50s or even 40s with cataracts!

This article has a list of other well-known people dealing with chronic issues that impact their vision. What’s interesting is that many of these conditions were not even known about until the celebrity chose to share the news themselves. It just goes to show that people can live healthy, happy and productive lives while dealing with eye issues.

Did you know that Mila Kunis was blind in one eye for many years? Her large, dark eyes are undoubtedly her most famous feature. She suffered from iritis, in inflammation of the eye. She eventually underwent surgery to correct the problem, and now has normal vision. This also involved replacing her natural lens with an artificial lens.

Other celebs with eye problems:

  • Bono of U2 has glaucoma. This possibly explains his ever-present sunglasses.
  • Judi Dench has age-related macular degeneration.
  • Missy Elliott sought therapy and treatment for Graves’ Disease, which can cause eyes to bulge or protrude.
  • Brittany Howard of the band Alabama Shakes had multiple eye conditions from early childhood, including  retinoblastoma, or cancer of the eye, that left her partially blind in one eye.

It just goes to show that wealth or fame doesn’t prevent anyone from having vision problems. Many of these can be prevented or addressed more effectively the earlier they’re detected. If you’re experiencing issues with your eyesight, seek help from a qualified ophthalmic physician right away.