Suwanee practice specializes in filling prescriptions on-site, making and fitting glasses and educating patients on the importance of regular checkups to detect underlying health concerns.
By: RACHEL PILLOW
Unless you have poor eyesight or are experiencing other symptoms such as headaches, many people don’t concern themselves with going to the eye doctor for regular checkups. “However, yearly appointments are very important and can often detect other underlying health concerns,” explained Dr. John Gallagher, O.D., Owner of Advanced Family Eye Care in Suwanee. “A lot of people say that the eyes are the windows of the soul, but they really are the windows of your health; we can tell so much about your health and overall wellbeing from your eyes,” he continued. Dr. John Gallagher and his wife, Dr. Jamie Gallagher, O.D., opened Advanced Family Eye Care in Suwanee in 2004, somewhat by happenstance at the time, but it turned out to be one of the best things they could have done for their family, their business and the health of our community. Prior to opening their own practice the Gallaghers lived and worked in Delaware. But, when driving down I-85 en route to a conference, they got off on Exit 111 for a rest stop, decided to explore Suwanee a bit….and the rest is history! Thirteen years later Advanced Family Eye Care is seeing about 200 patients per month and has expanded their practice to include another Doctor of Optometry, Dr. Christine Laube, as well as two Licensed Opticians, Stephen M. Smith and Chris Williams.
Advanced Family Eye Care is the only Optometry Office in the area with two Licensed Opticians who specialize in filling prescriptions on-site, making and fitting glasses. “Stephen and Chris are great…they really just want the best for our patients and they both have a ton of experience in the field. One of the biggest things I stress with them is to not just sell a pair of glasses but to educate patients on what options are out there and empower them to make a decision from there.” With an increasing number of online retailers selling prescription glasses, Dr. John Gallagher warns patients to be just a bit wary of who they buy from. Not only can you trust that the prescription lenses are being made properly at Advanced Family Eye Care, but there really is no comparison to the experience of being fit for glasses in person. “We will find the perfect frames to complement your features and Steve and Chris are really good at making sure people are extremely comfortable with their glasses or contact lenses; they are especially great at helping with the adaptation process of someone’s first bifocal or multifocal lenses,” he said.
DETECTING HEALTH CONCERNS
Along with eye disorders such as glaucoma, cataracts or retinal problems, yearly comprehensive eye exams can help detect other underlying health concerns including: diabetes, autoimmune disorders, hypertension, thyroid disease, tumors, melanoma, high cholesterol and more. Dr. John Gallagher also stresses the importance of bringing your children in by the time they are about school-age, 4 or 5 years old. If a child has Amblyopia (poor sight in one eye) it can cause a permanent loss of vision if not detected and treated early. “You have a narrow window of time, really up until the age of about 10, before that system becomes concrete,” explained Gallagher.
ATLANTA’S CENTER FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Advanced Family Eye Care serves as a satellite office for Atlanta’s Center for the Visually Impaired. As their satellite office, Dr. Jamie Gallagher serves the local community that is severely impacted by vision loss. Visual impairment is eyesight that cannot be corrected to a normal level with glasses. She works with patients of all ages, but many of Dr. Jamie Gallagher’s patients are young children who are legally blind, but not completely blind. The mission of the Center for the Visually Impaired is to “empower people impacted by vision loss to live with independence and dignity.” Dr. Jamie Gallagher works alongside a Rehab and Occupational Therapist to help provide her patients with the best quality of life possible. That same mentality is what led Dr. Christine Laube, O.D., into a career of Optometry 17 years ago and to Advanced Family Eye Care last year. “I am extremely nearsighted with severe astigmatism. I got glasses when I was three years old and contact lenses when I was ten which always gave me an interest in the profession from a young age,” Laube explained. Dr. Laube now wears Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) or “hard” contact lenses and is dedicated to helping others fit and adapt to these especially challenging specialty contact lenses that have transformed her life. Dr. Laube lives in Suwanee with her husband and two children, and has always loved the community, so joining a local, well-known practice made the decision that much easier. Dr. Laube speaks to the core values of Advanced Family Eye Care as a whole when she says, “The most rewarding part of this profession is to help people be able to see because without glasses or contacts I felt useless in society. We are here to give people proper vision and good medical care.