Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Linda Oldiges
Carmel Eyecare has recently opened its new location — at the intersection between 146th Street and River Road. Carmel Eyecare is a sister location to Zionsville Eyecare, both owned by Dr. Nicholas Garn. Though it’s a shared ownership with a shared vision, Carmel Eyecare is dedicated to serving an even broader community in its larger location in Carmel.
“This is a growing area, just like the practice is growing as we add more services, particularly ones that involve myopia management,” Dr. Garn says.
He notes that the growth of nearsightedness in the United States population is significant. In fact, experts estimate that 42% of Americans will be nearsighted by 2030 and as many 65% will be by 2050. This staggering number is due, in large part, to the fact that we spend so much time with our eyes glued to screens.
“The body constantly maneuvers itself to make it easier for whatever we’re doing, so when we give our two-, three-, and four-year-olds iPads and ask them to read instead of having them play outdoors, the result is that the brain makes the eyeball longer,” says Dr. Garn, who explains that when you are nearsighted, your eye, front to back, is longer than optically ideal.
“When we work on tablets at young ages and stare at computers all day long, we’re telling our eyes to make that eyeball longer so it’s easier to focus up close,” Dr. Garn says. “But that makes it harder to see far away.”
When he and his colleagues see young patients with nearsighted progression that’s consistent over several years, they have some tools that can project where they will end up in their 20s. That information enables them to recommend alternate options.
There are a couple of different contact lens options. One is a traditional gas permeable lens that’s worn overnight. As you sleep, the lens reshapes the front of your eye and helps change how the brain responds to focusing up-close. This system is called corneal reshaping therapy or CRT.
“Think of it like a retainer in your mouth that’s used following braces,” Dr. Garn says.
In November 2019, the FDA approved a soft lens called MiSight, a soft, daily disposable contact lens that has similar results to the gas permeable overnight option. These comfortable lenses do not need to be cleaned or disinfected.
Patients involved in sports favor the CRT system because when they wake up in the morning and take the lens out, their eye has been physically shortened, yet they don’t have to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day.
At Carmel Eyecare, they also just brought in some new technology called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). It’s a tool that allows doctors to measure the layers of the retina in the back of the eye so that they can get a more detailed look at macular degeneration risks and progression. They can also manage and monitor glaucoma risk and progression as well as spot any suspicious tumors or diseases on the rest of the periphery. In addition, diabetic retinopathy can be tracked, managed and diagnosed. According to Garn, diabetic retinopathy is the biggest risk for diabetic patients as they have the potential to suffer serious sight-threatening and long-term vision loss issues.
Since 2016, Carmel Eyecare has offered Optomap ultra-widefield imaging that can capture more than 180 degrees of the retina in a single image.
“It allows us to not have to dilate patients during their exam, yet we can still get an entire view of the back of their retina allowing us to look at changes over time,” Dr. Garn says.
It’s especially great for children who often fear eyedrops.
“With Optomap, kids are way more comfortable coming to the eye doctor,” Dr. Garn adds.
Dr. Matthew Clark and Dr. Meret Thomas-Huebner are both national board-certified optometrists. Clark, a Fishers native, practiced at the LASIK Vision Institute in Carmel and at Zionsville Eyecare before joining Carmel Eyecare. Clark strives to provide thorough ocular care and education to all of his patients. He offers primary care for all ages, ocular disease and emergency treatment, and contact lens services, including scleral contact lenses.
Thomas-Huebner, who grew up in Evansville, became involved with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity during optometry school where she helped organize an IUSO build day with Habitat for Humanity. During her residency, she developed a special interest in treating dry eye disease.
Every year Garn’s team helps the community by participating in a Day of Giving. This year that will take place on Saturday, September 18, at Zionsville Eyecare.
“It will be an entire day of 48 appointment slots of completely free eyecare, including glasses, frames, lenses and exams for anyone who’s unable to afford it or is down on their luck,” Dr. Garn says. “Perhaps they don’t have insurance, are unemployed, or have kids with special needs and maybe their vision plans don’t cover enough for a second pair of glasses.”
Chick-fil-A is supplying food for the day. Carmel Eyecare is also partnering with manufacturers to provide frames and lens suppliers to donate lenses. Seven doctors will serve that day.
“We want to help meet the needs of the community as much as possible,” Dr. Garn says.
Carmel Eyecare is located at 14560 River Road, Suite 120 in Carmel. For more information, visit carmeleyecare.com or call 317-843-2020.