It was not quite 20 years ago when optometrist David Scamard, O.D., who had only recently opened his first office on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., first asked me my age and then said, “Yes, that makes sense. You’re going to need to start wearing reading glasses soon.”

I was flabbergasted. 

“But Doctor Dave, I’ve been nearsighted since I was eight years old. You’re going to tell me that now, I’m going to be farsighted, too? How can that even be?”

As it turned out, he was right. I started needing either bifocal contact lenses or correcting one eye for close-up reading and the other eye for activities like watching TV and driving — by the following year.

So, even though Dr. Dave has had other offices in Lutz since then, his “Excellence in Eye Care, LLC” office has been located in his new home — he has been the Independent Optometrist inside the Costco off S.R. 56 — for about two years. 

And, even though I briefly changed optometrists after Dr. Dave closed his most recent office on S.R. 54 in Lutz, when I was told late last year by that other optometrist that I had a cataract in my left eye that might need to be surgically corrected in the future, I got a second opinion months later from Dr. Dave, whose new office in Costco is across the street from where Jannah and I live.

Fortunately for me, not only did Dr. Dave confirm that I had a cataract in my left eye, he said, “You also have just the beginning of one in your right eye, too.”

I wasn’t really considering surgery before I visited Dr. Dave, because I hadn’t yet really noticed any change in my vision. 

That is, until Jannah and I were driving home one evening in January of this year, after visiting my mom in Sarasota. As the skies turned from dusk into dark, I noticed that whenever there was a vehicle driving southbound as we were headed northbound on I-75, the glare from the headlights of those oncoming vehicles would temporarily prevent me from seeing the tail lights of the vehicles in front of me.  

Everytime this happened, I would tap my brakes, to make sure I wasn’t getting too close, which isn’t a particularly safe thing to do when you’re going 70 mph on an interstate highway. I immediately stopped driving at night after that incident and asked my old friend to recommend a good cataract surgeon. 

Cataracts are like a film over the lens of your eye, so even I could understand that when they replace the “foggy” lens surgically, it definitely will make your vision clearer.

Thank You, St. Luke’s!

Dr. Dave recommended two or three different ophthalmic surgeons that he felt comfortable with, but I ultimately chose to go with Dr. Jeffrey Wipfli of the St. Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute, who had amazing reviews online and an office nearby (on N. Dale Mabry Hwy. in Carrollwood), but who performs his surgeries at the main St. Luke’s location on U.S. Hwy. 19 in Tarpon Springs.

Not only that, but St. Luke’s has been a some-time advertiser with us and we actually did a story about Dr. Wipfli in a Wesley Chapel issue last October, so I felt even better about entrusting him with something as precious as my eyesight.

The truly amazing thing is that I got the cataract in my left eye fixed in late January and the right eye in mid-February, so my eyes were all fixed prior to the shutdown of elective surgeries in Florida due to Covid-19. I even got to do both follow-up appointments with Dr. Dave before he had to temporarily close his office in Costco.

Easiest Surgery Ever!

I have no idea how it’s been for surgery patients at St. Luke’s since March, but I did notice this on the company’s website as I was writing this story:

“This has been a challenging time for all of us. Many of you know that St. Luke’s has remained open on a much restricted schedule to do our best to serve our patients through the last several weeks. We have been able to serve many of our patients who have had urgent needs by keeping our doors open in our main office in Tarpon Springs….We have resumed surgery and all clinic locations are now open. Safety of our patients and employees is the priority for us as we continue to practice social distance and adhere to all CDC and governmental guidelines.”

But, here’s how both cataract surgeries went for me at St. Luke’s:

The office staff tells you to expect your total time there to be between 3-4 hours, of which waiting and taking care of all of your pre-surgical paperwork takes up about two of those hours. Jannah drove me and waited for me to drive me home both times, since your vision can be a little blurry at first and because you are mildly sedated during the surgery. All the amazing St. Luke’s surgical assistants tell you to do is to focus on the light being shined in that eye and the surgeries seemed to be over in a few seconds, rather than the few minutes it actually does take.

I could see pretty well out of the surgical eye both times right away, but it takes some getting used to because none of your old glasses will properly correct your vision in the surgical eye and wearing one of your existing contact lenses on the other eye really only works after the first surgery.

The cool thing was that Dr. Wipfli let me pick beforehand what I wanted my vision to be after the surgery. And, because I spend so much time at the computer writing and editing, I chose to be able to see up close with no correction whatsoever and to only have to wear glasses to watch TV and drive. Most patients can choose to have uncorrected vision for both far and near, but it was more expensive to do so and Dr. Wipfli said that, for a variety of reasons specific to me, I might still need some correction for either near or far, even if I did pay more.

And I’m glad, because since Covid-19, I’ve been able to wear my glasses anytime I go anywhere (some eye protection is better than none) and I really only have to take them off to read a menu at a restaurant (which we didn’t do for a long while).

Best Post-Surgical Care, Too!

So now, here’s the scoop on doing business with Dr. Dave, whose Excellence in Eye Care, LLC, is an A-Rated business, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and still has a 5-Star rating on Google Reviews with more than 160 reviews. The practice even has a 5-Star rating on its Facebook page. 

Excellence in Eye Care also features some amazingly high-tech equipment. For eye exams, Dr. Dave uses an Optos retinal camera (photo on this page) in his office. This high-tech machine is a retinal imager that gives the optometrist a view of the internal structures of your eyes, so that, for many patients, it means they don’t have to have their eyes dilated at their annual exam.

“When your pupils are dilated,” Dr. Dave explains, “you are very sensitive to bright light and your nearsightedness is fuzzy, sometimes for up to five hours after dilation. It’s something that compels a lot of people to pass up their eye exams.”

One of the other high-tech devices Dr. Dave uses is a RT-5100 Refractor, a digital refractor with electric motors that change the lenses. He operates the digital refractor from a console on his desk.

“The digital refractor is faster, more accurate and more efficient than the old-style analog devices,” Dr. Dave says. “Our patients appreciate that we have the latest technology available to them.”

But, perhaps the most important thing going for Dr. Dave as an optometrist is his people skills — which are awesome — and his entire office staff is always friendly, professional and happy to serve their patients. 

And, you do not have to be a Costco member to see Dr. Dave. Tell the membership checkers at the entrance that you’re there to see him and they’ll let you go back.

He notes, however, that you do have to be a Costco member to purchase your glasses or contact lenses in the store, but Dr. Dave will provide you with both prescriptions so you can buy your glasses/lenses anywhere else you choose.

And, it’s nice to be able to pick up a bottle (or case) of wine or a 3-lb. bag of coffee when you get your eyes checked, too. 

Excellence in Eye Care is located at 2225 Grand Cypress Dr. The office is open Tues. & Thur., 1 p.m.-7 p.m.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wed. & Fri. & 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sat. Optical insurance is not accepted, although itemized receipts are provided that patients can use to get reimbursed by their providers. I]Eye insurance can, however, be applied to lenses and frames you buy at Costco. For appointments (although walk-ins are welcome) and more info, call (813) 279-7038 or visit

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