Remembering to get your family’s groceries regularly is easy. Remembering to get your eyes checked regularly — maybe not so much.
Thankfully, optometrist David F. Scamard, O.D.’s office, Excellence in Eye Care, LLC, is conveniently located inside the Costco Wholesale store on the south side of S.R. 56 in Lutz, next to the Tampa Premium Outlets.
Dr. Scamard explains that eye exams should never be an oversight (pun intended).
“Many people tell me that they can’t imagine not being able to see, but they forget to go for regular eye exams,” Dr. Scamard says. “Getting your eyes checked regularly is so important for eye health.”
Dr. Scamard has been a practicing optometrist in the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel area for more than 20 years. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa and received his Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale in 1999. He says that it was during his undergraduate years when he first got exposed to eye care, while working for an optometrist.
“At first, I didn’t know what area [of healthcare] to specialize in, but after working for an optometrist in college, I realized that I enjoyed helping people to be able to see,” he says. “You can feel the instant gratification of patients when you give them new glasses or contacts and you hear them say ‘Wow!’”
Excellence in Eye Care offers comprehensive eye exams and contact lens exams (with dilation included) for patients who need prescriptions for glasses and contacts. Retinal imaging also is available as an alternative to dilation.
“For patients who don’t want or can’t handle dilation, retinal imaging is helpful because we need that view to check the health of their eyes,” says Dr. Scamard. “We offer retinal imaging at a low cost, and patients get to see the inside of their eyes — actually see what the doctor sees.”
He adds, “I recently had a patient with macular degeneration, in the early stages, and I was able to show it to him. [By the process of] autofluorescence, the images show the blood supply underneath the eye. This is not as apparent during a dilation or by the naked eye. Thankfully, we caught it early.”
If you need eye exams specifically for diabetes, glaucoma or to renew your driver’s license, need an exam for eye trauma or pink eye, or need a foreign body removed from your eyes, Excellence in Eye Care can help with that, too.
After working in New Tampa and Lutz for several years and successfully growing his patient base in those communities, Dr. Scamard moved his office into Costco as soon as the wholesale club opened on S.R. 56 more than six years ago. He says that partnering with Costco has been advantageous for many reasons.
“Costco has a great reputation,” he says. “Costco Optical has been historically rated #1 by Consumer Reports as an optical department and offers fair prices and good value for contacts and glasses. I had a lot of established patients who followed me here, but it’s also a growing area, so I get lots of new patients here as well.”
Excellence in Eye Care and Costco operate independently. You do not need a Costco membership to receive any services at Dr. Scamard’s office. But, if you are a Costco member, Costco Optical will accept prescriptions from Excellence in Eye Care for your glasses and contact lenses.
In 2022, Dr. J. Carson Woolwine joined Excellence in Eye Care as the office’s second optometrist. Also earning his O.D. degree from NSU (in 2016), Dr. Woolwine works 2-3 days a week with Dr. Scamard, which allows the office to be open for expanded hours six days a week.
Young Kids Need Eye Exams, Too
Children may receive eye screenings at the pediatrician’s office or at school. But, what parents may not know is that children should be seen by an optometrist regularly too, ideally with the first visit in the first 6-12 months of their lives.
In an interview with Optometric Management magazine published in 2002, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter shared some truly eye-opening (again, pun intended) stories about two of his eleven grandchildren who needed help with their eyes at a young age. Pres. Carter’s granddaughter Margaret suffered from amblyopia, or lazy eye, which was first suspected at around age 3, but was not properly diagnosed until later when she injured her eye with a butter knife and couldn’t see properly. Early treatment with eye therapy and eye patching corrected the problem.
But, a more serious case of amblyopia occurred with Carter’s grandson Jamie, who, at 8-1/2 years old, had no obvious symptoms and had already passed several eye exams at school. When he ultimately did fail a school eye exam, an optometrist diagnosed him with advanced amblyopia. By that age, the doctor explained that it might be too late to correct Jamie’s eyesight completely, but eye therapy and patching was leading to improvement in his overall vision.
Dr. Scamard, who has specialty experience in pediatrics, is very passionate about early childhood eye exams.
“A lot of parents think that the school is checking their children’s vision, but that’s just a screening,” he says. “Parents have come to me in tears, saying, ‘I’m a terrible parent! How did I not realize this earlier?’ Children’s eyes should be checked within the first year and on a regular basis after that. We offer free comprehensive eye exams for children ages 6-12 months through the InfantSee program, which has been supported by the American Optometric Assn. and by Johnson & Johnson Vision. We were one of the charter members of that program.”
Dr. Scamard says that there are many conditions that childhood eye exams can catch and that catching them early is key.
“With conditions like amblyopia and strabismus (crossed eyes), children don’t realize that they aren’t seeing well,” he says. “They think that type of vision is normal and they can adapt to it. Unfortunately, after age 9, the brain loses plasticity (or the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization) and visual pathways may not form properly. There’s a better prognosis before age 9. Afterwards, therapies may not take.”
Back to school and sports physical eye exams usually keep Excellence in Eye Care busy in late summer, but appointments and walk-ins for patients of all ages are always welcome. One of the office’s four optometric technicians, Savannah, Evangelina, Fran and Hannah, will help you schedule your eye exam. Mention Neighborhood News to get a free pair of non-prescription sunglasses (while supplies last).
Excellence in Eye Care does not accept insurance, but will provide an itemized receipt to submit for reimbursement with vision insurance companies. Costco Optical does accept insurance for glasses, contact lenses and other eyewear products.
Excellence In Eye Care is located inside Costco at 2225 Grand Cypress Dr. in Lutz. The office is open Mon., Wed. & Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; 1 p.m.–7 p.m. on Tues. & Thur.; & 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on Sat. For more info, see the ad on pg. 3, call (813) 279-7038, or visit ExcellenceInEyeCare.net.