Skip to main content

COVID-19 Update: What to Expect in Our Office

Our Commitment to Health and Safety. Read more about our safety protocols.

contact-on-eye Custom Contacts/Scleral eye-low-vision2 Myopia Control eye-inverse Dry Eyes

Home »


How Amniotic Membrane Helped Peggy and Her Eye Discomfort

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that can develop when your eyes do not produce and maintain enough tears to keep the eyes surface lubricated. This can lead to multiple symptoms that range from person to person. DES affects different parts of the eye, but mainly the cornea, which is the covering over the colored part of the eye. The cornea is a delicate tissue which must be kept moist by the tears at all times. Dry eyes have many causes with aging being the most common. Women tend to suffer from dry eyes more often than men due to hormonal differences.

Recently Dr. Laura Ashe at Complete Eye Care in Belmont, NC saw Peggy. Peggy suffers from dry eyes which caused her eyes to hurt, burn, and tear. Peggy was often bothered by this tearing and sometimes felt like there was something in her eyes, all which was due to her dry eyes. Dr. Ashe diagnosed Peggy with DES and prescribed special preservative free artificial tear drops. Peggy was also given punctal plugs, called Tear Savers, which are an easy, painless way to keep the natural tears in the eye instead of letting them drain out, keeping the cornea moist. If the cornea does not stay moist then the delicate corneal tissue dies off. Since the cornea has several nerve endings, when the delicate tissue is injured due to dryness, the eye hurts, burns, tears, and feels like something is in it.

Peggy was seen again at Complete Eye Care after treatment and there was a noted improvement in the appearance in the health of her cornea. There was still some dryness issues, so to ensure the best possible health and comfort for Peggy, Dr. Ashe recommended an amniotic membrane. An amniotic membrane is a small membrane the size of a contact lens made up of amniotic membrane tissue which can be placed on the eye just like a contact lens. This membrane then slowly dissolves into the cornea and heals any corneal damage that is present. Peggy was treated with an amniotic membrane and then seen a week later and found to have a completely healthy cornea with absolutely no corneal tissue damage.

Peggy is very pleased with how comfortable her eyes are now and all her dry eye symptoms have been resolved. Peggy had put up with dry eye symptoms for years before she went to Complete Eye Care and finally got relief from her dry eye symptoms after treatment. Peggy is so glad to know there are solutions to dry eyes and appreciates how comfortable her eyes feel now.

After Corneal Transplant, Scleral Lenses Help Pam Drive

Pam is from Gastonia, N.C and she was diagnosed with Keratoconus when she was a teenager. Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea which results in irregular astigmatism due to a steepening of the cornea. People with keratoconus have a slowly progressive decrease in their vision which cannot be corrected with glasses. The reason glasses do not correct the decreasing vision of keratoconus is because keratoconus causes irregular astigmatism. Irregular astigmatism is different from the normal astigmatism that people usually have which is easily corrected with glasses.

Since Pam was diagnosed with keratoconus in the 1970’s the only possible treatment at that time was a corneal transplant surgery. This involves removing the diseased cornea of the person with keratoconus and putting a donor graft cornea on the patient. Pam underwent the corneal transplant surgery as a teenager and received two corneal grafts. Today, there are currently other solutions to keratoconus such as scleral contact lenses, however since Pam was diagnosed in the 1970’s, these other solutions were not available to her.

Pam came to Complete Eye Care in Belmont, N.C for an eye exam with Dr. Barbara Marcussen, who found Pam to have 20/100 vision with glasses. Pam stated she had difficulty driving and could not see to drive at night even with her glasses. Dr. Marcussen told Pam about a great solution to her decreased vision, which had resulted from her corneal transplant surgery. People who have had corneal transplants often have irregular astigmatism because of how the donor cornea placed on the person receiving the transplant heals. Pam was thrilled to know there was a solution that would result in sharp, clear vision again after so many years of poor vision.

Dr. Marcussen fit Pam in scleral contact lens that she specially designed based on a topography reading, which individually maped 11,000 points on Pam’s cornea. The scleral lens is designed so that it fits and contours the cornea perfectly. Scleral contact lenses are an excellent solution for people who have undergone corneal transplants, as well as people who have keratoconus. After Pam was fit in scleral contact lenses by Dr. Marcussen, she went from seeing a blurry 20/100 distorted vision to clear crisp 20/25 vision.

Pam feels she has had a true miracle happen in her life. Prior to being fit in scleral contact lenses, Pam had a restrictive driver’s license which only allowed her to drive on small side streets, did not allow any interstate driving or any driving on roads over 45 mph. Because of the tremendous improvement in her vision from being fit in scleral contact lenses at Complete Eye Care, Pam was able to get a normal nonrestrictive driver license for the first time. She is now able to go out of town since she can now see clear enough to drive on the highway. She can see clear to drive after dark and does not feel like a prisoner in her home at night. She can even take her son to sports practice and pick him up after dark! Pam feels scleral contact lenses have opened up an entire new life for her. She has not had vision this clear and sharp in over 30 years. We are so excited for Pam and will always remember how much her face lit up when she first put on her scleral contact lenses!

Vision Therapy Helps Jacobs Double Vision and Reading

Jacob is a young man who loves playing basketball and watching the Cleveland Cavaliers. He came into Complete Eye care because he was having double vision, and was having a hard time reading and copying from the board. It seemed that Jacob’s depth perception was off because he was frequently clumsy. Jacob would also reverse letters likes b’s and d’s. He did not want to tell his mom his problems because he did not want anything to be wrong with his eyes.

Jacob came into Complete Eye Care in July of 2017 for an annual pediatric eye exam. Dr. Ashe recommended that Jacob have a vision therapy evaluation to see if vision therapy would benefit him. Jacob was recommended vision therapy to help with his visual problems, and he worked with Vision Therapist Liz, with much success.

Following Jacob’s graduation from vision therapy, positive changes were noted. First of all, Jacob’s self-esteem improved tremendously. He no longer held his head down walking into therapy or talking with others. Jacob sat straight in his chair, while his head was no longer tilting. His reading became more fluent, and the double vision dissipated. He reported that his grades had improved and he could now see the board in class without any problems. Mom was excited to see Jacob’s handwriting become more legible and neat. Jacob is also doing better in basketball, which makes him happy. A job well done, Jacob!

Jennifer Gets comfortable Scleral Lenses for Keratoconus

Jennifer is from Gastonia, N.C and has keratoconus. Jennifer was not able to see clearly out of glasses or soft contact lenses because of her keratoconus which causes irregular astigmatism which can only be corrected by special contact lens. She had hard contact lenses in the past that always felt uncomfortable and were hard to keep in her eyes. Jennifer often had to remove the rigid contact lenses after a few hours since they became so uncomfortable. Jennifer was seen at Complete Eye Care in Gaston County by Dr. Barbara Marcussen who specializes in fitting people with keratoconus with specially designed scleral contact lenses. There is a big difference between scleral contact lenses and traditional hard or rigid contact lenses. Scleral contact lenses are fit to each individual eye shape based on a topography reading of 11,000 points. So these scleral contact lenses were custom made just for Jennifer and were large which allowed them to rest on the white part of the eye and not the central cornea part which is the most sensitive. This resulted in an extremely comfortable contact lens for Jennifer. Scleral contact lenses are also able to correct for the irregular astigmatism which is the result of keratoconus. So the result of being fit in scleral contact lenses was Jennifer had the clearest most comfortable vision she has ever experienced. She is so happy with her decision to be fit in scleral contacts and says she recommends these scleral contact lenses to anyone.


What You Need to Know to Help World Blindness

October is World Blindness Awareness Month, an initiative started to help the public to understand the realities of visual impairment and how it affects the world population.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of millions of individuals around the world who are unnecessarily blind or visually impaired due to causes that are preventable and treatable. Much of this is due to lack of access to proper healthcare and education. Today’s research shows that the leading causes of blindness and moderate and severe vision impairment (MSVI) are uncorrected refractive error, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and other retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.

While steps are being taken to increase education and access to eye care in populations that are known to be lacking, vision impairment is expected to increase threefold by 2050 due to aging and an increase in myopia and diabetic retinopathy.

Here are some facts about blindness and MSVI:

  • 36 million people worldwide are blind
  • 217 million are categorized as MSVI
  • 253 million are visually impaired
  • 1.1 million people have near vision impairment that could be fixed with eyeglasses
  • 55% of visually impaired people are women
  • 89% of visually impaired people live in low or middle-income countries
  • 75% of vision impairment is avoidable
  • 81% of people who are blind or have MSVI are aged 50 years or over
  • Almost half of all students in Africa’s schools for the blind would be able to see if they had a pair of glasses.

What can we do?

To help combat global blindness and vision impairment, we first have to be educated. Learn about proper eye health and eye care and educate your children, family and friends. Implement that knowledge into your life with preventative eye care and regular eye doctor visits. Fighting blindness starts at home.

Next, consider donating your old eyewear. Eyewear donations can be extremely valuable to underdeveloped countries. Most eye doctors accept donations of old eyewear and give them to organizations like the Lions Club or VOSH that do humanitarian missions to other countries and provide eyecare and eyewear. Old glasses that we take for granted here or that are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere can be life changing for someone in a poor or underdeveloped country.

In addition, there are a number of organizations that assist the world population in preventing blindness and providing education and eye care to underprivileged societies. You can help fight blindness and MSVI by supporting these causes and the many others out there doing humanitarian work in this field. Here are a few examples:

Through support, research, education and outreach, we hope to stop the rapid pace of increasing unnecessary blindness around the world. So spread the word. When we all come together, we can accomplish our goals!

Halloween Eye Safety

October has arrived and that means many people are already starting to plan for upcoming costume parties and trick-or-treating for the Halloween season. This is why now is the time to remind the public about some very important precautions about eye safety since there are some common costume props and accessories out there can be very dangerous to your eyes.

Cosmetic Contact Lenses

One of the biggest costume-related dangers to your eyes and vision is cosmetic or decorative contact lenses. Decorative lenses can be a great addition to your costume, but they must be obtained safely and legally with a prescription, through a professional, authorized vendor.

The bottom line is that contact lenses are a medical device that are manufactured and distributed under very strict regulations. Even non-corrective contact lenses require an eye exam to measure your eye and fit lenses according to a prescription. Costume stores, beauty supply stores and similar websites are not authorized dealers of contact lenses, and over-the-counter contact lenses are not legal under any circumstances.

Beware of anyone advertising “one-size-fits all” lenses or promoting that you do not need a prescription to purchase. Never buy contact lenses that don’t require a prescription. You could be risking serious damage to the eye and even blindness.

When contact lenses are not fitted to your unique eye measurements by an eye doctor, they can cause dryness and discomfort as well as a corneal abrasion or a scratch on the front surface of the eye. Serious corneal abrasions can leave scars and create permanent vision damage. Further, unregulated contact lenses may not be manufactured with optimal materials that are flexible and breathable and can be applied and removed properly. There are stories of lenses being stuck to people’s eyes and causing serious damage. Even if you aren’t feeling pain, it is best to check with a qualified licensed contact lens fitter to confirm if the contact lens is causing any harm to the eyes.

Non-prescription contacts have also been shown to present a higher risk of eye infection. Serious infections can lead to vision loss, sometimes on a permanent basis. There are far too many stories these days of people that have used off-the-counter contact lenses that are now blind or suffering serious vision loss and chronic discomfort.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to forgo your red, devil eyes this year! Just be safe and plan ahead. There are many manufacturers of cosmetic lenses, and these can be obtained safely through an authorized contact lens dealer. Contact your eye doctor or local optician to find out more.

False Lashes

False eyelashes have become quite the rage in recent years but they carry a number of risks with them as well. First of all, they can damage the natural eyelash hair follicles, causing them to fall out, sometimes permanently. The chances of this increase when people sleep in their lashes or leave them on for extended periods of time. In addition to the aesthetic damage, this can be dangerous to your eyes because eyelashes are essential for protecting your eyes from sweat, debris, and dust. Without your eyelashes your eyes are at greater risk for infection and irritation.

False eyelashes can also be a trap for dirt, debris and bacteria which can enter your eye causing irritation and infections, along the lids or inside the eye itself. As we said above, severe infections can sometimes lead to vision loss.

Additionally, the glue that adheres the lashes to your eyelid can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in the skin around the eye or to the eye itself. The eye is one of the most sensitive areas of the body, so you want to keep any potential allergens or irritants far, far away.

Masks and Props

If your (or your child’s) costume includes a mask, fake face, hood or anything else that goes on your head, make sure that visibility isn’t impaired. Unfortunately, it’s common for children especially to trip and fall because they cannot see well. Also, use caution when using props such as plastic swords, pitchforks, guns, sports equipment which can easily cause a corneal abrasion or contusion to the eye if hit in the face.


Lastly be careful about the makeup you apply around your eyes. Wash your hands before you apply eye makeup and don’t share makeup and brushes with others, as this can lead to the spread of infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye). Make sure your makeup isn’t expired (mascara for example is recommended to throw away 2-4 months after opening) and try not to apply anything like eyeliner too close to the underside of the eyelid. Lastly, only use makeup intended for eyes in the area around the eyes.

When you are planning for this Halloween season, just remember that your vision is too high a price to pay for any great costume. Dress up safely and Happy Halloween!


Life with Keratoconus is better with Scleral Contact Lenses: Pam’s Story

Pam is from Gastonia, NC and had been diagnosed with keratoconus when she was a child. Pam’s vision slowly decreased as she grew into a teenager and she had to undergo a corneal transplant in each eye in her early teens. Pam was then fit for glasses but was not able to see well out of her glasses because corneal surgery results in irregular astigmatism which is not able to be corrected with eyeglasses.

Pam had tried hard contact lenses but found them to be very uncomfortable. She was not able to tolerate the feel of the hard lens and therefore had to wear glasses and live with poor vision. Pam lived with decreased vision for about 30 years before she came to see Dr. Barbara Marcussen at Complete Eye Care in Belmont, NC. Pam had an eye exam and she was found to have 20/100 and 20/200 vision with her glasses. Pam was not able to see clearly with glasses because of her irregular astigmatism as a result of her corneal transplant. She had a very limited driver’s license which did not allow her to drive on certain roads, at night, and had several other restrictions. Pam took care of her mother and had children so her limited driver’s license severely restricted her quality of life.

Dr. Barbara Marcussen evaluated Pam and decided to fit her in a scleral contact lens. These scleral contact lenses are designed for each individual cornea so Dr. Marcussen was able to design a scleral lens that would correct for all of Pam’s irregular astigmatism. Scleral contact lenses also vault over the entire cornea so they are extremely comfortable since nothing touches the cornea. Scleral contact lenses are extremely safe for anyone who has had any type of corneal surgery since they do not touch the cornea. Dr. Barbara Marcussen took a topography reading of Pam’s cornea and based the scleral contact lens on the 11,000 points she obtained from the topography measurements.

Pam put the scleral lenses on and was able to read 20/25+ vision for the first time in over 30 years!

Pam now has clear and comfortable vision and is able to get a normal non-restrictive driver’s license like everyone else. She is so happy to finally see clearly and we are all so happy for her too!

Scleral Lenses are a Great Alternative to Uncomfortable RGP Contact Lenses: Robert’s Story

Robert is a 46-year-old who lives in Gastonia, North Carolina. He has keratoconus and had undergone a corneal transplant in his left eye many years ago. He also had a scar on his right cornea from keratoconus. Robert had 20/70 vision best corrected with his glasses. He needed to see clearer to work so he was fit into a small, hard, gas permeable contact lens prior to being seen at our office.

Robert researched solutions to Keratoconus and what options he had after corneal transplant surgery. He came to Complete Eye Care in Belmont, North Carolina to see if he could improve his vision greater than the 20/70 he came in seeing with his glasses.

Dr. Barbara Marcussen fit Robert in a scleral contact lens in his right eye due to his keratoconus. Robert was thrilled with how much more comfortable the scleral lens was to wear instead of the small hard gas permeable lens he was wearing prior to being fit with the scleral lens. One of the reasons scleral lenses are so comfortable is because they vault over the cornea and land on the sclera, which is the non-sensitive part of the eye. The result is super comfortable contact lenses. Dr. Barbara Marcussen is a certified WAVE designer so she designed Robert’s lens to the exact measurements of his eye. She took a corneal topography map of 11,000 points on Robert’s cornea and she individually designed the scleral lens to fit perfectly for his exact eye shape. Dr. Barbara Marcussen was also able to fit his left eye with a scleral lens even after his corneal transplant. Since Robert had undergone a corneal transplant, it was imperative that the lens fit perfectly and did not touch down on the cornea. The precise measurements were taken and an individually designed lens was designed to match the contour of his eye even though he had a transplanted cornea.

The result is that Robert now sees clearly all day and has very comfortable vison. He reports he cannot even feel the lenses on his eyes even though he works very long hours and has to leave the lenses in for many hours at a time. He also said the scleral lenses are so much more comfortable and do not dry out like his old gas permeable lenses did. Robert is very happy with his excellent vison and comfort and is now seeing better than he has ever seen before!

Scleral Lenses Help to Improve Vision after LASIK surgeries: Monica’s Story

Monica lives in Candler, North Carolina and had Lasik eye surgery on both eyes. She did not get the results she wanted from her Lasik surgery so she had a couple of enhancement surgeries as well. Monica was left with decreased vision in both eyes after her Lasik eye surgery and had extremely poor night vision. She could not drive at night and often felt like she was struggling to see everyday things even with glasses. She had to wear glasses all the time after her surgery but her vision was still not clear with her glasses on.

Monica searched on the internet to see what her options were for decreased vision after Lasik surgery. She learned that Complete Eye Care specializes in hard to fit contacts. Monica found from her research that Dr. Barbara Marcussen is a certified wave designer who fits scleral lenses for people with irregular corneas due to eye diseases such as keratoconus or from prior surgery such as Lasik or corneal transplant surgery.

After she found information on Dr. Barbara Marcussen at Complete Eye Care, she decided to drive two hours to Belmont, North Carolina to see if she could find a solution to her blurry and distorted vision.

Monica was seen by Dr. Barbara Marcussen who has been fitting scleral contacts for people who have undergone Lasik surgery and still have decreased vision. Because Monica had several enhancement eye surgeries she had a lot of resultant astigmatism which caused distorted vision that traditional glasses are not able to correct.

Monica was fit with a corneal map which detects 11,000 points on her cornea and then Dr. Barbara Marcussen designed a precise lens just for Monica’s individual eye shape. The scleral lens vaulted over the cornea so nothing touched her cornea. This resulted in an extremely comfortable lens. Scleral lenses are also an excellent choice for people who undergo Lasik surgery because they often end up with dry eyes and scleral contact lenses help treat dry eyes. Monica no longer has dry eye issues after being fit with her custom scleral lenses.

Monica is thrilled with her very clear vision and is exceptionally happy with the comfort of the scleral contact lenses. Dr. Barbara Marcussen uses OCT images to measure down the 100th of a millimeter to ensure the scleral lenses are always extremely comfortable. She is always thrilled to see someone like Monica achieve 20/20 corrected vision with scleral lenses.

Monica is happy she found a solution to her decreased vision after Lasik surgery with scleral contact lenses at Complete Eye Care.

Scleral Contact Lenses Improve Vision and Lives: David’s Story

David KimbroDavid lives in Gastonia, North Carolina and took his father to an ophthalmologist in Gastonia. While David was there, he mentioned to the doctor that he had keratoconus. The ophthalmologist told David that he should see Dr. Barbara Marcussen at Complete Eye Care in Belmont, North Carolina because she specialized in fitting people with keratoconus in scleral contact lenses to allow them to see clearly and comfortably.

David had tried several types of contact lenses over the years but could never find one that worked well for his eyes due to discomfort. He was using glasses to see but he was not able to see clearly with his glasses due to his distorted vision with keratoconus. People with Keratoconus need ridged lenses to see clearly but traditional ridged lenses are not comfortable for people with keratoconus.

David went to see Dr. Barbara Marcussen at Complete Eye Care who explained that, due to his keratoconus, he needed a ridged lens but she would design one that was a scleral lens. Scleral lenses give the comfort of a soft lens because they fit on the white part of the eye called the conjunctiva. They vault over the cornea, the most sensitive part of the eye. Nothing touches the cornea so the lens is extremely comfortable to wear all day. Dr. Barbara Marcussen is a certified WAVE contact lens designer which means she designs lenses for a person’s individual eye based on 11,000 points on their cornea. This specialty fitting gives them clear vision without any discomfort.

David was measured and a scleral lens was designed to allow him to see 20/20 all day without any distorted vision or any discomfort. He says he is thrilled beyond measure with how extremely comfortable scleral lenses are compared to wearing traditional ridged gas permeable contact lenses. David says he can wear his lenses all day and not have any redness, dryness, or discomfort.

David is now able to see clearly at night to drive and can make out people’s faces across the room quickly and easily while wearing the specially designed contact lenses. He states that he sees much better in his scleral lenses than he ever did in his glasses.

Scleral lenses are the best way to treat keratoconus because they provide clear vison by correcting the irregular astigmatism associated with keratoconus. Scleral contact lenses also provide the best comfort for people with keratoconus because they fit over the cornea and are designed to vault the cornea entirely. Since nothing touches the cornea, the eyes feel good all day while wearing scleral contact lenses. Scleral lenses are also an option for people instead of corneal transplants. It used to be that people with keratoconus underwent corneal transplants as a treatment, however, scleral contact lenses can be used to treat keratoconus for much longer that traditional gas permeable corneal lenses.

David is thrilled with the ophthalmologist that referred David to Complete Eye Care where he met Dr. Barbara Marcussen. He is now in his scleral contact lenses and does not need corneal transplant surgery for his keratoconus. He is able to wear his scleral lenses all day with good vision and excellent comfort.

Adjust Text Size Normal Large Extra Large