The 'eyes' have it in Millville

Halpern Eye Associates has relocated from their cozy offices at the corner of Route 26 and Central Avenue.
Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Halpern President Arthur Geary with office manager Holly Zakrociemski in the new Halpern Eye Associates building in Millville.Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Halpern President Arthur Geary with office manager Holly Zakrociemski in the new Halpern Eye Associates building in Millville.

Now located next to the Ocean View Post Office (technically, in Millville), Halpern still hosts the same highly trained optometrists and opticians — just in a more modern setting.

“We intended to build something significant — something that would add to the community, and not be just another building,” noted Halpern President Arthur Geary.

The aqua glass and steel architecture has been a frequent topic of local discussion. Love it or hate it, it’s certainly — eye-catching.

To contrast the sheer exterior, the office inside shimmers in daylight, golden wood tones and rounded contours.

“What I like best about the new location is the great atmosphere,” Office Manager Holly Zakrociemski admitted. “It’s great to hear the comments our patients make when they walk in.”

She recalled standing room only situations at the old office, and said the new building was a vast improvement. That office was 1,100 square feet — this one is 4,500 square feet.

Although they still get crowded from time to time, Geary said he could always bring in a few more chairs as needed.

Halpern started small. According to Zakrociemski, Dr. Harold Halpern set up his first clinic in the basement of his Smyrna home, in 1946.

Today, there are eight offices around the state. Halpern’s son, Joel, became an optometrist like his father, and Joel’s son, Ryan, is now studying at optometry school himself.

Geary isn’t a doctor himself. Rather, he travels Delaware, checking to ensure each Halpern office is living up to the mission statement (providing the highest quality, comprehensive eye care and surgical vision correction, for starters).

“The technology we use here is the most advanced available,” Geary stated.

He noted the digital retinal imaging available at the Ocean View office, which produces a detailed picture of the eye in a quick, painless flash of light.

“In many cases, we can avoid the need to use dilation,” he pointed out. Forcing the pupil to enlarge, by using special eye drops, can leave people with blurred vision and sensitivity to light for several hours.

However, with the “Optomap” scan, patients just press their face against a circular pad and look into a camera for a few seconds.

According to Dr. Troy Raber, two lasers (one red, one green) clarify the appearance of blood versus pigment in the retina, at different depths.

“This is the only part of the body where doctors can see blood vessels, without actually cutting,” he noted as an aside.

The “macula” (as in macular degeneration) has a lot more pigment, so he switched to the red laser for a better picture there. As Raber explained, people use the macula for “dead-on” focusing — everything else is peripheral vision.

He switched to the green laser to look for possible hemorrhaging (bleeding). Raber said actual blood wasn’t necessarily the problem, though — “If proteins and fluids are leaking out of the blood, close to the macula, that’s where most of the vision is going to be destroyed,” he pointed out.

“It’s amazing, the resolution you can get on one of these,” Raber stated. The optic nerve is approximately 1.5 mm wide, but with a few quick computer commands, he pulled up an image closer to 1.5 inches wide.

Zakrociemski, who said she’d been with the company for nearly 10 years, remarked on the advance in technology during that time.

“I remember when we first got a Polaroid retinal scan, and I really thought that was something,” she pointed out.

According to Geary, technological advances have not only advanced diagnoses, but have exponentially improved documentation.

“There was a time when we had to rely on doctors’ notes and hand drawings of the eye,” he pointed out. “Now, we get computer enhanced images that can be attached to the patient’s file electronically –and that means the patient can be seen in any of our offices.”

Geary said the Halpern offices in Millville planned to expand services in the near future, bringing ophthalmology associates and a retinologist to the building.

The move will bring traditional eye care and specialized surgery (cataracts, laser vision correction, certain procedures for glaucoma) together under one roof.

And of course, after the patients’ eyes are all fixed up, they’ll probably want a new set of glasses.

Zakrociemski said Halpern offered frames ranging from $50 to $1,000. They have Maui Jim’s now, and she hoped to have the Oakley line on the racks in time for the Grand Opening social, scheduled for March 30 (6 to 8 p.m.)

For more information, call Halpern Eye Associates at 537-0234.