HendersonvillePete Zamplas

Robin Eaton’s Flat Rock Vision looks forward, into the new year

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By Pete Zamplas –

Flat Rock Vision is very forward-looking into the new year, with a new name and location but the same attentive service and frequent two-for-one specials.

In October, Flat Rock Vision became the new name of Flat Rock Opticians, when the business shifted a half-mile westward on U.S. 176. It moved from the corner of Upward Road to a spot closer to Hendersonville in a plaza at 1630 Spartanburg Hwy., Suite B. This is near Shepherd Street, and across 176 from Burger King, Macon Bank and Skater’s Choice roller rink. The new site has better access and parking, owner Robin Eaton said.

Eaton opened the business in September 2006. The new name is “an umbrella, reflecting more of what goes on here in terms of optometry and optician service,” owner Robin Eaton said. She is the optician, licensed in that capacity for the past 17 of her 22 years in the eyewear business.

She is affiliated with optometrist Dr. Sean Skierczynski of Carolina Optometric. He works in Flat Rock Vision on Wednesdays. Of course, Eaton also handles lens prescribed by others.

Eaton’s overall business has risen about 25 percent per year for most years, even in the recession and other than in 2010, she said.

Customers credit Eaton’s personalized service, comforting demeanor, product knowledge and handling of special orders. “Robin’s extremely friendly,” said customer Jeff Suttles. Also, she stays after her usual 5 p.m. weekday closing or even works on Saturdays, by appointment, for people who work 9-5.

Eaton, a 1982 East Henderson High graduate, has worn glasses since age 7. Working in her field, “I’ve felt at home. I enjoy taking care of customers, and getting such immediate reward” from customer feedback.

“It’s very rewarding to make a product that changes somebody’s life,” by seeing better with newly-prescribed lenses or looking more fashionable with frames or contact lenses, Eaton added. “Whether it’s a young child or an older person, it opens a new world for them.”

That happened for a young girl from another country, whom Eaton helped via a Rotary eye project. The girl had dreadful vision and no glasses, until getting thick new lens. The girl remarked how she could finally see lips of nearby people.

Eaton has managed optical units at Eckerd Drug locally, and a Target store near Charlotte. She studied in her trade for three and a half years, including as an apprentice and intern. She takes continuing education classes, keeping up with technological and fashion trend developments.

Eaton also is a hearing instrument specialist, who gives free hearing tests. She is affiliated with Hearing Health Care Center and Nu Ear hearing aids. Those devices keep getting smaller and more efficient. The major advancement is they are now digital, and computer-adjusted ahead for the customer’s hearing level. They automatically adjust to various sound frequencies.

Eaton fits, adjusts and repairs glasses. Her products include contact lenses, sunglasses, industrial safety glasses and sports eye wear. Some contacts have eye shades, to alter one’s eye color.

A growing trend is for “transitions lenses.” They change color from clear to grey or brown, with “absorption of ultra-violet light,” Eaton explained.

Further, she said, “anti-reflective coatings are among very popular products,” and protect the eye from excessive sun. Different color shades work best in various light situations.

Frame styles have gotten smaller in the last decade or so, but the trend is reversing somewhat, Eaton said. “Larger, squarer plastics are getting popular again.” Boxy full rims, horned rim, aviator and round “granny” (or John Lennon) frames are all making a comeback.

Delivery time varies per order, but is typically a week for a frame and lens.

A key is to match frame with lens thickness. “What (frame) looks great may not work well with the prescription,” Eaton noted. “A strong prescription lens has a thick edge, that stands out in a bigger frame. It also depends how wide apart their eyes are — the pupillary distance is between the centers of the two pupils.”

Another drawback of a thick lens in a larger frame is the extra weight. That can cause the frame to slide down the nose.

The frame should also be compatible with the customer’s facial shape, Eaton said. Huge frames stand out more on a thin face. And, of course, frames vary by color to best coincide with the person’s hair shade or favorite color clothes.

“You want to meet the customer’s expectations, as far as the look of the frame,” Eaton said, “and pick one that goes with the person’s face shape and coloring.” Customer say in such regards, she does a magnificent job.

For more about Flat Rock Vision, call Robin Eaton at 693-1320.

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