Forsyth Family Eye Care: Our Vision is your Vision! A New Office for an Established Practice

45-Dr.-Appanaitis_Dr.-Gurley_Forsyth_Family_Eye_3850-resizedIn March of 2015, Forsyth Family Eye Care made a big move. After more than 45 years of patient care and practice growth in the Old Town area of Winston-Salem, the need for a larger, more efficient facility became evident. In 2014, owner Dr. Alex Appanaitis began working with the Village at Robinhood and in 2015 moved the practice into an all-new and modern office. The move also prompted a name change from Old Town Family Eye Care to Forsyth Family Eye Care.

Dr. Appanaitis and his associate, Dr. Amy Gurley, both agree that the move has been a lot of work, but the hard work has been worthwhile. “Before we even opened, we had new patients walk in and schedule eye exams. One gentleman even went ahead and picked out his frames!” said Dr. Gurley. “We strive to provide excellent vision and maintain healthy eyes for the entire family,” said Dr. A.

Since most patients receive annual eye exams, eye doctors have a unique and long-term relationship with them. This yearly contact strengthens a lifelong relationship between the practice, the patients and their families. Many of these patients have been with the practice since it began in 1969.

_DSC3583-resizedAdult Visual Needs
The Craft family has trusted their eyesight to Forsyth Family Eye Care for more than 30 years. They started as patients of Dr. Barry Ramsey, who founded the practice originally located in the Old Town Shopping Center.

Raymond Craft is a member of The Craft Brothers, a Southern gospel quartet with roots in Lewisville. Since a musician’s eyes are arguably as important as his hands, good vision is a must. Raymond’s vision is key to his performances with his three brothers, who celebrated their 60th anniversary in July. Raymond is not the only musical person in the family. His wife Dorcus requires good eyesight for reading complicated music as the organist at Brookstown United Methodist Church.

As patients age, regular eye exams are crucial in order to maintain lifestyle and overall health. Many health problems and pathologies—from high blood pressure to certain cancers—can be detected by a comprehensive eye exam. Forsyth Family Eye Care not only performs routine eye exams, but also treats and manages eye diseases from conjunctivitis (pink eye) to diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and macular degeneration for patients of all ages.

Geriatric Patients Have Different Needs
The team at Forsyth Family Eye Care is trained to meet the needs of patients of all ages. Since the incidence of visual impairment greatly increases with age, many of the more common vision-threatening conditions and diseases also increase. Cataracts are a major cause of decreased vision. Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration are also common causes of vision impairment. These conditions can all be diagnosed and managed here. Surgical consultations can be arranged for patients when needed. Seniors age 65 and over should have complete eye exams every one to two years to check for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions.

Does Your Child Need Glasses?
Young children generally don’t know they are experiencing vision problems. When rising Lewisville Elementary third-grader Katie Phelps began complaining of _DSC3516-resizedheadaches, her mom Alisa brought her to Forsyth Family Eye Care for a complete eye exam. Alisa prepped Katie about the eye exam at least a day or two before to introduce her to some of the things that would happen. First, she reassured her that there would be no shots. Then she reminded Katie that reading the eye chart was just a test to determine how well she could see and not to worry about getting the “right” answer.

Katie did need glasses and enjoyed picking out new eyewear with our experienced opticians. Her headaches have disappeared, and although her new glasses make her look like a movie star, Katie and her mom still struggle with a common problem among many younger patients: keeping up with glasses.

Optician Karen Gordon said, “Kids run, jump, fall, and play hard. So we really have to emphasize how important it is to take care of their new glasses.” She recommends having your child keep a protective case for his or her glasses in their backpack, desk, or other convenient place while they are at school. At home, have a designated safe, convenient place to store your child’s glasses. “We also provide a special cloth in their case to help them keep their lenses clean and minimize scratches.” 

How do you Know if your Child Needs Eyeglasses?
First, make sure your child has a yearly eye exam. Just as they can suddenly have a growth spurt, their eyes can change seemingly overnight. With annual eye exams, the eye doctor can monitor eye health, as well as provide vision correction when needed. In between yearly eye exams, Dr. Appanaitis reminds parents to watch for symptoms of eye or vision problems in your child. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

  • Does your child squint? Squinting is a classic symptom of either myopia or “nearsightedness” (not seeing well far away) or hyperopia or “farsightedness” (not seeing as well close-up, and possibly far away). Glasses may be in order.
  • Does your child close one eye in an attempt to focus? If so, this could be a structural problem, like astigmatism or strabismus (a deviation from normal eye position).
  • Does your child rub his or her eyes? There may be some eyestrain or ocular allergies.
  • Do you constantly tell your child to scoot away from the television? Sitting too close to the television or having to move closer to the television are signs that your child could be nearsighted.
  • Is reading a challenge? Losing place while reading or skipping lines may signal an eye muscle problem or vision problem such as astigmatism.
  • Are headaches frequent? Frontal headaches or “brow aches” are often a result of uncorrected vision problems. The child may be attempting clear their blurry vision, but instead his or her efforts result in headaches.

_DSC3490_cropWhen Should Kids have their Eyes Examined?
Many issues that affect learning can be visual and are often missed by parents and pediatricians. In fact, studies now show that distance vision screenings like those used by pediatrician’s offices and schools can miss up to 50% of vision problems. Experts say up to 10% of preschoolers and 25% of school-aged children have some form of visual impairment. Early identification of a child’s vision malady is crucial because some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss.

For school-aged children, the American Optome
tric Association recommends an eye exam every two years, if no vision correction is required or no vision complaints are noted. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or according to their eye doctor’s recommendations.

Tests used during pediatric exams vary depending on the age and maturity level of the child. Many children five years old and older can have the exact same exam as their adult parents, with a few extra school-related tests. Our philosophy is to perform as comprehensive an exam as possible while making the experience fun and interactive for the children.

During a normal visit for children, vision is tested for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, as well as eye movement ability and other eye health problems. “It is very important to identify children who are visually impaired,” said Dr. Appanaitis. “Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.”

Forsyth Family is a Member of the Infant SEE program. Many people are surprised that infants need an exam. “Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, the American Optometric Association recommends scheduling your baby’s first eye assessment at six months,” said Dr. Appanaitis.

The American Optometric Association recommends scheduling your baby’s first eye assessment at 6 months—and it doesn’t cost a thing. InfantSEE®, a public health program managed by Optometry Cares®, the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, Forsyth Family Eye Care optometrists provide a free, comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age.

Things that Dr. Appanaitis and Dr. Gurley will test for include:

  • Excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or    astigmatism
  • Eye movement ability
  • Eye health problems

These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this young age. Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.

Meet the experienced and friendly doctors who make Forsyth Family Eye Care the leading provider of vision care products and services in Winston-Salem

_DSC3403-resizedDr. Alex Appanaitis grew up in Cameron, NC. He attended the University of North Carolina and graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1993. Dr. Appanaitis moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he received his doctoral degree from Southern College of Optometry in 1997. He then moved back to North Carolina to work in a need-based area (Yadkin County) designated by the state as underserved for eye care. After several years as an Associate at Old Town Family Eye Care, he purchased the practice from its founder, Dr. Barry Ramsey, in 2008. He has remained active in the community through volunteer work for the March of Dimes and Piedmont Opera. He also provides eye care services for Wake Forest University athletics and donates time and energy to the school system and Lewisville United Methodist Church. Dr. Appanaitis is a member of the Winston-Salem District Optometric Society, NC State Optometric Society, Southern Council of Optometrists, American Optometric Association, and Vision Source. He lives in Lewisville, NC with wife of 20 years, Mariedith, and daughters Mary-Kate and Alexa and their Labradoodle, Tallullah.

Dr. Amy Gurley was born and raised in Newton, NC. She also graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2004 and from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN, in 2008. Dr. Gurley participated in SVOSH (Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity) for three summers while she was a student at SCO.

She is a member of the AOA, NC State Optometric Society, and the Winston- Salem Optometric Society, and is an active member of First Presbyterian Church. Amy enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and anything outdoors, and loves spending time with her husband Aaron and their daughter.

New Technology Brings New Vision Headaches!
In today’s modern world, staring at a computer monitor for hours on end has become a part of the workday. And inevitably, all of that staring can put a real strain on your eyes.

“We have seen a huge increase in eye problems caused by computer use,” said Dr. Appanaitis. He stated that consistent time spent on the computer requires that the eyes continuously focus, move back and forth, and align with what you are seeing. You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type, and the eyes have to accommodate to changing images on the screen in order to create a clear picture for the brain to interpret. This type of work is more challenging on the eyes than reading a book, and the constant glare and contrast from the screen can stimulate vision changes.

Adults aren’t the only ones vulnerable to computer vision syndrome. Kids who stare at portable video games or tablets or who use computers throughout the day at school also can experience eye problems related to computer use, especially if the lighting and computer viewing distance are less than ideal. 

How Can the Computer Screen Affect Vision?
Computer vision syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries at work. It occurs when you’re carrying out the same motion over and over again. Just like those other repetitive stress injuries, computer vision syndrome can get worse, the longer you continue the activity. Working at a computer gets even more difficult as you get older. That’s because the lens of your eye becomes less flexible. The ability to focus on near objects starts to diminish after about age 40—a condition called presbyopia.


Forsyth Family Eye Care is now located at 5305 Robinhood Village Road, in Winston-Salem. For more information or to make an appointment, call 336.924.9121 or visit the website at for more information.