“Eyes right!” is more than a military command to Renee Bachner. The optician and proprietor of Total Focus Eyewear in New City prides herself on providing the right glasses for each client’s eyes.
Bachner also designs Renee’s Readers, an eyeglass line available in her store and online. A portion of each sale goes to the Alzheimer’s Association, a cause close to her heart.
“The biggest change in the optical world is that reading distances have changed,” Bachner said. “We are reading from laptops, iPods, computer monitors and, for some, several monitors at various distances.
“If you want your reading glasses to be as precise as possible, measure the distances where you do most of your reading and talk to your doctor about this when you get your eyes examined,” she advises.
“Progressive lenses provide a gradual change in your prescription, usually suitable for three different working distances,” Bachner said. “But for long periods of time at one task, like at a computer monitor, a separate set might be more comfortable than the progressives.”
Little children no longer cry at the prospect of wearing glasses. “Today’s glasses are chic and clients can choose from a fun selection, including leopard glasses,” she said.
“In fact, glasses can conceal flaws and enhance good points. It’s like wearing lipstick; a frame with a little red or peach automatically brightens. A blue frame brings out blue eyes. An angular frame adds contours that have a slimming effect on a full face.”
She recalls an attorney client who had shopped around for precise needs. He had a long face, so she recommended glasses where the temples, the bar that goes behind the ear, were positioned on the top of the frame with a deep lens area, shortening the appearance of his face. “He looked really good and bought three pairs,” she said, “one of sunglasses and two for everyday use, the second as a back-up in case of loss.”
She prides herself that Renee’s Readers last and are therefore environmentally friendly, “not filling up the dumps with over-the-counter short-lived glasses,” she insists.
For Bachner her business is a mid-life career. She spent two years at Hofstra and was later graduated from Lehigh University with a bachelor’s degree in business and economics. She then spent several years in the textile and fashion industry, which whetted her appetite for fashion. “My mom came from a family of tailors and we were always designing clothes,” she said.
“I went back to school to become an optician. She received an Associate’s Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing from the Interboro Institute in Manhattan and was licensed as an optician and qualified to fit contact lenses.
“I worked for several years in ophthalmology practices, fitting contact lenses, doing patient work, including refractions and testing,” she said. She got married and stayed home to raise three children. “When the youngest entered first grade, I went back to work for local chains as an optician before opening Total Focus Eyewear more than eight years ago.
“The first years were difficult because my mother had Alzheimer’s and I had to leave the store at unpredictable times to care for her,” she recalls. “We didn’t recognize the problem at first, because my mother was a Holocaust survivor who was seized from Hungary and separated from her family at Auschwitz, never seeing them again. Like many Holocaust survivors, she developed some of the same lifelong paranoia that Alzheimer’s patients experience.” Bachner’s father was also a Holocaust survivor.
Bachner developed a deep compassion for Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers and gives a portion of proceeds from sales of Renee’s Readers to the Alzheimer’s cause.
For more information, visit reneesreaders.com.
Challenging Careers focuses on the exciting and unusual business lives of Hudson Valley residents. Comments or suggestions may be emailed to Catherine Portman-Laux at email@example.com.