20/20 Insight with Southside Family Vision

Southside Family Vision
2 West Main Street
Bay Shore, NY 11706

(631)813-1112 / southsidefamilyvision.business.site

By Shoshanna McCollum

The summer I became editor of this publication I got myself a new pair of eyeglasses. It was necessary to acclimate to the many more hours I was spending in front of the computer screen. And while that day still feels like yesterday to me, that was eight summers ago. Maybe that’s why recently I’ve been peeking over my glasses off the bridge of my nose to squint at the computer screen again – and yes, those fashionable frames I picked out back in the twenty-teens are now looking just a little bit dated.

So when I noticed the advertisement for Southside Family Vision in our own paper, I saw an eye exam in my near future.

First let’s talk location. It’s right in the heart of downtown Bay Shore – on Main Street at the corner of Maple Avenue – just a short walk from the ferry. It does not get much more convenient than that.

Now let’s talk environment. Wearing eyeglasses since the age of 10, I have visited many optometry offices and think it is fair to say they generally have a clinical vibe to them. I was not expecting the warm and inviting space that has been created for Southside Family Vision. Deep blue velvet chairs and sofas decorated the waiting room, as fresh coffee and pastries awaited visitors.

One also could not help but notice there was a certain resemblance among the young women working the counters, and that is because this is a true family-owned business. Dark eyes and friendly smiles run in the family, as does a serious devotion to the eyewear business and after Jennifer told me their story, this comes as no surprise.

Jennifer, Debra and Lisa

“Our mother owned EyeSupply in Dix Hills during the 1990s,” Jennifer explained. “We spent a lot of time in that shop helping out, and we had fun!”

With years of experience under their belts they found work at the chain eyewear shops commonly found at Long Island strip malls and shopping centers. “We learned a lot at those chain stores – both what to do and not to do!” added daughter Lisa.

Indeed, the rise and fall of malls, big box stores and internet outlets has had a huge impact on the eyewear business, but as young adult women the family made the bold move of opening Southside Family Vision in 2018 and their gamble paid off.

How did they do it? Well, my personal experience there really says it all.

I was treated well.

I was ushered into a clean and comfortable intake room by sister-in-law Felisa who asked me some questions and ran a few tests. The equipment she used was state-of-the-art. Remember those tortuous glaucoma test machines of yesteryear? You won’t find them here. Felisa tested my eyes with a device that no longer requires the air puff. What a huge relief!

Next, came the eye exam administered by Marissa Koopman, O.D. Dr. Koopman earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Binghamton University and her doctorate from New England Collage of Optometry. As an East Islip native, she chose Long Island to practice her medicine. The exam was efficient, but not rushed. She came to the conclusion that there was actually some improvement in one eye – something that can happen to nearsighted people with age, but no such luck with the reading portion of my prescription – and that’s why my seven-year-old bifocals were not working so well anymore.

Then I was returned back to the main room to try on some frames. The charming atmosphere was comforting. I came in prepared to purchase the practical frames I knew I needed, but they cheered me on as I chose what I wanted, and offered a package that was hard to resist.

Among other things, Jennifer extended to me sales specials for Bay Shore’s Alive at Five street fair later in the week, allowing me to get prescription sunglasses as well for a very reasonable cost. My insurance paid a portion of that. Then she did some number crunching and brought the price down further still.

We are Family Filisa (Lisa, Mariss, Debbie and Jennifer)

“We work with the families,” said Jennifer. “We accept all insurances, work with families that don’t have insurance, offer emergency repair pick-up and drop-off to the ferry and love to work with kids. Children should feel comfortable and confident in getting their first pair of eyeglasses.”

My new eyeglasses and I are still getting acquainted, and part of this is getting used to a new look. A little less Clark Kent and a little more Iris Apfel. However over eight summers I too have changed. One thing for sure though – I can see clearly now.