It’s hard to believe that 2019 is almost in our rear view mirror, but the end of the year also means the editors at VMAIL Weekend have nearly 52 Today's Read features in our back pockets. Putting together these stories can prove to be challenging, but it allows our editors to think outside the “optical” box and find a new writing comfort zone in order to bring our readers an informative, yet easy read for a Saturday morning. The subject matter for 2019 certainly ran the gamut, from eyewear’s supporting role in a blockbuster movie season to a look back at the Apollo 11 moon landing which marked its 50th anniversary in 2019. Here’s a look at some of our most popular and well read features from this year, which we hope you’ll enjoy.

The Holiday season is a perfect time to sit back and read a “feel good” story. This feature about the Filomen M. D'Agostino Greenberg Music School (FMDG), a community music school for the blind and visually impaired, will definitely tug at your heart strings. Opened in 1913 in New York City, the school has proved to be a vital resource for students of all ages and levels as well as a training ground for music teachers. In short, it’s a win-win—linking teachers with students trying to “navigate the unfamiliar terrain of vision loss.” This feature from February was penned by VM’s own Andrew Karp, our lens and tech editor.

The Music Keeps Playing at this One of a Kind School

I had a dentist friend named Elliot who loved jazz and played good jazz piano. When Elliot began losing his sight in his 70s, he worried how it would affect his playing, or if he’d be able to play at all. Elliot lived in New York City, so he turned to a local music school for visually impaired people that was run at the time by Lighthouse International: the Filomen M. D'Agostino Greenberg Music School (FMDG), the only community music school for the blind and visually impaired in the U.S. There he found a caring community of expert teachers and fellow musicians who helped him navigate the unfamiliar terrain of vision loss and gave him the tools and support he needed to continue making the music he loved.

Through Elliot, I got to know the FMDG Music School. Since it opened in 1913, FMDG has been a vital resource for students of all ages and levels throughout the city and surrounding area as well as a training ground for music teachers. The school offers lessons and classes in voice, piano, guitar, recorder, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, drums, percussion, braille music and accessible music technology for students of all levels, from beginner to advanced. Read More 

The VMAIL Weekend editors like to keep our readers on their toes, especially when it comes to current events, like sports. In this April installment of Today’s Read, senior editor Mark Tosh uncovered the link between just the right type of eyecare and a winning performance on the golf course. A year earlier, 27-year old Patrick Reed won the Augusta National with a 3-foot putt for par on the 18th hole. And it was no coincidence that two weeks earlier Reed had been fitted with his first pair of contact lenses. Reed summed it all up by saying, “First week ever wearing contacts, and I go ahead and make every putt I look at and win a golf tournament.”

Seeing Is Believing (Or How New Contact Lenses Helped Patrick Reed Win The Masters)

A year ago, 27-year-old Patrick Reed was relatively unknown outside the world of professional golf. But after a drama-filled Sunday—and hearty challenges from some of the biggest names in golf—Reed rolled in a 3-foot putt for par on the 18th hole at Augusta National to win The Masters by one stroke. He picked up his first major championship that Sunday in April a year ago, and all of the notoriety that comes with winning the most prestigious event in golf (if not all of individual sports).

"I knew it was going to be a dogfight," Reed said following the momentous 1-shot victory in which he took a one-stroke lead into the final round and then held off challenges from the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. Reed will defend his title when the 2019 Masters tournament begins Thursday, April 11.

Fortunately for Reed, however, he had the support of new contact lenses during last year’s tournament, which he credited for helping him improve his putting on the always tough Augusta greens. Reed acknowledged that just two weeks before The Masters he was fitted for his first pair of contact lenses at a Vision Source practice in Texas (he lives in San Antonio). Read More  

Holiday themes are always popular with our VMAIL Weekend readers. And it seems Halloween is everyone’s favorite way to express their “inner” selves. In addition to being able to dress up and eat free candy, Halloween has also morphed into big business for the retail sector. According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending in 2019 was expected to reach $8.8 billion, with shoppers saying they plan to spend an average of $86.27 this year. In this feature from October, associate editor Gwendolyn Plummer takes a look at how the optical community got geared up for Halloween 2019.

From Scooby Doo to Stranger Things: Making Halloween an Optical Treat

NEW YORK—Halloween is, as far as I’m concerned, the perfect holiday. There’s no pressure, no big family events, no gifts to buy—nothing to do except wear a fun wig and eat free candy, no matter how old you are. Halloween as we know it today is about pure, unadulterated fun for all. And the best part? You can have that fun at work and at home. 

I’m not alone in my love for Halloween—according to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending in 2019 is expected to reach $8.8 billion, with shoppers saying they plan to spend an average of $86.27 this year. In the optical industry, Halloween ideas abound—after all, eyeballs are a spooky décor staple, and white coats can become ghost costumes pretty easily. There’s still plenty of time to spook up the office for the end of the month, too—from painting trendy glasses onto pumpkins to showing off frames on cutouts of famous horror movie characters. If you’re stumped, Illinois College Optometry put together a public Pinterest board, chock-full of fun Halloween ideas for optometrists, too.

And what about dressing up? The NRF reports that 29 million people plan to dress their pets up in costume this year, but, when it comes to humans, the possibilities are endless. And for those of us who wear glasses on a regular basis, the options are arguably even better. Read More 

For our final installment, we come back to the workplace. Let’s face it, we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our own families. And getting along at work can be just as complicated as living with family members. Editor’s Note: The WHOLE time I have been writing this feature, my seatmate has been on a very long and very loud conference call. However, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of tuning him out as I finish this week’s Today’s Read look back. Our last entry, by yours truly, takes a look at the open office experiment, which has proved to be a money saving boon for business but can drive some of us worker bees to drink.

The Open Office Experiment—Driven to Distraction or Creating Collaboration?

If you were to Google "open office spaces" you’d be bombarded by articles declaring the concept is basically the worst thing ever to happen to corporate America. The biggest knock on open office designs is distracted workers. Apparently, employees are so worked up about open office settings their stress levels go up, their productivity goes down and collaboration with co-workers (the one thing the open design promised to foster) goes out the window.

And apparently, the top workplace distractions involve not just where you work, but who you work with. According to a new poll by Udemy and Toluna, a leading global marketplace for teaching and learning, 80 percent of people report being distracted by chatty coworkers, the number one office place distraction, according to a recent feature from

“Office noise is the second most cited workplace disturbance, with seven out of ten respondents citing noise as a top bother in their day-to-day workflow. Lower on the list, but still a problem, was social media. Half of the people surveyed thought that personal social media use was a disturbance to them at work. The report found that reducing workplace distractions increased workers productivity, motivation, confidence and overall happiness. As open office plans have come into vogue in the modern workplace, new studies have brought into question how effective they are at fostering a collaborative environment as many complain of their distractions and misuse.” Read More