Forsyth Family Eye Care Celebrates 50 Years Serving Patients in Winston-Salem and Surrounding Areas

Longtime patients of Forsyth Family Eye Care are well aware of the rich history of this practice.  It all began when Dr. Barry W. Ramsey first opened the practice as Old Town Family Eye Care in 1969 in Old Town Shopping Center in Winston-Salem. Twenty-five years later it had grown so much they made the decision to expand their office space. This turned out to be a positive trend, as eight years later they would expand further in the same location. It was also during this time in 1997 that Dr. Alex Appanaitis was invited to join Dr. Ramsey. It would be just the move the practice needed to build on their future. For as it turned out, just over ten years later, Dr. Ramsey decided to reduce his hours to part-time and sell his sole ownership to someone he trusted who would continue in the tradition he had started forty years earlier. Dr. Ramsey would ultimately retire in 2011 with confidence that his patients, both old and new, would be well cared for under the direction of Dr. Appanaitis.

The results speak for themselves, as by 2015 they continued to grow at such a rate they decided to relocate to The Village at Robinhood (5305 Robinhood Village Drive, Winston-Salem) where they remain today. They also changed their name to Forsyth Family Eye Care. The practice has come a long way in 50 years. The office is new, some of the faces are also new, but what remains constant is their dedication to providing quality professional vision care services by caring doctors who give their patients the personalized service they need and deserve.

Meet the Doctors

Since joining the practice in 1997, Dr. Alex Appanaitis has enjoyed helping his long-time patients maintain their vision health, along with caring for and teaching their new patients healthy practices, providing routine exams and corrective actions necessary to preserve their vision.  Dr. Appanaitis is a native of North Carolina and went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with a degree in Chemistry in 1993. He earned his doctoral degree in 1997 from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, before coming back to North Carolina to help out in underprivileged areas in need of vision care. Dr. Appanaitis says, “I truly enjoy being able to make a positive impact on people’s lives. The gift of sight is a precious one, and we strive to enhance, preserve, and protect vision and eye health.” Since joining and taking over this practice, he continues his efforts in the community, including providing eye care services for Wake Forest University athletics, along with assisting with his favorite charities each year. His wife’s name is Mariedith, and they have two daughters, Mary-Kate and Alexa. They’re also members of Lewisville United Methodist Church. When he’s not helping patients, Dr. Appanaitis likes to stay active, including spending time with his family, hiking in the mountains, playing tennis and generally doing anything that keeps him moving. He truly understands the value of staying healthy and spending quality time with his family and friends.

Dr. Amy Gurley joined the practice before the founder Dr. Ramsey retired and remained to become an integral part of their continued growth and success. She, as well, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill (in 2004) and from the Southern College of Optometry (in 2008). While in college, she volunteered her services to help others as part of the Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity program. Dr. Gurley is married to Aaron, and they have two daughters, Arlyn and Naomi. They are members of First Presbyterian Church. Dr. Gurley enjoys spending her free time reading, traveling with her family, and doing anything outdoors.

The most recent member of the team is Dr. Van Vo. Dr. Vo is originally from Garland, Texas, having graduated from the University of Houston in 2006. Like the others, she also received her Doctorate of Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry (in 2013). She is bilingual and speaks fluent Vietnamese. She has volunteered her time and talent for medical mission trips to Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Vo’s husband is Tyler Groce, and they have two boys, Carter and Kenneth; their beloved family dog is a miniature dachshund.

All three hold memberships in various Optometric Societies and Professional Organizations, including the American Optometric Association, NC State Optometric Society and the Winston-Salem Optometric Society, among others.

Modern technology utilizes the latest trends in vision health

Forsyth Family Eye Care prides itself on using the most advanced, state-of-the-art diagnostic technology and products available to provide their patients with the best care and treatment possible. Dr. Appanaitis explains, “Just a couple of examples of state-of-the-art technology we use in our practice include the Optos Optomap and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The Optomap captures wide-field pictures of the retina without the patient having to use dilating eye drops, to aid in the assessment of eye health. It also helps us rule out eye disease and complications from diabetes, hypertension, macular degeneration, glaucoma and more. The OCT provides non-invasive measurements and images of the inside of the eye similar to the way ultrasound works, to assess the risk of disease or monitor for the progression of diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetes, to name a few.”

Providing affordable eyewear products

As a proud member of Vision Source, they’re a part of North American’s premier network of private practice optometrists. Using their combined purchasing power, they’re also able to provide quality, affordable eyewear at discount prices for their patients. Come in and see the tremendous selection, designs, and styles they have available today.

You can expect these valuable services and more…

  • Comprehensive Eye Exams and Screenings to maintain your vision health and diagnose any concerns early, taking corrective action as needed.
  • Lenses and Frames in the latest styles and trends, not only to give you clear vision, but also make you look good!
  • Contact Lenses for those that prefer this option, including colored lenses and bifocal lenses, among others.
  • Children’s Exams to make sure your children are seeing what they’re supposed to be seeing. Often, they’re not even aware they have an issue until it’s determined in their annual exam and screening. It’s important to get them started out right, understanding the significance of good vision care and health. The earlier they get comfortable with their eye-care professional, the better. To that end, Forsyth Family Eye Care offers free exams for infants.
  • Vision Correction services for the long-term care and health of their patients. This comprises a variety of conditions and treatment options, including for glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, that work best.

When you visit your eye care professional annually, you want to know you can trust they will take care of you in the best way, with modern technology and a thorough knowledge of how to help you see clearly. At Forsyth Family Eye Care you can count on all these things.

Advice for a common vision question today regarding blue light

Our extended use of computers and smartphones today has often resulted in a condition referred to as Digital Eye Strain (DES). There’s been a lot of talk recently about the effects of “blue light” emitted from our electronic devices causing undue harm to our retinas. Dr. Appanaitis explains how the “blue light” of our peripheral electronic devices contributes to this problem.

“Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum. Natural blue light exposure during daylight hours positively impacts a person’s mood and energy level. However, many artificial sources of blue light also exist, including smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions. They utilize Light Emitting Diodes (LED) to generate illumination. The issues arise from the increased volume and duration of blue light exposure due to extended use of these devices during the day and particularly in the evening hours that can disrupt normal sleep patterns. Children can be more adversely affected because their eyes absorb more blue light than adults. An even greater concern for both is the potential for eye damage due to prolonged blue light exposure over their lifetime. Although no long-term study exists, as the LED devices are relatively new technology, short-term exposure has been shown to induce retinal damage in other species. For humans, this could mean an increased risk of macular degeneration and subsequent vision loss.”

Fortunately, there are things you can do to limit your risks of exposure to these short-wavelength light sources. For instance, special eyeglasses that contain a lens coating that blocks or reflects the blue light can greatly reduce your overall exposure. Dr. Appanaitis suggests, “Limiting blue light exposure is beneficial for short-term comfort and potentially long-term eye health. We recommend Essilor of America spectacle lenses, because they offer blue-light filtering on all their products. It can provide a range of filtering ability based on the patient’s visual needs and lifestyle. The more time you spend on your computer or smartphone, the greater benefit for you in terms of decreased eye strain and fatigue, reduced headaches, and a normal sleep pattern.” He adds, “Digital Eye Strain (DES) can be effectively limited by decreasing our screen time, and taking advantage of technological advances in lenswear to reduce blue light exposure.”

Dr. Appanaitis offers some important advice to preserve your vision health. “Maintaining eye health and good vision is more of a marathon than a sprint. Annual eye exams are especially important for children, older adults, contact lens wearers, patients with established disease entities, such as diabetes or hypertension, or those taking high-risk medications that can cause eye health or vision problems. Even people without any visual complaints or known health problems often discover opportunities for vision improvement or early detection of disease by virtue of an eye examination.”

Choose today to see a better tomorrow

Your vision is critical to enjoying your life normally; it’s imperative you take proper care of it. Give Forsyth Family Eye Care a call today to schedule your next eye exam. The better you take care of your eyes, the clearer your life will become.

To schedule your visit to Forsyth Family Eye Care, call 336.924.9121 or visit their website ( They’re open for your convenience Monday–Tuesday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm; Wednesday–Thursday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; and Friday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. They’re located at 5305 Robinhood Village Drive, just across from the intersection of Meadowlark and Robinhood Road. You can also follow them on social media (Twitter and Facebook).



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