Hall and Laury Opticians

The Eyes Have It

Hall and Laury Opticians owners (L to R): Arthur "Ted" Laury and Gary Nelson.
Hall and Laury Opticians owners
(L to R): Arthur “Ted” Laury and Gary Nelson.

Article Contributed by
Beth Peyton

One funny thing about Hall and Laury Opticians, located in the shopping center at 707 Fairmount Avenue, is that Gary Nelson is the “Hall” part of Hall and Laury. And Arthur Laury, the other partner, prefers to be called “Ted.” The other funny thing is Gary Nelson himself.

“I tell my customers ‘You’ve been taken,’” Nelson quips, as he refers to one of his mottos. “Care of, that is. Get it? You’ve been taken care of. Or how about this one: ‘You’ve been framed.’”

We sell the best and service the rest is the motto that appears on the optical shop’s website and business cards. Although Gary Nelson likes cracking jokes, he takes that motto very seriously. Good quality work and service is what Ted Laury strives for, too.

“I decided I wanted to be an optician when I was a little kid,” Nelson says. He went to see an eye doctor, and that eye doctor spent a long time talking with little Gary about the importance and intricacies of eyes. “I think I was only five or six, but I told my mother then that I wanted to be an eye doctor when I grew up. So when I was old enough, I started working for Hall Optical, a fixture in Jamestown since it was established in 1930. I completed my schooling and obtained my license, and then I bought the business in 1980.”

Laury studied to become a licensed optician, and after a stint in the service, practiced for a time in Rochester, New York. In February 1973, he began working for Norris Opticians, and purchased the business in 1975. After 25 years in the Medical Arts Building, he joined forces with Gary Nelson in their current location.

There are three levels of professionals who specialize in eyes. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (M.D.s), and focus primarily on diseases of the eyes and providing treatment for those diseases, including surgery.

Optometrists are also doctors, but they are Ph.D.s, not M.D.s. Their primary job is to examine eyes, diagnose problems, and write “refractions,” or prescriptions, for corrective lenses.

Opticians are like pharmacists. They fill the prescriptions that doctors write by supplying corrective lenses in eyeglasses or via contacts. And at Hall and Laury Opticians, they can help with all optical needs, from examination to selecting and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses, through repairing and reshaping glasses. And in the middle of it all, the jokes may fly.

One of the things that Nelson also stresses is the importance of regular eye examinations, especially for older people.

“In the old days, the only thing eye specialists could really do was make corrective lenses,” he said. “But now we can provide treatment for a variety of optical problems, including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other things. So it’s important to have regular exams. Eye problems can be serious and can progress rapidly.”

“Eye exams can also reveal other significant health problems,” Nelson says. “Another doctor and I had a patient who was having a heart issue, and we could see it when we looked in his eyes even though he felt fine. By the time he got to the hospital, he was having a massive heart attack. We discovered another patient who had a brain tumor when we noted his eyesight was changing rapidly.”

Hall and Laury Opticians carries a wide array of stylish eyeglass frames, and has catalogues filled with more if a customer doesn’t see what he or she wants. Prices range from $20.00 on up. And unlike some eyeglass frames or contacts that are available on the Internet, the quality is ensured and products are warrantied. According to Nelson, some of the materials in eyeglasses purchased over the Internet can be tarnished, adulterated or even radioactive. He stressed the importance of dealing with a reputable firm, with licensed and experienced practitioners.

“I love eyes,” said Nelson. “They are complex organs, self-contained but related to the rest of the body in interesting ways. They’re beautiful.”
Nelson’s passion is apparent in conversation, and revealed by his sensibility toward his customers.

“The neatest thing for me is when young people or babies get glasses for the first time,” said Nelson. “The smiles on their faces don’t quit as they see individual leaves, or discern the details of other things that were previously just a big blur.”

Laury agrees. “The most satisfying thing for me is the expression on the faces of young people when they’re fitted for contact lenses or glasses, and for the first time can see what the world looks like.”

Nelson’s interest in optics extends beyond eyes. He also serves as president of the Martz/Kohl Astronomical Observatory in Frewsburg, New York, where telescope lenses (actually precision ground mirrors) can be as large as 16 to 24 inches across and weigh hundreds of pounds, But up there on Robbin Hill Road they can see objects 10 billion light years away, not a claim he makes for any of the fine lenses he and his partner craft for their clients at Hall and Laury Opticians. Hall and Laury also proudly sponsor the monthly Martz Observatory column in the Jamestown Gazette. See page 14 in this issue.

Customers need an appointment to have their eyes examined by the optometrist. But customers can drop in anytime to browse the eyeglass selection or have existing glasses adjusted or repaired. And there’s no charge for the jokes.

The Jamestown Gazette is proud to recognize our dealers, outstanding corporate citizens of our county. This week, the Gazette especially thanks Hall and Laury for faithfully carrying The Jamestown Gazette, The People’s Paper, for the benefit of their customers, our readers.