Healthy Eyes Are in Focus at the Eye Center of Charleston

Protect Your Eyes with Help from an Ophthalmologist in West Ashley, SC

If there's one thing that most people can agree on, it's that our human senses are extraordinary. They help us interact with the environment around us every day of our lives. Our brain processes signals from various neurons associated with our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch to provide us with a meaningful perception of the world. The truth is, though, that we tend to take our senses for granted unless we experience a malfunction in any of them.

Humans have five senses and the same number of organs to complement those senses: a tongue to taste, a nose to smell, two ears to hear, skin for the sensation of touch, and eyes for sight. Of those senses and organs, our eyes are often considered the most essential, as they enable us to perceive up to 80% of all the impressions we encounter daily.

If other senses like taste or smell stop functioning, our eyes protect us from potential dangers. But they also help provide us with distinctly human memories. Think of all the picture-worthy moments that you have experienced over your lifetime. From seeing your baby smile or walk toward you for the first time to enjoying a memorable movie, it's safe to say that our eyes play an incredibly important role in our daily lives.

It makes sense, then, that we would want to protect our eyes and have them checked regularly to make sure they're healthy and functioning as they should. According to data by Ipsos, however, only 39% of Americans have been to an eye doctor's office in the last year. Fortunately, if you live in the Lowcountry, finding an eye doctor in West Ashley, SC, is easier and more convenient than ever when you visit the professionals at Eye Center of Charleston.

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 Eye Surgeon West Ashley, SC

The Eye Center of Charleston Difference

Unlike some eye doctor offices in South Carolina, our team uses the most advanced technology paired with our esteemed clinical and surgical skills to precisely diagnose and treat a wide variety of eye conditions and diseases. We focus on a number of vision conditions, medical conditions, and physician services, including but not limited to:

  • Cataracts
  • Presbyopia
  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Styes
  • Diabetic Eye Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Excisional Biopsies
  • Dry Eye Syndrome
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Flashes & Floaters

It all starts with an introductory appointment with one of our experienced eye doctors, who will take as much time as needed to get to know you, learn more about your needs, and better understand the symptoms you're experiencing. Once we know the extent of your eye care needs, our doctors will provide you with an effective, efficient diagnosis and plan of action to remediate any issues you're facing.

From nuanced eye surgeries to standard eye exams, we've got you covered. In fact, we offer the latest technology in Varilux Progressives, Transitions, Crizal Anti-Reflective Lenses, Prescription Polarized Sunglasses, and Thin Lightweight Lenses. With a wide selection of frames and sunglasses, you're sure to find the glasses you need in a style you love.

 Eye Doctor West Ashley, SC

What is an Ophthalmologist in West Ashley, SC?

When people think about eye doctors, they often think about professionals who conduct eye exams and prescribe contacts. They don't realize that an ophthalmologist is different than other professionals, like optometrists. So, what is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a vision health professional who plays a specific role in the field of eye care. Along with optometrists and opticians, they are part of a comprehensive eye care team. However, some patients may need clarification on the similar-sounding names of these three types of eye care providers. Each one has unique skills and training for the tasks they perform. You should understand these differences so you can choose the best professional to address your vision needs.

What are the Differences Between Ophthalmologists and Other Eye Care Specialists?

Opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists each have a separate role in the field of eye care.

 Eye Treatment West Ashley, SC

Optometrists

These professionals conduct eye exams, vision tests, and can prescribe corrective lenses that help address and solve eye conditions.

 Eye Surgeon West Ashley, SC

Opticians

Opticians are often labeled "eye doctors," but they focus mostly on filling prescriptions for contact lenses, glasses, and sunglasses. They're also experts at repairing glasses and adjusting frames as needed.

Ophthalmologist West Ashley, SC

Ophthalmologists

These medical doctors treat and diagnose certain eye diseases. However, it's not uncommon for ophthalmologists to provide vision services similar to those of optometrists.

At Eye Center of Charleston, we offer patients all three eye care specialists to provide the most well-rounded, effective eye care services in Charleston and beyond.

Are Optometrists and Ophthalmologists Basically the Same?

While optometrists have a four-year Doctor of Optometry degree and can provide primary vision health care, ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have received approximately three times the education and training.

They can perform all the same services as an optometrist but can also provide treatment, including performing surgeries such as cataract removal, vision correction, and eyelid lifting. Optometrists may detect signs of eye diseases during routine eye exams but are unable to treat them, so they often refer patients to ophthalmologists at The Eye Center of Charleston.

Surgical Specialties at The Eye Center of Charleston

While we serve many different types of patients with a wide variety of needs, many clients visit our eye surgeon in West Ashley, SC, for very specific procedures. Keep reading below to learn more about those surgeries and the conditions that necessitate an eye doctor's intervention.

While we serve many different types of patients with a wide variety of needs, many clients visit our eye surgeon in West Ashley, SC, for very specific procedures. Keep reading below to learn more about those surgeries and the conditions that necessitate an eye doctor's intervention.

In a young and healthy eye, light passes smoothly through clear ocular structures and is then focused on the retina, the light-sensitive lining inside the eye. The lens, which is a slightly flattened marble-shaped structure, helps to focus the eye. If the lens becomes cloudy, yellow, or limits the amount of light that travels through it, it is known as a cataract. Cataracts can occur at any stage of life, from birth to old age.

Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts include the following:

  • Blurry or Dim Vision
  • Lights Are Too Bright
  • Lights Give Off Halo Effect
  • Faded Colors
  • Vision at Night is Poor
  • Vision Distortion

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause damage to the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye, leading to possible vision loss. Therefore, the primary focus of treatment is to control eye pressure. Early intervention is crucial in preventing severe vision loss. While most patients can avoid severe vision loss with the use of topical eye drops, some require additional treatment.

It should be noted that some patients prefer to have less dependence on eye drops. Along with medical treatment, several safe and effective procedures are available, including laser trabeculoplasty and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. To learn more about these treatment options, talk to your eye doctor at The Eye Center of Charleston.

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual information from your eye to your brain and is essential for good vision. While high pressure in your eye is often associated with optic nerve damage, glaucoma can occur even with normal eye pressure.

Although glaucoma can happen at any age, it is more prevalent in older adults and is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. Unfortunately, many forms of glaucoma produce no warning signs. The effect of the condition is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the later stages of the disease.

That's why it's essential to have regular eye exams that include measuring your eye pressure. Early recognition of glaucoma is a very important part of that process because it can help slow down or prevent vision loss. If you have glaucoma, you will need to undergo treatment or monitoring for the rest of your life.

Some of the most common symptoms of glaucoma include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Eye Pressure & Pain
  • Low, Blurred, or Narrow Vision
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Nausea
  • Seeing Rainbow-Colored Haloes Around Light Sources

A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that appears on the surface of the eye, causing blurry vision. It usually occurs in individuals who have a long history of exposure to sunlight or UV light. Should you need pterygium surgery at The Eye Center of Charleston, you can rest easy knowing that your eye doctor in West Ashley, SC, will be highly trained and experienced in the surgical treatment of pterygia.

Also called surfer's eye, a pterygium is an overgrowth of the conjunctiva, which is a thin and clear membrane on the surface of the eye. It can appear as a fleshy growth and is usually found growing from the inner corner of the eye, close to the nose. However, it can also appear on the outer corner or on both sides of the eye. The condition is not cancerous and does not spread to any other part of the face or body. It can cause redness and irritation in the affected area.

If left untreated, a pterygium can grow across the cornea, which is the transparent 'window' that covers the pupil and iris, further impacting vision. In such cases, surgical treatment may be necessary. However, it's important to note that pterygia may grow back even after successful surgery.

Some symptoms of a pterygium include the following:

  • Itching & Burning
  • Inflammation & Bloodshot Eyes
  • Minor Eye Pain
  • Issues with Blocked Vision

How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes

If you have diabetes, you may be wondering if the disease can affect your eyes and whether or not an ophthalmologist in West Ashley, SC can help. To provide the best answer, it's important that you understand how diabetes can affect your eyesight.

Diabetes is a condition in which your body fails to properly convert food into energy. This is because your body either cannot produce or does not respond to insulin, which is a hormone responsible for transporting glucose (blood sugar) to the cells in your body. When there is an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, it can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves throughout your body, including the eyes.

Understanding Diabetic Eye Disease

When we refer to diabetic eye disease, we're talking about a group of eye conditions that stem from diabetes. Those conditions include the following:

3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Eyes Everyday

Eye problems can be easily prevented if you adopt some easy-to-follow habits for eye care in your daily routine. Even though these habits are practical and easy to accomplish, many people brush them off - until they have serious eye problems. To maintain good eye health and sharp vision, try incorporating these eye care techniques into your daily routine.

Eye Center of Charleston Pro Tip

Swing by one of our eye clinics to see our selection of fashionable and chic sunglasses. Our licensed opticians keep a number of popular sunglass options available at all times, like Costa, Kate Spade, and Juicy Couture. Protect your eyes and look great at the same time!

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Use Protection from the Sun

It's important to be mindful of the potential risks associated with exposure to sunlight and UV rays. These hazards include an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, as well as the possibility of cornea sunburn or photokeratitis. To protect your eyes, try wearing sunglasses that have UV protection. If you don't like wearing sunglasses, you can opt for UV-protected eyeglasses or contact lenses instead. You can also try wearing caps, visors, and hats for added protection.

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Try Not to Rub Your Eyes

One of life's little pleasures is rubbing your eyes when you're tired or have had a long day. It may feel good, but we don't recommend doing it. Reason being, your hands come into contact with a great deal of dirt, dust, and bacteria on a daily basis.

Every time you touch or rub your eyes, these harmful particles can be easily transferred to them. If you avoid touching your eyes with your hands, you can better prevent infections and irritations.

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Try the 20-20-20 Rule of Thumb

To keep your eyes in the best shape possible, consider adopting this handy rule. It states that:

  • Look away from your computer screen or TV every 20 minutes and fixate your gaze on something that is 20 feet away.
  • Blink your eyes 20 times in succession. This helps prevent dry eyes.
  • Get up out of your seat or away from your desk every 20 minutes. Then, take 20 steps. Doing so helps you vision and also helps promote healthy blood circulation and posture.

See a Brighter Future with Help from An Eye Doctor in West Ashley, SC

At The Eye Center of Charleston, we're proud to offer a breadth of eye care services under one roof tailored to you and your whole family. From pediatric myopia management and treatment for dry eye to popular eyewear options and complicated eye surgery, we're ready to help. Regardless of the reason why you visit our eye care office, you can have peace of mind knowing that your patient experience will be comfortably curated for you.

Contact our eye care center today to learn more about our practice and to schedule an initial consultation with one of our expert eye doctors.

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Latest News in West Ashley, SC

West Ashley launches South Carolina's first edible forest, tackling food insecurity

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — West Ashley is home to South Carolina’s first-ever food forest.Funded through a $50,000 grant from the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Charleston Parks Conservancy launched the project with the City of Charleston and other partners to provide free and nutritious options in areas struggling with food insecurity.“In the end, this will end up producing about 30,000 pounds of fresh organic produce, in a community that doesn't have great access to healthy foods,” said Darlene Hea...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — West Ashley is home to South Carolina’s first-ever food forest.

Funded through a $50,000 grant from the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Charleston Parks Conservancy launched the project with the City of Charleston and other partners to provide free and nutritious options in areas struggling with food insecurity.

“In the end, this will end up producing about 30,000 pounds of fresh organic produce, in a community that doesn't have great access to healthy foods,” said Darlene Heater, executive director of Charleston Parks Conservancy.

Rows of more than 75 plants, ranging from nut trees to berry bushes, line Mulberry Park in West Ashley.

READ MORE: "Hendrick Automotive Group donates $100,000 to Lowcountry Food Bank."

The first in the state, Charleston’s new food forest will provide free, fresh produce to those who need it most.

“What's beautiful about a food forest is that anybody can access it at any time. So, you're not relying on someone's opening hours or the availability to be able to go to a source to get food,” Heater said. “It is in the community and available to the community for whoever needs it.”

The forest features seven tiers of agriculture and will begin producing roughly $25,000 worth of food annually in the first five years.

The conservancy has worked with several local groups, like Slow Food Charleston, to make the flagship project come to life.

“To help bring good, clean, and fair agricultural products to our community, to communities that may not have access to them. To have them engage in a manner that is enriching,” said Kellie Holmes, co-chair of Slow Food Charleston.

READ MORE: "Hansley's Free Fridge project is fighting food insecurity in South Carolina."

Accessibility is at the root of it all.

The food forest is in the Ardmore neighborhood, a lower-income area that could be categorized as a food desert. It isn't an uncommon issue. Around 40.5 million Americans live in USDA-designated food deserts nationwide.

“Mulberry Park is an ideal location. It is a community that, though it has some grocery stores in its vicinity, they are not necessarily grocery stores that everyone in the community can afford to go to,” Heater explained.

Located off the Bikeway, Charleston Parks Conservancy hopes the food forest will feed not only its closest neighbors but the greater West Ashley and Charleston area.

Planting the seeds of an edible food forest in West Ashley, SC's 1st free-of-charge grove

Pluck an apple, cut some herbs or pick some berries at South Carolina's first food forest, a new free-of-charge grove being built in the Ardmore community.With an expected seven stories of canopies and an estimated $25,000 annually in produce by its fifth year, Charleston Parks Conservancy director Darlene Heater acknowledged it's a remarkable undertaking for the local nonprofit."It's creating access ...

Pluck an apple, cut some herbs or pick some berries at South Carolina's first food forest, a new free-of-charge grove being built in the Ardmore community.

With an expected seven stories of canopies and an estimated $25,000 annually in produce by its fifth year, Charleston Parks Conservancy director Darlene Heater acknowledged it's a remarkable undertaking for the local nonprofit.

"It's creating access in food deserts but creating it in a way that is low-maintenance and little barrier for people to be able to participate in it," Heater said.

The food forest on Mulberry Street near Grech Street, and off the West Ashley Bikeway, is being funded by a $50,000 grant from the South Carolina Forestry Commission.

While the conservancy is handling the horticulture, the City of Charleston's parks department is working to excavate the land, add pathways and install a new playground at the park. It is one of several conservancy projects this year, in addition to working with the city to manage 24 parks on the peninsula, on James Island and in West Ashley.

Parks Department director Jason Kronsberg compared the collaboration between the city, the conservancy and the community to a three-legged stool. The conservancy liaises with the neighborhoods, like Ardmore for the food forest, and then fundraises with them before going to the city to bring a project to life.

The food forest is intended to help the Ardmore neighborhood, recently identified in the Charleston parks master plan as a community of high need, along with the surrounding community.

Besides providing free access to produce, the forest can help people better understand where their food comes from, Kronsberg said. It's also an opportunity for folks to lend a hand with some maintenance.

"The parks are owned by everybody," Kronsberg said.

The project will not be without its challenges, though. As the weather in Charleston gets more severe, Heater said that the conservancy will need to tend to the forest carefully and make sure plants or produce don't wash away.

Teaching the community how to use — and not overuse — the one-of-a-kind forest will take time, too.

The conservancy plans to lean on its volunteer base to maintain the forest, such as harvesting, packing and sending excess produce to local nonprofits. There will be no constraints on harvesting to start, as to not adversely impact food accessibility, Heater said. Part of it will be trial and error, and much of the plan is flexible based on the demand the conservancy sees for certain produce.

"What we may learn is that this community really loves sweet potatoes but doesn't care as much about turnips," Heater said. "So let's look at how we can expand growing our sweet potato patch so that we can continue to serve the people adequately who most need it."

This spring will mark the first planting of the fruit trees, brambles and herbs. Heater said that best practices dictate not harvesting during the first year, so by the second year the conservancy expects to have herbs, mushrooms, brambles and possibly bananas to harvest.

By the fifth year, with an estimated 70 trees bearing fruit, Heater said she expects 10,000 pounds of produce.

The food forest comes two years after the adoption of a new Charleston parks master plan and months after the overwhelming approval of a bond referendum question last November.

"Citizens spoke loudly and clearly that they supported the referendum and improved park spaces," Kronsberg said. "Coming out of COVID, when parks became critical infrastructure, it was natural that there was that much support for a referendum."

As the Ardmore food forest begins to yield, relieving supply-chain issues might just become an additional perk. And in a world reshaped after the pandemic, the food forest is one project that shows how to branch out from the traditional park.

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Volunteers asking for more help with cleanup of West Ashley homeless encampments

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - West Ashley community members are asking for more volunteers to help them clean up visible homeless encampments.Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano claims there are around 340-350 homeless people in the county area and more than 650 homeless veterans in the Lowcountry. Many of them seek shelter or community with already established encampments.A large encampment near Savannah Highway was given notice to leave two weeks ago. The original site was established nearly eight months ago by one person,...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - West Ashley community members are asking for more volunteers to help them clean up visible homeless encampments.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano claims there are around 340-350 homeless people in the county area and more than 650 homeless veterans in the Lowcountry. Many of them seek shelter or community with already established encampments.

A large encampment near Savannah Highway was given notice to leave two weeks ago. The original site was established nearly eight months ago by one person, who was one of two left behind when the group of 20 people vacated.

“These people brought friends, and those people brought more friends. They ended up taking advantage of the people that let them in and then stole a lot of their stuff” Graziano says. “Then they took the notice we sent them and left.”

Both people, who asked not to be filmed, say they were upset that the area was left trashed.

The wooded area is private property and is surrounded by residential and commercial properties. Homeowners nearby call the trash, tents and items an “eyesore.”

Olivia Grafton runs a Facebook group called the “Charleston Litter Clean Up and Homeless and Mental Illness Awareness.” Grafton started this a few months ago as a West Ashley neighbor of 30-plus years.

“Find them, give them food, hygiene supplies, just check on them and build a connection to make them feel they still have hope,” Grafton says.

Grafton says she likes being able to share a smile and direct connection to her community, but without the numbers, these encampments remain unsustainable.

“A lot of people ask me why I do it, why do I spend all this time doing it? You have so many individuals out there that are struggling and they just feel worthless,” Grafton says. “We don’t know what their story is.”

Graziano says county and community resources are quickly drained by these spaces. The sheriff’s office tries to track encampments, but they often move quickly, making it difficult.

Graziano says many people she has spoken to have been given jail time for “petty charges,” like trespassing, littering and disorderly conduct.

The long-term goal is to learn more about the people and families living in encampments so they can get the resources they need to get back on their feet. This could mean a driver’s license, resources for a job, or basic survival needs.

“We’re chasing our tail. It’s not sustainable. This is a vicious cycle,” Graziano says. “It’s going to keep happening and more people are going to be homeless. We need to get folks together at the table that can make these decisions.”

The sheriff’s office works with Grafton to host clean-ups for different sites across West Ashley. The group tries to plan weekly, monthly or bi-monthly events, depending on where the need is for the community.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Developer hosts meeting to address Essex Farm community concerns

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Residents who live near one West Ashley development learned more about the future of their community during a meeting hosted by developers.Cameron Property Company, the company overseeing the development of 26 acres near the Essex Farms community, invited residents to share their concerns and provide input at a meeting Thursday night.The 26-acre lot runs from Essex Farms Drive, down Skye Drive and extends to Dorothy Drive.Developers were accompanied by Charleston city officials representing the ...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Residents who live near one West Ashley development learned more about the future of their community during a meeting hosted by developers.

Cameron Property Company, the company overseeing the development of 26 acres near the Essex Farms community, invited residents to share their concerns and provide input at a meeting Thursday night.

The 26-acre lot runs from Essex Farms Drive, down Skye Drive and extends to Dorothy Drive.

Developers were accompanied by Charleston city officials representing the council, planning department, and traffic department to discuss what potential businesses residents could expect to see.

During the meeting, community members said they were relieved to learn that the developer withdrew its request to change the zoning language to include drive-thru windows at restaurants.

The developer is in talks with a grocery store and gas station, but plans have not been finalized.

Some residents said they are less than pleased about the big changes coming to the Essex Farms community.

Residents also expressed concerns about traffic congestion and the potential for a gas station to be built on the property.

“Tonight’s the first time we’ve heard gas station. That was a shock for all of us. When we purchased our properties, we were told specifically that a gas station wasn’t allowed to be there,” resident Kellie Kinard said.

Development Manager Collins Moe said he wants community input but that the company has the right to build to the zoning order, which does allow a grocery store and gas station.

“We’re going through the appropriate city of Charleston permit steps which require traffic studies. Things that outline what we’re proposing to make sure they meet all the standards with the county, the state, and the city, more importantly, based on where this property lies. At the end of the day, we’re still very far out,” Moe said.

Kinard said she is disappointed and was left with even more concerns and questions.

“I think my husband and I are going to have a serious conversation about whether or not we’re going to list our home. Which is really unfortunate because we love our neighborhood. We have great neighbors, but we do not want this type of development that they’re talking about potentially literally within several feet of our driveway,” Kinard said.

City officials stated that this development was approved many years ago and the zoning goes back to 1997.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

West Ashley thrives and has a bright future

The wide land west of the Ashley River is home to comfortable tree-lined streets with rows of homes, highways flanked by businesses and malls, villages like Avondale and emerging plans for revitalization.With a 2022 population of 83,996 people, West Ashley is the epicenter of Charleston, even though most people consider the peninsula to be more population.“What makes West Ashley special is the people,” said West Ashley Realtor Shana Swain, a former bartender with connections throughout the suburb. “It’s ...

The wide land west of the Ashley River is home to comfortable tree-lined streets with rows of homes, highways flanked by businesses and malls, villages like Avondale and emerging plans for revitalization.

With a 2022 population of 83,996 people, West Ashley is the epicenter of Charleston, even though most people consider the peninsula to be more population.

“What makes West Ashley special is the people,” said West Ashley Realtor Shana Swain, a former bartender with connections throughout the suburb. “It’s where the heart of Charleston is.”

West Of newspaper editor Lorne Chambers agreed, describing residents as having a “scrappy spirit.”

“They are not your traditional downtown Charleston people, but they are real Charlestonians,” he said. “In a way, this is the original Charlestown,” he said. “You have a lot of people over here who have a lot of pride in their community and hope for a better tomorrow.”

Dominated before World War II by farms and pastures, West Ashley bloomed into a middle-class suburban haven replete with everything from mind-numbing rush-hour traffic to chain stores that you can find in Columbus, Ohio.

But with a controversial development project being discussed at the former Piggly Wiggly site on Sumar Street and Ashley River Crossing, a planned pedestrian bridge connecting West Ashley and downtown, a question is what direction is the suburb headed.

The West Ashley Revitalization Committee has been spearheading the suburb’s path toward development. The committee’s Plan West Ashley aims for ambitious changes from economic development to flood prevention.

The Sumar Street development project was postponed in June, causing doubts about the strength of the committee’s plans.

City Councilman Karl Brady represents outer West Ashley. A board member of the West Ashley Revitalization Commission, he said West Ashley projects like the Sumar Street development project, were voted down by people who don’t have a vision for the future.

“They see West Ashley as it is but not as what it could be,” he said.

Brady, who currently is running for reelection, said that in revitalization it is important to remember where West Ashley started. It was the birthplace of Charleston when settlers landed at Charles Towne Landing in 1670.

“I think one thing lost on a bunch of people is that West Ashley is the birthplace of Charleston. That’s how we should treat it.”

Chambers, a former Charleston City Paper employee, said West Ashley is planning in the right direction, but there is not much to show for it.

“In people, you are seeing this shift away from these traditional big-box stores towards giving more community pride,” he said. “But we have to stay the course.”

Chambers said the community has historically wanted more than malls and commutes, but often ended up with Walmarts and chain businesses regardless.

Malls, he said, are a product of West Ashley’s suburban boom in the 1980s. The “retail apocalypse” of the 2010s crippled them. Now, West Ashley has a lot of vacant lots. Chambers said because the area is growing, some residents want to shed the concrete.

“Most citizens in West Ashley didn’t want another mall or gas station,” he said.

Donna Jacobs is a West Ashley historian and author. As a former board member of Plan West Ashley, Jacobs noticed a generational difference in what residents plan for their neighborhoods.

Jacobs said the West Ashley area has been split between two different models of how to live and build. It also is split between two different generations of Americans and what they want for the future.

In many ways, these splits are between those “inside the loop” and those “outside the loop,” meaning those who live north of the swath cut by Interstate 526 and those who live south of it — an area generally with more land and open space.

She said those who live inside 526 advocate for a walkable Avondale plan. But those outside of the interstate often want to keep West Ashley’s traditional shopping centers.

“Inside the loop, some of these younger residents would happily ride their bikes to work every day and walk their kids to school, regardless of the weather,” she said.

But others see cars as their primary way of commuting, “They kind of expect those old West Ashley malls to drive to,” she said.

Jacobs said the diverse lifestyles and history of West Ashley was a strength for living in the area. She added she thought West Ashley was a nice place to live regardless of whether you believe in the Avondale approach or the mall.

Alex Nettless, a former City Paper intern, is a student at Elon University.

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West Ashley by the numbers

Population 83,996

Ethnicity68% White26% Black3% Hispanic

Median age 38.7

Median household income $68,898

Percent above $100,000 31%

Households below poverty line 10%

Households above $200,000 7.6%

Households 36,864

Occupancy52% owner-occupied40.0% rental7.7% vacant

Education19.1% are high school graduates.30.7% have bachelor’s degrees.16.5% have graduate degrees.

Apparel and services $82M

Education $65M

Entertainment, Rec $121M

Food at home $201M

Food away from home $144M

Health care $213M

Household furnishings $83M

Shelter $734M

Travel $89M

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