Larae Zimprich, O. D.
Vance Thompson Vision, Sioux Falls Why did you become an optometrist?
I always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. When looking at options, I wanted something that would be rewarding and give me the opportunity to have good relationships with my patients. I started working as a technician for The Eye Doctors, PC in Sioux Falls and I instantly fell in love with the profession. Whether the doctors were prescribing a pair of glasses or managing a complicated disease, patients were all grateful. I saw firsthand the positive communication and relationship between the doctors and patients.What don’t people know about optometry?
Many people do not understand how annual eye exams can diagnose systemic diseases. Many times, systemic diseases can be diagnosed early and prevent it from worsening. However, I do believe the Optometry profession is starting to be more known due to the increased amount of myopia in young children.Proudest practice moment?
There are so many moments that make me feel proud. Cases that stick out the most are patients who have some sort of corneal disease/dystrophy/irregularity that causes poor vision in glasses or soft contact lenses. I enjoy fitting specialty scleral lenses and these patients can typically restore vision with just a scleral contact lens. I find these patients are so grateful and sometimes will even cry because of the drastic amount of vision that can be achieved. Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
The most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision is to get annual eye exams. There are many diseases of the eye that can go undetected for years before it starts to interfere with vision. In those cases, early diagnosis is crucial and can prevent vision loss. Jeff Sayler, O. D.
Sioux Falls Family Vision
My “I want to be an eye doctor” story started when I was in 5-6th grade. My sister got something in her eye on the farm and our local MD sent us to the big city to have the eye doctor fix it. We arrived at the office and to my surprise it didn't have the traditional dentist/ doctor/ hospital smell (which was a positive) and when I saw my sister running down the hallway cheering that "It didn't hurt" I knew what I wanted to be. I told my dad I wanted to be an Eye Doctor. He told me he would sell the back 80 to build my office and so the story began.
People should understand that an optometrist does a comprehensive medical exam! Most people just think we do a glasses visit and don't understand the reasons for all the extra tests we do.
My proudest moment was taking the risk to start my own practice and developing Sioux Falls Family Vision into a large and respected business.
The most important thing people can do for their health and vision is to not take their vision for granted! Do routine optometric visits, which doesn't always mean every year, but it also doesn't mean once every 10 years. I also think people should not jump from doctor to doctor to get the best deal, find an office, and get to know your doctor and trust them.
Eryn Caudill, O. D.
Family Optical, Spearfish Why did you become an optometrist?
A career in the health sciences field was something I had always wanted to pursue. Initially, I was contemplating a career between optometry or another healthcare profession. Vision is such an important aspect of day-to-day life and optometry is an occupation where you can make a real difference. There are few things in this world more gratifying than aiding in a person’s sight and eye care. What don’t people know about optometry?
Optometry isn’t just prescribing glasses and contacts. Many people don’t fully understand the medical side and the many subspecialties of optometry or the crucial role it plays in healthcare. Eye health can be directly connected to one’s systemic health and an eye exam can reveal a lot about a person’s well-being. Proudest practice moment?
I try to find moments to be proud in every day. These moments may be as simple as prescribing someone’s very first pair of glasses or contacts or as involved as detecting a life-altering medical condition. Every day provides me with fulfillment. A moment which does notably stand out was diagnosing a 20-something young woman with optic neuritis precipitating from undiagnosed multiple sclerosis. This eye exam directed her toward the treatment and care she greatly needed. Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
One of the most important steps a person can do for their eye health and vision would be maintaining a healthy lifestyle and receiving yearly comprehensive exams. Many eye diseases are easier to treat when detected early and can save a lot of discouragement and aggravation down the road. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Renae Welke, O.D.
Slingsby & Huot Eye Associates, Rapid City
Why did you became an Optometrist? I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in health care. In my undergraduate studies I became intrigued on how the entire human systemic system integrated into the visual system. What people don’t know about optometry:
I feel the majority of the population does not realize that optometrists do more than prescribe glasses and contacts. We are able to not only diagnose ocular conditions but are able to identify many systemic issues that can be detected through a comprehensive eye examination. In addition we also can have many different specialties within our profession which further expands our abilities to treat visual related conditions. My Proudest Practice Moment:
I feel to have one proudest practice moment would be an understatement. I feel I’ve done my best for every patient that I have examined and tested. One of the proudest practice moments I would like to share is when I was able to save one of my employees from a life threatening brain tumor. I was able to do this from the expertise I’ve acquired in neuro-optometry. The most important thing people can for their vision and eye health:
I think that the most important thing people can do for their vision and eye health is to not take their vision for granted. This includes living a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and exercise as well as having regular comprehensive eye examinations.Ross English, O. D.
Northern Hills Eye Care, SturgisWhy did you become an optometrist?
I always knew I wanted a career in health care. My high school offered a career to work program that allowed us to shadow a local business for a semester. I ended up spending two semesters at Northern Hills Eye Care in Sturgis with Dr. David Prosser and Dr. Jason Hafner. After my school to work experience, I knew optometry was for me! To this day, I am so grateful for the lifestyle that optometry has provided me. I get to play an integral role in our healthcare system while building lifelong relationships with the patients I am fortunate enough to care for. What don’t people know about optometry?
I think many people don’t realize the critical role that optometry plays in the overall healthcare system. The eyes and visual system really give us an inside view of a patient’s systemic health. We meet a patient’s visual needs when it comes to spectacle correction, contact lenses, and diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of ocular disease. What many people may not realize is that optometrists also have a crucial role in the early detection of numerous systemic diseases. We can ensure that patients are receiving the care they require, and make the appropriate referrals for the rest of their health care needs. Proudest practice moment?
I can honestly say that every day in practice makes me proud. From the toddler that receives his first pair of glasses and can see a new world, to the early detection of a patient’s unknown ocular or systemic disease, or the wonderful staff that we get to serve together with. One particular case stands out. I had the privilege of seeing a new patient that had basically given up on her current way of life due to her vision impairment. She had lost her driver’s license and was close to losing her job. We discovered that her cataracts were the only thing getting in the way of her continuing to build the life she had previously known. We had some hurdles financially, but with our help, the help of the Northern Plains Eye Foundation and a local surgeon, we were able to give her her old life back. Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
The answer is a simple one! You do the same thing that you do for your overall systemic health. Get the proper nutrition and the necessary exercise. If you are good about tending to your overall health, your eyes will benefit too. Of course, annual eye exams are also critically important. The early detection of disease always helps with a better prognosis.
Tiffany Brink, OD Why did I become an optometrist?
Sioux Falls Family Vision
As a young child, one never knows the world they are missing... until someone tells you that you are missing it. I didn’t realize what was out there until my mom took me to see Dr James Ruch in the first grade. I distinctly remember him putting the big E on the eye chart and asking if I could see it. I quietly said No... and so started the journey to where I am now. You can never know what someone is feeling or seeing for that matter, but when you stop and think about the simple changes you can make in someone’s life, it is the most wonderful and gratifying feeling ever. I worked for a summer at an optometric clinic and realized the love I had for this profession! The love of the relationships you can build with your patients, taking care of them and their families, is immeasurable. I absolutely LOVE what I do every day!!! What people don’t know about optometry?
People have the perception that optometry is only “Which is better, 1 or 2?” There is so much more than that!!! We have the talents and abilities to truly make lives so much better. What they don’t realize is the scope of practice we all do in order to truly take care of them. Yes we can make them see better, but there are so many things that go into that. Eyes need to see well, be healthy, and function as a team in order to make it a perfect world. We, as optometrists, can truly change a person’s world !!!! Proudest practice moment?
In 20 years of practice, every day is a gift to me to see how we can changes people’s lives! From the simplest of giving the first pair of glasses to a reluctant young child who now sees the world in a new light, to helping that emergency patient get a foreign body out of their eye, to helping a patient have surgery to improve their vision. My favorite moment isn’t just one moment.... it is “moments.” They are the moments when you can be shopping in Target or at a basketball game and a young patient comes up and gives you a hug. You see their smile and the glasses on their face and you feel such joy in your heart! The moments of knowing you have given contacts and confidence to someone who just needed a little help finding their way in the world. Our gifts and talents are given to us to share with everyone!! Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
Yearly eye exams are so very important! Educating patients that the exams help not only their seeing the world better, but that we can diagnose and treat conditions and diseases that may arise.
Treasure your eyes like they are your greatest and most special gift.. treat them well and they will allow you to experience the world in such beautiful ways!!!Jason Schmit, O. D.
Vance Thompson Vision, Sioux Falls Why did you become an optometrist?
I always knew I wanted to be in the medical profession. Optometry seemed like the perfect career path for me that allowed the greatest work/life balance. And I am able to really change people's lives by helping to improve vision (our most important sense). It's been a very rewarding career for me.What don’t people know about optometry?
There are so many sub-specialties within optometry. It's not just glasses and contacts. For example, I specialize in the treatment and management of dry eye disease. And in rural South Dakota, we get to practice at our full level of training. Also living in a smaller community really allows all SD optometrists to connect with each other more closely than would occur in a larger region. Proudest practice moment?
After I moved back to SD over 7 years ago, I got to participate in the pre/post-op care of several family members having cataract surgery, including my mom. It's been very rewarding to help my immediate family members through this surgical procedure. Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
Get annual eye exams. We are able to detect many eye diseases, skin disorders/cancers around the eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degenerations, etc. well before it actually can affect a patient's vision. Early detection = early prevention.Ashley M. Gentrup, OD FCOVD
Visions Eye Care + Therapy Center, Sioux Falls Why did you become an optometrist?
Combining my love of science and passion for helping others, I wanted to do something in the medical field. Fondly recalling my trips to the eye doctor as a baby and beyond, I thought optometry could be a good fit. Between working for my local optometrist doing various office tasks during summers in high school and working as an optician in college, I fell in love with the profession. I witnessed the wonderful relationships optometrists had with their patients, learned more of the conditions and diseases that optometry could diagnose, monitor, and treat, and knew it was the profession for me! What don't people know about optometry?
There is SO MUCH MORE to vision than seeing 20/20! The eyes have to team, track, and focus accurately and efficiently so that we can use our visual system to understand and interact with the world around us. If those skills aren't working appropriately, a person can have significant functional deficits making learning a struggle, causing discomfort with computer and digital device use, challenging athletic performance, or interfering with balance and safety. Optometry can help! Proudest practice moment?
Oh goodness-- there are so many! Anytime someone comes back to see me and states, "I can do this now!" or "I used to not be able to do that and now I can!" I am so thankful for the tools optometry has given me to improve the lives of others. Whether it be a a 2nd grade student who read his first chapter book without getting a headache and remembered what he read, a little girl who was able to safely light fireworks for the first time after working in vision therapy to enhance her depth perception, an athlete who was able to return to elite level baseball after a major concussion in football caused him to see double, or an elderly patient feeling more sure-footed and less of a fall risk after adding prism in her lenses, I am proud to be an Optometrist! Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
See an Optometrist!! The visual system is so critical for our day to day lives and our eyes need to be healthy (eat your veggies and wear sunglasses!) and working well. It's important to have a comprehensive exam starting in infancy between 6-12 months of age, between 3-5 years old, and every year after even if you are seeing well. Eva Anderson, Optometrist
Eye Site by Howlin Vision, Sioux Falls Why did you become an optometrist?
My high school offered a mentorship program that allowed you to shadow different careers for a semester. I took advantage of this program because, at the time, I was still trying to decide what career path to pursue. I had always been interested in the medical field but I wasn’t sure which specialty. Luckily enough, the first person I asked to shadow was my optometrist, Dr. Angela Hase. I remember being immediately interested and didn’t feel the need to shadow any other career after that. It’s because of that experience that I continued to pursue optometry and I have never looked back. What don’t people know about optometry?
There’s a lot more to an eye exam than glasses and contact lenses. Yes, glasses and contact lenses are a big part of the exam, but the health examination of the eye is probably the most important. To preserve good vision, the key is to detect possible vision threatening conditions before they become a problem. Proudest practice moment?
There are a couple of things. One that stands out is when I detected a stroke in a young woman in her 30s and was able to get her to the hospital for early treatment. Otherwise, helping people with any urgent needs such as corneal abrasions, foreign body removals, infections, retinal tears and detachments.
I am also extremely happy with the place I am at in my career and am grateful to have found the group that I practice with. Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
Yearly eye exams are the most important thing people can do. Our goal is to preserve our patient’s vision for their entire life. Early detection and treatment of conditions is the best way to ensure that that’s possible. There are always more treatment options the earlier something is detected. Also, just taking care of your general health. Things such as uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure can cause vision loss.Alex Permann, Optometrist
605 Vision, Chamberlain Why did you become an optometrist?
Optometrists have the ability to impact patients’ lives positively every day by helping them see. Few things bring me more joy than watching a child put on glasses for the first time and seeing them realize how much of their world they were missing. What don’t people know about optometry?
The myopia epidemic and myopia control. Eyes are becoming more and more nearsighted as young people spend more time indoors and on devices. Now parents can curb this trend by visiting their optometrist and implementing myopia control measures for their children. Proudest practice moment?
Watching my 605 Vision team grow and develop into the individuals they are today. Most important thing people can do for their eye health and vision?
Wear UV protection. Many of the major eye diseases that occur as we age (i.e. cataracts and macular degeneration) are linked to sun exposure. Read More
SDOS provides these resources to help optometrist navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.UPDATES to SDOS COVID Resources: