• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

New optometrist: community 'fantastic'

REBECCA SWARTZENTRUBER, with the help of her husband, Michael, to demonstrate one of the pieces of equipment at Family Eyecare Associates, a Crossfield Drive business that also operates the Children's Vision and Learning Center next door. The Swartzentrubers met at Centre College and have two young foster children. (Photo by John McGary)

"Woodford County is a fantastic place to work," optometrist Rebecca Swartzentruber said when asked about her job at Family Eyecare Associates and the Children's Vision and Learning Center in Versailles. Swartzentruber, who graduated from Centre College in 2006 and obtained her medical degree from the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, came to work in Versailles in June. Along with owner Rick Graebe and Regina Callihan, she's one of three optometrists who work at the clinics at 105 Crossfield Drive. The 32-year-old, an Alliance, Ohio, native, previously worked at Stratton Eyes in Lexington and LeClear Vision Center in Louisville. "The reason I came to (this) practice . is that our office has a very holistic approach to providing vision care. And so we are interested in healing through the visual process and providing not only primary eye care for correction of sight with glasses and contact lenses, but also for folks who have double vision and balance and coordination issues related to the eyes, difficulty with reading," Swartzentruber said. "We are a more complex eye care eye provider ." Swartzentruber said her typical day involves primary and specialty eye care. "Basically, I'm seeing patients daily in the exam room - whatever the patient needs, whether it is for routine eye care for glasses and contact lenses," Swartzentruber said. "We have a lot of patients who travel from afar to see us for the specialty care we provide to help alleviate double vision, balance-coordination issues related to vision, reading-related problems, learning-related problems related to vision ." Swartzentruber said some patients have suffered traumatic brain injuries and as a result have difficulty with their "visual process." The eyes have been called a "window to the soul" - but they're also a window to non-visual health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and even tumors. That's why Swartzentruber and those in her field recommend annual eye checks, even for those whose vision seems perfect. "They can have 20-20 eyesight, but still have very significant challenges with visual perception, visual processing and the way they utilize that 20-20 eyesight," Swartzentruber said.

Also, some people whose vision has become blurry don't need a new prescription, but have an underlying medical problem. Swartzentruber says a new "iCare" machine there allows doctors to check for glaucoma without that startling puff of air to the eyes used in older equipment. Swartzentruber calls sight the "leading force" people use to take themselves out into the world, and said her practice is one of the few in Central Kentucky offering "neuro-optometric visual rehabilitative therapy." "The summation of our philosophy of vision is that sight, or the seeing clearly piece, is the foundation for the visual process. First you have to see clearly, and then you have to basically take that information and your eyes have to be able to function well together as a team, and then they have to be . integrated into the body and the brain so that you can be a balanced human being," Swartzentruber said.

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