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A CLEAR VISION: Bowman welcomes new optometrist

Focus Eyecare will offer the full gamut of vision care, including comprehensive eye exams and contact lens fittings. There is also a large assortment of eyeglass frames for sale, including sunglasses, right in the office.

Dr. Sarah Stuchl, Bowman’s new full-time optometrist with Focus Eyecare, uses a device to check the vision of her technician, Cheri Siefert. Focus Eyecare officially opened on Monday in Bowman. (Photo by Bryce Martin/Pioneer)
Dr. Sarah Stuchl, Bowman’s new full-time optometrist with Focus Eyecare, uses a device to check the vision of her technician, Cheri Siefert. Focus Eyecare officially opened on Monday in Bowman. (Photo by Bryce Martin/Pioneer)

By BRYCE MARTIN
Pioneer Editor | bmartin@countrymedia.net

Even if a person has no current trouble with their vision did you know that an eye care professional is able to uncover health problems that could affect eyesight in the future?

That is why Dr. Sarah Stuchl recommends everyone visit an optometrist, especially in their adult lives, regardless of their vision clarity. Having a comprehensive eye exam could address illnesses that potentially impact a person’s ability to see.

One part of Stuchl’s goal as an optometrist is to help discover such problems.

Stuchl, 26, is the full-time optometrist at Focus Eyecare in Bowman. She leads a staff of two technicians, Stacey Holder and Cheri Siefert. The business officially opened Aug. 31 and subsequently became the area’s only eye care center.

“It was kind of meant to be,” Stuchl said of her new job.

Stuchl and Stacey Holder, one of the office’s two technicians, sort through lenses on the opening day of Focus Eyecare, located on Divide Avenue. (Photo by Bryce Martin/Pioneer)
Stuchl and Stacey Holder, one of the office’s two technicians, sort through lenses on the opening day of Focus Eyecare, located on Divide Avenue. (Photo by Bryce Martin/Pioneer)

Dr. James Trimble, an optometrist who operates Black Hills Vision Care in Belle Fourche, S.D., and Focus Eyecare in Lemmon, S.D., owns Bowman’s satellite eye clinic and hired Stuchl as its primary doctor.

She had previously worked for Trimble throughout college, and he was her eye doctor while she was growing up in Buffalo, S.D.

Originally from Harding County, Stuchl went on to graduate from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D., and in May obtained a doctorate in optometry from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.

Working for Focus Eyecare in Bowman is Stuchl’s first job as an optometrist. Her goal, as she explained, is to become the routine eye doctor of the community and to provide emergency eye care, which was absent in the area for the last several years.

“I wanted to come back and help the people around here,” she said.

Focus Eyecare will offer the full gamut of vision care, including comprehensive eye exams and contact lens fittings. There is also a large assortment of eyeglass frames for sale, including sunglasses, right in the office.

Such a business was notably absent from the community; there was nobody in the area that had expertise in the eye care field if an emergency occurred.

“In any eye emergency, you should see an eye care provider first,” Stuchl said. “If someone gets something in their eye, or if they have eye pain … we’re equipped to handle that,” she said.

Stuchl will also be responsible for the treatment and management of patients with ocular diseases and other conditions.

If you fear going to the eye doctor, Stuchl wants to put you at ease. With today’s advanced technology, the exam process is very easy and non-invasive, she said.

A popular fear of going to an eye doctor relates to the unpleasantness some people associate with glaucoma testing, which is part of a typical exam. A puff of air is abruptly shot into a person’s fully opened eye to test the eye’s pressure. The anticipation, for some, is unnerving.

But Stuchl said there is no need for worry because they use alternate methods rather than the air puff. Those methods are simpler and less frightening, she assured.

“People prefer it over the eye puff,” she said.

Dr. Sarah Stuchl proudly stands next to the sign outside her office. Focus Eyecare is the first full-time optometry office in the area for several years. (Photo by Bryce Martin/Pioneer)
Dr. Sarah Stuchl proudly stands next to the sign outside her office. Focus Eyecare is the first full-time optometry office in the area for several years. (Photo by Bryce Martin/Pioneer)

It’s important that people overcome any fear of seeing the eye doctor (or any doctor for that matter) because vision is a huge part of everybody’s life—and just because a person believes they have good vision doesn’t mean they don’t need their eyes tested. Bodily diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and some inflammatory diseases like muscular dystrophy, can be ruled out through a simple eye exam.

“It’s important that people realize we can look into the eye and see blood vessels and the health of the whole body,” she said. Visiting an optometrist could help prevent people from having vision problems in the future.

To get started, a patient schedules an appointment for an eye exam where their vision and eye health will be fully evaluated. From there, Stuchl gives recommendations on how to proceed with corrective lenses or treatment, if needed.

“The majority of the population needs some type of correction,” she said. And eye protection is also important considering the laborious trades worked in the county.

Focus Eyecare currently accepts only certain insurances as it is still in the process of securing the approval to be a provider for the majority of insurances. Blue Cross and Blue Shield optical insurance is already accepted.

For those without insurance, an eye exam can still be done. “We’ll work with people to get the best care that they can afford,” she said.

Teran Doerr, executive director of the Bowman County Development Corp., considers Stuchl’s recruitment to the area “a huge success story.”

It was a longtime goal of the BCDC to recruit an optometrist to the area as they recognized a growing need.

A random recommendation led Doerr to contact Stuchl.

She was finished with school, she was familiar with the area and she was eager to assist the community, so Doerr decided she would fit the bill.

Some time after Stuchl was contacted, Trimble approached Doerr wanting to open a satellite office in Bowman.

“It was the absolutely best situation we could have ended up with,” Doerr said.

The BCDC also offered Focus Eyecare an interest buy-down and a storefront grant to assist with signage.

Stuchl took the job, explaining that she liked the closeness of the Bowman County community and its small-town atmosphere. She also gets to be closer to her family.

She currently resides just outside of Bowman with her husband, Josh, who works at Brosz Engineering in Bowman.

She said she plans to stay in Bowman for a long time.

Focus Eyecare, located at 16 West Divide in Bowman (in the same building as GG’s Closet and Heart River Hearing), is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Friday. Call (701) 523-7707 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

GAMES