Optometrist, active community member, recipient of the Pride of Rogers award, and the NWA Business Women’s Conference 2002 Woman of the Year winner, Dr. DeAnne Witherspoon, shares with us the importance of eye care and tells a bit about her involvement in the local community. Witherspoon has served as Chairman of the Board for the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce, was the first female president in the 99-year history of the Arkansas Optometric Association, and is presently serving on the Southwest Council of Optometry—a six state regional board.
What made you decide to become an optometrist?
I loved that my optometrist helped me see better when I was 12. To this day there is no greater feeling than seeing the look on someone’s face whom is seeing clearly for the first time in a long time.
What is the secret to creating and maintaining a successful business?
David and I try to be service oriented to give people care that is higher than the standard of care. We try to treat patients the way we would expect to be treated. It helps us that both of us can run the business part if we need to but that we each have specialties that we prefer.
What is the best part about your job? We are truly a family clinic. To be able to see whole families and multiple generations is a true delight. We now have many four generation families we have taken care of. Family history, genetics and lifestyle patterns can be very telling and helpful.
What is the best advice anyone has ever told you? Be flexible and open to change. By doing so, we have created a clinic with the ability to provide the highest level of primary eye care. We have electronic medical records and great technology to aid us in our patient care, all requiring us to learn new information systems over the last 30 years.
What is your favorite thing about summer? We love being outside with family and friends. Tennis, hiking, family outings, traveling, and watching sports are all favorites.
Anything we should know about caring for our eyes in the summer? Wear your sunglasses and use your sunscreen! And make sure your children and grandchildren do both, too. Nearly 80% of the damage to the skin and eyes is done before the age of 18.
What is the most common mistake people make when it comes to caring for our eyes? (What do we need to know/be doing differently) Annual eye exams are often overlooked. We tend to think that if we see OK, we don’t need routine exams. Our technology today has helped us in our clinic over the last 6 months discover 1) a 16 year old with a retinal detachment she was unaware of, 2) a young mother with a malignant melanoma who has now had treatment to save her eye and her life, 3) a middle aged man on Viagra but with untreated hypertension on the edge of losing vision, and 4) an 88 year old lady with a central macular bleed who we were able to refer quickly for treatment to recover her vision.
How has your company connected with the local Arkansas community? Very early after moving to Rogers, we became active in the local chamber of commerce. It is a great organization to open your eyes to the needs of others in the community. Nearly every activity outside our actual work place can be traced back to the Chamber or some one we met there.
What nonprofit organizations are you personally involved with? Many in the last 20 years including: Mercy Hospital Foundation, Single Parent Scholarship Program, Altrusa of Rogers, Rotary, Northwest AR Community College Foundation, Main Street Rogers, Rogers Little Theatre, Open Avenues(formerly the Adult Dev Ctr), Northwest AR Community Foundation, and the AR Crisis Center.
What got you involved with this/these nonprofit/s? It always comes back to people and relationships. We get involved because there is a special place in our hearts for the people in need or the people trying to make the NWA community a better place to live, work, and play.
Any personal ties to a nonprofit organization? If so, why? Tugging at our heart strings almost always, are those who are trying to help themselves. Two organizations come to mind. The Single Parent Scholarship Program is all about young men and women getting an education to better themselves and the lives of their families. Open Avenues is a favorite because, again, it is a group of people working to be productive members of the community.
Our military and professional education has taken us to many parts of the country and a few different parts of the world. We truly do live in a wonderfully beautiful community where it has been a pleasure working, living, playing, and educating our children.