Holland honored as ‘Optometrist of Year’
by Clarke Davis
Proud and humbled were words Dr. Jeannette Holland used to express her feelings after being named the 2013 Optometrist of the Year.
The award was bestowed on the Oskaloosa doctor recently at the annual convention of the Kansas Optometric Association in Overland Park.
“She won’t brag on herself but few people know how much work she did through the association and its legislative committee that benefits both the profession and the people we serve,” her husband, Dr. Heath Holland, said.
“You don’t tell her no,” he said. “There were outside parties that thought they had the right to legislate our profession. She helped write important legislation that changed and clarified the law.” He noted that she was the state’s nomination for the award on the national level as well.
“I am humbled by the select few that I follow with this award, but I’m proud that it comes from my colleagues,” Jeannette said.
She was president of the Kansas Optometric Association in 2008-09 and received the Distinguished Service Award in 2011 and the Legislative Service Award the next year.
She is a longtime participant in the Eye Care Council’s “See to Learn” program where she provides vision assessments to all 3-year-old children in the community at no cost.
“We learned that a lot of children even in the fourth- and fifth-grade were having learning difficulties because of vision problems,” she said. “If we can catch problems early those kind of problems go away.”
The Hollands pay $700 a year to this organization to provide the literature and education and get people informed about this program.
The doctor also provides care to those with financial need through “Vision USA” with referral from the Jefferson County Service Organization.
Jeannette Holland is a Lawrence native who left the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in pre-optometry. She graduated in 1995 from Northeastern State University College of Optometry, Tahlequah, Okla. It’s here she met her husband-to-be.
Following graduation she started her own practice on the square in Oskaloosa in 1996. Heath headed back to his home state of Arkansas, but two years later — with a mutual decision to get married — he joined Jeannette’s practice. They moved to their new clinic on Highway US-59 in 2008.
Not unlike all professions, they have needed to keep up with the latest in technology, but find it beneficial for their patients. The profession has moved beyond simply correcting one’s vision.
“Many years ago those in my profession were jewelers and made glasses,” she said. “Now we can do so much more than that.”
“The eye is a window on a person’s health,” she said.
The smallest arteries or vessels are in the feet and eyes, she explained, so it is here that problems often first appear.
It’s through the eye that an optometrist can notice problems with high blood pressure, thyroid, blood sugar, and stroke symptoms.
At least five times in her years of practice she has detected emergency situations where the patient was either informed to get to a medical doctor immediately or an ambulance was called.
With the latest technology, pictures of the eye can be taken and stored in one’s digital file for later comparison as one ages.
Holland is often reminded why she chose her profession.
“I knew I wanted something in the health field and there is just something about seeing people get their glasses for the first time,” she said.
“I see that look they have and the joy that they can now see what everyone else can,” she said. “I decided that’s how I want to spend my day.”
The Hollands are among the first to be board certified by the American Board of Optometry that was founded last year. The purpose, of course, was to further raise the professional standards and included 150 hours of additional schooling.
She serves as a representative of optometry with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, as well as with the regional Medicare Carrier.
She has served in the Oskaloosa Rotary Club, and is a past president of the Oskaloosa Lions Club. She is also a supporter and speaker for the Jefferson County Health Department Diabetes Coalition.
The couple has two children, Brady, 9, a fourth-grader, and Taeh, 7, a first-grader.
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