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Dawley vision center adds therapy services

A growing vision practice has added a new space for vision therapy.

Established in 1991, Dakota Vision Center expanded to Dawley Farm Village in mid-2020.

“We liked the overall growth of the east side and particularly liked the location and ease of getting to us from multiple directions. We saw some opportunities in convenience for existing patients but also for potential new patients as well,” said Dr. Jeffrey Oakland, who developed Dakota Vision Therapy.

“Our experience has been great so far. We certainly can see new patients finding us, whether that be people who live on the east side or from surrounding communities to the east of us. Ultimately, we all wanted to simply grow along with this community that means a great deal to all of us.”

Dakota Vision Center includes five optometrists, a staff of 30 and a new associate joining later this year. Services include comprehensive ocular health exams for all ages, medical management of ocular diseases, contact lens evaluations — including specialty contact lenses — pediatric and InfantSEE exams and co-management services following surgery with an ophthalmologist.

Dakota Vision Therapy “is solely a vision therapy practice,” Oakland said.

“Patients come in one time per week for in-office vision therapy sessions with our vision therapists, and then they have prescribed activities for home between weekly sessions. I like to tell people that vision therapy is a program of lenses and activities that are designed to get the brain and the eyes to work together. ”

It’s one of two vision therapy clinics in the area, he said.

“Vision therapy has been a part of optometric care for close to 100 years, but it is a specialty many offices don’t offer,” he said. “I’d imagine there are probably no more than 1,000 optometrists in the country that work in this field. I’m the one doctor in our group that works in this area.”

In vision therapy, work is done primarily with children who have vision problems that are the cause for reading, learning, comprehension and even attention issues.

“It’s still often thought that if someone has 20/20 eyesight and healthy eyes, they must have perfect vision. Although these are key pieces, the brain has to know how to use the two eyes together, and that’s where vision therapy comes into play. Someone can have 20/20 eyesight but not be experiencing consistent single, clear and comfortable vision.”

The therapy can make significant differences for kids in the classroom and in activities, he added.

“Vision is meant to lead, and, if it’s not, it’s getting in the way,” Oakland said.

“We have the ability to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Certainly not every child or patient needs vision therapy. But for those we identify through our evaluations, we ultimately get to provide a vehicle for growth in confidence and success. My mindset going into evaluations for potential therapy is ‘How can I help?’ If I find specific vision diagnoses in the eval, I know we can help. If a patient’s eval is strong from a vision standpoint, it’s then my job to help patients get to other professionals, whether it be other health care professionals or academic services.”

Vision therapy has been a part of the practice since 2011. In the past, it was done out of rented space across from its clinic in southwest Sioux Falls. The new addition at 1100 S. Highline Place at Dawley Farm Village allows for a more efficient operation, Oakland said.

“Having our vision therapy space physically connected to one of our Dakota Vision Center offices improves things not only for patients but for our staff as well.”

To learn more about Dakota Vision Therapy, click here.