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Dr. Tyler Lefeber

Sergeant Bluff Advocate

Spotlight on Business

The eyes have it

Dr. Benjamin Uhl and Sergeant Bluff Eye Care

By Wayne Dominowski, SBA Editor

Dr. Benjamin Uhl

Sergeant Bluff Eye Care1.jpg

     (SB) – Fifteen and half years ago, Dr. Benjamin “Ben” Uhl started Sergeant Eye Care, along with being deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months (and before that serving in a Patriot missile unit in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for one year). He earned a Bronze Star along with a host of military medals, returned to his wife Sarah and growing family, and set about growing his optometry practice that’s grown exponentially since.

     Today, he and his solid team of four optometrists, serve in Sergeant Bluff, Le Mars, Marcus, Harlan, and Wayne, NE. Talk about professional growth!

     He has patients he sees to from no less than 20 states and hundreds of counties, for eye care. Additionally, he and fellow optometrists are called upon for emergency treatments.

     Success, Dr. Uhl said, has everything to do with him and his staff’s focus on patients. “The patient is always our first priority.

     At Sergeant Bluff Eye Care there’s more than glasses and contacts. “We do that, of course, but there are so many other facets to eye care that we focus on. Macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes are the three leading causes of blindness in the United States,” Uhl explained. “We treat and manage hundreds and hundreds of cases of those afflictions.”

     And the above is a daily part of eye care.

     Glaucoma represents the majority of cases, followed by macular degeneration, and then diabetes. His staff coordinates with primary care physicians by communicating the status of a patient’s eyes condition. “In essence,” Uhl said, “we are a primary physician for a patient’s eyes. So, we encourage people to come to us with suspected eyesight issues – pain, blurry vision anything related to one’s eyes or vision -- as well as making it a practice to have their eyes checked periodically.”

     Ninety-five percent of the time, Dr. Uhl said, eye issues are handled in-house. An exception to that is when a patient requires eye surgery. After surgery, the patient returns to the SB Eye Care facility for maintenance purposes.

     A malady that people have become aware of is dry eye disease, itchy eyes, and various allergies. “We’ve found that in virtually every instance, persons suffering from those symptoms, are often misdiagnosed, undertreated, and undermanaged.”

     Uhl addressed the occurrence of eye allergies by noting that there are a number of prescription drops for allergies and dry eyes. Along with prescription medication, there’s punctal plugs – a procedure that Dr. Uhl’s clinics provide. He said that there are new developed eye drops appearing regularly. The one that is appropriate for each person is a matter of consultation and testing by a client’s optometrist.

     As early as two years after the construction of Sergeant Bluff Eye Care, Uhl said the need for more space became apparent. Exploring avenues for more space is continuous, he said.

     In all, the five clinics employ 28 personnel. In Sergeant Bluff – including the administration office located at Pioneer Mall – there are 13 persons. All of the clinics are in contact on a daily basis every day. “It’s pretty unbelievable,” he said, “because at any given moment, we can pull up a patient at any of our clinics [for remote consultation].”

     By the first of the year, Uhl said, his hope is that he will add at least two more clinics to the five already in existence. Currently, there are four optometrists within the system (Dr. Tyler Lefeber, Dr. Zach Lancaster in Le Mars and Dr. Jay Christiansen, Harlan). As a team, each rotates among the clinic locations. Additionally, Uhl said, he has two key staff members who remain in daily contact with each of the five clinics.

     Along with his professional duties, Ben Uhl is very active in the community at large as a member of SB-L’s advisory group, along with support efforts. He’s on the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce (Board of Directors and Executive Committee), Siouxland Foundation Board member, coaches youth basketball, a member of the Iowa Optometric Association, a Chairperson on the Optometrist State Licensing Board, and a board member of the Heelan school board. Asked about his busy schedule, Uhl said he believes in service and leadership. “I think everyone should become involved in their community, show up and say, ‘How can I serve?’”

     Oh, by the way, Dr. Uhl is a member of the 185th ARW. He holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

     “I love the people I work with,” he said. “Whether it’s in the military, civilian life, committees, or people I meet every day. I love building them up, letting them know I am proud of their work and effort, learning new skills, and seeing every individual succeed in what they do.”

     Overall, he said, “It’s patients first, then staff. That makes it fun when you focus on others. Seeing others happy makes me happy. I believe we have a great culture here and in all our clinics. Honestly,” he continued, “I tell my staff that they don’t know how good they really are because they live in this bubble we call our clinic.”

     So, with this being December and Christmas coming, followed by a New Year, it’s time to gain from what you’ve read here and schedule your eye appointment for your healthy eyesight. Give Sergeant Bluff Eye Care a scheduling appointment… it’s as easy as 712-943-9400 and a short trip to 105 Gaul Drive in Sergeant Bluff.

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