Dr. Seth Jenkins

Dr. Seth Jenkins poses for the camera inside of the High Plains Vision Center of Rawlins on Monday. The Daily Times caught up with Jenkins for a quick Q&A session highlighting the finer points of healthy vision.

RAWLINS — When it comes to eye care, Dr. Seth Jenkins of the High Plains Vision Center of Rawlins has a crystal-clear outlook.

Almost 7,000 feet above sea level, Rawlins absorbs 30 percent more ultraviolet rays, which can possibly ride retinas into the ground. In addition, all sorts of diseases can be found through a simple glance during a regular eye exam.

Which is why Dr. Jenkins was able to give some critical pointers to the Rawlins Daily Times on Monday to ensure local peepers remain pretty and pleasant.

High Plains Vision Center is located at 2101 Plaza in Rawlins. To schedule your next appointment call them at (307) 324-2601.

RDT: Please state your name.

Jenkins: Seth Jenkins.

RDT: What’s your background, Seth?

Jenkins: I’m originally from Idaho Falls. My wife and I went to middle school and high school together, and we played tennis together in high school; we were tennis partners, and we made it to the state championship match together, in mixed doubles… and we hit things off from there. We got married and moved to Memphis for my doctorate. I went to Rock Springs – that was my first job out of school – and worked there for a while. Then, the practice came up for sale here, so it was a short and painless move for us to come here.

RDT: Why optometry?

Jenkins: I had considered many professions out there, and I wanted to find a profession that I felt was a good fit for my skills and my personality and what I had to offer as a doctor and a clinician. And I thought optometry was a good fit for me.

RDT: Obviously, you’re wearing glasses right now. Did your own experiences come into play with your decision?

Jenkins: A little bit. I had my first eye exam when I was considering optometry as a profession, so it did help to some extent. And I’m very thankful to be in a profession where I can help people see and appreciate the world around them.

RDT: Based on that, Seth, what are some of the leading causes to impaired vision?

Jenkins: There are a lot of conditions and a lot of information that you can gather about the body through an eye exam. The old adage, ‘The eyes are the window to the soul,’ very much comes into play in an eye exam, because it’s more than just glasses and contacts. I can look at the retina and evaluate the blood vessels and the nerves, and I can glean a lot of information about people’s health and other conditions that are affecting their body and not just the eyes. For example, heart disease, cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, even brain tumors, are many conditions that can manifest during an eye exam.

RDT: Some of these conditions are derived from first glance?

Jenkins: Yes… I have seen several patients who had issues in their brains that warranted a referral to a neurologist, which ended up essentially saving their lives.

RDT: In other words, when somebody comes in here thinking they have an impairment directed at their eyes, it was something more?

Jenkins: Yeah. And based on what is happening in the eye exam, I can narrow it down to a short list of conditions that I think could be copying those manifestations and help the doctor I referred to figure out what’s going on.

RDT: How many years have you been doing this?

Jenkins: I graduated in 2013.

RDT: Even since then, have you noticed these conditions becoming more of a trend?

Jenkins: Well, optometry is becoming a very crucial aspect of a person’s health, apart from just your vision. We are coordinating with the medical doctors to take better care of the patients, from a holistic approach. And we’re becoming an important part of the medical community. Diabetes, as you know, is very prevalent in our society, and people aged twenty-five to seventy-five years old – diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. So it’s very important for people with diabetes to get an annual dilated eye exam, so we can detect those problems and fix them before they reach that point.

RDT: What sort of traits, based on their eyeballs alone, do you notice in which are related to diseases?

Jenkins: You know, the interesting thing is, it’s not too uncommon for people to first find out they have diabetes through an eye exam. Often times when people think they’re healthy and we find issues with the eyes, the retinopathy – which is bleeding in the retina – or neuropathy – nerve damage – among other issues… if we find those issues, I can indicate they have diabetes or other health concerns and it helps us dig into the problem and diagnose them properly and get them treated.

RDT: Speaking on personal experience, I didn’t have impaired vision until I was fifteen or sixteen. What do you think happened to me?

Jenkins: It comes down to genetics and normal changes with time. Kids are born with visual impairments, and other visual impairments don’t set in until later in life. And, often times, they go undetected for a certain number of years. When a kid is suffering and struggling with these impairments, often times the parents don’t know what’s going on or get hint of the issues, because kids can’t communicate those issues with them. At annual exams, we’re able to uncover what’s happening.

RDT: It’s not just watching TV too closely, or is that just a myth?

Jenkins: What we need to understand is that the eyeball is essentially a camera and it functions like a camera… just like if you put a camera too close to an object and try to take a picture, you’re not going to damage a camera. But you certainly could cause some fatigue, so the functional aspect could suffer. But the eyeballs themselves are not going to be damaged by holding things too close.

RDT: Are there some sort of self-inflicted impairments?

Jenkins: Yeah, and those are things that we can discuss at an eye exam, if I feel there are habits possibly damaging an individual system, or having issues with your visual functioning… we can discuss that during an eye exam.

RDT: What do you like most about your profession?

Jenkins: Well, the thing I love most about this job is really helping people see and preserving their vision. I focus not on just the glasses and contacts part of it but on the health part of it… I guess I just really want people to enjoy all the beautiful things we have to offer here in Wyoming.

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