April 8 2009 12:00 AM

East Lansing’s VisionCare is 20/20 on service, hip glasses

In a world full of chain eyeglass huts, shacks and marts, locally owned Vision Care Associates is celebrating its 35th year in business.

VisionCare, 310 W. Lake Lansing Road, in East Lansing, is unique because it isn’t a chain, said Daphne Reznik, the practice’s marketing coordinator. The business, which is a doctor’s office combined with an eyeglass boutique, serves families and people of all ages.

“These people understand the community,” she said. “Chains pop up and move but local businesses are invested in the community and we want what’s best for our neighbors.

“Now that the baby boomers are older they’re developing glaucoma and diabetes,” Reznik said. “We can treat them and their whole family.”

Sarah Knapp, an optometrist with the practice for 12 years, said they have lately been treating younger patients.

“We made the office pediatric friendly because we work with a lot of families,” Knapp said.

Care is different for pediatric patients, Reznik said. Not many practices cater to all ages. The doctors at VisionCare assess children 6 to 12 month olds for free.

The doctors include Knapp, Lee Rigel, who started the practice from scratch, and Cheryl Vincent-Riemer, who has been with the practice for about 22 years.

When Rigel started VisionCare, it was in the “241 building” along Saginaw Street near Abbott Road. He said it had been an ambition of his to take on the responsibility of owning his own practice.

“As is true with many other businesses, it is very rewarding to be in charge of yourself and your destiny,” he said. “And there are certain people that really aspire to be their own owners and the directors of their own fate. Some people don’t want that responsibility. I wanted it.”

Rigel grew the business, he said, by focusing on being a great provider for eye care. From there, the business developed a loyal local base.

Okemos resident Dina Archipley has been seeing Knapp for her eye care needs for about eight years.

“My whole family sees Dr. Knapp,” she said. “She’s wonderful and they’re so nice here. Very friendly.”

Archipley receives corneal refractive therapy, or CRT, a non-surgical alternative to Lasik laser eye surgery. Corneal reflective therapy is a therapeutic contact lens worn at night to reshape the cornea. Topical treatments are becoming more popular with patients, Reznik said.

“I love (CRT) for me because I used to have really dry eyes and my contacts would bother me,” Archipley said. “Now I just wear these at night and I can see.”

While VisionCare does not complete invasive procedures and surgeries in house, they will refer patients to doctors they trust, Reznik said. However, some services and treatments they do offer include CRT, medical treatment for eye injuries, infections and pink eye, clinical research, eye health exams, assessments and management of glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration.

Though they’re continually looking for new treatments to offer and a new age group to treat, VisionCare is happy to have such loyal clientele, Reznik and Knapp said.

“We have a lot of patients that have been here since we opened,” Knapp said. “The practice is growing, and we want it to keep growing, so we’re accepting new patients everyday.”

While being so close to two universities — Michigan State University and Cooley Law School — does help to bring in new patients, the majority of VisionCare patients are permanent community members, Knapp said.

“Though we do have a fair number of Cooley people, students from MSU are not a big draw for us,” she said. “A lot of those people go home for their eye care, but we would like to treat them. We’re open to everyone. We definitely don’t turn anybody away.”

Rigel said that he recently read an article in a trade journal about how large chain eye care stores are feeling the crunch in this economy — but that smaller, independent businesses are not.

“Being involved in the community, I think that has gone a long way in letting people know we’re here and here to stay,” he said. “We’re local and serving local people. And business has been very good, especially over the last year, in these economic times.”


W. Lake Lansing Road, East Lansing 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday 7
a.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday
(517) 337-8182 www.visionsource-visioncare.com

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