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STAFF PHOTO/CJ MARSHALL Optometrist Davis Haire has served local residents for the past 40 years.

After 40 years as an optometrist, Dr. Davis Haire has no plans of retiring.

“As long as I stay away from the mirror, I don’t realize how old I am,” he said with a laugh.

Haire and his colleague Kirsten Jervis provide eye care to approximately 12,000 patients throughout the area. Renting office space in the Geisinger building in Tunkhannock, Haire explained that his practice is independently owned and operated.

“I’m fiercely independent,” he said. “I like doing things my way rather than the corporate way.”

Recently, Haire was named the No. 1 optometrist in a readers’ poll conducted by the Wyoming County Press Examiner.

“We’re very happy,” he said. “We’re thrilled.”

Haire attributed the fact to the dedication he and Jervis and his staff members in providing the best possible eye care to their patients. Among the staff members include Shelia Talcott, Laurie Mace, Officer Manger Amy Markovitz, Head Technician Jeffer Mace, Amber McCracken, and Lorey Durland, who serves as insurance biller.

“We have a relaxed atmosphere here,” Haire explained. “But when we need to be serious, we’re serious.”

A full line of eye services are available to patients, except surgery. In addition to the traditional eye glasses and contact lenses, people can receive treatment for glaucoma, removal of superficial foreign objects, as well as pre-care and post-care for cataract surgery.

Two other people who assist Haire is retinal specialist Sachin Patel, who comes once a month, and general ophthalmologist David Carl who is available twice a month.

Growing up in Canton, Haire said he became interested in optometry when he was in the ninth grade. After graduating from Canton High School, he attended the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, obtaining his degree in 1977.

“I graduated on Sunday, and drove back here on Monday. I liked the area and I really wanted to come home,” Haire recalled.

He immediately became a colleague of Dr. Vincent Bishop, who had a practice on Warren Street in Tunkhannock.

“He was a great mentor,” Haire said. “He showed me the right things to do. I learned a lot from him.”

Also on staff is optician Fran Dietrich, who can fill prescriptions for glasses on the premises.

Haire explained the service is available to all patients, but their insurance companies determine if their prescriptions are filled there, or by an outside service.

Haire admits that it is a huge challenge to maintain an independent practice in today’s market place.

“There are so many rules and regulations and mandates,” he said. “We have to work very hard to keep up with everything.”

But he prefers to maintain his independence because it allows him to spend necessary time with each of his patients to see to their individuals needs.

“To me, it’s great to be of service to the people in Wyoming County - particularly the elderly,” Haire said.

The nearest eye doctors offering the same services he provides are in Wilkes-Barre, Haire said, which would be a difficult trip for many of his elderly clients.

Young patients have also benefitted from Haire’s practice. Fitting a young child with glasses can be particularly challenging, due to the shape of their heads. Haire works carefully when treating children in such circumstances, and refers them to a pediatrician ophthalmologist if necessary.

Whether young or old, Haire will also refer his patients to other providers who provide services outside his scope of expertise. His office has worked with specialists in Philadelphia, Danville, and other locations, coordinating efforts to make certain the patient receives the best possible care.

“It’s always great when someone refers somebody else to you,” Haire explained. “Or they try somewhere else and come back. We try to do the best we can when someone walks through that door.”