Dr. Smith grew up in Butte, Montana and graduated from Butte High School. He attended Montana State University and earned a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences. He earned his Doctor of Optometry degree at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California. Dr. Smith returned to Montana in 1991 and joined Dr. Alzner at The Vision Clinic to practice primary care optometry in Kalispell. Dr. Smith has four childern and loves to play in the mountains and waterways of Montana. He has a passion for mountain biking, powder skiing, floating, fishing, hunting, and backpacking. If he's not working you'll probably find him wandering in the backcountry somewhere looking for adventure.
Dr. Chamberlain grew up in Granbury, Texas. He did his undergraduate studies at University of Texas and completed his Doctorate of Optometry at University of Houston in 2002. Dr. Chamberlain has been with The Vision Clinic in Kalispell since 2002. When not working you can likely find him on the local hiking trails or snowboarding on Big Mountain. Dr. Chamberlain and his wife, Shannon, have 3 kids.
Dr. Smalley is a Flathead Valley native from Columbia Falls. Dr. Smalley completed his undergraduate studies in Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Montana State University. He earned his Doctorate of Optometry from Pacific University College of Optometry in 2013. Dr. Smalley returned to the Flathead Valley to practice in 2013. When not looking at eyeballs you can find him fly fishing, running rivers, running, waterfowling, or skiing.
Dr. Dolan was born in Great Falls, Montana. He attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota before earning his Doctorate of Optometry at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. After serving in the Navy as staff optometrist at Bremerton Regional Naval Hospital, he moved to the Flathead Valley and has been practicing here since. Dr. Dolan and his wife, Stacy, have one daughter and enjoy fly fishing and exploring Montana.
Dr. Erickson has been practicing in Kalispell for over 25 years. Originally from Libby, Montana, he completed his undergratuated studies at the University of Montana. Dr. Erickson received his Doctorate of Optometry from Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Oregon. When not working you will find him outside hiking, skiing, hunting, or biking. Dr. Erickson and his wife, Renee, have a son, Reece, who is now attending Montana State University.
Our professional eye care staff will be happy to assist you with your vision needs. We have treatment options available for everyone. Whether you are interested in making an appointment for a LASIK consultation, need an annual eye exam, or need fashionable eyewear, we can help! Contact us today using the form below, or call us directly at 406-755-5910.
Kid's Care Program
At the Vision Clinic we have implemented several programs to promote and maintain kids eye health while trying to preserve Mom and Dad's pocket book.
1. We provide a comprehensive eye exam that determines if glasses or contact lenses are necessary as well as monitor their eye health for "Lazy Eye" or eye disease. We also provide a free retinal scan to children 16 years old or younger.
2. Our Kid's See Free program allows any child that is 10 years old or younger, without vision insurance, to have a free exam as long as another family member has had an exam within the previous 30 days.
3. All of our frames and lenses are warrantied for 2 years and we will provide a new set of lenses within the first year if the change in prescription is significant enough.
4. We have a Guaranteed Fit program for contact lenses. With this program we include a comprehensive eye exam and also a contact lense fitting. We will teach your child the proper techniques for lense insertion, removal, and care of the contacts. Also included are subsequent visits to make sure the fit is good and your child is doing well with the contacts. If your child decides not to wear contacts we will refund the fitting fee.
As you can see we try to make your child's eyecare experience as hassle free as possible.
There is controversy in the exact relationship of vision to learning. For example there is a negative correlation between distance refractive error and reading ability. Myopic or nearsighted children who cannot see clearly at a distance without glasses are more commonly good readers. Children who spend tremendous amounts of time reading become nearsighted. Before Alaska became a state myopia was rare. After becoming a state, more than 50 percent of the children in Alaska developed nearsightedness. Thus, correlation is such that nearsightedness or poor distance vision is highly correlated with success in reading. Restated another way, poor distance vision is associated with better reading abilities. Farsighted children statistically are poorer readers than myopic children.
Some of the mechanical visual skills which are related to reading include focusing or accommodation, and eye teaming, or convergence. Fatigue of one or both the systems may interfere with reading. There is also a relationship between eye movement skills such as saccades (whereby we change fixation from one target to the next) and smooth following movements known as pursuits and reading. Children who cannot make accurate eye movements are often found to skip lines and words while reading.
The visual system was originally designed so that the peripheral vision was responsive to motion detection (danger from the jungles) with a central portion for fine discrimination (to identify the source of danger; e.g., a lion.) In the school environment the child is expected to ignore the peripheral portion of their visual system and pay attention with the central portion. If the child can not ignore the peripheral portion, he/she becomes distracted. Improvement in eye movement skills often results in less distraction and fewer errors of skipping words while reading.
Reading requires very accurate saccadics, which are fixations from one spot to another. A second type of eye movement which involves tracking is, also, related to attention and reading. Children who have poor eye movements are easily distracted and loose their place. Remember, the eye movement system was designed so that peripheral vision detects motion and danger. Imagine what happens when the system works correctly in the class room. As soon as there is peripheral movement, the eyes move toward the source of movement. This results in the complaint of inattention. Thus, reflexive eye movement skills must be socialized so that they do not respond reflexively to peripheral information. In addition, speed and accuracy must be trained so that one does not lose one’s place.
The skills are easily improvable with vision therapy. Once the information is brought into the eyes, it must be sent back to the brain for appropriate processing. The information must be utilized and integrated with the sensory and motor areas of the brain. Defects in the perceptual (interpretation of visual system) and motor (the integration with output, e.g., hand-eye coordination) may interfere with the reading process. Perceptual motor skills are key in the early acquisition of reading skills. A deficit is important to identify very early on – i.e., five to seven years of age. Remediation of the skills at a later date, such as age 12, will be less effective on reading. Thus, early identification and treatment is essential. It is evident that there is more to good vision than 20/20.
It has been presumed that children who reverse letters or words see them backwards. This is false. They have directional confusion. In the real world direction has no meaning. For example, a chair is a chair no matter which way it is placed. Changing direction does not change interpretation. In the world of language direction changes meaning. Connect the bottom of a chair and it looks like a "b". Turn it 180 degrees it becomes a "d", flip it upside down and it becomes a "q" and flip it again it becomes a "p". Thus, direction changes meaning. The difference between "was" and "saw" is direction.
As mentioned previously, we should correct all optical errors of the eyes (glasses); eliminate eye muscle problems; and create smooth accurate eye movements. In addition, we should make sure that we properly interpret what we see and use it appropriately. These are known collectively as perceptual skills and include form perception, size and shape recognition, visual memory, and visual motor integration (hand-eye coordination.)