Adam Maher, Director and Optometrist from The Eye Place tells me why he swapped the bustle of Sydney’s Martin Place to open his optometry practice in John Street, Singleton.
Tell me about your history with Singleton?
I grew up in Singleton. My mum has just retired from Singleton High School, where she was the Principal’s assistant for 20 years, and my dad was an electrical engineer at a local mine for 35 years. After completing my studies at the University of New South Wales, I returned to Singleton for a year to work at OPSM and then lived in Sydney for ten years. My partner, Anna, is from the Central Coast but we decided on Singleton as it’s a great place to raise a family.
Apart from Singleton being a fabulous place to raise a family, what else drew you back?
I was working in the centre of the city at Martin Place. I thought if I set up my optometry business in a regional area, I would see a broader scope of patients. Anna has an accounting and operations management background, so we thought we could make a business work with our two-skill sets, and decided to give it a try. We moved back in 2014 and opened The Eye Place in Singleton in 2015.
How did your passion for optometry arise?
When I was 13, I had to wear glasses full time. I remember vividly when Mum and Dad brought the glasses home from town and I put them on for the first time. An ad for Mars Bar was on the television. Guys were riding downhill on mountain bikes. I could see colours, the spokes of the wheels, even the strands of grass. It was miraculous I could see so clearly! I was always interested in science and running my own business, so I decided to be an optometrist.
What is the difference in being an Optometrist in Singleton as opposed to being an Optometrist in Martin Place?
There is a big difference! In the city, it’s a fast service, and people are in and out of the door within 15 minutes. In Singleton, it’s a more interesting way to practice. I’m not just doing the prescription and vision checks; there is a lot more pathology and management of eye conditions and eye diseases. The closest eye specialists are in Maitland and Newcastle. We can manage certain conditions with the equipment I have here and the medication I can prescribe.
Have you brought new technologies from the city with you?
I’ve got the latest and greatest technology in terms of retinal cameras and scanners. It’s like ultrasound and takes pictures of all the layers underneath the retina so that it can detect early changes, such as macular degeneration. I’ve had a few patients, where I have picked up the markers for diabetes. Eye health is critically important. People think that Optometrists are just for vision and glasses. But a routine check is a fully comprehensive, half an hour to 45 minutes examination. It’s not just your vision. It’s a thorough check-up of your health. Your eyes are only part of the whole picture.
How often should people have their eyes checked?
People often don’t think about their eye health until they have an issue such as glaucoma or an injury, but it is crucial to have an eye check-up every two years, especially for older people.
You volunteer at Singleton’s aged care facilities giving free vision and health checks. That must be rewarding.
I do vision and health checks for the residents at Calvary Cooinda Retirement Community and The Mercy Aged Care Services. I block out my book and see as many patients as I can within a couple of hours. A lot of the residents are wheelchair-bound or bedridden. One gentleman I went to see had a false eye. I had to take his eye out, give it a good clean and clean the eye socket! The residents are super appreciative of someone coming to check their vision, tighten up their glasses and check their eyes.
Singleton has such a great community. What do you think makes it such a special place?
I agree. Like me, there seem to be many people that grow up here and move away, but there’s something that draws them back. I think it’s the community. Everyone helps if they can. They say hello. It’s a friendly happy place to live, especially for young families. We’re often at the new playground in Riverside Park. There are lots of kids and mums and dads. Unlike some other country towns, the demographic is weighted towards younger people, so it’s excellent for children and parents. Anna and I couldn’t be happier with our decision to move back.
Neither can we!