What is your favorite thing about being an optometrist?

My favorite thing about being an optometrist is working with my patients! It is so rewarding to help people achieve their best vision every day, and I love the interactions I get to have with my patients.

What are your hobbies?

Outside of work, I love spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy hiking and being outdoors, fishing, traveling, cooking, and reading.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July! I love spending time with family and enjoying the warm weather complete with a pool party, cookout, parade, and of course, fireworks!

Where would you love to travel to?

I would love to travel to Italy and Greece again, but Norway and Egypt are next on my bucket list!

What has been your favorite thing about working at VEA so far?

I am enjoying my new co-workers. They have all been very welcoming! I also love the variety of patients that I get to see throughout the day.

What is your favorite thing about being an optometrist?

Being able to educate my patients on their eye conditions and improving their vision

What are your hobbies?

Fishing, playing cards, avid sports fan (Packers, Brewers, and IU basketball)

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Thanksgiving, there’s always a lot of football to watch on TV

Where would you love to travel to?

Europe (Greece, Italy, France, and Germany)

What has been your favorite thing about working at VEA so far?

The people. Everyone who works at VEA is wonderful and they all have made my transition from student to doctor quite enjoyable and easy.

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Vince Lombardi

Last month, doctors and staff members got together on a Saturday for Valley Eye Associates’ 2021 Staff Retreat. They met at Dave and Buster’s in Green Bay for morning training and team building. A guest speaker presented on patient service and the patient experience. They also participated in a scavenger hunt throughout Dave and Buster’s arcade. All together, the VEA team consists of four ophthalmologists, 16 optometrists, 70+ staff members, and five clinic locations, so when the whole team gets together, it’s a special treat!

Why are staff retreats beneficial?

Kara Plante, the manager of our Business Office, answered, “Our staff retreats allow Valley Eye Associates to become a stronger team as a whole by focusing on practice culture and team-building exercises. They help us build relationships and make sure we are providing the best patient care possible.”

After the morning training session, doctors and staff members met at Sunset Park in Kimberly for some fun in the sun. The after party included food trucks, a kickball tournament, and a charity dunk tank. $186.00 was raised for Feeding America – Eastern Wisconsin. We are grateful for our wonderful team!

Happy couple enjoying a bike ride

The RxSight Light Adjustable Lens® (LAL) is the world’s first FDA-approved implant that can be adjusted and reshaped after surgery.

Just what, exactly, does all that doctor-speak mean for you, our patients? An unheard-of level of customization for your cataract surgery.

The most performed procedure in the U.S., cataract surgery replaces a cloudy, natural lens with a clear, artificial lens known as an IOL. Because there are several kinds of IOLs to choose from, prior to surgery our doctors will visit with you about your needs and perform thorough measurements of your eye.

This is so that together you and your doctor can select the best lens. All of our pre-operative care also gives your surgeon precise information to ensure the best possible post-operative outcome.

However, no matter how sophisticated our diagnostics, they can’t perfectly anticipate how your eye will heal. In other words, your vision will be greatly improved after surgery, but you may still have a slight case of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. This has always been the case, and cataract sufferers in particular still tend to need their glasses.

Enter the Light Adjustable Lens. With it we have the flexibility to adjust your vision after surgery. Once you’ve completely recovered — which usually takes about three weeks — your surgeon will use UV light to adjust your new lens’ power in a very specific and mathematical way. Up to three light adjustments can be performed and once a patient’s desired correction is achieved, a final “lock in” treatment is applied.

Valley Eye Associates is excited to offer this customizable new lens! Many cataract patients fit the LAL’s criteria for use. Contact us at (920) 739-4361 to schedule an examination and learn if you’re a candidate.

Each day, the team at Valley Eye Associates uses the best technology available to give our patients the best vision possible.

While it’s exciting to learn and implement the latest advancements, that isn’t what makes our team look forward to their work. It’s you, our patients. We deeply appreciate the trust you put in us to improve your vision and the way you share your life during your appointments. Your stories about kids and grandkids, the shenanigans of your pets, or the insider tips from the latest trip you took brighten our days!

Because of the bonds we form during your visits, we’re especially honored when you vote us “Best of the Valley” and “Best of Winnebago County” in the LASIK Surgery Center category. You’ve allowed us to share our expertise and for that, we’re sincerely thankful.

Valley Eye Associates has won the Best of the Best contest — sponsored by the Appleton Post Crescent and Oshkosh Northwestern — for 15 consecutive years in the Valley and for five consecutive years in Winnebago County. We plan to work hard to ensure we continue to earn this honor from the communities we serve.

All Valley Eye Associates’ locations are open and ready to serve you. Please call ahead for an appointment. In addition, all Park Place Optical locations are open to take care of your glasses and contact lens needs. No appointment is necessary at Park Place Optical.

Below are a few frequently asked questions to help you prepare for your appointment:

What measures has Valley Eye Associates taken to protect patients and visitors?

Valley Eye Associates has been and always will be committed to providing the best care possible for our patients and visitors. To prevent asymptomatic spread, every patient and staff member in our offices is required to wear a mask at all times. Masks are provided by VEA. We have also increased our extensive sanitation procedures by cleaning each exam room after each visit.

We are also striving to reduce how much time patients must spend in our office by supplementing our in-office diagnostics and evaluation with information sharing via telehealth.

Are there any measures that I as the patient need to take before coming to my appointment?

We have taken many measures on your behalf, including rigorous screening to create the safest possible environment. We do ask that, if you are not feeling well or have been in close contact with someone who is sick, please call to reschedule your appointment. We will be here to care for you and your vision when you are feeling better.

Is it safe to have eye surgery during the pandemic?

Yes, we believe it is. There have been no known cases of COVID-19 (SARSCOV-2) transmission from eye surgery. All staff and patients will wear protective equipment including masks. Additionally, we have rigorous screening criteria to create the safest possible environment.

Can I get COVID-19 by having surgery?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread from person to person. While there have been no known cases of COVID-19 transmission from eye surgery, it is always important to practice pre-surgery precautions like social distancing and diligent hand washing leading up to and following your surgery.

How does VEA respect social distancing?

We are taking several measures to respect social distancing. We have greatly limited traffic in our lobby areas by spacing out chairs.

May I bring a driver with me to my appointment?

Many times you will be unable to drive following a procedure, so it is recommended that you arrange for a family member or friend to drive you. As of Monday, June 7, all patients may have someone accompany them for appointments.

Cataracts are a normal, expected part of aging, and, counterintuitive as it may seem, for some patients, they present an opportunity in disguise.

Here’s why: during cataract surgery, a cloudy, natural lens is replaced with a clear, artificial lens. In other words, your cataract surgery may do more than clear your cataracts. Depending on which lens you select, it may upgrade your overall vision. The advancements and technology behind artificial lenses (or IOLs as they’re more commonly known) is constantly improving, leading to more and better options for patients to choose from.

One of the lenses we’ve seen very positive results from is  Alcon’s AcrySof™ IQ Vivity™. What sets this lens apart is that, while other IOLs split light into several separate focal points, the Vivity uses a non-diffractive technology called X-Wave that bends and stretches light. Because of that, patients benefit from an extended range of vision.

Furthermore, the way other IOLs split light into several focal points often results in glare, starbursts, and halos even after your cataracts have been corrected. Patients with the Vivity report fewer visual disturbances, and often find that they can resume driving at night, something that wasn’t possible with cataracts and even after surgery could be troubling due to the glare, starbursts, and halos associated with other lenses.

There’s even more promising news. Recent clinical trials found that Vivity not only provides quality vision at distance and intermediate ranges in bright and dim light, they also found that patients’ dependence on glasses or contact lenses is decreased after their surgery.

Vivity is best for patients who want improved intermediate and near vision. Intermediate vision comes into play for activities such as working at a computer; near vision is accessed for activities such as reading or sewing. This lens may not be a good fit for patients with extreme near or farsightedness.

Valley Eye has seen firsthand how the Vivity has benefited our patients, and we’d love to see the same positive results for you. To discuss whether this or another IOL can help you, schedule a Cataract Examination today.

Where did you go to optometry school?

The Illinois College of Optometry

What is your favorite thing about being an optometrist?

I enjoy helping patients understand their vision solutions and love explaining their ocular health to them.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include dining out, going on road trips, listening to audiobooks, and shopping for new outfits.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday is Christmas because it makes my heart warm when it’s cold and I love the decorations.

Where would you love to travel to?

Bora Bora

Sara Schalk, OD

What is your favorite thing about being an optometrist?

My favorite thing about being an optometrist is the one-on-one interactions with my patients, many of whom we get to know over the years.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are reading, playing with my kids, and outdoor activities such as camping, skiing, biking, hiking, backpacking, etc.

What’s your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holidays are Christmas—because we usually get together with the whole family—and the Fourth of July.

Where would you love to travel to?

I want to travel everywhere! I want to go back to Greece, go to Ireland, and see more of the National Parks out West—particularly hiking the Grand Canyon.

What has been your favorite thing about working at VEA?

My favorite thing about working at VEA is our great team! I love the people I work with and knowing that we are helping people every day.

Piggy bank

Remember as a kid having a piggy bank that you tucked loose pennies and dimes into? On a really good day, there may have been a whole dollar to press through the slot. Over time, those contributions added up — and so did the ways you imagined spending them.

The same happens with your health savings or flexible spending account. Little by little your monthly contributions can build toward a tangible goal, either covering the cost or putting it within easy reach.

Is LASIK among your goals? Many of our patients have used their HSA or FSAs to finally get the vision correction they’ve dreamed of, and with the whole year still ahead, there’s no better time to start planning than January.

Consultation First

In a few instances patients aren’t good candidates for laser eye correction so we strongly recommend that you contact our office to schedule an initial consultation to ensure that you’re eligible. That said, because LASIK isn’t our only tool — there are a myriad of options — it’s rare that we can’t improve your vision. It’s advantageous for us both when together we formulate a best case plan before you begin earmarking your hard-earned dollars.

Covering the Cost

If you’ve considered LASIK or another laser eye treatment, it’s likely you already know that, because it’s discretionary, you’ll need to pay for it out of pocket.

This is where the HSA or FSA offered by your employer’s health insurance plan can help take the sting out of the final bill. Contributions to both are taken pre-tax, which means the government can’t take its usual cut, and you can save up to 20% more.

Generally, an HSA:

  • comes with health plans classified as high deductible.
  • can accrue as long as you wish; there’s no pressure to spend by year end.
  • could cover the entire cost of LASIK if you contribute long enough.

Generally, an FSA:

  • must be spent within a month of year end or you lose those dollars.
  • is spendable before all contributions have been made. In other words, if you budget to contribute $1,500 by December, but decide to have LASIK in June with only $750 of the $1,500 in your account, you can still spend the full $1,500.
  • is capped per family member. It’s $2,750 for 2021.

Because there’s much more to know about utilizing the HSA or FSA benefits that come with your work’s health insurance plan, we encourage you to discuss your options with your employer’s insurance representative. It can be confusing; however, understanding the basics could mean the difference between clear vision now and slogging through another year with eye concerns.

Let’s Get Started

Schedule your nocost, no obligation consultation today. Our friendly staff will assess your needs, explain your best options, and create a plan that fits your specific lifestyle and schedule.