Shad Wheatley, OD,  and Warren Gwynn, OD

Shad Wheatley, OD, and Warren Gwynn, OD, have won a UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 Award given by the UAB National Alumni Society. The two graduated from the UAB School of Optometry in 2002 and 2014, respectively, and are owners of Eye Care on the Ridge.

Inclusion in the Top 25 awards program is determined through a revenue verification process administered by Birmingham, AL, CPAs, accountants, and advisors Warren Averett

Wheatley founded Eye Care on the Ridge in 2011. Gwynn joined the Southwestern Virginia practice as an owner in 2015. The practice has evolved from one with a part-time doctor to a practice that serves six counties, has three locations, six doctors, and more than 30 staff.

“The practice continues to grow, we look forward to creating additional jobs for the communities we serve and are nearing 40 staff members,” Gwynn said. “Our fourth location will open in the near future, and we are very excited to add an additional optometrist to our practice.”

He believes excellent customer service has contributed to the business’ success. The practice treats patients as family, makes returning patients feel remembered and each patient is thanked for trusting Eye Care on the Ridge with their care. The doctors emphasize hiring friendly, personable, and patient staff as well.  

The two are proud UAB graduates whose academic experience at UABSO contributed to their success.

“UAB provided me with confidence in treating and diagnosing eye conditions,” Gwynn said. “UAB prepared me by giving me real life experience in treating and diagnosing eye pathology. The thing about UAB that makes me most proud is the mutual respect felt between teacher and student.”

Wheatley added, “The School of Optometry and my internship at The Duke Eye Center prepared me clinically to handle the challenges of practice in a small, rural setting. Everything in this area that is eye care related, or remotely related, comes to the optometrist. So, I found myself handling even the tough cases well according to the training I had received, and word spread of the care that was available in our small town. This reputation carried over with me as I went out on my own, and the new practice really boomed.”  

 

Commitment to humanitarian care

commitment to humanitarian care A 711x400A commitment to helping patients in need for each doctor began well before they joined forces.

Wheatley first discovered a love for service to the less fortunate when working as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Argentina after he graduated from high school. While at Brigham Young University he volunteered to help sort glasses for Lions Club trips to provide free eye care and glasses outside the United States. He provided care internationally as a member of Students in Optometric Service to Humanity (SOSH) while at UABSO and served as co-president during that time.

commitment to humanitarian care B 300X400“Together with several other great students and UABSO staff we planned a trip to northern Guatemala,” he said. “In that trip we brought eye care and glasses to people in five remote villages. Many were overwhelmed by what they experienced with glasses, and we were overwhelmed with the experience as a whole.”  

Wheatley’s wife had joined him on mission trips during and after optometry school. Once their children were born, however, the couple delayed future travels until their children were old enough to travel and remember the experiences.

Upon meeting, he and Gwynn discovered their families have a shared interest in service opportunities. The Gwynn family had established friendships in Tonga, and they traveled there together in 2015.  

“In the near term, we would really like to help establish better access to eye care and glasses in Tonga,” Wheatley said. “But, in the long, term we have ambitions to provide care in Cambodia, Honduras, Ecuador, and Africa.” 

Locally, the doctors continue to offer free eye care to the underprivileged in their hometowns through the Lions Clubs of Independence, Fries, Galax, Hillsville, Wytheville, and Dublin, Virginia.

Learn more about their goals by visiting their Eye Care for with Vision Gofundme page.