Dr. Mira Swiecicki, owner of Lynden Vision Clinic, has expanded by acquiring
Spyglass Optik in Bellingham.
Swiecicki purchased Spyglass Optik from Dr. Jeffrey Young on Feb. 1. The clinic
is located along Bellingham’s waterfront at 11 Bellwether Way, Suite 104.
Young, who founded the clinic in 2005, is relocating out of state. But employees
at Spyglass Optik are staying put.
“The medical part of eye care—examinations for diabetes and glaucoma, dry eye therapy
and emergency services—is very important to us,” Swiecicki said, in a press release.
“We’ll still carry Spyglass Optik’s broad and unique selection of frames and lenses,
plus specialty contact lenses, and will be providing comprehensive eye examinations.
We’re also offering InfantSEE, a public health program, and will give free comprehensive
eye assessments to infants between 6 and 12 months old.”
Swiecicki was named the 2012 Optometric Physician of the Year by the Optometric Physicians
of Washington. She is a former president of the organization.
The doctor was also recently honored by The Bellingham Herald as one of its “Ten Who Cared”
in 2012 for offering free monthly classes to help people manage diabetes, which is the leading
cause of blindness in American adults.
Swiecicki began practicing at Lynden Vision Clinic in 1996 and became its owner in 1999.
She now treats patients there and at Spyglass Optik.
The Bellingham clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays,
and from noon to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. Spyglass Optik offers translation services for patients
who speak Spanish or Russian. The clinic accepts major insurance carriers Group Health Cooperative
and Regence, among several others—as well as Medicare.
An open house is planned from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15.
For more information, call 360-671-7107 or visit www.SpyglassOptik.com.
Mira B. Swiecicki, O.D. was recently named the 2012 Optometric Physician of the
Year by the Optometric Physicians of Washington (OPW) at their recent Annual Membership
Meeting in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Swiecicki has been a member of OPW since 1996 and
has a private practice, Lynden Vision Clinic, in Lynden.
“She has earned this award with her lifelong dedication and service to the profession,”
says fellow optometric physician, Dr. Brett Bence, of Seattle. “She exemplifies
the physician stewardship that is so vital to the advancement of optometry.”
Dr. Swiecicki has worked tirelessly in her dedication to the profession of optometry.
In addition to earning her doctorate in optometry, Dr. Swiecicki was inducted into
the American Academy of Optometry in 1999. She served as the Mount Baker Optometric
Society president in 2000, and she remains consistently an engaged, active participant
on state and local committees, shepherding their activities and mentoring the newer
members. She subsequently served 7 years on the Board of the Optometric Physicians
of Washington, including her presidency in 2006-2007. During her tenure, she was
successful in promoting legislative efforts for Washington’s optometric physicians.
Dr. Swiecicki has recently been involved with strategic planning within the OPW,
as well as committee involvement at the national level in the American Optometric
Association. In 2010 Dr. Curtis Ono, the OPW President, recognized Dr. Swiecicki
with the OPW President’s Distinguished Service Award.
In addition to a rigorous professional career, she has been and remains a leader
in community and public service. Dr. Swiecicki volunteers with the Frank Haskell
Lions Eye Clinic and Project Homeless Connect, providing free eye care to the homeless
and uninsured. She enjoys participating with InfantSEE®, a national program providing
free comprehensive eye and vision assessments to infants between 6-12 months of
age. Dr. Swiecicki is the founder, speaker, and recognized patient advocate of the
Lynden Diabetes Education program, providing free education on health and diabetes.
She has been a patient advocate through numerous educational and public informational
articles and media interviews about vision and eye care. Dr. Swiecicki has been
practicing at Lynden Vision Clinic since 1996, and continues to enjoy serving her
community and patients by providing exemplary eye care.
Normally patients are diagnosed with diabetes at a visit to their family physician,
not their optometrist. But there are always outliers.
Early in her career, Lynden optometrist Mira Swiecicki diagnosed a patient with
diabetic retinopathy, or bleeding of blood vessels in the eyes. The man, who was
in for a routine eye exam, was surprised -- this was the first time he'd been diagnosed
with diabetes. Swiecicki wound up talking the man through some of the common symptoms
of diabetes: excessive hunger, excessive thirst and needing to use the bathroom
a lot in the middle of the night. He had experienced all three, and had a family
history of diabetes, but had attributed his symptoms to the large amounts of soda
he drank during the day.
"It's really uncommon for that to be the first time someone is diagnosed, but it
was really influential on me," Swiecicki says. "I felt like it's something we could
influence - we can actually reverse and change the damage that happens to people's
eyes if we educate them and teach them how to take care of diabetes."
Swiecicki was an intern in Montana when she gave that man his diagnosis. Now 43,
Swiecicki owns Lynden Vision Clinic, and in addition to volunteering for a number
of vision-related causes, she runs monthly classes that teach community members
how to manage their diabetes. She started the classes four years ago after getting
patients who would come in for an eye exam after being diagnosed with diabetes but
still didn't understand how to manage the disease. Swiecicki couldn't take the time
to talk at length with patients about the disease during their eye exams, so she
started holding monthly classes, which grew into a sort of support group for attendees
over the years.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the United States, Swiecicki
says, but most of the negative effects can be thwarted by lifestyle changes.
The topic of the class changes from month to month. Sometimes the group participates
in hands-on cooking lessons, other times a guest speaker will present to the group
in-depth about the disease, or teach an exercise class. The main goal is to make
people feel like they aren't the only ones struggling with the disease and that
it can be challenging for everyone, Swiecicki says. She encourages people to bring
family members because it helps to have the whole family involved.
"Everyone can benefit from eating healthy," Swiecicki says. "If the people who come
leave just a little more motivated than when they got there, it helps."
One of the recent classes helped give members tips on how to eat during the holidays,
which can be challenging for anyone trying to watch what they eat. "We talked about
not putting more than an inch of food on your plate and making sure that food also
has a one-inch border from the edge of the plate," Swiecicki says.
Recently the group has started attracting younger members, many of whom have Type
1 diabetes. Swiecicki would like to eventually break that group off and have a separate
support group, because many of the goals for managing Type 1 diabetes are different
than the goals for managing Type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, Swiecicki volunteers once every two months with the Frank Haskell
Lions Clinic in Bellingham, which helps provide free vision care to low-income community
members. She is also very involved in the American Optometric Association and the
Optometric Physicians of Washington.
Swiecicki was named Washington's Optometric Physician of the Year at the society's
annual membership meeting in September. "I was shocked, they really surprised me
with the award," Swiecicki says. "I always thought of that award as a lifetime achievement
award, and I guess I don't feel like I'm that old yet."
Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Swiecicki became interested in optometry when
she took a summer job as a receptionist for a friend's father, who was an optometrist.
She worked at his clinic while she was completing her undergraduate education and
decided she could probably do his job, so she went on to get her optometry degree
from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.
Swiecicki moved to Bellingham in 1996 to work at the Lynden Vision Clinic, which
at the time was partnered with a clinic in Bellingham. Within three years, one of
the optometrists was ready to retire, so Swiecicki bought the Lynden clinic and
became the owner of the practice. She says learning to manage the clinic was a trying
process because optometry school doesn't provide a lot of management training. Though
she wishes she could have taken them sooner, Swiecicki was able to complete management
classes in 2003, which helped tremendously in running her practice.
Swiecicki says her favorite part of being an optometrist is just being able to help
people, whether that's preventing headaches or helping diagnose and treat more serious
conditions, such as retinopathy and cataracts. When she's not volunteering, Swiecicki
enjoys canning food, crafting and going for walks with her black lab, Cocoa.
The Bellingham Herald salutes Whatcom County people
who help make our community a great place to live with our annual Ten Who Cared
series. If you have a suggestion for someone we should salute next year, please