By Imogen Whale, Special to the Times Review
On Monday August 25th, optometrist Dr. Christine Ayles became the new owner and full time practitioner at the Revelstoke Optometry Clinic, taking over from longtime Revelstoke resident Dr. Terrance O’Hagan.
O’Hagan purchased the clinic in 1984 after becoming enchanted by the scenery and people in Revelstoke after stopping here en route to an interview. “Everyone was so friendly,” O’Hagan says. “I checked out the local optometry clinic and ten minutes later the optometrist offered to sell the place.” O’Hagan was quick to jump at the chance and bought it.
“My patients have supported me for so long, they’re like extended family,” the 68 year old says. “Revelstoke has been very good to me. I have so many great memories from working here, it’s been very rewarding.”
Ready to help with the transition of the clinic’s ownership, O’Hagan will be contracted to cover shifts when needed and work in a part time capacity as he eases into retirement.
O’Hagan is thrilled to have sold the practice to Ayles. “She is excited and enthusiastic,” he explains. “I’m slowing down but will be here from time to time, it’s marvellous.”
After obtaining her Doctor of Optometry degree from The University of Waterloo in 2012, Ayles has completed externships in New Zealand and Calgary, and spent the last two years as working an associate within a clinic.
“I’ve known I wanted to be an optometrist since grade three when I needed glasses,” Ayles says. “It was then I recognized the difference an optometrist can make in people’s lives.” Before becoming an optometrist Ayles worked as a front desk receptionist, as an adjustment assistant, and as a technician.
A lifelong interest in business will be an advantage for Ayles as she takes on ownership of her own clinic. She won a YTV achievement award in business and entrepreneurship and spoke to the writers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series as a teen.
Aylas’ own journey to Revelstoke reflects O’Hagan’s experience. Having grown up in the mountains of Hinton, Alberta, she and her husband Alex were keen to get back to a small mountain town. The couple decided to move to Revelstoke last summer after camping nearby. Ayles started looking for the local optometry clinic, and the rest is history.
The clinic has already been given a quick facelift with new paint and flooring throughout. Within the next year, Ayles aims to have an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) machine at the clinic. Best described as a CT scan for the eye, an OCT machine sees through the eye’s layers. This helps with early diagnosis and management of ocular diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Having an OTC machine in town means referrals, which often result in elderly patients having to visit out of town clinics, will lessen.