MORRISON – Dr. David Jennings has an eye – and just enough good hands – for the eye.
As a boy, he considered optometry but balked at the prospect of a lot of math, which was not his strong suit.
Later, as a young man in college, he pursued dentistry but switched gears after a chalk-carving lesson went awry, because an old high school football injury to his left hand rendered him incapable of the task. He went back to optometry (the math wasn't so bad after all) and never looked back.
"It's considered the cleanest of the health professions," Jennings said. "There's very little blood. The emergency calls are sight-threatening, not life-threatening. ...
"We've gone from salesmen selling glasses to doctors treating medical vision problems."
Jennings, 63, of Morrison, has been an optometrist in private practice for 38 years – all of them in his hometown. He is retiring Friday.
Jennings, a graduate of Morrison High School, went to college for 2 years at Colorado State University, then for one year at Southern Illinois University. He never earned his bachelor's degree, though; he needed only 2 years of college to get into optometry school.
Jennings went to the Illinois College of Optometry and earned his Doctor of Optometry degree in 1975. He started his practice in Morrison that same year.
"There was a need, I felt, here," he said. "It's better to go where you're needed."
Jennings has been in three locations over his almost four decades in practice – first on Main Street, then on Madison Street and last on Market Street, where he has been the longest, since 1986.
He always had been on his own, too, until Dr. Brad Yaklich, a former patient of his, joined the practice 2 years ago.
Jennings also has seen a number of changes in optometry in that time – chiefly, the shift from vision care to medical care.
Optometry no longer is about examining patients’ eyes and helping them find the right eyeglasses or contacts. It's now about diagnosing and treating serious eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts.
The advent of technology, diagnostic drugs and therapeutic drugs has helped speed along that shift.
Jennings prefers to stay up to date on changes to the business.
"He's always been real good about keeping up with the latest and greatest as far as technology goes," Yaklich said.
Jennings also has an attention to detail that is unmatched in the area, Yaklich said.
"There's a level of care that you just don't get anywhere else, a thoroughness. ... He's got the brain and the eye for that," Yaklich said. "He's just – he's good. It's known all around that if you need the best, then you go to Dr. Jennings."
Jennings plans to travel with his wife, Julie, out west; their two married daughters live in Denver.
"I want to be able to go to a place and investigate it and not worry about how quickly I have to be back at work," he said.
Yaklich will take over the practice. The clinic, Vision Source, will move from its Market Street location to a Lincolnway spot with more parking and easier access. It will reopen for business Aug. 5.