Compassionate care inspired Ardmore optometrist to set career goal early
Chickasaw citizen Becca (Harden) Barnes set her sights on a lofty career goal as an eighth grader at Mill Creek Public Schools.
As a young girl, she experienced extreme vision issues which resulted in multiple trips throughout her youth to Ardmore optometrist Dr. Garland Clay.
The compassionate care, as well as the life-changing results she experienced, inspired her to focus on her studies in pursuit of a degree in optometry.
“I just decided in eighth grade this is what I want to do, and I looked at what I needed to do for each step,” she said.
Step by step, she moved closer to her goal and now has more than three decades of experience of providing services in the Ardmore area.
Dr. Barnes is quick to credit practicing optometrists who invested in her dream and served as role models while she was a student, including Dr. Clay, Dr. Duane Moore, Ada; and Dr. Kevin Swartz, a Sulphur native.
“I was very fortunate to have mentors who allowed me through the years to come and watch them practice optometry, and that spurred me on through some of the hard classes in college.”
Following graduation from Mill Creek High School, she attended Oklahoma State University for three years, earning enough prerequisite credits to transfer to the University of Houston College of Optometry, where she earned a Doctorate of Optometry.
Dr. Barnes returned to Chickasaw Country and joined the practice of her mentor, Dr. Clay, before establishing Barnes Vision Clinic in 1996.
Dr. Elizabeth Cole also practices with Dr. Barnes.
During her more than 30 year career, Dr. Barnes said interacting with patients and witnessing the increased quality of life that vision correction provides is the most satisfying part of her role.
“It is very rewarding to be able to take someone and make their vision better, because it is such a big factor in how they see life,” she said.
“Especially with children, you’re affecting so much of their lifestyle, with learning and even gross motor skills.”
She enjoys when school age patients share stories of improved grades shortly after being fitted for their first pair of glasses.
“That’s hugely rewarding,” she said.
Dr. Barnes lives in Ardmore with her husband, John. The couple has two daughters, Blake, a recent University of Arkansas graduate who is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Memphis with a goal to become a registered dietitian; and Morgan, who is a junior at the University of Mississippi pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology with plans to attend medical school.