Blog & News

Doctor Spotlight: Doug Harshman, OD



Doug Harshman’s life has taken him all over the country. He has studied in Texas and met his wife while practicing optometry at the VA hospital in Spokane, WA. But he eventually felt the draw back to Nebraska to become a vital part of the EyeCare Specialties team.

There are so many reasons that Dr. Harshman enjoys being a part of the ECS team. He loves the camaraderie between the other doctors. He also enjoys working with the well-trained staff and knowing that, as a part of ECS, he is able to provide his patients the best possible services and products.

His faith in the organization as a whole makes him proud to be a part of EyeCare Specialties, “I can sleep well at night knowing my patients are being well taken care of by our entire team.”

Harshman family

Dr. Harshman relishes his role as father too. He is very active as both a soccer and basketball coach for his children’s teams. He also volunteers at their school, helping out with weekly traffic duty and however else he can lend a hand.

Vision Therapy Grad: Sydney

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith


Sydney has suffered from headaches since beginning kindergarten. They would worsen later in the day especially after school. As a 2nd grader, she was not a fan of reading and had very little confidence reading out loud. She would have problems differentiating between her d’s and b’s and would struggle following along the lines of her music during piano practice.

Dr. Brian Brightman recommended that Sydney talk to Dr. Rachel Smith at our Center for Vision Development. Dr. Smith worked with her team of vision therapists and put together a plan to help Sydney become more confident with her reading, to help her peripheral vision and help reduce headaches.

Sydney worked hard to accomplish her goals and recently graduated from the Vision Therapy program. She now reads aloud with confidence, does better playing the piano and best off all, is headache free. Her mother and the Vision Therapy team agree, “We are so proud of Sydney and her accomplishments!”

Doctor Spotlight: Steve Sandman, OD



Dr. Steve Sandman wants to change the world starting in his corner of Beatrice, NE. His own world was changed in 2nd grade when he received his first pair of glasses. Because of the constant changes in his vision, he needed to visit his optometrist every 6-12 months. He knew what an impact having clear vision had on his own life, and he wanted other people to be able to enjoy their most important sense.

One of the things that Dr. Sandman enjoys most about what he does every day is helping a wide variety of patients. He finds it very rewarding to help a child with their first pair of glasses or treating patients with macular degeneration or cataracts. He likes meeting patients of every age and stage in life and doing what he can to help them see their very best.

Sandman Family

Dr. Sandman enjoys being active in the Beatrice Community and beyond. He volunteers for the Beatrice Public Library Foundation, the Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center’s Board of Directors. He also has traveled to Haiti with Shared Vision International to help the people there receive optometric exams and also volunteers with Vision USA, a program that provides basic eye exams and vision services free of charge to low income individuals and families who are uninsured.

Dr. Sandman wants people to know how important it is to consider the health of their eyes as an extension of their overall health. As we are living longer and longer, we want to make sure to take care of our eyes so that we can enjoy great vision well into our golden years.



Doctor Spotlight: Rachel Smith, OD



Dr. Rachel Smith knew she wanted to be an optometrist back when she herself was a patient at EyeCare Specialties. She had been experiencing headaches and would struggle with close-up work. After being diagnosed with a binocular vision disorder, she began Vision Therapy treatment at the Center for Vision Development and was hooked. She knew she had to dedicate the rest of her life to understanding the relationship between vision and learning in order help as many people as possible.

Dr. Smith now runs the Center for Vision Development and helps patients who experience challenges with their visual processing. She is always proud of how the team comes together and strives to help each patient achieve success.


Dr. Smith spends her free time volunteering for the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska and her church. She also loves spending time with her growing family and running outdoors.

Dr. Smith encourages scheduling regular eye exams for the whole family. With vision being more than 20/20 acuity, catching vision problems as soon as they arise can be beneficial especially when it comes to learning and development.

Doctor Spotlight: Dan Novak, OD



Even as a boy, Dan Novak always knew he wanted to be in the medical field. There was something about the combination of equipment and helping people that made him excited about the opportunity. He got his first pair of glasses when he was about 10 years old and discovered how much better life was with clearer vision.

He can’t wait to come to work each day so that he can engage with his patients. Of course, he loves helping them take care of their eyes and helping them see clearly, but he actually enjoys getting to know everyone. He also gets a kick out of the rest of the ECS team.


He is a member of the St. Peter’s Knights of Columbus in Lincoln and works with the many charities they support. He also spends time with his wife and young family, reading to his children and taking them to the park.

Dr. Novak wants patients to know how important it is to get regular exams and protect your eyes from the sun or when playing sports or working around potentially dangerous equipment. “You only get one set,” he says. “Treat them as such.”

3 Things to do Today for Healthy Vision

Dr. Harshman
1. Eat something orange.
What’s true for your overall health is also true for your vision. Getting a good mix of vitamins and minerals is essential for healthy eyesight. Orange foods like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers and carrots offer lots of vitamins A and C. These foods are high in beta-carotene which helps your body fight toxic free radicals. They can help slow the aging process and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

2. Rock some shades.
Here’s the great thing about sunglasses. Okay three great things. 1. They come in every shape and color. 2. They make you look like a rock star. 3. They protect your eyes from the damaging UV rays of the sun, even in cloudy or overcast weather. UV damage to the eyes is cumulative. Which means if you start getting in the habit of wearing your sunglasses every day starting today, you will already begin to reduce the damage. If you have kids, it’s even more important to get them to start wearing their shades when they go outside as most of our lifetime sun exposure happens before the age of 18. Look for lenses that block 100% of UV rays and look into sunglasses with polarized lenses as they will help you see clearly and eliminate glare.

3. Put your phone down.
If you find yourself barely able to keep your eyes open and you notice your eyes feeling tired after staring at a screen all day, chances are you may be experiencing Computer Fatigue Syndrome. Add to that staring at a small screen and you can suffer headaches, eye strain, blurred vision and dry eye. Your eyes need a break.We recommend the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will allow your eyes to switch focus and prevent strain.

Keep in mind that smart phones and computers also emit blue light which can cause additional strain as well as interrupt your natural sleep cycle. It’s a good idea to make sure to put digital devices away a few hours before bedtime and include a blue light filter in your eyewear.

Doctor Spotlight: Mikaela Betka, OD




ECS’s newest optometrist fell in love with optometry by accident. Literally. She was playing basketball in 4th grade when her glasses broke and she suffered an eye injury. Her mother took her to EyeCare Specialties, and Mikaela became aware of how precious and delicate our eyes truly are. Her fascination with the exam and technology sealed the deal and set her on the path to optometry.

Her passion led her to working at EyeCare Specialties during college as a clinic technician where she could really see people being helped to use their dominant sense. She also had the opportunity to work with pediatric patients as a vision therapist and realized how much she enjoyed helping children learn to enjoy the world around them visually.

During optometry school, she traveled to Honduras with SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) and looks forward to helping more organizations in the future provide exams and vision assistance to those domestically and internationally.


A newlywed and recent transplant back to the area, Dr. Betka has been spending much of her time settling into her new home in the Beatrice area with her husband. Her motto, “No matter how you feel get up, dress up, show up and never give up.” is fueled by coffee and the support of her family. It’s no accident that she has dedicated her life and her passion to helping the people of southeast Nebraska realize their best vision.

Doctor Spotlight: Kim Tucker, OD



Family is at the root of everything Dr. Kim Tucker does. Even before she began her own family, she knew she wanted to help others. When she was a senior in college, she was at EyeCare Specialties for an exam when Dr. James Kirchner asked her if she had ever thought about optometry as a profession. She shadowed him the next day and became so impressed by the work he did for families all over Lincoln that she knew she found her direction.

Dr. Tucker knows that helping a person with their vision and the health of their eyes not only helps the patient, but improves their relationships with their families. She’s also proud of having been a part of the EyeCare Specialties team for enough time that she’s been able to watch entire families grow up before her eyes.

In her free time, Dr. Tucker continues to support families in Lincoln. She just recently finished a six-year term on the board for the Lincoln Children’s Museum and serves on the Medical Advisory Board for Lincoln Public Schools.


She shares her personal motto, “Just keep moving” with her own family as she participates in many activities with her husband and two children. You can often find Dr. Tucker and her crew at many sporting events or traveling around the state. Always on the move and being together as a family.

Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Stella

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Stella smaller

Recent Vision Therapy graduate Stella’s mother shares her experience with the Center for Vision Development:

“In first grade, I noticed Stella complaining of headaches when she was reading, skipping lines or words and sometimes struggling with easy words that I was sure she knew. I made her an appointment with the eye doctor because I thought perhaps she needed glasses. It was then that we found out she had 20/20 vision but was diagnosed with something called convergence insufficiency. Our eye doctor recommended pencil pushups, but a quick internet search told me vision therapy would be more effective. I was thrilled to learn there was a vision therapy office in Lincoln so close to our home, so we made an appointment.

When we brought her in she had a complete evaluation and was diagnosed with a few other issues in addition to the convergence insufficiency/. She was set up with a therapist and a custom therapy program to follow.

The therapy was definitely hard work. I will never forget at the beginning, Stella would cry during therapy at home because it was just so hard. But we kept working at it, and it was amazing to see by the end of each week, she could do it. We had just the sweetest, most caring therapist who worked so hard with Stella and made sure there was always something fun for her to do each night. Stella really loved working with Ashlie and always looked forward to going.

We just completed our program and the change we have seen in Stella is amazing. She continues to advance multiple levels in her reading when tested by her teacher. Her hand-eye coordination in sports has improved. And she has developed a love for reading. I love catching her reading in her room before bed or before school or whenever she has a spare minute. And she has developed such confidence – it really and truly has changed her life.

I wish everyone knew about vision therapy and the effect it can have on your child’s life. It was definitely hard work, but worth every minute. I have shared Stella’s story with so many of my friends and will continue sharing it, in the hopes that even more kids can have the same success that she has!”

Find out more about our Vision Therapy program here.

Doctor Spotlight: Brian Brightman, OD



Dr. Brian Brightman is all about creating an experience. His goal is to “wow” his patients. He comes to the office every day with the goal of giving each patient a memorable experience knowing that their eye appointment is such a small part of their day. He wants to make it a good one.

This motivation started when he was young in Fort Dodge, IA and was impressed by a family friend who was an optometrist. Dr. Brightman realized that he could combine his love of science and his desire to interact with people. A future optometrist was born.

His commitment to helping people as much as he can extends from the exam room to his charity work. Dr. Brightman assists Clinic With a Heart, VSP’s mobile clinic and when LPS nurses refer students unable to afford vision correction, helps local students as well at EyeCare Specialties.

Christmas Card 2016 color

Dr. Brightman’s motto, “Surround yourself with good people that you can learn from and make you better,” is evident in the staff he surrounds himself with as EyeCare’s CEO. He enjoys being a part of such a talented group of individuals and is proud of the experience they can provide every day for their patients.

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