Holding up a plate I had just washed and eyeing the ketchup along the edge, my wife sighed and said, “You really do need to get your eyes checked.” She had been saying this more frequently over the past several months but, as I am wont to do whenever she brings up anything even remotely medically related, I muttered something unintelligible and found a task in the next room that needed my immediate attention. However, after finding myself squinting more and more to see distant objects, I finally accepted that it couldn’t be put off any longer and dropped in at New Paltz Eye Care, located in what long-time residents of our town and village often refer to as either the “Convenient Deli Plaza” or the “Dedrick’s Plaza.”
I immediately felt comfortable in the calmness of the interior, was greeted with a welcoming smile, given an information sheet to complete and told that the doctor would be able to see me as soon as I had completed the form. The next few minutes were slightly uncomfortable as I read down the list of the seemingly dozens of terrible things that can go wrong with our bodies, brightening, however, when I found that I only needed to check one box (high blood pressure), and was already taking medication to moderate that. Really the only time my circulatory system challenges the medication is when I watch the videotape of Town Board meetings…but I digress.
A few minutes later I met the doctor in the examination room, and literally thought I was seeing double because she looked exactly like the woman who had just shown me into the room except that she was now wearing a white coat. I pictured Clark Kent entering a phone booth and exiting as Superman…I really must stop digressing. I quickly learned that the reason for my seeing double was that Dr. Elinor Descovich, O.D. works side by side with her identical twin sister, Connie. Truly, they appear identical; see for yourself: https://www.newpaltzeyecare.com/our-practice.html.
I was impressed during the exam with the state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and the way the doctor used her computer to create an instant digital record of her findings. I now have a nice thin plastic card for my wallet containing my prescription, and the comfort of knowing that other clinical data gleaned from my exam is available in the cloud, should I be away from home and find myself in need of the information. Dr. Descovich and I chatted a bit about the professional relationship she shared with her sister, who now took me under her wing to choose my new frames. This was another fun part of the visit. In chatting with Connie, I learned more about these two siblings who, since 2007, have created a wonderful private practice that is so different from the commercial eye care establishments found in the shopping malls that surround our town.
I learned that, when Elinor was a child, she had been inspired by a female optometrist who had become a role model, at that time, for women entering science-related fields. This ultimately led to her earning the Doctor of Optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She is proud of the fact that a young woman currently attending SUNY New Paltz who “interned” part time at New Paltz Eye Care will soon be entering the same field of study at Elinor’s alma mater. The legacy of women in science and the health care professions continues.
It turns out that Connie had also been unwilling to accept the gender-based stereotypes of her youth, going on to earn a two-year technical degree in science which led to a 25-year career as a clinical researcher with a multi-national consumer products company. The salary she earned supported her continued studies at Fordham University, which led to her obtaining her Bachelors of Science degree. She has since added the opticians license to her list of professional credentials.
How do these twin sisters like working together? “Our mother always saw to it that, while we attended the same elementary and high schools, we were always in different classes and sports. She wanted each of us to have time apart and to develop as individuals,” Elinor (or was it Connie?) told me. Nevertheless, after working and living at some distance from one another for over 25 years, these two delightful ladies are now working together to bring their vision, values and professional integrity to a gem of a small business in our community, and their homes are now only a few miles apart. New Paltz Eye Care — just one more reason to feel happy about where we live.