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Optometrist settles into community

Dr. Melanie Hennenfent brings passion for eye care to qathet region
Optometrist Dr. Melanie Hennenfent [left], Dr. Clark Bowden and Dr. Sydney Davidson opened a local clinic with plans to expand over time.

Last July, West Vancouver-born optometrist Dr. Melanie Hennenfent opened a clinic in Powell River, along with two other doctors, Dr. Clark Bowden and Dr. Sydney Davidson, after falling in love with the town and its relaxed pace of life.

For the past year, the doctors of Optomeyes Eye Care have taken turns flying into town to see patients, but Hennenfent recently decided to take the plunge and move to the qathet region full-time. She has been pleasantly surprised by the response from the community.

“People are so nice and friendly, and it’s not rushed or stressed like in the city,” she says. “The clinic is a charming 1940s home, and I fell in love with working there every day.” 

Hennenfent also loves the warm environment that has been created by the clinic’s mother-daughter staff team.

“It feels like a little family,” she adds. “Jaimie Robinson was our office manager for 20 years in Squamish, prior to moving here. She and her daughter Emma bring a wealth of experience and care to the practice. They are both so good at what they do. We’ve been getting continual feedback about how they go above and beyond for our patients.”

Optomeyes currently has one exam room, but Hennenfent hopes to expand it over time. She has always wanted to be a clinic owner, and this was her first opportunity to do so.

“I really enjoy that it gives me more freedom to provide the quality of patient care that I desire,” explains Hennenfent. “I love talking to people and caring for them, and the slower pace here allows me more time with each patient.”

Optomeyes prides itself on preventative eye care, so the owners invested in advanced disease detection technology. 

“We want to provide the best possible care when people trust us with their eyes, and progressive technology is an essential part of that.”

It also has a fully operational optical dispensary, including plenty of eyeglass and sunglass frames, and an on-site lab.

Hennenfent plans to be the primary optometrist at the clinic, but other doctors may rotate in when she is away or on vacation. She is excited about the opportunity to serve the qathet region and hopes to continue to grow the clinic over time and add more specialized services.

“We’re starting small,” she adds, “but we have big dreams.”

Hennenfent emphasizes the importance of regular eye exams for detecting eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, small retinal tears and dry eyes. Many patients are only aware of these diseases once they are in the advanced stages, making them more difficult to treat.

“It’s much easier to treat mild dry eye by detecting and intervening before it becomes more severe,” she explains. “Within the realm of dry eye disease, there are so many treatment options that patients are not aware of. Furthermore, many people have eye strain on the computer and often benefit from computer glasses, even if they have perfect distance vision.”

Hennenfent encourages parents to bring their children in for regular checkups, as a child’s prescription can worsen over time, and early intervention can help stop or slow nearsightedness. She’s passionate about her work and finds patient interactions to be the best part of her job.

“My patients teach me as much as I teach them. That’s a big part of why I wanted to move here; there’s a smiling face when you walk in the door almost every time.”

Optomeyes offers a range of services, including eye exams for all ages, medical and emergency eye care, contact lens fittings, pediatric eye care, sports vision and post-concussion care. The doctors diagnose and treat dry eyes, eye allergies and infections, computer vision syndrome, glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.

Appointments can be booked online at, by phone at 604.485.2513, or by email at [email protected].