Abrahams steps in to pursue grandfather’s vision

Optometrist Mark Abrahams is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Norman E. Abrahams, who practiced for more than 40 years in Hillsboro. Abrahams sees patients at Mid Kansas Eye Care’s Hillsboro office two days a week. “It was always my intention to work here in town.”
Optometrist Mark Abrahams is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Norman E. Abrahams, who practiced for more than 40 years in Hillsboro. Abrahams sees patients at Mid Kansas Eye Care’s Hillsboro office two days a week. “It was always my intention to work here in town.”
Norman E. Abrahams founded his optometric office in Hillsboro in 1949, where he practiced for more than 40 years.

After Abrahams retired in 1991, Paul Unruh took over the practice, now Mid Kansas Eye Care with locations in Hillsboro and Hess­ton.

Last month, Abrahams’ grandson started seeing patients two days a week at the Hillsboro office.

“It was always my intention to work here in town,” said Mark Abrahams, who owns Legacy Eye Care in McPherson, his primary practice that he named in honor of his grandfather.

The opportunity to work at Mid Kansas opened when Unruh’s son, Zach, who also practiced with Mid Kansas, decided to go to medical school for training in retina surgery.

“Grandpa was definitely a really big influence,” Abrahams said about his decision to study optometry. “He didn’t push me too much, but he always encouraged me to think about it.”

Abrahams remembers a significant trip he took with his grandfather in 2006 to Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, his grandfather’s alma mater.

“He was being honored for having graduated more than 50 years ago,” Abrahams said. “So he was really excited to take me along and let me see what an optometry school was like.”

At the time, Abrahams was a student at Bethel College, studying science and interested in medicine.

“I was looking at several different professions and decided optometry was the best one where I could have a good amount of family time—have a good work and family balance,” he said.

After graduating from Bethel, Abrahams worked for a couple of years before deciding to study at University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry.

He said his grandfather would always say, “I don’t care where you go to school, just go to school.”

Abrahams and wife Amanda, whom he met at Bethel, then moved to St. Louis.

“We got into school and we spent three years in St. Louis, and then the last year I spent in different clinics outside of the (St. Louis) area.”

Abrahams grew up in Newton. The couple moved back to Kansas four years ago.

“Then that’s when I worked at the (Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center) in Wichita for four months as part of my training,” he said. “That was kind of the highlight of my training.”

Abrahams said that work took place in a hospital environment, where he examined the veterans, which involved cataracts, glaucoma and disease treatment.

“It’s one place where I got to wear scrubs, so it’s kind of nice,” he added with a laugh.

While he values that experience, Abrahams said he wanted to be able to see patients of all ages.

“The rural aspect of working in a small town really appealed to me, being involved with community businesses and community affairs,” he said.

“Plus when you’re a small-town eye doctor, you get to work with other doctors more closely,” he added. “It’s more fun that way.”

Abrahams said he views himself as a gatekeeper, where he has to decide what cases he’s going to refer to specialists.

Mark Abrahams shared this picture of his grandfather’s Doctor of Optometry license. “Grandpa was definitely a really big influence there,” Abrahams said about his decision to study optometry. “He didn’t push me too much, but he always encouraged me to think about it.”
Mark Abrahams shared this picture of his grandfather’s Doctor of Optometry license. “Grandpa was definitely a really big influence there,” Abrahams said about his decision to study optometry. “He didn’t push me too much, but he always encouraged me to think about it.”
“The way optometry fits into the broader medical field is we’re primary care eye doctors,” he said. “ Over two-thirds of the nation’s population go to optom­etrists for primary eye care, and we refer for surgeries.”

Abrahams said optometrists can conduct minor procedures such as removing foreign bodies from the eye.

“I really enjoy doing that because people are always appreciative when we get it done,” he said.

His practice offers opportunities to become familiar with his patients’ health concerns.

“I have enough time that I can get to know people a little bit and figure out what their vision needs are,” Abrahams said.

He said he also co-manages patients who have had vision-correction laser and cataract surgeries.

“It’s neat to see patients through that process,” he said. “Mostly with cataract surgery, we see patients the day after their surgery.”

Asked about challenges, Abrahams said it’s vital that private practice stay relevant.

“We want to be able to serve all of our patients in the area, really regardless of income and insurance, just seeing how we can make that work, especially here in Hillsboro.”

Mid Kansas Eye Care is the only optometry practice that serves Marion County.

“Some people come from a very long ways away,” he said. “We want to make sure that people know our services, know that we’re here, know what we do.”

He said some may be unaware that Mid Kansas sells sunglasses, including Oakley and Maui Jim brands.

“One of the things I’ve brought to both practices is we started carrying a line of hunting glasses and shooting glasses,” he added. “They’re called Randolph Ranger. They make sunglasses as well.”

A sportsman, Abraham said he likes to hunt birds—ducks, geese and doves.

“I’d like to get into deer hunting at some point,” he said. “I’ve got two young kids, so I’m probably not going to have the freedom or the time for a little while.”

The Abrahams and their two daughters, Jolene, 3, and Nora, 4 months, live south of Hillsboro.

“I see myself here for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We like where we live. We’re looking forward to sending our girls through the Hillsboro school system.”