Melissa Roetzer has always wanted to help people.

Growing up in Dodge City, she began as an optometrist tech at iDocs and that passion to help people grew.

"I grew up across the street from Dr. (Robert) Hatfield and when I was taking my driver's test I failed the vision test," Roetzer said. "He helped me with my vision and I began to work for him and found that's what I wanted to do."

Roetzer graduated from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma in May and began working at iDocs on 14th Avenue in July.

She did her under-graduate work at Southwestern College in Winfield in 2013 after graduating from Dodge City High School in 2009.

"I always loved the town that raised me," she said. "Coming back was a way to give back to that town.

"Dr. Hatfield and Dr. (Jordan) Gwaltney were gracious enough to be patient and bring me back."

For optometrists, their focus is the health of our eyes and all-around vision as well as lead to possible early detection of diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

"With yearly eye exams we can notice conditions in the back of the eye and any pressure and build ups.

"Diabetes is one of the nastier diseases we deal with and see a lot of along with macular degeneration."

Since beginning her education in 2009, the technology for optometry has already gone through major improvements according to Roetzer.

"It's come a long way," she said. "We have equipment that is able to capture 90 percent of the back of the eye where previous photo equipment was only able to reach about 30 percent.

"it makes it much easier to see the retina and is better for us to give patient education because they are abel to see the issues as well."

Roetzer said the majority of those with vision problems comes from macular degeneration which is caused from over exposure to the sun.

"Over exposure causes build up in the back of the eye that are not normal," she said. "The build up happens in the retina and could potentially lead to vision loss.

"It is becoming more common than glaucoma."

Living in southwest Kansas, another key issue Roetzer sees a lot of is eye dryness and allergies.

"We are a farming community and people are outside all day and dry eyes and allergies are a chronic issue," she said. "You can't just take a pill and be done, it is a constant issue patients have to deal with year round.

"Farmers also have higher risk of macular degeneration because of being out in the sun all day.

"I definitely recommend that if anyone goes outside they need to wear sunglasses."

For Roetzer coming back home was always the plan.

She added that her parents still live here and her roots are here.

"I am excited to be home," she said. "Again, I wanted to give back to the community that raised me and helped me."

iDocs is located at 2520 N. 14th Avenue and can be contacted at 620-227-3071.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com