The story of professional eye care in the United States can nearly be told entirely through the bloodline of one family, the Clays. The Genesis of this dynasty can be traced back over 100 years.
Dr. Allen Clay, patriarch of the family, began providing eye care in Louisiana in 1885. He then began traveling from farmhouse to farmhouse in rural Indian Territory along the Red River in 1902. He was succeeded by his two sons, Dr. J. A. Clay and Dr. S. R. Clay, who established a state-of-the-art optometric practice in Durant, Oklahoma in 1920.
The next three generations of Clays produced thirteen more eye doctors, each taking the profession to the next level. With the expansion of the family legacy, the doctors have influenced the profession throughout the south. Practices have been established in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Their influence has been felt not only in patient care, but in the advancement of the profession.
Five doctors have served on their respective state Boards of Examiners; five have served as Presidents of their state associations; one was elected President of the American Academy of Optometry; one was the founding visionary of the Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City; two have had ongoing awards named after them; two were two of only ten doctors named to the “Team of the Century” by the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians; one was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Ocular Science by his alma mater and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Optometric Association; three have been inducted into the Pioneers in Optometry Hall of Fame. Clay-Rhynes Eye Clinic was named the 2011 Practice of the Year by Vision Source, an international consortium of eye doctors. Together, the sixteen Clays have over 500 years combined practice experience. Each member of the family has contributed to the legacy of caring for their patients at the highest level available.
Durant native Dr. Jason K Rhynes became a partner in the practice in 2003. He joined the legacy by being named Young Optometric Physician of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians in 2007. Native Oklahoman Dr. Andrew Whitley joined the practice in 2014 after completing his residency at Bennett & Bloom Eye Center in Louisville.
Bryan County native Dr. Sarah Wade also joined the practice in 2015 after completing her Residency in Primary Care/Ocular Disease at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and continuing on staff in the Surgery Specialty Clinic of the VA for four more years.
For over a quarter of a century, Clay-Rhynes Eye Clinic has had a close partnership with RGB Eye Associates in Sherman, Texas. Drs. Robert Burlingame, William Plauché, and Andrew Bossen round out the services offered by the clinic by adding their ophthalmological specialty care.
The Doctors Clay: America’s First Family in Family Eye Care.