The resemblance is more than physical. Dr. David Littlefield carries on the same profession that began with his great grandfather.
Littlefield Optometry Comes With A Century of Eye Care Legacy
By Kathy Feist
Before there were modern-day optometrists, there were jewelers. They designed fancy frames with ready- made lenses in them. The wearer selected the glasses much like people select reading glasses today. There were no exams or prescriptions.
In the late 1800s, the industry began producing specialists in the field called optometrists. They fitted glasses to the face, gave vision tests and prescribed lenses. One of the ways to enter the profession was to pass a correspondence course. Another way was to simply be an adult.
By the early 1900s, to standardize the profession (and discourage charlatans), optometrists began to organize and require licenses, education and regulations.
One of those who contributed to the cause was Dr. J. E. Littlefield. The son of jewelers, Dr. Littlefield honed his craft by attending various colleges. He founded the Kansas Association of Opticians, was president of the Kansas School of Optics, and wrote a book The Littlefield System of Eye and Nerve Measurement to help standardize the practice.
Today, over 100 years later, that book is sealed in a glass frame and hangs in Dr. Littlefield’s great grandson’s office in Martin City.
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Dr. David Littlefield , D.O., FAAO, Diplomat A.B.O., is a fourth-generation optometrist. His father, Lawrence, and grandfather, Ralph, were well established optometrists in the Brookside area where Littlefield also practiced until recently. His office at 74th & Wornall was purchased by Dr. Jeff Grimes in 2000. Grimes did not change the name.
Littlefield, meanwhile, moved his practice to south Kansas City, first to Leawood Plaza, 130th and State Line, and finally to its present location at 135 St. and Washington.
Like his great-grandfather, Littlefield remains dedicated to his profession, providing the best equipment and keeping current with the latest technology. Today, one of those advances includes Lasik vision.
Littlefield can perform eye exams at his office for those wanting to do away with glasses by undergoing Lasik surgery on the eyes. “Only about half qualify,” says Littlefield.
Those who do are referred to a specialist.
Those who do not are given a number of different options that can help correct their vision. To Littlefield, that is the advantage of seeing an optometrist first.
“We are a general office that does everything,” he explains.
“It’s like the old saying, “If a hammer hits the nail, well fine,” he says. “But if we are not a hammer but a whole tool kit, we can care for you if you are a nail, or a screw, or
As a result, not only is the exam less biased, but it can also lead to different diagnoses.
“A lot of people have a lot of problems with their eyes and don’t realize it,” he says.
Littlefield does regular eye exams, and provides contact lenses and a large selection of eyewear. He also tests for glaucoma and other eye diseases. He is one of the few optometrists In the area that provides military families a 20 percent discount on services not covered by United Health Tricare.
Littlefield shares the office space with Dr. Beth Bazin, an optometrist who
specializes in eye vision therapy. Vision therapy has proved helpful to those who struggle with dyslexia, reading difficulties, attention deficit disorder, and certain head injuries.
Littlefield and his wife Joanne have two sons. Philip is a neurotologist (a subspecialty of ENT surgery) and is stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. James is a chemical engineer doing Enviornmental Engineering for the government in Pittsburg, PA. Although there are four grandchildren, for now it looks as if the Littlefield legacy ends with the fourth generation. But that’s down the road, and, shall we say, a little out of sight.
For more information, contact Littlefield Optometry at 816-888-5400.