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Knueppel's vision is helping others with theirs

Elm Grove resident works with Special Olympics

Nov. 11, 2012

Kellye Knueppel loves sports, being around people and helping them see the world.

She combines these passions through her work as an optometrist at The Vision Therapy Center in Brookfield.

"I was interested (in) sports vision when I learned in college that athletes who improved their batting average improved their eyes and were doing eye exercises," Knueppel, of Elm Grove, said. "I found it fascinating."

A basketball player herself, it seemed a natural area for her to study.

As a developmental optometrist, Knueppel specializes in vision-related learning problems, sports vision and rehabilitative optometry.

Helping special needs

Her true joy, though, is working with people with cognitive disabilities, people who struggle with learning and people who have attention problems related to their vision.

She has gotten a chance to share her expertise on an international scale.

As the clinical director for the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes Program in Wisconsin and as the North American regional clinical adviser, Knueppel has participated in the Opening Eyes Program at Special Olympics World Games in Greece, China, Japan, Ireland, Alaska and Idaho.

"It's very rewarding to work with them and rewarding to help other professionals with understanding how to deal with that population," Knueppel said. "It's really something that I enjoy."

Knueppel grew up in Fond du Lac and attended Washington University in St. Louis, graduated from the Southern California College of Optometry and completed a residency in vision therapy at the State University of New York College of Optometry.

She opened her practice in Brookfield in 1995, and watched it take off. A few years ago, she opened a location in Madison.

Watching her patients - most of whom are children - grow is most meaningful for her, especially while working with Special Olympics, she said.

Getting recognized

For these volunteer efforts and her work in optometry, Knueppel was named the Optometrist of the Year in 2006 by the Wisconsin Optometric Association.

The accolades, though, have not stopped.

She recently was elected the president of the WOA, a statewide professional organization that represents more than 620 licensed doctors of optometry.

"It's a big honor," Knueppel said. "It's a lot of work but it's a fun group, and becoming the president is one of the highest honors ever given to me in my life."

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