It's been a long journey for Raj Dosanjh -- both in distance and determination -- to Oakhurst, where he hopes his new optometry practice will remain "for a long time."
At age 10, his family moved to California from India, and Dosanjh spent his childhood and youth working in the fields picking grapes in Lodi with his parents, and later, working in the canneries.
The second of his family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college, he knows what it means to pull himself up by the boot straps.
After working as an optometrist for 15 years at Kitsap Eyecare in Washington, his hard work again paid off this spring with the opening of his own optometry practice in Oakhurst -- Yosemite Optometric Center off Highway 49. Dr. Dosanjh took over Dr. Stephen Parker's practice after he retired following 43 years of working in the mountains, moving to Fresno to be closer to his grandchildren.
"We are carrying on the same traditions that Dr. Parker valued of personal care. You won't be another number here," Dosanjh said. "Personal care is important to me, listening to every patient. You won't be rushed."
"Although, I may not have the same jokes that Dr. Parker had," Dosanjh added with a smile. "He's a funny guy, a very nice guy. We're lucky to have found this practice."
Dosanjh's journey into optometry came from a totally different kind of dream -- an aspiring pilot for the U.S. Air Force. But that required 20/20 vision, a major roadblock for a boy who'd worn glasses since the fourth grade. Dosanjh figured he would instead help his fellow human beings with less-than-perfect eyes to live better lives by improving their eye sight.
"I enjoy helping people," he said. "It's amazing when you help someone and they say something like, 'I can see the individual leaves on the trees!'"
Since his move to Oakhurst, Dosanjh has updated the equipment, purchasing a new state-of-the-art computer-operated "refractive system" to provide a better look at the eyes. He's also added more glasses and sunglasses "for every budget," including many non-prescription sunglasses, including Coach, Ray-Ban and Oakley shades.
The father of two -- Neena, 12, and Rajdeep, 17 -- said he enjoys small towns and is looking forward to becoming involved in the mountain community. He's already joined the Sierra Lions Club and plans to join Rotary. He also wants to offer free eye screenings for Mountain Area schools and visit area nursing homes to provide free eye services for seniors.
"He's very personable," said his wife of 19 years, Harjit, a public speaking and interpersonal communication teacher at Fresno State. "He gets to know people and finds out what their needs are."
Yosemite Optometric Center, 40120 Highway 49, Oakhurst, located next to Sullivan's Tire Pros in the Enterprise center, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Evening appointments, up until 6 p.m., or Saturday appointments, are also available by appointment. Yosemite Optometric also accepts new patients, walk-ins, and most insurance providers.
"Everyone should get annual check-ups," Dosanjh said. "Some diseases have no symptoms until it's too late. It's especially important for children before they start school, as 90% of learning is visual."
Dosanjh graduated with a Bachelor of Science's degree in biological sciences from University of California, Davis, and earned his Doctor of Optometry degree from the New England College of Optometry in Boston.
Dosanjh's a longtime member of the American Optometric Association, and was also a member of the Washington Optometric Association.