Struggling to find a career path during my first year of college was scary. I heard stories from my peers saying, “You’ll know when something is right for you. It’s a feeling no one can experience but yourself.” I didn’t believe it at first, but sitting at that optometry school open house in 2015, listening to all the optometrists and students speak so passionately about the profession, brought tears to my eyes. For the first time in my life, I felt an emotional and mental connection with a career: optometry.
As a youth, I always enjoyed visiting my optometrist. It was always such a positive environment and everyone always seemed genuinely happy. This brought me to explore the profession further and I fell in love. I began shadowing and was intrigued by the number of specialties within the field. From low vision, vision therapy, ocular disease, head trauma, contact lenses, and many more, I learned that optometrists do so much more than just prescribe contact lenses and glasses.
While working as an optometric technician, I’ve learned how important a routine eye exam can be for one’s overall health. It is so interesting to see how different systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes affect our vision. Eyes are the only organ in the body where we can see our veins and arteries without attempting any invasive procedures. There are numerous conditions in the human body that we may be asymptomatic for, thus preventative care is extremely important to ensure that these conditions do not reach advanced stages.
I recall an 8-year-old patient who came in for her first routine eye exam with no vision complaints. We found that she had arteriovenous malformation and reduced vision in her left eye. An annual routine eye exam could have detected her condition early on and she could have received the treatment she needed.
My favorite aspect of the profession is being able to control your life. I hope to start a family one day and didn’t want to be in a career where I would work long hours and would not be able to balance my personal and professional life. As an optometrist, I can be both be a healthcare professional and an entrepreneur.
It is important to keep myself motivated and develop the skills necessary for success because in the near future we will be treating actual patients. My mother was diagnosed with both glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy and received excellent care by her optometrist and ophthalmologist. One day, I will be treating my own patients and would want them to receive the same care my mother received. In order to execute the procedures needed to successfully treat patients in the future, I need to develop the skills now and absorb as much knowledge as possible. After completing my first semester at NECO, I am confident that I will receive the best education and clinical experience needed to thrive as a future optometric physician.