Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why I became an Optometrist

I get this question at least once a week from my patients, so I thought this might be an appropriate medium to share. If you are looking for more eye care tips and info, look forward to next Month’s article on Dry Eye Syndrome.

I will approach this chronologically:

Examples of color deficiency. Dr. N sees the fruit on the right side.
Kindergarten: My memory is somewhat spotty, but I recall becoming upset when my Kindergarten teacher informed me that the grapes (as in the fruit) I was coloring were supposed to be purple, not blue. This is when my family discovered that I was Color Deficient. Around 1-2% of the general male population shares this trait. The world still appears very colorful to color deficient people like myself, we simply “confuse” a few colors. The only real-world limitation individuals like myself have is the inability to obtain a pilot’s license for night flying, and perhaps we are not the best at matching ties and shirts.

Notice the bulge on the right eye
First Grade:
I can recall a visit to a corneal specialist with my cousin that has a condition called Keratoconus and another common condition (that may have been related in this case) called Amblyopia. I remember being fascinated by all of the fancy equipment around the office and the concept of glasses and wearing an eye patch.

Second Grade: My own eyes had apparently changed very quickly. I had been able to see 20/20 the year before, but was unable to see the “big E” during our school’s annual vision screening in the school nurse’s office. I remember the nurse thinking that I was malingering, or pretending to not see. I can still vividly remember how clear everything was once I got my first pair of glasses later that week.

Contact Lenses are very popular in Middle School
3rd Grade through early College: I always looked forward to my eye exams, just being fascinated with gadgets, technology, and healthcare in general. Getting contact lenses the first time in 7th Grade was quite memorable as well. My correction is relatively high (approximately -6.50 diopters presently in both eyes for those that understand those numbers), and contacts seemed worlds better than “thick glasses” in those very self-conscious years.

Mid College: I was pursuing my Pre-Med requisites at the University of Kansas, and was visiting and interviewing at various Medical Schools around the country. I had a chance run-in with an old acquaintance at a graduation party that was about to start the Optometry program at Indiana University that coming Fall. I came to visit and fell in love with the University and the Optometry program. This individual, by the way, is Dr. Andrew Bateman who has a wonderful private practice back in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.

My Doctoral studies proved that the eye and visual system are much more complex than I ever imagined. I became focused on primary care and early ocular disease intervention that involves lots of technology and specialty imaging systems.

A few years back, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and getting to know Dr. Jerome Agrest, the founder of what would eventually become Carillon Vision Care. Dr. Agrest and the wonderful staff already established at Carillon have ultimately brought me to where I stand today.

But that is a story for another time. Thanks for reading. -Dr. N.