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A Lifetime of Optometry

C Wong Cover Photo

Fortunately, most people’s first memories don’t include wearing glasses. Unfortunately, mine do – I don’t know a life without glasses. I started wearing glasses when I was three years old. Throughout my elementary and middle school days, it was difficult to cope with my reliance on glasses. Ironically, they felt more like a hindrance than helpful. (They were more helpful than not. As I grew older, I recognized the great privilege in having correctable vision and the access to vision care.) But, in my naivety, I was upset that I couldn’t comfortably do things that my friends were doing like wearing makeup and running. Sometimes I couldn’t even get out of bed properly because I couldn’t find my glasses without glasses.

My self-esteem was not the best and I blamed it on the glasses. In high school my prescription was approaching -12.00, which is very high. Twice a year, I would go to an optometrist to be re-evaluated for a new prescription. On average, my prescription increased by a full diopter every year. To slow the rapid progression, I spent a few years wearing bifocals (which are typically reserved for patients over forty years old) and a few more years using atropine drops. Both efforts failed.

Things changed when I was fitted for hard contact lenses. For the first time, I could use my peripheral vision, wear makeup, and go on runs. I felt free. My prescription finally started to plateau as well. My doctor changed the quality of my life drastically, in just a few weeks. Beyond that, she instilled confidence in me during my time in the exam room with her. I felt seen and cared for. (It was a nice change of pace compared to my previous doctors who spoke directly to my mom. It was always bad news about my worsening myopia. Although it’s understandable because I was a minor, I felt more like an object than a patient in their care.) Experiencing this life-changing correction and seeing her change the lives of others after working as her technician for years, I was already convinced that optometry was for me.

When working in a practice, the connections I made with patients drew me into optometry even further. Whether they’re new or longstanding, the interaction is extremely rewarding. Although I had considered other career paths, nothing quite piqued my interest like eyeballs did. Because of my personal experience with myopia, I can empathize with struggling patients. As an optician who helped high myopic kids (as young as 5 years old!) with myopia control contact lenses, I was able to witness these patients grow into their genuine selves after seeing the world through contact lenses. It makes my heart whole. I’m ecstatic knowing that they will Kiley not end up as high of a myope as myself, as technology for myopia control improves.

After years of consideration, I recognized that with an OD degree, I fulfill all my interests in one: non-profits, teaching, customer service, and health care. Between volunteering for outreach programs, becoming a faculty member, and patient education and care, I really can have the best of everything. If you have any questions about optometry, SCCO, or life in general, please feel free to send a message to I’m always happy to talk!

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