Celebrating World Optometry Day
Every year the optometric community celebrates World Optometry Day on March 23. This day is used to honor the individuals who care for our eyes. Today, we would like to celebrate the wonderful optometrists who work with half Helen.
Keep reading to learn more about our four regular optometrists, what they are like outside of work, and what advice they have for individuals considering a career in eye care.
Dr. Tanya Kohli
Dr. Kohli began visiting the optometrist office in the first grade and was fascinated by equipment in the exam room. She also loved being able to choose shiny new frames. As a child she was inspired to become an optometrist because she thought it would be fun to be on the other side and help kids like herself. Dr. Kohli loves getting to spend her day with her patients and learning all about them, explaining that “There is a whole human attached to the set of eyes I look into. Getting to know patients, hearing stories about their life and sharing experiences, widens our perspectives and helps us all feel more connected to each other.” When reflecting on the skills needed for optometry she feels that “empathy, curiosity and communication” are key. These skills help her understand and connect with her patients better. Her advice for aspiring optometrists is: “Be compassionate with your patients, coworkers and colleagues. Seek unique and diverse work experiences. It’s okay to ask for help.” She stresses the importance of continued learning outside the classroom by explaining that you should “be open to learning outside of school because there is so much more to discover!”
When she is not helping patients Dr. Kohli enjoys running and spending her time in nature. You can also find her creating art and reading. Infact, “a book, a journal, a highlighter and a flowy ink pen,” would be the items she takes to a deserted island. She would enjoy spending her time reading and reflecting. One of her favorite traditions is to spend time with her family while they share a dinner made up of Indian food. If asked to recommend a movie, she would recommend Disney’s Soul, which is about a middle school band teacher/ jazz musician who tries to find his purpose in life. Finally, Dr. Kohli wants to tell the pediatric patients she sees “I believe in you. And, glasses are cool! :)” For her adult patients, she would like them to know “You don’t just see with your eyes. I can help improve the clarity of your vision but only you can choose how you see the world.” Dr. Kohli graduated in 2019 from Illinois College of Optometry.
Dr. Jimmy Yuan
Dr. Yuan was inspired to become an optometrist because as a child he “started developing heavy myopia (near-sightedness)” which resulted in making frequent trips to the optometrist office for contact lens fitting, follow ups, and trying on glasses. He explains that “it just sort of became ingrained in my mind that in the future I wanted to help others see.” This ability to help others see is what drives him, and he loves that “as eye doctors, we possess the ability to improve someone’s quality of life, oftentimes on an instant basis.” He wants aspiring optometrists to know they should “…have a passion for helping others. Otherwise, it just becomes another job, especially if you have to take on student loans (like I did). I see a lot of my colleagues who have graduated the same year as me already experiencing early burnout, so your reason for becoming a doctor will be tested. Make sure you are getting into it for the right reasons.” Dr. Yuan wants to stress the importance of being a good communicator as an optometrist, “as you have to explain eye conditions to patients, educating them about their eye conditions, things to watch out for, things to consider.”
In his free time, Dr. Yuan enjoys working out and staying in shape. He also shared that “I challenged myself to read more books this year and I have already read three! I know that’s not a lot, but this is coming from zero books last year! I’ll take that as a win!” In addition to reading, Dr. Yuan explains that “Lately, I’ve forced myself to take an interest in finances, and have been trying to be nerd about investing and real estate. It’s not my usual cup of tea, but you can make it fun, which will make you more likely to stick to it.” One of his favorite family traditions is he would go fishing with his mom and dad recalling, “It’s funny because my mom and I always hated being dragged along, but now looking back, those are some of my most cherished memories. I definitely want to continue this tradition when I have kids.” When asked to recommend a movie, he recommended the 1997 science fiction film, Gattaca, starring “then heart-throb” Ethan Hawke. He explains, “Without giving away too much, I resonate personally with this movie because it follows one person’s dedication to becoming great, and his journey to defy all odds in becoming a space pilot.” Dr. Yuan labels himself a “self- appointed movie snob” and he likes the overall message behind this film.
We asked Dr. Yuan if there was anything he wanted to share with his patients and he responded, “Most eye doctors, at least most that I know, are very kind people who are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your eyes or any specifics regarding your eye condition. We are here to help! If for some reason you find yourself in an office where they can’t at least take a few minutes to explain your eye health, that might be a good indication to find another eye doctor. There are plenty of us out here that will value you! I always tell my patients, ‘You only get 1 set of eyeballs! So you better start taking good care of them!’” Dr. Yuan graduated from Houston College of Optometry in 2018.
Dr. Jean Mengoli
Growing up Dr. Mengoli, had “vision issues (high myopia) and realized that helping people improve their sight would be a great gift.” She loves her career as an optometrist and the journey she took to becoming an optometrist. She shared that she loves being able to interact with her patients “whether old, middle aged or young.” Dr. Mengoli enjoys her speaking with her patients and helping to solve their problems. She explains that being an optometrist is both a fulfilling and challenging career. She found skills important to being an optometrist are “being super meticulous, being empathetic, and taking the time to listen are all vital qualities.” She would like her patients to know that “I am here for you. I hope you feel better leaving my office than when you first arrived.”
In her free time Dr. Mengoli enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. She would recommend the movie Queen of Katwe. She watched this film with her children over spring break, and describes it as a “wonderful movie about an underprivileged girl from the slums of Katwe who falls in love with chess; and ultimately competes in International Chess competitions.” Dr. Mengoli’s older children love chess, so they enjoyed watching this movie over spring break. Her favorite family tradition is having a “family movie night” several times a year. Her grandfather and “husband are avid videographers.” Dr. Mengoli values her family greatly and is extremely proud of her husband and children. She graduated from UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry in 2002.
Dr. Natalie Lindsey-Miliam
Dr. Lindsey-Miliam knew from a young age that she liked the idea of being a doctor, but did not want to perform surgeries and wake up to deliver babies in the middle of the night. It was in the 4th grade when she picked up her older brother’s career catalog and came across the description of an optometrist. She liked the idea of optometry and “thought that helping people to see better would be a nice thing to do.” In that moment her career goals and aspirations had been set; she was going to become an optometrist. Faith is something that is very important to Dr. Lindsey-Miliam, so she knew the Lord’s plan for her was to be an optometrist. She loves getting to spend her day helping people of all ages see the world more clearly. If she were to give advice to an aspiring optometrist, she would tell them that they don’t have to find their forever practice right when they finish school “because it is what you “think” you want or what is expected of you by others. Do not be afraid to spend some time trying out various types of practice modalities to find what will be the best fit for you, your personality, your clinical skills, and your desired lifestyle.”
When she is not helping others as an optometrist, she likes to spend her time reading, traveling, watching television, and watching her favorite college football teams, the Baylor Bears and the Texas Longhorns. If she could recommend one movie she suggests Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” which portrays the last hours of Jesus’s life before the crucifixion. She also loves to spend time with her family retelling memories and laughing at inside jokes. One piece of parting advice Dr. Lindsey-Milam has for her patients is that “Yesterday is gone forever and you will never get it back. Leave it behind you where it belongs. You can look forward to tomorrow, but focus on today because it is the only day you can do anything about. When tomorrow becomes today, start again with focusing on what is right in front of you right now–your new today. If you do what you need to do today, your tomorrow will work out.” Dr. Lindsey graduated from Houston’s College of Optometry in 2000.
We are grateful for the optometrists at half Helen and all they do! Happy World Optometry Day!