There is no template for choosing a career in Optometry, particularly one that specializes in vision therapy. Many of us seem to come to the specialty from different angles, and yesterday one of our stellar vision therapy graduate patients, Preysi Patel, came to our office to “shadow”. This is a process that is encouraged by Colleges of Optometry to their applicants, so that potential students are exposed to a variety of experiences solidifying and confirming their interest in what the profession has to offer and the modes in which it is practiced. My associate, Dr. Montenare, was conducting a progress evaluation at the time with my granddaughter Kayla. Not just because she’s my granddaughter, I’ll relate that Kayla is gifted and talented as acknowledged by all of her teachers, and she’s a scholar-athlete to boot. In a blog on the personal side I boasted about her leading her basketball team to an undefeated school season last year (she wears #12 in the photos). The reason I bring her up is that she and Preysi have something in common. I had no idea, as high achieving as Kayla is, that during the past school year she began having headaches when reading and was working increasingly hard to comprehend. She excels in everything she undertakes and is a bit of a stoic. It was only when she came in for her yearly exam that she turned herself in to my associate, Dr. Montenare. When he shared the data with me, along with her symptoms, we wasted no time prescribing a program of optometric vision therapy for her that has already paid dividends.
As Kayla joined us after her therapy session, Dr. Montenare reminded us that Preysi was very much like Kayla. Unfortunately for Preysi, no one had detected her convergence insufficiency when she was younger. She worked hard through college, achieving a 3.89 GPA. Finally, when she went to take the MCAT exam in the process of applying to Medical School, her visual skills broke down due to the length and intensity of the test. Although she scored well, she knew that something was seriously wrong. She was referred to our office, and by the time we saw her the convergence insufficiency had deteriorated to an intermittent exotropia. Presyi undertook vision therapy with gusto, and was so enamored with her experiences that she decided to go into Optometry as a career. She switched gears, took the OAT (Optometry Admissions Test) which she aced, and is now applying to SUNY and Salus University (PCO). Either school would be very privileged to have her, and our field will gain a future vision therapy superstar motivated to the highest level because of her personal experiences. As we discussed how this evolved, I paused and said: “Wait a minute; we have to get this on video to share with others”. Ladies and gents, meet the future Presyi Patel, O.D., FCOVD: