Connect with us

Online Only

How My Degree Helped Me Make a Difference in My Community

I am deeply grateful for the early wisdom my parents instilled in me from a very young age.




LONG BEFORE I became an optometrist, my parents instilled the importance of hard work and a good education, including the value of using my knowledge to do good in the world. Their guidance and words of wisdom inspired me to cherish the chances to positively impact my community and my optometry degree has empowered me to fulfill this aspiration in a myriad of meaningful ways.

I was in 3rd grade when I first discovered I needed glasses after going through a routine vision screening at my elementary school, conducted by interns and doctors from an institution called the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO). Before then, I had no idea that I was not seeing the world as clearly as I could. Fast forward many years later, and I had embarked on a new chapter in my life as an optometry student at SCCO. After earning my doctor of optometry degree, I pursued a residency in Pediatric Optometry at the State University of New York. A few years after my residency was completed, I returned to my alma mater, now a part of Marshall B. Ketchum University, as an assistant professor.

Today, I have the privilege of educating optometry students both didactically and clinically, and I feel an immense sense of pride in witnessing their journey into the profession. As a clinical investigator, I am very involved in numerous research trials, and I find great fulfillment in contributing to the scientific literature. Additionally, I sometimes lead vision screenings for various elementary schools across my community, an experience that holds special significance for me given my personal history. Recently, I had the surreal and humbling opportunity to conduct a vision screening at the very same elementary school I attended, even visiting my third-grade classroom where that life-changing moment took place many years ago.

As a specialist in pediatric optometry, providing and advocating for the vision care of children is my true passion. Children with vision disorders may experience a range of symptoms, but they are often not aware that their vision is abnormal and therefore they may not complain. The sooner a vision problem is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated and can provide a better framework for that child to maximize their vision and learning and improve their overall quality of life. I feel a personal responsibility to ensure children are getting the eye care they need, and this is why I am extremely motivated and passionate about educating others in my community about the importance of children’s vision.

How My Degree Helped Me Make a Difference in My Community

Driven by this ambition, I find joy and fulfillment in using the knowledge gained through my schooling and training to educate others. I regularly give lectures and talks to pediatricians, school nurses, teachers and parents in my community and beyond. Collaborating and networking with these individuals is not only rewarding but also essential, as we all strive toward the common goal of ensuring children’s well-being. I emphasize the importance of including an eye examination on the checklist for children’s health, alongside other vital assessments.


I am extremely passionate about a public health program called InfantSEE®™, which is managed by Optometry Cares® – The American Optometrist Association (AOA) Foundation. InfantSEE® is an initiative dedicated to establishing vision care as an essential component of a child’s life within their first year. Under this program, AOA member optometrists provide a comprehensive eye and vision assessment for infants ages 6 to 12 months old at no cost, regardless of a family’s income or access to insurance coverage. Whenever I give lectures, whether it be in my local community or at a national level, I always promote the InfantSEE® program, where I emphasize that early intervention and treatment are key to a successful outcome.

Furthermore, I have taken my passion for children’s vision all the way to the state capitol, where I advocated and even testified on its behalf. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at career day for my younger son Ronan’s preschool class and my older son Rayan’s kindergarten class. Educating these young audiences about optometry and the importance of good vision and eye health was not only enjoyable but also incredibly memorable. Children are indeed the future, and I am committed to making sure we give them the brightest future possible!

I consider it an honor and a privilege to use the knowledge I have gained thru my optometry degree and subsequent residency training in pediatric optometry to make meaningful contributions to my community in numerous ways. Looking back on my career over the past 15 years since graduating from SCCO, I am deeply grateful for the early wisdom my parents instilled in me from a very young age. Their belief in the power of knowledge and the privilege of using education for the betterment of others has encouraged me to do more to make a positive difference in the world. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far and I eagerly anticipate what my education will enable me to accomplish in the next 15 years, and beyond!

About the Author

How My Degree Helped Me Make a Difference in My CommunityAbout Reena Patel, OD, FAAO: Dr. Reena Patel is an associate professor at Marshall B. Ketchum University (MBKU). She earned her OD from SCCO at MBKU and completed a Pediatric Optometry residency at SUNY. Dr. Patel teaches in the Vision Therapy and Pediatric services at SCCO and conducts research with PEDIG on topics like amblyopia and strabismus. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and serves on the InfantSEE® and Children’s Vision Committee of the American Optometric Association.



The Best Overall Progressive Lens, Now Powered by AI

Engineered with Behavioral Artificial Intelligence and utilizing new XR-motion™ technology, Varilux XR series goes beyond prescription and eye physiology to consider the patient’s visual behavior and design a progressive lens that respects how
their eyes naturally move.

Varilux XR series comes in two versions, Varilux® XR design and Varilux® XR track. The Varilux XR track lens provides an additional level of personalization by incorporating the exclusive Near Vision Behavior Measurement, providing up to 25% more near vision width3 according to the patient’s need, so patients get the highest level of customization.

Discover Varilux XR series and enjoy instantly sharp vision in motion4 and seamless transitions from near to far.

For more information, visit here.

Promoted Headlines





Get the most important news and business ideas for eyecare professionals every weekday from INVISION.



Most Popular