Paying it Forward, One Eye Exam at a Time

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When I was 19, I had my first eye exam. I never realized that I needed glasses, and after my appointment when I put on my glasses for the first time, I immediately began recognizing people who were waving to me or smiling at me as I walked by. I never knew all that I was missing because I couldn’t see clearly. Today, in my private practice, I recognize the same happiness in my patients when they can see clearly for the first time. It's priceless.

Being a Doctor of Optometry is more than just providing a pair of glasses—it’s taking the time to become involved in the overall health and well-being of my patients. Having the flexibility in my schedule to dedicate more time to each of my patients and deliver the best possible care is one of the most rewarding aspects of private practice optometry. It allows me to help my patients the same way my optometrist did during my first eye exam.

For many Vietnamese Americans like me, giving back to the community is an integral part of our culture. My family and I immigrated to the U.S. with almost nothing, and I’m fortunate for the support that others provided to help us get on our feet. I hope to do the same with others, and I’m grateful that private practice optometry allows me the time to make a difference in my community. After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in October 2017, I helped form a team of volunteers, including other healthcare professionals, to travel to Port Arthur and provide vision care and free eyeglasses to anyone affected by the disaster. Since the hurricane hit so close to home, I was inspired to start my own organization, Open Eyes Beyond Border, to provide support to even more communities impacted by disaster. Open Eyes Beyond Border has since grown into a charitable, nonprofit organization to continue these efforts internationally.

In addition to my own charitable efforts through the nonprofit, I have also partnered with VSP Vision Eyes of Hope through multiple programs. To date, VSP Eyes of Hope has provided access to no-cost vision care for more than 130,000 adults and children in Texas and reimbursed VSP network doctors $21.7 million to provide that care. As a VSP network private practice doctor, I’m appreciative that VSP Vision provides philanthropic resources that support my own passion to give back and increase access to no-cost vision care for those in need. This type of support from VSP is just one reason why my practice participates in the VSP Vision Premier Program. The Premier Program provides cost-saving benefits and resources to help me run my practice more efficiently, so I have more time for volunteering and caring for my patients.

Recently, I joined VSP Eyes of Hope for a mobile clinic event in Austin, Texas, to provide no-cost vision care for Afghan refugees. During the two-day clinic, we gave a child his first pair of glasses, and his eyes immediately lit up because he could see clearly for the first time. I wish I’d had my camera ready to capture the moment, because it brought joy to all of us there. Experiences like these are wonderful and reinforce my passion for helping others.

To me, giving back is essential. Private practice optometry provides a unique opportunity to make an immediate impact both in your local community and around the world to help people see and reach their full potential. As I see it, just one eye exam can change someone’s life.

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