Alumni Focus on Amber Slezak (OD’14)
DR. SLEZAK’S STORY
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
All of the professors and clinical doctors I worked with helped shape the doctor I am today.
DR. SLEZAK’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
360Care – Mobile Medical Care at varying nursing and assisted living facilities throughout Ohio
The Pataskala Vision Center – Pataskala, Ohio
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
360care – Per day I go to one or two nursing home facilities to see residents, usually seeing anywhere from 20-30 residents a day. Using mobile equipment, I complete comprehensive and diabetic exams, and manage glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye. Due to the older aged population of which I see, a lot of my patients have advanced or uncontrolled ocular conditions. In the last year, I have been utilizing amniotic membranes on certain patients as well.
Pataskala Vision Center – In private practice, I see 20-25 patients a day, seeing all age ranges and primarily comprehensive exams. I also manage and monitor diabetics, glaucoma, and dry eye. In addition, I fit standard soft as well as RGP and scleral contact lenses. Recently, I’m starting to branch into more myopia management.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
The primary issue that concerns me within work at 360care is ensuring the residents within these facilities are getting the adequate eye care they need. Many residents in advanced age don’t do as well verbalizing their change in vision or even ocular discomfort. So I find it’s important to continue routine eye care with these residents to monitor and catch any progressing conditions, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Within private practice, my largest concern focuses on the poor control over online contact lens sales. The increasing number of patients I’ve seen recently who have been able to fill expired contact lens prescriptions or buy lenses without a valid prescription of a lens they’ve never even worn has been rising. In addition, I’ve seen a correlated increase in ocular damage from misuse of these purchases.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I received my first pair of glasses when I was three years old, so I was very familiar with the optometry field by the time I reached high school. My optometrist tried the old recommendations of lined bifocals and RGP lenses to try to slow down my myopia, sadly to no avail. I knew I wanted a career in the health field, and it only seemed natural to gravitate toward optometry with my personal history.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
Actually I’d be very happy to be working in the same locations I am now. It’s refreshing to have two different positions with such varying patients to alternate between.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Don’t limit yourself to what you think you do or don’t know or do or don’t think you’d like. Make sure your fourth-year rotations are diverse so you can experience a wide range of specialties within the eye care field to better help you find where you want to land upon graduation. Highly consider a residency, as I feel mine was an invaluable addition to my education and my experience with ocular disease. I completed mine at the Cleveland VA.
I say much of this, as my fourth year of undergrad, I shadowed an optometrist at a nursing home providing mobile eye care. I remember clear as day, coming home to my parents’ house and said “I will NEVER do that." Look where I am now, and I love it!
DR. SLEZAK’S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
General class time shenanigans (ex: classmates trying to take pictures of someone else who had dozed off during a lecture), studying into the early hours of the morning for pharmacology exams, learning with my fellow classmates in clinics together, and attending Academy meetings as a student fellow.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
I am grateful for the education that the Ohio State College of Optometry provided me, and in turn now I am able to provide the best patient care possible.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
The alumni magazine, emails, as well as Facebook posts all keep me connected to the most up-to-date events occurring within the college.
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
The importance of being available to your patients and that eye care providers are just as important as any other health care provider, even in the middle of a pandemic. As an optometrist in the nursing home setting, which is one of the hardest areas hit by COVID-19, there are some facilities that I was not allowed to go into for over a year. While I fully understand their precautions, there are some patients I have seen recently with dramatic changes in their vision. With their limited mobility in the facilities, many patients do not notice a change in their vision. Therefore with lack of complaints to staff, optometry was deemed non-emergent in some locations (AKA I was only allowed in unless there was an ocular emergency). For the future, I just hope our profession continues to grow and regardless the population of patients we’re seeing, we are considered essential.
DR. SLEZAK’S FUN FACTS
Tell us about your first-ever eye exam.
I actually think this was my second eye exam, but my now brother-in-law came in for an exam. I’m sure it took three hours just like everyone else’s first few exams. But I remember my attending, Dr. Andrew Emch (OD/MS’08), pointed out a floater to me that I could see through the teaching tube, and I went “oh wow!” He proceeded to respond with, “that’s probably not the best way to react to seeing something in a patient’s eye…” I haven’t forgotten his response to this day!
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
Most recent, sadly (in reference to how long ago this was) – Coheed and Cambria in July of 2018.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
Event Planner/Wedding Coordinator