Alumni Focus on Cayti McDaniel (OD'08)
DR. MCDANIEL'S STORY
Were you the first optometrist in your family?
Yes, I am the first optometrist in a family of engineers.
Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I chose to go to Ohio State because it is a great school academically, its history and because I’ve been a Buckeye since birth! I was born when my father was a graduate student at Ohio State.
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
I graduated in 2008 from the OD/MS program and then did pediatric residency at the University of Houston.
Name a mentor from the College of Optometry or a person who had a positive effect on your education.
Dr. Nick Fogt was extremely helpful as an advisor for the OD/MS program and helped me navigate the expectations of the coursework, realize the importance of research, and guide me down a path that ultimately led to a successful career in academia.
DR. MCDANIEL'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
What is your current title?
Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry and the Chief of the Binocular Vision and Pediatric (BVP) Optometry Clinic at The Ohio State University.
Briefly explain some of your daily job responsibilities or patient interactions.
Aside from serving as the Chief of the BVP Clinic, and seeing patients on a regular basis, I also teach an OPT III course, Vision of Children, about understanding the primary care examinations of infants, toddlers and children.
Tell us a special story that relates to your career now.
This past year, Alcon approached me about pursuing a new an idea for a community outreach project focused on pediatric vision. The concept: create a children’s book that addresses the importance of early childhood eye exams. This was an interesting experience because I collaborated with an author to come up with a story line, figure out how to teach children and parents about what to expect at an eye exam and then ultimately fact check the explanation of the patient experience and proper use of equipment. It is my hope that this book will provide both children and their parents with an understanding of the importance in seeing an optometrist and will hopefully prevent vision problems down the road. The book is called “Howard and the Amazing Eye Exam,” and is free to download online. (www.THEeyeSOLUTION.com)
What’s one thing you learned during your education that has affected you most in your career?
There are two important things that come to mind: First, I learned the importance of keeping up with the most recent literature and being current with the trends in optometric care. You have to adapt in order to meet the patient’s needs in this ever changing field. Secondly, reflecting as a current teacher who went through the program, we have a strong focus on “evidence based medicine” and remembering that we do things clinically for a reason: we have evidence that it works and is the proper treatment.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
My dad, aunt, and grandma all have ocular health issues that have caused them to lose some vision. As a result, my parents took me to see the optometrist yearly as a child and I believe that the early exposure to optometry helped me become more interested in the profession.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
I am very passionate about the importance of early eye exams and in turn, early detection of risk factors for vision loss. Most parents assume that children should wait until they enter school to get an eye exam or wait until their child complains. But, if they understood the AOA’s recommended schedule of pediatric eye exams and what could be detected early on, it could make such a monumental impact. The AOA estimates that there are 30 million children in the U.S. with undetected vision problems.
Why are you passionate about your career?
I can see on a daily basis what good vision can do for a patient. I see this in children who get their first pair of glasses, who complete their vision therapy program or get their first 20/20 with their amblyopic eye after treatment. I also see this in my other patient population, acquired brain injury. We work to provide rehabilitation through many means with the goal of returning patients to school or work and back to their normal daily activities when possible. This is very rewarding.
Advice for aspiring optometrists.
I would tell anyone interested in optometry school to work hard in school and in life to be the best they can be. Optometry has so many options and is customizable to your interests. There are so many different facets of optometry that you can really become ingrained and passionate about one specific area or many different ones at the same time.
DR. MCDANIEL'S FUN FACTS
Most memorable moment(s) at Ohio State.
My favorite part about being a part of this college, as an alumna and faculty, is celebrating graduation of our 4th years. Everything about this week gets me pumped up, feeling nostalgic about my experience and makes me feel like a “proud mother” for all of students I have seen pass through the program.
What is it like to work at Ohio State after having gone to school here?
Having left Ohio State/Columbus after graduation and doing my pediatric residency at the University of Houston, I felt like I got to leave and come back with a fresh perspective. It has been fun to see the physical changes to the college, especially to Fry Hall, and see how the faculty are really striving to make this the best program in the country. As a student, I didn’t truly appreciate the effort that was being put into the program as a whole and it’s truly something to behold.
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
When I’m not working, I go into “mommy job mode” and take care of my two girls. My husband and I like to take the girls for walks outside and explore the local parks in Columbus.
What does Ohio State mean to you?
This place means family. Having been on both sides, it is apparent that there is a genuine spirit of wanting to help each other between the students and faculty. Everyone treats you like family and you just don’t get that everywhere.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
My father encouraged me to pursue engineering at an early age and I graduated from Wright State University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. So if I didn’t get into optometry school, I’m sure I would have continued my path in engineering and be doing something relative to that.
Final thoughts ...
The 2016 Binocular Vision and Pediatrics Forum will be taking place on Friday March 18th and lasts from 8:15am to 4:30pm. This continuing education event focuses on binocular vision and pediatrics education for eye care professionals. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Suzanne Wickum, a Clinical Professor from the University of Houston. If you’re interested in learning more about the forum, please visit optometry.osu.edu/CE/BVPforum.cfm.