Alumni Focus on Kara Hampton ('95)
DR. HAMPTON'S STORY
Were you the first optometrist in your family?
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
OD, Class of 1995
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
Dr. Richard Hill & Dr. Mike Polasky
During the second week of my first year in optometry school, I ended up in the hospital (ruptured appendix) and missed the next three weeks of school. Not a great start! But, Dean Hill assured me I’d be able to make up my work, scheduled for me to take exams from the hospital, and even came over himself for regular visits. He showed me right from the beginning that The Ohio State University College of Optometry is a family, and I was a part of it.
Dr. Polasky taught me how to do what I do every day … see patients and provide them a prescription to deliver the clearest vision possible.
DR. HAMPTON’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I have a private practice in Springboro (between Dayton and Cincinnati) … Springboro Vision Center, which I purchased in 1998 from a retiring doctor. We are a Vision Source office. I am currently seeking to welcome an associate to the practice to help care for our wonderful patients. If anyone knows of an OD interested in delivering top-notch care in a beautiful office in southwest Ohio, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I have the pleasure of caring for a wide variety of patients of all ages. Many are contact lens wearers, and I also manage their ocular health needs. I love kids, so especially enjoy our pediatric patients. As sole owner of a private practice, I wear many other hats, as well, such as staff management, finances, marketing, and the list goes on!
Tell us a special story that relates to your career now.
My daughter has been wearing glasses since age three due to amblyopia, and my son since age 18 months due to strabismus. They both have 20/20 vision OD/OS and good stereo now, which likely would not have been the case without early intervention (which may have not happened had I not been an OD). This has enabled me to relate to my young patients’ parents better. I can give them the OD-perspective as well as the mom-perspective. I’m much more sympathetic with the parents who bring broken glasses in for repeated repair now, as I’ve had a child go through the terrible-twos as a spectacle-wearer!
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
Loss of personalization. So many things are moving to the faceless internet … contact lens sales, glasses, online refractions, “Dr. Google.” Even in a private practice, there is such a drive for efficiency and delegation, less OD time is spent face-to-face with our patients. Hence, the bonds may not grow as strong.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I was fortunate that my high school had a mentorship program. I was considering many careers in the healthcare field—optometry being one of them. So, I was matched with Drs. Tom and Sue Truitt, and spent time shadowing them in their private practice. I really loved seeing them deliver and preserve their patients’ sight, and how that had a positive impact on their lives. I decided optometry was the career for me.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I would love to be doing the same thing I’m doing now, just sharing it with an associate/possible future partner. I love my community and the opportunity to provide vision care to my friends, neighbors, and kids’ classmates. Having another optometrist here would enable us to see many more patients, increase equipment, offer greater convenience to our patients with expanded hours, and frankly … be more fun!
What is one piece of advice you can give an OPT IV student as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric career?
Be humble. You are graduating with a phenomenal education, vast patient experience, and much enthusiasm. Seasoned docs can teach you a lot, though, that they’ve learned from “hard knocks.”
DR. HAMPTON’S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
The initial reason was because it is just 45 minutes from where I grew up, so basically all I knew. However, as I grew more familiar with optometric education, I learned what a high reputation Ohio State had (and still has), so I felt VERY blessed that I was able to attend this fine college.
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
Forming friendships and relationships. We spent so much time together in class, labs, clinics, and socially. It is still such fun to run into classmates and professors while attending continuing education seminars.
I also greatly valued my SVOSH experience, as I was blessed to join two trips to Ecuador. This set the stage for a mind-set of charity … helping those less fortunate, which I’ve continued to do. It also opened up the world, giving me friends on another continent I would’ve never known otherwise. Just this week, I’ve been able to communicate with two ladies in Ecuador who served as our translators, making sure they are ok, given their recent earthquake.
What lesson did you learn at Ohio State that has affected you the most so far in your career?
I learned how to give an eye exam, how to treat ocular disease, and how to CARE for patients. Yes, we’re examining their eyes, but we need to treat them as individuals with joys and concerns.
What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
It gave me my start … my ticket to enter this career, which has been both my job and my passion.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry as an alumna?
I recently enjoyed attending a continuing education session in Room 33 (quite different from our school experience!). It was awesome to take a tour of the building/facilities to see the changes and upgrades. Quite beautiful and functional! I also was thankful to attend our class’s 20-year reunion last fall, and reconnecting with some ODs I had not seen in, well, 20 years!
DR. HAMPTON’S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
My husband Mike and I have an 11-year-old daughter, Faith, and 5-year-old son, Will. Time with them is so precious and fleeting, I take every opportunity I can to spend with them. I’m very involved with our church in many various capacities … studies, serving the congregation, and outside mission work. I volunteer in my kids’ schools and lead Faith’s Girl Scout troop. I love vegetable gardening/canning, and wish I had more time for sewing and crafts. As a family, we enjoy God’s earth together by biking and snow skiing. We also love traveling to explore both this great country and abroad. I give many Realeyes presentations and perform vision screenings for local preschools.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
That’s tough, because I can’t really see myself doing anything different. Every year as summer approaches, I wonder why I didn’t want to go into teaching! But then, I do a Realeyes presentation. And while I do very much enjoy them, it seems to reinforce that optometry is where I belong.
If you or someone you know would be a good candidate for an Alumni Focus feature,
please contact Michael Haddock at email@example.com