Alumni Focus on Kevin Hamilton (OD'03)
DR. HAMILTON’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?
It’s cliché, but all of our instructors at the College of Optometry are as good as it gets. I’ve had the pleasure to be instructed by Dr. Michael Earley (OD/MS’88, PhD’92), Dr. Michael Polasky (OD’69), and Dr. Greg Good (OD’75, MS’79, PhD’81) to name of few. The clinical instructors who come to mind are Dr. Dave Dawson (OD’97), Dr. Pete Bickel (OD’82, MS’90), and Dr. Carla Mack (OD’95). Every one of our educators strives to get you ready for your career after optometry school, regardless of how you practice.
As a student, I can honestly say I didn’t appreciate how fortunate we were to be educated by leaders in the field of optometry. And that tradition continues today as some of my own classmates and recent alumni instruct at the college.
DR. HAMILTON’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I am the solo owner of a practice in Pittsburgh, PA called “Family Vision Care” and a co-owner of a practice in Irwin, PA called “The Sight Center.”
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I see patients of all ages at both locations, though the two practices couldn’t be more different socio-economically. My Pittsburgh practice is a more inner-city location with a higher rate of ocular pathology. I see everything from glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy to ocular tumors and fungal keratitis - it keeps you on your toes. The Sight Center is a more suburban location with a large number of families. The focus here is more often glasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery co-management.
However, the experience of getting to know your patients and their families over the years is common to both practices. Now that I’ve been practicing for almost 15 years (gasp), I’ve had the chance to watch patients I started seeing when they were in elementary school go on to graduate college. The relationships we form with our patients are what separates optometry from most other health care professions.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
Like many of my colleagues, I worry about online “vision exams” and their effects on the health of our patients. In our desire for increased conveniences in our lives, I don’t want us to start sacrificing health care.
I also worry about the ever-changing health care landscape of our country. Where will optometry land as medical care continues to evolve over the next several years? Will Medicare eventually run out of money?
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
Initially I thought I wanted to be an anesthesiologist when I graduated high school. It sounded so cool and important. After two years of college, I realized that career path just wasn’t for me. While home on Christmas break during my third year of college, I had my annual eye exam done by my local optometrist (who happens to now be my partner now at The Sight Center).
We discussed college and my intentions afterward. He asked if I was interested in optometry as a career path. He expressed a great passion for the profession and it sounded like it could be a great fit. I shadowed him multiple times over break and my decision had been made.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I wouldn’t have expected to be where I am now five years ago, so I’m not going to try to predict anything. But I would like to cut back on my patient time and focus a little more on the management and consulting side of optometry. Of course, I haven’t learned how to be in two places at one time yet, so I don’t know how that’s going to work. I love my patients, and it’s going to be tough to see them less.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Please don’t rush your decision making over the next several years. You may think you want to practice optometry a certain way when you graduate, but your mind may be changed when you actually do it on a regular basis. I’ve worked in retail optometry, private practice and with ophthalmology over my past 15 years. There are positives and negatives in any setting, but you have to find what works for you (and your family).
DR. HAMILTON’'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
I was fortunate enough to attend several AOA and AOSA national conferences during my time. We always seemed to have a fun time in different cities.
Football weekends were always great. Our campus is an amazing place in the fall on football Saturdays. Many family and friends came to visit for games and everyone left with a new appreciation for The Ohio State University football.
Some of the best times were simply part of the grind of an optometry student: Meeting classmates to study or for a study break, celebrating at Migg’s after a tough test, or going for a run to take your mind off of the upcoming finals.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
I’ve been blessed to be a part of a profession that allows me to help others regularly, but I also have the flexibility to be there whenever my family needs me. My wife and three children are all “Buckeyes” even if we don’t live in Ohio- one visit to the Horseshoe is all it takes to become a fan for life. All of my children have used a Brutus stuffed toy to sleep with at one time or another (currently my daughter is keeping him in her bed).
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
The College of Optometry website and alumni publications are fantastic. I also try to attend a football game every year - usually during the optometry alumni weekend. Typically, my wife and I will check out the school to see the ever-changing facilities. Dean Karla Zadnik has done a great job reaching out to Buckeye ODs not living in the Columbus area, which has helped us stay connected. I’m one of the few Southwestern PA Buckeye optometrists in an area dominated by PCO grads, so it’s important for us to stay connected.
DR. HAMILTON’'S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
Well, I’m a father to three children (7, 5, and 2 years old), so my hobbies and social life pretty much revolve around whatever they’ve got going on - and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been able to help coach baseball, and our offices sponsor several local youth teams.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
My first concert was the Steve Miller Band when I was in high school. I’m not quite sure how I convinced my father it was a good idea for 10 of my friends and I to travel there by ourselves for the day.
What is your favorite outdoor activity?
The topography of southwestern Pennsylvania couldn’t’ be more different than central Ohio, so I was never a runner until I arrived in Columbus. I started running while at Ohio State and now I love it. I’ve continued to do it even though I now have to run up hills back home in PA.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Fly. Seriously, Pittsburgh traffic is so ridiculous. I’d also be able to attend more Ohio State football games if I could fly.