Alumni Focus on Kris Kerestan Garbig (OD'90)



Belle Vernon, PA

Were you the first optometrist in your family?


Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?

Doctor of Optometry

Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?

I would definitely have to say Dr. Carole Burns. I was hired to work in Dr. Burns' practice initially as a vision therapist and expanded to perform contact lens trainings and pretesting. I loved working in group therapy with the other therapists and with all of the kids. Because of my love for children and my experience with Dr. Burns, I determined that I wanted to work with children with learning-related vision problems and have vision therapy as a specialty in our practice. 


Name of your employer(s) and title, including location

Garbig Family Eye Care, a private practice with my husband, Dr. Doug Garbig.

Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.

My days at the office typically consist of examining children and adults, fitting contact lenses, diagnosing and treating digital eye strain, dry eye, learning-related vision problems and ocular surface disease, as well as performing vision therapy. I also spend time fine-tuning office procedures and expanding our social media and marketing presence.

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

I am most concerned about the online sale of eyewear and contact lenses, which I believe degrades our profession.

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

Honestly, I think like so many of us, I wanted to go into the medical field without having to face life and death on a daily basis. I felt that optometry would allow me to care for and positively enhance the lives of others.    

Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?

Well, it’s hard to believe, but in five years I will have been in practice for more than 30 years! Over the next five years, I plan to further expand my career as a speaker for eye care professionals and a consultant within the ophthalmic industry.

What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?

I would have to say not to lock themselves in to any one specific career path. There is so much more opportunity within the optometric field than 26 years ago when I graduated. Explore all your options, look inside and be true to yourself and know that you will always have more opportunities than you can imagine. Also … network, network, network!


Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?

When I came to Ohio State for my interview, I absolutely loved the university atmosphere and the setting. I also knew that Ohio State had an amazing reputation. After one year of extremely expensive out of state tuition, I was able to declare Ohio residency for my remaining three years.

What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?

This is tough … so many to recall!! Annual Big-Little Sib softball game, All the EYE parties and activities, Annual EYE square dancing, OSU football games with all my classmates, Intramural softball, volleyball and flag football. Oh and there were many memorable academic moments as well …honestly just being together with the same classmates for four years, whether it was in class, lab or clinic.  

What lesson did you learn at Ohio State that has affected you the most so far in your career?

I consider myself to be a Buckeye through and through even though I’m not from Ohio. Over the years I have gotten a lot of grief from our Kentucky friends and patients. I tell them that we bleed RED not University of Kentucky blue!

How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry as an alumna?

I stay connected to my classmates by planning reunions, organizing class get-togethers at conferences as well as through Facebook.             


What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?

I love to travel, meet people from all over the world, educate eye care professionals, listen to music, dance, get together with friends and attend our son’s Ohio Northern University soccer games. I also teach in the children’s ministry of our church. 

What was the first concert that you attended / most recent? 

Anyone who knows me knows this … I am a HUGE Foreigner fan! I’ve seen them a total of three times, but have to say that the best was at SECO 2014 at The Tabernacle.

If not an optometrist, I would be ...

a race car driver!