Alumni Focus on Michelle Lieb ('10)
DR. LIEB'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?
There are many standout mentors at the college, but my top two mentors would have to go to Dr. Dawn Goedde (OD’04) and Dr. Michael Earley (OD/MS’88, PhD’92). Dr. Earley’s first-year classes were a make or break with anatomy and physiology. I remember studying endlessly in TBBOTL stressing about Earley’s class. Only now do I appreciate all neuro-connections and how each eye truly is one remarkable organ for which I can go on and on … Dr. Goedde furthered my love for clinical optometry as she was my Ocular Disease attending, she always was approachable but challenged me to think of all the differential diagnoses that were possible and greatly helped me navigate from what I learned from a text book to what I was then seeing with a patient in my chair. This helped me when I went on to externship and later on in private practice. My biggest mentor was actually outside of the optometry school, Dr. Kathleen Murphy (OD’82), for whom I worked in her private practice for three years prior to optometry school as well as all four years during optometry school. She really allowed me to fully immerse myself into her practice from filing insurances, working in the optical, edging lenses, teaching contact lens training etc. She taught me what a good leader and business owner should look like. I will be forever grateful for that experience and our now lifelong friendship.
DR. LIEB'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
I currently work as an associate optometrist at a private practice called ‘For Your Eyes Only’ in Willoughby, Ohio where I have worked since graduation next door to my home town of Mentor.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I am in a private practice family eye care setting and see patients as young as a few months to my eldest patient who is 106 years old. On a full day, I see around 20 comprehensive eye exams with follow-ups, problem focused exams and contact lens checks scattered in between. While COVID has certainly changed some of our behaviors and schedules, we are still able to accommodate our patients in a safe and healthy environment to meet their visual and eye health needs.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
My biggest optometric concern for our field is virtual eye health examinations coupled with online eyeglasses and contact lens purchases. There is so much more to spinning dials and collecting the data to a visual prescription, you need to access the binocular vision, lens, cornea, the tear stability, the retina health etc. that I still can’t seem to understand how this can all be assessed virtually. I’ve had a handful of patients recently come in for a problem-focused exam after an online contact lens examination or after wearing a contact lens without a valid prescription with infections or a totally wrong prescription. We need to protect our patients from this false sense of security that there is no correlation of eye health and their visual needs. Until online retailers for contact lenses and eyeglass lenses are held more accountable for filling only correct or valid prescriptions while passing U.S. standards, there will always be an unnecessary issue of troubleshooting the prescription.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I shadowed an optometrist, Dr. Scott Kriessler, for my senior project the last month of high school. I knew I wanted to go into something medical, but I wasn’t sure what. Dr. Kriessler really took me under his wing and opened my eyes to the field and his passion for optometry showed and I remember thinking wow, this is such a great field, you can help patients and change their whole world by giving them the gift of sight. I then worked for Dr. Kathleen Murphy in her private practice in undergrad and sealed the deal that this is what I want to do. Where else could I be a medical professional and get to help style people with functional jewelry (glasses) on their face?! I loved the fashion aspect, and the medical aspect; I was sold.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I continue to hope that in the next five years I’ll still be servicing N.E. Ohio, providing the best optometric care those in need. I have no plans of moving anywhere else anytime soon.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and find the niche that you love - your patients will seek out those who love what they are doing. Continue to ask questions of us fellow peers, as you will soon find out we are a small, but mighty community. Lastly, get to know the ophthalmologists in your area as you can develop a great symbiotic relationship with them.
DR. LIEB'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
I have many memories from running into my Optics final exam an hour late due to oversleeping to being a member of the EYE fraternity and spending many weekends with my classmates socializing. The endless hours of practicing our skills in the practice exam lanes and spending most days with one pupil dilated ... I’m forever grateful for my time spent at Ohio State Optometry earning my degree at the highest level of optometric education available in the country.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
The college means a lot to my family and I, my husband and I starting dating when attending undergrad at Ohio State and our relationship continued to grow throughout Optometry School. Attending Ohio State Optometry help develop me into the person I am today and create long-lasting friendships. The faculty and staff were always amazing at Ohio State, you felt instantly as if you were a colleague and that you were supposed to be there from day one and the camaraderie our classmates exhibited was amazing to have.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
I always try to attend Alumni Weekend at Ohio State every fall, (I’ll look forward to next year) as well as attending OOA's East/West Conference and staying connected with fellow alumni/faculty/staff via Facebook.
How are you making the year 2020 special?
I had many plans to make 2020 spectacular, but my dreams were a little derailed with COVID. For now, I take refuge in staying connected with my friends and family and doing my part to keep us safe and healthy. I can’t wait to watch some Ohio State football this fall/winter and I hope that my big plans of owning a practice will happen in the near future.
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
Working through the COVID public health crisis has taught me a couple of things. First - we are essential workers and our patients need us. Second - I’ve always been an advocate for nutrition and eye health, but now it seems like patients are more engaged and willing to change some bad habits. I never thought that we as a standard of care would be taking temperatures before we see a patient for their general eye health exam, but from a public health standpoint, I can’t believe we didn’t do this before … I think COVID has been an”eye opener” to us all to slow down a little bit, and truly see what we want our patient experience to be like from beginning to end as individualized care that our patients need.
DR. LIEB'S FUN FACTS
Tell us about your first-ever eye exam.
This is sad to say, but I was 18, about to leave for college when I had my first eye exam. It was performed by Dr. Scott Kriessler, whom I practice with today. I picked out glasses for the small amount of prescription that he found so I could go to Ohio State and be able to see in the back of those long lecture auditoriums.
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
When I’m not working, I’m usually running after my 2.5 year old son, Liam, who is hard to keep up with these days. I love to travel and live for it. In the summer, I like to enjoy the day boating on Lake Erie and snowboarding in the winter (although I’m still not very good and my son can ski better than me as of last spring). I have volunteered with our local Lions Club to give vision screenings for kindergarteners in the six elementary schools in our area the past nine years. I also belong to a local women's charity club, “100 Women Who Care,” through which we learn about different local charities, donate funds and volunteer based on need. I like that our work stays within the local community and helps neighbors in need.
What was the first concert that you attended/most recent?
My first concert I ever attended with NSYNC in ’99. My most recent concert was a Garth Brooks drive-in movie theatre concert, but before that my last “live in-person” concert was Eric Church.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I would love to have the ability to know what is wrong with someone’s health just by touching them. Just one touch and BAM - I got your answer without having to perform 1,000 tests.