Recent Posts
Connect with:
Monday / June 24.
HomemiprofessionMaking an Impact That’s Positive

Making an Impact That’s Positive

Lived experience with myopia, a strong interest in health, and a desire to make a positive impact on others, led Sheila Lam into a career in optometry.

There are many paths within the profession of optometry, which can make the early years of a career somewhat confusing.

As optometrists, we have an ever-expanding scope of practice ahead of us, which is incredibly exciting

After graduating from the University of New South Wales in 2019 with a Master of Clinical Optometry and a Bachelor of Vision Science, I began my journey in a corporate practice where I refined my clinical and decision-making skills. With COVID emerging, it was a challenging time to be starting out in a profession and I found that being a part of the Young Optometrists (YO) organisation provided invaluable mentorship and support, as well as access to a collegiate network of colleagues. This provided me with the confidence to transition to an independent practice and pursue my area of interest in advanced contact lens fitting and myopia management.

In February 2022, I decided to join theeyecarecompany, Liverpool in Sydney – part of the George & Matilda Group.

With a strong reputation for advanced contact lens fitting and myopia management, theeyecarecompany is unlike any other practice I have worked in. I transitioned from managing one complex contact lens case in a month to caring for dozens of orthokeratology and keratoconus patients weekly, which is incredibly rewarding. The team around me share my clinical interests and have been supportive of my professional development since day one.

As a clinical optometrist at theeyecarecompany, one of the things I enjoy about myopia management is the amount of research and strong evidence base we can now draw on to make patient management decisions, as well as the array of management options we have available.

We have access to orthokeratology lenses which work overnight to effectively reshape the cornea and, in doing so, reduce myopia progression and provide temporary correction of refractive error. We also have evidence to demonstrate that atropine can be an effective method to slow myopia progression, as well as soft contact lenses and spectacles designed for myopia control. The prevalence of myopia is increasing, and we understand the importance of slowing progression to prevent high myopia and the risk of other ocular pathologies (retinal detachment, cataract, glaucoma, myopic macular degeneration, etc.) which may lead to irreversible vision loss.

To be able to have the clinical expertise and offer this in practice enables us, as optometrists, to have a positive impact on a person’s life, which is what excited me about practising optometry in the first place.

Growing up, many of my peers developed myopia at a young age, including myself. While my myopia is not as great, my lived experience has given me an understanding of how it can affect quality of life for children. This sparked my interest in optometry as I wanted to harness a better understanding and make a difference. To be able to fit a child with a rigid contact lens that they only have to wear overnight is fantastic. To know that when they wake up in the morning, they will see how beautiful the world is without the need for vision correction is very rewarding. And to be able to give parents comfort and confidence in the proposed management plan, by citing the extensive evidence we have, is very satisfying – especially as I know that in doing so, we are much more likely to achieve treatment compliance.

As optometrists, we have an ever-expanding scope of practice ahead of us, which is incredibly exciting. My plan is to continue to develop my skills in advanced contact lens fitting and myopia management. I also want to offer mentorship and help other young optometrists explore their options – whether that be in ocular pathology, low vision, behavioural, or elsewhere. One way that I am doing this is through my role at YO – I serve on the executive committee as the publications and social media officer. By disseminating information about the profession, and by helping to provide a dynamic, friendly environment in which they can share experiences and ask questions, I hope to help other young optometrists explore their options and find out where they want to take their own careers.

Sheila Lam graduated from University of New South Wales in 2019. She practices at theeyecarecompany by George & Matilda in Liverpool, Sydney.