Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Love.
Hi Karen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I knew I wanted to be an optometrist when I was 15 years old. I was always been interested in helping people and studying the human body, but after volunteering at the local hospital, I realized the medical doctor path was not for me. I have had a long personal history of Vision Therapy and was close to my childhood eye doctor. One day sitting in his office, I just knew this was what I was supposed to do; it gave me the opportunity to help people with some of the struggles that I had personally experienced, interact with people on a daily basis, and study healthcare and the human body. A win-win for me.
So, I began the long track to optometry. I chose high school and college classes that got me prepared for optometry school. I spent more time observing and learning from my childhood eye doctor and completed my undergrad studies a year earlier than usual.
Through my childhood experience with vision therapy for strabismus, or eye turn, I had come to understand how that was affecting my life in school, in sports, socially, and even my personality and I wanted to help others treat and understand these problems. So, I chose an optometry school that had particular emphasis in Vision Therapy training, a specialty area of practice within optometry. While in optometry school, I spent extra time observing and volunteering in vision therapy, sports vision training and treatment of infants and young children.
At graduation from optometry school, I was offered a position as an associate doctor in a practice of a pioneering optometrist in brain injury and vision rehabilitation. During this time, I realized that all the knowledge and experience I had with helping people with their eye turns and helping children to develop better visual skills for reading and sports performance could be applied to people who had suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury or other neurological insult. In addition, I realized that helping people rehabilitate their visual defects after brain injury made a substantial impact on their daily lives, happiness, and overall injury recovery. And furthermore, there was no one doing this type or work and very little patient access to this type of care. So, I decided that was what I needed to do! I learned how to apply my personal experience and education in general vision therapy to brain injury recovery and rehabilitation.
I have continued on that journey for almost 20 years, and today practice in a private solo practice at Escondido Premier Eyecare in Escondido, CA providing the high-quality specialty services and individualized care that I intended to give when I decided to become an optometrist at age 15. I have continued to expand my knowledge and expertise to help people in areas where care is often under-served, including other areas of specialty optometric care, like dry eye treatments and specialty contacts lens fitting. With special emphasis on helping people and their families on their vision care and rehabilitation journey.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The biggest struggle throughout my career has been getting the word out about our specialty services, especially vision rehabilitation and development vision training/therapy. Vision is largely pre-conscious. That means that most visual tasks operate without the person’s awareness. Vision is significantly broader than what we are typically aware of. Most people, and many other medical and healthcare providers, think of vision as merely eyesight. But, eyesight is only a very small portion of our visual sense. Vision is a much broader sense in which the eyes must also be able to coordinate together, have accurate fixation, well-controlled eye movements, and accurate, sustainable focusing ability. The brain must then be able to organize and analyze the information gathered by the eyes in order to derive meaning from this information. The person must then be able to react, interact, and direct action into the environment based on this information. Vision is a process that is learned and can be enhanced, altered and changed through experiences or impaired with injury. Vision dysfunction can affect learning, working, driving, balance, and many other activities of daily living. However, vision deficits are often called the great masquerader due to symptoms appearing as a different problem, like difficulty with reading or a balance problem. These people with vision deficits/dysfunction often have 20/20 eyesight and get left untreated or treated for the wring problem. It has been an extreme challenge in my career to explain this difference between simple eyesight and the greater bodily sense of vision and the importance of evaluation and treatment of vision as a system.
As you know, we’re big fans of Escondido Premier Eyecare. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Escondido Premier Eyecare Optometric Center Optometrist
Our goal at Escondido Premier Eyecare and my personal goal is to treat everyone with the highest level of care possible, taking account the needs of the person as a whole and not just addressing their eyes. This means I treat everyone as I would my mom, my sister my uncle and my best friend. Whether that means simply getting the best possible contacts or glasses available, evaluation and prevention of eye health problems, or providing a specialty contact lens or a personalized vision therapy or vision rehabilitation program.
Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
I have found that reaching out through local optometry groups and local business groups as well as specialty groups similar to our area of expertise has been the most beneficial for networking our services.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: escondidopremiereyecare.com
Shelly Mullin, Shellz Designs