Ten years into her career, Su Ching Ong reflects on the many rewarding experiences she’s had and the vast opportunities for her future.
My journey to become an optometrist started with my great hatred for reading as a young child. I always avoided reading and when forced to borrow books at school, I chose the ones with the biggest pictures and least amount of writing. As the years went on, I developed ‘tricks’ to read more comfortably with one eye closed and squinted to see the black board clearly. As this was ‘the norm’ for me, and because my grades were never affected, my parents and I never felt it necessary to have an eye examination. However one day during my VCE exams, when one of my eyes started to drift outwards, I was advised to see the optometrist for an eye examination. I soon learnt that I had decompensating exophoria, convergence insufficiency and myopia.
It is rewarding to be reminded that a simple refraction, which we do every day as optometrists, and the provision of spectacle correction can make such a huge impact on a person’s quality of life
A whole new world of glasses, vision training and optometry opened to me. It was fascinating to learn why I had always avoided reading, and I was amazed by how much clearer and more comfortable my vision was with glasses. This experience sparked my interest in optometry and later, my desire to become an optometrist. I wanted to help others improve their lives through clearer vision.
I graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2011 and, since then, have taken opportunities to work in behavioural optometry and with a few large corporate companies. Throughout my journey to date, I have built strong professional relationships with my teams, mentors and support staff, all of whom have helped me learn and grow as an optometrist. I have also connected well with local general practitioners, allied health professionals, and ophthalmologists (I particularly enjoy taking time to meet with and observe ophthalmologists in surgery). And, I have taken great pleasure in supervising a few optometry students – as healthcare professionals, it is important to constantly learn and keep up-to-date with new research and technology, and I believe the best way to do this is to teach.
One of my most satisfying experiences has been to grow a patient base that has continued to follow me around Victoria for their annual eye examinations, even as I have moved companies. But my most rewarding and challenging experience so far has been working with Mobile Eye Care, which allowed me to provide eye care services to those who did not have the privilege to go to a physical store for a routine eye examination or have access to glasses. My most memorable Mobile Eye Care moment was at an aged care home in Adelaide, testing patients in low and palliative care. My patient was a young male who had suffered brain trauma from a car accident. While attempting to take his history, I quickly realised that although he could not communicate verbally, he understood me very well. I was able to perform the entire eye examination by using closed ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, to which the patient pointed his thumbs up or down in response. Following delivery of his spectacles, I received a heartfelt letter from the patient. In it he expressed his appreciation for the time I’d taken to understand him and provide him with glasses. He had been unable to read for many years since losing his glasses on the day of the accident. It is rewarding to be reminded that a simple refraction, which we do every day as optometrists, and the provision of spectacle correction can make such a huge impact on a person’s quality of life.
Optometry fascinates me as there is still much to learn and many areas of optometry that we can branch into. I currently work at Beach Optical which is a part of the George and Matilda Eyecare family. My role involves providing eye care to the local community, as well as management and supervising optometry students. I enjoy working at this company, as I have the flexibility to operate in an independent optometry setting, while receiving the benefits and support from George and Matilda Eyecare’s vast network and resources. I am grateful for this career because enriching others with better vision and ocular health brings me joy… I am excited to see what my future holds.
Su Ching Ong graduated as an optometrist from the University of Melbourne in 2011 and practices at Beach Optical by George and Matilda in Frankston, Victoria.