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Serving Others & Facilitating Sight

09 May 2016 Written by  By Dr. Michael Ottati
Published in May 2016 Articles

My father, who was a child of the Depression and hated his truck-driving job, told me many times that I should go to college so that I could do something I enjoy.

My optometry profession is constantly satisfying, but was not my first choice. I earned a degree in business from St. Mary’s in Moraga. However, my very first job in the industry brought me to realize that I really didn’t want to spend my life assisting others in accruing wealth, so I went back to school, graduated from the U.C. Berkeley School of Optometry, secured my Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree, and opened my Diablo Valley Optometric Group in 2002. I now divide my time between my Walnut Creek and Antioch offices, spending mornings in one office, afternoons in the other, and shifting between the two on alternate Saturdays.

My practice in both locations is thriving. Part of the reason is because I am a happy eye doctor, and patients are drawn to my cheerful chair-side manner. The truth is, I thoroughly enjoy helping others and find that actually working with people is the best part of my job. I commit myself to offering patients the level of medical care and the personal attention that they deserve.

Putting a lot of hours into my profession comes naturally, as I was raised with the core values of engagement, persistence, and hard work. I got my first job when I was 12 years old doing odd jobs at the shop where my mother worked. At first the job was just an alternative to being a latchkey kid, but I was industrious, so they soon made it a part-time job with an actual paycheck.

I was only making a dollar an hour, but at that time in my life, a buck seemed like a lot of money. I applied myself with diligence, so I soon began assuming many more responsibilities and getting slightly larger paychecks. I later got a job at a car detailing shop where I continued working through high school, college, and the first couple years of graduate school. I enjoy working with my hands and have a life-long love affair with fine automobiles, so that job suited me fine. My work with automobiles appealed to my underlying interest in mechanics and design, which led to my involvement with the engineering side of the optometry industry. While taking classes, I got a job in a Berkeley machine shop that made custom research equipment. I personally helped develop a device that could measure the side effects of new drugs on the cornea. Because of my technical background, I find it relatively easy to remain abreast of the ongoing industry advances in procedures and cutting-edge devices. The new technologies offer levels of control over such diseases as macular degeneration that were unthinkable a couple decades ago. I am particularly gratified by modern equipment and techniques that enable me to diagnose diseases far earlier than would have been possible at the beginning of my practice. My state-of-the-art machines now perform a battery of complicated tests as a part of routine examinations that formerly could only have been done off-site and at great expense. Because of the new equipment, I can accurately diagnose and treat complications with the eye, which is the body’s most complex organ. The normal appearance of a particular individual’s eye not only differs from the normal appearance of eyes in another person, but in some cases one eye can differ from the other eye in the same person. Only through training and experience is it possible to confidently determine whether some observed anomaly is simply the normal appearance of that particular person’s eye or is the early sign of a medical condition that requires follow up assessment and treatment.

The optometry industry is still better at controlling eye disease than curing it. We are unable to fix a lot of eye problems, but we can usually stop them from getting worse or at least slow their development. Therefore, detection becomes a critical factor. Since we can’t usually gain any ground that has been lost, we need to catch problems as soon as possible. Routine eye examinations are not optional; they could mean the difference between vision and blindness or, in the worst case, life and death.

My father taught me that job satisfaction and happiness are the major criteria to consider when choosing a profession. That was wise advice because, since I was going to spend a great percentage of my adult life working at some job, I would be cheating myself out of a lot of happiness if I failed to choose a profession that I actually enjoyed working at. My kids are beginning to enter their teenage years, and I have begun to pass my father’s wisdom down to them. I tell them to find something they are passionate about and then figure out how to make enough money with it to at least pay the bills. “If you just chase after money,” I tell them, “You will never be happy.”

I listened carefully to my father’s advice. Every morning I look forward to going to work and know that Dad would be smiling with approval.

Read 1578 times Last modified on Monday, 09 May 2016 19:33
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