Yeah, definitely. It’s a really interesting story, and I’m just putting it out there that I am not a clinical person, so anything I say may or may not be fully accurate, but I’ll just tell you what I know. I was born a little weirdly—I had a nuchal cord wrapped around my throat. I was born via forceps delivery, which caused ocular trauma. So my left and right eye have different prescriptions. My left eye at the time was myopic, and my right eye was presbyopic, so nearsighted, farsighted. I also have a family history of myopia— all my family members have it—my dad went legally blind. It’s just very, very bad myopia genes, I guess.
When I was really young, I had problems seeing the board in classrooms, and I had problems just reading. I went to an eye therapist who would help me see and read properly because my eyes just had a problem focusing. He would give me a little booklet, and then there’d be little characters, and he would ask me if they’re moving or not moving to help train my eyes to see properly. I don’t know what that was the result of, likely the result of the ocular trauma. My right eye still has a lot of corneal scarring from that.
From there, my myopia really kicked in when I was eight years old. My prescription was minus four point something, I think 4.7 diopters in my left eye. My right eye was plus one or something like that, which is really, really high for an eight year old. Minus ten diopters is legally blind, so I was basically halfway to becoming blind. My mom was really concerned, and she’s an optometrist, but luckily enough she heard about this new technology called Orthokeratology. It’s a hard contact lens that you wear at night, and it reshapes your cornea, basically halting the elongation of the eyeball, which is what myopia is. It basically just stopped my nearsightedness where it was at, which I couldn’t do on my right eye because it had corneal scarring. I was super lucky, as it was a technology not approved by the FDA, and I was one of the first people to adopt this technology in San Francisco. I’m honestly just super lucky my mom was an optometrist, and she heard about it.
“I was a guinea pig basically, and I don’t know what I would have done if it didn’t work.”
I was super interested in eye stuff initially, and I was dead set on becoming an ophthalmologist as a result of my past. I did a lot of clinical research previously in high school, too. I worked in an optometry office; I helped with the clinical trials for FDA stage three for Alcon contact lenses. Then I joined my first lab in UC Davis, which was the eye lab because I was really interested in the eyes. I came to realize, I actually didn’t like the eyes as much as I thought. It’s a lot of neurobio and some people are just really interested in the brain. I just realized I wasn’t one of those people. I transitioned after, and it’s just a matter of finding what you like and what you don’t like. I think my background really gave me a launching pad into science and research, but you don’t necessarily have to stick to your story or stick to a predestined path if you don’t really like it. I’m very grateful for my past, really grateful for the people who surround me, and yeah, just lucky I didn’t go blind.