Meet our 2022 Residents
This Summer, we welcomed two new residents, Payton Holden and Macy Koepke, to our Low Vision Clinical Services team. In the Q&A below, Payton and Macy share information about their background in low vision care and what experience they hope to gain during their residency.
What is your background in the field of low vision?
Payton: As a fourth-year student at the Illinois College of Optometry, I chose one of my externship sites to be at The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. I immediately fell in love with the mission of the Lighthouse and all the services and care it has to offer for patients in the community. Early on as a student, I was the President of the Low vision Club which allowed me to work with many Doctors of Optometry in low vision and gain experience with different devices and various services offered in the state of Illinois.
Macy: Throughout my time in optometry school, I enjoyed vision rehabilitation classes and clinic so much that I ended up choosing to spend my 4th year rotation at Illinois Eye Institute practicing in our Low Vision department. This experience inspired me to apply to be an ocular disease/low vision resident!
What motivated you to enter the field of low vision clinical services?
Payton: My father lost his sight before I was born. Growing up with a father who is blind, the world of low vision was very natural to me. I grew up around bump dots, white canes, JAWS computer systems and more. I’ve seen the struggles that vision loss can cause both for the person going through it and those around them. My dad is my motivation for becoming an optometrist and specifically for specializing in low vision. I watched him be an outstanding father and do it all while being blind. I may not know what it’s like to have vision loss, but being around my father I know that anything is possible. My biggest goal is to let patients know that they are not limited by their vision loss. I want to be the doctor in their corner cheering them on and supporting them through every step of their vision loss journey.
Macy: The patients that I have had the pleasure to work with have been so very inspiring. I find it extremely rewarding to help patients to use their resources which maximizes their quality of life.
What are you looking forward to during your residency?
Payton: I am very much looking forward to working with as many low vision patients as I can. I am especially looking forward to working with the pediatric low vision patients as this is something, I have not yet been able to do. I’m also excited to build connections with the staff and patients.
Macy: I am excited to help patients improve their quality of life. At The Lighthouse, I have the opportunity to see patients of all ages with a variety of different ocular diseases and different visual goals from the Chicagoland area, which is where I was also born and raised.
What experience are you hoping to gain by working with our clinical team and community of patients?
Payton: I am looking forward to gaining more confidence as I practice low vision and getting comfortable working alongside a team that offers services outside the exam room. The Chicago Lighthouse offers a unique opportunity to work alongside Occupational Therapists and psychologists focused on patients with vision loss. This is an opportunity many other practices/modes of practice do not offer.
Macy: I am hoping to experience a new patient population with a variety of different needs and diseases. I worked in several different modes of practice all over the country during my 4th year including an OD/MD practice, VA hospital, and a private practice. It seemed to me that there was a lack of vision rehabilitation optometrists. I would like to incorporate the ability to help patients with low vision in other modes of practice.
Receiving a low vision diagnosis is difficult, and often scary, for many patients. What type of insight and comfort do you hope to provide?
Payton: I always want patients to know that they are not alone. There is a huge community of low vision doctors, support teams, support groups, and staff ready to help tackle this journey. It is a life adjustment but that doesn’t mean your life needs to be limited. It will take time to learn things differently, but it also means there is still a world full of possibilities out there.
Macy: As a once nervous 4-year-old patient who failed her pre-school vision screening, I believe that patient education is so important. It is crucial for patients to understand what is happening with their bodies and what to expect so they leave your exam chair with peace of mind. I emphasize the importance of spending time to answer questions and concerns with confidence, as well as provide resources and solutions to each individual.
If you’d like to make an appointment to visit our Forsythe Center for Vision Care, please call (312)997-3686 during normal business hours.