“Eye care in general is something you can do to really make a difference in a person’s life. You give them the gift of vision and good eye health and that, to me, is priceless.”
By Sharmain Grainger
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. This notion gives great importance to the
eyes, and those of us who are privileged to have sight can certainly attest to this.
But there are some whose lives revolve around ensuring that these fascinating features of our anatomy work exceptionally well for as long as possible. These individuals are called optometrists.
The role of these health care professionals is to essentially diagnose issues of the eyes, ranging from nearsightedness or farsightedness to various eye diseases. The optometrist is also the one who prescribes spectacles or contact lens, when necessary, to improve vision.
One such person is Dr. Calista Siobhan Ming. Although she may be one of the freshest faces in this arena, she possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience that far exceeds her 26 years of existence.
Ming was educated as a Doctor of Optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry. She undertook her Residency in Primary Care with emphasis in cornea and contact lens at Nova Southeastern University, College of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has, in recent months, been offering her acquired expertise at Ming’s Optical.
Ming’s Optical, situated at Lot 6 Urquhart Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown, has been in existence since 1990.
Although many young people may contemplate a number of fields before deciding on a career path, for Calista Ming this was not the case. She had a natural gravitation to optometry. She, of the four offspring born to business magnet, Stanley Ming, and his popular Optometrist/Opthalmic Optician wife, Michele Ming, opted to follow the path of vision care,
like her mother.
But the young Ming attributes her decision to enter the field of optometry to her belief that “eye care in general is something you can do to really make a difference in a person’s life. You give them the gift of vision and good eye health and that, to me, is priceless.”
Pursing this passion was, however, no walk in the park. After completing the Georgetown International Academy, she applied and was accepted at the Nova Southeastern University where she pursued a Bachelors Degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and History.
After four years of studies there, the focus-driven Ming graduated with honours and distinction.
She divulged that “although I got exposure to a number of other medical professions, I still enjoyed optometry…it was partially because of my mom’s business, but when I’d gone to the US and was able to shadow other professionals, I still decided I really enjoyed providing people with eye care.”
And so she advanced her studies, spending another four years at the University of California, Berkeley, where she secured her doctorate. It was following this that she decided to choose her specialty in cornea and contact lens. Choosing this specialty has not gone unnoticed or unused upon her return to these shores, since, according to Ming, “for certain patients who have very irregular corneas, they need special types of contact lens.”
With her specific expertise, Ming is perhaps currently the only American- qualified optometrist operating in Guyana. This is a plus for Guyana as, according to her, “in a lot of other countries this field is very different than in the US [United States]. In the US, the optometrist has a much broader scope of practising optometry, meaning, we can treat a lot more eye diseases and manage a lot more patients than other optometrists from other countries.”
Although she can be considered more skilled than many optometrists around, Ming confided that her specialty training gives her the added advantage of being able to “treat a lot of patients for whom regular glasses and contact lens do not work. No one else in the country fits these special lens,” she confided. She has thus far been able to treat about a dozen patients with such specialised vision needs.
Just last Friday, Ming was tasked with attending to a female patient who was recently diagnosed with keratoconus. Keratoconus is said to be a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea becomes thin and starts to bulge into a cone-like shape. Because of this condition a person is usually unable to wear spectacles, or regular contact lens for that matter, that can give them sufficient enough vision.
“When she came in, her vision was way past the legal driving limit and she probably can’t drive with that vision [even if she tried],” said Ming of the patient she attended to.
To address this dilemma, Ming was busy utilising her expertise to outfit the patient’s eyes with special scleral contact lens. Scleral contact lens are lens that are large enough to cover the complete eye, and unlike regular contact lens and spectacles, can in fact help to restore 20/20 vision to a patient with impaired vision because of conditions such as keratoconus.
“I got her to achieve 20/20 vision!” exclaimed Ming, as she went through the process of preparing and inserting the contact lens into her patient’s eyes.
Back in August, Ming had successfully attended to about 10 other patients with similar eye complications. “These lens are ordered from the US, they are very customised to the individual patients,” she explained. But this is only one type of specialty lens that she is capable of fitting. “I am able to fit a number of other specialty lens for different conditions such as Ortho-K [orthokeratology] for the treatment of nearsightedness, I specialise in contact lens for colour vision, blindness as well, and for people who have severe dry eyes, which we call ocular surface disease…I have done a lot of work with that,” Ming informed.
Aside from the hands-on aspect of her profession, Ming is also a very good listener when it comes to her patients. She confided that “if they have an eye question that they feel they hadn’t had resolved, I am always happy to see them and lend my opinion on what can be done.”
As part of her effort of helping to restore eye health, Ming also preaches the importance of persons seeking to have regular eye examinations. This is in light of the fact, she noted, that “things change every year. If your eyes are good this year, you still need to keep having them checked to ensure that everything is good.”
With Calista Ming on board, Ming’s Optical is today a full-scope optometry practice that offers comprehensive eye examinations.
“We check every aspect of the eye to make sure that everything is functioning the way it is suppose to,” she informed.
Among the many other conditions that Calista Ming has been able to diagnose and treat are glaucoma [a condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve] and diabetic retinopathy [a condition in which damage occurs to the retina due to diabetes, which is a leading cause of blindness].
Added to this, she is also quite capable of catering to patients with emergency eye conditions, or even red eye which, she noted, could manifest for a number of reasons. Of course these, and many other conditions, are easily detected with the aid of technological advancement such as the retinal camera (which can take pictures of what happens at the back of the eyes), and the corneal topography machine, which maps the cornea contours of the eyes.
Since she takes immense pride in her profession, Calista Ming does not for a moment hesitate to indulge in continuing education and conferences that will help to advance her already vast knowledge of vision care. In a few words, she considered that “there are endless possibilities within the eye care realm” and she intends to strive to remain up-to-date in order to offer the best possible care to her patients.
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