Article

THE #GAMECHANGERS

Photography by Jurgen Reisch
Styled + Directed by Erinn Morgan
Art Direction by William Pfaff
Written by Erinn Morgan, Susan Tarrant, and Kerri Ann Raimo

In this groundbreaking issue, EB presents 10 independent female optometrists + opticians who are breaking down barriers, ushering in positive change, and shaking things up in the industry for good.

They are agents of change on all the fronts that matter now—education, mentoring, vision + health, diversity, training, social media, service, and so much more.

Our roundup of Game Changers for 2018 was nominated and confirmed by the EB editorial team + the EB Editorial Advisory Board of experts. We are honored and excited to build upon their positive vibes by featuring them here.

► Dig in, read on, learn more about these incredible women, and be inspired.

Agents of Change
Back row, l-r: Tanya Gill, O.D., Selima Salaun, Julia Gogosha, Sheena Taff, Linda Chous, O.D., Diana Canto-Sims, O.D.
Front row, l-r: Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., Arian Fartash, O.D., Susan Keene, O.D., Bridgitte Shen Lee, O.D.

The ► Insta-Glammer
Arian Fartash, O.D.

Arian Fartash, O.D., shares a glamorous take on fashion, eyewear, and eye care as the “Glam Optometrist.” She is known for her epic social media presence, with nearly 50K followers on her Instagram, @glamoptometrist. Her newest creation? GlamBaby, a bejeweled line of sunglasses for babies to tweens.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

Changing the perception of eye care and eyewear.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Authenticity and passion are two keys to successfully making an impact. Be you, no matter how you think the world will perceive you.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Teaching my daughter that she can make a difference in the world—even though she is just one person—and be fabulous doing so.

The ► Diversity Designer
Diana Canto-Sims, O.D.

Diana Canto-Sims, O.D., calls herself an “eyeball doctor turned frame designer,” but she is also a whirlwind of positivity, creativity, and enthusiasm for what she does. She co-owns Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, and her newly created eyewear line, La Vida eyewear collection (lavidaeyewear.com ), is an homage to and designed with her diverse patient base in mind.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______.

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

I'm most proud to have had the opportunity to design eyewear for my diverse patient base who were underserved.

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Don't listen to the so-called "experts" in your field. You do you...for you. Don't let the naysayers crush your dreams. Just go for it. I was told La Vida would never work, and look at it now!

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Surrounding myself with family, friends, and like-minded passionate creators who enjoy great food.

The ► Podcast Pro
Jennifer Lyerly, O.D.

As a founder + co-host of the Defocus Podcast, Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., of Triangle Visions Optometry in Cary, NC, inspires the next generation of optometrists to tackle the industry’s challenges with a clear vision. She’s also the founder of Eyedolatryblog.com , dedicated to ocular health and patient communication, which racks up more than 100,000 page visits a month.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

My mission is to inspire other young doctors to feel like they have a voice. Early in my career mentors told me, “Don’t wait.” You don’t have to be the perfect doctor with decades of experience to have an opinion that matters and that could positively influence our profession.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

It's never too early to get involved. Create a way to express your thoughts, passions, and drives in this industry, whether it's through social media, taking on leadership roles, lecturing, or writing articles. Your voice matters now.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Jumping into an adventure! Whether it's traveling with my husband, trying to learn a new language, or digging in (or trying to write!) a good book, I love to jump down the rabbit hole and immerse myself in new worlds.

The ► Healthcare Crusader
Linda Chous, O.D.

Linda Chous, O.D., has over 30 years of clinical leadership as a practicing doctor, business owner, and managed vision executive. She has a thriving pediatric optometry practice, The Glasses Menagerie in Minneapolis, and is also the chief eye care officer with UnitedHealthcare, where she provides clinical leadership for the development of eyecare wellness programs. Dr. Chous has written white papers and articles on eyecare’s integration with wellness and has co-authored four of the evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the AOA.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

The white papers my UnitedHeathcare team and I have published that demonstrate the value of comprehensive eye exams in identifying, monitoring, and re-engaging patients into caring for their systemic diseases.

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

When a door opens,take a peek inside. My ABC: Always Be Curious.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel_______.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Staying healthy. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 27 years ago, and I love keeping in shape—physically by working out and mentally with meditation.

The ► O.D. Educator
Bridgitte Shen Lee, O.D.

Bridgitte Shen Lee, O.D. is a born leader. Co-founder of Vision Optique in Houston, she is passionate about helping people see better and live better lives, and inspiring other eyecare professionals. She lectures and writes extensively on digital eye health, anti-aging eye care, healthcare social media, and the popular ocular aesthetics topic. In 2011, Dr. Shen Lee went global with her desire to teach—literally. She founded iTravelCE, which brings optometrists to Asia for CE plus an immersion in Asian culture.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

I have been using as many means available to advance industry discussion and patient awareness of the latest epidemics in eye health regarding digital eye strain, dry eye disease, meibomian gland dysfunction, and myopia control.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______.

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Follow your passion and persevere until you achieve your dream. Surround yourself with people who inspire and support you, and always treat others with kindness and positivity.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Raising my two teen daughters into strong, kind, and confident young women and future leaders.

The ► Sought-After St-EYE-List
Sheena Taff

“Optician About Town” Sheena Taff is the managing licensed optician of Roberts & Brown Opticians in Vancouver, Canada, and an #EyeStyle influencer via social media and her opticianabouttown.com blog. “I utilize my role as an industry influencer to share my unbridled passion for the optical industry and all the creative freedom and diverse opportunities it affords,” she says.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

Changing the perception of what someone who wears glasses and works in the optical industry looks like. Also, having the opportunity to show not only fellow eyecare professionals, but also the public, the new look of the optical industry.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Putting yourself out there and being unafraid of the word “no” can lead to opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Traveling. I value experiences and creating memories over collecting things.

The ► Experienced Leader
Susan Keene, O.D.

Susan Keene, O.D., is founder of the three-location Envision Eye Care in Virginia and Tennessee. But she’s also dedicated to keeping the optometric profession moving forward. How? As a past president of the Virginia Optometric Association, past trustee to SECO, and a respected educator. She is also a member of several focus groups that discuss emerging practice management strategies.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

Not only seeing the practice succeed but watching others within our organization grow as leaders.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______.

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

The changes in our industry should be met with optimism, not fear. The future remains bright for those willing to see the opportunities ahead.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Family and fitness!

The ► Natural Entrepreneur
Tanya Gill, O.D.

Tanya Gill, O.D., is all about eyes and “kick-a$$ female entrepreneurship.” The owner of Oakland Vision Center Optometry in Oakland, CA, Dr. Gill also created We Love Eyes, a collection of completely natural makeup removers and eyelid cleansers (weloveeyes.com ). When not caring for patients and kicking a$$ in the business world, Dr. Gill engages more than 30,000 followers on social media.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

It’s a tremendous honor and opportunity to be in a position to inspire young women to pursue a career in the optical industry. I created my future—so can you!

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Be authentic to your passion. Learn to embrace failure—it’s the cornerstone to entrepreneurship.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Archie, my 1-year-old French bulldog pup. He inspires me to laugh every day. It’s the best medicine.

The ► Luxe Retailer
Selima Salaun

Selima Salaun opened her first Selima Optique in SoHo in 1993. Today, Salaun boasts six stores in New York, L.A., and Paris (where she honed her craft as an optician and optometrist), and her own eyewear line. She’s also one of the eyewear designers of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, promoting eyewear design via mentoring, collaborative initiatives, and more.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

I’m honored to be and have been a mentor to so many incredibly talented people in the industry and am so happy to have been able to help them in launching their design careers.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Believe in your dreams and don’t be afraid!

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Animals, libraries, and travel. I need to read every day no matter what.

The ► Independent
Julia Gogosha

Julia Gogosha shares her love for independent eyewear as the owner and operator of Gogosha Optique, a premium eyewear boutique with two Los Angeles locations. The powerhouse optician has styled stars for commercials, film, red carpets, and more, with a passion for precision and exceptional frame design.

► What is your ultimate passion in vision care + eyewear?

► What are you most proud of as a #GameChanger in the optical industry?

“Pride” is a funny word for me but it feels nice to be seen, recognized for what I’d be doing if no one was watching. I advocate for designers I believe in. I feel purposeful to be a small part of the shifting landscape of independent eyewear.

► As a woman in the optical industry, I feel ______

► Your best advice for women looking to shake things up in our industry?

Surround yourself with trusted friends and advocates who support your vision and who will challenge your self-imposed doubts and limitations.

► Biggest passion outside of work/optical?

Nature, the air of the desert, listening to cicadas, and watching the stars. I can get lost in this world—it’s utterly beautiful and I feel it stir in my being, so I guess that’s my passion.