In today’s world of constant disruption in healthcare and optometry, there are few voices that you can always count on to be positive – people that see issues and conflict, and find a vision of a future that’s even better for optometry amidst the chaos. Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee is one shining example. Her Twitter feed is a constant blast of new ideas and innovations in the buzziest topics of our industry: digital eye strain, dry eye, ocular aesthetics, and anti-aging eyecare. These are the topics that set us apart from other healthcare providers, and from an app patients could download on their phone. Dr. Shen Lee understands that the future of optometry hedges on our expertise at offering more than just a prescription for eyewear; we have to become problem solvers for our patients total ocular needs.
A Chinese American immigrant and daughter of two medical professionals, Dr. Shen Lee considered both medical and optometry school before leaving college. She selected the University of Houston College of Optometry, and looks back on that decision with full confidence that her choice to enter optometry was one of the best she’s made in her life. What makes her mindset on optometry different? She refuses to define her profession by what she can’t do. She’s been labeled a path-paver in optometry for owning the space of ocular aesthetics and anti-aging eyecare, embracing the fact that as an optometrist, and specifically a female optometrist, she is an expert. “Optometry has to claim these areas as ours. We are the experts for everything related to the eyes, but we have to claim it.”
In speaking with Dr. Shen Lee, another really clear statement about her character comes across: she’s constantly brewing up new ideas! A quick tour of her resume will show you this isn’t a recent development. Out of optometry school, she cold started her private practice Vision Optique in 1999 with business partner Dr. Bradley Owens. In addition to running her practice, she founded iTravelCE in 2010 as a way to bridge the differences in ocular healthcare between the more newly minted optometric professions of Asian countries with those of America and Europe. She is also a distinguished speaker, working as an ambassador or consultant for Johnson and Johnson Vision Care, Essilor, OCuSOFT, Guardion Health Sciences, and Shire. How does she find time for it all? “My greatest advice for young female ODs is that you can have it all, just not at the same time.” She splits her time at her practice, developing optometry’s future in dry eye and ocular aesthetics through consulting, speaking, and social media, and as a wife and mother to two daughters. Her key to success is cutting out the chores of daily life that would compromise her time. “Instead of telling you what I do, let me tell you what I don’t do. I don’t do dishes; I don’t do laundry.” She spends her precious time at home being present and active in the lives of her family and loved ones, helping with homework, trekking to fencing lessons and tournaments with her daughters, just being a mom and mentor to her children. This is a woman that has found a balance that has given her time for both home and career, and her passion for optometry keeps her constantly innovating the next big idea. At a recent industry meeting, she noticed an ophthalmologist speaker pulling out his readers before his presentation. “How would you like to look 10 years younger?” she asked. Being an advocate for optometry is a full time job, and we are fortunate to have innovators and leaders like Dr. Shen Lee on our team!