This story originally appeared in our March 2012 issue. For the latest information on Dr. Brisco, who is a new member of our WO advisory board, visit her practice website.
If 15 minutes of fame brings you some recognition, imagine that times 80. That’s how many media contacts Elise Brisco, OD, of Los Angeles, had in 2011. This year, her profile will rise even higher, as her list of appearances includes the Disney Channel, The Doctors, Good Housekeeping, Sirius Radio’s Beyond Cardiology, TV commercials and many national and international news and magazine interviews.
For much of the past two decades, Dr. Brisco has been in the public eye, as a spokesperson for the American Optometric
Association and the California Optometric Association, as well as for contact lens and pharmaceutical companies. More recently, her phone has been ringing to the point where she finally got an agent to represent her.
She has also received coaching, not just on products she’s discussing but on her stage presence. “I’ve been coached on how
to breathe or walk while I’m talking, how to hold a microphone and how to engage an audience.”
She wants to be clear about her goals, though. “I don’t want to be an actor. I want to be a doctor who uses media to educate,”
she says. As it happens, the process she goes through to be prepared for media appearances has made her a more precise communicator with her patients.
“I have to research the stories so I am knowledgeable,” she says. For example, when local TV station KTLA contacted her to talk about vodka eyeballing, she had to learn what it was first. In a nutshell, tipping a shotglass full of vodka onto your open eye apparently gets the alcohol into your system quickly. Obviously, Dr. Brisco doesn’t recommend it.
She’s spoken about computer vision syndrome and 3D technologies. And sometimes, the initial topic veers off, allowing Dr. Brisco to deliver a wide-ranging message on eye health. Last year, she appeared on KTLA to talk about anime-style contact lenses that make the wearer’s eyes look huge, but quickly, the conversation moved to children wearing contact lenses and the shortfalls of a school nurse-administrated vision screening.
She’s been a guest on the Emmy-award winning show The Doctors, once discussing what your eyes reveal about your overall health and another time talking about double vision. The show’s staff called her, and after the appearance, she fielded calls from other doctors who asked her how she was selected. Many of their PR representatives or marketing staff had been trying to arrange for bookings on the show.
Last year, the Disney Channel ran a series called The Time I…, in which youngsters talk about some momentous occasion. Dr. Brisco is featured in The Time I First Got Glasses segment. These short videos ran repeatedly during popular children’s programming.
Dr. Brisco was the first doctor interviewed on the Women and Our Health web site (womenandourhealth.com), which advocates
on women’s health issues. “I’m so honored, as an optometrist to have been selected as their first featured doctor,” she says. She also warned readers about the dangers of sharing makeup on oprah.com, and on Dr. Oz’s web site, youbeauty.com.
Dr. Brisco hosts crews or travels to studios for some of these interviews, often completing more than one segment in a taping session. She has also used Skype to talk with interviewers. Video loops of some of her interviews play in her reception area. Some patients have seen her on these shows, but others seem happily surprised to see their optometrist on TV.