By Sadia Kalsoom, OD, U.S. Army Captain
I was 7 when my family moved from Pakistan to the U.S. My father was serving in the Pakistani Air Force when we were relocated to
Virginia. As I grew up in our new home, my parents worked multiple jobs to support our family and placed a great emphasis on education.
I had developed an interest in eyesight early in life. I was diagnosed with strabismus as a young child, and although I wore eyeglasses, I never had any patching or other treatment while in Pakistan. After moving to the U.S. and visiting an ophthalmologist for strabismus surgery, I developed a close bond with my doctor and greatly admired her and her career. As I grew older, I found myself drawn to the primary care aspect of optometry. I particularly liked that you could follow your patients and develop relationships over time, unlike in ophthalmology where the relationship is referral-based, often short-lived and usually ends after surgery and follow-up visits.
Ultimately, I decided to attend optometry school, and as an Army Health Professions Scholarship Program recipient, I have committed to serve for the next three years. Following my graduation from Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, I was commissioned as a U.S. Army Captain. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college and, now, I am the first doctor.
This fall, I will be stationed at a base in Korea serving soldiers and their dependents. I’m excited for the opportunity to travel, practice optometry and gain leadership experience while serving my country. In the future, I hope to further my education and explore the areas of brain injury and vision therapy whether in continuing my military career or in a civilian setting.