Justine Simon Bailey, OD, FCOVD, says that nothing quite compares to the experience working with patients through vision therapy (VT) and rehabilitation. “There’s no greater feeling to me when children go into VT and start succeeding in school,” she says. “Not only does VT lift up their academic performance, but it lifts their spirit, confidence, and self-worth.” She first observed VT during her undergraduate studies which led her to attend Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry, graduating in 2015.
A perfect fit
Dr. Bailey pursued her residency in VT and Rehabilitation at SUNY College of Optometry and her residency director introduced her to her future employer, Carole Hong, OD, FCOVD, at the 2016 College of Optometrists in Vision Development Annual Meeting. “We spent an afternoon together there and got to know each other,” with discussions ranging from their business aspirations to what Dr. Hong was looking for in a doctor to join her team. “I gravitated toward working for her; she’s a phenomenal doctor.”
She joined the team at Family Vision Care and Vision Therapy in San Carlos, California in November 2016. Located in Silicon Valley, the five doctors in the practice see a mix of children and adults for everything from primary care to a number of specialty services. Dr. Bailey says her favorite areas of expertise are VT, myopia control, and working with the practice’s youngest patients through the American Optometric Association’s InfantSEE program. She also helps treat patients suffering from concussions who require neuro-optometric rehabilitation. Other patients may suffer from digital eye strain and are often employed by nearby tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google.
Building a strong relationship
Dr. Bailey typically works with VT patients for a time frame of six months to one year. “When I see the same patients every single week, I really get to connect with them, know their families, and see what they are doing in their lives,” she says. “When you multiply that by eight VT patients a day, you truly see the impact your work has on these families.” One of the best rewards has been watching young patients transition from hating school to loving it. “I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become a doctor and that my purpose in life is to take care of people.”
Of many memorable patient encounters, one from last year sticks out. A young girl in the sixth grade was struggling with school and falling behind on assignments as she suffered from eyestrain and headaches. “After going through the VT program, her mom pulled me aside and said, ‘You’ve inspired my daughter to become an optometrist one day.’ Receiving kind words from families really impact my day.”
Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, Dr. Bailey hopes to continue presenting in-service programs for local parents and educators to spread the word about VT and its benefits. She sees herself as a practice owner in the future and looks forward to the opportunity to learn, grow, and connect with other businesses around her. “I do not consider other practices around me as competition but rather as allies,” she says. “We all have our own strengths and specialties and there are more than enough patients who need our help. My primary goal is to spread joy, empower others to succeed as an active member in the community, and positively impact as many lives as possible.”