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Choosing Optometry as a Career | Long Island Eye Doctor

Joel Kestenbaum, OD

Choosing Optometry as a Career

There was an article recently in the US News and World Report entitled:
“Best Careers 2009: Optometrist” by Marty Nemko posted December 11, 2008.

The article got me thinking as to why I chose to become an optometrist.  First of all, and most importantly of course, my Jewish mother wanted me to become a doctor.  With that in mind and having had some of my own issues with my eyes as a child, my curiosity about the profession was piqued.  So while in college, I volunteered at the local association for the blind, meeting some very interesting people, many with multiple disabilities. This further enhanced my curiosity.

The fact is, I never wanted to go to medical school but for some reason, optometry school seemed interesting to me.  Optometry involves working with people.  It involves math, physics and biology, all of which I enjoyed and was good at.  And optometry provided an opportunity to make a good living without having to be on-call at all hours of the night.

I’m a practicing optometrist since 1980.  I run my own practice seeing about 20 patients a day whose visits range from pathology to laser vision correction (Lasik pre and post-op) to the routine primary eye health exam.  I meet all different types of people making for very interesting conversation.  I chose contact lens care as my specialty and have provided thousands of people, young and old, with the ability to see clearly without eyeglasses.  I have discovered and treat hundreds of patients with glaucoma.  I have discovered and referred to specialists, patients who unknowingly had diabetes, brain tumors, hypertension, high cholesterol and a plethora of other diseases.

I am a businessperson too, employing a second optometrist who also sees about 40 patients per week and 5 opticians who help people choose their eyeglasses.  We have a total staff of 9 full time equivalents.  And yes, eyeglasses and eyeglass fashion is a large part of our practice.  I am my own boss, take vacations when I choose… with no limits except for the ones I put on myself…get very few calls at 2AM for emergencies, and make a very nice living ….more than most optometrists or other medical professionals.

Why? Because we’re nice to the people we treat, we care about the people we treat, and we maintain good relationships with ophthalmologists and other doctors so that we may provide excellent patient care.  It was always my goal to become “the practice” in the area that patients will ask for… and we have far exceeded our goals.  We are a high technology office, constantly striving to be the best at what we do by providing excellent patient care and continuing education for our staff and for our patients.

And even though my mother wanted me to be a doctor, excellent patient care is the main reason to become an optometrist, isn’t it?
So did I choose my career properly and am I satisfied with my job as an optometrist?
The answer is a resounding YES.

Joel N. Kestenbaum, OD
Optix Family Eyecare Center
Plainview, NY


  1. baburam

    nice article sir.. I am glad to hear that. I study optometry in nepal. And ur words would be an addition to my enthusiasm to see some blinds see enough and others see better than they do…

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