Back to Community Company Highlights

Employee Spotlight: Alissa Powell, Optician

Posted on December 3rd, 2020

FYidoctors Whistler is nestled in the heart of British Columbia’s coastal mountains. Step out the door of this clinic and you’re steps away from heading up the ski lift or hitting the hiking trails.

Alissa Powell is a licensed optician at this location, and is living her best ski bum/optician life in Whistler.

Read more of her story below.

What does an optician do?

I teach patients about their lens options for glasses and contact lenses. I’m also currently training to be able to fit contact lenses, although my studies have been somewhat interrupted this year.

Briefly describe your educational background and training locations.

For my licensing, I have been taking part time courses through NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) that allowed me to complete a clinical portion of the training and learn theoretical material online, while working in the clinic. The most valuable training is accomplished on the job.

What makes your clinic a unique place to work?

We have a very diverse client base. We see everybody from mature community members who helped found the town of Whistler, to seasonal workers wanting to be fit with contact lenses for their ski/ride season, to expats who may normally reside in countries where access to eye care isn’t as comprehensive. The best part is that despite working in a tourist town, we get to meet all the locals that make this place run.

What made you want to work in eye care?

I used to help out at my mom’s optometry practice part time. I wasn’t enjoying my job working as a research monitor and wanted to try out life as a ski bum (just for 2 seasons). A job opened up at what was then the Whistler Eye Clinic, I made the jump, and things progressed from there!

What do you love most about your job?

I love when I get to help a patient find a frame that turns heads and makes you say WOW, and when somebody gets their first pair of glasses and can see a whole new level of detail in this beautiful place we call home.

What’s one of the most challenging parts of your job?

I often say that putting together a glasses prescription is part science, part art. Some days I feel like my detective brain is firing on all cylinders, and some days it’s just not! But when it comes down to it, we always do our best to fix the problem.

What’s one of your favourite moments from working at the clinic?

I can think of a few times where we made a pair of glasses that really improved a patient’s vision drastically. It can be quite emotional. We take our vision for granted.

What is the most important advice you want to give your patients?

You only get one set of eyes. Take care of them! The retina does not have pain receptors, so many eye conditions can go unnoticed and untreated until they hit an advanced stage. That’s why it’s so important to get a regular eye exam. Come see us and be wowed by the Optos – our retinal imaging machine that captures a wide-angle image of the back of the eye – no dilating drops needed.

What's your personal eyewear style?

I love everything colourful. My newest pair, I call my high-vis glasses – they're bright orange. After working here for seven years I’ve accumulated quite a collection – I have frames that are purple, pink (bright pink AND soft rose colours), turquoise, blue, and many more. And yes – I do really need them to see.

Where would we find you when you’re not at FYidoctors?

In the summer– running the river of golden dreams on my stand up paddleboard. In the winter–somewhere between Arthur’s Choice and Outer Limits, hugging the trees.

Book an appointment today with Alissa at FYidoctors Whistler.