FYidoctors welcomes the staff and office of Urban Optik in Edmonton, Alberta, as one of our newest partners! We sat down with optometrist Dr. Annu Kaul to get to know a little more about her clinic, which has been serving patients for 11 years and counting.
1. How long has your clinic been serving the community in Edmonton?
I have worked as a locum for 10 years, then switched over to starting my own practice in 2006. I have been in this location since then. I have worked all over Edmonton and done some work out of town as well. I have also worked for three years in Oxford, England, with a couple of practices before I moved back to Canada.
2. What is unique about your clinic?
I specifically enjoy seeing kids for eye exams. I seem to see a lot of them in my office, here. I also like seeing seniors as I feel these are the two categories that really need our help. It’s always nice to see a young child whom the parents presume there are no problems, and during the exam we find they have a lazy eye. Taking on the challenge to fix that and seeing their vision improve over time is the best feeling!
3. Tell us about who works there.
I originally completed my degree in London, England, graduated in 1994, and worked in Oxford, England, for three years before returning to Canada. I then had to redo my degree as it was not recognized here. I attended the New England College of Optometry in Boston for a two-year accelerated program and obtained my Doctor of Optometry in 2000. I have been working in Edmonton since then as a locum, until I opened up my office in 2006.
4. What is the most memorable or rewarding moment of your practice?
I am proud of the fact that even after having a six-month-old child, I left England and moved to Boston to redo my degree in two years. I then had to complete the American board exams before returning to Canada and passing the Canadian board exams. That would be my biggest accomplishment. I love doing what I do. A success story for me would be when, a few years ago, I saw a male patient in his 40s for a routine eye exam. He had no complaints, but I found a retinal detachment. I sent him in right away and he had surgery the same night! He and his family are still patients of mine.
5. How is the clinic a part of the community?
I try to get involved in the community when I can. I recently volunteered my time at the local YMCA for a health campaign where we had a booth promoting information on healthy eyes and the importance of eye exams. I have volunteered my time with the Alberta Association of Optometrists for things like diabetes awareness and have gone into schools to give talks on being an optometrist a couple of times. I have also gone into the local seniors’ homes to talk about the importance of eye exams, the diseases we check for during an exam, and to conduct exams and provide glasses for them.
6. Where can we find you outside of office hours?
My personal interests are sports, working out, travelling, and being a hockey mom! I try to get involved in my kids’ activities and have coached soccer for over 10 years for both of my boys. I do a lot of fundraising work: I have completed the multiple sclerosis bike ride for five years in a row, have participated in the CIBC Run for the Cure, and hosted a fundraiser from our home yearly to raise money for homelessness – raising about $400,000 so far! I also have been on four mission trips to provide eye exams and glasses to the less fortunate. On each trip, we see between 4,000 and 5,000 patients in one week. I have been to the Philippines, Ecuador, Nepal, and Peru for these trips so far. I love doing these trips and if time allowed, I would do one a year!
7. How do your patients receive exceptional care?
I really enjoy what I do and have been doing this for more than 20 years. I strive to provide the best eye care I can with a personal touch. I love to spend time with each of my patients and don't rush through the exams. Most of my patients I see in my clinic are through referrals of other patients. Now that I have been in this office for over 10 years, I enjoy seeing my repeat patients and love catching up with them. It’s wonderful to see all the kids growing up, especially when I have not seen them for one full year. I care about my patients and will go out of my way to do what I can to help them and do my best to follow up with them with a phone call when necessary. I think that is what makes the difference. The patients feel I actually listen to them and give them the best advice I can.
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