By: UHCO Communications Posted On: 06/03/2022
With over 6,000 YouTube subscribers and over 30,000 Instagram followers, UHCO Class of 2022’s Khanh Ton has been inspiring, encouraging, and influencing both pre-optometry and current optometry students throughout her years at UHCO. Just before her graduation this past month, Khanh spent a little time with us discussing her passion for optometry, social media, and ocular disease.
Q: Where is home, Khanh, and where did you complete your bachelor’s degree?
A: I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States at a young age. I was raised in Dallas, Texas, and then I moved to Houston to attend the University of Houston for my undergraduate studies where I majored in biology.
Q: How did you discover your passion for optometry? What led you to the University of Houston College of Optometry?
A: I enrolled in a health science magnet program in high school, and I shadowed many different healthcare fields and professions. I gravitated to primary care because I enjoyed the idea of being the “first line of defense” and truly growing with patients and their families. Fast forward a few years, and I entered college and worked at an optometry office as a technician. Here, getting to be a part of patient care, I truly saw the impact of optometry. I learned to love the care and attention to detail optometrists provide to each patient along with the relationships that could be built. I also relished the instant gratification that came with helping patients with their ocular concerns. I was initially drawn to UHCO by the familial atmosphere that students and faculty exhibited during my time visiting there. From having a National Optometric Student Association optometry student mentor (Sandra Bui, I love you!!!) to Lyle Tate’s warm personality in Student Services, to the faculty members who interviewed me and laughed at my terrible jokes, I felt right at home. I knew that with the school’s guidance and focus on professional and personal development, I would grow to be an amazing optometrist.
Q: What led you to create your optometry-focused social media/online presence?
A: I have always loved the idea of carrying forth my previous mentor’s focus on student success. My journey to creating a digital source for students started early in my undergraduate studies, where I joined Kaplan as a student ambassador. Here, I saw the impact that online resources have in assisting students reach their professional goals, and I sought to create a forum dedicated to students pursuing optometry. There were many times during my undergraduate studies that videos on YouTube and other websites really helped me understand concepts. With this in mind, I began creating a library of videos hopefully to assist students in every step of their journey – from finding this amazing field, to applying to school, and even to board preparations and clinical skills! My first video on utilizing free resources grew into an entire channel, Instagram page, and community for which I am forever grateful!
Q: What has being such a great resource for so many pre-optometry and pre-health professions student been like?
A: Ah! It is the BEST feeling!!! Nothing can describe how it truly makes me feel when students email or message me, or come up to me in person at conferences saying that I have helped them in their journey. It is incredible to know that the videos I made sitting in my dorm with terrible lighting and poor audio helped students overcome financial struggles, find an awesome field, and even succeed in becoming an optometrist. Even down to my silly Instagram reels and TikToks, I have been happy receiving messages that this avenue of content cheered someone up while they were having a bad day. I started out making content with the goals of helping students and expressing my creativity – so it makes me so happy knowing it has made a little difference in even just one person’s life!
Q: How did you become a CooperVision ambassador?
A: While a UHCO student, I had the opportunity to serve as a liaison or ambassador to my classmates for CooperVision. The entire CooperVision team and my fellow ambassadors were so sweet and welcoming. After my year’s contract ended, I still kept in touch with everyone and was able to participate in social media campaigns.
Q: What led you to pursue a residency in ocular disease/refractive and ocular surgery after graduation instead of other next-step options?
A: I remember being completely enamored by the spectrum of patient cases and the critical thinking involved in prescribing a treatment plan for every imaginable situation. I fell in love with ocular disease because it yields the highest learning potential with the goal to preserve the patient’s vision. I find the practice of ocular disease intellectually stimulating and challenging, with a wide breadth of knowledge across all disciplines of medicine needed to provide effective treatment. I would love to soak up as much knowledge as I can through my intensive residency program to serve my patients and students better in the future.
Q: What plans for the future of your social media/online presence do you have?
A: For the future of my YouTube channel, I want to continue developing content to help students across their optometric lifetime, from finding this field to patient care. When I have more free time after residency, I would love to get more individuals involved to get their perspectives on the optometric journey as well. My ultimate goal is to get students more passionate about optometry and help optometry students feel empowered about their future.
Follow Khanh on her social media channels here:
Follow the University of Houston College of Optometry here: