NextGen: Helping patients ‘never gets old’

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By David Goldberg

While nearly every child with glasses has broken at least one pair while playing, when Dr. Ritesh Patel was a kid, he had to return to his optometrist far more often.

“I went through 17 pairs of glasses in just a few years,” recalls Dr. Patel.

And despite the fact that Dr. Patel’s rambunctious ways must have hit his parents hard in the wallet, it ultimately put him on the path to his current occupation.

“I spent so much time at the optometrist that it was just a natural fit for me. I knew what I wanted to do by age 10,” he says.

Dr. Patel’s dream led him to live and practice all over the world. He was even part of the medical team that performed examinations on the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL.

When he moved back to Toronto in 2010, Dr. Patel was the lead optometrist of the Herzig Eye Institute, director of the Dry Eye Clinic and he was the first practitioner in North America to use the Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation device.

Now, Patel runs See & Be Seen Eyecare in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood.

His favourite part of the job is meeting new people everyday and helping them see and feel their best. A feeling he says that “never gets old.”

And of course, every so often, there’s that one patient with whom you make a really special connection. 

“My first hug from a patient was within a few months of practice,” says Patel. “I helped her with her dry eye and it totally changed her life. I will never forget how happy she was that there was finally a solution for her.”

Dr. Patel’s passion for giving back has led him to participate in volunteer missions with Optometry Giving Sight in India and VOSH in Nicaragua. He was on the board of directors for the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) and served as the association’s communications chair.

“I am a person that always likes to be involved,” explains Dr. Patel. “Being part of the OAO as both a member and director has allowed me to continue to shape the direction that the profession is going in and be involved beyond just practice.”

When he’s not helping patients, Dr. Patel loves to spend time with his wife and two kids. His hobbies include listening to old school hip hop and cycling around Toronto.

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