Without a doubt, the practice of optometry makes the world a better place. Luis Lewis, OD ’05, knows this better than anyone. His practice, Ageless Eye Care, is entirely mobile. Dr. Lewis and his team travel the city of Chicago to provide eye care to underserved populations.
Dr. Lewis lives in Bronzeville- the same Chicago neighborhood as ICO. His main office is in Pilsen. However, he never stays in one place for long. Ageless Eye Care visits schools, nursing homes, retirement centers, even prisons. We followed Dr. Lewis on an average day, and found out just how many lives he improves through optometry.
Interview by Lauren Faits. Photos by Brian Holloway.
“I like to work out 2-3 times a week. Usually, I do it early in the morning before I go to the clinic. I start at 6 or 6:30. I can concentrate on that and not worry about work or anything else.”
“My first job after my residency was with a mobile practice. I just enjoyed the concept of providing eye care to people that actually needed it- very rewarding. [Ageless Eye Care] kind of just grew from there. My practice slogan is, ‘Compassionate Eye Care, Anywhere.’”
“When I branched out on my own, Center Home for Hispanic Elderly was one of the first homes I contracted with. I go once a month. We’re there the whole day, and typically we see anywhere from 10 to 15 patients.”
“We see a lot of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration… We treat everything in house as much as possible. Typically I only refer if it’s a surgical referral. If their vision is acceptable for their daily activities- if they’re able to play bingo and watch TV- then we leave them alone. If I feel a referral would improve their daily life, we definitely make the referral.”
“There aren’t many optometrists who are willing to work in nursing homes. You have to be very flexible. Some days, they’ll have you working in a little closet. Some nursing homes may smell nicer than others. Some are kept up very well and others aren’t. Sometimes, it’s a little sad. The patients are there, but their families, kids, and grandkids don’t really visit them. Going there and taking care of them, looking at it from that standpoint, is more important.”
“One gentleman had a very high prescription. He hadn’t been wearing his glasses for about three months because he lost them. We were able to provide glasses to him- he was really happy about that, I know.”
“My immediate family lives in Toronto, hence the Canada hoodie in some of the pictures. My sisters buy them for me so I don’t forget where I’m from!”
“The packing is probably the hardest part. We take everything that is required to practice optometry. We can’t short and not bring something because it didn’t fit in our car. I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest technology in portable optometry equipment- the smaller, the better.”
“There is a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ work involved to make sure things run properly and efficiently- schedule coordinating, budgeting, training, problem-solving, equipment repairing, payroll... You need people that are able to adapt well and are good representatives of your practice. This is Jeimmy’s second school year. She’s one of my team leads. She runs the show and makes sure that things are moderated between the doctor and whatever site we’re working at.”
“The name ‘Ageless Eye Care’ just worked out so perfectly. It started with nursing homes. Then, we got into the school program, and the name fit with both environments. There’s a word for that... ‘Serendipitous?’”
”We saw around 40 kids today at Funston Elementary. With kids, the main issue is making sure that vision isn’t causing any barriers to learning. Our practice is partnered with the CPS School-Based Vision Program. We provide eye care at no cost to students regardless of insurance. Any child in a CPS school is qualified for an exam and glasses, if needed.”
“Working with kids in the school system has made me realize how fortunate and blessed I am to have the family support system I had when I was growing up. Every year, about 30,000 kids fail vision screenings in CPS. Their parents are supposed to follow up and take them to the eye doctor, but that doesn’t happen all the time. We’re able to make sure these kids get the eye care they need to be successful in school and in life.”