A passion for specialty contact lenses

Jess Chi on patient care, paediatric aphakes – and not being a morning person

Jess Chi

Jess Chi (pictured) is an optometrist and business owner. She owns and runs Eyetech Optometrists – a boutique independent optometry practice in inner urban Melbourne. The practice offers a strong focus on specialty contact lenses, and she prescribes contact lenses for conditions including keratconus, paediatric aphakia, myopia control and difficult prescriptions. Ms Chi is Victorian president of the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia, supervises at the University of Melbourne Eyecare Clinic, is a lead visionary for Sight For All’s Contact Lens Projects, is a columnist for MiVision, and a member of the Optometric Clinical Policy Committee Victoria. She consults for various contact lens companies and speaks at various conferences and meetings.

What is your professional passion?

Definitely contact lenses. My passion began aged 13 when I started wearing them. I was a shy, quiet girl that hated wearing spectacles, and contact lenses changed my life. I vividly remember my first experience with contact lenses and was amazed at what these tiny pieces of plastic could do. My enthusiasm for them continued through schooling and I was always returning to my optometrist asking about the latest contact lenses. I knew every type available while still in high school. Now, as an optometrist, the satisfaction I get from witnessing someone wear contact lenses for the first time always touches me. I also love the relationships I have formed with patients, watching my paediatric aphakes become little adults, experiencing life with my keratoconics, and so on.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself. Be kind to yourself. Try and look at yourself the way others look at you, and realise that you are your own worst critic.

If you could switch career path, what would you choose to do?

I would become a travel writer and food critic.

How do you manage a work/life balance?

If you love what you do then work never feels like work. Having a variety of roles helps to keep me interested and engaged. Also, I live 1km away from work. Proximity helps with balance – being able to be at work in 10 minutes is a godsend, allowing those extra few minutes in bed in the morning. I am definitely not a morning person.

What do you do to unwind?

On the grand scale – travel. On a day-to-day basis – catching up with friends over a glass (or two) of wine.

You have won the OT lottery. What are the first three things you would do with the £1m jackpot?

I would expand my practice to have a second consulting room, hire another optometrist and book a holiday.

Do you have your next holiday booked? Where are you going?

I am not good at planning; trips are normally based around conferences and meetings. I didn’t make it to Europe this year so I will definitely go next year to escape Melbourne’s winter.