“A common misconception about optometrists,” says Dr. Ryan Schmidt, “is that we only prescribe glasses and contacts. But in reality, optometrists are experts in eye health. Eye health is the primary reason we encourage everyone to have regular eye exams.”
As an optometrist in a busy multi-doctor practice in Chilliwack, BC, Ryan has patients who are infants, seniors, and everyone in between. He enjoys meeting new people each day, and he appreciates the variety in his work, which includes offering routine exams, treating emergencies, and diagnosing eye diseases and disorders.
Growing up in Killam, AB, Ryan found a role model in his own optometrist. He recalls, “I was inspired by his passion for his work and his desire to help each and every one of his patients. I thought that optometry would be a career that I would enjoy too.”
Ryan majored in chemistry and minored in biology at Augustana. “Many of the professors in the science department are world-class,” he says. “They encouraged my love of science and my passion for learning. The science courses were an important foundation for my career: biology, chemistry, physics, and physiology are the backbone of healthcare.”
He fondly remembers campus life. He lived in residence in his first year, where he made great friends. He remembers, “I enjoyed playing rec league hockey, being the DJ at the Vikings hockey games, and drinking as much chocolate milk as possible in the cafeteria!”
Ryan also appreciated the courses he took outside the science department. “Taking a variety of courses sparked interests that are not directly linked to my career,” he says. “Two of my most enjoyable courses were German and history, both of which I still enjoy studying in my spare time today.”
After graduating in 2010, Ryan applied to the Doctor of Optometry program at the University of Waterloo, which offers Canada’s only English-language optometry program. It’s a competitive program that accepts only 90 of more than 300 applicants each year.
“The U of W program was both challenging and rewarding,” Ryan says. “It was terrific to spend four years studying with 89 other students from across Canada. I now have friends across the country—from BC to Newfoundland.”
After graduating with distinction in 2015, Ryan began to practice in Chilliwack, and he enjoys living in the mountains in the Fraser Valley. He and his wife take advantage of local recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking, and running.
Ryan keeps up with current research and technology in eye care so that he can offer his patients the best care possible. “I really enjoy helping people see their best,” he says. “I am proud to contribute to the overall health and wellness of all of my patients.