Marguerite (Meg) Ball-Thomas O.D., F.A.A.O.
Optometry Divas Member Since 2016
In our quest to fulfill our mission to Empower, Connect and Promote the success of women ODs, we have created this weekly feature to promote our amazing members across the country. Their stories will inspire you to dream big and reach higher!
The featured Diva for this week is Dr. Meg Ball-Thomas. Read the full feature below to learn why she lives by this mantra – “Failure is not trying, rather than not succeeding.”
1. Tell us a little bit about you?
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Stetson University, followed by my Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee.
After graduation, I served as a staff optometrist at the world-renowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine. At Bascom, I participated in several national ocular disease studies.
After two years of working there, It was honored to be become the Clinical Supervisor for Neuro-ophthalmology. I was the first Optometrist to ever serve in that position. I was a great honor! I worked in that position for my remaining two years at Bascom. After working at Bascom Palmer, I returned to my hometown of Winter Park and have been in private practice ever since.
I am a proud Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a member of my state and local society and the AOA. I’ve been privileged to lecture nationwide on multitude topics including Ocular Oncology, Headaches, and ocular complications of HIV/AIDS, Neuro-Ophthalmology, Cataracts, and Glaucoma.
I have also served as the chief consultant for the Florida Optometric Licensure Examination Committee, an advisory committee to the Florida Board of Optometry.
When I’m not working, I love volunteering with VOSH, the local Coalition for the Homeless and Shepherd’s Hope. I am active in my church, serving both as an elder and an instrumentalist and vocalist for the music ministry.
I am a past president and current member of the Casselberry Rotary Club for over 25 years. I am also an avid runner. As such, I am a member of the Orlando Galloway Running group, completing several half and full marathons for charities. I love my running group! They’re like an extended family to me!
One of the most important part of my life is my family. I love to spend time with my husband Steve and my son Ethan who just graduated high school and will be studying Computer Engineering at the Burnett Honors College at UCF. I am such a proud mama!
I also enjoy many outdoor and travel adventures including whitewater rafting, snow skiing, running, and cycling. I believe we have one life to live and I do my best each day to live it!
2. What made you decide to become in Optometrist?
I don’t know if it was because of the stories that I heard growing up about my grandfather and the profession or something else, but I’ve always been fascinated by eyes. I have always enjoyed science, especially the biological sciences so I always knew that I would enter the medical field. But I guess Optometry was always in my blood.
My maternal grandfather was an Optometrist. He died before I was born, so I never got to meet him. I remember my mom showing me pictures of his practice when I was a kid. She would also show me some of the glasses that he made during his career. I also think he might have been a Vision Therapist, because my mom remembered him using a “drum” to check the vision of some of his patients. My mother was so proud of her dad and his career accomplishments that she always encouraged my siblings and me to follow in his footstep.
I had at one point considered emergency medicine but that was short-lived. After, I shadowed and volunteered at a few different ER’s, I realized that I didn’t care for the fact that they only saw the patients once and never saw them again. To me it seems, they didn’t have any relationships with their patients and I knew I didn’t want that.
As an Optometrist, I especially enjoy getting to know my patients, listening to their concerns, and then like a detective, trying to solve their eye problems. I love being an Optometrist. I think it’s one of the best professions out there. There are days I wake up and think, “Wow, I get to do this profession everyday!” I am so very blessed!
3. What Optometry school did you go to?
4. Where do you currently practice?
I currently practice in Winter Park Vision Specialists.
1935 State Road 436
Winter Park, Florida 32792
5. Do you offer any specialty services in your practice?
Dark Adaptation Testing, VEP/ERG Testing, Specialty Contact Lenses including Scleral Contact Lenses.
6. Name 1 to 3 hurdles you personally faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
1. Practicing our profession to the fullest within the time constraints that insurance seems to dictate. We are all patients and desire to be treated as individuals by a physician that truly listens and exhibits compassion no matter what our insurance card says. I am always working on this but feel the more I try to stay informed through attending continuing education and reading journals, the better this becomes.2.Balancing my professional, family and social life. I am involved in a lot and my schedule sometimes can feel overwhelming. But, I’ve realized that the best way for me to balance everything is to take care of myself first. When I feel good physically, emotionally and spiritually, I am a better mom, wife, doctor, friend, ect.3. Navigating career changes as I mature in the profession has been a challenge for me. I’m not a youngster anymore, but let me tell you, I’m also not an oldster either. One of the lessons I’ve learned from my running group is that it’s never too late to dream and pursue your goals. Every stage in life builds on another. As an entrepreneur, I can glean from my past experiences to help me go forward. That is why I work hard each day to become better in my profession and in my business because I now know that – “failure is not trying, rather than not succeeding.”
7. If you could go back to when you were a student, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back, I’d tell myself to do exactly what I did: Work at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute as my first job which gave me the skill and confidence to handle most ocular diseases.
If I were to give advice to a Optometry student, I’d tell him or her the following:
- Definitely do a residency to sharpen your skills
- Private practice can be a reality. Don’t feel like it’s so scary or unreachable.
- Seek out mentors who can help you along the way
To contact Meg you can click on her social media profile links below or visit her website – WinterParkEyeDoctor.com.