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Dr. Asha Balakrishnan, Dr. Lisa Wahl, and Nichola Ruch, COMT OSC come from different areas of the eye care field. Dr. Balakrishnan is a cataract, cornea, and refractive surgeon. Dr. Wahl is a practicing optometrist and Assistant Professor at the Marshall B. Ketchum University. Nichola Ruch is a Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist with 19 years of experience as an ophthalmic technician and the coordinator for the USC Ophthalmic Technician Education Program. Though they have differing backgrounds and stories to tell, these three women noted a common experience - that there were few opportunities for rising women in these fields to look to other women for mentorship and guidance. One day, at a dinner “meeting of the minds,” they decided to put inspiration into action and create Women In Vision, an organization to serve exactly this purpose. The rest, as they say, is history.

Women In Vision is an organization dedicated to supporting women in the fields of ophthalmology and optometry. Its objectives are to:

  1. Build long-lasting relationships and encourage collaboration among women in ophthalmology and optometry

  2. Provide opportunities for continuing education and professional growth

  3. Foster career mentorship and support

  4. Encourage, support, and create initiatives for advocacy and community outreach

 
 
Dr. Asha Balakrishnan, MD

Dr. Asha Balakrishnan is a fellowship-trained cataract, cornea, and refractive surgeon and cofounder of Women in Vision. She practices at DLV Vision in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas. A National Merit Scholar winner and Presidential Scholar finalist, Dr. Balakrishnan graduated from Harvard University with Honors and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry. She received her medical degree at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She went on to do an internship in  Internal Medicine at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and completed her Ophthalmology residency at the renowned University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. While there, she received the Walter Park Resident Teaching Aware for excellence in teaching and furthering education. Dr. Balakrishnan continued her surgical training in cataract, cornea, and refractive surgery at one of the most prestigious surgical fellowships in the country at the Baylor College of Medicine. She was one of two fellows selected by the world famous surgeon Dr. Douglas Koch. Prior to moving to the Los Angeles area, Dr. Balakrishnan served as the Director of Cornea & Refractive Surgery at the University of Louisville and the Director of the Kentucky Lions Eye Bank.

 

In her spare time, Dr. Balakrishnan is an avid tennis player, fitness fan, and animal lover. She has dedicated her time to a variety of service and outreach initiatives over the years. Just a few of these efforts have included: starting M.U.S.E. (Musicians Uniting Students & Elderly) in the state of Virginia to bring classical music to nursing homes; working with the American Red Cross in blood donations and CPR instruction; and offering her time to clinics for underserved populations. She has served as the President of the St. Louis chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association and championed Eating Disorders Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness in the region.

Dr. LISA WAHL, OD, FAAO

Dr. Lisa Wahl is an optometrist practicing in Los Angeles, California and is an assistant professor at Marshall B. Ketchum University.  She is the coordinator of Cornea and Contact Lens Services at University Eye Center Los Angeles and works predominantly in clinical care with fourth year optometry interns.  Dr. Wahl graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in English Literature. She received her doctorate at Southern California College of Optometry, graduating Summa Cum Laude, and completed residency training in ocular disease at VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center.  She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.  Her areas of interest are medically necessary contact lenses, dry eye, myopia control and general ocular pathology. She is an investigator in several research studies and frequently lectures at continuing education seminars. In her free time, she enjoys working out, traveling and exploring the local restaurant scene.   

NICHOLA RUCH, COMT, OSC

Nichola Ruch is a Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist. She has over 20 years of experience in academic centers and private practices throughout the country. Although a keen desire to help others through patient care is what first drew her into ophthalmology, she discovered an even greater passion for education. She is currently the program coordinator and instructor for the Ophthalmic Technician Education Program at the University of Southern California. Ms. Ruch dedicates her time to teaching and mentoring students who are preparing to enter the eye care field.  She was inspired to join the Women in Vision initiative to promote mentorship, guidance, and community outreach among all women in ophthalmology and optometry. On her down time, Nichole is an avid runner and gym goer. She also enjoys cooking and spending time with her pets.

 
 
 
 

inspired by strong female surgeons

— Asha Balakrishnan, M.D.

“When I first went into practice, I was struck by the number of challenges that female surgeons face in building a practice. When I spoke to other female ophthalmologists, optometrists, and staff, I realized that many of my experiences were actually shared by others. Despite so much progress in society, there is still a very real gender gap in the medical field, not only in pay but also in expectations of patients and colleagues. I have been inspired by strong female surgeons before me to continue to push the boundaries of progress and achievement. I thought how powerful it would be to have a forum for women in our field to help other women. I looked to two other women who I respect tremendously for their work and contribution in their own fields to collaborate on this concept. My hope is for Women in Vision to build a forum for growth, support, mentorship, and outreach for professional women in ophthalmology and optometry.”

 
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