Full Name: William To

Name of Practice: Optical Illusions of San Mateo

Setting: Private Practice

Location: San Mateo, CA

Date of Birth: 11/20/1987

High School Attended: Piedmont Hills

College Attended: UC San Diego

Optometry School Attended: Western University

Tell us something interesting about yourself: 

Pre-COVID, I normally travel approximately 100k miles a year. This is something that I always want to be able to do, so I’m anxious for travel to reopen again, especially to various conferences to be able to see a lot of my Optometry friends from around the country.

Tell us about your family: 

I am the youngest of four and my parents were both immigrants. I’m the only one of my siblings in Healthcare as the rest of them pursued careers in Tech. 

Tell us about your parent’s occupations: 

My father is a chef and my mother is a seamstress. 

Why did you choose optometry as a career? 

I wanted a career where I could truly help people and make a difference in their lives. But I also wanted to have autonomy in my life and to own my own business and be my own boss. There are only a few professions that allow for that. I initially looked into a career in dentistry but shifted to optometry when I realized I liked talking and getting to know people too much. With dentistry, the conversation with patients is too one-sided, for obvious reasons.

What aspects of your professional life do you find most rewarding?

My specialties are pediatrics and family medicine. So being able to help kids see and learn or to be able to prevent developmental issues with my infant patients is such a big deal to me. When I see their smile after I first put a trial frame on their face with the correct lenses, that will always be the best part of my week. 

I like to educate a lot and usually spend more than half of my exams doing so. This is also why I travel often to the various Optometry schools every year to do workshops and presentations for the students.

What aspects of your professional life do you find least rewarding?

Paperwork. Leaving work at 9pm some nights. Paperwork. Office drama. Did I mention paperwork?

How did you end up working where you are now? 

Networking as much as I could as a student allowed me to learn from some of the best doctors in the world. It also allowed me to find out about the best opportunities in each area I potentially wanted to practice in. From there I was able to find the best fit that allowed me to go from associate to eventually purchasing the practice from a retiring doctor.

What professional conferences do you like best?

Vision Expo West is my favorite by far, followed by Vision Expo East, AOA Optometry’s Meeting, SECO, COA Monterey Symposium

Have you ever used a practice management consultant?

To help with my practice purchase, I worked with Rick Guinotte from Acquios Advisors. He and his team were amazing and I continue to work with them today for management consulting and advising purposes.

What advice do you have for young people considering optometry as a career?

Optometry is a profession that gives you some of the greatest flexibility and best work-life balance. When I compare myself to my friends in other professions, I am happier, more fulfilled, have better financial security, and a more complete lifestyle than any of them. Optometry was the best decision I ever made.

Please conclude by writing about anything you want people to know about you.

I purchased my practice in the Fall of 2019, only a few months before COVID-19 shut everything down, particularly in the Bay Area. Right now, I have been a practice owner during the pandemic longer than I have been a practice owner outside of it. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun, but if I had the chance to go back in time to change my mind about buying my practice or not, knowing there was a pandemic coming, I would still do it all again in a heartbeat. No one should let anyone or anything, even a global pandemic, stop them from pursuing their goals. If I can do it, anyone can do it.