Dr Cheryl Chapman is well known for her work in dry eye therapies and myopia management. She’s owner of Gretna Vision Source in Nebraska, President of The American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (AAOMC), and adjunct assistant professor at the UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry. She’s also cofounder of Peeq Pro, an eyelid and facial skincare company.

She does all this while nurturing a large, happy family.

In her Women in Optometry profile, Dr Chapman discusses the impact and challenges of her work, and shares excellent advice for women balancing big career goals and family—and much more.

Hi Dr Chapman! Tell us a bit about what you do.

As an optometrist, my professional journey has been guided by a passion for addressing unmet needs in eye care, particularly in the areas of specialty contact lenses, myopia management, and dry eye treatment. At my private clinic, we prioritize medical eyecare, focusing on two critical subspecialties: specialty contact lenses and dry eye management. 

My interest in these areas stemmed from recognizing the pressing need for innovative solutions in optometry. Myopia, in particular, is a growing concern, and with the escalating reliance on digital devices, the prevalence of this condition has surged in recent generations. This inspired me to delve deeply into myopia management strategies, exploring avenues like orthokeratology and scleral contact lenses to not only correct vision but also slow down the progression of myopia in younger patients. 

Additionally, the prevalence of dry eye conditions has also seen a significant rise, possibly due to increased screen time and changing environmental factors. This motivated me to focus on advanced dry eye management techniques, seeking to provide relief and improve the quality of life for patients experiencing these issues. 

Innovation has been at the core of my practice. As a co-founder of Peeq Pro, I’ve been involved in the development of the Peeq Waiva Eyelid Cleansing System, a patent-pending solution aimed at enhancing eyelid hygiene—a critical aspect in managing various ocular conditions, including dry eye. 

The constantly evolving landscape of optometric research and the influx of new studies have been both motivating and enlightening. Staying abreast of these advancements allows me to integrate cutting-edge therapies into my practice, offering patients the most effective and up-to-date treatments available. 

Ultimately, my goal is to make a meaningful impact on the lives of my patients by addressing these increasingly prevalent eye health issues through innovative solutions, personalized care, and a commitment to staying at the forefront of optometric advancements. 

What excites you most about work? 

What are your biggest challenges?

What excites me most about my work as an optometrist is the opportunity to offer specialized treatments that require a high level of skill and expertise, especially those that aren’t widely available. It’s incredibly fulfilling to provide these treatments because they serve a specific need and contribute to my sense of purpose in helping patients achieve optimal eye health. 

I thrive on problem-solving, and my passion lies in delving into intricate cases that demand innovative solutions. Whether it’s orthokeratology, scleral contact lens fitting, or my involvement in developing the Peeq Waiva eyelid cleansing system, I find immense satisfaction in tackling challenges head-on and finding effective, tailored solutions for my patients’ eye care needs. 

However, with this excitement and passion for multiple facets of optometry comes my biggest challenge: time management.

Balancing my various interests and pursuits while striving to delve deeper into each area to provide the highest level of care can be demanding. Finding the time to explore and advance my expertise in orthokeratology, scleral lens fitting, innovative product development, and other areas within optometry is an ongoing challenge. 

Nevertheless, I see these challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement. I continuously strive to manage my time effectively to pursue my diverse interests and deepen my knowledge and skills across different specialized treatments. This allows me to offer comprehensive and cutting-edge care to my patients while maintaining a sense of fulfillment and purpose in my work as an optometrist. 

Which of your attributes contribute to your success in work?

I believe my success in optometry, particularly in developing specialties in dry eye and myopia management, can be attributed to a blend of focus, work ethic, and optimism.  

Focus: Staying focused allows me to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my patients’ needs and the latest advancements in my field. It enables me to continuously improve my skills, keeping up with evolving techniques and technologies in dry eye and myopia management. 

Work Ethic: A strong work ethic has been instrumental in building my practice. It drives me to consistently provide exceptional care, invest time in research, and develop tailored solutions for my patients. Hard work is at the core of my commitment to delivering the best possible outcomes. 

Optimism: Maintaining an optimistic outlook fuels my passion for finding innovative solutions. It encourages me to approach challenges as opportunities for growth, fostering creativity in addressing complex issues in dry eye and myopia. This optimism also extends to my interactions with patients, instilling confidence and trust in their treatment journey. 

These attributes, alongside a genuine dedication to patient care and a thirst for knowledge, have been pivotal in shaping my success and expertise in dry eye and myopia management. 

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

In my career as an optometrist, there are several accomplishments I’m incredibly proud of, each representing a milestone in my commitment to eye care and innovation. 

Firstly, building a medically oriented practice has been a cornerstone of my career. Focusing on providing comprehensive eye care services, particularly in the realms of orthokeratology and myopia management as well as dry eye therapy, have been immensely fulfilling. I’ve dedicated myself to becoming an expert in these fields, aiming to positively impact patients’ lives by offering cutting-edge treatments and solutions to address vision issues. 

Moreover, serving as the President of the American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (AAOMC) has been an honor. This role has allowed me to contribute significantly to advancing the understanding and implementation of effective practices in these specialized areas of optometry, collaborating with industry leaders and professionals to elevate standards and promote the importance of proactive vision care. 

However, one of my proudest achievements has been co-founding Peeq Pro and contributing to the development of the Peeq Waiva, a revolutionary patent-pending eyelid cleansing system. This innovative technology addresses a critical aspect of eye health, providing a novel solution for maintaining optimal eyelid hygiene. Being part of a team that creates groundbreaking solutions to improve eye care and positively impact patients’ well-being has been incredibly rewarding and represents a pinnacle in my journey as an optometrist and innovator. 

Each of these accomplishments has contributed to my overarching goal of enhancing eye health and vision care practices. They embody my commitment to innovation, education, and patient-centric care, driving me to continually seek advancements that benefit not only my patients but the field of optometry as a whole. 

Who are your female role models and how have they influenced your career?

My mentors and role models have been instrumental in shaping my career, providing guidance, inspiration, and unwavering support. Dr. Caroline Guerrero-Cauchi stands as a beacon of inspiration in my journey. As a pioneering optometrist, she shattered barriers in a male-dominated field, displaying strength, fearlessness, and unwavering determination. Her trailblazing spirit encouraged me to push beyond boundaries, strive for excellence, and fearlessly navigate challenges. She believed in my potential, instilling in me the confidence to achieve more than I ever imagined possible. 

Additionally, my mother has been an incredible source of inspiration. Her tireless work ethic and remarkable talent showcase the essence of determination and resilience. Despite not having the same academic opportunities, she fervently encouraged me to pursue my passions. Her unwavering support and belief in the power of education have been the cornerstone of my academic pursuits. 

Both Dr. Guerrero-Cauchi and my mother embody qualities of strength, courage, and determination. They have instilled in me the belief that with hard work, dedication, and unwavering determination, I can break barriers and make a meaningful impact in my field. Their influence has been profound, guiding me to strive for excellence and embrace challenges with resilience and perseverance. 

You have six children and have achieved so much in your career.

What advice would you give ambitious women in optometry who are raising kids?

Balancing a thriving career in optometry while nurturing a beautiful family has been an incredible journey—one that’s taught me valuable lessons I’d love to share with ambitious women in the field. 

My advice stems from personal experiences of juggling career growth and family: 

Firstly, embrace the concept of giving yourself grace. Understand that perfection isn’t the goal; it’s about progress and balance. Some days may feel overwhelming, and that’s okay. Allow yourself the space to accept that it’s alright not to have everything perfectly aligned all the time.  

Positive self-talk becomes crucial. As ambitious women, we often set high expectations for ourselves. It’s important to reframe our inner dialogue. Replace self-criticism with self-encouragement. Celebrate the victories, both big and small, and acknowledge that managing a career and a family is an incredible accomplishment in itself. 

Additionally, don’t hesitate to seek and accept support. Whether it’s from family, colleagues, or a network of fellow optometrists, having a supportive circle can make a significant difference. Delegate tasks where possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Remember, it’s a strength, not a weakness, to lean on others. 

Furthermore, time management becomes a superpower. Prioritize tasks, set realistic goals, and allocate time for both career and family. Boundaries are essential; carve out moments dedicated solely to family to nurture those relationships and recharge. 

Lastly, cultivate resilience and flexibility. Life rarely adheres to strict plans. Being adaptable and resilient in the face of unexpected challenges allows us to navigate the complexities of both career and family life more smoothly. 

In essence, it’s about finding harmony, not perfection. Embrace the journey, embrace the challenges, and most importantly, embrace yourself. You’re doing remarkable things, both in your career and as a loving parent.