Meet the dynamic Dr Elise Kramer. A residency-trained optometrist based in Miami, she specialises in ocular surface disease and specialty contact lenses. She’s also a regular on the global speaker circuit and actively contributes to clinical research trials. In her Women In Optometry profile, Dr Kramer opens up about her impactful contributions to optometry, the influential role models who have shaped her path, and much more. Have a read!

Hi Dr Kramer. We’d love to hear a bit about the work you do. 

I am a residency-trained optometrist specializing in ocular surface disease and specialty contact lens design and fitting. I earned my Doctorate in Optometry from the Université de Montréal in 2012. During my fourth year, I completed an internship in ocular disease at the Eye Centers of South Florida and later pursued a residency at the Miami VA Medical Center, which included training at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.  

The inspiration behind my focus on ocular surface disease and specialty lenses is deeply rooted in a profound commitment to addressing the intricate and often challenging visual issues that patients face. Throughout my academic and clinical journey, I witnessed the significant impact that ocular surface diseases can have on individuals’ daily lives. Conditions such as dry eye syndrome, corneal irregularities, and other ocular surface related issues can affect visual clarity, lead to discomfort and a diminished quality of life.  

Understanding the profound influence of these conditions on patients sparked a passion within me to get into the specialized field of ocular surface disease. I recognized the need for personalized and advanced solutions that go beyond conventional approaches, especially considering the complexity of these cases. The desire to make a meaningful difference in patients’ lives by alleviating their visual challenges became a driving force in my career. 

Specialty lenses, in particular, emerged as a pivotal aspect of my focus. I saw them as a powerful tool to address unique visual needs, offering customized solutions that could significantly enhance both vision and overall comfort.  

What impact is your work having on your patients?

My work has a continual impact on patients’ lives as I provide specialized and advanced eye care. By specializing in ocular surface disease and specialty lenses, I am able to meet the diverse needs of my patients. Whether dealing with irregular corneas, post-surgical complications, or other complex cases, the potential to provide patients with specialized lenses customized to their specific conditions inspired me to pursue this specialized field within optometry.  

Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the improvement of patients’ quality of life by offering innovative and effective solutions for their visual challenges. This dedication to addressing complex ocular surface issues reflects not only a professional commitment but also a deep empathy for the individuals under my care, emphasizing the holistic impact of vision on their overall well-being. 

What excites you most about your work, and what are the biggest challenges?

What excites me most about my work is the dynamic nature of the field of optometry, which continually evolves to meet the diverse and evolving needs of patients. Optometry is a dynamic and rapidly advancing profession, and this constant evolution presents an exciting opportunity to explore new technologies, treatment modalities, and diagnostic tools. The prospect of staying at the forefront of these advancements and integrating them into my practice is very motivating. 

The dynamic nature of optometry means that each day brings unique cases and challenges, requiring a versatile and adaptable approach to patient care. Meeting diverse patient needs involves not only diagnosing and treating common visual conditions but also addressing complex cases that may require innovative solutions, such as specialized contact lenses or advanced therapeutic interventions. However, with this excitement comes the challenge of staying abreast of the latest advancements in the field. The landscape of optometry is marked by continuous research, technological breakthroughs, and evolving best practices.  

Ensuring the best possible care for my patients requires a commitment to ongoing education, professional development, and a proactive approach to integrating new knowledge into my clinical practice. 

The challenges in staying at the forefront of advancements involve dedicating time to continuous learning, attending conferences, participating in training programs, and engaging with emerging research. This commitment is essential to maintaining a high standard of care and offering patients access to the most innovative and effective treatments available. 

Which of your personal attributes contributes to success at work?

My success in work is attributed to personal qualities such as curiosity, adaptability, and dedication to ongoing learning. These attributes contribute significantly to navigating the intricate world of ocular health and specialty lenses. 

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

One of my proudest career achievements is the establishment of the largest contact lens institute in South Florida. This significant milestone represents the culmination of dedicated efforts, a commitment to excellence, and a vision to provide a comprehensive and cutting-edge resource for individuals with diverse visual needs. 

 As Vice President of the Scleral Lens Education Society (SLS), I have had the privilege of contributing to the advancement of specialty lenses, particularly scleral lenses, which play a crucial role in addressing complex visual challenges.  

Specialty lenses, including scleral lenses, hybrid lenses, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, and custom soft lenses, have become focal points of my practice. Scleral lenses, in particular, have proven to be transformative for individuals with irregular corneas, dry eye syndrome, and various corneal irregularities.  

The establishment of the contact lens institute goes beyond physical space; it symbolizes a commitment to advancing the field of optometry, particularly in the realm of specialty lenses. Through this achievement and my role with the Scleral Lens Education Society, I aim to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in providing specialized and personalized eye care for individuals facing diverse visual challenges. 

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

I am fortunate to have been guided by distinguished female professionals, including Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee, Professor Jennifer P. Craig, and Dr. Anat Galor, who have profoundly influenced my career. Professor Craig’s expertise in ocular surface disease and leadership roles in international clinical trials have been a constant source of inspiration. Dr. Galor’s groundbreaking contributions to ocular surface pain and innovative approaches to managing ocular discomfort have been transformative. Dr. Shen Lee, a prominent figure in optometry, has not only co-founded Vision Optique® and led innovative practices but has also served as a global ambassador for ocular surface health, advocating for eye care awareness at a policy level. Their multifaceted achievements and leadership continue to shape my commitment to excellence in patient care and professional growth. 

You’re VP of Women In Eyecare: why is so important to support and recognise the accomplishments of female ECPs – in their profession and communities?

As the Vice President of Women In EyeCare (WiE), my passion lies in advancing the true mission of this nonprofit organization. WiE, founded in April 2023, is dedicated to fostering collaboration among women in the eye care industry. The organization’s mission goes beyond mere celebration; it strives to create a platform that actively promotes and supports women’s involvement in eye care.  

Our vision is to provide an open space where female eye care professionals can find not only recognition but also opportunities for career growth, professional support, and cross-functional collaboration.  

It is crucial to emphasize that, as Vice President, my role is centered on cultivating an environment that empowers female ECPs to thrive, contributing to the elevation of the entire field of optometry through meaningful and impactful collaboration.