Khanh Ton, aka KT.Opt, Is Here to Look Out for Future Optometry Students

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She may have just completed her first year of optometry school at the University of Houston College of Optometry, but Khanh Ton is not waiting until she receives her degree in order to pay it forward. This future eye doctor is already using her social media platform as a resource to inform pre-optometry students on various ways to get into the field. A recipient of a BS in Biology and minor in Psychology (she graduated magna cum lade from the University of Houston), Ton knew early on that she wanted to pursue some avenue in the primary health care field.

She used her high school years, starting in her junior year, as opportunities to immerse herself in different health practices, do more research and find out which field appealed to her the most. “I began a clinical rotation program that allowed me to shadow surgeons in hospitals, physicians in clinical settings, and optometrists at their private practices. It never failed that optometry kept my interest and I liked it the most,” she explained.
While she gleaned a lot of useful information in each setting she was placed, Ton was most taken by the quality of care and relationships the optometrists were able to give and create with their patients. “I initially fell in love with the relationships these optometrists were able to build. I recognized the time, care and attention to detail they provided to each and every single one of their patients. Combined with good rapport, their extensive knowledge was applied to unique cases to increase the overall quality of care the optometrists could provide. During this time, I solidified my decision to pursue a career in optometry.”

As she started the application process for optometry school, Ton noticed that there weren’t many platforms on social media that she could reach out to and ask for help. She found that a lot of information came from generic websites which didn’t have actual people behind the screens to answer questions or provide unique insight.

This is when she decided to create her Instagram page KT.Opt and eponymous YouTube channel in an effort to document her journey to optometry school and connect with other students who may have been pursuing the same path. Soon after, she realized that a page that she had created as a hobby became a significant resource for hundreds of students.

  

“I remembered thinking this would be for fun, how irrelevant my page would be, but at least I can help one to two students and that would be enough. Little did I know, over time it grew into something amazing and unexpected,” she said. “After my acceptance into optometry school, I started receiving direct messages from students all over America and Canada asking me for advice. It started with a few at first and somehow it got to the point where I was receiving tons of messages on a daily basis. Never did I realize my little creative outlet impacted students.” Once she was accepted into optometry school, Ton changed the direction of her page and started documenting her journey as an optometry student instead.

Though KT.Opt doesn’t have too many posts, her content is authentic and honest. In each and every single picture of hers, Ton is captured smiling, showing that though pursuing a passion is not always easy, you don’t have to let it weigh you down. Her page is a fine balance between her life as a student agonizing through 9 exams in a week, her accomplishments as an active member of her community and it is also filled with the adventures of a young lady in her twenties.

“I want to show different sides of who I am on this page. I make sure to highlight important optometry school related things that we do, yet I share parts of my hobbies, interests and extracurricular activities as well. Apart from content about my life, I feature my friends from optometry school in my stories and videos for my followers to have insights into how different students do things,” she told VMail Weekend.

On YouTube, Ton tailors her content to be more insightful and useful for current and future students. Her videos feature evergreen, relatable content such as test prep resources, tips on how to answer optometry school admissions interview questions, as well as some pointers on her note-taking and study routines—all which can be used by a student applying this year or two years from now.

  

“YouTube is great because with Instagram, sometimes my message gets hidden or overlooked because I post about something else. With YouTube, I have a collection of optometry related videos readily accessible to students,” she said.

Both platforms have garnered Ton a host of followers. Her Instagram page stands at 2,758 followers, while her YouTube channel boasts 841 subscribers, averaging over 1,000 viewers per video. Like many of her peers who have decided to take their lives to social media, Ton struggles to find the time to juggle everything—especially because she is running two separate platforms.

Filming and editing one video can take up an entire day while taking photos and then editing them to match her aesthetic is also time consuming. Fortunately, Instagram Stories allow her to keep that audience engaged in the interim between posts. She said, “I don’t upload photos as often as most Instagrammers do, but I update my stories very often. When in school, I documented almost every new thing that I encounter. It was a way for me to share my experience with my followers and give them a glimpse of my first year.”

While striking a balance still remains a challenge, the amount of positive feedback Ton has received makes it all worth it for her. Students that follow her often express their gratitude for any gems of information she is able to give. “When I receive messages from students telling me that they got accepted into optometry school for my videos and advice, it feels absolutely amazing,” she stated. “Whether it is from a frantic student freaking out about their grades, having jitters before an interview, a student asking for my advice on decisions that they are unsure about, or just simple questions that they aren’t able to find online, I love how happy and relieved they are when I give them an answer and insight.”


KT.Opt has also made Ton visible to older optometry students as well as seasoned professionals who are able to reach out and offer some encouraging words when she is going through the highs and lows of optometry school. “I think it’s amazing that other ODs connect with me. It’s nice hearing them reminisce on what they did in optometry school when they see me go through everything for the first time. I’ve received advice on how to hold my equipment, to how important a class is on the boards, and even encouraging things during my exam week to help me get through it. Not only is it from ODs around the globe, but also upperclassmen optometry students give me insights as well. They’re kind of like my internet family.”

With her first year of optometry school complete, Ton’s future goals are still unknown. Her main priority right now is to graduate with her doctorate, and continue fostering the ambitions of future optometry students in the process. She concluded, “My Instagram content may be different than it was two years ago, but I still hold my initial idea concept dear. I’m a strong advocate for student success. Since I have the knowledge and background of applying to optometry school, my intended audience are pre-optometry students. My goal is to provide them with all the tools I am capable of giving to help them get into optometry school.”