If you are involved in the optical field in any way—student, optometrist, optician, supplier, retailer even journalist—you have definitely come across one of Dr. Scott Lee’s popular cartoons. While he is a full-time practitioner at Atlantis Eyecare, online, he is the witty brains behind Sight Gags Cartoons, a collection of humorous optometry doodles that depict the hilarious and sometimes eyebrow-raising side of the science.

An artist turned optometrist, Lee got his art degree from the University of California Irvine in 1998 and later on went to get his doctorate in optometry from the UC Berkeley School of Optometry in 2002. In 2004, he decided to combine his love for both fields and created Sight Gags Cartoons in an effort to share some of the quirky encounters he experienced with patients. “I had a funny moment that happened during an eye exam and I made a doodle about it on our patient schedule,” Lee stated. “The staff liked it so much that I started making Sight Gags Cartoons. On the way home that day, I came up with about 20 more ideas.”

While Sight Gags feature mostly optometry humor, they are created in such a way that the general public can understand even if they have never stepped foot in an optometrist’s office. The cartoons feature characters such as Santa Claus, firemen, astronauts, the three wise monkeys and many more, in order to be relatable; their text is often punny combining our colloquial understanding of said characters with optometry-related terminology. Of course, because he is an optometrist, Dr. Lee also showcases the colorful characters of patients who show up in his chair and are immediately recognized by other optometrists around the world.

Since their conception in 2004, Sight Gags Cartoons have garnered so much attention that they have been published into two book collections. The first one, Sight Gags: Cartoons for Eye Doctors and Their Patients, came out in 2006 and the second book, Sight Gags: The Follow-Up Appointment was published this past March.

Because he was targeting different audiences with both collections, his creations also differed in content. “For all of the cartoons I drew leading up to my first book collection, I wanted to use humor that anyone could understand; doctors and patients alike,” he told VM. “Then, I was approached about submitting them to the Review of Optometry and I took the opportunity to draw cartoons that were specific to people in the eyecare profession. So, the second book has a lot of jokes that are mainly directed at doctors and their staff.”

When it comes to creating the cartoons, Lee has an entire idea list that he’s added to over the years. He derives his inspiration from the different facets of his life—whether he is chatting with a patient at work, driving somewhere or just hanging out at home, Lee is constantly coming up with concepts. His wife—who even contributed two ideas to his latest book—is also always keen to help.

“My initial inspiration was Gary Larson of The Far Side. That’s why they are all single panel cartoons,” he explained. “Most of the time, ideas hit me when I’m driving or just hanging out at home. There are times I get an idea from a patient experience and I have to rush off to jot it down after the exam is done. My wife also knows I have an idea list and when she suggests a joke, she points out that I didn’t add it to the list. I have used a couple of her ideas, though.”

Though he has a running list, not every idea on that list comes to fruition. Some ideas remain there for years before he circles back, others are immediately thought of and created in the same day. The fastest one he’s created took about four hours from start to finish, Lee said. Posts that involve jokes about difficult refractions and non-contact tonometry are always a hit with his followers, he’s observed. “With each post, I try to touch upon a topic that people can relate to. It helps them know that other people are experiencing the same thing. It’s what makes combining my art with optometry feel relevant.”