Five Questions for Bryce St. Clair

Bryce St. Clair joined Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine as an optometrist in September 2020. Dr. St. Clair is interested in retinal dystrophies, inherited optic neuropathies, retinal electrophysiology and health care accessibility. He sees patients at the Wilmer Eye Institute’s East Baltimore and White Marsh locations.

What attracted you to the field of optometry?

I always knew I wanted to go into medicine, but I didn’t know which specialty to choose. After shadowing my local optometrist in high school, I made my decision. As an optometrist in rural Alabama, he treated everything from eyelid lacerations and eyelid wrinkles to glaucoma and refractive error. He always left work happy to have given the gift of sight, and that left an indelible impression on me.

What do you like about being a part of the faculty at Wilmer?

My favorite thing about this institution is the positive O.D./M.D. relationships. What Wilmer has is both unique and innovative. There is a supportive co-management atmosphere that allows PAs, optometrists and ophthalmologists to collaborate in order to provide exceptional patient care.

What are you working on right now and how will it contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology?

In terms of research, I am currently helping with Dr. Sezen Karakus’ study investigating whether COVID-19 can present as conjunctivitis. I hope to be joining Dr. Jeferson Doyle and Dr. Mandeep Singh in creating a database of patients with inherited retinal anomalies. This database could be utilized in the future to prevent or reverse childhood blindness. I am also applying for a Master of Public Health degree through the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and I am in the process of applying for my fellowship within the American Academy of Optometry. Finally, I’m working with my fellow doctors of optometry to establish an optometry residency program here at Wilmer.

Where do you see opportunities for advancement or innovation in your specialty?

I see optometry becoming increasingly medically based. Gone are the days of refraction-only visits. Over 40% of the students in my class at Ohio State pursued a residency or fellowship after graduation, and this is a trend we are continuing to see. As innovations in diagnostic imaging modalities and systemic medications arise, I am confident the field of optometry will be adapting alongside.

Is there anything you’d like others to know about you or your work?

I am a linguistics nerd! My undergrad degree was in romance languages and linguistics, so I have dabbled in several languages. I only speak Spanish, French and Portuguese with any fluency, but if you ever want to talk linguistics, I am your guy. When I am not geeking out about foreign languages, I enjoy playing with my rescue pug, Poptart.