SUNY Optometry alumnus Dr. David Tai ‘18 moved to New York City from China as one of the first students in a joint eight-year program with one of the College’s international affiliates. “It’s a five-year bachelor’s degree at Wenzhou Medical University followed by three years of the SUNY Optometry OD program,” he says. “Wenzhou combines optometry with ophthalmology so it is studied as a whole and not as a separate profession.”
Dr. Tai, who entered Wenzhou in 2010, learned that eye care in the United States is very different from practicing in China. “Eye care is practiced mainly by ophthalmologists in China. As I looked deeper into optometry, I realized it would fit me more because of the flexibility of its work-life balance, which enables me to have time for my other interests.”
At SUNY Optometry, he was able to study his areas of interest: dry eye, sports vision and specialty contact lenses. But that is not what Dr. Tai considers the best part of his time at the College. “I was so lucky to have joined the class of 2018,” he says. “The characters and personalities we have are just amazing. I started during their second year of four and they welcomed me with lots of love.”
Fortunately, Dr. Tai took enough photos to keep the faces and memories alive. Deemed the “selfie king” by College administrators, he believes it is important to document moments and share with his family and friends overseas. “But also, it’s about recording life so I can remember it better. You’d be surprised how much you can forget,” he says.
His favorite selfie was taken onstage during commencement in May 2018. “It was a huge milestone for all of us and it was my honor and pleasure to be able to capture it,” he says. “I just wish I had a better camera for better quality.”
Dr. Tai is now completing his visa process so he can remain in the United States; he has hopes of opening a private practice. In the meantime, he is figuring out the best way to secure his legacy. “I got into this profession so I could help as many people as possible to see their best, to live their best. So my goal is to help the world one eye at a time.”