In early 2018, the International Examination and Certification Board (IECB) was given the opportunity to add an additional COVT member to its ranks. This coincided with Linda Sanet reaching her term limits, creating the opportunity to vote on two new COVT members! We are excited to share with you the newest elected members of the IECB: Erin D. Pedersen, COVT and Loretta (Lori) Griffith, COVT. In recognition of this occasion, Linda recently reached out to Erin and Lori and we’ll be sharing those conversations here. Watch for Lori’s interview next week!

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Linda Sanet: How did you become interested in vision therapy?

EP Erin Pedersen:

I was working for Dr. Gabby Marshall and Kit Carminke for about two years as a paraoptometric.  I did a little bit of everything, except vision therapy, as it wasn’t the main focus of the office. Then, ten years ago, Dr. Marshall felt the need to bring specialized pediatric optometry and vision therapy to the Bend, OR community.  Once I was immersed in the role of vision therapist, I quickly saw the amazing results and rewards of joining a vision therapy patient on their journey. A decade later, I can’t imagine doing anything else professionally. The opportunity to grow my education and have it benefit my community is a passion of mine and I don’t take my position for granted.  I see it as a privilege to serve my patients as my knowledge of neuro-optometry grows.

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Tell us a little bit about the practice you work in? What types of patients do you see?  What is your role?

EP Erin:

I am the lead vision therapist at Elemental Eyecare in Bend, OR.  We opened as a VT based clinic in 2008 and this is our 10th year providing vision therapy to a wide patient base. Our office works with all types of patients; pediatrics through adulthood with all levels of basic skills (behavioral, oculomotor, binocular teaming), CI, DI, strabismus, amblyopia, ABI/TBI, stroke and dizzy patients, streff syndrome and developmentally-challenged individuals.  We have worked with people of all ages, from developing babies and toddlers to geriatric patients who wish to maintain functional vision as they age.

My role as lead therapist is to work with some of the more challenging patients, either on my own or by acting as a consult for other therapists, with the goal of providing the best possible patient outcomes.  I also work to keep the program running smoothly by managing equipment and training others.

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Why did you decide to pursue a position on the IECB? What do you hope to be able to gain from this position?  What do you hope to accomplish?

EP Erin:

Honestly, when I first approached Kristi Jensen, I didn’t know that your (Linda’s) IECB term was up in 2018.  It was the perfect timing. I was thinking about taking on more COVT candidates as a mentor, but felt like there was something more that I should do.  I love to read my candidates’ submissions, give them feedback, and encourage them to dig a little deeper into what they are really trying to say. As an educator and passionate learner, I felt like being a member of the IECB was the right place for me.  When I found out that they were possibly going to have two COVTs join the IECB for the 2018-2021 term, I knew that I had to be one of those people.

I hope to gain some lasting friendships with the other members of the IECB and a whole new respect for the certification process.  I also hope to learn more about how other vision therapy offices function and what works in other parts of the country–or other parts of the world, for that matter!

The goal that I have set for myself as a member of the IECB is to represent the COVT status as a well-educated and supportive role to our optometrists.  I feel like COVTs are recognized by COVD as a integral part of the bigger plan: to make behavioral optometry a medically-recognized first course of action for patients with a multitude of diagnoses requiring optometric intervention.  As a Certified Optometric Vision Therapist, we should be able to work with any patient that our doctors are comfortable treating, as well as be able to send patients to other COVTs, knowing our patients will be in qualified, capable hands. It is my goal to make sure that new COVTs are well rounded in their education and have an understanding of how to work with each patient base.

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What are 3 things we don’t know (yet) about you on a professional level?  On a personal level?

EP Erin: 

On a professional level, I am very interested in the role that functional neurology is playing in the vision therapy field. I hope to educate myself and incorporate that knowledge into working with brain injury and strabismus patients. Just last month, I received the honor of being recognized by the state of Oregon Optometric Physicians Association as the Optometric Assistant of the Year. It was very rewarding to be seen as a contributing member of optometry for our state.  Additionally, I have been developing and teaching a course for vision therapists and doctors who are just getting started in the world of vision therapy. I hope to grow that course in the future and to help doctors and therapists improve their basic skills and achieve the best possible results for patients. I am very passionate about teaching vision therapists to expand their figurative “box” rather than to work outside of it.

On a personal level, something you don’t yet know about me is that I love being in the woods with nature.  My family and I just moved to a little piece of property just north of Bend and I am loving being among the trees.  I also enjoy my hobbies which include; needle felting necklaces and car diffusers, learning about and enjoying the benefits of essential oils, pottery, morel hunting in the spring, fishing/camping in our RV in the summer, and spending time with my husband of eleven years and 8-year-old daughter Tessa who is currently doing vision therapy (it is hard!).

I also have a fear of public speaking!  I am hoping that I will shed this fear as I have more opportunities to practice over the next few years, especially since I want achieve my goal of teaching my course to larger groups!

 Learn more about becoming a Certified Optometric Vision Therapist!