At the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI), we’re proud of our talented faculty and staff. From our reception desk to our exam rooms, we strive to make patients feel comfortable and provide a quality care experience. We’re exceptionally proud of our talented team and invite you to learn more about our faculty and staff.
In honor of Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, we sat down with Dr. Maria Lim, one of our pediatric ophthalmologists. She’s lived in Oklahoma City for just over a year and enjoys exploring her new city, crafting, and studying over Instagram-able lattes. She shares why she chose a path in medicine and loves working with young patients.
Q: Where did you grow up and when did your interest in medicine first emerge?
A: I grew up in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, and attended school there from elementary to high school. I knew since I was a little girl that I wanted to work in medicine. My dad is a physician and my mom is an orthodontist. I was amazed by watching them work and seeing their commitment to patients as a little kid.
Q: Where did you complete your undergrad and where did you pursue your medical degree?
A: I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Akron and attended medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Since I knew I wanted to go to medical school, I completed a combined undergraduate med school program. I earned my bachelor’s degree in two years and had a reserved spot in medical school by completing program requirements.
Q: What helped you decide to go into pediatric ophthalmology?
A: When I got to medical school, I didn’t know what kind of doctor I wanted to be because I really enjoyed each rotation. In your third year of medical school, you’re supposed to decide. That year, I completed a rotation with a pediatric ophthalmologist who also worked in general ophthalmology.
The physician I studied under had a big tub of toys for patients. Kids would come for their appointment with their glasses and be so excited to rifle through the toys. I thought it was so fun to work with them. I was inclined toward ophthalmology, but that rotation showed me that I had a passion for working with kids.
I also really enjoyed the surgery aspect of the specialty. Outside of work, I love crafting and enjoy the steady, detailed tasks that are sometimes similar to eye surgery. In pediatric ophthalmology, we commonly perform eye muscle surgery to correct eye alignments. We see kids who have crossed eyes or drifting eyes. We also open sties and blocked tear ducts. We see infants who have congenital glaucoma and cataracts. I think most people think of their grandparents when they think of cataracts, but it’s so important for us to act quickly if an infant has the condition since children’s eyes and brains are still developing until about age 8.
Q: Where did you complete your residency?
A: I completed my residency at Indiana University (IU). IU has a strong pediatric presence. After my residency at IU, I went to Duke University and completed a clinical fellowship and then stayed on for a year of research.
Q: What led you to join DMEI?
A: One of my partners, Dr. Collinge, on our DMEI pediatrics team completed her pediatric ophthalmology fellowship at IU while I was beginning my residency. After she came to DMEI, she always spoke highly about it and mentored me when I joined the team. My other partners in the pediatrics department have connections to some of my colleagues from residency and fellowship, too, and have been a great team to join.
It’s always hard moving as an adult, but I’ve been trying to engage with the community and make networks outside of work. There are so many new things happening here and it’s exciting. (Dr. Lim is a big fan of 405 Yoga and Common Place Books in Midtown).
Q: What do you enjoy most about working with young patients?
A: I tell people who don’t understand what I do that I get kids to play with me so that I can examine their eyes. We have spinning light balls and I sing songs or play games with them to get their attention. While the kids are having a good time, they don’t realize that the whole time I’m observing their visual behavior and their eyes! I love providing parents with more information about their children’s eye health and empowering them to become advocates for their children. The internet has a lot of resources and information so it’s easy to get scared. I like to be able to give patients information before they go home and to be available if they have questions after an appointment.
Q: What are some ways parents can help protect their children’s vision and teach them about eye safety?
A: Eye safety is such an important thing. It’s important to make sure kids are taking precautions playing sports and wearing safety glasses when necessary to avoid eye trauma.
I get a lot of questions about screen time. We don’t have a standard recommendation as ophthalmologists, but we recommend parents follow pediatrician recommendations based on age and to make sure the content is developmentally appropriate for their child.
In general, look for signs of things that are outside of normal eye development, like misalignment and drifting. Thankfully, pediatricians and family practice doctors do eye screenings during regular checkups and can refer parents to specialists if anything is out of the ordinary.
But parents should know they do not necessarily need a referral to be seen by a doctor at DMEI. If they feel their child is having an eye or vision issue they can call us directly to make an appointment.