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Meet the LEO founding board: Dr Lina T Arengo


Lina T Arango, OD, sat down with Optometry Times®' assistant managing editor Emily Kaiser to talk about her role on the founding board of Latinos en Optometry (LEO).

Lina T Arango, OD, sat down with Optometry Times®' assistant managing editor Emily Kaiser to talk about her role on the founding board of Latinos en Optometry (LEO).

Founded by Diana Canto-Sims, OD, LEO has 5 goals:

  1. Increase the number of Latino students in optometry schools
  2. Provide resources and communication for Latinos in optometry
  3. Provide resources and communication for the eye care community who serve the Latino community
  4. Be a conduit between the Latino community and the eye care industry
  5. Provide CE to all optometry

The founding board of Latinos En Optometry includes Diana Canto-Sims, OD, CEO, Founder and Stylist of La Vida Eyewear and Co-Owner of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, IL; Lawrence Chavez, Founder & CEO of EveryDay Contacts; Howard Purcell, OD, President and CEO of the New England College of Optometry; Hector Santiago, OD, PhD, Professor and Director of Research Activities at Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry; Glenda Aleman Moheeputh, OD, Founder and CEO of OK Love Myopia Control Experts; Karen Carrasquillo, OD, PhD, Senior Vice President Clinical and Professional Affairs at BostonSight; Diana Shechtman, OD, Fellow at the American Academy of Optometry and Optometric Retinal Society; and Lina Arango, OD, who currently works as an Independent Doctor with LTA Vision corporation.

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily Kaiser:

Hi everyone. I'm joined today by Dr Lina Arango, an Optometrist at LTA Vision to talk about Latinos en Optometry or LEO. Thanks for joining us today, Dr Arango.

Lina T Arango, OD:

Thank you so much for inviting me. This is actually awesome. I'm very happy to share my experience and to talk to you about Latinos in optometry.


Yeah, we're so excited to have you. So first, can you tell us what LEO represents to you?


[Of] course, Latinos en Optometry, LEO or LEO is that organization that I feel like all of us were waiting for, like, especially if we have Hispanic backgrounds.

So, I feel like Latinos en Optometry actually creates that connection between my roots; I'm a Hispanic optometrist. I was actually born and raised in Columbia, South America. So, it creates a connection between my roots and my profession. I love eye care. I love what I do.

My main goal is to be able to maximize the eye health with my patients. And I know how hard it is for some of my colleagues to actually connect to those patients if they have a language barrier. So, LEO, Latinos en Optometry, is here to help us, all of us.


Absolutely. The language barrier is tough for everybody, but it's especially hard on, you know, the patients who are trying to advocate for themselves. So, anything we can do to help with that is always going to increase patient care. So, can you tell us a little bit more about why LEO is such an important organization for the eye care industry?


Yeah, definitely. So, I feel like LEO looked at the statistics, and the statistics don't lie. There is a little bit, a little bit less than 7% of actually, optometrists is the are Hispanics nationwide. And that is a true reality, and it's kind of like a little bit of a sad reality. And there's a lot of Hispanics now in the states that are missing the opportunity to be able to get the access to eye care, just because they don't understand the doctor or they just feel afraid because they're not going to be able to communicate with that doctor, right.

So, looking at those statistics, and then finding out that there every 5 people, there's 1 Hispanic, there is a mis-proportion right there. So, we definitely need to have more students interested in optometry, interested in this career, to be able to pursue optometry and eventually helped those patients. That's, I feel like, our number one goal, and then another great reason why Latinos en Optometry it is so important is to be able to educate the community.

So, we need to understand, and this is actually something that happened to me and my family, we need to understand that in South America, optometry is not considered a doctorate program. So, many times we don't think as optometry as a doctor, a graduate profession, that profession that that person that I want to become, because we don't know about it.

And that's, that's the key right there to educate the community to let them know that we, as optometrists, we are the primary eye care provider. We are able to treat and diagnose many ocular eye diseases, and we're able to help you see clear.

So a lot of education involved in Latinos in optometry goals, a lot of engaging with the community, and also engaging with other eye care providers that serve the community. And we like to find more resources to be able to do it.


Absolutely. And I know you kind of touched on this a little bit, but how do you hope to see LEO serving the community?


So we have a lot of plans. Obviously, we have this website where we are going to be adding information that other eye care providers will be able to download and actually access for them to use at their own clinics or their own articles to help the Hispanic community.

We are actually working on these Spanish podcasts that I'm going to lead, and I'm going to be talking about all of the eye conditions on eye diseases, how to prevent them, how to treat them, what to do. And, this is one of my main projects right now, which is going to be out soon. Then, we are going to be able to share these with all of my eye care providers in the nation.


That's so exciting. That sounds awesome. So you, along with a lot of the other board members of Latinos en Optometry, are very busy. So what made you decide to carve out time to be on the board?


I know, yeah. We are all, we all have multiple responsibilities, but the main reason is just that passion that we all have about our community and our profession. Like a does, probably one of the things that you will notice among all of us that we're so passionate about Hispanic community were so passionate about our profession, and we really want to make a difference and create an impact.

And since there's a lot of need, and there's a lack of education and information, I just feel like, you know, this is what I have to do. I need to make a difference, and this is the best way to do it: Come together with great other colleagues in the industry, that are social mentors and role models for me, and just kind of like, work together towards the same goal.


Yeah, absolutely. So, what has been the most exciting thing for you that LEO has done since its begin?


Well, even though I'm pretty new; I'm the last member to join the LEO's member to join, we had already accomplished many goals, and one of them was that we are working with students because we need to start with the students, especially undergrad, motivating them and educating them about our profession.

And, this is all pretty new, but we already have students in 5 different schools, working towards the student ambassador, like creating the student ambassador clubs, and they are going to be the ones who are going to lead that pathway towards the other incoming students. And yeah, this is going to grow pretty fast.


Absolutely. And so kind of building off of that, what are you most looking forward to doing with LEO?


Looking forward to do with LEO? Wow. Yeah. So, student ambassador clubs, definitely number one, because that's, that's gonna be, that is going to be one of our priorities to work with the students. We are actually also going to work with all the partners in the industry to do kind of like a tour. Let's call it that way. We are going to go to different universities and different undergrads to talk about Optometry. And of course, a podcast, which is gonna be out soon.


That'll be so cool. I'm really excited to hear more about all of those things. Dr Arango, thank you so much for your time today. This has been really lovely and can't wait to hear more about what you and LEO are doing.

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