dr. katie vanderhorst.

st. marys, ohio. | sister. daughter. wife. mother. optometrist.

I met Dr. Vanderhorst in the summer of 1985. It was one of those years that the trajectory of my life changed dramatically. (Along with the lives of my seven siblings.) Just days after our mother died from breast cancer we were all split up into three different homes. And these homes were located in three different towns. My father could not care for eight children— emotionally or financially– so we were separated. My sisters, Stephanie, Polly, and I had the good fortune to land in the home of meticulous order and steadfast stability— unknown territories, indeed.

Polly and I learned that we would be sharing a bedroom with a total stranger. And her name was Katie Lhamon. Katie is my foster sister and she never had sisters before the Stepleton girls moved into her home on that fateful summer day. We had to teach her how to perform grande roller skating routine’s in the garage, and in return, she had to teach us how to make our beds properly. Katie’s loving spirit and dry sense of humor are a gift to the world. Even as a young girl, her compassionate disposition made a traumatic experience tolerable — a feeling I will never forget. It was not a surprise when Katie announced that she would go to school to study medicine. She chose a career that would give her the ability to help people on a regular basis… naturally. I am honored to call her sister and proud that she has joined the j. jane conversation.

How did you choose the life you lead and was it a conscious decision?

Choosing my career was a conscious decision. It happened at a very young age – I believe that I was in the 3rd grade when I started saying that I wanted to be an eye doctor when I grew up – but looking back, it was the perfect choice for me. I loved math and science and wanted to help people, which made me think I would like to be a doctor. The only problem was that I could not handle any sort of blood or vomit (still can’t). And I always really, really wanted to wear glasses. So I decided that I would like to be an optometrist, and I never wavered. That was my path all through school and luckily it all worked out. I also made the conscious decision to get married and have children. So, all-in-all, I guess that would make me a planner!

Was there a fork in the road that distinctly determined your lifestyle?

It was the decision to buy-in to the optometry practice that I had been working at for 5 years. I could have continued working as an employee to the owner, but I decided to take the plunge and become a co-owner of the business. It was a big financial decision that paid off. I knew that my commitment to my career and stress level would increase with owning my own business, and I was worried how that would affect my personal life and my time with my children. But it has been one of the best decisions that I ever made. It actually gave me the freedom to build my own schedule and allows me to spend more time with my family.

Is there such a thing as work-life balance?

Absolutely! And I can say, without a doubt, that I have achieved it. What is the point of all this working if you aren’t going to enjoy life? I work to live; I do not live to work. Aside from my career, I have an absolutely amazing husband and two cute little boys. I work 4 days a week, but when I get home from work, I do not think about it again until the next day. I have been really lucky to have a career that lets me do that. Of course, it is not a PERFECT balance. There are always going to be instances when you feel like you should be spending more time with your family or working harder, but if overall, you can feel satisfied with both aspects of your life, then I think you can consider yourself balanced.

Do you ever feel guilty? If yes … what for?

I always feel guilty. It is one of my weaknesses. It usually involves worrying about what other people think of a decision that I’ve made or if I’ve hurt someone’s feelings. I’ve found that with running a small business, you are constantly asked to make decisions involving your patients, clients, and staff. You are not going to be able to constantly please everyone. And that is really hard for a people-pleaser like me. In the end, you have to make the decision that you think is best, and move on. That is easier said than done for me.

What qualities do you look for in friends?

Sense of humor and loyalty. I try and surround myself with people that make me laugh until my cheeks hurt and would defend my honor if anyone tried to do me wrong.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

You don’t have to be perfect.

What is your best advice on how to live life gracefully?

Treat others as you want to be treated, be confident, and smile. And try not to trip. That one gets me every time.

Best Health Care Advice?

You know how your mother always told you to eat your carrots and not sit so close to the TV? Neither one of them really helps your eyes! Eating carrots is fine, but if you really want to improve the health of your eyes, eat leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale. And while sitting close to the TV may give you a little eyestrain, it certainly won’t cause your eyes to worsen. So in the future, tell your kids to eat their spinach and sit as close to the TV as they want, and when they complain that they have to wear glasses to see the chalkboard at school, the only person to really blame is you (or their dad). Our refractive error is mostly genetic!

j. jane side notes:

To learn more about Dr. Vanderhorst and her team in the mid-west visit Eye Care Center.

  • Mary Jane Hook
    Posted at 18:57h, 03 October

    You are SUPERWOMAN!

  • Suzanna Carlson
    Posted at 17:50h, 06 October

    Thanks Dr. Vanderhorst for your perspective on work-life balance and your health care advice. On another note, my daughter and I are both severely farsighted with a prescription of plus 9, so we have such an appreciation for the work you do!

  • Sara Badertscher
    Posted at 14:24h, 18 August

    I am so glad to hear that you have achieved your life goals. You are a positive role model for those who know you.