Dr. Nguyen’s first introduction into the world of ophthalmology came when she received some bad news: her father needed cataract surgery. At that time Dr. Nguyen was still a medical student with an undecided specialty at the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine. It was this chance encounter with her father’s cataract surgeon, the late Dr. Jorge Camara, that would eventually pave Dr. Nguyen’s path in ophthalmology.
With Dr. Camara as her mentor, she developed an aptitude for medical research and publication. Together with other international ophthalmology residents, Dr. Nguyen published articles in prominent ophthalmology journals about a new finding in Asian patients called involutional lateral entropion, and the use of a computer-assisted image-guided system (InstaTrak) in orbital surgery. She also published research findings on public health issues among Vietnamese immigrants in Hawai’i.
Dr. Nguyen went on to do her ophthalmology residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. In her second year of residency, her personal life took an unexpected turn and finishing residency seemed like a distant dream. “I didn’t want to give up though. I had to stay focused on finishing,” Dr. Nguyen recalls. Though it wasn’t easy, Dr. Nguyen persevered and completed her residency in three years. She received a Resident Research Award, and became an internationally recognized doctor, author, and speaker with publications in peer-reviewed journals including the American Journal of Ophthalmology and Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
After graduating, Dr. Nguyen moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, and worked as an associate at Mittleman Eye Center. Needing work-life balance as a mother to her young son, Dr. Nguyen combined the spirit of delivering better patient care and entrepreneurship by opening her own private practice, St. Cloud Eye Center, in an underserved community of Central Florida.
With the growth of St. Cloud Eye Center, the practice was later renamed Eye Florida, and has expanded to a second location in Kissimmee. The team has now grown to over 20 members including optometrists and ophthalmologists. Later this year, Eye Florida will be opening a 5,000-square-foot eye clinic at the St. Cloud Regional Medical Office Building, expanding services to include in-office dispensing and procedures.
As a board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Nguyen specializes in cataract, oculoplastics and minimally invasive eye surgery including facial rejuvenation procedures. Eye Florida also offers a number of other services, including routine eye exams, screening for eye
disease, and comprehensive testing—always with a focus on exceptional patient care in an inviting environment.
During her free time, Dr. Nguyen likes to snowboard with her now teenage son. She also fills her time with zumba, golfing, and reading. One of her dreams is to write a memoir about the time her parents and siblings escaped Vietnam by boat in the early 1980s and her family’s journey through Hong Kong’s refugee camp. “These memories are stories of where we came from. These are important lessons of hope, determination, and overcoming adversity that I hope I can pass on,” says Dr. Nguyen.
Dr. Nguyen says her focus on becoming a better physician and her unwavering determination are lessons from her parents. Reflecting on her day-to-day interactions with her patients: “I love it when, after having cataract surgery, my patients say to me, ‘Doctor! I am so happy that I can see the world again!’ I want my patients to have the same positive experience with me as my father did that day with Dr. Camara.”