ABERDEEN – Before the volume of patients in South Mississippi and before outreach to headstarts and nursing homes from Jackson to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, coming back to Aberdeen to open an optometry practice was always the plan for Dr. Dillon Ott and his wife, Kristellen.
The couple started seeing patients Oct. 24 at Premier Eye Care and Optical. Dr. Ott splits his weekdays seeing patients with another optometrist, Dr. Gregory Loose, at The Vision Center in Wiggins Mondays through Wednesdays and at his own practice Thursdays through Saturdays.
“We realized if you keep putting something off, there’s always next year. We chose to open this up. We set the goal to open in November 2019 and right when we set everything in motion, COVID hit but we were in it too deep and decided to push through,” he said. “It’s almost still surreal. We talked about it for nine years, and it just finally happened. Since I’m not here full time and we haven’t had an official grand opening yet, it hasn’t hit me yet.”
Dr. Ott grew up in Prairie and went to school at Aberdeen until sixth grade and transferred to Hatley, graduating in 2007. He attended East Mississippi Community College and transferred to Mississippi State. He later graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis.
His draw to optometry traces back to an accident growing up.
“The only reason I chose optometry over any other medical field was I was shot in the eye with a pellet gun when I was younger and went through a lot with that, and it piqued my interest,” he said. “It’s been roughly 14 surgeries on my right eye. Seeing how they operated and seeing how you can still have an eye and don’t have vision peaked my interest on what causes vision loss and what creates it.”
He said there are several eye conditions people overlook, noting they don’t realize it until it’s too late.
“Some people think they may just need a new pair of glasses but in reality, it’s something deeper and something systemic that needs to be controlled that’s not just glasses,” he said. “Just because you’re seeing well doesn’t mean everything’s okay, especially with diabetics, glaucoma and macular degeneration. With cataracts, you don’t realize how bad they are until you get them removed because they happen so slowly.”
After COVID-19 restrictions lift, Dr. Ott’s goals include public health awareness in the school systems.
Returning to Premier Eye Care and Optical on a full-time basis is his main goal, while maintaining a moderate client base.
“We want to keep it personal but not get too big where you almost have to rush people through. We want to keep a hometown feel and make sure everyone has a genuinely good experience and provide them with the best care,” he said.
Kristellen is the office manager and has an extensive background in managing an optometry practice.
“She’s the boss lady. She runs this place and makes it easier,” he said.