CHRISTINE MILLER FORD
RANSON – Dr. Barbara Pittaras remembers just when she knew that she’d pursue a profession that helped people see more clearly. As an eighth-grader, an optometrist – Greek, like her – spoke at her Florida school for Career Day.
“I was already thinking about some kind of medical career – I’d always enjoyed and excelled in science and math – but after that, I knew I wanted to be an optometrist,’’ she said.
Now that she’s opened her own practice in Ranson, Pittaras says she’s certain she made the right career choice.
“I feel such a passion for this work,” said Pittaras, who this weekend celebrates the grand opening of Electra Vision, her upscale eye care and eyewear shop near the Weis supermarket in Potomac Marketplace in Ranson.
Before opening her own practice, Pittaras spent years as an optometrist at the Walmart in Charles Town.
In that job, Pittaras had to conform to the approach the large national retailer laid out for all their stores. Now that she’s free to make all the decisions, Pittaras said she finds she enjoys her work even more.
“When I was at Walmart, I loved being able to take care of my patients – I loved the way they returned again and again and recommended me to their family and friends,” she said. “It always felt good to know that people trust you with such an important aspect of their lives.
“But now that I’m on my own here, I love having control over every aspect of the patient’s experience – I’m able to take even better care of my patients now because I can ensure the highest quality at each step of the process.”
Pittaras has taken care to create a pleasurable experience for her customers, down to the smallest details – such as the color and layout of Electra’s waiting area and the beautiful wood display cases for eyeglass frames that she had a local builder create to her specifications.
But while the interior of Electra is pleasing to the eye, it’s eye care itself that is Pittaras’s main focus.
Her professional training has been extensive, starting with a biology degree from the University of South Florida and then advanced degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Inter-American University of Puerto Rico.
She also has earned designation as a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
Pittaras also completed additional residency training to become an expert in cornea and contact lenses. She is able to fit lenses even for patients that have never been able to wear contacts.
Taking advantage of the latest technological breakthroughs also is important to Pittaras.
“I embrace technology,” the Frederick, Md., resident explains. “If there are better ways of creating lenses or fitting contacts or organizing patients’ records, I will adopt the new approach. It’s very important to me that I provide my patients with absolutely the best vision care possible.”
She also believes in giving back. She has traveled to Costa Rica and nations throughout the Third World with fellow medical volunteers to provide eye care.
“One experience that left me in tears was the gentleman who traveled all day – walking and then taking a bus – so that he could get to us,” she recalls. “I’m there, under a tent, with a dirt floor, doing eye exams – and he’d never had one before.
“He was in his 40s and had been extremely nearsighted for decades. When we found a donated pair of glasses that was close to the prescription he needed and he put them on and for the first time, the world wasn’t blurry anymore – the pure joy he felt once he could see was just incredible. The world wasn’t a huge blur for him anymore.”
Pittaras says she feels a similar satisfaction in her day-to-day work in Ranson. “Being able to see is such an enormous part of all our lives. Knowing I can help someone see the way they should makes this such a gratifying career.”
Pittaras began setting up her practice at Potomac Marketplace in February and now is seeing patients Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday, with both day and evening appointments available.
On Saturday, Electra’s grand opening event will begin at 11 a.m. with cake and other refreshments.
She’s also offering a back-to-school special through Sept. 30 where students can get basic lenses for free with the purchase of a set of frames. Her practice also accepts a number of vision plans, including VSP Insurance, EYEMED and Medicare.