Member Profile - Della Simmons, OD

January 14, 2022
January Member Spotlight

Where do you currently practice?
Mayo Clinic Health Systems, Albert Lea

Where are you from originally?

What school did you graduate from (undergraduate and optometry)?
Ball State University and Indiana University School of Optometry

What are your hobbies?
Volleyball, reading, gardening, and playing with grandkids

Describe your local community involvement?
I've been playing in a volleyball league for over 25 years. I am the oldest player in the league but my team won't let me quit. I'm also very active with the Lakeview Lions club (I've been the president 4 times and I have even served in regional leadership roles.) and my church (I just completed a stint on the call committee for finding our new pastor). I have helped a few times with the local garden tour in the summer.

Tell us about your family and pets?
I have been married to my husband Mike for 39 years (I got married when I was 5!) We have two adult children, Tara and Justin. I have 3 grandchildren: Jayce age 10, Kaylynn age 2, and Layna who was just born in December. My dog Josie is a rescue who we think has PTSD from being abused but she sometimes acts like a normal dog.

Why do you choose to be a member of the Minnesota Optometric Association?
I think it is important to be a member of the Association for so many reasons. They are fighting for our rights and privileges, they provide education and have given me the opportunity to meet so many other colleagues. I have made connections with doctors across the state and besides creating friendships, I have learned from these connections. I've learned different ways of treating patients, different ways of running an office and working with staff, and how to talk to politicians.

What do you like best about the profession of optometry?
I love helping people. It is so rewarding to hear back from patients about how you helped them. When I'm having a bad day and a patient comes in and tells me that the prism I prescribed last time has changed their life or I diagnosed their retinal tear and got them the treatment they needed, that can turn your day around.

Describe your favorite memory from your optometric career.
I have lots of good memories but I think my favorite one was being at the grocery store, and a little girl who was probably 5 or 6 at the time came running up to me. She was shouting, "Dr. Della! Dr. Della! Look at my eyes. They're straight!" She had just got her first pair of glasses which straightened out her accommodative esotropia. I not only got a big hug but free advertising to anyone within hearing distance. For me, her exam had been just another day at the office but for her and her family, the results were life-changing.

What fun fact would you like to share about yourselves that your colleagues may not know about you?
This is the hardest question. Anyone who knows me knows I'm an open book. Let's go with it- I am an international speaker. (I have a good friend from optometry school who lives just across from International Falls in Fort Frances, Ontario and he was in charge of a regional optometry meeting. We sometimes go on vacations together. He asked me to come to give a lecture. I was paid $100 but by the time I cashed the check since it was Canadian money, it was around $96. It didn't even pay for my gas! But we had a great visit and I can officially say I have lectured in another country making me an international speaker!)

Please list any articles you have written or lectures you have provided to educate others on eye care.
I have lectured on emergency eye care and when Infant See first started I gave a few lectures/demonstrations on that. I also have spoken at different Lions clubs, Kiwanis, Rotary clubs, and churches on different eye-related topics.

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