Insight with Dr. Sophia Leung

Dr. Sophia Leung pursued an Ocular Disease and Refractive Surgery Residency in the US followed by an Advanced Glaucoma and Cornea Fellowship, after spending some time in private practice in Canada.
She is passionate about mentorship and professional collaboration.

Dr. Leung is the Principal Optometrist at a high volume corneal, cataract, and refractive surgical centre in Calgary and the President-Elect of the Alberta Association of Optometrists.

Sophia Leung

OD, FAAO, FASOS, Dipl ABO, Dipl Anterior Segment


What changes to eye care do you see coming down the pipe?

I foresee an evolution in eye care delivery where technology and specialized care will be adopted more heavily in response to patient needs and demand.  A rudimentary environmental scan highlights a few incoming trends: app-based clinic-to-patient interactions, subscription services, scope expansion and advanced scope utilization, in-office drug-delivery systems for surgical alternatives.  I also anticipate stronger optometry to optometry referral pathways that address the increasing patient demand without adding burden to the existing stress points of the current eye care delivery model.

What is currently the most exciting thing in your field to help patients?

There have been some exciting developments in therapeutic options for corneal wound healing and neurotrophic keratitis.  Amniotic membranes, steroid-sparing agents, and autologous serum eye drops have been around for some time, but we are seeing more research and development in these areas.  Recombinant nerve growth factors, plasma rich growth factors, and increasing evidence around scleral lens efficacy are also making waves for these conditions that at one point, only had major surgeries like corneal transplants, corneal neurotization, and conjunctival grafting for consideration.

What is something you have done in your practice to set you apart?

The optometry-led triage model that has been under development, with the support of the ophthalmologists I work closely with, is inspired by a referral pathway that works very well at similar surgical and secondary / tertiary referral centers in the United States.  I perform surgical triage which allows for more efficient surgical consults with the ophthalmologist.  I also receive direct referrals from optometrists for non-surgical cases warranting a second opinion, secondary or tertiary care, and / or co-management with me to the level of the referring doctor’s comfort and preference.  I am grateful for the uptake, support, and enthusiasm from the optometry community for this referral model and I look forward to building this more with the referring doctors as the pathway grows and evolves.

What advice would you give a new grad today?

Pick your mentors wisely.  Do an inventory of the people you know and look up to and invite them out for a tea or coffee.  Listen to their story and ask them the honest and hard questions.  Chances are, you will walk away with insight that challenges your current perspective and it may just propel you to go after something you are passionate in, even if it is a road less travelled.

What is your definition of success?

There are many extrinsic and intrinsic aspects this.  To me, one important characteristic of successful and respectable people is the ability to be humbly confident.  I recognize this in individuals who know they have put in the work, have accomplished great things, and have acquired noteworthy amounts of knowledge in an area.  And yet, these leaders also acknowledge that learning never stops and accept wise counsel to continue to grow.

I recall a class discussion about dangerous clinicians.  The discussion highlighted the dangers of two groups of people: maximum knowledge but no confidence, and no knowledge but maximum confidence.  Being humble is not the same as being insecure.  And being confident is not the same as being arrogant.  I admit that I am working on this myself, as I continue to grow in my career.

What is your favourite food?

There is something about traditional Chinese fried rice that I find extremely comforting.  High heat, wok-fried, simple fried rice; and no withholding on the MSG.  I have attempted to recreate this at home but have come nowhere close, so not only is it delicious, but I also have a great respect for the chefs who do it right.  Sometimes, if I have been doing a lot of traveling whether for business or leisure, and I find myself feeling homesick, I will seek out the best fried rice in the area and order it.

Favourite past-time / hobby?

Over the last few years, I have attempted to surf every chance I get.  If I am close enough to a beach to sneak away for a few hours of surf lessons, I will try!  Let me clarify that “favourite” does not equate to “aptitude” in this case.  Although, I was recently promoted to “novice level” at my last surf lesson in Orange County so that was a particularly excellent day.

Tell me something few people know about you?

I really enjoy independent theatres and cinemas.  Sometimes, if I find myself having a day without obligations, I will make my way to an independent theatre and purchase a ticket for whatever is showing at that time.  There have been some odd ones that I have watched without a clear idea of what was happening.  But often, I end up stumbling upon a memorable movie or documentary I would not have otherwise found.


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