by Caleb Jones

Former UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) resident Chandra Mickles, OD, MS, FAAO, FSLS, has been appointed to the newly created role of North America Professional Education Lead, Myopia, at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Vision.

Mickles will work to further strengthen J&J Vision’s education efforts to empower and train professionals about myopia, as well as create new ways of engaging customers through leadership and science. Mickles will be joining a motivated team of innovators and advocates who are all working to better understand myopia while partnering to find solutions. In this role, she will work closely with eye care professionals (ECPs)

“I am beyond excited to join the esteemed leaders at Johnson & Johnson Vision in driving public awareness and professional education regarding the importance of myopia management,” Mickles said. “I hope that my professional education efforts will inspire more ECPs to have an active role in myopia management. Myopia is a growing epidemic. It is not just nearsightedness. It is a disease that must be managed.”

As a 12 diopter myope herself, Mickles is extremely passionate about preventing others from having high myopia.

“Myopia management provides us with an important opportunity to make a meaningful difference in eye care,” she said. “The more ECPs and patients are aware of the detrimental impact of high myopia, more patients will seek care earlier and ECPs will be more proactive in treatment. Ultimately, it’s the increased public awareness and professional education that will lead to changing the trajectory of myopia.”

Mickles, originally from New Jersey, received her optometry degree from SUNY State College of Optometry, where she graduated in the top ten of her class. She completed her UABSO residency in 2010. Mickles looks back fondly on her residency experience.

“I not only became a more proficient and efficient clinician through my UABSO training, but the rewarding experiences working with the UABSO students and faculty made my decision to be an educator concrete,” she said.

She also completed a post-residency research fellowship at the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center and earned a Masters in Vision Science from UAB in 2012.

Mickles said that she never could have imagined having the J&J position she does now and wants students and early career optometrists to have faith in their abilities and future.

“I recommend that students and young optometrists not place a ceiling above themselves,” she said. “They should determine what they are most passionate about, and success will follow.”

Prior to joining J&J Vision, Mickles built a career in academia that was dedicated to professional education, patient care, and research about improving outcomes with contact lenses and ocular surface disease management. She had a key role in contact lens education as an instructor of record of basic and advanced courses and lead contact lens and dry eye clinics.

She was also a recognized key opinion leader who lectured extensively and was published frequently in nationally and internationally acclaimed peer-reviewed publications. Mickles served on national optometric boards and several industry speakers bureaus and advisory boards. Her awards in academia include being named Nova Southeastern University Professor of the Year for two consecutive years, Top Black Educator in South Florida in 2018, the Association of Contact Lens Educators George Mertz New Educator Award, and the National Optometric Association’s 2021 Educator of the Year.