At Florida Eye Specialists, we are lucky to have an amazing team of optometrists who provide excellence in patient care. Our optometrists take into consideration the whole health of our patients’ eyes, from regular eye exams, to treating dry eye, diagnosing eye conditions and more. They have decades of experience, board certifications and always stay committed to their patients.
In honor of World Optometry Day, we are spotlighting this special team of practitioners. Get to know our optometrists below.
Ashley Cowart, O.D., F.A.A.O.
I love working with a staff and doctors who provide patient-centered care.
Going for exams as a teenager, I thought it was an interesting field. I like that I have a career that can make a positive impact on people’s lives.
One terrier named Rosie.
Christian Guier, O.D., F.A.A.O.
It is a privilege to work to enhance our patients’ vision, improve their ocular comfort and make an impact on the daily lives of so many people. My Florida Eye Specialists colleagues and I embrace the most advanced and innovative approaches when providing eye care to patients in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. No matter how complex the problem is, we use a collaborative approach to make certain that our patients’ needs and concerns are met.
Vision is, by far, our most precious sense. Many years ago, I was told that 100% of people will need eye care in their lifetime. I thought that might have been an over-exaggeration. But, with more than 20 years of experience in the profession, I can easily confirm that we all have or will have eye care issues in our lifetime. It is exhilarating when I can offer solutions that allow people to see better. Similarly, it is rewarding to guide patients with other eye diseases, helping them cure or control their condition. And ultimately, my patients must have a better understanding of what has happened and what can be done for them. I find that it is important to take the time to answer their questions.
The science of eye care continues to progress. We have a much better understanding of eye diseases and treatment options. I see a time in the foreseeable future when eye care will be individualized to the patient. Florida Eye Specialists will continue to aggressively seek knowledge and utilize the most recent technologies to offer fast and complete solutions for our patients.
I grew up in Saint Augustine and still have strong roots there. I would say that my favorite day would see me taking a boat ride through the city or down the Intracoastal waterway.
Kimberly Riordan, O.D., F.A.A.O.
What I love about Florida Eye Specialists is being able to work alongside some of the greatest doctors in all of Jacksonville. We work closely together as a cohesive team to take the best care of our patients. We often collaborate with one another in order to provide the highest level of care and put our patients’ needs above all else. I love that we have our charity, Florida Eye Cares, to help the underserved get the care they deserve. Giving back to our community is important to all of us at Florida Eye Specialists. I feel truly blessed to be a part of this amazing team.
Patients often ask how or why I chose to pursue becoming an optometrist. My story is a little different from others. I wasn’t one who knew I always wanted to be a doctor or had anyone in my family who was in the medical field. My mother was a teacher and my father worked in the steel industry. I actually wanted to become an architect, but after the first semester, I realized it was not the path for me. I changed my major to pre-med and started exploring the intriguing world of medicine. From that point, I started researching different options and optometry seemed like the perfect fit for me. It is a career where I can help people with what I believe to be our most precious sense, our sight. I get to help people see, feel and look their best everyday!
Optometry really has changed over the years and more and more optometrists are practicing medical optometry. It is not just a career of fitting patients with glasses and contact lenses, it’s so much more! I specialize in treating dry eye and there are many things that are being researched in the field of dry eye, which is very exciting. Dry eye is becoming more and more of an issue for patients and it can be very bothersome with no cure, so I’m always researching what is new for my patients. We are currently enrolling patients in a dry eye study, which will hopefully lead to a new drop option for patients!
I enjoy using my creativity when I can, so I often spend my free time crafting in some sort of fashion. I’m the mom who actually enjoys helping with my daughters’ school projects. If you follow us on Facebook you will see that side of me come out at Halloween! My family and I also love boating and can be found out on the water most weekends when the weather is nice. Working out is also something I truly enjoy along with dancing.
My first job was waitressing. I learned a lot from my time working in the restaurant industry. I learned, “If you have time to lean, then you have time to clean!” Holds true with every job. There is always something that can be done to make use of your time!
We have a rescue pit mastiff mix, Lucy. We had a wonderful bullmastiff, Lily, we miss her dearly.
Definitely boating destinations! We love the sandbar at Fort George and Pineapple Point on the St. Johns River, but really any place on the water is lovely.
Christen Russell, O.D.
I love being part of a multi-specialty group. Having ophthalmologists and optometrists working together to provide our patients with a complete eyecare team is a dream as an eyecare provider. Florida Eye Specialists has created a reputation amongst colleagues and patients of providing quality patient care, and I couldn’t be happier being part of such a well-respected group of doctors.
Fun fact—it’s the only job I have ever known. I have been working in eyecare since I was a teenager. I actually babysat for a family who introduced me to the field. The husband was an ophthalmologist, and the wife, an optometrist. I worked a couple hours a week at their practices to see how I would enjoy it. I found eyecare fascinating, evolving and rewarding. I connected with patients, and became invested in wanting to help them. We often hear, “if I had to lose any of my senses, I would never want to lose my sight.” Knowing I can be a part of improving, preserving or saving someone’s vision is a job I do not take lightly and fell in love with early on. I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field, and eyecare was the perfect fit for me.
I love travel, pilates, yoga, and spinning, but what I enjoy most is spending time with my husband, daughter and our two dogs. We love to travel, cook together, explore new restaurants, hike, boat and stay active as a family.
We have two dogs. Meyer, who is a 100-pound Sheepadoodle and Rose, a Maltese mix.