Michelle M. Okabe, OD
I speak: English
My gender: Female
Where I practice
I grew up in Southern California, and throughout my childhood I visited relatives on Oahu during summer vacations and holiday breaks, making Hawaii my second home. During school and training, I lived in Huntington Beach, San Diego, Long Beach, and Chicago before my heart and profession brought me back to Honolulu. My parents have always been influential in my life and encouraged me in my pursuit of a profession that would enable me to help others. They were key in my decision to pursue optometry.
About my practice
My own need for vision correction, coupled with the guidance and mentoring of my optometrist, who was a family friend, inspired me to seek a career in this field. The ability to help others with their vision and eye care needs is very rewarding to me. In optometry school, I completed original research on the tear film in dry eye syndrome. I also had the privilege of speaking about dry eyes and contact lens wear on a nationally-televised program on PBS. While in Southern California, I served on the board of the Asian American Optometric Society, which helped to promote social, cultural, and educational interchanges of experience and information among Asian optometrists. In order to stay current on new medical and optometric research, data, and information, I read professional journals in my field and attend continuing education seminars. In addition to English, I speak conversational Spanish. Colleagues of mine who’ve been associated with Kaiser Permanente have always spoken highly of the organization’s patient care. After meeting the optometric and ophthalmologic staff at the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, joining them was an easy decision for me to make. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be part of this this team of amazing and caring professionals. In the health care profession, we’re taught that most of the important information in making a diagnosis comes from a patient’s history and symptoms. Carefully listening to my patients, being empathic, and working collaboratively with them allows me to provide the care that best fits their needs. It’s wonderful when I connect with a patient who has interests similar to mine or when we have friends, family, or experiences in common. In Hawaii, I find that happening on a frequent basis – ohana goes a long way.
How I thrive
Staying healthy, both physically and mentally, is important to me. Practicing yoga, traveling, and talking with friends and family keep me balanced mentally, while outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and swimming help to keep me physically fit. I plan to get back into surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Being in the Islands, I hope to take up hula as well.