ANTIOCH − When asked what initially drew him to the field of optometry, Dr. Michael Ottati cites a formative firsthand experience of the benefits of vision correction. “I’ve had poor eyesight since I was a child,” he explains. “In elementary school, I sat in the back of the classroom and constantly had to get up and walk halfway to the front just to see the chalkboard. I always just accepted this as the way things were, and I never realized it could be different.” When Michael got his first pair of glasses at the age of seven, he experienced what can only be described as an epiphany. “It really was a life-changing event,” he remembers. “All of a sudden, things like leaves on trees and blades of grass—things that were indistinguishable to me before—were crisp and clear. Needless to say, it made a big impression on me.”
Heading into college, Michael considered going into the vision care field, but after discovering the lengthy process it entailed, he decided to major in business instead. It wasn’t long after, however, that he realized he’d made a mistake. “After a short time working in the commercial field, I realized that I hated it,” he says. “There I was, just out of college and already miserable in my career. I knew I had to make a change.” Michael returned to school to pursue optometry, and his revitalized sense of enthusiasm made him confident that he was on the right path. “I was getting better grades than ever before, which I think reflected my enjoyment of the subject matter.”
Today, as president of Diablo Valley Optometric Group, Michael says he enjoys the challenges (and rewards) of finding solutions to his patients’ problems. “Every patient has a different situation and different needs, which is why resolving an issue often requires some problem solving. It’s very fulfilling to be able to pick up on something that improves a patient’s life, and in some cases even saves it.”
Residing in the East Bay with his wife, Julie, and their three children, Michael says he appreciates his central proximity to all the Bay Area has to offer. “Being close to the city, the coast and the mountains means there are just so many things to do. One of our favorite pastimes is to go down to the Monterey area and hit the beach.” In addition to enjoying the outdoors, Michael spends much of his time outside of work restoring vintage cars, an interest he shares with his oldest son.
In his life and career, Michael espouses the importance of having a passion for one’s profession. “I think the key to true success is to love what you do,” he explains. “My dad always told me to find a career that I really enjoyed, which for me meant going back to college and getting another degree. Now that my oldest son is deciding on his college major, I’m giving him the same advice.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Michael says he’d take a long vacation abroad. “I’d probably take my wife on a month-long tour of Europe. Then, when I got back, I’d get busy completing some of those restoration projects I have sitting in my garage.”