CHILLICOTHE – Sometimes adversity sparks a career. It did for Ashley Ritchie. As far as she’s concerned, her life’s path was set when she was just 5 years old.
“I knew from age 5 I wanted to be an eye doctor,” she confirmed.
That’s because, she continued, “I failed the school vision screening. Basically, the lenses in my eyes weren’t centered properly and had to be surgically removed when I was 6 years old, similar to cataract surgery.”
“I felt like I was constantly going to the eye doctor when I was young,” she added, “and I was truly inspired by my eye doctors. I really wanted to be able to help other people like I’d been helped.”
Today Dr. Ritchie is an optometrist and owner of Chillicothe Eye Care.
“I preferred optometry,” she explained, “because I wanted to see families annually and develop relationships with the patients. I especially love being back in my hometown and being able to help the people of southern Ohio, an area that is so underserved. This community is amazing and has been so supportive since I started practicing here.”
Ashley (Doles) Ritchie grew up in Chillicothe, graduated from Chillicothe HS in 2005, OSU in 2009 and
The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 2013.
“I vividly remember putting on my first pair of glasses and being able to see,” she recalled. “I also recall being too young to easily handle inserting contacts, so my parents used to have to do it for me.
Furthermore, while in high school my oldest brother became visually impaired from a rare genetic disease that caused severe vision loss. His adaptation and positive outlook continues to be a motivation for me.”
At first Ritchie practiced in Raleigh, NC and then West Palm Beach, FL (“chasing the sunshine,” as she put it). But, she added, “I always dreamed of having my own practice. After having my son, my husband and I decided we wanted to live closer to family – he’s also from Chillicothe. We made the decision to leave the beach and a great group of friends to return to our hometown. I called Dr. Schaefer’s office since I knew he was nearing retirement and asked if he would want to sell his practice to me, and the rest is history.”
She bought the practice and renamed it Chillicothe Eye Care in February 2020.
“Dr. Ritchie cares about her patients, as well as her staff,” assessed optician and co-worker Nancy Poling. “She has a unique understanding of vision difficulties due to her own personal experiences, which drove her into a career in eye care. She’s very easygoing and a pleasure to work with, which creates a pleasant environment for the patients.”
“I love what I do!” Ritchie responded. “Being able to help people achieve their best vision and maintain healthy eyes is so rewarding to me. I especially love when I get to see kids put on their glasses for the first time. They often don’t realize they weren’t seeing clearly until they have an eye exam and get their first glasses. ‘I didn’t realize there were leaves on the trees,’ is something I’ve heard multiple times that resonates with me.”
“I truly am so grateful,” she concluded, “I get to do what I do.”
Chillicothe Eye Care is located at 217 Delano Ave. Suite D in Chillicothe. For more information, call 740-772-1105 or log on www.chillicotheeyecare.com.
About the Series
Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs – whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-349-1110.