I became interested in optometry while in college at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. I always wondered why my classmates could read the overheads and I had to squint my eyes to try to make out the words. When I put on my first pair of glasses when I was driving home, I could actually read the license plate of the car in front of me! From that first “Wow” experience I was hooked.
I attended optometry school at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. There I learned and was trained in diagnosing and treating all disorders that affect the eye and vision, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes, near sighted and far sighted vision, just to mention a few. I was able to participate in three optometry mission trips to Costa Rica to help those less fortunate and was able to study and learn in places such as Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Since graduating from optometry school I have had the dream of owning my own practice dedicated to helping my patients experience that “wow” moment I had with my first pair of glasses. A practice committed to always seeking newer and better ways to provide the best vision, best experience, and best eye health every person that entrusts us can achieve. I joined Annandale EyeCare in 2001 and purchased the practice from Dr. Michael Obremskey in 2006. We provide eye care services to Annandale, Springfield, Alexandria, Falls Church and Burke, VA. It’s still a work in progress, but we are trying every day to create the type of practice I have dreamed about since starting optometry school.
I have tried to be active in the community, both professionally and personally. I am a member of the American Optometric Association, Virginia Optometric Association and Northern Virginia Optometric Society. I have served as a consultant for Vistakon Contact Lenses and Allergan Pharmaceuticals. I am a Past-President of the Annandale Rotary Club and The Annandale Chamber of Commerce. I am a past member of the Holy Spirit Catholic School PTO Executive Board, and currently serve on the Holy Spirit School Advisory Board.
When asked what I like about optometry, my simple answer is I get to help my patients do the things they love to do, only better. And that is a pretty cool thing to get to do every day!
Dr. Michelle and Dr. Court met while in optometry school in Memphis, TN. They married in 2000 and have two daughters; Madeline and Lillian. His hobbies include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, home improvement projects, and travel.
Dr. Michelle Thelen,’ Dr. Michelle’ is an optometrist at Annandale EyeCare providing eye care for Annandale, Springfield, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Burke, VA, and surrounding communities. She grew up as a military dependent while her father served in the United States Navy. She lived in many different areas of the United States and spent four years in Okinawa, Japan.
She attended Florida State University and was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
After graduating from Florida State, Dr. Thelen went to optometry school at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, graduating magna cum laude in 2000. While there she traveled to Costa Rica three times as part of an Optometric mission trip to help those less fortunate.
Dr. Thelen trained at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Thelen served as clinical director for Vision Quest Laser Center until June 2007. There she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the center and assisted with LASIK surgery.
Dr. Thelen joined Annandale EyeCare in 2007.
Dr. Thelen is a member of the Virginia Optometric Association, the Northern Virginia Optometric Society, and the American Optometric Association.
As a licensed optometrist, Dr. Thelen provides comprehensive eye examinations, and diagnoses and treats all disorders that affect the eye and vision. In addition to training in eye diseases and disorders, Dr. Thelen is also trained in anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology. With this background, Dr. Thelen is trained to recognize a range of health issues; such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, and hypertension. He also works hard to stay current on the latest advances in eye health and vision care and regularly attends continuing education seminars and advanced training courses. It is because of Dr. Thelen’s dedication to continuing education that our Annandale patients receive the most modern and progressive vision care available.
Dr. Michelle and Dr. Court met while in optometry school in Memphis, TN. They married in 2000 and have two daughters; Madeline and Lillian. Her hobbies include golfing, travel, and cooking.
Dr. Julie Nguyen was born in Houston, TX, moving at an early age to Northern Virginia where she spent her childhood and early adulthood. She is an alumnus of George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church and George Mason University. Her interest in optometry started in elementary school when she became nearsighted, continuing through to her undergraduate studies during which Dr. Julie’s experience with low vision patients taught her optometry’s importance in systemic health.
Dr. Julie had wanted a pair of glasses ever since kindergarten and was captivated by their fashionable appeal – she was often envious of her classmates who had them. She would make up excuses to wear them, but her mother saw through her each time. As she progressed through elementary school, reading from a distance became a struggle, leading her to constantly request a seat up front. Nearsightedness began to disrupt her education, prompting a visit to a family friend who happened to be an optometrist. Before the appointment, she had grown accustomed to squinting and seeing colors blend together. However, once she received her first pair of glasses, she marveled at the world "in HD," and her confidence soared. This transformative experience motivated her to eagerly return for annual exams, ultimately inspiring her to pursue a career in optometry.
While in college, Dr. Julie believed optometry mainly revolved around prescribing contacts and glasses, based on her personal experience. However, during her junior year, she had the opportunity to shadow a low vision doctor and observed a diverse range of patients, all of whom were legally blind. This experience opened her eyes to the broader scope of optometry beyond corrective eyewear. She realized that optometrists played a vital role in managing their patients' overall health, as a simple examination of the eye could provide insights into their control over conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and more.
Dr. Julie pursued her doctorate degree at the University of Houston College of Optometry and graduated summa cum laude in 2023. Her interests include dry eye, specialty contact lenses, and the specialty needs of adult and pediatric patients. Outside of her professional life, Dr. Julie enjoys cooking, weightlifting, and spoiling her two cats.
Throughout her academic journey, Dr. Julie had the privilege of training in various specialties. One that left a lasting impression was the Special Needs Adult & Pediatric Services (SNAPS) clinic. Driven by her attending's insights on the under-served SNAPS patient population and the benefits of working on objective skills that demanded unconventional thinking, she became deeply interested in this field. The experience at the SNAPS clinic proved to be one of her most rewarding rotations, fostering an appreciation for the Pediatrics clinic as well. Each examination was distinct, necessitating patience, collaboration, and creativity, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Dr. Julie's found her “why” during a Monday evening at her private practice. Drawing from her experiences in Pediatrics and SNAPS, she conducted an exam on a patient with dementia who was subjectively unreliable. The patient’s spouse had brought him in simply to confirm if the patient's vision was still correctable with their current glasses, but they had faced challenge after challenge that day, including a three-hour ophthalmologist exam. In this moment, even though the patient was completely unable to follow her instructions, Dr. Julie understood how her work with diverse demographics had equipped her to handle the unpredictable, with skills that transcended to future encounters such as the one she was facing. This particular experience cemented her passion for providing compassionate care to those unable to articulate their optometric needs.
CPO (Certified Paraoptometric)
The wonderful life journey of our beloved technician Cylene Turner came to an end on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Cylene was a cherished member of our team for almost 20 years. Her strength, kind heart, dedication, and compassion were just some of the many traits she embodied. She was a mother of 3 and her legacy will live on throughout her family.
She will be treasured in our hearts forever.
“If you are going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” -Maya Angelo