Dr. Lassa Frank: Helping the World to See
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SAN ANSELMO — Long before he was a veteran of the eye care field, a young Lassa Frank didn’t know the meaning of the word “optometrist” until he met with one following a sports-related injury. “While playing on the UCLA water polo team, I was poked in the eye during a scrimmage and ended up in the exam room at the campus eye institute,” he remembers. “A male doctor walked in and told me he was an optometrist. I asked him what an optometrist did and he proceeded to explain it to me. A couple months later, we crossed paths again when I got poked in the eye a second time. It turned out he was one of the head optometrists at the institute. He ultimately got me a job at the institute and later helped me get into the optometry program at UC Berkeley.”
After graduating from Berkeley’s optometric program in 1986, Dr. Frank began practicing alongside a veteran optometrist in Mill Valley. Not long after, he purchased his colleague’s satellite practice in San Rafael. Today, as owner of Mt. Tam Optometric Center, Dr. Frank expresses his passion for a career that all started with a minor eye injury. “I’ve always believed that if you have to work, you’d better enjoy what you do,” he says. “Before getting involved with optometry, I’d always made a living doing things I enjoyed, whether it was as a raft guide, kayak instructor or bartender. Optometry is just a continuation of that, and today I’m one of the few people who can truly say they love what they do.”
As a resident of San Anselmo (where he lives with his wife, Kristel, and their son, Toren), Dr. Frank says while he enjoys many attributes about his locale, there’s one in particular he favors. “I love my three-block commute,” he laughs. “For many years, I lived in Point Richmond and dealt with the hassles of driving across the bridge to get to work, so I really like being closer to my practice, as well as being situated amongst the community I serve.”
Outside of work, Dr. Frank enjoys a variety of pastimes, from being a spectator at his son’s sports events to pursuing his own activities. “My son is very involved in hockey and plays for a local team, so during the season our lives sort of revolve around that,” he says. “We do enjoy Telemark skiing when we get the chance, and during the summer we love to go windsurfing at the delta.”
In addition to his seeing patients at his office, Dr. Frank devotes time to practicing his profession in a charitable capacity. “I’ve been involved in charity work since I was in college, when I led a team of volunteer students on a trip to the Dominican Republic,” he explains. “Some years back, a couple of colleagues and I started Help the World to See, an organization designed to make it easier for eye doctors to do volunteer work. It wasn’t long before we became the largest processor of used eyeglasses in the western United States. We’ve since joined forces with the Lions, the largest collector of used eyeglasses in the western United States, which has enabled us to significantly increase our impact.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dr. Frank says he would put more time and effort into charity work. “It’s said that optometrists never retire, they just work less days,” he laughs. “So, in that vein, I would probably spend more time doing eye care abroad, helping those in need while seeing more of the world.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The guitar.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Café Lotus in Fairfax.
Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The future. I’m a pretty optimistic person, and I think some pretty amazing things are going to be accomplished going forward.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
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A: Relax by the fire and read a good book.