Fifteen years ago, Sharon Williams took a chance. The newly minted optometrist opened an eye clinic in East Tremont, her old neighborhood. Williams put her life savings on the line.
Now Primary Vision Care is East Tremont’s favorite eye clinic and Williams is Super Bowl bound. On Wednesday, January 21, Davis Vision named Williams its #1 provider nationwide and handed her two tickets to Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa Bay.
Davis Vision is one of the country’s largest eye care companies. Williams beat out 30,000 providers to earn the award.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Williams said Wednesday. “When I first heard, I thought it was a prank. I’m taking my best friend to the Super Bowl. We’re going to Disneyworld!”
Williams was born in London to a father from Antigua and a mother from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. She grew up in East Tremont and attended James Monroe High School. Williams pursued medicine at Colgate University.
Williams spent time as a teacher, and then earned a Master’s degree in biology from Lehman College. She applied to a number of competitive medical schools and was accepted by the SUNY State College of Optometry.
Although Williams dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, she resolved to make the most of SUNY.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to become a medical doctor,’” Williams said. “‘Maybe I’m meant for optometry.”
After graduating in 1994, Williams launched Primary Vision Care on E. Tremont Avenue, just west of Southern Boulevard.
Kasai Abraham, a friend, is glad Williams took the plunge.
“She’s a great optometrist,” Abraham said. “So attentive and nice. My mother was a patient here. The service was great.”
Abraham met Williams at church. So did Rev. Vela Annum, who wears reading glasses around her neck and frequently hugs them to pieces.
“I had to get three new pairs of glasses last year,” Annum said. “But I like coming in here. Sharon is always smiling.”
Williams sees up to 25 patients a day Monday through Saturday. She’s looking for an assistant optometrist.
“God has blessed my business,” Williams said. “I want Saturday off.”
Many of Williams’ patients suffer from eye conditions triggered by high cholesterol, diabetes and HIV. Williams has a saying: “Whatever ails the body ails the eyes.”
Her work is rewarding. Williams walks home from Primary Vision Care to a chorus of shout-outs. She shyly waves and tries to remember this or that patient’s name.
“I enjoy being my own boss here,” Williams said. “I enjoy making my patients happy.”
Jennifer Silva is Williams’ clinic manager.
“I love Dr. Williams,” Silva said. “She listens to her patients, whether they want to talk about their eyes or something else.”
One day, a woman newly diagnosed with HIV burst into Primary Vision Care. Williams held her other appointments and spoke with the woman softly.
“She comes back once a month to kiss Dr. Williams and say hi,” said Silva.
Davis’ Daniel Levy was on hand for a luncheon at Primary Vision Care on January 21.
“Dr. Williams provides the ultimate in professional care,” Levy said. “She exemplifies our ‘whatever it takes’ philosophy.’”
Davis selected Williams based on patient survey results, sales and peer review.