Empire Eye and Laser Center
4105 Empire Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93309
Phone: 661-424-2765
Fax: 661-283-3937





PROGRAM DATES: The program begins in July 1st of each year and runs for 54 weeks. An orientation is provided in the first week of the program.


This post-graduate residency program is offered by the Southern California College of Optometry in conjunction with Empire Eye and Laser Center (EELC) in California. The goal of this program is to provide advanced clinical training in the treatment of ocular disease, clinical research, surgical co-management and perioperative care, as well as comprehensive care to patients ranging in age from neonatal to geriatric. Empire Eye and Laser Center’s integrated eye care model will allow the intern to work in conjunction with both optometrists and ophthalmologists in a high paced private clinic that encounters the entire spectrum of ocular pathologies. This organization includes a broad range of sub-specialized eye care providers such as pediatric, glaucoma, dry eye, cornea and anterior segment, therapeutic contact lens, as well as refractive laser and cataract specialists. This structure allows us to care for our patient’s “see better and look better”.

There will be after hours on-call time and two clinical projects required over the course of the year. Involvement in clinical research projects or studies will also be required. Residents are invited to lecture and present case reports at resident seminars held in conjunction with the Southern California College of Optometry as well as local and national optometric conferences.


Clinic hours are typically from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on Monday through Friday. Additionally, emergency and on call schedule will provided and required to participate in.


Empire Eye and Laser Center is approximately 7,200 square feet with 11 medical examination lanes. Additionally, EELC has a separate location—Parkway Optical with 2 exam lanes designated for comprehensive exams. All of examination lanes are equipped with computer visual acuity system, phoropters, and slit lamps. Empire Eye and Laser Center utilizes cutting edge technologies including anterior and posterior IOL Master, Humphrey Visual Field, iDesign, Topographer, OCT, Zeiss Cirrus, and digital photography. Our dry eye clinic employs advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies such as Lipscan/Lipifow, and TearCare devices and is an area of focus regarding clinical research. Additionally, EELC employs IPL and Blephex. The surgical center is also on the forefront of technology and employs Intralase and excimer refractive lasers, as well as modern cataract technologies including toric, multifocal, and EDOF IOL’s and is an area of focus regarding clinical research.

Empire Eye and Laser Center exists to provide high quality, extensive eye care to the Kern County area and to patients of all ages through a multi-specialty, integrated care approach. We treat each patient with respect, dignity, kindness, and compassion and strive to continuously understand their needs and exceed their expectations of quality eye care. We are recognized by patients, primary care physicians, ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, and patients as a leading group of high integrity eye care professionals.

The resident will also be seeing patients at a local non-profit community clinic, ACE High-Quality Eye Care for All (ACE), approximately half a day a week. ACE provides medical and surgical eye care for an underserved and uninsured patient population: children, adults, and seniors in Kern County which will allow the resident to further his/her training.


The resident will participate in and attend all continuing education as well as attending state and national optometric events. The resident has full access to any of the material or services provided at the College. This includes the library and media production department. Empire Eye and Laser Center is a national research center for glaucoma, dry eye, allergy, ocular infection, and ocular inflammation as well as surgical procedures and devices. The residents may participate in these studies throughout the program year and may prepare a project/paper/poster of publishable quality. They will also be asked to participate in case studies and journal reviews as assigned by Empire Eye and Laser Center some of which will be in conjunction with the Resident’s Day at the American Academy of Optometry.


The resident will observe surgical procedures by a board certified ophthalmologist and retina specialists. If live observation is not available, the resident will observe surgical procedures via video.


Empire Eye and Laser Center supports all types of population in a clinical setting. EELC provides broad health care services to an active user population of some 21,000 patients living mostly within the Kern County area in the Central Valley of California. Bakersfield population demographics: 56% Caucasian, 45.5% Hispanic, 8% black and African American, and 6.2% Asian. The resident will be examining approximately 1,200 patients at EELC. Approximately 75% of the resident’s time will be spent in direct patient care; observation of ophthalmic surgery, administrative duties in quality management, didactic, and scholarly activities. The resident will perform full comprehensive primary and secondary eye examinations, consult with optometrists and ophthalmologists in co-management of systemic conditions and ocular manifestations, prescribe oral and topical therapeutic medications, perform minor procedures, and order laboratory and radiology studies as indicated for diagnosis and management.


  • Residents must maintain activity log tracking research, didactic and scholarly activities.
  • Observation of surgical procedures: cataract, lid, refractive, glaucoma, retinal/vitreous as permitted with scheduling.
  • In office Lectures/Grand Rounds for providers & residents given by EELC eye doctors. 
  • Case reports to EELC eye doctors on a quarterly basis. 
  • Participate in a state and local society meetings. Various agendas and meetings, organizational and educational duties.
  • EELC Outreach lectures.
  • Minimum of one publishable quality paper or poster per quarter.
  • Attendance at one National CE Conference: typically AAO, AOA, GWCO, and/or ARVO.


The annual stipend is established by Empire Eye and Laser Center and is based on locality. It is currently set at $58,240 at our facility for the 2021 academic year. There are no stipulations regarding productivity.


  • Empire Eye and Laser Center Benefits available to resident: Health, Dental, Basic Life, and Flex.
  • Paid Leave: PTO/CE: 2 weeks and compensated professional meeting time is granted.
  • Holidays: All standard holidays as recognized by Empire Eye and Laser Center.
  • License & Malpractice Insurance: Paid for one year.


Rabab Rafique, O.D.
[email protected]


Mariam G. Alkawally, O.D.
B.S., Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology, University of Calgary
O.D., Southern California College of Optometry

Brittany Hoyle, O.D.
B.S., Specialization in Psychology, University of Alberta
O.D., Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry
[email protected]

Potential applicants are very strongly encouraged to contact the current or former residents listed above to get their perspectives on the program.  Please contact the residency Program Coordinator, Dr. Vin T. Dang, at 661-325-3937 or [email protected] with any questions.


Empire Eye and Laser Center is located in Bakersfield, California, which is in close proximity to convenient housing options.


Bakersfield is located in Kern County inside the San Joaquin Valley of California. It is home to much of the nations agriculture and oil production. The region is home to an incredible selection of geography: ranging from the wide-open Central Valley to the peaceful Sierra Nevada Mountains to the striking terrain of the Mojave Desert.

Nearby recreational venues include hiking/backpacking, camping, biking, rafting. There are several museums and multiple parks. Bakersfield has two theaters and an amphitheater that hosts numerous acts and local artists. 

Bakersfield is 45 mins to 2 hours from several beaches. Nearby attractions include Six Flags Magic Mountain, Disneyland, and Knots Berry Farm. The climate is high desert. Summers are hot with highs reaching the low-100s and winters are mild with temperatures ranging from 40’s to 60’s.

Nearby metropolitan areas include Fresno and Los Angeles. Commercial airports serving the area are at Meadows Field in Bakersfield, LAX, and Fresno.

National Park Service and other institutional venues nearby include:

  • Wind Wolves Nature Preserve
  • Hart Park
  • California Living Museum
  • Lake Isabella
  • Fort Tejon State Historic Park
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park
  • Tule Elk State Reserve
  • Cesar E. Chavez National Monument
  • Los Padres National Forrest
  • Trail of 100 Giants
  • Sequoia National Forrest
  • San Bernardino National Forrest
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Pinnacles National Park


Vin T. Dang, O.D., F.A.A.O.
4105 Empire Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93309
[email protected]

Amanda Steitz, , MBA, PHRca, HR Administrator
3434 Truxtun Avenue, Suite 270
Bakersfield, CA 93301
[email protected]