Dr. Santarlas received his undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina in marine geochemistry. He spent three years in the US Naval Reserves and then completed a postgraduate year at the University of Queensland in Brisbane Australia studying satellite remote sensing. He subsequently obtained his doctorate in Optometry from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2002. Upon graduation, he started a private practice in rural Illinois where he practiced solo and in group retail. He moved to San Diego in 2008 and became involved with the UC San Diego Shiley Eye Center. Here he specialized in pediatrics and community Ophthalmology.