THE UNIQUE SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
“Eyefoods” for Thought
Specializing in nutrition helps O.D.s better serve patients.
CORRIE PELC, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Optometrists and friends Barbara Pelletier and Laurie Capogna say they’ve always been interested in nutrition and eye health. To provide their respective patients with this information, the two O.D.s from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada self-published the books Eyefoods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes (LB Media Concepts Inc., 2011), Eyefoods for Kids: A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health (LB Media Concepts Inc., 2013), and they operate Eyefoods. com. The website provides “eyefoods” recipes, a list of eye conditions likely influenced by diet, education on the connection between nutrients and eye health and the importance of eye exams and promotion for their first and, now, second book.
In addition to being sold on Eyefoods.com and through booksellers, such as Amazon, both doctors sell their books in their respective practices and make copies available in their reception rooms.
To further show her dedication to the topic, Dr. Capogna says she dispenses macular vitamins in her office. As the vitamins are sold in her optical area, she says their availability has promoted eyewear sales. In addition, Dr. Capogna says she hosts annual nutrition months in her practice (May and November), where patients can try an array of “eyefoods,” such as orange pepper slices with hummus, and take home healthy recipes.
Dr. Pelletier says she uses the books as a means of promoting other areas of her practice. For example, during back to school, a complete pair of children’s glasses comes with a free copy of Eyefoods for Kids: A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health. Dr. Pelletier says she also does community outreach in schools, where she educates students and teachers about the importance of vision in learning and nutrition for vision. Also, a select group of patients receives an Eyefoods book as a gift of appreciation.
Dr. Pelletier says new patients have presented saying they’ve read the book, visited the website and/or heard about the doctors through media coverage of the “eyefoods” projects.
“All of those things add up, and that’s how they [patients] eventually choose us; it’s not necessarily the only reason they come to us, but it’s just an added value,” she explains. She adds that the “eyefoods” projects have enabled her and Dr. Capogna to increase patient loyalty to their respective practices, as they offer an additional service most of their competitors do not.
Drs. Pelletier and Capogna share an “Eyefoods” dish.
Advice for others
Dr. Pelletier advises optometrists considering promoting a specialty through a book or website to “go for it.”
“In optometry, setting yourself apart is very important to have a successful practice,” she says.
The caveat: Make it accessible to the general public, says Dr. Capogna.
“If you don’t make it simple and attractive, people won’t be drawn to it,” she explains. “On the other hand, do these things, and they’ll not only be interested, they’ll also develop an interest in eye care in general, which could lead to compliance to appointments and prescribed treatments — a win-win.” OM
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