Article Date: 3/1/2010

Though The Patient's Eyes
reflections
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Though The Patient's Eyes

The author's interest in photography helped him better appreciate optometry and win a contest.

LEONARD BERTOLI, O.D.
MELROSE, MA.

As practicing optometrists, our lives are dedicated to vision. Outside of optometry, however, I spend my time looking through a different type of lens. I've always owned SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras and dabbled in photography as a hobby, but it wasn't until about a year ago, when my wife gave me a digital SLR camera, that I really pursued my interest in photography. I read books, listened to podcasts and practiced to develop my skills as a photographer.

While I love my work as an optometrist and believe that it is an invaluable service, it doesn't often provide an opportunity for me to express myself creatively. For me, photography has fulfilled this need — and as a result, has given me a greater appreciation for optometry.

It's rare that I find the opportunity to connect my two passions. Yet when I heard about Transitions Optical's “Live Your Vision” photo contest, I saw a way to merge my interests — and even use my skills as a photographer to help promote eyecare.

Pursuit of the vision

The contest asked participants to submit a photo and caption that demonstrated how they “live their vision,” — or how healthy eyesight is important both in everyday life and in reaching your long-term goals. As I developed my entry, I wanted to show the patient's perspective, and demonstrate that optometrists change how patients see the world — first, literally by correcting their vision and maintaining their eye health, and then by giving them the opportunity to pursue their own dreams.

My daughter volunteered to model as the “patient” in the photo, and I used Adobe Photoshop to bring color and the other elements of the photo together to show the beauty of what she sees. The result was the image you see here. I was thrilled to learn the judges chose my photo as the winning entry. With such an accomplished panel, including National Geographic photographer Steve Winter, sportscaster Lesley Visser, and entrepreneur Sheila Johnson, it was truly an honor.

Shown is Dr. Bertoli's winning entry in the Transitions Optical “Live Your Vision” contest.

Through my submission to the contest, I was able to create a great memory for my daughter and me, hone my photography skills, and of course, live my own vision by showing the importance of eye health. I also had the opportunity to give back by selecting a charity to receive a $10,000 donation from the Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund. I chose Helen Keller International because I thought that the organization would make the most of the donation, helping treat preventable blindness through its simple and cost-effective programs.

A larger message

During my search for an organization for the donation, I was reminded of how many people around the world suffer from preventable blindness. As eye-care professionals in an industrialized country, I think we sometimes take for granted how valuable routine eye care is to our patients. The idea that our other talents and interests can help patients live their vision is the message that I hope other optometrists and eye-care professionals can take away from my entry. OM


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2010