Article Date: 12/1/2012

Patient�s Perspective
Patient’s Perspective

Good Works Have Meaning

With so many optometrists to choose from, a practice’s work with underprivileged children can set it apart.

Editor’s note: Periodically, new OD will explore eye care from the patient’s perspective. Whether you have a special interest in contact lenses, low vision or pediatric care, you’ll find out from real patients what attracts them to a practice and keeps them coming back.

By Betty Kuchar, as told to Erin Murphy, Contributing Editor

SIX YEARS AGO, I moved out of my home of 56 years, into a 55-plus townhome community located close to my children and grandchildren. Located an hour away from my old home, the new house is still close enough for my old friends to visit, but too far for me to keep the same doctors.

It was a daunting task to start from scratch. My son and daughter asked their friends and I asked my new neighbors. I got some recommendations, looked at some websites and gradually arrived at some choices.

When it came to selecting a new optometrist, I had a few criteria. I wanted a practice that had experience with seniors and the common problems we face with our eyes. At the same time, I didn’t want a place that just sells “granny glasses” because being a “granny” doesn’t mean I want to look like I’m a hundred.

However, when I looked through the websites of a few optometrists who met my criteria, I found a third and wonderful difference that guided my choice: charity work.

A Surprise Find

One local practice’s website showed several of its optometrists working in the community, performing eye tests for young children. Two young doctors had taken trips to developing countries to test children’s vision and provide them with their first eyeglasses. That’s a wonderful thing.

As a retired schoolteacher, I know that vision problems can affect how well a child does in school, especially when those vision problems go undiagnosed. Imagine how much worse the problem must be in countries where children don’t undergo routine vision screenings!

I’ve also seen charities that build schools to help children work their way out of poverty through education — another wonderful effort — but before a child can read or write, he or she must be able to see the words.

This kind of work certainly wasn’t on my list of must-haves for my new practice, but I felt very confident in making this choice. These doctors share my values. They care.

Referrals Come Easy

Whenever I’m in the office, I ask what these young doctors are up to, and they’re always doing something new, even if it’s something as simple as visiting local schools and teaching children how to care for their eyes. I understand that to do this work for free, doctors must make money in their practice, and I want to help them succeed. So I’ve recommended them to my family, friends and others at my local senior center (which is easy, because someone is always talking about their eyesight). Some of these folks are also members of the Lions Club, which does a great deal of vision-related work in the community, so they’re very interested in doctors who do the same kind of work.

Spread the Word (and Act)

I wouldn’t want a doctor who does charity work to improve his image or bring in patients. I think one should only spend time helping people if one wants to do it. That said, if you’re involved in charity work, I encourage you to let your patients know. When they’re looking through a bunch of similar-looking websites and practices, your charitable work may give them a sense of your level of dedication to your work. It helps demonstrate the caring and compassion that you have for your patients, and could make them feel more confident and comfortable seeing you and contributing in some small part to those good works. nOD

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2012