Key Opinion Leaders Weigh in…
The Entertaining Side of Optometry Ron Melton, O.D. and Randall Thomas, O.D.
We have an amazing profession that is shaped by many interesting characters, from researchers to lecturers to industry leaders. Because of their shared commitment to optometry and each other, a family has been developed within the eyecare community. O.D. Scene is about getting to know “The Family.”
In optometric magazines, we expect to find clinical and management issues discussed, but sometimes we need to take the time to check out the softer side — the who and what we really are. O.D. Scene was created to tell that story. This project was originally envisioned to be about optometry educators, but as OM’s Chief Optometric Editor, Scot Morris, and I were planning, we decided to expand it to all the people who shape our profession: the industry leaders, the frame designers, the deans and presidents that manage our institutions, and of course, the optometrists.
This first edition will start with Drs. Ron Melton and Randall Thomas, Jenn Falik, a beauty and style consultant from New York, and my cousin, and industry friend, Dave Sattler, of Alcon. I hope you enjoy O.D. Scene.
Drs. Melton and Thomas visiting China.
Q: Where do you practice, and please describe your practice.
RM: I practice at Charlotte Eye, Ear & Nose and Throat Associates in Charlotte, N.C. The practice is a large multi-specialty practice with 35 eye doctors and 35 ENT physicians. There are five optometrists.
RT: I practice in Concord, N.C. with a nine-doctor group called Cabarrus Eye Center. We are a multi-disciplinary exclusive eyecare practice. There are two O.D.s and seven ophthalmologists.
Q: Can you describe your typical day?
RM: My typical day consists of seeing 30 to 40 patients, ranging from eye exams to red eye problems. One-third of my daily volume consists of glaucoma patients. With the emergence of electronic medical records and the implementation of “meaningful use,” I often work through lunch and spend an extra one to two hours after work on interpreting the day’s visual fields, OCTs, fundus photos, etc.
RT: We have probably the absolute model practice. We see 14 to 15 patients in the morning. I take an hour-and-a-half for lunch. I get a good aerobic workout. I see 13 to 14 people in the afternoon. You’d have to come there and spend several weeks before you would know who were the ophthalmologists and who were the optometrists because we all do exactly the same thing.
Q: How do you use your technicians?
RM: They input all the clinical history on the patient into the electronic medical record, perform the basic external evaluation, slit lamp exam, IOP measurement, manifest refraction and, lastly, dilate the patient. I then complete the exam with a cycloplegic refraction, slit-lamp exam, binocular indirect exam and, most importantly, patient education on the findings and recommendations.
RT: We have technicians who do our refractions. I know that’s going to bother a lot of folks. I look at their glasses. I look at their vision. I look at the manifest refraction. I look at the autorefraction, and I, as the doctor, oversee all the technical data collection and then based on that, I can then dictate the prescription to a scribe. We have certified ophthalmic technicians who do the work-up, and then we have a scribe in each room who is dedicated as a medical scribe.
Q: What is your prediction for the future of our profession?
RM: I rotate fourth-year optometry students from Indiana University and Salus University School of Optometry. The students are sharper than ever, with a broad range of clinical skills in the area of primary care and ocular disease. To complete the National Boards, a student must be competent in areas that were unheard of when I took the NBEO, such as injections. This gives me great confidence that optometry will continue to expand its role in eye care.
RT: I’m now looking to our colleagues in Australia where they have a business model called Sight Savers. It is a highly retail-oriented commercial-based practice, where it’s pretty much what’s called “refract and refer.” So, I see three big pots: I see the commercial pot, which will forever grow. I see optometry and ophthalmology working together as a true team also growing, and then I see the traditional solo practice of optometry slowly fading into the sunset over several decades.
Q: Why do you feel your lectures continue to draw the largest audiences, and what changes have you seen in those audiences?
RM: We don’t understand why, and we’re humbled by it. What we attempt to do is provide practical hands-on information, and I think that is well received and is one of the reasons people show up at our lectures.
RT: We are just amazed that people come to hear a couple of country boys talk about eye care. We are really gratified. The best we can tell is that we practice optometry. We live, breath and sleep what we do. I mean, we are above all, clinicians. And so it’s really a clinician-to-clinician kind of chemistry. And so we’re able to give them a vision for what they can ultimately evolve into as well. The audience is getting more sophisticated. The questions that we get are of higher clinical excellence. They’re deeper; they’re more thought provoking, more thoughtful…
Q: How do you feel about the ASCRS’ policy regarding O.D. membership?
RM: I think there should be no limit to one’s quest for knowledge, particularly if it is for the benefit of the patients we serve. ASCRS is a quality meeting where one can learn the latest information from the eyecare world. To limit one from participating in this sharing of knowledge is very elementary, to say the least.
RT: I think that it is just incredibly arrogant. I think it shows the insecurity and the mean-spiritedness of that organization… If these people really profess to be a member of the healing art, and if they truly have altruism as their motivating force, then that would make it complicit on these people to embrace all people of the healthcare professions, and encourage them to provide their highest level of care for the benefit of humanity. I don’t see that happening.
Q: What, in your opinions, is the best and worst traits of one another?
RM: Randall has a gift for public speaking and a drive to educate his peers. I’ve often said he would have made a great “Southern Baptist preacher.” And he is by far the smartest optometrist I know. His knowledge base is incredible, as he often blows me away during a lecture with the information he has stored in his brain. Now the bad: He tends to play with his food.
RT: Ron is probably the single best optometric clinician out there. When it comes to clinical patient care, he is as close to perfect as I know. He struggles with time management and organization. He is a very caring, attentive, patient-oriented individual, and it’s just a high honor to work with him in helping other O.D.s in how to better care for their patients.
Q: What’s the best lecture you ever attended?
RM: The most fun lectures have been the combined contact lens-anterior segment lectures we have done at the AOA meetings. The best lecture was when Don Korb was the speaker at a lecture at the Duke Eye Center. His performance made me proud to be an optometrist.
RT: Harry Quigley gave a lecture a few years back on glaucoma, and that was pretty much up there. Also, sitting with Donald Korb for three-and-a-half hours was just a true pinnacle experience in my life. It was just like getting to sit and talk to one of The Beatles.
Q: What do you do for fun?
RM: I spend time with my family. I have a daughter who is a junior in college, a daughter who is a freshman in college and a son who is a junior in high school. I also enjoy bike riding and getting outdoors as much as possible.
RT: I do aerobics and sit-ups. I tell all my friends, “I’ve got a great set of abs, but they’re covered by half an inch of fat, which is just a real bummer.” I guess my passion outside the office is that I love to travel. I mean, I just really, really love to travel, and that’s one of the great benefits to being able to speak and teach other O.D.s. I also like to ski and do day hikes. But, I have a great wife, two wonderful daughters and a fine son-in-law and just spending time with them is really the joy of my life. I’m a pretty simple guy. I don’t have any Ferraris or Lamborghinis, but I just enjoy our family and being involved in our church and just trying to have a good family life together, and that’s something I’ve been able to achieve, and that’s my greatest joy.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone living or decreased, who would it be and why?
RM: Jesus Christ. I think he’s probably got the most to tell me of anyone.
RT: Jesus Christ.
Q: What kind of car do you drive?
RM: I drive a — and this is kind of a political statement I guess — I drive a 2001 Chevy Suburban.
RT: I drive a Toyota Avalon.
Q: What’s the last book you read?
Effective Perimetry: The Field Analyzer Prime (Fourth Edition). I just got a copy of Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever.
RT: I spend time reading journals and trying to keep ahead.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
RM: The ’70s and ’80s music is my favorite music. I like “Stairway to Heaven.”
RT: I love music from the ’60s and ’70s and the early ’80s. After that, it all went to the pot.
Q: What would you like to tell the optometric public?
RM: Let’s continue to move forward as a profession. We should not become complacent or lazy. There is a bright future for optometry if we choose to create it.
RT: I think our profession is about one fourth of the way to that glass ceiling. . . And I just wish that we were, as a profession, closer to the ceiling, and that’s kind of what Ron and I are trying to do is take our profession from its current level and just move it up three or four octaves, you know, to be a truly more comprehensive profession.
We’re good, and we’re fine where we are, but my goodness, there is just so much more that we could do as a profession, and it just pains me that we have not fully embraced what optometry can be. Everyone who loves our profession should join the AOA.
Fashion by FALIK
Jenn Falik is a style and beauty expert who has appeared on The View, The Today Show, The Rachel Ray Show and E! News. Each month,
Jenn will share the latest styles and beauty trends and how to incorporate them into your practice. This month, Jenn shares her wisdom regarding the female practitioner.
● Top Women Brands: “Vince is very popular right now for their great sweaters, as we head into winter, especially. Brian Atwood seems to be the go-to brand for shoes. Celine has sort of the bag of the moment called the Luggage Tote. And for polished lady-like work wear and for going-out clothes, Milly is a favorite and for every-day denim and for the weekend… Women love the way it fits.”
● Killer Work Outfit: “Starting from the ground up, nude pumps are the way to go. They elongate the leg, and they match everything. Something that has sort of a rounded pointy toe, and a built-in platform is great because it will make it a little bit easier to walk in them all day. Pencil skirts are the big work wear trend right now, and they don’t have to be anything too risqué or too tight or too anything. They can just be nice fitting and sort of figure-flattering with a simple either cashmere sweater, a knit sweater tucked in or a secretary-style blouse that ties up around the neck, tucked into the pencil skirt.”
● Closet Must-Haves: “You definitely need a cozy sweater that’s big, but not too big with a good turtleneck — a good, loose cowl neck sweater, a pair of leather leggings — everyone needs leather leggings this season; something with a peplum, so either a dress or a top that gives a nice, easy, quick hourglass shape. You should also have anything in the color oxblood. That’s the big color of the season. And, as always, the perfect fitting pair of jeans. dl1961 makes the best skinny jeans. I’m also a big fan of J Brand jeans for a good high-waisted boot cut.”
Key Industry Leader
Dave Sattler, director of Professional Relations — Academic Development at Alcon.
Q: What did the merger of Alcon and CIBA Vision mean to the profession and to you?
A: … One of the most exciting aspects of this corporate integration is the enhanced synergy with R&D activities at Novartis, our parent company. It’s going to allow us the opportunity to access breakthrough technologies that impact new products at a much earlier stage in the development process.
My new position is primarily focused on academic teaching programs and new eyecare professionals in training. A great deal of time is spent working with optometry schools, opticianry schools and ophthalmology teaching institutions.
Q: What positive changes have you seen in the profession through the past five years?
A: One of the biggest positive trends is that doctors of optometry are now being trained at such a high level within many upgraded teaching clinics and a large network of clinical externship sites. The primary eye care being provided today is good for patient access and patient care.
Q: What is your prediction for the future of the profession, or is there anything you’d like to tell OM readers?
A: Everything is just so dynamic, fast paced and constantly changing. It is truly amazing to think about the communication tools that we carry around today… As a result, there are higher levels of expectations from our customers. We have to continuously drive innovation with new technology, products and services. Being flexible and accommodating change helps move our business forward. We have just lived through a year and a half of integrating two companies, and that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned: Adapt positively to new ways of thinking “quickly” and move on with passion and persistence.
Q: Were you were an Oscar Mayer Weiner man?
A: That was my first job out of college. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton and secured a sales position with them. My first territory was San Diego. I worked there for four years and [did] a couple of special events with the Oscar Mayer Wiener-Mobile and Little Oscar, the company mascot. Whenever people ask me what I did for a living before Alcon, it always puts a big smile on their face when I answer “I worked for Oscar Mayer.” …They always ask, ”Did you drive the Wiener-Mobile?” Now that was a fun job.
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