Article Date: 2/1/2013

O.D. Scene

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, but sometimes we need 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 month, Drs. Christine W. Sindt and Loretta Szczotka-Flynn, leaders in corneal and contact lens research, are the Key Opinion Leaders. Dr. Kirk Smick wows with his travel and food diary. Allergan’s adventurous Dave Gibson is the Key Industry Leader. And, Jenn Falik returns with casual attire for the female O.D. (Next month, we tackle men’s fashions.)

Key Opinion Leaders Weigh in…

Christine W. Sindt, O.D., F.A.A.O. and Loretta Szczotka-Flynn O.D., Ph.D.

Q: Where do you practice, and can you describe it and your typical day?

CS: I am in a hospital-based practice dedicated to contact lenses and [the] anterior eye. I practice at the University of Iowa, department of ophthalmology in Iowa City, Iowa. My patients typically have had trauma [and] disease of the anterior segment and dry eye. I also see people who have healthy eyes who work in the hospital.

LSF: Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I spend roughly 70% to 80% of [my] time doing clinical research, including examining patients in my own studies and coordinating and remotely monitoring other multicenter studies. On the clinical side, I see patients two days/week; those patients are usually referred for specialty contact lens management, including keratoconus, post-transplant, pediatric aphakia and trauma and any other irregular corneas. I fit a lot of scleral, custom RGP and soft lenses and manage many contact lens-related complications.


A devilish grin matches Dr. Sindt’s Devil ears on a recent Halloween.

Q: What has changed in the contact lens market?

CS: I think scleral lenses are the biggest change through the past decade. I remember when there were just a few of us talking about scleral [lenses], and now [they] seem to be going mainstream.

LSF: Daily disposables are the wave of the future; most of us [eyecare practitioners] believe they will ultimately be the best step in decreasing severe microbial keratitis.

Q: What is the latest research in which you are involved?

CS: Currently, I am working on an allergy study and designing a new contact lens. I am also working on several non-research projects, like making a [contact lens] insertion and removal video for babies, starring my infant daughter.

LSF: I am still very active in studies with silicone hydrogel contact lenses; this is my personal area of interest. Additionally, I have expanded into [the] coordination of large multi-center trials, recently in the area of corneal transplantation. I am the director of the Coordinating Center for the Cornea Preservation Time Study, which is enrolling 1,330 cases of endothelial keratoplasty and randomizing donor tissue based on preservation time.

Q:According to ASCO, 65% of the student body at optometry schools is female. Why do you think women now make up most of the student body, and what is your advice for this powerful demographic postgraduation?

CS: I hear women say they choose this profession for the lifestyle, perhaps wanting to work part-time or have flexible hours, which fit into the family. It’s a friendly profession, which appeals to their nurturing side, while still maintaining their professional, scientific side. There’s really something in it for everyone… My advice to women O.D.s is if you want your cake and [to] eat it too, you’re going to work darn hard.

LSF: Optometry provides for a perfect work environment post-graduation: flexible hours, few demanding late nights or weekends, ownership and academic opportunities. Let’s not hide the fact that women in their child-bearing years are thinking of that. Women will find a way to balance family and career without sacrificing either, and optometry allows that.


Dr. Szczotka-Flynn and family on a Baltic Sea cruise.

Q: Can you tell us about Women of Vision?

CS: Women of Vision (WOV) was started as a mentorship program to network women in our profession. It was started to help women find balance with work/life. It now offers educational opportunities, in addition to networking and mentoring.

LSF: I was one of the charter members of WOV under the fearless leadership of founding President Rhonda Robinson, O.D. Check out their website at Now, with my dear friend Louise Sclafani, O.D., at the helm, there are only more good things to come.

Q: What is your prediction for the future of our profession?

CS: I think the future is very bright as long as we don’t get lazy. Our predecessors fought long and hard to get us to where we are today, but I think many of the new grads take the privileges we have for granted. I see more students graduating with higher debt and looking to make a quick buck to pay off loans fast. It concerns me, but there still are so many dedicated O.D.s pushing themselves and the profession to be better; not only for their own sakes, but for the patients.’ As a profession, I think we will continue to grow. However, I think we will see more O.D.s employed by others and fewer private practices.

LSF: Optometry has a strong future … I am amazed at the consistent quality of students graduating from optometry schools and their commitment to lifelong learning and the profession. We can only go in one direction: up. Optometry will continue to see the majority of new and primary patient exams for all ages, including pediatric patients. Optometry is clearly viewed as the gatekeeper for eye care, and I don’t expect that to change.

Q: What do you do for fun?

CS: I really enjoy playing with my children.

LSF: Being an everyday mom: volunteering at school and Girl Scouts, socializing with other parents and traveling as a family. I love to travel and have combined many lecturing trips with family vacations. For example, we went to Australia in 2010 and on a Baltic Sea cruise in 2012. I have two daughters, ages 7 and 8, and my wonderful husband, Jack.

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

CS: My father. I know there are many interesting people in the world whom I would be thrilled to dine with — many people who would enrich my life. But I can’t think of a single person I wish I could have just one more meal with than my father. Why? There are things I’d like to talk about…

LSF: Pope John Paul II. I met him when I was 14, but have many more questions.

Q: What is the last book you read?

CS: Currently, I’m reading Life of Pi. I keep a copy of Pride and Prejudice on my nightstand, and whenever I am stressed out I pick up that book and randomly start reading it…

LSF: Thea Stilton and the Mystery in Paris, as part of the third grade book club I recently hosted at my home.

Q: What kind of music do you have on your iPod or iPad?

CS: …I tend to listen to whatever other people put on… If you’d ask me what books I download, that would be a better question.

LSF: Half of it is my daughters’ music: One Direction, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. (My daughters share my iPhone and iPad). I like Adele, Indigo Girls, Celtic Woman and Sheryl Crow. I also like Latin music because it reminds me of my honeymoon.

Travel, Food & Wine

My On-Going Bucket List

Must-see places, tips for Atlanta and Vegas and a winter recipe.


Kirk L. Smick, O.D., F.A.A.O., Morrow, Ga.

Travel, fine food and wine are very important to me. I travel frequently for work and pleasure and have a busy itinerary already formulated for this year (e.g. Aspen, the Galapagos Islands, Provence and Paris, France and the Italian Riviera). But, it’s the three-day weekends here in the good old U.S.A. that I really value.


Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side.

Three’s a charm

Each year, I select three U.S. destinations to visit to which I’ve never been. The Bucket List film, serves as an important reminder not to wait until it’s too late. Last year, my choices were Niagara Falls, Mackinaw Island, Mich., and Santa Fe, N.M. This year, I have Yosemite National Park on my list, but I haven’t filled the other two choices yet. In fact, I am asking you readers to suggest special, “can’t miss” U.S. places. If I select one of yours, I’ll give you credit in an upcoming report. E-mail me at

Hot-lanta and Vegas, baby

If you’re going to SECO in Atlanta (my home), I recommend Abbatoir (Slaughterhouse in French) for a very casual “head to tail” restaurant ( Abattoir’s presentations of their meat recipes are unusual. Try the Octo Dog and crab cakes. I like going with a group and treating the menu as a “tapas.” If you like sushi and Asian food, Tomo is really fantastic ( Their fish cheeks are wonderful, and their sushi is flown in fresh daily. Finally, 4th and Swift, closer to the convention district, ( offers Three Little Pigs: the best pork recipe ever.

If you are in Las Vegas for Vision Expo West and like Asian food, I recommend Japonais in the Mirage Hotel ( The food is fabulous and reasonable.

Happy traveling and dining in 2013, and please send me your choices for my bucket list. Also, keep me posted on your travels and restaurants.

I recommend the Beef Stew with Bacon recipe, from William Sonoma ( Be sure to splurge, and use tenderloin in the recipe instead of a pot roast. The tenderloin makes this dish so much more tender, it really is worth the difference. I recently made it, and my entire family loved it. The parsley on top was a visual success as well.

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, she shares the latest styles and beauty trends and how to incorporate them into your practice. This month: casual wear for the female O.D.


Debonair in Denim: “Denim has come such a long way and can be so easily dressed up and can look so polished, that a lot of people who could never wear jeans before to work can now wear jeans to work every day…”

Bold in Boots: “I think everyone needs to have a perfect pair of pointed toe — but not too much of a pointy toe — kind of 2 and 1/2-inch to 3-inch black boots. Something you can wear to dress up, and something you can tuck into a pair of skinny jeans is always a good classic. Then there’s also the ankle boot, which is something, again, that you can easily dress up and dress down. And people right now are really loving boots that have sort of a funky heel to them.”

Metal Band: “I’m a big fan of metallic skinny belts … [They are great for] a basic plain black shift dress [that] you want to dress up a bit. And metallic sort of matches everything, so it’s sort of easy. And, it sucks in the waist, so it gives the illusion of the best possible figure, and it’s just a simple way to take something you’ve worn a thousand times and make it new. It also works nicely over a blazer. So, if you’re wearing jeans and a blazer, and you want to make it feel a bit more polished, you can always tie a belt around your waist… ”

Style wisdom: “Dress so that you feel every single day that you look amazing. If you think you look amazing, then you’ll be better at your job. You’ll project more confidence, people will see you as more confident, and you’ll feel better. I think women feel like it’s very cliché to have to dress up for work, and it seems sexist, and blah, blah, blah. But the truth is every promotion and respect and all that, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, is about perception: the way your patients perceive you, the way your colleagues perceive you, and if you look good and you feel you look good, they’re going to perceive you as being good.”


Funky heels are in style.

Key Industry Leader


Dave Gibson, director of Optometric Professional Relations, Allergan

Any comments on the changes in your company?

A: …We shifted away from contact lenses and care solutions and put more focus in the pharmaceutical area… Allergan understands the power and importance of optometry, and we’re extremely proud of all the major optometry initiatives … One of our latest is Allergan’s OPTOMETRY JUMPSTART (, which provides resources to new optometrists as they get started in their careers.

What is your involvement with Optometry Cares/InfantSEE and the Allergan program at the Optometry schools?

A: In 2011, the Allergan Foundation provided a $1 million four-year grant to Optometry Cares for their InfantSEE program. Allergan believes that InfantSEE is a terrific early detection program. The Allergan Foundation’s grant helps support the work of raising awareness of the program to optometry students and to local healthcare providers…

What is your prediction for the future of the profession of Optometry, in terms of market share and pharmaceutical dominance?

A: Optometrists conduct more comprehensive eye exams in the U.S. each year than any other specialty. From a pharmaceutical perspective, O.D.s are currently responsible for approximately 20% of the eyecare prescriptions by an eyecare professional. That has been increasing by about one percentage point every year. Specifically within Allergy, we see that O.D.s are prescribing 51% of the new prescriptions by eyecare professionals. With the growing number of optometrists diagnosing and treating diseases of the eye, the therapeutic management of patients by O.D.s will only continue to rise.

What changes have you seen in the profession through the last five years?

A: The biggest trend I’ve seen is the growth of optometry business alliances, many of which started as buying groups. One of the benefits [of these groups] may be to help private optometry practices thrive in a complicated and very competitive marketplace. Another trend is the continued growth in the medical model of patient care…

What do you like to do for fun?

A: I confess to being a bit of an adventure junkie in my free time. If I’m at home on the weekends in California, you can find me on the mountain bike or stand-up paddling in the ocean. For vacation, we [my family and I] enjoy exploring out-of-the-ordinary spots. Through the past several years we’ve travelled to Vietnam, Egypt, Cuba, Thailand and Cambodia. We’re looking forward to a camping trip to explore New Zealand later this year.

Optometric Management, Volume: , Issue: February 2013, page(s): 40 - 43