THE ENTERTAINING SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
O.D. Scene creator, writer and editor Jack Schaeffer, O.D.
This month, we continue with the “Rat Pack: Eye Division” by speaking with Milton Hom, O.D., F.A.A.O, and Kirk Smick, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Milton is one of our profession’s contact lens experts, having written and lectured about these important vision-correction devices for several years. In addition, an array of contact lens companies have looked to him for his opinion on their products. Kirk has blazed a trail in incorporating the medical model of optometry and cultural diversity into his practice. (Check out his article on page 34.) In addition, as you’ve no doubt seen from this column’s “Travel, Food & Wine” section, he’s quite the epicurean. In fact, Kirk has eaten at 12 three Michelin-starred restaurants.
Finally, this month’s industry leader is Morton Greenspoon, O.D. He doesn’t work for one of the major contact lens, ophthalmic lens or pharmaceutical companies. Instead, he has been an optometric leader in the entertainment industry: He’s fit contact lenses in several actors in an array of entertainment projects.
Key Opinion Leaders Weigh in…
Milton Hom, O.D., Azusa, Calif., and Kirk Smick, O.D., Morrow, Ga.
Q: Can you describe your practice?
MH: I operate a general practice with a concentration on research.
KS: The Clayton Eye Center currently has nine O.D.s, and three M.D.s in one single location. We employ 82 caring individuals. Our practice is basically 50% primary care and 50% secondary and tertiary care. We have a robust optical dispensary and a busy in-office surgical center.
Q: What are your responsibilities as a key optometric leader (KOL)?
MH: KOL life is glamorous on the outside, but spectacularly challenging. It’s a constant battle to remain relevant. Our colleagues and industry leaders are constantly rating us. Stay too long, and you get moved out of the spotlight. The only way back in is when Paul Karpecki, O.D., has another kid, and they need a replacement speaker.
KS: Responsibilities of being a KOL include keeping up with new technology and being available to discuss these changes with colleagues. Attendance at major meetings is mandatory, and being available at these meetings to discuss new technology with vendors is important. Our industry partners are important to the advancement of our profession, and it is we KOLs who must work hand in hand with them so they can stay on course to serve us best.
Q: What do the other KOL members mean to you?
MH: Life-long relationships. It’s funny, I feel like I grew up with many of the KOLs. I knew them when we were all unknown and shared dreams of being a thought leader. KOLs are a reflection of where they come from. I noticed O.D.s have different traits according to regions. South: the best storytellers; their stories are cases from which to learn and become inspired. Midwest: kind, hospitable and extremely thorough. East: direct, fast-paced and high standards. West: what is new, new and new.
KS: My closest friends are other optometrists who come together several times a year and meet to help decide the future of our profession. We have been working together and know each other well, and make important decisions that affect all our optometric colleagues.
Left to right: Dr. Smick, and fellow O.D.s Ian “Ben” Gaddie and Mark Dunbar O.D., on a trip to Sonoma Valley, Calif.
Q: What drives you to get on the road to lecture, and how many lectures do you give a year?
MH: Optometry has evolved from a profession to a passion to a hobby for me. I’m sharing about the profession I love. As for the lectures I give a year, there are too many to count.
KS: Lecturing is teaching. I love to teach, which is why I have externs and residents constantly. I learn as much from discussions with colleagues as they do from me. Occasionally, lecturing takes me to interesting places that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to visit otherwise. Through the past 10 years, I have probably averaged giving lectures in at least 25 to 30 different locations each year. My goal is to travel more for fun in the future and lecture less.
Q: What advice would you give to a new graduate?
MH: Find a mentor. Heck, I’m still being mentored myself.
KS: My advice to new graduates is to get involved with an independent practice of optometry as soon as it is economically feasible. Income studies demonstrate that through the long haul, their income will be significantly higher than their corporate counterparts.
Dr. Hom (right) on a New Year’s Eve bike ride with a famous industry inventor/scientist/CL diplomate. Guess who it is.
Q: What is your prediction for the future of the profession?
MH: Optometry: Bigger, better, stronger, faster. It’s all good, baby…
KS: The number of optometric prescriptions for legend pharmaceuticals is rising quickly. Optometry now writes more prescriptions for dry eye than any other group of specialists. As well as we do, the future for growth is bright, and I want to do what I can to get more O.D.s actively treating glaucoma. Also, as more and more patients enter the eyecare needs arena, there will be a shortage of eye and vision care providers. Optometry will truly be the gatekeeper for both vision and medical eye care. Our stature will only continue to grow. The new technology and pharmaceutical advances position us to maintain our status as the primary eyecare profession.
Dr. Smick (right) with fellow Rat Pack member Ian “Ben” Gaddie, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Q: Who are the members of your family, and what do you do for fun?
MH: I have two kids in college. That is why I have to work so hard. I like to travel and go on vacation with them. Personally, I’m close to the San Gabriel Mountains, so I like mountain biking and road biking. I’m real good at crashing my mountain bike. Trail running is my new thing, but it hurts.
KS: I have one son and one daughter. My daughter is married to an optometrist in our practice, so it stays in the family. I have three grandchildren who are the love and joy of my life. My wife, Judi, recently retired from Delta Air Lines, and we are enjoying the privileges she worked so hard to earn. I love traveling with my family. Last month, we rented a house in Provence, France, for two weeks, and two years ago we rented one in Tuscany, Italy, for another two weeks. Our annual ski trip to Colorado is packed with memories dating back 20 years. Personally, I enjoy reading about world famous restaurants. Reading and trying to make famous recipes of the classics is a perfect Sunday afternoon at home.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone living or deceased who would it be and why?
MH: My grandmother. I remember her when I was growing up, but I was really too young to communicate and gain her wisdom.
KS: I would loved to have had dinner with Georges Auguste Escoffie, french chef, culinary writer and restaurateur, who made a mark on French cuisine. Unfortunately, he died nine years before I was born.
Q: What is the last book you read?
MH: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage, 2011) by Christopher McDougall.
KS: I just finished Tulip Fever (Dial Press, 2001) by Deborah Moggach, and I am currently reading The Flanders Panel (Harvest Books, 2004) by Arturo Perez-Reverte and Margaret Jull Costa.
Drs. Smick and Hom sharing a bike taxi during an Optometry’s Meeting in San Diego, Calif.
Q: What kind of music do you have on your iPod?
MH: Top 40
KS: I like music from the 70s and early 80s, because that is when I developed into who I am today.
Q: Any last thoughts about the profession of optometry?
MH: I would become an O.D. all over again, if given the chance.
KS: We now write more dry eye prescriptions than any other profession. Our role in glaucoma is expanding, and we will continue to treat other eye diseases.
Special Industry Interview
Morton Greenspoon, O.D., F.A.A.O., Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Q: I understand you’ve done a lot with contact lens fitting in the entertainment industry. How did you become involved with this?
A: My father, Reuben, opened an optometric practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. in the 1930s and attracted the attention of the film industry, including the heads of the makeup departments at 20th Century Fox and MGM. Specifically, MGM’s makeup head asked my father if he could insert contact lenses to change an actor’s eye color from brown to blue as part of the plot for the film Miracles for Sale. He accomplished this by fusing a ring of blue ceramic material onto a glass scleral lens. This was the first use of a cosmetic lens for movie makeup. In 1940, my father made a film in which he demonstrated the fitting of scleral lenses as well as the possible eye color change effects. I joined my father at his practice in the 1950s and followed in his footsteps, becoming responsible for the theatrical contact lens part of the practice. Since 1987, I’ve co-operated Professional Visioncare Associates Optometry in Sherman Oaks, Calif., which specializes in cosmetic contact lenses for theatrical purposes and the humanitarian aspect of fitting cover cosmetic lenses to disfigured corneas.
Q: What Hollywood projects have you and your partners been associated with, and what has been your favorite project?
A: All together, we’ve fitted cosmetic contact lenses in more than 300 movies. (Our filmography can be found at www.provisioncare.com.) Stacey Sumner, O.D., has worked with Johnny Depp on projects, such as Alice in Wonderland. She told me that he was fascinated by the unnatural yellow green eye color, as he thought it added to the “madness” of his character the “Mad Hatter.” Richard Silver, O.D., has worked with Brad Pitt on Twelve Monkeys. In terms of choosing a favorite project, it was a thrill meeting Elvis Presley during filming of Flaming Star. I changed his eyes from blue to brown because his character was supposed to be part Native American. Also, working on Bram Stoker’s Dracula was memorable because it won the Oscar for Best Makeup, and Greg Cannom, the lead makeup artist, thanked me from the stage before a TV audience of millions.
Dr. Greenspoon attempting to fit Michael Jackson as the werewolf in the music video “Thriller.”
Q: What has been your most challenging Hollywood project?
A: By far, the most challenging and difficult fit of my career was the man-to-werewolf transformation in Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller.”
Q: What has been your most memorable Hollywood project?
A: Fitting Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze for the film Batman and Robin was a real trip. He walked into the office with a large cigar in the corner of his mouth, and asked, “Where do I park the Hummer?” My reply: “Anywhere you want.” Mr. Schwarzenegger was determined to wear the large diameter rigid lenses all day without removal, so as not to disturb the heavy facial prosthetics on his face and scalp. He requested I send one of my technicians to his house every day for two weeks to insert the lenses and monitor his progress, as he played tennis and worked out. I obliged. He returned to the office for the final evaluation. I applied the mirrored lenses, observed the movement and centration and asked him to look at himself in the mirror. He quietly starred at himself for a few minutes, as if to assume the character of the evil Mr. Freeze, and turned back to me with a grin, and said, “This will make the Terminator look like a babysitter.” Mr. Schwarzenegger went on to wear the lenses every day of filming like a true professional.
Q: Have you encountered any problems with contact lenses during a project?
A: One problem we encountered early on was who was to be in charge of the lenses, keep track of wearing times, do insertion and removal and cleaning and disinfection. Since we were responsible for the actors’ well-being, we had to have someone on the set to handle the lenses and be responsible to us in an emergency. So, we made it our policy to have a trained contact lens technician on the movie set at all times who reports directly to us. We have never had a serious contact lens-related injury.
Q: Is anyone else in your family an O.D., and have they followed in your footsteps?
A: None of my children were interested in becoming optometrists. They have all been very successful in their chosen careers. My oldest daughter, Claudia Mosher, is a lawyer specializing in legal malpractice. My middle daughter, Ronda Carnegie, was the advertising manager for The New Yorker magazine and is now global marketing director for TED.com, a Internet think tank. My younger daughter, Andrea Medina, is a financial consultant. They all live in Southern California.
Q: What changes have you seen in the profession through the last few years?
A: The biggest change has been the scope of practice. When I started in 1951, we were second-class citizens in the healthcare field. We couldn’t get a commission in the armed forces. We couldn’t use pharmaceutical agents. We couldn’t test for glaucoma or dilate. That said, my biggest fear today is that the science of refraction, on which optometry was founded, will become secondary to medical optometry.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone living or deceased who would it be and why?
A: My father. He has always been my inspiration and one of the smartest and innovative men I have ever known. My accomplishments in our profession I owe to him.
Dr. Greenspoon on the set of the political soap TV series Capitol.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: September 2013, page(s): 48 - 51