THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
A humorous tale of how one O.D. learned some valuable lessons while attending a CE conference.
BY ALAN N. GLAZIER, O.D., F.A.A.O.
After years of admiring promotions for continuing education (CE) conferences in exotic corners of the Caribbean, I finally made my reservation to attend Tropical CE in Aruba. I'd heard that no visit to Aruba was complete without a Jeep tour of the countryside, so my wife and I planned an "Extreme Jeep tour."
Our Jeep had a crazy driver who hit his horn to hear "Dixie" play at any opportunity. I couldn't help but take notice of an ophthalmology clinic we passed by, where I later learned that two of the total four molies (Maryland slang for
M.D.s) on the island worked. I thought to myself that the Aruba Eye Clinic, complete with Laser Vision Correction, fashion optical and a bright pink façade was the last place I would be setting foot in on my vacation. I couldn't have been more wrong.
PHOTO BY PAT SIMIONE
The infamous Jeep tour
As our tour guide was four wheeling us up a rocky hillside, a piece of sand flew into my eye. Talk about pain! I gradually became less able to open my left eye, and in between the pangs and intense tearing, I realized that I was helpless without a bottle of
proparacaine. What a valuable little drop it is!
Thinking clinically about what the cornea and the conjunctivae might look like and trying to keep my eye still and lid closed kept me busy for the last hour that I had to suffer before we were back near civilization. I asked my wife to tell me when we were getting closer to the ophthalmologists' office. We literally jumped out of the Jeep and walked into the office.
Meeting the tropical M.D.
At the reception desk, I explained that I was a visiting eye doctor and had gotten dirt in my eye. The front desk staff insisted that I fill out forms, but I found one of my business cards in my pocket. I guess they realized that the dusty, wet, dirty, sunburned and frustrated little guy in the baseball cap wasn't making the eye doctor story up. They quickly ushered me past a full waiting room into a standard exam room where the ophthalmologist promptly met me.
While he was taking my medical history I spied a bottle of
proparacaine. I helped myself and the relief -- instant, as usual, was fantastic. Lid eversion revealed two sand grains trapped in the upper palpebral conjunctivae. I suffered a central abrasion. One Q-tip and $60 later, he sent me back with a prescription for Hypotears and an offer to visit the clinic after hours any time for a tour. The M.D. was extremely gracious, clinically efficient and curious, yet open-minded, about American optometry.
Learning some lessons
I learned several things from my experience of getting a foreign body in a foreign country:
- travel with proparacaine and your choice of a topical anti-infective or anti-inflammatory
- if you go to Aruba and take an extreme Jeep ride, wear your sunglasses
- ophthalmologists without agendas can be accommodating to optometrists
- consider opening a practice in this tropical paradise -- the competition isn't too stiff.
- make yourself sign up for a tropical CE experience -- the education was top notch and if you can stay away from ocular foreign bodies, it will be the best CE you've ever attended!
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH KAREN
RODEMICH, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT AT (215) 643-8135 OR RODEMICHKF@BOUCHER1.COM.
Optometric Management, Issue: July 2002