Article Date: 4/1/2005

wise to the world

Help Others See While You See the World

If images of tsumani devastation in Asia still haunt you and you feel compelled to help in some tangible way, you need look no further than Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity International (V/I).

A not-for-profit group, V/I organizes international eyecare relief missions. "We travel to areas where people can't afford eyecare or where eyecare isn't available," says V/I President Dale K. Cole, O.D. "Right now, we're recruiting O.D.s and other volunteers to treat patients in tsunami-devastated southern India. This 3-week trip is scheduled to leave in mid-October 2005."

Volunteers will work side-by-side with local O.D.s from two major hospitals, providing services ranging from dispensing eyeglasses and routine eye care to treating serious ocular disease.

"Students will have the chance to see pathology they probably wouldn't see in their own clinics," Dr. Cole says. "This is an opportunity to see lots of patients and experience a new culture."

If you're interested in joining this mission to India or want to learn more about other V/I activities, log on to or e-mail Dr. Cole at


If You Care, Call

What do top optometrists have in common with oral surgeons and veterinarians? Many of these medical professionals have adopted a simple technique to show their patients they care. They call them.

"We have a saying in our practice," says Stephen Cohen, O.D., of Scottsdale, Ariz. "If you care, call. In fact, I've had Care Call forms printed to help remind me to check in with certain patients whom I feel need this type of follow-up."

It's a simple, yet effective system. As Dr. Cohen sees medical patients throughout the day, he writes their names, phone numbers and brief descriptions of their complaints on the form. Then he puts the forms in his pocket.

"Once home, I call these patients to check on them," Dr. Cohen says. "For example, if I have a patient with a corneal abrasion and another with an infection, I'll call that evening to see how they're feeling. Depending on a patient's condition, I might even call again in a couple of days. I truly care about my patients, and these calls show them how I feel. Invariably, these patients tell others about the call."

Most calls are brief, says Dr. Cohen. "Patients are busy, and they respect my time, as well," he says.

"I believe success is in the details," Dr. Cohen says. "Small courtesies motivate patients to return and refer others to our practices. Care calls easily can become one of those details that contribute to patient loyalty, referrals and a rewarding practice."



Adapting to Initial Awareness

Some patients are reluctant to try gas permeable (GP) contact lenses because they're worried about initial awareness. As you know, GP lenses are smaller than soft contact lenses, so they tend to move around more with every blink. Assure your patients the sensation caused by this lid-to-lens edge interaction will abate gradually and stop completely after a few days to 2 weeks.

You can help particularly anxious patients overcome their fears by instilling anesthetic eye drops before applying GP lenses for the first time. Once patients experience the high quality vision provided by GP lenses, they'll probably become less cognizant of initial lens awareness.

Edward S. Bennett O.D., M.S.Ed., St. Louis

For more great contact lens fitting tips, go to


Optometric Management, Issue: April 2005