Article Date: 4/1/2006

News From the AOSA
Is This the Golden Age of Optometry?

The next time you reach for the dilating drops, remember the O.D.s who paved the way for you.

By Tracy Jacobsen, AOSA Vice President, Pacific University College of Optometry, Class of 2007

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, my grandfather amused me with stories of the "old days." Whether he was describing how he used to get in trouble as a kid or how he fought in World War II, his stories seemed far off and incredible — almost unbelievable. Recently I experienced the same feelings after attending the Optometry 2020 Summit in Dallas.

History Lesson

While I was at the meeting, I spoke with doctors and students of all ages and from all regions of the country. I was amazed at how many O.D.s — through the efforts of organized optometry — lived through and won important "battles" that gave our profession the scope of practice we all know and enjoy.

The summit meeting left me inspired but troubled. I was inspired by the O.D.s who worked with their fellow association members to make optometry the profession it is today. However, I was troubled when I thought about the many students and doctors who enjoy the profession our predecessors built but are still reluctant to participate in organized optometry.

I want to motivate O.D.s to get involved in organized optometry, not only while they're students, but also after they become doctors. Here's one of my ideas.

Privileges Revoked

One way to show students and practicing O.D.s how far optometry has progressed would be to ask them to perform eye examinations under the laws and regulations that existed 50 years ago.

They'd find they can't dilate the eyes of diabetic patients because administering diagnostic pharmaceutical agents isn't within their scope of practice. They wouldn't be able to prescribe antibiotics for bacterial conjunctivitis because O.D.s didn't qualify for therapeutic pharmaceutical agent certification 50 years ago.

Sometimes, placing limits on what people can do, even when they're fully qualified to perform a task, can motivate them to make changes. This is what happened 50 years ago when our predecessors used organized optometry to expand the scope of the profession.

Support the Profession

Motivating people to get involved can be difficult, but it's necessary for the continued growth of the optometric industry. I believe membership in organized optometry will grow when students and new O.D.s become aware of the personal benefits they can gain by actively participating in optometric organizations.

Ultimately, the success of our profession depends on the motivation and dedication of its members. Optometry would not be the respected profession it is today without the hard work of those who fought — and won — some important battles. Now, it's your turn to pick up the gauntlet.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2006