BY WALTER D. WEST,
Chief Optometric Editor
Going Above and Beyond the Sale
of Spectacles and CLs
we must be wary of any model of practicing optometry that doesn't put our patients'
concerns regarding some optometrists being employed by retail optical companies
have taken on a new twist. It seems that, in at least a few instances, retail optical
companies, store managers or corporate guidelines are telling the optometrists how
they should practice by the .
Following the money
It would seem that
these optical retailers are so concerned about their retail profitability, that
the optometrists are told to forgo providing medically related care to patients.
The medically related care provided by the optometrist doesn't put a spectacle prescription
in the patient's hand and, therefore, the retail optical looses an opportunity to
sell a pair of glasses.
is this really a surprise to anyone? Really, is it? The optical retailer's existence
depends on the sale of spectacle frames and lenses, plano sunglasses, prescription
sunglasses, contact lenses and the accessories that go along with them.
you believe that the delivery of clinical care to patients, the diagnosis and management
of conditions, such as glaucoma, allergy and ocular surface disease, are passed
over by optometrists in a retail setting in exchange for refractions and spectacle prescriptions so that the
retailer can sell a pair of glasses and increase profits?
We all must focus
our efforts on creating and supporting state laws that promote the clinical performance
of optometrists, so that optometry
reduced to a function of profit from the sale of spectacles and contact lenses.
Before you cast a stone
But wait! I almost
forgot to share an important step in this crusade. Before optometrists in every
state get all fired-up and indignant about how profit from the sale of spectacles
and contact lenses is shaping the clini- cal care delivered to patients by
optometrists in retail optical chains, they need to take a look at
private practitioners depend on the sale of spectacles and contact lenses for 65%
or more of their overall income. Patients regularly
visit individual private practices where their medically related eyecare needs remain
undiagnosed and unmanaged, even after they've had their eye exam and purchased their
While it may be
true that the independent optometrist who practices in this fashion does so of his
own free will, rather than having been directed to do so by the manager or corporate
guidelines from an optical retailer, the end result is, unfortunately, the same:
The patient's need for medically related eye care and education goes undelivered.
Full scope care in every setting
Don't get me wrong,
I'm all for protecting the rights of the optometrists in a retail setting. They
should be able to practice unencumbered, full-scope care without the misdirected
demands of a store manager or corporate guidelines.
But, perhaps we need to encourage many of
our private practice, self-directed colleagues to move in the same direction.
Optometric Management, Issue: February 2007