I just returned recently from the VP Shift 18 meeting. The theme of the meeting was "the future is bright." I 100% agree that the future of optometry is extremely bright. Granted, there are many changes coming—we cannot practice like we did 5 years ago, nor are we going to practice the same as we do in 5 years. I love how optometry is evolving. We are able to detect things we never could before. I feel one of the greatest additions I have brought to my practice is the OCT. I do an OCT on every comprehensive eye exam, and I review it with the patient. This not only impresses the patient, but I am able to pick up changes I might have missed in years before. I feel I am a better practitioner then I have ever been. Add to that, we have the Optos Daytona. I have a 90% acceptance rate with Optos. The way we have done this for years is we take the picture as part of the pretesting. We found when we switched to this, our acceptance went up. When you have the patient in the exam room and have to take them back out to perform the additional test, many times they stop you and ask to have it done "next time." I go over the OCT, macula and optic nerve and then prescribe the rest of the retina. Again, I have found doing it this way gives me a higher acceptance.
Also looking at the future, we continue to get better quality contacts and glasses. Scleral lenses have helped us to help patients that we could never help in the past. The new lens designs are giving patients choices to ease the strains of different lifestyles we have. The days of one pair of glasses to do everything are gone. Now we have many choices to very specific lifestyles. Since we all live and breathe on the smart device and computer, we need to ask our patients how we can make their lives easier. I truly believe in Doctor–Driven Dispensing whereas I prescribe what my patients need from the exam chair and then re-prescribe when handed off to the optician. I have found by doing this my per-patient revenue has increased, my staff is happier and most important, my patients are happier. It is so important to listen to our patients and prescribe what they need to make their lives better.
The most exciting part of the future is where technology is taking us. There is not a day that goes by that we do not hear of some new breakthrough in technology. It is an exciting time to be an optometrist. I know over the next few years changes are coming that will improve all of our lives. Exam equipment is coming out that can do things we only dreamed of, to new contact lens designs that help people see better than they ever imagined. New medications are also better than ever.
My absolute favorite technology that is here (but will be exploding soon) is the wearable technology. As we will be seeing in technology that is right around the corner, the new glasses will be able to do things we have just seen in movies. We are just starting to see some small launches into this new world of technology with VSP’s Level. Our optometric roots are glasses and our new way of practice is having the best technology for our patients, so when these two things are combined, optometry will be leading the way. I know we have some very smart people making this happen. The future is wearable technology; with it, we will be able to help millions, if not billions, of people live their lives better. It just doesn’t get better than that. This is why I am so excited to be an optometrist and a part of this incredible future.
Eric White, OD is the owner of Complete Family Vision Care Optometry in San Diego, CA. He is a clinical investigator for several contact lens companies having participated on over 420 clinical studies. Dr. White has published several articles on contact lenses and given numerous talks on contact lenses, eye safety, computer vision syndrome and practice management. Dr. White was awarded the 2012 Transitions National Eyecare Practice of the Year, the 2014 Vision Monday Innovator of the Year, the 2015 Transitions Ambassador of the Year and the 2017 San Diego County Optometrist of the Year. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.