I have been in practice since 1986 and boy, have things changed. The new graduates are smarter than ever. They are trained in the latest medical procedure and so much more. The profession of Optometry has evolved to something we could only dream about. We are taking care of our patients with the latest and greatest technology. From Optos to OCT’s, from Lipiflow to True Tears, we have so many devices at our disposal to truly tend to our patients’ every medical need. I do think it’s important not to forget what Optometry is truly about—helping our patients to see better and live their lives better than ever before. Granted, I am in California and we do have more restrictions then most states, but the optical side still makes up 60% of my practice. Let’s talk about the optical side for a minute.
The medical side and the contact lens side are humming with tremendous opportunities, but I truly am excited about what the optical side is doing, and more importantly, where it is heading. The technology we have today gives us the ability to give our patients the most advanced lenses. I believe and use Doctor-Driven Dispensing where I prescribe from the exam chair. I take a minute and listen to what my patients needs to live their lives better and I prescribe that technology for them. By doing this, we can assure our patients the best possible technology. We need to take the time to explain to our patients why we are prescribing this to them and why there is a difference between our product and online glasses or box store glasses. Most of the time, explaining why there is a difference shows your patients why they need to buy from your office. Most patients do not know the difference; they think all options are the same, but we know better. Start the conversation with your patients before handing them off to your opticians. This opens the door for your optician to explain in detail the difference. One of the most important things I explain to patients is the importance of blue light protection for their eyes. There is tremendous talk about this, but we as the doctors need to prescribe this to our patients who use computer screens. I am not talking about just computer programmers; I am talking about anyone who uses a computer or a smartphone (which is virtually everyone).
With the new advancements in digital lens designs, we are able to give our patients better optics than ever before. The newer progressive designs on the market will help our patients see with enhanced comfort. When I have a patient say they tried progressives years ago and never got used to them, so I am not going to try them again, I tell them technology really has changed. I use the analogy of the cell phone and where that has come in the last 10 years. Do you still use a flip phone? Most don't, so why would you assume the lens technology would be the same? Again, the secret is talking to our patients. This eye-to-eye conversation (no pun intended) truly tells your patient you care about giving them the most advanced technology on the market to help them see and live their lives better. Optometry has changed, so change your optical with it and see what happens.
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.