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Bringing Life into Focus in School and Beyond
Growing up, I never went to the eye doctor or had glasses—I wasn’t even exposed to the optometric field until I was in college as a pre-dental student. The optometry clinic was right across the hall from the dental clinic, and it intrigued me because I noticed that there was a greater opportunity to interact with your patients in optometry. I was also a camp counselor during this time and had a passion for working with kids. Realizing that dentistry would not allow me to interact with younger patients the way I wanted to, I switched my career path to optometry.
Although I didn't open my own practice until I was four or five years out of school, I always dreamed of bringing my vision of creating an inclusive experience for kids to life. Mine didn’t start out as a pediatric practice, but over time I gained the knowledge and skills to perform eye exams on children as young as six months old. I created a separate waiting area for my pediatric patients and their families, as well as an expansive optical collection just for kids. Soon, parents in my community began talking to each other about the experience they and their kids had at my practice. Those with VSP saw that we participated in the Premier Program (now Premier Edge) and stocked a wide variety of kids’ frames with discounts and special offers; our website reinforced the kid-friendly atmosphere, and our youth patient base grew. Now, we even have a dedicated afternoon each week just for pediatric patients—the kids get to play together and are more comfortable about getting their eye exams, and the parents feel good about going to a practice that’s so family-oriented.
To promote the practice, we leverage Premier Edge Marketing Support to send parents reminder emails every July or August to showcase our pediatric optical selection and encourage them to schedule an annual eye exam for their children before school begins. We explain that 80% of what a child learns in the first 12 years of life is through vision, so the earlier that vision problems are caught, the better outcome the kids have in school and ultimately, in life. VSP also actively promotes the importance of comprehensive eye exams for the whole family, especially during back-to-school season, which reinforces our message and helps bring more patients into our practice.
The most rewarding part of being a Doctor of Optometry is helping a patient see clearly for the first time. Some of the kids who visit my practice complain that they can’t see the board clearly in school, or they can’t play sports because they think they’re not skilled enough. When we fit these patients with glasses, sports glasses, or even contacts, it changes their life. It changes their outlook. It changes their behavior. It improves their confidence. “As eye see it,” pediatric eye care not only brings children’s education into focus, but the rest of their lives.