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The Key to our Continued Success
With all the changes and technological advancements in our field, we as private practice optometrists have had to evolve beyond prescribing glasses and contacts in order to remain successful. The opportunities now available to us not only impact the important role we play in our patients’ overall healthcare—they ensure our long-term survival.
As an orthokeratology patient with a high minus prescription, I spent a lot of time at the eye doctor as a child. It is where I fell in love with optometry and the idea of using technology to help people live better lives. Today, I differentiate my practice by continually evaluating new technology that we can implement to improve patient care. In particular, my personal experience as a child sparked a passion for myopia management, and we recently implemented orthokeratology in the practice. With a patient demographic consisting primarily of those in the tech field and their children who have spent increased time in front of computer screens, the need for myopia management has grown significantly, especially since the pandemic. And, with data predicting half the world will be nearsighted by 20501, that demand will continue to increase.
The Impactful Role We Play
Patients often don’t realize the impact Doctors of Optometry can have on their overall healthcare—that today we can detect signs of diabetes and hypertension through an eye exam, and may even help alleviate a patient’s headaches and back pain through technological advancements in our field. They are amazed that just having the right amount of prism in their glasses can alleviate some of these symptoms. Educating our patients about this range of capabilities reinforces the importance of annual eye exams for them and their family members and positions us as an integral part of their healthcare team.
For me, the most compelling illustration of the impact I make on patients’ overall health is a patient who came in reporting a big change in vision in one eye. During the exam, I found he had a mass in his retina. Knowing his history of prostate cancer, I contacted the oncologist, who had the patient come in. It turned out the cancer had returned and metastasized in his eye. Without that eye exam, he never would have known.
Freedom to Choose
One of my favorite aspects of private practice optometry is the freedom we have to explore all of these opportunities and decide which ones we will implement in our practices. New research and technologies are coming out all the time, and it’s exciting to see our role continue to grow.
As private practice doctors, we also get the opportunity to choose the products we sell and the partnerships we have. Our practice’s partnership with VSP Global in particular has provided numerous benefits to us. VSP started off supporting private practice many years ago and they continue to do so by checking in with us to find out our needs and evolving with us to ensure our continued success. Our partnership brings us more patients, due to marketing efforts VSP does on our behalf, our Premier Program indicator on their “Find a Doctor” web page, and their overall name recognition in the industry. It also provides savings we can pass along to our patients, offers Individual Plans for patients without insurance, and delivers support via their representatives and network of doctors. Recently, I needed to find a fill-in doctor during my maternity leave, and VSP Premier Pathways matched us up quickly with a perfect candidate who was able to jump in immediately. VSP is with us every step of the way, supporting our practice as we grow.
I am very optimistic about the future of our profession. "As Eye See It," there is a lot coming down the pipeline in terms of patient needs and new technologies to address them. As private practice doctors, we have the unique ability to decide what we want to do with those opportunities to ensure our continued success.
Watch the Video
1. Lanca, Carla, Chen-Wei Pan, Seang Mei Saw, and Tien-Yin Wong. “Epidemiology of Myopia, High Myopia, and Pathological Myopia.” Pathologic Myopia, 2021, 17–41. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-74334-5_3.