What is the future of eyecare?
Many optometrists are asking this question, and the answers appear to be more volatile and uncertain than ever in the changing climate of telemedicine and legislative battles.
Instead of waiting to let the future happen to him, Walt Whitley, OD, FAAO, has focused on innovating and creating opportunities in his optometric career. Serving as the director of optometric services at Virginia Eye Consultants, an MD/OD practice in Virginia Beach, VA, Dr. Whitley has made a name for himself in ocular surface disease and the opportunities for relationship-building between optometry and ophthalmology.
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His passions have turned to dry eye and the influence of aesthetic products and procedures on the ocular surface. In an area that has been traditionally been of interest only to women, Dr. Whitley's perspective on ocular aesthetics has raised awareness to the fact that men are beginning to use cosmetic products and procedures that could have lasting and permanent effect on their eyes.
Dr. Whitley routinely prescribes, educates, and performs cosmetic ocular treatments, including intense pulsed light (IPL) and LipiFlow (Johnson & Johnson Vision) for chronic redness and irritation caused by dry eye disease.
In addition to a focus on modern patient care, Dr. Whitley believes that building the optometry/ophthalmology relationship is an important building block for optometry’s future. His focus on growing the comanagement relationship and dialogue between eyecare providers helps to ensure patients are getting the best care and outcomes. He may not know what the future holds for optometry, but he is striving to build a stronger profession today with a focus on what patients both need and want.