I expect that within most professions there exists a certain degree of unavoidable subjectivity about how one is perceived by the “general public.” ODs may, from time to time, fall somewhat out of tune with what our patients are encountering in eye care beyond our own practices.
Finger on the pulse
For this reason, every now and then I will peruse the eyecare aisle of a pharmacy or grocery store just to see what our patients are seeing. I look at the over-the-counter readers to see what powers are available, and I look at the shelves to see what companies may be paying more to get their products placed at consumer eye level. I also examine the ingredients of eye health vitamin formulations to see which study with which they correspond.
Of course, any examination of what our patients are experiencing in eye care would be incomplete without an Internet search. So, every so often I search the news with the keyword “optometry” just to see what our patients may be seeing in their day-to-day lives.
Previously from Dr. Casella: Big pharma helps homeless patient
Much of what I come across is positive. For example, I recently came across an uplifting article detailing how the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry has a rich history going back decades of caring for the Cherokee Nation.1 Such a compliment to the profession is the care and hard work undertaken by these students and doctors. I also recently came across a piece regarding a Pacific University College of Optometry alumna publishing a book for children going to the eye doctor—Buddy Gets His First Pair of Glasses.2 I’m considering a copy for my reception area.
On the other side of the coin is the cold hard fact that negative news sells. So, it is interesting but not surprising to come across an article alleging that comanagement of cataract surgery by doctors of optometry is putting African Americans at risk for complications.3
ODs are able to read such articles and quickly notice the lack of evidence supporting such claims. However, many of our patients don’t know what they don’t know, and damage can be done.
Anti-optometry propaganda occasionally shows itself in the media, especially in the arena of proposed changes to scope of practice. This can get quite ugly, but I am usually pleased with the professional and positive responses on the part of optometry at a regional, state, and national level. We do not define ourselves by what we are not, but rather what we are: doctors for the human eye and adnexa. As such, we are responsible for informing the public of who we are and what we do. We also expose misinformation for what it is: misinformation.
1. Bark L. Cherokees have used NSU optometry clinic for 39 years. Cherokee Phoenix. Available at: http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/12187. Accessed 5/3/18.
2. Yokoy J. Pacific Optometry Alumna Tawnya Pastuck Publishes Her First Children’s Book. Available at: https://www.pacificu.edu/about/media/pacific-optometry-alumna-tawnya-pas.... Accessed 5/3/18.
3. Hammond J. African-Americans at risk from unusual optometry practice. Urban News Service. Available at: https://urbannewsservice.com/investigations/african-americans-risk-unusu.... Accessed 4/30/18.