In Malcolm Gladwell’s classic book The Tipping Point, we are reminded that critical events bring about outsize change.1 We are at that point in optometry: poised for momentous professional responsibility and growth. This transformation is due to the convergence of science, technology, economics, communication—and resulting patient needs and expectations.
At this moment, optometric leaders are seemingly wedged between fighting against online refractions and spectacles and fighting for “follow the money/ophthalmologic care.”
Yet, both directions fail miserably at delivering enhanced quality of care to the patient—beyond expediency and treatment of acute emergencies, infections, and surgery.
As Internet-savvy consumers demand more, and as unscrupulous insurance executives bottom feed for simple refractions, academics within our colleges of optometry continue to dismiss all discussion of wellness, prevention, and environmental optometry as irrelevant. As science and multiple stressors bear down on our profession for more than the medical “detect and treat” model, the “ivory tower” has no choice but to teach students what consumers demand, lest they become dinosaurs.
Previously from Dr. Richer: Details matter when prescribing meso-zeaxanthin
Thinking inside out—not outside in
The 2016 American Academy of Optometry Nutrition, Disease Prevention, and Wellness Special Interest Group (held in Anaheim, CA, on November 10, 2016) provided a glimpse of the hidden world of the gastrointestinal system.
The microbiome, a 10-trillion–cell civilization of microbes lives within each of us, impacting our inflammatory, cardiovascular, and neurologic systems that affect eye health and function.2
Caring for the patient now means caring about his gut health and factors that can disrupt it. Factors such as systemic antibiotics, modern farming practices, sugar, gluten, environmental toxins, and GMOs all must be discussed with this in mind.