Looking back to look ahead

July 1, 2010

It's been 40 years since Alvin Toffler predicted the accelerating pace of change in his book Future Shock in 1970.

Editor's Note: In August, Optometry Times recognizes the achievements of those in the field of optometry with its observance of Optometrist Appreciation Month. To honor the 40,000-plus optometrists, Optometry Times reviews some of the highlights, innovations, and technological advances in eyecare over the past 10 years in this two-article section.

"With InfantSEE, for the first time there is an emphasis on eye and vision care as part of infant wellness and a child's quality of life," Dr. Ellis noted.

School entrance eye exams are now required in Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri for children entering kindergarten, preschool or a Head Start program. "An entrance-level comprehensive eye exam at the time the child first starts school makes sense because so much of learning takes place visually," Dr. Ellis said.

As for return on investment, he points to improvements in Kentucky's standardized test scores over the past 10 years since the enactment of the Early Childhood Initiative in 2000 that mandated such exams for children 3 to 6 years of age.

"The Harkin amendment is the biggest patient access victory that optometry has ever had," Dr. Ellis stated.

The amendment goes into effect in 2014 and has the potential to affect 73,000 insureds.

"The publication of AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) in 2001 was a landmark that opened the gates for research in nutrition and ocular disease such as AMD," Dr. Anshel said. AREDS was the first large-scale, randomized, controlled clinical trial to show a beneficial effect of nutritional supplementation in reducing progression to advanced AMD. The study involved 4,000 patients and generated 22 other reports.

Although newer research has shown that supplements other than the formula used in AREDS may be more beneficial, the study's true value lies in its revolutionary impact on optometry, Dr. Anshel said. "New science is building on that foundation."