On World Optometry Day 2023, we asked experts to share what this industry means to them.
March 23, 2023, is World Optometry Day. To celebrate, we asked optometrists and industry experts one simple question: What does optometry mean to you?
We received responses from clinicians around the world. From New Zealand to the UK, from Canada to Australia, one point was emphasized over and over again: Vision is precious, and it is an optometrist's job to safeguard that for as many people as possible.
“For those who are seeing the world for the first time, to those who have seen it change over time; optometry will be there to care for one of our most precious senses.”
Michael A. Slusky, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO
Chicagoland Vision Consultants
“The profession of optometry in the Netherlands is fairly new. Exactly 30 years ago (June 1993) I graduated with my buddy Gerben Sinke as the first two optometrists in the country at the school of optometry in Utrecht (still the only optometry school in the country! But I just came back from our National Optometric Conference which was held in Den Bosch over the weekend. There are about 1200 optometrist now in the Netherlands, and 950 registered for this conference. It is so thrilling and exciting to see all these young optometrists, and to see the profession thriving so much. Really cool to be part of that ride.”
Eef van der Worp, PhD, FAAO, FIACLE, FBCLA, FSLS
Optometrist and owner, the NetherLENS Eye-Contact-Lens
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
“I feel very lucky to be an optometrist. My passions within optometry are myopia management and specialty contact lenses. For myopia management, I think it is incredible that we can change the trajectory of a child’s vision by decreasing myopia progression over time and decreasing risks of potential ocular disease later in life. In prescribing specialty contact lenses, having the opportunity to witness drastic improvements in a patient's vision and quality of life is an incredible experience. I can’t think of another profession that has the opportunity to provide, restore, and improve something as precious as vision.”
Ariel Cerenzie, OD, FAAO, FSLS
Charlotte Contact Lens Institute
Charlotte, North Carolina
“It’s pretty simple. Optometry is my life.”
Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
Dean of the Optometry School at Ohio State University
"Given that vision is integral to daily living, I am delighted to contribute to people’s lives as a gatekeeper and provider of comprehensive eye and vision care. Optometry allows me to assess a small yet intricate organ for conditions that can impair a fully functional life and treat them.
"For a sense so valuable to humanity, the eye is an underappreciated organ for many reasons including limited awareness. Avoidable blindness and vision impairment remains a public health concern such that protection and prevention efforts warrant prioritization."
Ocular disease resident, VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System
Fort Wayne, Indiana
“To me, optometry means excellence. Every optometrist I know strives for excellence in care with every one of our patients. The art of connecting with every single patient who has difficulty with vision on levels beyond the results of clinical tests is what separates optometrists from those tests that they perform. Everyone I call a colleague will go to the ends of the earth to give unexpected acts of kindness for patients when they are in their time of need.
“This is in stark contrast to the forces that affect optometrists every day. Insurance payors try to cram us into poorly compensated bins of CPT codes with complete disregard for excellence, masking their drive for shareholder profit while making it seem like the providers are the ones who are greedy. They play with us like orca do baby seals, hunting us with delayed payments, denials of coverage, prior authorizations, and audits. Disruptive startups try to provide online convenience for their customers without regard for excellence in clinical care, turning patients away from their doctors who are deemed as inefficient and dinosaurs. Regulators impose heavy burdens on brick-and-mortar optometry locations at the insistence of large disreputable companies under the guise of ‘consumer protection.’ Despite these distractive forces, optometrists continue to fight for their patients on a daily basis.
“Optometrists arrive to work each day asking, ‘How can I provide excellent care to my patients today?’ As a group, we are in this fight for one reason and one reason alone: to advocate for our patients at each turn. And, this is something that no matter how hard they try, insurers, disruptors, regulators will never be able to steal.”
Jeffrey Sonsino, OD, FAAO
The Contact Lens Center at Optique
Founder & Chief Medical Officer, Eyeris
Diplomate, Cornea and Contact Lens Section, American Academy of Optometry
Advocate of the Year winner, American Optometric Association
“Optometry: So much has been added, so many omitted or forgotten…may we never forget the original intention.”
Pauline Cho, OD, MEd, PhD
Professor, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Optometry
Hung Hom, Hong Kong
"As optometrists, we have the privilege to provide patients with comprehensive eye care and allow them to experience the world in all its beauty. This World Optometry Day, let us celebrate our profession and recognize the profound impact that we have on patients' lives, including their overall health and wellbeing. Together we will continue to provide the highest quality eye care to all those in need."
Jill Saxon, OD
Executive director, Professional Strategy, Bausch + Lomb
Bridgewater, New Jersey
“On this World Optometry Day, I am reflecting on how much we do every day that changes not only people’s vision, but also their health and quality of life. I’m so proud and grateful for the international sharing of knowledge and best practice that continues to help us all get better outcomes for our patients. Happy World Optometry Day, everyone.”
Optometrist & National Clinical Manager, Matthews Eyecare
Auckland, New Zealand
“Hi, my name is Philip Cheng, director of the Myopia Clinic Melbourne. For me, World Optometry Day 2023 is about celebrating optometry and changing the lives of our patients every day through sight. Our wonderful profession has evolved to be so much more than improving vision in correcting refractive errors, prescribing glasses and contact lenses. We save sight in diagnosing and managing eye health conditions, and now with myopia management becoming a standard of care we are giving kids the chance for a lifetime of better sight and reducing their risks of eye diseases as adults. Making a difference is why I love my work. As optometrists we can be so proud of how far our profession as come, and I’m so excited about the new advances we will see in the future. Happy World Optometry Day!”
Philip Cheng, BOptom, FIAOMC
Kew East, Australia
“What Optometry means to me? Optometry means service, service to our patients in need of improving their quality of life. Throughout Optometry and Contact Lenses, I’ve had the opportunity to change the lives of many people desperate to see better. Adapting Specialty Lenses is an invaluable experience that gives the opportunity to those having Ocular Surface problems reach their visual capabilities. Being in the Academia also give me the opportunity to guide and teach future Optometrist of the importance of respect and compassion for those in need. I try to pass them the work ethics and responsibility of having a total stranger putting their vision and sometimes even their lives under your care.
“As I say to my students, ‘When your job consists of doing what you enjoy, it’s not a job. It’s a hobby.’ ”
Manuel Conde-Seijo, OD
Assistant Professor, IAUPR School of Optometry
Bayamón, Puerto Rico