Professional Optometry

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO February 01, 2016

It's hard to believe, but I have had a part in professional optometry for 35 years. By all measures, it has been a great run. Just think about it. Our scope of practice has expanded from a largely refractive, diagnostic, and referral profession … to what we enjoy today: a refractive, diagnostic, treatment and collaborative profession. Today, optometry is widely recognized as an important part of prevention and wellness.

So, just how has professional optometry come so far? Visionary doctors simply knew in their hearts that their skill level and education made them capable of so much more. Successful therapeutic legislation followed and excellent patient care resulted to bring us to where we are today. We should be thankful for the courage of those who pressed forward, knowing full well that it did not come easy.

We know that nothing that is worthwhile in this life comes easy. We had our obstacles way back when, and we have our obstacles today. Fortunately, our profession is equipped with excellent clinicians who continue to strive for the best possible patient outcomes. We have a track record of excellence. Fundamentally, the key to our success will always lie in the eyes of our patients. It is they who will help champion our progress going forward.

So, enough about the past, and even the present; what does the future look like for our profession? I believe the future is bright, but we must remain vigilant. Access continues to be an issue in some states and some regions. We must work hard to get doctors on medical panels so they can provide a full complement of care to their patients. We need to remember that both vision care and medical care are important. In our opticals, we must continue to address the needs of our patients and prescribe specifically and individually for optimum result. We must be conscious of patient perceptions and of our value proposition. We simply must deliver more than is expected.

Our world today includes healthcare reform, changing patient demographics, unlimited access to information, an online marketplace, and pressure toward impersonal and homogenized care. Our patients deserve better and optometry is perfectly positioned to stand out from the crowd. It is imperative that we deliver the very best we have to offer in whatever practice venue we find ourselves in.

As I see it, professional optometry must continue to move forward. We must press ahead and understand that complacency won't get it done. Visionary colleagues have led us to where we are today. New visionaries will need to step up to lead us forward. So, let's challenge ourselves to have a vision ... to keep our heads up, our eyes on the ball, and our weight well balanced for maximum impact.

How do you define professional optometry today and in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

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