“When I was starting out…”
“Back then, we did things differently. For example…”
“We didn’t have (insert tech device here) in the 19 (insert decade here) and we got the job done just fine.”
Who hasn’t heard statements like those many times over the course of a lifetime? It’s enough to make you think that the world of the past was this Normal Rockwell-esque type place where prices were reasonable, children and teens respected their elders and professionals, like optometrists and ophthalmologists, were revered for their knowledge.
Not so fast.
In the good old days of the 1950’s, for example, life expectancy was only 68 years (in 2015 it is 78 years) and diseases like tuberculosis, syphilis, whooping cough, and measles were still major killers of both children and adults. What about eye conditions? If someone had glaucoma or cataracts in those days, the best a doctor could do was to tell a patient to get his or her affairs in order while vision was still functional.
So when you hear an older colleague talk about how great things were in the past, consider these things:
It’s Optometry and Ophthalmology, not Optometry versus Ophthalmology
Optometrists and ophthalmologists now work together to manage the care of patients with eye diseases, such as glaucoma or cataracts. In addition, thanks to the work of the previous generation of optometrists, they can now prescribe medicines, treat patients with concussion related vision issues and help patients with low vision function, thanks to advanced vision aids. Today, optometrists and ophthalmologists work together to deliver the best care to the patient.
Serving a Greater Number of Patients
Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more people have health insurance, so more of them will get eye care. That means more opportunities to refer patients to other eye care professionals and have patients referred to you. Also, there are greater opportunities for patients to refer their friends and family to you. Some of them will need more than just glasses. Some will need treatment of ocular allergies or dry eye, while some want to make the switch from spectacles to contacts. All of this means more opportunities to provide full scope practice and increase revenue.
Since optometrists are no longer just the folks doing refraction, many choose to focus on patient care and expand their clinical or scientific knowledge. The day to day of managing a practice is less of a distraction. This means that time is freed up for working in academia, doing research, co-managing a patient with an ophthalmologist, or any combination of these. An optometrist has choices today that he or she didn’t have in years past. More choices leads to more treatment and functionality options. Since both optometrists and the patients aren’t stuck with just 1 or 2, both benefit.