ASCO Blog — This Is Why I Am Proud To Be A Doctor of Optometry

06/04/2020

written by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis Featured OD in Optometry Gives Me Life campaign

In many ways, vision is our most valued sense. Much of our physiological design, such as skull shape, is based around interpreting and enhancing the immense amount of information our eyes give us. Our eyes are some of the most complicated structures in nature.

People with impaired vision often don’t realize what they’ve been missing until their vision is corrected. Vision allows us to enjoy the detail of individual leaves in treetops from the sidewalk or the distinct smile lines on loved ones’ faces during laughter.  All the little details that make life so rich and wonderful.

Doctors of Optometry are primary health care providers and are responsible for providing more than two-thirds of the primary eye care in the US. The career of an eye doctor is so much more than just, “One, or two?”

Optometrists change lives each and every day. We diagnose and treat injuries and disease, administer visual rehabilitation and therapy. We restore long-lost hobbies by aiding in the detection and treatment of glaucoma, or help ensure a pain-free life by recognizing the signs of a brain tumor pressing on an eye. It is even possible for Doctors of Optometry to add 100 points to a baseball player’s batting average by improving attention and optimizing their visual processing system.

Optometrists benefit from being able to work directly and compassionately with their patients, receiving the satisfaction of knowing the work they did made someone’s life better.

During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, optometrists have been caring for fellow essential workers, watching for warning signs and treating eye strain that can occur after long hours and little sleep. With so many jobs and classes being brought online, small text and blue light from electronic devices can cause fatigue and headaches.

Because the eyes are an orifice and produce tears, there is an increased risk of transmission or contamination that optometrists have needed to prepare for, intensifying sanitation and carefully selecting which patients to meet with in person. Many offices have implemented virtual patient visits and telehealth services for immediate concerns in order to help reduce the burden on emergency rooms.

Private and corporate practice dominate most optometry careers, but there are a wide variety of options. Eye doctors can enter the profession as an officer and provide care to our armed forces or join a research facility to improve our understanding of eye health. They can join academia to instruct rising professionals, train to perform minor surgical procedures, and so much more.

But in all of these paths, optometrists are able to enhance quality of life and assist everyone, young and old, in living as completely and richly as possible. We offer expertise in all matters of eyecare, always seeking to advance the care that we give to our communities.

This is why I’m proud to be an optometrist. I am able to stand by my fellow eyecare professionals. We help bring smiles each day, and open people’s eyes (sometimes literally) to the small beauties of the world.