At this time last year, more than 20 million individuals were at risk of losing their healthcare coverage, with a number of individuals arguing that coverage is a privilege rather than a right. The FTC was (and still is) mulling changes to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act to create more recordkeeping requirements for optometrists. The emphasis seemed more on allowing patients to buy contact lenses where they want and less on whether they have a valid prescription and appropriate follow-up care.
The proverbial rose-colored glasses were starting to turn black.
However, there still were some lighter hues. For example, students and ODs rallied on Capitol Hill and met with members of Congress to advocate for legislation that not only would be good for the optometric profession but would be good for their patients. That’s where there is inspiration this year as well.
Take for example, the subject of this month’s “One-to-One”. Joseph Mallinger, OD, MBA, FAAO, whom the American Optometric Association gave its Distinguished Service Award in Denver last month, describes how he retired and sold his practice in the late 1990s but went on to earn an MBA. Inspired by several past AOA presidents and armed with his new degree, he continued working on behalf of the profession. “I think it’s important for those of us who can give back to the profession to take the time to volunteer,” he said.
Mallinger isn’t the only one. In this month’s “Docs Speak Out” survey (page 16), two-thirds of respondents said they have been involved, or plan to become involved, in advocacy efforts. Their top issues include optometric scope of practice, illegal contact lens sales, and changes to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act.
Meanwhile, at Optometry’s Meeting last month, the House of Delegates passed resolutions not only for the benefit of the profession but the general public as well. These include advocating for adequate vision testing in states’ driver’s licensing requirements and collaborating with federal healthcare stakeholders on a response to the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Optometry is a profession that is devoted to the general public’s well-being. Also inspiring is the realization of how optometrists can have an impact on individuals’ lives. For example, in this month’s “Think About Your Eyes” (page 5), Lindsay Berry, OD, reminds us how optometrists can help diagnose vision problems in children that go beyond myopia and hyperopia—disorders that children and their parents may be unaware of even though they can hinder a child’s success.
True, some small patches of black remain in those glasses. However, the view through them has become much rosier.
Jeffrey Eisenberg | Editor-In-Chief | JEisenberg@FVMG.com