Every year during the American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting I find myself reflecting on all I’ve witnessed during my career. AAO is the perfect venue for such reflection, as it epitomizes the tremendous strides our profession has made.
CE courses, poster sessions and even the exhibit hall attest to how optometry has changed. As our knowledge, research efforts and practice scope have grown, we’ve become so much more. While remaining committed to our vision care roots, we now play a larger role in ocular health care, working in conjunction with all medical disciplines.
Perhaps this is no more evident than in optometry’s shared care with ophthalmology. As America ages and ocular surgery volumes grow, we find ourselves increasingly engaged in monitoring disease, counseling patients and providing perioperative care – an especially tall order given the dynamic nature of eye care. But it is an essential order, especially for those aspiring to the highest level of care.
I remember extracapsular cataract surgery patients waiting 2 months before we removed their sutures, in hopes of keeping astigmatism under 2 D. Or when a glaucoma patient, failing maximal medical therapy, underwent a trabeculectomy, only to struggle with an IOP of 5 mm Hg and macular hypotony. And when the diagnosis of macular pucker was a bit of an educated guess, as we relied solely on direct ophthalmoscopy and an Amsler grid. Today, we have so many more options, yielding markedly improved outcomes. For optometrists, identifying candidates, counseling patients and providing appropriate perioperative care is essential to ensuring patients receive the best care.
In this month’s Primary Care Optometry News, we’ve asked well respected colleagues to discuss advances in premium IOLs, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery and epiretinal membrane management. They offer great guidance for adapting technologies, counseling patients and providing exceptional clinical care. I’m confidant you’ll find it a valuable read.
On Oct. 3, optometry lost a visionary, ambassador and great friend with the passing of Dr. Frank Fontana. In a career spanning more than 6 decades, Frank’s contributions to optometry are too numerous to elucidate. While instrumental in founding the American Optometric Association’s Contact Lens & Cornea Section as well as the Heart of America Contact Lens Society, he was most widely known as “Uncle Frank.” Generous with his time and talents, Frank spent a great deal of his career befriending and mentoring young optometrists. He was even known to carry wallet photos of his “nieces’” and “nephews’” children, as proud as if they were his own grandchildren. While Frank taught us all a great deal about contact lenses, he taught us even more about kindness, compassion and humility. He’ll be greatly missed, but hopefully a little of Uncle Frank lives on in all of us.