I just love this time of the year! Don’t you? Cold snap in the air. Friday night football games. Bright orange, yellows and reds on all of the trees. It’s a great time to put on a flannel shirt or a down-filled vest and take the kids and the dog for a walk. It seems the year begins to slow down a bit in the fall. It always gives me a chance to clear my head and take stock of what we have accomplished throughout the year. It is also the perfect time of year to think about what you are thankful for and begin to make plans for the upcoming year.
As most of the leaves have now fallen, our plans here in the office have also continued to fall into place. Dr. Harrison and Dr. Hunt have been approved for the financing to take over ownership of the office. We continue to work our way through the legal and accounting changes that will need to be in place before Dr. Hejny and I can turn the reins over to the new doctors.
We continue to be busy in the office filling orders for contact lenses and eyeglasses. It has been wonderful for me to hear the responses of a lot of people I have taken care of for years stop and tell me how much they enjoyed meeting and working with both Dr. Hunt and Dr. Harrison. It does my heart good to know that I will be leaving all of you in good hands. Each passing day reinforces our decision that these two guys are the right people to carry on the “I Care” legacy.
Michelle and I just got back from a continuing education meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. We have to attend so many hours of meetings in order to maintain our licenses to practice Optometry. We plan to continue to keep our licenses valid so that we can continue to help Dr. Hunt and Dr. Harrison out in the clinic and cover for them when they have to attend meetings. We enjoy spending time with doctors from all over this country to compare notes. It can be inspiring and humbling at the same time to see what is being done in other offices by colleagues of ours.
We came home feeling pretty good about our office and what we have been offering to patients here in the Tri-Cities. I went through all the steps and tests that we do during a routine eye exam and compared it to what we learned in Charleston about other offices. I am proud to say that our equipment is more up-to-date than a lot of offices. We also include a lot of tests in our standard eye exam that many offices would charge you an additional fee if they can even offer you the test. If you put all of that together we are offering better service at a lower cost which makes us one of the best values for eyecare in the Tri-Cities! Michelle and I have always held the attitude that you do what the patient needs to fix their problem. We don’t “nickel and dime” patients or try to add in tests that you don’t need. We aren’t going to let you get hurt by not encouraging you to have a test if it will help us understand what your problem is and how to best address your needs.
It was also encouraging to learn that our “recall rate” that measures how many people return for us for services a second time is also very high compared to a lot of other offices. I think that is probably because we have always looked at patients as though you are family. How would you take care of your Mom or your little brother? That has been a hallmark of our service for years. We try to care for each patient at each visit the way we would want to be treated. If you do that you will end up taking care of families for generations. It makes me feel old to say it, but we have begun working on our 4th generation of patients in some families. That kind of loyalty and trust is humbling and very gratifying. Thank you.
Dr. Hunt, Dr. Harrison, Dr. Hejny and I have been discussing a few “hot topics” in Optometry. I will try to give you some consensus answers to some of the most common questions we have been getting lately:
1. Do kids become more nearsighted if they play video games or continuously use their cell phones?
Answer: No, not really. Yes, nearsighted children’s spectacle prescriptions increase as they grow and their eyes become longer from front to back. We consider this phenomenon to be normal and healthy. About 80% of your child’s prescription is genetic. About 20% of their overall prescription is dependent on what they do with their eyes. We can help give you tips on slowing the progression of your child’s prescription if you are concerned.
2. People buy eyeglasses on-line because they can save money, right?
Answer: No, not really. Studies show that people who buy glasses on-line usually are looking for a certain style or feature for their eyeglasses and they like to shop at their own pace without getting a “sales pitch” from someone who is paid on commission. Some patients would rather “build” their new eyeglasses using an on-line shopping tool so that they can browse different frame styles unhurried and unbothered by a salesperson. We get that. That’s why we do not pay any of our staff on commission. Our staff is simply their to assist you in making good decisions. All of our staff are paid the same whether you buy glasses or you don’t buy glasses with us. We have also added an on-line kiosk in the middle of our dispensary so that you can shop on-line while you are in our office. Our staff are available to answer questions or they can just let you “shop” on your own. In most cases, we can save you money over what you would pay online because our staff can help you. For example, if you purchase polycarbonate lenses you do not need to also purchase ultraviolet light protection, but most people do because they do not know that the polycarbonate lens material naturally absorbs UV light making this add-on charge unnecessary. It’s kind of like paying twice for “chrome wheels” that already come when you select the “sport package” when you are “building” a car on-line. You just really have to watch what selections you check or you are going to pay twice for several features costing you more. Most patients need and appreciate our staff help and we can save you money.
3. How does the “blue light” from my cell phone or tablet affect my eyes?
Answer: Not much. Ultraviolet radiation can cause cataracts and macular degeneration. That is not what we are talking about when we say “blue light”. Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and has a longer wavelength than UV light. Some researchers believe that exposure to “blue light” disrupts normal sleep patterns and can contribute to dry eye symptoms and eyestrain. Fortunately, many of the electronic device manufacturers have already taken steps to reduce the amount of “blue light” emitted from their devices. Apple treats the glass on all of their Iphones and Apple watches to greatly reduce this type of radiation. Microsoft’s Windows 10 products have a user setting that switches your display to a nighttime mode at whatever time of day you program this feature to start. Bottom-line is you are probably okay if you are already wearing eyeglasses. Ironically, patients who do not need correction to see their computer or cell phone are more at risk for “blue light” problems because they aren’t getting the protection that we build into the eyeglass lenses that we sell to patients who wear eyeglasses for these activities. If you have questions, just stop in and talk to us.
4. When should children get their first eye exam?
Answer: We can examine children at any age if you think they are having a problem. We definitely like to see all kids by the time they are about 3 years-old even if you think they are not having a problem. The reason for this is if we can catch a “lazy eye” (amblyopia) before age 6 we can usually improve the vision. We often won’t prescribe lenses for your child just because we find a minor prescription. Knowing what to watch for as your child grows is invaluable to us when we finally have to step in and prescribe corrective lenses, patching or other remedies that will keep your child performing their best.
Hope this helps answer some of the thoughts we have been getting in the office. As I reflect on what I am thankful for in the Autumn of my career, I am humbled and moved by the trust, loyalty and friendship all of you have shown Michelle and I through the years. May God bless you and your families. We will talk again after the Holidays.
Best wishes always,
Dr. Drew and Dr. Michelle