President’s Message

I am going to use this month’s President’s Message to give another COVID update. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our in-person CE last month due to an increase in cases of COVID in San Diego. There have been about 14,000 new cases in the last two weeks (or 1,000 new cases per day) compared to about 50 new cases per day back in July. There is speculation as to the cause. Is it the new Delta variant that seems to be more contagious, even in vaccinated individuals? Is it the unvaccinated who are spreading the virus? Or is it waning immunity from the vaccine?

Studies have shown that vaccinated individuals can spread the virus just as easily as unvaccinated individuals. Those of us who are vaccinated carry the same viral load of the Delta variant in our nasal passages as unvaccinated.  This means we can spread it just as easily, but we likely will not get as sick. This is why the CDC recommends still wearing a mask indoors even if you are vaccinated. In addition, new reports are showing that 98% of the hospitalizations from COVID, in the recent months, are people who are not vaccinated. This shows us that the vaccine is indeed working and why it is so important to get vaccinated! Although, there are cases of vaccinated individuals being hospitalized. This brings me to my next point: who gets a booster vaccine and when can they get it?

The last update from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported that only those who received two doses of Pfizer are eligible for a third dose at this time. Those who received Moderna or Johnson and Johnson are not eligible, but more research is being done to determine if it will be needed in the future. The CDC and CDPH recommend the following groups should get a third dose:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings
  • People aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions

The CDC and CDPH recommend the following groups may receive a third dose:

  • People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions
  • People aged 18-64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting:
    • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police)
    • Education staff
    • Corrections workers
    • U.S. Postal Service workers
    • Grocery store workers

So, as a healthcare worker, you may receive a third dose if you have received two doses of Pfizer already. The third dose can be administered any time 28 days after your second dose of Pfizer, no sooner.

If you would also like to receive the newsletters or telebriefing invitations from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, you can register here: registration link.

I hope you are all staying safe and I hope to see you soon!

President’s Message

The San Diego County Optometric Society is one of the largest societies in the state of California. Our vision is to be “America’s finest optometric society”. To achieve this we work hard to protect and advance the political interests of optometrists, both locally and at the state level. This past year has been particularly successful in this regard. This success helps to further the profession of optometry and better serve our patients. Another way we work to be the finest society is by providing world class speakers for the continuing education for our members. Finally, we also serve our community by volunteering at the Lion’s Optometric Vision Clinic, Veteran Stand Down, and the Richard Rex Memorial Fund. Although COVID has made it a bit more difficult to have some of these events, our board members are working hard to make sure the citizens of San Diego get the care they need.

The only way we are able to achieve these efforts is by the support of our wonderful sponsors! Our sponsors not only provide financial support, but also extend discounts to members for using their products and provide resources to help with building practices and optometric careers. Additionally, sponsorship helps fund our public awareness projects and advocacy efforts, as well as our website, social media, and other SDCOS social events.

We usually have a vendor appreciation dinner every fall to thank our sponsors. Like everything else this year, we will be thanking our sponsors a little differently. We will be inviting them to our holiday party, tentatively scheduled for December 18th, 2021. As a member, I encourage you to show how much you appreciate the support of our sponsors. Take time to sit down with them at the holiday party, get to know them, and hear their ideas of how they can help you and our Society in the upcoming year.  It is important to support the sponsors who are so passionate about supporting our society and profession!

Finally, I would like to recognize and give a warm Thank You to each of our current sponsors who have stuck with us during the pandemic. First, our platinum sponsors are Science Based Health, American Eye Associates, Essilor, NVISION Eye Centers, VSP Global, and EyeCarePro. Our sustaining sponsors are Alcon, Bausch and Lomb, Cooper Vision, Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute and TLC Laser Eye Centers, Healthy Eyes Advantage, La Jolla LASIK Institute, Optovue, Shamir, Sun Ophthalmics, Visionary, Wells Fargo, and WestPac Wealth Partners.

SDCOS remains a strong and successful society because of them. I will work hard to make sure the relationship with our sponsors continues to improve and I hope you will do the same! They are here to help not only our society, but they also want to see your finances flourish, your practices thrive, and your patients see better! Thank you SDCOS sponsors!

President’s Message

August is children’s eye health and safety month! As a mother of a one-year-old, and knowing a baby at my church who was recently diagnosed with retinoblastoma, this one is dear to my heart. Most parents do not understand the significance of eye exams for their children. But as optometrists, we know how important they are. We know that some children who are struggling in school, are labeled with learning disabilities, or are called lazy actually may be having difficulties with their vision. Disorders such as amblyopia and strabismus can make it very difficult for children to succeed in school, and many go undetected. In infants, vision problems may lead to delayed developmental milestones like crawling and walking. A study found that 1 in 5 preschool children have a vision problem and 1 in 4 school aged children need to wear glasses. Here is a list of things we can remind parents to look out for:

  • Squinting one eye
  • Poor depth perception
  • Constant eye rubbing
  • Chronic tearing
  • Extreme light sensitivity
  • White pupillary reflex

The American Optometric Association recommends that every child have their first eye exam between 6 months and 1 year old. At this age, treatment for amblyopia or other vision disorders are easily treated. For this reason, the InfantSee program offers no-cost eye exams to children between 6 months and 1 year old, no matter the parents’ income. If your office is not equipped to see children, please refer your patients with children to InfantSee.org to find a doctor near them. It is also important to remind patients that a vision screening at school, or a visual acuity check at the pediatrician’s office is not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam. Many screenings screen for refractive error, and not ocular health. As we know, babies should have a dilated exam, most importantly to check for retinoblastoma. As I mentioned above, a child at my church who is the same age as my daughter, was recently diagnosed with retinoblastoma at a routine eye exam. She, unfortunately, lost her eye, but we are hoping that the early diagnosis saved her life.

As optometrists, we have the ability to completely change a child’s life by giving them the gift of sight, giving them comfortable vision by treating binocular disorders, or even saving their life. Please help me in spreading the word about the importance of childrens’ eye health!

President’s Message

June marks the beginning of summer! And this year, it marks another milestone in starting to re-open as we continue to make progress in defeating this virus! Maybe you are a practice owner looking for more help as patients begin to flock to your practice for those new glasses and contacts they have been putting off for the past year.  Maybe you are a new graduate looking for work, or figuring out how to run a business for the first time! I remember feeling immense anxiety as I transitioned from my residency program into the “real world”. How do I get my license? What is an NPI number? How much malpractice insurance do I need? I had so many questions!

I wish someone had told me about the COA Optometric Resource Guide available to members. As students, you are encouraged to join as a student member which is a free membership that lasts the entirety of your graduating year. That means that new grads still have free access until January! This Optometric Resource Guide gives you all the information I wish I had at the time. It clearly lays out everything you have to do to complete your licensure, how to become a Medicare/Medi-Cal provider, and what an NPI number is and how to apply for one. It also offers practice management tips including HIPAA guidelines, CA scope of practice laws, how to keep medical records, clinical practice guidelines, telehealth information, and more!

If you are still searching for a job after graduation, or are looking for a change in positions, both the COA and SDCOS offer job postings. SDCOS offers a unique job connections service where you can be put on a list of doctors looking for a position that will be sent to doctors looking to hire! I, personally, found my dream job on the SDCOS website right after completing my residency! I saw the job posting and noticed that the SDCOS president was an employee at the office looking to hire. So I emailed him to get more information and decided it was a good fit! Three years later, I am still at the same job that I would not have gotten if it weren’t for the Society’s website (or the help of the President). Please do not hesitate to reach out to any board member with questions about job searching, we are all happy to help!

Also, plans are in the works for a possible outdoor BBQ this summer for new members to be able to meet with board members! If you are a new grad or have recently moved to San Diego, keep an “eye” out for more information coming soon! We would love to meet you in person and get to know you better! We are always thrilled to have new members as that makes our society stronger and our voices louder. Together we can accomplish so much for our profession!

President’s Message

As I am writing this, I San Diego County has just entered the Orange Tier of quarantine! Over one million San Diegans have been vaccinated! The burden of disease of COVID-19 is rapidly decreasing! This means that San Diegans are going to feel more comfortable going to the eye doctor for their eye exams. Hopefully this is good news for your practices as many of us are still recovering from the initial shutdown. As your practices begin to pick up, let’s not forget about our mission as members of the society, and the reason we became optometrists: to help those in need.

The San Diego Optometric Society has a long history of volunteering for the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic to provide quality eyecare to those who qualify. These include people who are unable to obtain assistance through private insurance or other social service agencies. They may be low-income families, or those undergoing rehabilitation programs. What better way of helping these people get back on their feet than by giving them the gift of sight! The LOVC provides its patients with comprehensive eye exams, low-cost glasses, dilated retinal examinations, and glaucoma screenings. At the moment, there is a long waiting list to get an eye exam because the clinic was closed for a while during the COVID-19 quarantine.

The LOVC makes it easy to volunteer your time! They are open Monday through Friday, 9am-1pm. However, they are willing to remain open for an afternoon shift from 12-2pm or a rare Saturday shift for those of us that work during the week. You set your schedule of how many patients you want to see. So it is really a small time commitment, you can still see half a day of patients in your office after volunteering! The clinic has all the equipment you need, including Optos photography! The staff is wonderful and very helpful. They work up your patients for you and take care of glasses orders and referrals, when necessary. The hardest part is just picking up the phone to schedule your time!

Another opportunity to give back is the North County Veteran Stand Down happening September 17-19th. Healing California will be there providing eye exams, as well as making and dispensing single vision prescription glasses onsite to homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.  Veterans make up a large portion of our community, so let’s give the gift of sight to these service members who have given so much for us. The clinic is open 8am-5pm each day with morning, afternoon, or all-day shifts available. To sign up, go to the following website: https://healingca.org/upcoming-clinics/ncsd

Please let our board members know if you have any questions! I encourage all of you to volunteer at one or both of these clinics to help those in our community who need it most.

President’s Message

This past year has been a historic year, not only for the world, but for COA as well! This year the COA had more legislative wins than any year previous! They were able to allow optometrists to administer COVID-19 vaccines, have live online CE approved, include optometrists in phase 1A for COVID immunizations, secure adult eyeglass coverage for Medi-Cal patients, telehealth payment parity, among others! And they are still working on more! Thanks to the COA I am currently fully vaccinated, I can complete my CE from the safety (and comfort) of my home, and am able to take a course to help distribute the vaccine!

Without the COA advocating for our rights as optometrists, none of this would have been possible, and many of us might even be out of work. If you had trouble seeing the benefit of being a member before last year, I don’t think I have to tell you how important it is now. We tend to take things for granted sometimes, the fact that we can dilate patients, use TPAs, or treat glaucoma. Especially those of us who entered the profession once these rights were already secured. Seeing the COA act so swiftly to help ensure my ability to continue to work, get paid, and attend CE during a pandemic has convinced me of the importance of being a member! The monthly payments are a small price to pay to be able to have a future as an optometrist.

In addition to all the wins from the past year, here are some other benefits of being a COA/AOA member:

  1. Continuing education: The COA is now offering free online CE in addition to discounted rates for members to attend OptoWest, Monterey Symposium, and the AOA’s Optometry’s Meeting! As I am writing this, both the Monterey Symposium and Optometry’s Meeting are scheduled to be in-person this year!
  2. Increased awareness: AOA works tirelessly to promote optometry with integrity and demonstrate how doctors of optometry care for patients’ eye health both in the exam room and in everyday life. A concerted public awareness campaign seeks to educate Americans about the importance of regular, in-person, comprehensive eye exams and the dangers of taking shortcuts in their eye health. The AOA also offers practice listing opportunities for members on their website under “find a doctor”.
  3. Paraoptometric resource center: As a practice owner, you can enroll your entire staff to have access to the paraoptometric resource center. This online toolkit has information for training staff to help them become more knowledgeable, productive, and successful.
  4. Legal Service Resource Program: The Legal Service Resource Program offers 30 minutes of free legal advice to members each month.
  5. Insurance: AOA Excel offers malpractice insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance to members. New grads who become AOA members can enjoy 50% off malpractice insurance their first year in practice, then 25% off their second year!

Speaking of insurance, we know that it is important to have insurance, that is why most of us have malpractice insurance, health insurance, life insurance, etc. We are able to see the value in monthly payments for insurance. You can think of your COA/AOA dues as insurance; insurance that our profession will not only be around a while, but will be thriving. So thank you all for being members and I encourage you to take advantage of all the benefits your membership offers!

President’s Message

A few weeks ago, the California Optometric Association held the first session of the annual House of Delegates. For those of you who don’t know, the House of Delegates is an annual meeting where all the societies in California get together to vote on policy changes and new board members. This year was a little different as we were unable to vote virtually. Despite being unable to vote, the meeting was still very productive and I would like to share a few things with you that were discussed.

We began with an opening statement from our President, our very own Dr. Jason Tu. He discussed his plans at the beginning of the year to make the COA more nimble and quick to respond to optometrists. Little did he know, that would be exactly what the COA needed in 2020. He accomplished this by re-organizing COA personnel, cutting dues for members during the COVID pandemic, and adding new member benefits. In eliminating dues for April and May, COA was able to gain and keep 30 new members. Free online CE was created, with over 600 members participating in each event! Dr. Tu also discussed the need for optometrists to be ready to answer the call to volunteer as a leader so that one day young doctors will be ready to take the lead and make the changes needed for COA to thrive with the new wave of optometrists. Dr. Tu challenged the status quo this past year and helped make COA a leader in the COVID pandemic.

Next, Kristine Schultz gave us an update on advocacy in 2020. There were more advocacy wins in 2020 than in any other year previous! Dr. David Redman and Dr. Mark Nakano were able to elaborate on these wins. They include the ability to administer COVID vaccines, getting live online CE approved for California optometrists, include optometrists in phase 1A for COVID immunizations, adult eyeglass coverage for Medi-Cal patients, telehealth payment parity, and stopping legislation requiring optometrists to maintain a stockpile of specific kinds of PPE for employees, among many others. Kristine highlighted the success of the first virtual Legislative Day, announced the new website that will go live next month, and the change of President’s council from meeting just once a year to meeting quarterly in order to be more effective. At the last President’s Council meeting, presidents were able to meet with two AOA trustees to come up with changes that need to be made to overcome barriers to membership and make the most of our dues as California optometrists. All of these changes are helping to advance the COA into the future.

Next, the current Secretary-Treasurer, Dr. Amanda Dexter, gave us her report. Highlights of her report include, decreased total revenue in 2020 by $800,000, but also a decrease in expenses for 2020 resulting in a positive balance of $600,000. Decreased revenue was attributed to the two months of free dues for members during the pandemic and reduced event registration. Reduced expenses were attributed to lower cost of events (as all events were virtual) and reduced cost of personnel. The COA did not need to touch the reserve fund or endowment trust fund to stay afloat during the pandemic. Dr. Dexter pointed out that although event revenue was down, event registration went up which means that more members are using the benefits that COA offers. At the end of the day, this is important because when members utilize more benefits, they are more likely to remain members! She also informed us that COA is planning on an in-person Monterey Symposium and OptoWest! We will keep you posted!

All in all, it was a great meeting! We hope to see you there, in-person, next year!

President’s Message

As healthcare professionals, we are all aware of the dangers of COVID-19 and the effects it has had on our businesses, daily lives, and even loved ones. Despite closing our offices, social distancing, and wearing masks, the numbers continue to rise. Luckily, thanks to the hard work of numerous scientists, there are two vaccines available in the US! At January’s SDCOS board meeting, the board members and I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Jennifer Tuteur and Dr. Denise Foster from the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency to discuss all things COVID and vaccinations. I am going to use this newsletter to relay some important information they shared with us regarding the vaccines.

Both vaccines available (Moderna and Pfizer) are mRNA vaccines, which means it is not the live virus. This is new technology but both have proven to be safe and effective! Studies have shown a 95% efficacy in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, or death if infected by the virus. San Diego’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of the population by July 1, 2021 in order to create herd immunity against the virus. Optometrists and your office staff are able to be vaccinated now by going through the county. You can visit the San Diego County’s website (www.coronavirus-sd.com) to register yourself and your office staff for the vaccination. They are trying to make it easily accessible by offering the vaccine through county health vaccination events, “super stations”, mobile vaccination teams, hospital-based sites, clinic-based sites as well as through pharmacies. Even though there are many different sites, appointments are filling up fast because the city is limited by the number of vaccines they receive as well as by the number of volunteers they have to administer the vaccine. As optometrists, we can help! This is one of the main reasons AB 443 was passed, and yet another reason why being a COA member and participating in Legislative Day is so important! We now have the ability to help distribute the vaccine to the population! If you are certified and interested in volunteering to help administer the vaccine, you can register here: https://www.healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov.

If you have not yet gotten your vaccine certification, there are still ways for you to help prevent further spread of the virus:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Social distance and wear masks even if you have been vaccinated
  • Restrict non-essential travel to <120 miles, even if you remain in state
  • Enable CA Notify (app) on your iPhone or android phone to help the CDC track the virus

From December 10, 2020 to January 13, 2021, San Diego county went from 100,000 to 200,000 cases of COVID-19. We have confirmed community spread of the UK variant which has been found to be 50% more contagious. Luckily, the vaccine appears to be effective against all new strains that are being identified. The vaccine is not recommended for everyone depending on other health conditions (recent COVID infection, pregnancy/nursing, immune deficiency, etc…), but if you have no contraindications, the San Diego County of Health & Human Services Agency recommends being vaccinated to prevent further spread and keep you, your patients, and your loved ones safe.  Stay safe, and I hope to be able to see all of you in person in the near future.

President’s Message

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday season, even if you couldn’t be with your loved ones. Let’s look forward to a brighter 2021! I am honored to serve as your president in 2021 as we continue to work through all the changes COVID-19 has brought.

Let’s thank the amazing Dr. Wendy Gross for all of her hard work navigating us through 2020, making many tough decisions, and keeping SDCOS continuing education meetings running even when we could not meet in person. 2020 was a challenging year to be president, with lots of changes, but she made the transition seamlessly! Also, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Jason Tu as COA President for 2020. Not only did he assist SDCOS, but he also led the way for all optometrists in California, keeping us up to date with the ever-changing practice recommendations from the CDC and the Governor. His title of “Optometrist of the Year” is well deserved! Thank you, also, to the entire board of 2020 for their hard work and service during the past year. Many extra hours were put in to make the year run smoothly, so we appreciate your time and dedication!

This pandemic has brought many changes, but one thing that I will make sure does not change is our legacy as one of the best societies in the country! In years past we have been known for hosting numerous continuing education opportunities as well and many volunteer outreach programs such as the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic, Veterans Stand Down, and Monarch School Screenings. With continuing education becoming much more easily accessible online and in-person screenings not meeting social distancing requirements, we are coming up with new ways to support our members as well as serve our community. I don’t see these changes as a burden, rather as an opportunity to better our society. I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting time for our society, and profession as a whole. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas you have for keeping our society thriving. Together we can make it through this pandemic better than ever!

President’s Message

What a year this has been. From a global pandemic to protests for racial justice, devastating wildfires, and a tumultuous presidential election, our nation has found itself drawn into several crisis whose underlying causes threatened its health, economy, and forced every one of us to live in a world almost unrecognizable from what we’ve grown to expect.

As COVID-19 relentlessly spread across the country, we sheltered in place and businesses and public services small and large were forced to close. By the end of May, about a fifth of the nation’s workers were either unemployed or working part-time and millions of Americans found themselves without money to pay rent or even buy groceries to feed their families.

While the Optometric community has been hit hard by the events of 2020, I am proud to say that our local, state, and national organizations have not wavered in their support of our community. This pandemic has forced all of us to evaluate our priorities and compelled us to look at different ways of operating, many of which have brought new opportunities for growth and positive change that will help us to better serve our patients and the optometric industry in the years to come.

Serving as President of the San Diego County Optometric Society this year has been challenging, yet rewarding and I am so thankful to have had the privilege of holding this title during such a historical year. I would like to give a huge thank you to Nancy-Jo, our Administrative Director, and the Doctors in our society who have volunteered their time to make sure our society ran smoothly even through the difficult times. Shout out to our rock star 2020 Board Members for all their help this year: Drs. Robert Grazian, Alex Scovill, Simona Grosu, Roula El-Moghrabi, Amanda Dexter, Lucia Millet, Nickolet Boermans, Andrew Fasciani, Bob Meisel, Dave Sherman, David Ardakani, Dick Skay, Ilya Volk, John Fitzpatrick, Paul Lavin, and Michael Morgan. I also want to thank and acknowledge our trustees for 2020: Drs. Jenn Chinn, Kathryn Ordonez, Marcelline Ciuffreda, Nina Song, Tatyana Budarina, and Tiana Mathieson.

Before I pass the torch to Dr. Alex Scovill, who will be an incredible President for SDCOS next year, I want to welcome any doctors in our society to join the Board of Directors for 2021. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience being on the board, and I encourage anyone who is interested to reach out to me or any one of the wonderful doctors listed above for more information. New volunteers allow us to continue to bring new perspective and growth to our society and carry its traditions into the future.

While I am sorry to say there will be no in-person Holiday Party this year, please be on the look out for some of our upcoming virtual events and I hope to see all of you very soon. Thank you all for a great year. It has been my honor and pleasure to be the President for 2020. Happy Holidays!