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!

President’s Message

October marks the beginning of my favorite time of year, Fall. I hope everyone is enjoying their pumpkin and apple spiced desserts and treats as the weather starts to cool down in San Diego. The second Thursday of October is also a day when we recognize global eye health and preventable blindness on World Sight Day. This international day of awareness focuses attention on the global issue of eye health and is coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

More than 75% of all blindness and moderate to severe vision impairment is avoidable, and World Sight Day provides a platform for organizations to encourage governments, corporations, institutions, and individuals to actively support universal access to eye health. The recent World Health Assembly resolution for eye health marks the next major milestone for global eye health. #HopeInSight was created to make eye care an integral part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and to implement ‘integrated people-centered eye care’.

So, what can we do to spread awareness? Here are some ideas:

  • Photo competition: Take part in this International Photography Competition with the theme “Hope in Sight” and sub-theme “COVID-19 and eye health” by sending in photos that highlight the impact of eye health on people’s lives. You can visit photocomp.iapb.org for more information.
  • Pledge: Ask your health official or key stakeholder to join you in pledging support for blindness prevention efforts and identify a list of activities you can do locally to help reduce avoidable blindness in your community.
  • Eye Examination: Organize a chain – ask every customer who walks in for an eye exam to bring in two more customers and inform them of the importance of a comprehensive eye exam in reducing avoidable blindness from conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, refractive error, and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Social Media: Use the hashtags #WorldSightDay and #HopeInSight when posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

With your support, organizations such as these can continue their mission to reduce preventable blindness and vision impairment throughout the world and change the lives of so many. Have a happy and healthy October!

President’s Message

The San Diego County Optometric Society is one of the largest and most active societies in the state of California, although we’ve had to keep our activity mostly virtual this year. Our activities include supporting the political interests of optometrists at the state and local level, providing quality continuing education to our doctors, and giving back to our community with fundraisers, vision screenings, and volunteer eye services at several locations including the Lion’s Optometric Vision Clinic and the VSP Mobile Clinic.

We are able to successfully run these programs largely due to the support of our generous sponsors. We are one of the few local optometric societies to have a healthy network of sponsors who not only provide financial support to our society, but also extend discounts to members for using their products and provide resources to help with building practices and optometric careers. Our sponsors are also instrumental in funding our public awareness projects, advocacy efforts, our website, social media, and other SDCOS social events.

We are lucky to have an extensive variety of sponsors and I would like to take a moment to recognize them. Our highest level of sponsorship is the platinum level. The amazing companies who have committed to this level of sponsorship include Empire Optical, Inc. and Essilor Labs, California Retina Associates, Eyecarepro, and NVISION Eye Centers. Our wonderful sustaining sponsors include ABB Optical Group, Bausch & Lomb, Healthy Eyes Advantage, CooperVision, La Jolla LASIK, Alcon, Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute, Nordic Naturals, NuSight Medical, Shamir, Vistakon, Sun Ophthalmics, VSP Global, Wells Fargo, Optovue, Visionary, and Westpac Wealth Partners.

I want to offer a warm thank you to all of our sponsors! I encourage our members to show their appreciation as well by taking the time to hear their ideas of how to work even better with our society and discuss with them ways in which they can personally assist you. It is important to support the sponsors who are so passionate about helping our society and our profession. The SDCOS board and I are committed to seeing the relationships between our sponsors and members continue to grow and thrive in the future. Thanks to their generous support, SDCOS has become one of the strongest optometric societies in the state and will continue to be a positive force in the lives of our doctors and the lives of the public we serve.

President’s Message

It’s hard to believe that we’re more than half-way through the year, in the heat of summer, and many of us are still learning to cope with our “new normal” in response to this global pandemic. As we struggle with uncertainty about the future, it is important to stay positive and focus on the constants we can depend on.

August is National Eye Exam Month, and back to school season. While back to school may look a bit different this year, the value of good eyesight cannot be underestimated, whether it be for in-person or virtual classes.

It is important to remind parents that while vision screenings are an invaluable service, there is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam by an Optometrist. Many parents are unaware that a child who can see 20/20 can still have difficulty with their vision in other ways. While the most common problem is refractive error, we know that there are many more potential issues such as amblyopia, strabismus, and binocular or accommodative deficiencies.

Many difficulties in school can stem from an undiagnosed learning-related vision problem. In fact, experts estimate that 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually, and visual problems are often erroneously diagnosed as laziness, learning disabilities, behavioral issues, or even severe attention deficits.

It is our job as Optometrists to provide these children with the clear and comfortable vision they need to learn effectively and do our best to educate our patients on the importance of an annual comprehensive eye exam.

President’s Message

As the weather heats up and summer approaches, reality sets in that life isn’t quite the same as it was this time last year. We live in a new world. More and more things are going digital and the comfortable routine we once had has become uncomfortable, scary, unknown, but also beautiful.  We live in an unprecedented time of transformation, forced to step out of our comfort zones, and challenge ourselves to bring about positive change.

That being said, I want to congratulate the 2020 Optometric graduates!  Your dedication, hard work, and resilience during this historical time has not gone unnoticed.  The first few months after graduation can be difficult for new graduates for various reasons, but it is safe to say that the transition into optometric practice in 2020 will look very different than it did in the past.  After completing a rigorous four-year program, passing Boards and licensure exams, and practicing as an intern, the next steps may seem like an assortment of unknowns. Some graduates will continue on to one of the many Residency programs around the country, and others will begin their search for a place to practice Optometry in our community.

If you’re a new OD, the California Optometric Association (COA) and San Diego County Optometric Society (SDCOS) are here to help make your transition a little easier.  The COA provides Resource Guides to help with obtaining state licensing, DEA and NPI numbers, as well as getting credentialed with the various insurance panels and vision plans in our state.  Career resources are also available such as job search tools and optometric business and career webinars.  COA membership is free as a student, but also free for the first year after graduation and discounted over the next five years.  If you are a new or recent graduate, make sure to take advantage of these benefits.

At the local level, SDCOS offers new grads a variety of resources and opportunities to find their career path. Dr. John Fitzpatrick maintains our society’s classifieds and job connection list, which is a great tool if you are looking for a job, looking to hire someone, or looking to buy or sell a practice.  Please reach out to him at jpfod@aol.com with any inquiries.  The society newsletter and website also provide great information for new graduates or doctors new to San Diego. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our Board members about what resources are available to you as a new OD.  The AOA, COA, and SDCOS are here to help.

I also encourage Optometrists in our community to reach out to new graduates and new doctors in the area to help them during their transition, especially during this unprecedented time.  By showing them the benefits that COA and SDCOS have to offer, it can be extremely impactful and helpful to them while at the same time growing our membership and strength as a society.

President’s Message

After weeks of shutdown, the nation is beginning to slowly and cautiously re-emerge.  Like the decisions to shut down and shelter in place, the plans to reopen have come state by state or region by region. California is now in Phase I of the White House’s “Opening Up America Again” plan, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statement on April 27, 2020 providing guidelines for resuming health care for non-emergent and non-COVID-19 health care. Their guidance is intended to set a plan for California, while understanding there may be circumstances that require different timelines for different locations or regions.

Based on these new guidelines, Doctors of Optometry in California are encouraged to gradually resume full scope of services when possible and safe to do so.  Businesses are advised to continue to encourage telework, whenever possible, to protect patients and healthcare workers.  The physical layout and flow of patient care may also change in order to maintain physical distancing in patient movement and waiting areas.

Optometric services fall under the CDPH’s “Outpatient Visit Guidelines.”  These guidelines prioritize scheduling for patients that cannot be treated by telehealth in the following order:

  1. Patients with acute illnesses
  2. Patients with chronic illness that have not been seen due to Stay-at-Home rules and need an in-person visit
  3. Preventative services, including vaccinations
  4. List of previously cancelled or postponed patients
  5. Other patients needing in-person visit to monitor status or assess illness, etc

Although San Diego County has not officially released guidance or a timeline of when the current restrictions will be lifted, optometrists are advised to use their judgment to determine when it is appropriate to provide non-urgent care.  The use of telemedicine is still recommended, whenever possible.

The AOA and COA websites are great resources for updated information during this constantly evolving situation. There you will find helpful resources, guidelines, webinars, and checklists to help with practice reopening and activation as well as practice relief, information about personal protective equipment (PPE), and other safety and financial considerations.

I also want to thank everyone who virtually attended our informational Q&A webinar this week.  If you missed it, the presentation and Q&A have been posted on our website for your convenience.  Please check our website frequently for updates to the Continuing Education schedule as well.

The SDCOS board and I are doing our best to stay up to date on the latest developments of the coronavirus response in the Optometry community and provide useful information to our members as we face this pandemic together.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to our board with any questions or comments.  We are in this together and SDCOS is here to support you.

President’s Message

As I write to you today, we are all in the midst of a rapidly evolving situation and historic public health emergency. On March 11, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, and, on March 13, the President of the United States declared a national emergency.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.  The virus was first detected in China, and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including the United States. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild or no symptoms to severe, including illness resulting in death. Those more at risk of severe illness include older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions. At present, there is no vaccine available to protect us against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it other than palliative care.

The CDC predicts widespread transmission of the virus in the United States will occur and in the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed. This could translate into an overwhelmed healthcare system and devastating effects to our economy.

At present, global efforts are focused on lessening the spread of the virus and reducing the impact of this disease. California Governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a State of Emergency to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway, and help the state prepare for broader spread of COVID-19.  Newsom also issued a “stay at home” order for all California residents.

As health care professionals, it is our duty to follow public health guidelines to help limit the spread of disease and help “flatten the curve”.  Under governor Newsom’s guidelines, comprehensive eye examinations are considered non-essential services.  The COA has strongly recommended that optometrists practicing in California voluntarily suspend nonessential or nonurgent optometry care temporarily. Optometrists should reschedule routine eye exams and be available for urgent, non-routine care.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an immediate and devastating impact on the practice of our profession, and this is a challenging time for many of us.  In response to these challenges, the Governor, AOA, COA, and SDCOS has responded in the following ways:

  • Governor Newsom has announced that the Department of Consumer Affairs has the authority to waive CE requirements for health professions for the next 60 days.
  • Over 10 hours of Free CE for COA members (Emergen-CE on the COA website)
  • Free practice support webinar offered on the COA website
  • Expanded telehealth options
  • Free Legal Advice: COA members are eligible for 30 minutes of attorney services for free each month.
  • All dues/assessments will be waived for two months for all members. If you are not a current member, I encourage you join today to take advantage of all the resources AOA, COA and SDCOS are offering during this time. New member dues will be waived until June 1, 2020.

Due to guidelines regarding social distancing, Legislative Day has been cancelled. The California Legislature is in emergency recess now with lawmakers practicing social distancing. When they resume, legislators may be asked to prioritize their bills, or drop any bills unrelated to the crisis. The main focus of the Legislature will be passing a budget.

Due to deteriorating economic conditions tied to the spread of the virus, COA’s request for increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates is no longer possible this year and eyeglasses coverage for adults under Medi-Cal is in jeopardy. We will not know for sure until the governor releases his revised budget proposal on May 15. Considering the current situation, COA has prioritized advocacy of the following issues:

  • Online CE – COA has been advocating that the State Board of Optometry allow all hours as online CE during this crisis. The State Board of Optometry does not have the authority to do this without an order by the Governor. COA has been pushing for such an order.
  • Small business relief – COA will be advocating for financial relief for optometric offices when the Legislature returns. COA also continues to advocate for an exemption from AB 5, legislation passed last year to increase restrictions on independent contracting. This crisis has put enormous pressure on optometry offices and AB 5 limits an optometrist’s ability to recover because it prevents most optometrists from being independent contractors.
  • Financial assistance for optometry schools – COA will also be advocating for emergency funding for the optometric schools and colleges that have effectively been shut down by the crisis.
  • Telehealth – COA will continue to advocate for new rules that make it easier for doctors to provide services via telehealth. Newsom has already directed that commercial and Medi-Cal managed care plans must allow members to obtain health care via telehealth when medically appropriate to do so. Providers will be reimbursed at the same rate, whether a service is provided in-person or through telehealth.

We have a tough road ahead of us, but please don’t forget that we are all in this together.  We will be sending out updates as new developments arise, but you can always visit the SDCOS and COA websites for updated information.  It is important to stay positive during this time, as we do our part to protect one another and overcome these difficult times.  “Difficult roads often lead to the most beautiful destinations.” -Zig Ziglar.

President’s Message

On February 21st and 22nd, the 2020 COA House of Delegates met for its annual meeting in Los Angeles, California and our society showed strong representation.  I am proud to announce that our society won the award for 2019 “Society of The Year”!  We must thank our past president, Dr. Robert Grazian, and the 2019 SDCOS board for their dedication, leadership, and creativity in helping to set our society apart from the rest.

Our society is also very well represented on the COA board this year, and THREE of our members were sworn in as COA executive board members.  Our new COA President, Dr. Jason Tu, a long-time member and past-president of SDCOS, was officially installed and gave a wonderful address to the House.  We know he will do a great job!  Dr. Amanda Dexter, our current SDCOS board member and past-president of SDCOS, was also elected as Secretary/Treasurer and we are so proud of her!  A contested election of Trustees resulted in our very own Dr. Erin Swift being re-elected as COA Trustee for a second term. Congratulations Dr. Swift!

Another topic discussed at House of Delegates was AOA’s national public awareness campaign, “Think About Your Eyes”, or “TAYE”.  This campaign was designed to educate the general public on the benefits of vision health and promote the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams.  California delegates voted to continue to actively participate in this campaign, and with our help and added resources, we will continue to propel this campaign to even greater heights in 2020.

This month is “National Save Your Vision Month”, and the AOA is promoting awareness around digital eyestrain and the importance of receiving regular comprehensive eye exams from a doctor of Optometry.  The campaign is focused primarily on blue light’s impact on overall health.  According to 2016 AOA Eye-Q survey data, the average American spends seven hours per day using digital devices. This overexposure to blue light from digital devices over extended periods of time can lead to vision damage, disrupted sleep cycle, and more.  As Optometrists, it is our duty to educate our patients about the signs and symptoms of digital eyestrain.  These include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck/shoulder pain.  The AOA recommends five tips that can be easily implemented in office spaces.

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • Keep a distance: The AOA recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and your back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
  • View from a different angle: Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
  • Decrease glare: While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Blink often: Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently.

I would encourage our society’s optometrists to educate themselves about these national campaigns to reinforce the OD’s distinction as primary eye care physicians. You can capitalize on the growing conversation in consumer media by factoring these campaigns into your practice’s marketing strategy. Materials such as customizable articles, press releases, and social media content are available on AOA’s website.

The next COA event will be Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 22nd. I encourage everyone to join us on this trip to the capitol. There are important discussions that need to take place with our legislators regarding bills that could potentially threaten our profession, as well as bills that could allow the expansion of our scope of practice. Please let me know if you are interested in participating. The more representation we have, the stronger our voice will be!

President’s Message

As the new SDCOS president, I am committed to making sure our society continues to be a strong presence at the local, state, and national levels.  I strongly encourage all of our members to get the most out of their membership and be as active as possible.  Our association with AOA, COA, and SDCOS allows us to be heard, create change, achieve goals, and ensure the future of our profession.  Making a conscious effort to highlight the benefits of SDCOS/COA membership to our colleagues as well is important to help our organization continue to grow and thrive.  Our organization is strengthened by our membership, and the more support we have, the stronger voice we have.

With that being said, I wanted to give you all a brief outline of some of the membership benefits you may not be aware of:

  • Think About Your Eyes is an exclusive public information marketing campaign offered by the AOA and available to COA members at a reduced fee
  • COA offers a free, continually-growing library of in-depth fact sheets addressing a wide variety of scope of practice and practice operation topics
  • The Member Media Center (MMC) through the COA website offers content for members to use in their newsletters and social media sites to help inform the public about important eye issues
  • COA has a Member Resource Center in which there are dedicated COA staff members who are available to answer common practice-related questions- from the steps to take to get on a health plan’s medical panel, to employment and workers’ compensation issues
  • Eyelearn is an online learning resource exclusively offered to AOA members that includes COPE approved continuing education webinars, journal articles, and practice management resources
  • Business and Career Success webinars are offered by AOA with topics including medical records and coding, HIPAA updates, PQRS, malpractice, etc.
  • COA provides constant updates on various topics with Government Affairs Weekly emails, California Optometry (the official publication of the COA), COA Member News monthly newsletter, AOA’s daily First Look and weekly AOA Focus e-newsletters, and the monthly AOA Focus magazine.
  • Discounts on continuing education events including Monterey Symposium, OptoWest, and AOA’s Optometry’s Meeting
  • Opportunities for free continuing education through articles in California Optometry as well as further CE online through CE@HomeOnline
  • Great deals as COA members from Vision West buying group. Insurance programs and exclusive discounts for members on professional liability, workers’ comp, cyber liability, etc
  • To ensure state and federal compliance with labor laws, COA provides discounted subscriptions for mandatory posters
  • As a COA member, there is an opportunity to enroll staff as AOA and COA Paraoptometric Members at no charge to aid in enhancing the skills and productivity of your staff
  • AOAExcel’s Medical Record and Coding Services AskTheCodingExperts@ExcelOD.com allows you to consult a billing expert for questions on anything from procedure and diagnosis codes, changes in Medicare coding policies, ICD-10 and more
  • As an AOA and COA member you are listed on each website under the Find An Eye Doc search portals to assist the public in finding you
  • Optometry’s Career Center through AOA provides services to find a practice to join, or to start and grow a practice
  • The Legal Service Resources Program provides members up to one-half hour (30 minutes) of telephone and research work per month with an attorney at no cost