President’s Message

For my final President’s message, I’ll take a moment to reflect on the year. I’ve greatly enjoyed being your Society president and I’m pleased and proud of all we’ve accomplished together. We’ve had a truly fun and eventful 2019, with so many continuing education meetings and other Society functions. I feel emotionally indebted to the many individuals who have committed themselves to making SDCOS California’s finest optometry society. We are a team of volunteers who create a better professional life for our members through continuing education, service to our community, and optometric leadership. We’ve made a real difference through our positive accomplishments, from giving eye examinations to our community’s homeless veterans to meeting with lawmakers in Sacramento to hosting nine great CE events in our own city for our own OD’s.

I feel very fortunate to have worked with so many good people this year. Our Board of Directors has volunteered much personal time, energy, enthusiasm, and creative commitment. With them, we’ve continued a treasured optometric Society of immeasurable importance to us. Without them, the job of president would be meaningless and our optometric society would cease to exist. I want to sincerely thank each and every Director and Trustee on the 2019 Board of Directors.  Warm ‘thank you’ to Dr. Michelle Biaggi, Dr. Wendy Gross, Dr. Alexandra Scovill, Dr. Michael Morgan, Dr. Amanda Dexter, Dr. Andrew Fasciani, Dr. Anita Koo, Dr. Byron Newman, Dr. David Ardakani, Dr. David Sherman, Dr. David Wong, Dr. Jennifer Chinn, Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Dr. Kathryn Ordonez, Dr. Lucia Millet, Dr. Marcelline Ciuffreda, Dr. Nickolet Boermans, Dr. Paul Lavin, Dr. Richard Skay, Dr. Robert Meisel, Dr. Simona Grosu, and Dr. Stephanie Le.

Our Administrative Director, Nancy-Jo Sinkiewicz, has been a dream to work with—she truly is the conductor of our SDCOS business orchestra. A big ‘thank you’ to Nancy-Jo for all her dedication and talent that made the year a success for all. Her cheerfulness and helpfulness is invaluable to the Board every day of the year.

Our vendor sponsors allow our society to function on the highest level with their financial support and enthusiasm for assisting our members’ success with their products and services. Thank you to all those companies who recognize optometry’s importance. I strongly encourage our members to support those who choose to support us!

Even though 2019 has two months remaining, it’s time to think about our final SDCOS events before the end of the year ramps up with holidays, vacations, and quality time with friends and family. To end the year in style, what better way to enjoy ourselves than a first-class Annual Holiday Party! The entire SDCOS membership, our dedicated team of Sponsors, and all of our guests are cordially invited to our 2019 Holiday Party to be held at Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa on Saturday, December 7th. It will include a cocktail hour followed by a banquet dinner, photo booth, raffle, music, and dance floor. Tickets are now on sale, and I’m looking forward to your company and enjoying a great dinner with you.

As I pass the microphone to our 2020 President, Dr. Wendy Gross, I’m confident she is an amazing OD who will be a great leader for our Optometric Society. I wish her the very best in her term as SDCOS President. Again, 2019 has been a wonderful year for me, and I thank the membership for giving me the opportunity to serve them.

Immunizations and California Optometry

Are you interested in providing immunizations to your patients? With the passage of Assembly Bill 443 in 2017 and Senate Bill 762 in 2018, California law allows optometrists to become certified to perform three immunizations—influenza, herpes zoster virus, and pneumococcus—on adults eighteen years and older.

The training for immunization certification has three requirements:

1. Optometrists will need to complete an immunization training program that is endorsed by the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education that, at a minimum, includes hands-on injection technique, clinical evaluation of indications and contraindications of vaccines, and the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines.

2. Optometrists will need to maintain basic life support certification.

3. Optometrists will need to perform one hour of ongoing continuing education focused on immunizations and vaccines from an approved provider once every two years.

After successfully completing the immunization training, the OD applies for an immunization certificate on a board-approved form. This is where the paradox begins.

According to a notice circulated to practicing California OD’s from the California State Board of Optometry on May 10, 2019, the California State Board writes that, “At present, the Board is not accepting applications, course completion certificates or payments for the immunization certification. Immunization applications and payments sent to the Board will not be processed and will be returned to the licensee. The Board is not allowed to accept these until regulation implementing AB 443 becomes law (anticipated Spring of 2020).”

The notice concludes, “The final regulation, including the actual text and application form, will be made by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), not the Board.”

The most common vaccination likely to be administered by California optometrists in the future is the influenza vaccine. Influenza (flu) vaccination is the primary way to prevent sickness and death caused by flu, and the CDC estimates that influenza was associated with more than 48.8 million illnesses, more than 22.7 million medical visits, 959,000 hospitalizations, and 79,400 deaths during the 2017-18 influenza season. This burden was higher than any season since the 2009 pandemic and serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be. CDC estimates that from 2010-11 to 2017-18, influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of 12,000 (during 2011-12) to a high of 79,400 (during 2017-18).

Among adults aged eighteen years and over, immunization coverage was 37.1% during 2017-18—6.2 percentage points lower than coverage during the 2016-17 season—with California adults having even less at 35.0%, according to the CDC website. Limited access to care is a factor in the low immunization coverage.

The 2018-19 statistics are yet to be published, and hopefully medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths were less than the previous flu season. My question at this moment, and likely yours, is why bureaucratic obstacles are being announced by the California State Board of Optometry that prevent patient access to vital flu vaccines. California optometrists could be contributing during this year’s upcoming 2019-2020 flu season. Many OD’s have successfully completed their immunization courses, and they could be part of this season’s vaccination campaign. Instead, we are obliged to sit out and wait for OAL to write regulation. Senate Bill 762 contains some urgent wording that specifically states, “in order to protect the health and well-being of the public by allowing appropriately trained optometrists to administer immunizations, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.”

That being said, I recommend you, your family, and your staff each have an annual flu vaccine this month. In addition, consult the COA website for Immunization Certification Courses taught by optometry colleges at Western University of Health Sciences and SCCO at Marshall B. Ketchum University. Also on the COA website is a link for the next Pharmacy-based Immunization Delivery Course on November 2nd at UC San Diego, La Jolla.

President’s Message

The San Diego County Optometric Society is one of the largest and most active optometric societies in the state. In recent years, our activities have been centered on three categories, the first being the furthering and protection of the political interests of optometrists, both locally and on the state level. This strengthens the profession in the better interest of the California citizens and residents we serve.  Second, our Board produces monthly continuing education meetings to educate our member doctors according to statutes set by the State Board of Optometry. Third, our Society gives back to the community by providing volunteer eye service at several locations, including the Monarch School, the Lion’s Optometric Vision Clinic, the VSP Mobile Clinic, the Richard Rex Memorial Fund, and the San Diego Veteran’s Stand Down.

We are able to successfully run all 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, 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.

Every autumn the SDCOS Board hosts an annual Vendor Appreciation Dinner to thank our fantastic sponsors. This year the event takes place during the evening of Thursday, October 10th at the Braille Institute of San Diego. All our sponsors are invited to enjoy a fun night of drinks, dinner, and lively conversation with the important goal of continuing to improve our mutually beneficial relationship. Truly, our sponsors are the best! I encourage you to show the appreciation you have by sitting down with them to hear their ideas of how to work even better with our Society in the upcoming year. It’s important to support the sponsors who are so passionate about helping our Society and our profession.

We are fortunate to have an extensive and wide variety of sponsors, and I’d like to recognize each of them. At the highest level of sponsorship—called the Platinum Level—are Empire-Essilor Labs, Eyecare Pro, NVision Eye Centers, and VSP Global. Next is the Sustaining Level, which includes ABB Optical Group, Alcon, Bausch+Lomb, CooperVision, Guardion Health Sciences, Gordon Schanzlin Institute, HEA Healthy Eyes Advantage, La Jolla Lasik, Nordic Naturals, NuSight Medical, Optovue, POL Professional Optical Labs, Shamir, Novartis-Shire, The McGee Group, Visionary, VTI-naturalVue, Vistakon, Wells Fargo Finance, and WestPac Wealth Partners.

SDCOS is committed to seeing the relationship we have with our sponsors thrive and continually improve. Thanks to their generous support, SDCOS remains as an excellent optometric society 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

Did you know that August is National Eye Exam Month? It only makes sense that eye exams are spotlighted when students everywhere return to school at the end of summer—along with some new clothes, shoes, and school supplies, students can have their eyes examined to make ready for good vision during the academic year. As optometrists, we know only too well that a student’s learning is closely tied with how well they see. Learning runs tandem with clear, comfortable vision, as upwards of 80% of what students learn comes in through their eyes.

Many parents incorrectly assume that when their child has a school screening or pediatrician screening, their child has had an eye exam. Many also assume that when their child passes one of those screenings, there is no vision problem. They are not aware that a child who can see 20/20 can still have difficulty with their vision. While the most common vision problem is myopia, we know there are many more potential problems such as binocular and accommodative deficiencies.

As optometrists, we want to be sure parents know that only a full, comprehensive eye exam can provide the battery of tests needed to diagnose their child’s full visual system. A comprehensive optometric eye examination this month can help give them their best chance to excel in school and enhance their lifelong eye health and functional vision. Be sure to keep this top of mind this month as you start having these important back-to-school conversations with parents!

On another note, just past the halfway point of the year, I want to take a moment for shout outs thanking our SDCOS board members who have been very active the first half of 2019, serving our membership and the public by providing excellence in community service, education, and leadership. SDCOS has a long tradition of being a real gem among the California Optometric Association’s best societies. Our Board members have so much creative energy, and they lead the way to the highest value of membership. Thanks to professional affairs committee chair Dr. Amanda Dexter, our Board has already produced five amazing CE meetings just in this first half of the year, providing sixteen hours of high-quality continuing education, complete with food service. And with our invaluable administrative director Nancy-Jo Sinkiewicz at the helm, we have four more CE events scheduled for the remainder of the year.

Community service has long been a cornerstone of our Society, and this year Dr. Robert Meisel and Dr. Simona Grosu have been steadfast in leading the way for our Society to provide free vision care to so many needy San Diegans. Their successful, much-needed initiatives have included Monarch School exams, VSP mobile clinic, and the recent Veterans Stand Down event in San Diego. Also, we are fortunate to have the vision and leadership of Dr. David Wong this year as LOVC committee chair and he has been active promoting the clinic on Upas Street. Our Society is growing in numbers through the ingenuity of membership committee chairs Dr. David Ardakani and Dr. Jenn Chinn, while our award-winning website and fantastic monthly newsletter is made possible through the hard work and creativity of Dr. Lucia Millet, Dr. Nicolet Boermans, and Dr. Stephanie Le. Our OD relations committee is led by Dr. John Fitzpatrick, and along with trustee emeritus Dr. Byron Newman and Dr. Andrew Fasciani volunteering as health care delivery system liaison, the Board adds more valuable service benefits to our membership.

Our society’s Platinum and Sustaining Sponsors make up the best ophthalmic companies in business anywhere, and their support and enthusiasm are continually evident while Dr. David Sherman leads the way to organize them as our vendor liaison, always ensuring our members have access to our sponsor’s latest products, ophthalmic instruments, and industry innovations. Our Society has helped COA pass statutes to increase our scope of practice with the leadership of Dr. Richard Skay and his experience with government affairs. I am fortunate to work with a talented executive board that leads the Society business operations: Secretary Dr. Alex Scovill, Treasurer Dr. Wendy Gross, President-elect Dr. Michelle Biaggi, and Past-President Michael Morgan are the players in the SDCOS business orchestra. Last but not least, we welcome our new 2019 Trustees who learn our Society operations under the leadership of Dr. Marcelline Ciuffreda, Dr. Anita Koo, and Dr. Kathryn Ordonez.

Please note that August 4th is our next event, so be sure to sign up for SDCOS’s annual Golf Tournament—funds will be donated to LOVC. Our thanks to Society committee chair Dr. Paul Lavin for organizing this event.

Finally, San Diego County Optometric Society is always looking for member ODs to volunteer for the Board to make our Society a vital organization for our membership and public. If you are interested in contributing to the success of SDCOS, please send me an email.

I look forward to a fantastic remainder of the year!

President’s Message

June beckons in the beginning of summer, and for many people here in San Diego County, it brings the promise of long, beautiful days at the beach, warm evenings at outdoor concerts, barbeques with family and friends, and thrilling times at the County Fair. The days seem lazier and longer. This time of year also marks important graduations of students of all ages and school levels. Almost everyone is touched by a graduation somewhere this month.

For graduating optometrists, June is a month to reflect on all their hard work, on all the endless nights of studying and cramming for tests (remember those board exams?). Having achieved their dream of being called “doctor” and practicing their chosen profession, they can celebrate the end of a long journey and the beginning of a new one. For many of us, these graduation memories are almost palpable; for others, it seems like the beginning of time since we last wore a cap and gown.

Once new OD graduates are formally inducted into our profession, they’re faced with choices: they can proceed to practice optometry right away, for example, or continue on with a residency program. Much nervous anticipation about how they’ll fit into the profession must now be placed into an action plan. These first few transition months can be difficult for new OD graduates—after completing multiple goals, passing so many examinations, and practicing with patients as an intern, the next steps may well be an assortment of unknowns.

If you’re a new OD, the California Optometric Association and San Diego County Optometric Society can help make your summer of planning for the future a little easier. The AOA, COA and SDCOS have a library of Resource Guides to help with obtaining state licensing and 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 was free of cost as a student, but new ODs may not realize that the free membership continues to the end of the year in which you graduate. This means you can take advantage of membership benefits while you transition to become a working professional. In addition, COA makes membership affordable for new ODs by steeply discounting dues over the first five years following graduation.

Locally, SDCOS offers new graduates a variety of useful resources. You can read the monthly newsletter and log onto our award-winning website at sdcos.org. You’re welcome to attend our membership meetings at the Handlery Hotel, and take advantage of the free continuing education (and included buffet dinner). Be sure to introduce yourself to practicing ODs sitting at your table—there exists real fellowship at our meetings that we hope you tap into.

As stated above, new graduates can join the COA for no cost during the remainder of the year, and after that, there are discounted fees and other opportunities such as Project Keep. Project Keep is a program built to encourage new California optometric licentiates to become involved in the leadership of their society. It’s a local service program that allows you to earn reduced COA membership dues for many years—if you’re a new OD, be sure to inquire about it!

Also at the local level is a classified and job connection list maintained by Dr. John Fitzpatrick. This is a great tool if you’re looking for a job, are looking to hire someone, or are interested in buying a practice. Please reach out to him at jpfod@aol.com with any inquiries. The society website and online newsletter also provides great information for new graduates or new ODs in San Diego. Always feel confident to ask a SDCOS Board member about what resources are available to you as a new OD. The AOA, COA, and SDCOS are here to help.

Stay tuned for your invitation to our annual New OD barbeque to take place on June 15th, hosted by Dr. Eric White and sponsored by the SDCOS Board and VSP. It will be a fun, food-filled event where you can find camaraderie and advice as you imagine what your next career moves will look like. We hope to see you there!

President’s Message

As optometrists, we know better than anyone that quality of life is deeply connected to having normal, comfortable vision. Once empowered with clear eyesight, our patients can go about life with confidence—they can study for finals without battling headaches; contribute at a work meeting without straining their eyes; go on a hike and notice every leaf, flower, and bird. The use of eyeglasses may seem basic to us, but to our patients, it can be life changing.

One of the most personally gratifying aspects of our profession is how we’ve been specially educated to provide a valuable service to anyone who needs it. When a person—no matter their age or socio-economic status—has a vision difficulty, they can confidently go to an optometrist and receive the care they need.

By volunteering our time, we can provide the public with a high level of community service. SDCOS members have a fully-equipped, fully-staffed optometric clinic available to us through our local charity of choice, the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic (LOVC).

The LOVC’s mission is to provide eye care for individuals throughout San Diego County who are otherwise unable to obtain it through private insurance or other social service agencies. By volunteering at the LOVC, you can deliver many vision and eye health services to the public, including comprehensive eye examinations, low-cost eyeglasses, dilated retinal evaluations for diabetic patients, Optos retinal photography, vision therapy, and glaucoma screenings.

SDCOS members have volunteered at LOVC for many years, and in our long and successful relationship we’ve helped them in their charter of providing eye care for persons in need throughout San Diego County. The eye examinations at LOVC are free of cost to those who qualify, but this is only possible because of the doctors who are so generous to volunteer their time and skills. At this time, there is a waiting list of patients seeking optometric care because there is an undersupply of participating volunteer doctors.

LOVC volunteer scheduling is half a day, from 9am – 12:30pm, Monday through Friday.

This allows plenty of time for the volunteering doctor to see a half-day schedule of patients at LOVC and not miss a full day of personal work. LOVC is also very accommodating to doctors who want to work at different paces, and will make the experience as comfortable as possible. New OD volunteers are valued as well as veteran doctors, and LOVC only needs two or more days’ notice from a volunteering OD.

I’d like to encourage all our members to consider volunteering any time you may have, to help LOVC continue to serve a very needing and deserving group of people in our community. Doing so provides a truly life-changing service for our fellow San Diegans.

Please call LOVC directly to schedule yourself by contacting the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic at 619-298-5273. The clinic is located at 1805 Upas Street, San Diego. For more information from a colleague, contact Dr. David Wong, SDCOS Liaison to LOVC, or ask any SDCOS Board member.

President’s Message

Imagine to yourself a real-life important person: a real VIP. It’s up to you who this person is. For the sake of imagination, make it big. Could this VIP be someone on the world stage—perhaps a president, a king or queen? Perhaps a great entertainer, like Elvis, Sinatra, or Liberace? Perhaps the Pope, the wealthiest person alive, the top General of the Armed Forces, or our best Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

OK, now imagine this most important person, this real VIP, wants an eye examination because they are experiencing an unusual vision disturbance.

Could you perform their eye exam? Of course you could. Now decide what kind of an eye exam it would be. Well, that’s easy, just like everyone else’s. Or is that the truth? Would you give the most high-level eye exam in your capabilities? What about the time spent? How many minutes? Would you dilate? Would you perform binocular testing, phorias, compensating vergences, ocular photos, biomicroscopy, evaluate for dry eye, and perform perimetry? Would you take the time to test for computer distances and explain the benefits of computer glasses? What about sunglasses to protect the VIP’s eyes? Would you be able to perform the eye examination for this highly-important person at the level you’d like to? If not, why not?

And more importantly, why can’t everyone, everyone down to the last person you know, have the eye examination you just wanted to provide?

My point here is that we are better than we are. Our desire to provide the highest-quality eye care, consistent with our capabilities and knowledge, probably exceeds what we are currently providing. There are reasons for that, and those reasons start within ourselves.

In my own experience, I remember being frustrated with the care I provided my elderly patients early in my practice. I stopped prescribing them dietary supplements because their managed care plan openly discouraged it, and I didn’t want to be confrontational for fear of losing my panel position. Thankfully, eye vitamins are considered more of a standard of care these days, but it still bothers me how I compromised patient care for a time because I didn’t want to buck the system.

There is a concept in personality psychology called “locus of control”—individuals have either an external or internal locus of control. Those with an external locus of control tend to believe that outside forces, like luck or fate or the actions of others, are the driving factors in their lives. For example, someone with an external locus of control might say, “It’s the government’s fault,” or “You can’t fight city hall,” or “My college wasn’t prestigious enough,” or “It’s all about how much money you have.”  Those with an internal locus of control tend to believe they themselves are the masters of their destiny, and that their own effort and abilities are the reason for their successes. Someone with an internal locus of control might say, “I know it’s up to me,” or “I have to learn how to become more successful,” or “I am responsible for what happens in my practice,” or “I learn from my mistakes.”

Many studies have linked an internal locus of control to better work performance and higher career satisfaction.  Most psychologists agree overall that an internal locus of control is more preferable and more adaptive. Certainly, there are advantages to employing both outlooks, and there are instances when all control is definitively out of our hands. But because the internal type is more advantageous, we can all benefit from paying closer attention to where our personal locus of control is pointing. If it’s outward all the time, we can try to nudge it inward.

Think about how you want to practice optometry down to the very eye examinations you are providing to your VIP’s and loved ones. Think about being in control of your own career. Think about staying interested in your own career. We are better than we are.

With that none-too-subtle note, I will remind our members that COA Legislative Day is an event that I truly believe every California OD should experience, at least once in their lifetime! I’ve found it to be an empowering, positive experience for my own career, and well worth the effort. Consider making the trip to Sacramento to spend some quality time visiting with our elected officials and talking about the important optometric issues of the day. The COA makes this easy on us by providing a morning of personal coaching and individual talking points. We then take it from there, and make the day great. If you participated in Legislative Day this year, the Society says “Thank you.” If you missed it, there’s always next year. Hope to see you there!

2019 California Optometric Association House of Delegates Report

The 2019 COA House of Delegates met for its annual meeting on March 1st and 2nd in San Francisco. Our Society had a great delegation of 16 participants who traveled by plane to the Marriott Hotel on the wide, placid Bay Shore, located conveniently near the airport. The COA HOD demonstrates to me how our independent profession of optometry can govern itself in a positive working fashion. There were several orders of business that took place at HOD, and some that I would like to share with our membership.

The State of the Association Address was given by Ranjeet Bajwa, O.D., COA President.  He spoke of the need to counteract online eye exams and online vision testing because of the risk they pose to consumers. COA is steadfast in their opposition to this opportunistic, disruptive technology, as it confuses the public and trivializes the importance of ocular disease detection, while giving at best an inaccurate prescription for our patients’ needs. He noted that online eye examinations eliminate the doctor-patient relationship. After that, Dr. Bajwa spoke of a new bill, AB1467, Salas and Low, which is about ODs using new procedures to treat glaucoma.

Three elected representatives were welcomed to speak at this year’s HOD. We were addressed by California Assembly member Kevin Mullin. He spoke of the importance of ODs in our state and our increasing responsibilities to improve patient access to care. We were then addressed by Assembly member Phil Ting and, later in the day, Assembly member David Chiu. He spoke of healthcare practitioner shortage and how we must expand access to care.  He stressed that our wonderful profession provides home-grown practitioners with cultural competency to best serve Californians.

We were also addressed by Barbara Horn, O.D., AOA president-elect, who gave a relevant talk about AOA’s recent successes. She spoke of their progress in protecting us from adversaries who want to force optometrists to keep on file signed contracts for each patient as proof that we offered CL Rx’s at each visit. Studies show an average of $18K per office would be spent to implement this onerous mandate.  Dr. Horn then stressed the success of AOA’s “Think About Your Eyes” national advertising campaign which every COA member now has. Dr. Horn stated that “Think About Your Eyes” raises public awareness, having generated 2.3 million web portal visits and almost 4 million eye examinations since its inception. She also invited us to attend the AOA Congress this June 19-23rd, to take place in St Louis.

Two policy resolutions passed by the Delegates in the House included the following: First, the House voted to adopt the present ascending dues schedule that is currently in use. Second, the House voted to support the COA in a future endeavor to work, support, and interact with the California Board of Optometry. This is with the positive intention of improving the number of independent ODs serving on the State Board of Optometry.

Our Society received the “Website of the Year Award,” and we must thank our 2018 Webmaster Committee Chair, Dr. Susan Cervantes, for her leadership and creativity that resulted in the winning website. Congratulations and thanks to all who have also contributed to our website including: Dr. Stephanie Le, Dr. Lucia Millet, Dr. Nickolet Boermans, Nancy-Jo Sinkiewicz, and Steve Sicherman of EyeCarePro.

COA Optometrist of the Year was awarded to James R. Dallas, O.D. of Barstow, CA.

COA is introducing a new Strategic Plan and following there was a lively discussion with much input from the Delegates. The Strategic Plan divides a square onto four parts and focuses on Market, Services, Governance, and Operations. Each of these tenets are then contextualized and improved upon.

The floor adjourned temporarily, and called to order the Annual Meeting of the Public Vision League. Complaints leading to investigations that result in legal action are performed by the PVL. False advertising by an optical corporation and a bait-and-switch contact lens company were both discussed. The PVL and the COA would like to know of your encounters with eye patients that have been abused or harmed by any of the above, and/or missed diseases by online vision testing companies. In addition, if our Society members have questions about AB 684-Corporate Leasing-Protection for Doctors-Enforcement, contact the COA for a fact sheet or talk to the COA staff about your specific legal questions.

The contested election of COA Trustees resulted in our very own Dr. Erin Swift being elected to COA Trustee.  Congratulations Dr. Swift! In addition, our own SDCOS member, Dr. Amanda Dexter will continue her term as COA Trustee. Our society is fortunate to have dedicated members who aspire to the highest levels of COA leadership. Thank you to Amanda and Erin for your dedicated service to California optometry and for representing our Society in this exemplary manner at a high state level!

Dr. Jason Tu was elected to COA President-elect! Dr. Tu is our fellow member of SDCOS, and he is another reason why SDCOS is America’s finest optometric society. Congratulations, Jason, we are fortunate as a Society to have you representing us at the summit of the state level!

Our new COA President, Ronald G. Seger, O.D. of Mountain View, CA was installed and gave an address to the House. He talked of the consolidation of optometric business and measured reduction of self-employed optometrists, and how reduced self-employment has been linked to lack of freedom, lower career satisfaction, and decline of self-actualization. He stated that in the U.S., purchases by private equity groups have increased. He emphasized that the successful factor in optometric practice is the trust and strong professional relationships we share with our patients. Dr. Seger asks that each of us work to make optometry strong and patient care excellent.

The next COA event will be Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 10, 2019. I encourage our ODs to travel to our state capitol and join forces on Leg. Day, as there are many optometric issues of the day to discuss with our elected legislators. COA will teach us about the issues in the morning, supplying us with talking points regarding bills that could potentially threaten our profession, as well as bills that would allow us increased freedom of practice. Please let me know if you are interested in participating!

President’s Message

Some years ago, I was talking with another optometrist about the monetary value of COA membership when she made a poignant statement that’s stayed with me ever since. It was a simple point that propelled me to pay my dues without reluctance or at least, with much less reluctance.

After I’d commented on the cost of dues, she replied by asking, “But how much does a lawyer cost?” Then she said, “COA functions as our lawyers. It keeps our profession operating at the legislative level.”

I was quick to realize that lawyers are expensive, and that my dues payment was a bargain relative to legal bills. My optometrist friend was illustrating how our profession is a legislated profession: legislation can make us or break us, and the laws that define us are under constant adversarial pressure. In addition, it’s our responsibility to adapt and advance with the times both as a collective profession and as individuals, to continually increase the care we’re able to provide our patients. All of this has a monetary cost, and our collective dues make the endeavor affordable to us.

Our ability to organize as an Association gives us legitimacy in the eyes of politicians. The very existence of our ability to practice is based on state laws, and while we’re relatively powerless as individual optometrists, we have a strong voice as an organization.

There are countries in the world where optometry flourishes; there are other countries where it doesn’t even exist. It all depends on the laws in place and on our ability to make ourselves heard. As organized OD’s we are the COA.

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:

  • AOA and COA are constantly fighting legislative battles to protect our profession. These include initiatives to improve our reimbursements and prevent cuts in reimbursement, allow ODs to be included in certain federal incentive programs, and prevent discrimination of ODs on insurance panels.
  • The recent successful passage of AB 443 has expanded our scope of practice. Additionally, last year, because of COA, California became the only state to allow TPA-certified OD’s to administer flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccinations.
  • 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 benefit exclusively offered to AOA members that is comprised of an easy-to-use centralized online learning resource with access to journal articles, webinars, practice management resources, etc.
  • 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 (12 hours annually) 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 through Mercer Insurance, 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 allows you to consult an expert with questions regarding accurate choices for procedure and diagnosis codes, changes in Medicare coding policies, ICD-10 preparation and conversion, and participation in PQRS through AskTheCodingExperts@ExcelOD.com
  • 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 an you.
  • Optometry’s Career Center through AOA provides a great placement service for opportunities throughout the lifecycle of 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. The program offers services that will assist members in areas of the law related the practice of optometry including Licensure, Business Taxes, Regulatory and Contract Issues to name a few.

Please utilize these tools! Our membership fees provide us with plenty of great opportunities that we should all take full advantage of. Not only are we protecting our profession by being a member of AOA, COA, and SDCOS, but we also are empowering ourselves with access to resources that allow us to succeed on a daily basis.

President’s Message

Greetings and Happy New Year 2019! I hope that each of you has had a relaxing holiday season with your families and friends, and I wish you success in the coming year. As your new San Diego County Optometric Society president I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to help make this the best possible year in our excellent optometric society.

Over the years I’ve gained so much professionally and personally from my membership in SDCOS. It is indeed an honor for me to be in the position to give back. We have a great group of doctors on our Board of Directors and I am excited for all that we are going to accomplish together.

My gratitude goes to Dr. Michael Morgan for his steadfast leadership as President last year. I have admired all of the attention to detail and leadership responsibilities he’s undertaken and completed.  He has solidly earned our Society’s nomination for COA Young Optometrist of the Year. Congratulations to you, Dr Morgan!

Thank you to the entire Board of Directors for the dedication to our profession that you constantly project. You continually make SDCOS the finest optometric society anywhere, with excellence in community service, exemplary optometric leadership, and service to our membership with continuing education and professional enhancement. Additionally, the entire Society membership must be thanked and congratulated for choosing to become and remain members. It is our common desire to have a rich professional life outside our individual practice environments, and for this reason SDCOS remains a treasured organization for all of us.

As your Society president, I am committed to maintaining the tradition of SDCOS and performing to the highest level of service, both to our member doctors and to the public.  I will maintain the legacy of decades of great optometrists who worked to create the fine society that we have today. Our Board of Directors has already planned out our 2019 meetings, which include six two-hour evening CE events and three five-hour weekend CE events. These gatherings are complete with a delicious meal, an expert speaker, and important fellowship with your colleagues. Many great ophthalmic businesspeople and vendors attend our meetings, allowing us access to their companies’ products and services. I encourage you to attend all of the CE meetings this year!

In addition, please plan on contributing to the many volunteer outreach programs within our Society that will allow you to provide community service via eyecare to the public. This includes our Lions Optometric Vision Clinic and our Monarch School Screenings, to name just two. Moreover, you can join us for our annual COA Legislative Day in Sacramento when we come together to encourage our elected state assemblypersons and state senators to support our profession. So many of our members currently volunteer and are actively involved, and your participation effects positive change. Thank you to those who currently volunteer. I encourage all of our members to take advantage of these community service and leadership programs: our community will benefit from your dedication to the profession of optometry in San Diego County, and I’m certain you will find them to be personally fulfilling as well.

Finally, I bring up a challenge to our membership that is vitally important to the morale and health of our Society: Invite your colleagues to join. Introduce yourself to new members who do join. Don’t be shy! Our Society is fortunate to have a diverse mix of newly minted and veteran practitioners. Each group has the opportunity to benefit from each other’s unique knowledge and skill sets. Professional camaraderie is the essence of local society membership and expands each member’s network. Through your active SDCOS relationships, enjoy your profession of optometry and strive to optimize your own career.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your SDCOS president. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together this year. I will make myself available for any questions, comments, and ideas so our society can continue to grow and thrive. I am confident that together we will have a fantastic year!