President’s Message

Healthy Vision Month is celebrated every year in May to stress the importance of the health of our eyes. This month was established by the National Eye Institute in 2003 and aims to spread awareness and educate people about the risks of ignoring the health of their eyes.

Promoting the importance of healthy vision and regular eye examinations is a daily undertaking for doctors of optometry, but it’s a message that’s especially strong in May.

Here are just a few interesting historical facts about the eye.

The first record of the treatment of eye disease dates back to the Ebers Papyrus from Egypt in 1550 B.C. Another early medical text that had extensive info about eye treatment was the “Sushruta Samhita,” an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery that is considered one of the pillars of Ayurveda, dating back to the 6th century B.C. The Ancient Greeks also made key advances in the understanding of the human eye. The Middle Ages saw the use of the microscopes and lenses to examine the eye and its structure.

In the early 1800, Georg Joseph Beer, an Austrian ophthalmologist, is credited with introducing a flap operation for treatment of cataracts, as well as popularizing the instrument used to perform the surgery. In 1931, Vladimir Petrovich Filatov became the first person to perform a successful corneal transplant. Charles Schepens founded the Retina Foundation in 1950 (now known as Schepens Eye Research Institute). Ioannis Pallikaris, a Greek surgeon, performed the first Lasik surgery in 1989.

All this proves how steady research was in the field of the treatment of the human eye. And more remains to be discovered. According to a survey conducted by the National Eye Institute, more than 23 million Americans aged 18 and above have never undergone an eye exam. And the reason is that most think they don’t have an eye problem. This attitude can have consequences in the future. Surveys further suggest that by 2030, approximately 4.2 million people will have glaucoma, 11.5 million will have diabetic retinopathy, and 2.8 million will have age-related macular degeneration.

In support of Healthy Vision Month in May, the American Optometric Association is encouraging everyone to take charge of their eye health and preserve their sight by following some simple tips. Here are just a few:

  • Get regular dilated eye examinations from an eye care professional
  • Live a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, abstaining from smoking, and manage chronic conditions.
  • Know your family history because many eye diseases are hereditary.
  • Use protective eyewear to prevent injuries on the job, while playing sports or doing simple chores around the home.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

How to observe Healthy Vision Month

  • Share the message on social media. The NEI provides a number of social posts – for both Facebook and Twitter – that can be used by doctors, practices and organizations. Graphics – infographs and infographics – and videos are also available for distribution on the NEI website. Use the hashtag #HealthyVision or #HealthyVisionMonth.
  • Use your organization’s communication power – if your practice has a newsletter, blog or website, use pre-drafted email newsletter content (also found on NEI resource page) or drop-in article to spread the message.
  • Host an event. Get active about promoting healthy vision in your community. Maybe at you kid’s soccer game, or at the church you go on Sundays.

These messages about the importance of eye health are significant to doctors of optometry and the AOA all year round. Many patient education materials supporting the pillars of Healthy Vision Month—such as booklets on nutrition and the importance of proper sunglasses—are available through the NEI website and the AOA marketplace.

For this Healthy Vision Month, let’s take care of our eyes to make them last a lifetime.

Thank you for reading the newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at dr.simona@yahoo.com with any questions you may have!

Best wishes,

Simona

President’s Message

April has traditionally been that time of the year that we, as an organization, gather at the Capitol in Sacramento to discuss with our local lawmakers the bills we are working on for the year. And we are finally ready again to meet in person with our lawmakers, this time on June 27th! Previously thought it will be virtual once again, we are finally back in person. And we need your support more than ever as this is also an election year, and also, as I learned recently at the most recent Presidents’ council meeting, an unusual high number of influential lawmakers are leaving the Capitol this year, either because they are retiring, or running for higher office. Therefore, we need to be there in great numbers to put the face to our profession, and either strengthen or build new relationships with lawmakers. We don’t think often about this, but legislation has always been an important part of how we, as optometrists, are able to practice to the full scope of our training while increasing access to patients who benefit from our clinical expertise.

As with previous years, COA has put together an agenda outlining which bills it supports and how we, as primary eye care providers, can engage with our local legislators.

Here is a summary:

Scope of practice expansion (AB 2236) – For more than 20 years, patients in other states can go to their local optometrist to get the latest glaucoma treatment using lasers and remove small non-cancerous lesions from around the eye. COA is seeking legislation to allow optometrists to perform these procedures in California. We have a shortage of physicians that is getting worse because of the pandemic. A report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects that the United States will face a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. At the same time, a higher percentage of people are over the age 65 and will need more eye care. We are extensively trained and can help elevate the doctor shortage if state law restrictions were removed.

Medi-Cal reimbursement rate increase – Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for optometric services have not been increased in over 20 years. In addition to the impact of inflation, optometrists have experienced increased costs because of the pandemic. As much as they want to, many optometrists can’t continue to accept Medi-Cal patients when reimbursement is far below the cost of providing care. Even though we live in a state with some of the highest overhead costs, California has the third worst Medicaid reimbursement rate for eye exams in the nation. The Medi-Cal reimbursement for a new patient exam and refraction is $47 where the national Medicaid average is $105. The average cost of an eye exam for a new patient with no insurance in California today is about $200. That is a significant difference that can’t be made up in volume.

PIA Eyeglasses (SB 1089) – The Prison Industry Authority (PIA) which fabricates eyeglasses for Medi-Cal recipients has had pandemic related closures at its prison facilities. As a result, an already significant turn-around wait time of 4-6 weeks has been more than doubled in some areas. The requirement to use the PIA to obtain eyeglasses is causing optometrists to stop accepting Medi-Cal because of the hassle involved. Poor children deserve timely, quality eyeglasses that are consistent with community durability standards. This new legislation would give patients an option to get their eyeglasses outside the PIA system.

Waiver of licensure fees for military personnel (SB 1237) – SB 1588 (Atkins) was signed into law in 2012 to require state licensure boards to waive the renewal fees, continuing education requirements, and other renewal requirements of any licensee who is called to active duty as a member of the US Armed Forces. The fee waiver has been interpreted by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to apply only if the licensee has had a “temporary” change in assignment to a remote location. DCA has ruled that “military personnel that have orders to serve in a permanent, career position at a base are not ‘called to active duty’ within the meaning of the exemption in AB 1588.” The COA is sponsoring SB 1237 (Newman) to waive the license renewal fee for any active-duty military licensee who is stationed outside of California, not just someone who was “called to active duty.” It’s unfair to require someone in the military to pay for a license that they must maintain, but can’t currently use. While fees are waived, no private practice of any type would be permitted. This bill would save optometry service members that are permanently stationed outside of California $425 every two years in renewal fees. We need to make sure our optometry military service members are not paying for a license they can’t use!

Temporary License Expansion (SB 509) – SB 509 (Wilk) was an urgency bill that was signed into law in 2021 to create a “temporary license” that allows an optometry school graduate to practice under the supervision of an optometrist or ophthalmologist if the graduate is unable to immediately take the required examination for licensure due to COVID-19. This new legislation would expand SB 509 to other declared state of emergencies beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The intent is to allow a pathway to licensure in case of a future disasters that could cause the closure of the only testing site in Charlotte, North Carolina. SB 509 had no opposition and passed without any “no” votes.

Please consider joining us for Legislative Day, even if it is your first time! Every doctor makes us stronger! COA will walk you through all critical legislation beforehand. We will cover your travel costs for this day trip to the capitol. If you feel intimidated by the idea of discussing legislation with your local lawmakers in person, you can help via email. COA has on their website letters for each bill, ready to be personalized and sent out. Just log in to www.coavision.org, and follow the links under Government Affairs > Contact Your Legislator.

Ready to win one for optometry? Feel free to contact me at dr.simona@yahoo.com to learn how, and become a key to COA’s ongoing legislative success!

President’s Message

2022 California Optometric Association House of Delegates Report

The 2022 COA House of Delegates met for its annual meeting on February 10th and 12th. Although originally scheduled to take place in person in San Diego, in the end it was decided to be held virtually once again due to a rise in cases of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. Hopefully, this will be the last time when it will be held via Zoom.

First off, I would like to congratulate our own Dr. Amanda Dexter for becoming the next COA President! We thank her for the relentless efforts and support to our local society, and now at state level. Well done, Dr. Dexter! We’re looking forward to your leadership!

Here are the highlights of the meeting.

On Membership – the pandemic took a toll on our revenue in 2020. As you are aware, dues were waived for all members for 2 months in 2020. In addition, over 300 dues waivers were applied in 2020. The good news is that dues grew nearly 3% in 2021, meaning we are starting to bounce back, and approach pre-pandemic levels. One aspect that you might not be aware is that maturing membership base and retirements cause a decrease in membership revenues. On the flip side, the ascending scale allows more new graduates to be retained and lead to full dues-paying membership.

The COA is working hard in engaging the students and the young ODs. In 2021 a few virtual events were created for them (i.e., New Grads, Careers and Networking, Town Hall, ODs on Finance) where close to 100 participants were present at each event. COA offers support to the young ODs with dedicated staff and student relations team. Outreach is achieved in numerous ways through student hub, OD resource guide, free COA events, and a student community on the COA app. And if you were not aware yet, yes, there’s in app for COA available now in the app store! COA member community will provide engagement opportunities for societies, teams, and subcommunities!!

COA will also start some pilot programs this year to better understand the market, conduct an analysis on members and non-members, and learn how it can provide more tangible benefits to increase market share. Measuring the CA OD market, we will hope to answer some questions on what is the perception of COA in the marketplace, and what benefits do CA ODs value and want.

Stay tuned for this survey coming out Spring/Summer 2022. Please participate in it, as it will have an impact on how COA moves forward.

On Advocacy – some important legislation was passed in 2021. AB 407 extended the scope of practice by eliminating the restrictive list of “allowed” drugs and conditions, and also authorized treatment of anterior segment conditions and IPL. Another law, AB 1534, prohibits now corporations that contract with physicians’ groups from interfering in an optometrist’s professional judgement. Law AB 691 was passed as well authorizing ODs to administer COVID-19 vaccines and perform CLIA-waived COVID-19 testing. And finally, SB 509 allows optometry school graduates to temporarily practice under supervision if they are unable to take NBEO Part III because of COVID-19.

In 2022, the COA’s advocacy will continue with priorities in scope expansion, Medi-Cal reimbursement rate increase, PIA-lab choice under Medi-Cal, and military personnel fee waiver.

On Health Care Delivery System – COA maintained relationships with VSP, EyeMed, and IEHP; it developed new relationships with Versant and Envolve; addressed billing issues of COA members; conducted membership survey on medical optometry. The priorities in 2022 are to develop more relationships with health plans, and communicate the value of optometry integration.

On Children’s Vision – The mission of COA Children’s Vision Team is to ensure children receive regular comprehensive eye exams. A social media campaign is being promoted as it’s a quick and easy way to spread the word about the importance of children’s eye exams. COA has created social media images for you to share with your patients. COA is also creating a directory of COA member optometrists who provide vision care to children. We plan to make this list available to parents and other health care providers. If you would like to be included, please complete the questionnaire on the COA website. And let’s not forget about the InfantSee program by Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation. It is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Consider joining this program as well.

The priorities for 2022 are to create a children’s vision directory, and the launch of “Little Eye Pods” podcast. Stay tuned!

On Public Vision League – in 2021 COA reviewed the health plan contracts for legal compliance; intervened in litigation to ensure ODs can choose a fair and neutral arbitrator in disputes with health care plans; answered over 300 legal questions from COA members.

2022 priorities are looking for opportunities to advance and protect optometry through litigation.

On California Vision Foundation – COA continued the partnership with helping Healing California organization by providing optometry and staff volunteers at free clinics across the country. If you’re not aware already, Healing California is a non-profit organization that provides free, quality dental, medical, and vision care to those in need in California. For vision services, they set up complete vision exam stations and a lens lab where volunteer optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, and lab techs provide full exams and fabricate custom prescription eyeglasses on-site. Please consider volunteer.

On a last note, the COA finance team together with the COA board of trustees made the decision to sell the COA office building – 2415 K St, Sacramento. The team found that the income projections for leasing the building against the costs to maintain and service the building were not substantial enough to warrant keeping the building as an asset. The team recommended the board to consider creating a task force to oversee the sale of the building, including financial options, and the appropriate allocation of the proceeds from the sale.

The next COA event will be Legislative Day on June 13 – 21 as a virtual program. I encourage as many of you to participate as possible as there are many optometric issues of the day to be discussed 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. Being virtual, it will be even easier to participate. Please let me know if you are interested!

Thank you for reading the newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Best wishes,

Simona

President’s Message

February is usually the month when California Optometric Association (COA) holds the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting. COA represents more than 2,500 optometrists in the state, plus more than 1,000 students of optometry. The association is governed by its members — doctors of optometry like you — who are elected to leadership on the board of trustees, and who are appointed to statewide committees. Local society members convene annually at the COA House of Delegates meeting to represent their society membership and to conduct association business.

I would like to share my personal story how I first became a delegate, and how that later got me involved with the SDCOS board and finally became its President.

I have been practicing optometry since 2004, and I have been a member of AOA and of local societies at state levels since then in NY, NJ, and finally CA. But I have never been involved more than paying my dues. If I’m honest, I think I even lapsed in paying dues on time a couple of times! I did not have the time nor the desire to get more involved. But I just knew, for whatever reason, that I do have to be part of organized optometry, even in a passive way.

Then 2019 came. It was January, we were at the Handlery Hotel for the two-hour CE night, and I remember Dr. Grazian, the President at that time, making an announcement that he has a few more spots open for the House of Delegates, and if anyone wishes to join the list, to let him know. I raised my hand. Next thing I knew I was in San Francisco holding a name tag with my name that had attached to it a beautiful red ribbon saying “delegate”.

Why all of a sudden, I was interested to get more involved in organized optometry? Well, for one, I had more time on my hands. After a few years of struggling health issues, and finally a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease that was ravaging my body, I had to give up practicing optometry, at first, full time, then, part-time, then, the occasional fill-in until I started to feel disconnected from the profession. And that’s when I decided to re-connect with it in a different way. First, I raised my hand to become a Delegate which, in turn, made me join the Board for SDCOS as a trustee, and shortly after, join the Executive Board. I turned an adversity into an opportunity.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “delegate” as “a person acting for another; a person who is chosen or elected to vote or act for others”. I took my role very seriously. I was representing SDCOS! I was voting on behalf of the other 200+ members of SDCOS! That’s when I also learned that our association was one of the largest in the state, and therefore having a large number of delegates representing it. And that is an important fact because that means we, SDCOS, have weight when it comes to vote for the COA trustees to further become executive officers that will shape the future of optometry in California. And so, it dawned on me that we have a loud voice in the governance of COA!

So, I challenge you to raise your hand! Join the board, learn how and why organized optometry is important, have a voice. Turn your adversity into opportunity. You’ll be surprised at what you might discover.

 

 

President’s Message

Greetings and Happy New Year 2022! I hope everyone had a peaceful and meaningful holiday season!

I am honored to start the year as your new president.  Serving on the executive board the last couple of years has been a great learning experience for me, and it is my privilege to give back to the society and the community of ODs, and make an impact in 2022.  I am grateful for the group of doctors who stepped up to serve as executive board members, and for the rest of the board who will continue to help lead the society through another great year. This society would not exist without the relentless efforts, countless hours of volunteer time, and dedication of its board members in keeping alive and advancing the mission of SDCOS!

I would like to thank the amazing Dr. Alex Scovill for all her hard work in 2021, juggling full-time work, family with a baby, and making many tough decisions for the society while navigating the uncertainties of the COVID19 pandemic. You are an inspiration to me, and I only hope I will be able to continue to lead this society with the grace and professionalism you have.

As the new SDCOS president, I am committed to maintaining our legacy as one of the best optometric societies in the country. We are the third largest society in the state, and our membership is growing. In addition to being one of the largest in California, we are also one of the most active.  We provide a wealth of continuing education opportunities to our members, with renowned speakers, making it easy and convenient to keep up with your continuing education locally.  We also have many volunteer outreach programs which allow for our members to be active and give back to the community, including our Lions Optometric Vision Clinic, Monarch School Screenings, and many others. I would encourage our members to contribute to these programs, which not only make for an incredibly rewarding experience, but help to make us a strong force and presence in the San Diego!

As optometrists, it is important for us to continue support the needs and interests of our patients by reinforcing COA’s legislative efforts. Despite the challenges of COVID19, our members – together with COA and other societies in the state – stayed active and advanced the scope of practice by passing some very important laws in 2021 (AB407, AB691, AB1534, SB509) which will take effect January 1, 2022 (SB509 took effect September 22, 2021). A summary of one of the bills (AB407) is available here: https://sites.google.com/coaboard.org/childrens-vision/home. These new laws will help bridge the huge gap between the number of available doctors and the growing number of patients in need.

I look forward to everything we will accomplish together in 2022!

Cheers!

President’s Message

We are coming to the end of 2021, and looking back it was another rollercoaster of a year! From COVID-19 vaccines becoming available and life starting to resemble normalcy, to the Delta variant bringing doubt about our public safety again. Although we were entirely virtual this year, we were still able to accomplish a lot! We had numerous virtual CE’s with nationally renowned speakers and we treated our homeless veterans at Veteran Standowns. We also were able to meet virtually with legislators in Sacramento to discuss the importance of optometrists being able to administer COVID-19 vaccines, expanding our scope of therapeutic medications available, and giving new graduates the opportunity to begin working under a licensed optometrist while they wait for their license to be processed during a pandemic. All these accomplishments are why I am a proud member of SDCOS. Together we are making our city, and state, a better place for all.

It has been a challenging year as president, trying to steer our society through an uncertain time. Although it looks like we will not be able to have an in-person CE this year, we are planning on a few in-person CE’s next year! In addition, we will be hosting our Annual Holiday Party on December 18th! This affair will be the perfect entrance back to live events! It will be held at Stone Brewing in Liberty Station, which is an outdoor venue, and the theme is Mask-erade! Creative, decorative masks are encouraged! I hope it will be a fun, as well as safe, celebration as we are finally able to get together again after nearly 2 years apart! We look forward to seeing you there! Keep an “eye” out for ticket sales!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of our amazing board and Administrative Director, Nancy-Jo! It has been a dream working with this excellent team! I would like to thank everyone on the board for their hard work, making this year run smoothly! I would like to especially thank Nancy-Jo, she is the back-bone of this society and we would be lost without her. I have really enjoyed my time as president, although I had to make many tough decisions, I feel rewarded knowing that our society is still thriving as we near the end of the pandemic. However, there are still many tough decisions to make, so if you would like a voice in how your society will look in the following years, I would encourage you to volunteer a little of your time and join the board!

And finally, thank you for the opportunity to serve you as President this past year! I am looking forward to what 2022 has in store! Cheers!

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!