Optoblog Poetry #006

Opt School or a house?
Electricians make more cash.
Too late to drive truck?

As a mid-career optometrist still 20 years from any kind of retirement, I often wonder if I made the right decision. I’ve had to do some electrical work on my 1960 house (because that’s the kind of house an optometrist can afford) and really enjoyed it. Also I really like driving, so I probably should have been a trucking electrician or an electrical trucker.

If you liked this one, read more Optoblog poetry.

@optotrician: This is Safe, Right?

I was halfway done administrating non-contact tonometry (a.k.a. air puff test) when a 30-something man asked, “This is safe, right?”

To which I replied, “Well, yah. A small percentage of people could faint, but…pretty safe.”

To be fair, I have never had anyone faint after the air puff, but I have had two different men almost faint (lightheaded, sweating, nausia, paleness) after Goldmann applanation tonometry and corneal foreign body and rust-ring removal.

It helps to be prepared for the vasovagal response, so I have on hand an ammonia-based respiratory stimulant and Sunny Delight sugary punch.

@optotrician: Time for an Eye Exam

Don't talk to Willie!
Don’t talk to Willie!
Our Walmart Vision Center has a life-size poster of a tough-looking beared guy from Duck Dynasty. Someone thought it would be fun to put a Walmart name tag with the name “Willie” on it.

It’s strange having Willie in the optical because you see him out of the corner of your eye and you instinctively have to look over at him to see who’s there, but the then you feel stupid because you’ve already told yourself a thousand times before that Willie is just a cardboard picture.

The other day, an optician saw a lady trying to talk to Willie and asking a question. Of course it was only for a few seconds, but it was a couple seconds longer than most people would talk to a cardboard picture.

The VC manager decided to take the name badge of Willie after that. Now most people just come over and have a picture taken with cardboard Willie.

New Topic Category: @ the Optotrician

Optoblog revolutionized optometric blogging with eye doctor-related comics and poetry. Now we have “@ the Optotrician” which contains quick anecdotes and conversations that actually occur at a vision-center/eye-clinic/optical/eye-doctor-office.

This is à la Love the Liberry blog that I discovered when it was linked to by Mental Floss the other day. It’s so awesome that I’ve already read the archives back to 2007.

By the way, if you would like to be a contributor to optoblog, please see this page.

Without further delay, here is the inaugural post of @ the Optotrician:

Teenage Girl: Hey does anyone have a dime? Do you have a dime?

An asian male (from Asia), 20s, doesn’t want the full glasses power I found written in his Rx. He wants less so his eyes don’t get worse. I explain it’s debatable whether that would help, hurt, or make no difference for his future glasses magnitude, but he insists. I am fine with it as long as he is legal to drive. I show him a +0.75 shift, and he is satisfied with that.

What’s the deal with optometrists in India not prescribing cylinder? I’ve seen several Indians (from India) that have 0.75 diopters or more of astigmatism, and their glasses from last year are spherical.

Guy in 20s: Can I charge my phone here?

Man walks right past sign posting prices of eye exam. Asks optician, “How much is an eye exam?” This happens thousands of times a day.

How to Become an Optometrist

The topic of today’s post is the most searched term that brings people to my little blog, so I thought I would directly answer the question, “How do I become an optometrist.”

Here are the steps as I see them:

  1. Go to college and major in any field you want. You will be required to take prerequisite courses before entering optometry school, and most of these courses are taken during a biology-type major. But, you can major in statistics or Spanish, but it will take extra time to graduate AND get all the optometry school prereqs. Don’t let that put you off because if you don’t get into optometry school, you will want a degree that you can use to do something you love. About the only thing you can do with a biology degree besides work for the federal government is work at McDonalds.
  2. The summer after your second or third year of college, take the OAT and score well. Make sure you check the option to have your scores released to all the optometry schools that you are considering.
  3. As part of your optometry school application, you have to observe a few optometrists in different practice settings (private, government, research/academic, commercial) for around 30 hours. This takes time, so schedule ahead before your application becomes due. It’s also very important because you may discover that being an optometrist is not for you. That’s a good lesson to learn before you spend huge amounts of money becoming one.
  4. If you still want to be an optometrist, get your application together and send it in when your fourth year of college starts. There are usually essay questions and a personal statement. Try not to write anything naive. You’ll also need to round up all your official college transcripts. Hopefully you are a fine human being and have cultivated outstanding personal, academic, and work references. I threw in a clergy reference as well. Each optometry school might have a slightly difference process, so please read their website like the careful, well-educated person you are.
  5. Interested schools will call you up and schedule an interview usually starting around January. You will have to pay your own travel, food, and accomodations, so if you get a lot of interview requests, you may want to prioritize them if you don’t have unlimited funds and time. By the way, do well at the interview.
  6. Wait for all the offers to pile in, and accept the one you want. I would pray about it. It’s a big decision.
  7. Spend big money to attend optometry school and pay attention because there is a test later. Spend some more money on your own optometry equipment and reference books.
  8. Work with a professor that you respect to plan, execute, and write a thesis project during your second year of optometry school.
  9. Pay your money to take the NBEO 3-part testing and do well.
  10. During your fourth year of optometry school, you will travel around to different preceptorship sites. You can focus on the type of settings you would like to work in, or better yet, experience several different settings to give you more experience if your preferred setting doesn’t work out right out of school.
  11. If interested in specializing, you can do an optional optometry residency. During your fourth year you will apply and then be invited to interview for residencies. They are preferred for several modes of practice like government, academia, and LASIK centers. You’ll learn more about this and be able to make an informed decision after being in optometry school.
  12. Graduate from optometry school
  13. Apply for optometry licenses in the state(s) you wish to practice in.

Congrats, you would then be a practicing optometrist. For those of you counting at home, that was a minimum eight years of your life after graduating high school. I wish you luck in your quest to find a job and be happy with your career.

Before you can start working, you will need spend money on a license, malpractice insurance, perhaps a DEA number, and apply for all the insurance panels you want to take. If you decide to work for yourself instead of someone else, you’ll need to take care of a whole bunch of business related stuff that is beyond the scope of this post.

Don’t forget you will need to spend a whole bunch of money every year in the racket known as continuing education conventions.

Undergrad, I Don’t Want to Sugarcoat Optometry

Over at Student Doctor Networks – Optometry Forums some undergrad started a thread about me.

Am I real? Yes. Maybe you could have read more than just one of the 340+ posts on my blog? Maybe you could have looked at the side bar and seen the link to my twitter feed and my practice website?

Do I hate optometry? Nope. I like it fine. Sure, I’d rather be a rock star, but that will have to wait for now.

Did I make a whole bunch of inflammatory blog posts? Yes. But I can’t please everybody. I like Walmart optometry more than private practice for numerous reasons, but not the least of which is I feel like less of a salesman and more like the doctor I was trained to be. I think you can get that in other settings too, but I don’t want to work for the government anymore. I’m not academic enough to be a professor, and I don’t want to be an OMD’s “super-tech.”

In private practice, everyone else got paid…except me. The frame reps, the contact lens distributors, and labs, the staff, the landlord, , the bank, the equipment vendors…they all get their money up front or first thing. You, the doctor, get paid last…if at all. Risky.

if you like taking risks, then why not take a better bet in a different profession selling or manufacturing widgets with less restriction on maximum possible income?

Undergrad, if you really want to be a private practice optometrist, go ahead. I won’t stop you. I would ask you why you would gamble so much when you could practice in a setting with MUCH less risk. It does work out well for lots of O.D.’s, but that doesn’t mean it will work well for you.

By the way, I don’t think pointing these things out should be labeled “negative.” It’s reality. There are pluses and minuses to every profession. Undergrad, I don’t want to sugarcoat your potential career choice. I once thought I was going to be an architect because I wanted to design houses. I actually talked with an architect and found out very few architects design houses because most people buy their plan from a catalog. Most architects design banks and rest-stop bathrooms and other utilitarian buildings. That’s not what I would be happy with, so I switched majors. I’m thankful that architect shot straight. If you don’t believe me, then I hope you talk with an optometrist that you can trust who will also shoot straight.

Now, knowing more of the risks and potential negatives, if you still want to be an optometrist, then at least you’re not going into this blind. You won’t be able to say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be this way?”

Anyway, I’ve spoken enough about this subject. I need to get back to writing/selling the next great screenplay so I can have a retirement.

Flurisafe Review

Flurasafe
This yellow diagnostic drop is the new black.
Flurisafe comes in a 6 mL dropper manufactorered by AL-ROSE Enterprises and is composed of Fluorexon disodium with benoxinate. Fluorexon’s heavier molecular weight makes it “safe” for use with soft contact lenses since it won’t permanently dye it yellow like fluorescein will.

If you don’t use Flurisafe, then you should try it out. I’m confident that you and your patients will like it better than fluorescein sodium/numbing drop combinations (benoxinate or proparicaine).

Here are my reasons:

  1. My patients report less stinging with Flurisafe compaired to FluorBenox and especially proparicaine.
  2. The mild stinging from Flurisafe seems to have a few seconds delay after installation, so that allows me to get the drop in both eyes easier for the little kids.
  3. Most older patients report NO stinging with Flurisafe.
  4. I can use it on any patient and not worry about rinsing it out with eyewash if they happen to want to try soft contact lenses later.

On the downside, it is a little more expensive than FluorBenox, but not significantly more. Also, I turn up my light level a little more using the blue light compared to using a Fluorette or BioGlo Strip; however, Flurisafe still lights up nicely while using a yellow Wratten filter (my slit lamp has one integrated; I just lower a pin.)

I get mine from Wilson/Hilco, but your usual ophthalmic supply company should have it also.

Try it! You’ll like it.

Disclosure: I have to financial interest in any companies or products mentioned above, and to date none of them have ever given me any free stuff.