Thursday, September 17, 2009

"..Like a puzzle"

I got to shadow another optometrist this morning. Once again, the experience was a pleasant one. This optometric practice is located in Huntington Beach. When I first walked in, I immediately noticed the decor, furniture, and setting of the place. I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, who told me to wait while the optometrist came in (I was half an hour early).
The carpet had a circular pattern on it. I stared at it for a while, thinking about the shape of the human eye. Later, in the examination room, I saw a poster detailing the anatomy of the eye and I realized that the carpet reminded me of an abstract image of the eye. The pattern was a circle with many other circles contained within it (or maybe it was just two circles intertwined within each other).
I don't think the optometric practice had intended anything by using that particular pattern other than the fact that it was a beautiful design and fit well with the rest of the decor. The chairs were comfy and on the other side I could see a display of eye glasses.
I looked around at the walls of the waiting room. I saw that the owner of this practice graduated from UCBCO (University of California Berkeley College of Optometry). The optometrist I was shadowing was actually an employee of the owner. The owner optometrist does not work on Thursdays. On the window outside, he had the letters O.D. and F.A.A.O. written after his name. I know O.D. stands for Optometry Doctor, but I wasn't sure about the F.A.A.O.  I later asked Dr. W.Y. (the optometrist I was shadowing) and he told me it stood for Fellow of the American Academy of Optometrists. Mental note: I need to do some research on that.

It took a while before Dr. W.Y. came so I continued to stare around the room. I saw a pamphlet about 'optomap', a new technology that takes the picture of the inside of one's eye. I made a mental note to ask Dr. W.Y. about it. I also noticed that the place had a large staff. There were two receptionists, two opticians, and another lady that came from inside somewhere, but I don't know who she was. I made another mental note to ask this.

After some time, Dr. W.Y. finally showed up and gave me a tour of the place. There was a room where the opticians did preliminary tests on the patients. In there, I saw the 'optomap' machine. I immediately asked the optometrist and he said he would tell me about it when we got inside. There were two examination rooms, another room which he chose not to talk about (and I didn't ask), and an office. There was also a lab, but he did not take me there. We got inside the room and he sat down with me and we talked for a little.

The 'optomap' machine takes the image of the retina in a short amount of time. The advantages of 'optomap' are that the eyes do not need to be dilated and it takes a larger image of the back of the eye. Dr. W.Y. showed me an image and I was very impressed. He also asked to me about which schools I would apply to and recommended that I apply for the schools that have been established for some time. (He was implicitly referring to Western College of Optometry, which started its program this Fall of 2009).
We moved on to discuss the large staff. He said that they always hire for the busiest days and that's why there were so many people working. He then took me outside and told me to wait so he could ask the patients if they were alright with someone observing in the examination room. I liked that he did not ask them with me standing there. This way the patient could be honest about not wanting someone observing and not feel pressured into accepting the offer. Luckily, both patients agreed. I watched the optometrist as he went through the routine examinations. I later told Dr. W.Y. that his exams were comprehensive and I really liked that.

Afterward, the optometrist and I had a brief fifteen minute chat about more questions I had. I asked him about job opportunities after graduation from optometry school. He said there are many options available, but recently there are fewer jobs offered because of the economy. He also said that the hardest part about finding a job is finding one that allows you to work every day. Some practices offer work on Mondays and Thursdays and others might offer Mondays and Wednesdays. So, the task of the employee is to find jobs and try to fit everything in their schedule, like a  puzzle. Other than that, he said there are options for optometrists to work for schools or at government-owned hospitals. After our discussion, I left the office feeling content about the experience.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing Myself

"My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." -Ernest Hemingway

I had this quote on a portfolio of my writings that I compiled in the 11th grade. Four years later, I understand what this means for me. I have often tried to find a more sophisticated way of expressing my feelings, thoughts, or ideas. In English classes, I would have a thesaurus at my side and whenever I used a word more than twice or thrice, or if a word sounded too mundane, I would open the book and find a more sophisticated word to say the same thing. However, sometimes I would get carried away and the final result was difficult for even myself to understand. Therefore, my aim in this blog is to present facts, ideas, and thoughts in the best and simplest way I can.

"Because simple is best and the best is the simplest." -Me

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An optometrist might be the first doctor a person sees in 10 years!

I got to shadow a rather interesting optometrist today. He owns two clinics: one in Westminster/Huntington Beach and the other in Costa Mesa/Newport. The reason I call him "interesting" is because he is not the type of optometrist I get to see at my eye examination appointments.

I go to Kaiser every six months or less often, but I do not get to talk to the optometrist much, except when I need to tell him/her if lens 1 or 2 is better and then if 3 or 4 is more crisper,etc. It's probably because Kaiser is a big corporation and they deal with so many patients in a day. 
I like the way this guy dealt with his patients. He was very friendly and talkative. And the patients enjoyed that. At my last Kaiser appointment, I tried to engage the optometrist in conversation. I started with, "If someone was diagnosed with glaucoma, would you be the one who treats it?" The doctor just looked at me and said, "You do not have glaucoma." I already knew that, but since I was interested in pursuing a career in optometry, I wanted to know more about what they did or did not do, and what they could and could not do. I told her this. She smiled. Then she told me that they (optometrists) provided the pre- and post-operative care for glaucoma, but an ophthalmologist did the actual surgical stuff.

Ever since my interest in optometry grew, I wanted to know more about what they did and what made them different than ophthalmologists. I knew the basic difference: optometrists go to Optometry School and ophthalmologists go to Medical School. But this information is not sufficient. It provides no insight about the capabilities of an optometrist. Instead, it actually hurts the image of the profession. What this deviation from the original topic has to do with meeting the "interesting" optometrist, I will get to that in a minute. But let's just say that meeting with him gave me a new perspective on the profession of optometry.

But the doctor that I saw for my own eye exam was not at all interested in discussing anything other than "You have a new prescription" and " Let me take you to the eyeglass area, where you can pick a frame and order the lenses." And as you can see, that was not an invitation to discuss much. All I could say was, "Alright, thanks doc!" But I did get a tiny bit out of her: she applied to both SCCO (Southern California College of Optometry) and UCBCO(University of California Berkeley, College of Optometry). I could not, however, find out which school she attended to become an optometrist.

Meeting with this "interesting" optometrist today made a huge difference on my impression of optometry. Dr. R.G. went to SCCO and has been practicing for 22 years. I got to sit with him through three patients and between the second and third patient, we got to talk a little about his view on optometry, both present and future. He said that the difference between optometry and ophthalmology is surgery. Optometry is a specialty that provides primary vision care, just short of surgery. Optometrists deal with the functioning of the eye while an ophthalmologist deals with the anatomical fixings. Ophthalmologists come in when all else does not work. When ophthalmologists provide primary vision eye care, they are actually practicing optometry.
He also talked about how an optometrist might be the first doctor a person sees in 10 years. Someone can notice a decrease in vision and get their eyes checked, but other problems might not be as apparent. He gave an example of a patient who visited him after he noticed his visual acuity drop. When Dr. R.G. checked him, he had a swelling in his optic nerve behind his eye. "Only two things can cause this: either a tumor in the brain, in which case he has no chance to survive because it has gotten too far, or malignant hypertension (severely high blood pressure)." So, the doc checked the patient's blood pressure. It turned out that his systolic over diastolic reading was 300/125! This was a cause of alarm. Hence, Dr. R.G. sent this patient to see a family doctor and was immediately admitted to an emergency room. If Dr. R.G. had not sent him, he would have been dead in 24 hours!

The point from his story was that optometrists play an important role in the health care industry and they will continue to do so. His prediction was that in a decade or less, optometry will be merged within the medical field, but he did not sound too optimistic about that.
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