Discovering what you actually do
Kia ora e hoa,
Five years. That's how long it's been since I graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Optometry degree. Five years. And I'm still learning about what I do (as an optometrist).
[Optometrists] diagnose and manage various vision abnormalities including refractive errors as well as various eye diseases
After working two jobs and in my third now, this includes:
small independent, and
I think I understand what an optometrist does.
Yes, we manage refractive error with glasses, use our slit lamps to look at disease. But what we really do is listen to the patient, understand their need and then make sure they understand the solution we offer them.
This took me five years to understand.
Refraction is not numbers printed off an autorefractor. It isn't even the result of answering the ones and twos. Refraction includes the patient's needs and their understanding of the solution.
It took me a long time to understand that a 40-year-old noticing their reading slip off, doesn't mean they immediately need reading glasses. All they required was reassurance, the option to do nothing and come back in 1-2 years.
There is power in doing nothing but monitoring. Less work will actually improve long-term relationships rather than trying to force a quick sale.
Optometry is also about communication. I learnt this at my job working on low vision, which I started almost five years after graduating.
A lot of patients had no idea what was going on with their vision, only that they were losing it.
For example, macular degeneration, in the patients' minds, meant complete blindness. Although the outcome from end-stage macular degeneration isn't great, it's doesn't lead to complete loss of vision like what these patients thoughts. There is central vision loss, but you still maintain peripheral vision, which is important to know.
The biggest block is mental. Thinking you are going to lose your vision completely will make you give up all hope. Instead, if you know you have some peripheral vision, you have something to work with and are more willing to try low vision aids.
I also think optometrists have skills that go beyond the clinic room, but that's for another post.
What do you think optometry is? Or what have you discovered about your career that was different to when your first started? Hit reply. I'd love to know.
Thanks for reading and all the best for the week ahead.
Ngā mihi nui,
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