[Editor's note: This is the winning entry in INVISION’s essay contest. Eyecare professionals submitted essays in response to the prompt, “If you could order all eyecare pros to do one specific thing, and they had to listen to you, what would it be? And why would you ask them to do it?”]

Over the course of many long years in our profession and through the day-to-day trudge in the trenches that we call our optical shops we grow jaded, cynical, smug and self-assured. All qualities that I sincerely admire about my fellow opticians every day, but our patients not so much. We forget that those patients are here for one thing and one thing alone. To see better. And we forget that this is our first priority. So, if I were in a position to make eyecare professionals submit to one despotic demand it would be to stop being eyecare professionals for a minute and just be people. Yeah, it’s really that simple. But I can tell from your furrowed brow that further explanation is in order. 

Stop treating your patients like patients, or customers, or enormous inconveniences, and just treat them like people. Like you would want to be treated if you were a person, and not an optical dispensing robot, or an out of work clown waiting for your next big gig. Just be yourself, and if you are in fact an out of work clown waiting for your next big gig; wait no longer! This is your next big gig! 

Stop treating your patients like patients, or customers, or enormous inconveniences, and just treat them like people.”

Bring your guitar to work on slow days, juggle, knit stuff for your patients, make crafts out of old lenses and frames, build Galilean telescopes out of duct tape and plumbing supplies. Whatever your thing is, do it. Let your patients see it. In fact, make sure they see it. Have fun with what you do. Stop trying so hard to be an authority. We aren’t vision police. They don’t really care all that much as long as you are competent.

They don’t care if you got your master’s degree in physics from Michio Kaku or if last week you were asking people if they want fries with that. Seriously, I’ve asked. They don’t want to know how the glasses work. They just want us to work our magic and make them see. They rely on us for that. Without our nimble fingers dipping their lenses into the prescription seeing sauce they would be lost. Some might even say they would be blind. 

Of all the things I could have you do, why this? In the face of the growing online sales industry our personalities are the very things that will save us. No matter how hard a website tries to brand itself to have a personality, it’s still a website. Be quirky where they are sterile, individualistic where they are cookie-cutter, custom where they are cheap. Remember: They can compete with your business, but no one can compete with you as an individual. Stop being an eyecare professional. Just be you.


This article originally appeared in the January 2018 edition of INVISION.  

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