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The Big survey

‘Finding Glaucoma in a 12-Year-Old.’ — ECPs Recall Their Most Memorable Encounters 

Don’t miss these findings from the INVISION 2021 Big Survey.




FROM THE SERIOUS cases to the everyday, and from the grateful to the grouchy, patients and customers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. In the INVISION 2021 Big Survey, we asked eyecare pros to recall their most memorable encounters with the people who come in their doors looking for help. The answers in most cases fell into the following groups:

Those You Help with Their Vision

  • “Made a father cry when daughter put on her first pair of glasses and she smiled because she could see. Daughter was mute and could not speak. We all cried!!”
  • “We see young children who put on their first pair of glasses and gaze around the room or out of a window, amazed at what they can see. We have had our staff in tears watching those little people.”
  • “I was able to see a young hyperopic patient see his face without glasses after trying contacts and he could not believe he was able to see his face for the first time without glasses.”

Those Whose Life is Changed

  • “-12.00 patient who we fit with contacts who had never worn any glasses or contacts before — it was life-changing!”
  • “Helping low vision patients read when they thought they couldn’t anymore.”
  • “A patient was able to drive again after an AMD diagnosis.”

Those Whose Life was Saved

  • “Recently we saw a patient with same-day sudden blur in vision, diagnosed a vascular accident (a stroke to the eye) and she was in the hospital that afternoon for a stroke workup, which sounds terrible but likely prevented a catastrophic stroke to her brain. I called her five days later just to check on her and she thanked our team for ‘saving my life’.”
  • “Having to tell someone their child has a deadly tumor in the eye and the eye needs to be removed quickly before it metastasizes.”
  • “The ongoing relationship we have made with a patient diagnosed with a brain tumor after her eye exam. Optos photos made it pretty clear something was going on. She is doing great. She and her family have become a second family to all of us.”
  • “Saved the sight and life of a Pt who came because he lost his specs but had an impending stroke. No Rx. Sent him to ER.”
  • “Found a suspected pituitary tumor during a routine exam on a 20-something who came in complaining of headaches. Referred out for imaging, confirmed diagnosis and he had surgery. A week later a lady came in asking to see me. It was his Mom, and she came to thank me. That’s why we do what we do.”

Satisfied Customers

  • “There was a patient who selected a really fun pair of eyewear that totally changed her outlook on eyewear. She has been a loyal patient since then.”
  • “I ordered exactly what a new customer wanted, warning her that her RX would be thinner in a different type of frame. When she picked them up she started to cry because they were so beautiful and no one else would have made them for her. A good lesson in listening to what a customer wants.”
  • “Pt had already called two family members before leaving the office to insist they schedule an appointment with our office.”
  • “A patient who kept their appointment while their house was burning to the ground in the Calder fire in Northern California.”

The Poor Ones

  • “A student, his family is very poor, no money to buy glasses, in my shop at the door, watching, I gave him a pair of glasses and asked him to study hard.”
  • “I love the ones that have gone through Lions Club because they have nothing, and put their new glasses on the first time and start happy crying because they haven’t been able to see for a long time; it makes me remember why I’m here.”

The Big Spenders

  • “My auto mechanic bought four pairs of glasses.”
  • “I sold 12 pairs of glasses to one person!! That was really fun.”
  • “Purchased a curated vintage 1950’s $500 frame in 5 minutes.”

The Young Ones

  • “An 8-month-old getting glasses for the first time. Best smile/laugh I’ve ever seen or heard.”
  • “New patient, preschool and was a high minus. When I took off the trial frame she bit my hand.”
  • “An 8-year-old, first exam -2.25 OU.”
  • “Finding glaucoma in a 12-year-old.”

The Old Ones

  • “A LOL (little old lady) who was obviously lonely that came in every month or so to get her glasses adjusted. Always wanted to see a particular optician. He would talk to her for a little bit then take her glasses in back, set them on the counter, and light his pipe. After a few puffs, he would take them back and she would always claim how much better they felt.”
  • “We had one of the sweetest, kindest patients I had ever met. She was in her 80’s. She and her husband had been married well over 60 years. He would bring her in and so lovingly hold her hand and treat her like she was the light of his life. She had terrible ocular surface disease and from seeing her eyes, you could tell she was in pain. However, she never complained. When I asked her how she was doing, her answer was ALWAYS, ‘I’m doing great’.”

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between September and October, attracting nearly 400 anonymous responses from owners and managers of independent vision businesses across the United States. The full results were published in the November issue of INVISION and are available online.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at


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