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John Marvin: The Meaning of Eyecare




Practice management advice from John Marvin

You might be the kindest person some of your patients see today.

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2015 edition of INVISION.

This is a time of year when we naturally think about friends and family. But as eyecare professionals, we may not always realize the difference we can make in the lives of people we see at work. Our actions, our words or the time we take to give a warm smile can have a big impact. To illustrate, here’s a true story from one of the Texas State Optical offices in central Texas.

For several years, a senior patient came in for his annual eye exam and, usually, a new pair of Rx eyewear. He usually came alone, so a young office associate, Tabby, asked whether he was married or had any family. He replied that he was married, but that his wife was not well and it was difficult for her to leave home. >


Every time the man visited the office after that, Tabby would ask him about his wife and he’d smile and eagerly share what they’d been up to. Over the years, it was as if Tabby had become acquainted with the elderly man’s wife, if only through the twinkle in his eye as he’d recount all that had happened since his last visit to the office. Tabby’s sincerity and taking time to listen made him feel welcomed and special.>

One day, the elderly patient appeared at the office without an appointment and asked for Tabby. Although she hadn’t expected to see him, Tabby eagerly met him with a smile. But this time, a tear had taken the place of the twinkle in his eye. He told Tabby that his wife had passed away. “I miss her so much and I’m so lonely,” he said. “I just wanted to come by and let you know.” For a short time, the two of them hugged and cried a bit together.>

&#8220I miss her so much and I’m so lonely,” the elderly patient said. “I just wanted to come by and let you know.”

You see, even in these infrequent visits, Tabby had become family to this man. That’s what true caring does. When you sincerely take the time to become interested in others and let them know they are special to you, then it is true health care.>

In this column, I usually write about managing your business. That’s important, but in this season, I want to ask that you also understand the importance of making a difference in the lives of others.>

Every day, people take time to spend time with us. This is a wonderful thing! They are trusting us, they are depending on us. We often have no idea the power of a sincere compliment, a warm smile or a friendly question like “How’s your wife doing?”>


A friend of mine quotes his father saying, “Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is fighting some kind of battle.” What impact will you have in the lives of those you see today?>

With more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, John D. Marvin writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. He is president of Texas State Optical, a member-owned cooperative of 120 independent, professional optometry practices. Contact him at



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