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This Healthy Vision Month Dig Deeper into Children’s Vision Issues

Our eyes look, but our brain sees and sometimes for kids there is a disconnect between the two.

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AS WE REFLECT ON Healthy Vision Month, let’s consider the following: There are 1.3 billion people living with some form of vision impairment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 80 percent of those impairments are considered avoidable.

The American Optometric Association estimates up to 80 percent of a child’s learning is through vision and 10 percent of children have a vision issue significant enough to impact their learning, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD).

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Unfortunately, it is not always easy for parents to identify symptoms or impairments in children.

For starters, their kids may not have the vocabulary or awareness to describe what they’re experiencing. One of my granddaughters struggled with her vision until she was prescribed -6.00 lenses. She was two years old. The issue is complicated by the following statistic: nearly two-thirds of children with some kind of vision impairment are also living with at least one developmental disability, according to the CDC. Poor vision can exacerbate the severity of a disability; the latter can sometimes mask the existence of the former.

All of the above underscores the importance of early and regular eye health exams. It also creates opportunities for new kinds of vision therapy, such as Neuro-Visual Training (NVT).

According to Dr. Stelios Nikolakakis, a Canadian optometrist who runs Mind’s Eye Neuro-Visual Optometry in Toronto, NVT goes above and beyond traditional eyecare with a holistic approach to vision health.

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Our eyes look, but it is our brain that sees, and any disconnect between the two can create significant learning challenges.

He reminds us that while reading challenges, frustration, and poor grades could be the result of a learning disability, they could also stem from poor communication between their eyes and brain. He also says about 80 percent of the symptoms of someone who needs NVT are identical to the symptoms of someone with ADHD.

As a result, the COVD says typical vision screenings can miss at least half of vision problems.

It is easy for parents and teachers to miss or mistake signs of vision impairment. If a child cannot sit still, is easily distracted, complains of headaches or eyestrain, consistently asks others — including parents — to read to them, or confuses their b’s and d’s, the child could be struggling with underdeveloped visual systems. Rather than dismissing their behavior or complaints, it is critical to consider whether a relatively small amount of training could help address these issues, and ultimately set a child up for success in the classroom and in life.

There are several ways optometrists can help. They can have their recallers book eye health appointments for parents together with their children. They can ask parents whether their kids have demonstrated any of the above behaviors. By learning more about the applications of NVT, and by encouraging patients to do the same, we can start to broaden the scope and impact of Healthy Vision Month by considering the health of all elements of our vision for all ages.

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Pauline Blachford consults with ODs on reducing un-booked appointments, increasing sales, and improving staff engagement and productivity. She is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences and events, and writes regularly for a variety of industry publications. Visit her at paulineblachford.com

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You Can’t Meet Everyone’s Needs, So Why Try?

Know your niche.

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Know your niche as a retailer and stay true to that niche. Don’t try to meet everyone’s needs – if you try you will compromise somewhere else. – Carter Johnston, OD, Physicians Optical Luxury Eyewear, Oklahoma City, OK

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Robert Bell

The Single Best Tool to Help Your Staff to Sell In and Outside the Office

Plus it has the added benefit of showing them you value them.

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JUST BETWEEN US, have you ever fantasized about wanting to give a playful smack to a patient or customer because they did something incredibly stupid? Or, they didn’t do something they were supposed to do in the no-brainer category?

No? Liar!

Well, here’s a no-brainer scenario in which I’d like to smack (playfully!) a hefty percentage of optometric business owners. Ok, honestly, I wouldn’t hurt or embarrass any of you. However, I’ll tell you this: this “no-brainer scenario” makes me pull my hair out of my head. And, folks? I’m bald!

What’s the no-brainer scenario? Business cards.

“But Robert, I have a business card.” I’m sure you do, doctor. Does everyone on your staff have one, too? Everyone? Uh huh. I’m losing more hair as we speak!

From your front desk personnel to your licensed opticians, everyone on your staff should have printed business cards with their name on it, their title (if they want one), the name of your practice, your location(s), your phone number and your website.

Everyone on your staff should be required to carry a few in their purses or wallets 24/7.

Why? So many reasons! Here’s one example from one of my favorite conversations with an optician:

Optician: I was in a Target once and standing behind this woman wearing the most G-d awful glasses. I was thinking, “Omg, who the hell did that to you?”

Me: Did you say anything to her?

O: Um, no.

M: Why not?

O: Whaddya mean, “why not?” What was I going to say?

M: Oh, any number of things. How about, “Hi there. I’m Darla. I was looking at your glasses. I’m an optician. Then … are you happy with them? … or how long ago did you get them? … or where did you get them? Anything to get her talking about her glasses.

O: Why?

M: So you could engage her, find out if you, as an optician, could be of help to her. If so, then you could’ve given her your business card and said, “Here, take my card. Next time you need glasses or an eye exam, come in and ask for me and I promise I’ll take very good care of you.” Then, before you give her the card, you say ‘I’m gonna write on the back of my card to give you $20 off on a pair of sunglasses, if you’re able to come in within the month.’

O: (spurts out a laugh) Yeah, right. Like my OD would pay for business cards for me. Get real. She’s too cheap.

Lord, I’m so bald.

Doctors, by purchasing business cards for your staff (such a minimal investment that can reap in beaucoup rewards), you do the following things:

  • You’re telling them they, as your employee, are important to you.
  • You’re telling them they are an integral part of your team.
  • You’re telling them you’re proud to have them on your team.
  • You make them think you appreciate them and show them so with something tangible.
  • This usually makes them proud of where they work and proud of working for you.

Either you’re proud of your practice and the people who work for you, or you’re not. If you’re not, please disregard what you’ve read here. If you are, well, you know what to do next.

The next step is have a business card sales training at your next staff meeting. Here are the key things you want to touch upon:

  • Everyone should have their business cards on them when they’re out in public.
  • Though not required, everyone on staff is empowered to talk to anyone wearing glasses and ask certain questions about those glasses.
  • Everyone on staff, no matter what their position is in the office, is empowered to tell anyone “Next time you need glasses or contacts, you should really check out this great eye doctor I work for. Ask for me, and I promise I’ll take very good care of you.”
  • Everyone on staff is empowered to write an “incentive” on the back of the card like: “$20 off a pair of sunglasses if you come in this month.”

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Danielle Richardson

Feel Like Your Wellness Routine Could Be Missing Something? It’s Probably Sleep

We spend nearly a third of our life sleeping, which makes getting quality sleep as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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WHEN YOU THINK OF your health and wellness, how often do you think of sleep? Chances are not often — but you should. Sleep is the newest frontier in wellness as public health consciousness continues to increase and we move to a more holistic idea of health. We spend nearly 1/3 of our life sleeping which makes getting quality sleep as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

The National Sleep Foundation defines quality sleep as occurring when you’re asleep within 30 minutes of laying down, wake no more than once, and sleep for at least 85 percent of the night. Unfortunately, quality sleep is an uncommon occurrence as the CDC reports a third of American adults experience poor or inadequate sleep on a regular basis. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep-related problems or disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome. As a country, we need to get some rest!

Sleep deprivation increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and triples the risk for type 2 diabetes according to Johns Hopkins sleep researcher Patrick Finan, PhD. Those not getting adequate sleep suffer from a weakened immune system, irregular metabolism, and obesity secondary to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Not limited to just the physical body, sleep deprivation can also manifest as cognitive impairment and/or mental health changes including depression, irritability, anxiety, forgetfulness, and brain fog. Poor quality sleep is far less recuperative, which causes us to not feel rested when do we wake up.

Sleep depends on a number of factors, our body’s internal regulating system is chief among them. Our Circadian Rhythm functions as the body’s biological clock and regulates the experience of alertness vs. sleepiness. This rhythm is sensitive to fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol peaks in the morning allowing us to be alert and focused throughout the day. The secretion of melatonin — which helps us sleep — is highest at night.

These days, our minds are moving a mile a minute and we’re constantly on light-producing digital devices even though increased high-energy blue light exposure from devices decreases melatonin production and causes insomnia or sleeplessness. The disrupting culprits aren’t limited to devices though; increased stress, irregular work schedules, frequent jet lag, and sleep disorders can also disrupt our cycles.

The CDC recommends 7-9 hours of quality sleep for adults and more for teens and children. Here are some easy ways you can get better sleep tonight:

Build Consistency. It’s important to wake and head to bed around the same time each day — even on the weekends.

Use Sleep Monitoring Technology. Smartphones and wearable tech devices can help monitor the duration and quality of your sleep through downloadable applications and Bluetooth technology.

Sleep Habits. Limit screen time and diminish light sources in the bedroom. Additionally, use the automatic setting on your phone to warm the screen at night.

Bonus — Zen Out! Use essential oils or pillow sprays in scents like lavender as aromatherapy to help you sleep. Also consider meditation, light music, or other soothing sounds as a relaxing way to send yourself to bed.

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