A preliminary review of the differences in Optometry education between the United Kingdom and the United States of America


By Dr Michael Hope, UK Doctor of Optometry – working with the Ophthalmic Practitioners Group – Patients before profits – July 2020

The educational differences in Optometrists between these two developed western nations shares both common themes and stark differences. First and foremost is the title that these practitioners are recognised by within their respective countries. USA Optometrists are recognised as Dr, and qualify as a “Doctor of Optometry”1whereas UK Optometrists currently graduate and qualify with no such distinction.2Responsibilitiesin the two professions are broadly similar, however licensed USA practitioners have further responsibilities and wider access to prescription only medicines3, which are currently only available to UK practitioners following further Independent Prescribing examination and certification.4In addition to USA Optometrists holding the title Doctor,Canadian Optometrists also hold this privilege.5To understand the core differences underlying educational status of Optometrists between these two nations, it would be useful to briefly examine their respective history and professional regulations.This demonstrates an almost100-yeargulf between the formal award of “Doctor of Optometry” status between the USA and UK.Historical context and timelines United States. It was in 1923 that Pennsylvania College of Optometry awarded the first Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree.By 1940 the Association of Schools & Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) was created; Albert Fitch was the first President. In 1961 Pennsylvania Optometrists introduce a bill to authorise the use of ophthalmic diagnostic pharmaceutical agents, but it was defeated.It wasn’t until 1973,that a bill was introduced in North Carolina to authorize Optometrists to use and prescribe pharmaceutical agents for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.In 1976 the first therapeutics law passed in West Virginia, permitting the use of therapeutic drugs by Optometrists. By 1998 all states and D.C. had therapeutic laws formalized in state legislature.6United Kingdom It was within the 1930’s that diagnostic ophthalmic drugs became a consideration to those in the UK practicing “optics”. The first examination in drugs for Fellows of the “worshipful company of spectacle makers” was held at Liverpool in March 1938. In 1946 D.W.A. Mitchell, of the London Refraction Hospital, published a textbook on the use of drugs by Optometrists and courses were arranged at training institutions.7By1948, an examination in ophthalmic drugs was instituted by the British Optical Association (BOA)and was open to all Optometrists. There were four examination sections: General & ocular anatomy; Drugs used in refractive ophthalmic practice; Clinical use in refraction; and contraindications. The first BOA examination was held in July 1949. When the length of Fellowship training for all new Optometrists increased to three years all candidates were examined automatically in ophthalmic drugs as part of their training. 7LegalaspectsofoptometricuseofophthalmicdrugsintheUKThe use of drugs by Optometrists (and all medical professionals) in the UK is governed by the Medicines Act 1968. A provision in this act allows Optometrists to use and supply drugs during the course of their professional practise. In 2007UK Optometrists became able to undertake additional postgraduate training and qualifications that allow them to prescribe medications to treat and manage eye conditions.8There are three registerable specialties: •Additional supply specialty -to write orders for, and supply in an emergency, a range of drugs in addition to those ordered or supplied by a normal Optometrist.•Supplementary prescribing speciality -to manage a patient’s clinical condition and prescribe medicines according to a clinical management plan set up in conjunction with an independent prescriber, such as a GP or ophthalmologist or a qualified IP Optometrist.•Independent prescribing specialty(IP)-to take responsibility for the clinical assessment of a patient, establish a diagnosis and determine the clinical management required, including prescribing where necessary.8UK Regulatory bodies and “Doctor of Optometry”titleIt was not until after the introduction of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948 7that the then Health Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland set up a Committee to determine whether a regulatory body should be created.Before the1958Opticians Act and the formation of the GOC in parliament,UK Optometry was not a regulated profession.The GOC’s core functions were:•To maintain registers of Optometrists (and dispensing opticians)who have the relevant qualifications;•Tomanage the inspection of training institutions and examining bodies which grant qualifications;•To monitor the practise of optics and use of protected titles(such as Optometrist) by those who are unregistered by statutory prohibition•To exercise disciplinary powers over registered Optometrists, and in stil and enforce appropriate ethical standards.In 1989there were further Opticians Act amendments. In 2005 a number offurther changes were made to the legislation. These included the introduction of mandatory continuing education and training for full registrants, and the introduction of registration for student optometrists and dispensing opticians.It wasn’t until 2008that the UK moved forward to offer the post-graduate Doctor of Optometry qualification at the Institute of Optometry, London and then Aston University, Birmingham.As can be noted from the above, the USA gained “Doctor of Optometry” qualification in 1923, nearly 100 years before it became available as a postgraduate qualification in the UK. Currently, the Doctor of Optometry qualification remains unavailable as an entry point to the profession in the UK. In respect of the prescribing of pharmaceuticals, historically UK optometry was aheadof the USA, with laws and examinations governing their use being in place in the UKfrom1938 onwards and formalised into examinationin1949,administered by the British Optical Association (the forerunner to the UK College of Optometrists).7This was reinforcedby the Medicines Act 1968whichallowedOptometrists to use and supply drugs during the course of their professional practise. During the 1960’s –mid 70’s USA Optometrist counterparts were being refused access to ophthalmic diagnostic and therapeutic agents and it wasn’t until 1973 that a bill wasintroduced in North Carolina to authorise Optometrists to use and prescribe pharmaceutical agents for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.Then in 1976 the first TherapeuticsLaw passed in West Virginia permittingthe use of therapeutic drugs by Optometrists.5This then set the stage for USA Optometrists to overtake their UK colleagues by gaining access to more ophthalmic drugs and increasingly managing ocular disease through the 1980’sand 1990’s. It wasn’t until 2007that UK Optometrists were permitted to use a fuller range of ophthalmic drugs9and this was only after undertaking further postgraduate lectures, clinical placement with an Ophthalmologist and then the common final assessment examination administered by the College of Optometrists. The integration of this IP qualification into the UK Optometry degree has not yet been formalised but with an ageing population and a lack of capacity withinNHSOphthalmology10,it is possible this integration may only be a matter of time.Current UK and USA Optometry syllabi, common themes and differences Of note between the training background of these two nations, USA provide their4 year Doctor of Optometry degree at a postgraduate level following an undergraduate science based degree and accompanied by a high OAT (Optometry Admission Test) score, though this may not precludeentry by qualified opticians with experience (but also requiring a high OAT score). UK Optometry is currently studied at undergraduate level, typically as a 3-yearBSc (Hons)following science based A Levels such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics,common UCAS offers are AAB11. Again,there is an option for optician entry to the degree and for those opticians that excelan option for direct entry to the second year of the traditional optometry degree.The subsequent UK pre-registration year is then completed in either corporate/independent or hospital-basedpractice and is ofapproximate12-16-monthduration, dependent on practitioner performance.In the UKonce qualified with 2 years’ experience,there is an option to upgrade to Doctorof Optometry(including academic modules for IP) with a 6 year part-timepostgraduate course(whilst remaining in practice)12.In this preliminary review of the two courses in Optometry, large established mainstream Optometry courses from their respective countries have been selected –for the United Kingdom –the University of Bradford, and for the United States –The University of California, Berkeley. Comparison of the two degrees can only be made to some extent, since the pre-registration year accounts for a significant component of a UK Optometrists training, and the learning outcomes from the UK College of Optometrists and objective structured clinical exams would be additionally relevantto consider, when comparing to a 4 year USA Optometry degree. Nevertheless,in the authors view, there is still merit in comparing the core academic components of the two degrees.Examining the syllabi (see appendix) shows common themes, particularly in year 1, where general anatomy and physiology, ocular anatomy and physiology and pure/visual optics dominate both

nations courses.However,the USA year1 syllabus demonstrates increased neuro anatomy content and this is critical in gaining a good understanding of the cranial nerves and systemic disease.The second year of the UK course appears to have more dispensing content than its USA counterpart. Ocular and general pharmacology, contact lenses and binocular vision are shared central modules in year 2 of both UK and USA courses.The third year of both courses shows some divergence in training. The USA course has a module “Optometry 435. Advanced Procedures in Ocular Disease Diagnosis”which does not appear to be included in the UK course. Furthermore, the USA course consolidates its ocular pharmacology content from year 2, with the modules “Optometry 246. Diagnosis and Treatment of Anterior Segment Ocular Disease pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy, and clinical management of systemic and ocular disease” and “Optometry 256. Diagnosis and Treatment of Posterior Segment Ocular Disease pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy, and clinical management of systemic and ocular diseases”The UK course has the module“Management of Ocular Disease Core 40 1&2 OPT6019-D” but this may not be as extensive as the 2-modulecontent of the USA course. The fourth year of the USA course is largely clinical practise based with a heavy clinical workload time table of approximately 50 hours with the addition of “grand round” clinical case presentations. The UK has a pre-registration system, where the graduate undertakes approximately 37 hours of clinical contact time in practice, combined with approximately 10-14 hours of study each week. Within the UK pre-registration year, there is a significant Ophthalmology input via a clinical placement with a Consultant Ophthalmologist,of approximately 10-12 days (up to 24 clinical sessions). This will typically involve a rotation between different ophthalmology sub specialties, such as vitreo-retinal, glaucoma, cornea and ophthalmic casualty. The USA degree appears to keep much of this “in-house” via the fourth year of its programme.A full comparison of the degree content is outside the scope of this preliminaryreview, however, could be a useful masters/doctoral thesis undertaking for a UK or USA post-graduate student.Preliminary recommended revisions for UK Optometry BSc degree to achieve Doctor of Optometry standard as entry to the UK profession•Increased general and ocular pharmacology within year3 content,building on year 2•Incorporate IP prescribing into UK Optometry degree•A Level Chemistry minimum grade B for all entrants to the course (including Disp Optician entry)•Increased neuro-anatomyin year1,including structure and function of all cranial nerves in the human body.•Separation of ocular abnormalities(year3) into anterior and posterior segment and to include ocular pharmacology/pharmacodynamicstreatmentsfor both•Clinical theory and application of advanced ophthalmic techniquesincluding but not limited to: OCT interpretation, Gonioscopy, PCO Yag laser, Foreign body removal/algerbrush, Culture of specimen removal, interpretation of blood test results –Full Blood Count, Urea &Electrolytes, CT, X-Rayand MRI scan interpretation focussing on orbits (including labs/clinical experience in all)•Lengthening of UK degree to fouryears to allow for above to be incorporated into syllabus•Grand Round Modulein year 4to include case presentations and linksto current research•Larger dissertation to include successful VivaVocedefence•Pre-reg year to remain, possibly lengthened to 16-18 months to allow for IP incorporation•Reduction in dispensing content on UK course to give way to increased medical and pharmaceutical content•Successful candidates to take Optometry oath on qualification•Doctor of Optometry to be awarded on successful passing pre-registration year and OSCE’sFace to face meetings between UK and USA students who have completed Year 1, Year 2 etc of each course would assist in identifying elements of the UK course which require reinforcing/revision. Face to face meetings of UK and USA Optometry Lecturers to assist in identifying differences in course content. A Masters or doctoral thesis identifying historical and current differences in both curricula may also be of value.Current UK Government plansfor graduate accelerated medics and the EUopticstraining model The UK Government have this year, indicated a new pathway for registered pharmacists (and possibly even paramedics) to undertake a three-yeardegree which will allow them to qualify as a foundation year Doctor13. Enhancing UK optometry training to doctoral status aligns well with such Government aspirations and provides a swift range of primary eye care doctors at a reasonable cost investment, with an ability to manage a wider range of eye disease in primary care with significant potential economic savings for the NHS.Within the optical press there has been recent discussion about a possible UK Optometry entry level apprenticeship course,training Optometrists within a predominantly corporate optical environment and removal of much of the University training, similar to the way European “optical practitioners/technicians”train. However, this approach will not be compatible with a UK Doctor of Optometry training, where enhanced academic and clinical skills are required.With the UK exiting the EU-where levels of optometry standards are either unknown or potentially inadequate-the argument for apprenticeship sas entry level practitioners in medicine, optometry or dentistry needs a muchstrongerevidence base before meriting further consideration.Of note –there are no other English-speaking western nations offering such courses.

Concluding Remarks

At a time when the NHSis under huge strain, now and for the foreseeable future, the question should not be whether the UK upgrades its optometryBScqualification to Doctor of Optometry, but rather,why has it taken so long to get to this point.The prospect of a UK Doctor of Optometry practitioner is not a revolutionary premise–it is finally aligning UK optometry with other culturally similar,western advanced nations. For the ageing UK population and a struggling NHS, this re-alignmentin UK optometry cannot come soon enough. Acknowledgements: I wish to acknowledge the Universityof Bradford, UK for supplying the curriculum, and Professor Flanagan from the University of California, Berkeleyfor the same. As far as the author is aware, this represents the first review of the subject matter by a UK Doctor of OptometryReferences 1)https://www.aoa.org/about-the-aoa/what-is-a-doctor-of-optometry, cited 5-7-202)https://www.college-optometrists.org/qualifying/a-career-in-optometry/what-is-an-optometrist.html, cited 5-7-203)Pharmacy and the U.S. Health Care System, Third EditionCRC Press, 22 Jul 2005, p63-64 Michael Smith4)https://www.college-optometrists.org/guidance/guidance-for-therapeutics.html, cited 6-7-205)https://opto.ca/becoming-a-doctor-of-optometry, cited 10-7-206)http://fs.aoa.org/optometry-archives/optometry-timeline.html, cited 6-7-207)http://www.barnardlevit.co.uk/assets/Lectures/Use-of-diagnostic-drugs-by-optometrists-Stockholm-2008.pdf, cited 6-7-208)https://www.college-optometrists.org/cpd-and-cet/training-and-qualifications/qualifying-as-an-independent-prescriber.html, cited 7-7-209)https://www.optical.org/en/news_publications/news_item.cfm/GOC-welcomes-new-prescribing-rights-for-optometrists,cited 7-7-2010)https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/2019/01/new-rcophth-workforce-census-illustrates-the-severe-shortage-of-eye-doctors-in-the-uk/, cited 8-7-2011)https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/03571/bsc-optometry/entry-requirements/, cited 8-7-2012)https://www.aston.ac.uk/study/courses/doctor-of-optometry-doctor-of-ophthalmic-science-doptom-dophsc, cited 15-7-2013)https://www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk/news/pharmacists-could-be-fast-tracked-doctors-under-new-government-plan, cited 8-7-20

Appendix Current UK syllabus–University of Bradford, UKFHEQ Level Module Title Type (Core/ Option/ Elective) Credits Semester (s) Yr 1 Semester 1 and 2•Refraction & Refractive Error Core 20 1&2 OPT4002-B •Pure & Visual Optics Core 20 1&2 OPT4003-B •Physiology of Vision & Perception Core 20 1&2 OPT4004-B •Evidence-based Practice and Professionalism Core 20 1&2 OPT4007-B •Ocular Health Assessment 1 Core 40 1&2 OPT4012-D•General and Ocular anatomy/physiologyYear 2 Semester 1 and 2Module Code •Ophthalmic Lenses & Dispensing •Clinical Optometry & Communication Skills •General and Ocular Pharmacology •The Assessment and Management of Binocular Vision •Ocular Health Assessment 2 Core 20 1&2 OPT5014-B •Contact Lens Practice Core 20 1&2 OPT5011-B Year 3 Semester 1 and 2 Module Code •Clinical Competence Core 0 1&2 OPT6012-Z •Evidence-based Optometry 2 Core 20 1&2 OPT6013-•Management of Ocular Disease Core 40 1&2 OPT6019-D •Clinical Practice and Professional Studies Core 40 1&2 OPT6017-D •Clinical Case Studies Core 20 1&2 OPT6014-BUSA 4 yr Doctor of Optometry program, TheCaliforniaUniversity,Berkeley,USAFirst Year 38.5 units Fall Semester Optometry 200A: •Clinical Examination of the Visual System Two hours of lecture per week. (2 units) (and lab) •Optometry 499: Optometry Career Development Course •Vision Science 203A: Geometrical Optics (+laboratory), and one 1-hour discussion per week. Geometrical methods applied to the optics of lenses, mirrors, and prisms. Thin lens eye models, magnification, astigmatism, prism properties of lenses, thick lenses. •Vision Science 205: Visual Perception and Sensitivity Three (and labs) Psychophysical basis for clinical tests in acuity, perimetry, and colour vision. •Vision Science 206A: Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye Four hours of lecture for seven and one-half weeks. •Vision Science 206D. Neuroanatomy/Neurophysiology of the Eye & Visual system•206A (must be taken concurrently). Formerly half of 206A. Structure and function of the neurosensory retina, photoreceptors, RPE including blood supply. Current concepts of aetiologyand management of major retinal conditions. Overview of diagnostic techniques in retinal imaging, electrophysiologic testing and new genetic approaches. •Optometry 200B. Clinical Examination of the Visual System (and labs): Classification and epidemiology of refractive errors, evaluation of accommodative and binocular status. Tonometry, advanced techniques of examining the posterior pole, evaluation of visual pathway function. •Optometry 200BL. Clinical Examination of the Visual System Six hours of laboratory per week. Prerequisites: 200A. Classification and epidemiology of refractive errors, evaluation of accommodative and binocular status. Tonometry, advanced techniques of examining the posterior pole, evaluation of visual pathway function. •Optometry 222A. Optics of Ophthalmic Lenses (and labs) •Vision Science 203B. Optical System and Physical Optics (and labs)•Vision Science 206B. Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye and Visual System (and labs) Structure and function of the tissues of the eye, ocular appendages, and the central visual pathways •Vision Science 217. Oculomotor Functions and Neurology One (and labs)•Vision Science 219. Binocular Vision and Space Perception One (and labs)Second Year Fall Semester 34 units •Optometry 200C. Clinical Examination of the Visual System(and labs)•Optometry 213. Evidence-Based Optometry Basic concepts in evidence-based optometry including various clinical study designs, potential sources of bias in each design, study analysis etc•Optometry 222B. Ophthalmic Optics and Environmental Vision•Optometry 226A. Systemic Pharmacology•Optometry 236A. Systemic Disease and Its Ocular Manifestations•Optometry 270B. Eyecare Business and Professional Management•Vision Science 215. Infant VisionSpring Semester •Optometry 200D. Clinical Examination of the Visual System(tear film, cataract affecting VA etc) (and labs)•Optometry 226B. Ocular Pharmacology Two hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week. Basic pharmacology as applied to the eye and ophthalmic drugs, clinical prescribing issues including formulation, dosing and prescribing•Optometry 236B. Systemic Disease and Its Ocular Manifestations: The pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy, and clinical management of systemic and ocular diseases •Optometry 240. Diagnosis and Treatment of Sensory/Motor Abnormalities (+labs)Diagnosis and treatment of heterophoria, accommodative,BV etc•Optometry 260A. Contact Lenses: Examination of the Contact Lens Patient (+labs)The physiological basis for fitting contact lenses. Effects of a contact lens on the tears, lids, cornea. Examination procedures and instrumentation in CL, Contact lens inspection,care, and handling. •Vision Science 206C. PBL Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye and Visual SystemThird Year 45.5 units Summer Semester •Optometry 430A. Optometry Clinics Minimum of 32 hours of clinic combined with 1 hour of lecture and •Optometry 432. Introduction to Clinical Topics for the New ClinicianFall Semester •Optometry 241. Advanced Management & Rehabilitation of Sensory/Motor Anomalies (+labs) •Optometry 246. Diagnosis and Treatment of Anterior Segment Ocular Disease pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy, and clinical management of systemic and ocular disease•Optometry 251. Low Vision •Optometry 430B. Optometry Clinic practise Two hours of seminar per week and a minimum of 18 hours of clinic per week. •Optometry 435. Advanced Procedures in Ocular Disease Diagnosis (+labs) Spring Semester •Optometry 256. Diagnosis and Treatment of Posterior Segment Ocular Disease pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy, and clinical management of systemic and ocular diseases •Optometry 270C. Eyecare Business and Professional Management •Optometry 430C. Optometry Clinic Two hours of seminar per week and a minimum of 18 hours of clinic per week. Fourth Year 46units Summer Semester •Optometry 440A. Advanced Optometry Clinic Two hours of seminar and a minimum of 20 hours of clinic per week. Optometric examination of patients in the primary care clinic performed independently by student clinicians under supervision of the clinic staff. •Optometry 441A. Specialty Clinics Two hours of seminar and a minimum of 16 hours of clinic per week. Examination, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and management of patients in the specialty clinics. •Optometry 440B. Advanced Optometry Clinic Two hours of seminar per week and a minimum of 22 hours of clinic per week. Diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, patient management and follow-up. •Optometry 441B. Specialty Clinics Minimum of 15 to 20 hours of clinic per week. Examination, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and/or management of patients in specialty clinics; oculardisease, contact lenses, binocular vision etc•Optometry 450A. Grand Rounds and Seminar Two hours of discussion per week. Must be taken on a passed/not passed basis. Presentation of clinical cases demonstrating basic and advanced optometric care, includingdiagnosis, treatment, and patient management. (2 units

Spring Semester •Optometry 440C. Advanced Optometry Clinic -Examination of patients in a primary care setting. Diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, patient management and follow-up. •Optometry 441C. Specialty Clinics Minimum of 15 to 20 hours of clinic per week. Examination, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and/or management of patients in specialty clinics, ocular disease, contact lenses, binocular vision etc•Optometry 450B. Grand Rounds and Seminar.Presentation of clinical cases demonstrating basic and advanced optometric care


Cost-Effective Marketing for Optometry Startups

Marketing is definitely an integral part of any optometry startup. It is often considered the lifeblood of the practice since it helps patients learn more about the startup and visit it. It can turn an almost empty waiting room into a bustling area with countless patients.

However, it can be hard for new startups to come up with the capital for expensive marketing models like advertisements, pay per click, and others. Startups are most inundated with costs for rent, salaries, and others, all of which make it harder to find funds for marketing. Optometrists also don’t have much experience with marketing to launch proper campaigns, gauge audience interest, and modern methods.

There are definitely many marketing companies you can go to, but again, they can be quite expensive. As such, you should focus on cost-effective marketing for optometry startups that can be better for you. Here are some techniques that may help you out.

Community Engagement

Community engagement can provide high-efficacy, low-cost benefits that can be a game-changer for your startup. Many optometrists are naturally good at building relationships since it is such an integral part of our profession. By channeling this skill into marketing, you will be able to build communities that can help spread the word about the optometry clinic. It can be quite rewarding, as well as incredibly effective.

Direct Mail

Direct mail has a reputation for being discarded, not working, or being expensive. As an optometry startup, you should concentrate on maintaining a strategy when it comes to the location that has the potential for a significant growth rate. For example, if you target people who have just moved into the area, you will find that they are more responsive. They will gladly accept the mail since they already need new resources, such as a new optometry clinic to go to. When direct mail is done correctly, it has the highest response rates among some media.

Community Philanthropy

You have to realize that not many people in the community will be able to afford optometry care. You can help by recognizing the needs of your community, solving problems, and giving back. This can help build the team and establish your marketing efforts. It can be quite rewarding, which is why it often doesn’t feel like marketing at all. Some marketing ideas include:

· Calling the local fire department and giving the entire staff discounts on checkups

· Partner up with local business and have a lottery-like game where people have to sign up to win the gift cards

· Build a mutually beneficial campaign with other local businesses such as discounts on tooth whitening with two purchases of eyeglasses from your store in return for discounts on eyeglasses after two purchases of tooth cleanings.

· Attending local events in the community and offering screenings can be a way to get attention for the business

Social Media

Social media is the most cost-effective marketing for optometry startups. It can be a great platform to send messages, create a flourishing community, engage with audiences, and build a brand name. You should make sure to target any online advertisements to certain categories in the community. This can be based on location, interests, gender, and age.

Staying Consistent

Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook work based on visibility. They check whether the audience is engaged consistently. Post regularly.

• 1 post every day for Facebook

· 3 tweets every day for Twitter

· 1 posts every day for Instagram

· 1 post every day for LinkedIn

It may seem like a lot, but it is definitely possible to achieve such numbers consistently. You should firstly focus on choosing the platforms that are most appropriate for your target audience. For example, Facebook is a better platform for older audiences than Instagram. LinkedIn is a great way to build co-referral partnerships with other local businesses. Secondly, you can definitely repurpose the same content for different platforms. If you have a post ready for Instagram, don’t be shy about reusing it for Facebook a week later.

There are also plenty of content calendars and scheduling tools that can help you in this venture. Social media can definitely be self-managed by you without any worries. You can also keep a monthly theme going to build an aesthetic and motivate yourself.

Track and Keep Up with the Data

The most important task in marketing is keeping track of your data and your ROI. However, this can be quite challenging since it requires good systems, intention, and constant follow-ups. Sometimes it can be easy to check how patients were prompted to enter the optometry clinic; they may just enter with a direct-mail coupon. However, if the patient saw you at the farmer’s market providing screenings, then saw a post on Facebook and then were referred to you by a relative, who will get the credit?

It will help to outline a goal for each campaign. Design the campaign with specific intentions. For example, a Facebook campaign to just increase the followers on your account. Since the campaign doesn’t intend to bring in people, you don’t have to worry about tracking that.

As a new business, you should always try and focus on getting organic growth instead of going for expensive strategies. Cost-effective marketing for optometry startups can get you enough business so that you can start planning bigger things.

Ways to Grow your Optometry Business with Uninsured Patients.

This optometry blueprint is designed to increase your customer base by attracting uninsured patients to your door. It also results in a stable, recurring profit growth that you can rely on even more than insurance payments. The optometry strategy is important for any clinic to grow and build a base of loyal patients.

Ways to Grow your Optometry Business with uninsured patients.

There are four common ways that optometry owners can grow.

1. Marketing Material throughout the Clinic

Every room in the clinic should have marketing material so that all patients know about the the different programs your office offers. They should be curious about the material so that the office staff can talk about the details about the program with them.

2. Staff Should Be On the Same Page

All the staff members should have clear knowledge about the program so that they can speak clearly to patients. By working as a team, you will remove the burden from your office manager and increase the likelihood of the patient to understand the program.

3. Talk With Insured Patients As Well

Speaking about the program with insured patients is also important. An optometrist clinic cannot just rely on insurance payments, which are often late. The patients may like the additional benefits they are getting from your program. Explain what their insurance covers and what your program can provide for them and the value.

4. Find Uninsured Patients

Your database should keep track of all uninsured patients that walk through the doors. By presenting the program to them through letters, emails, or calls, you can get more patients to sign up. Activate patients you have not seen in years. With the pandemic many are in between insurances.

Attracting Uninsured Patients

If you want the program to succeed, you will need to attract more uninsured patients towards the practice. There are many marketing tools that can come in handy in such cases.

Direct Mail

Direct mail can help you create awareness about the program. You can target certain communities and areas at once time. The post office has a service to be able to direct mail your target audience. Many times self employed people might have high deductible insurances and can be treated as self pay.

Online Advertising

Social media and other online advertising platforms are a great option for reaching many specific target audiences. You can segment possible audiences and send out targeted ads to educate them about your optometry program. Having patients understand what your office can offer compared to using insurance and paying more.

Community.

Connecting with retirees can be a great way to form an image of an optometrist that works for the community. Many times their insurance does not cover routine care. Your program might be a way to attract them.

Working with local HR departments to have wellness eye exams as part of your services in addition to their medical insurance is a great way to attract uninsurance patients. Develop a contract that is attractive to that company to provide care for their employees. These patients will tend to pay more than vision care plan patients and be more loyal to your practice.

Conclusion

The optometry program can be a wonderful way to offer benefits to uninsured patients. It can also help the clinic build better connections, a loyal patient base, and recurring, stable income. It can also be a great way to keep patients from looking for other options as they know what you have to offer instead of at the moment decision on which eye care professional to choose.

Marketing Your Optometry Practice during COVID-19

In March 2020, the entire world came to a steady halt in an attempt to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. Due to the virus, most optometric clinics have either closed or have a limited number of patients. They were even instructed to postpone any non-essential or non-emergency treatment plans.

How can the eye care clinic survive during the pandemic? How do you work while following the new guidelines? What is your plan for reopening? How do you connect with your patients during the pandemic? s

Marketing your optometry clinic during a pandemic is different from normal seasons. Here are some things you should be mindful of.

Every Optometry Clinic is Different

In the early weeks of the crisis, most optometry clinics were told to start marketing only emergency eye care services. Many optometry practices rely on routine care and selling products as major income for their practices.

By creating a marketing plan focused on patient retention and experience as well as the brand is a better option. If you don’t do this, you will end up spending much more money and time.

Marketing Rules to know!

The basic rules of marketing for eye care clinics, even during the pandemic season is the same. You need to follow this 80/20 rule:

At least 80% of revenue needs to come from the existing patient base. Focusing on newsletters, texts and social media will help to recall patients and gain family members. The cost is much less than trying to attract new patients.

This doesn’t mean that you complete side-line new-patient acquisition. Getting new patients will make your eye care clinic grow, and the best way to do this is to have high word-of-mouth referrals. Every practice should have a marketing budget to attract new patients. We try for 20% of our marketing budget to attract new patients. We have been successful with google ads and Facebook boosts.

The Value of the Existing Patient Base

There are some questions that every eye care owner needs to ask before they begin marketing for COVID:

ü Which patients bring in the highest value?

ü Which communication platform do they prefer?

ü What is the yearly value of your existing patient base?

ü What is the annual value of a new patient?

ü What is the cost of bringing in a new patient?

You need to do this math in order to make a good marketing strategy. Going back to this data when you are designing your marketing plan will allow you to focus on how you need to communicate when you open your eye care clinic.

You may need to focus on making sure they have a good experience outside of the office too. You can do this by using marketing tools like email, social media, and video. Staying connected with the patients, you will be able to connect more easily with them when you return to normal business.

Stay Empathetic and Authentic

Your practice, team, and you must strive to deliver hope to your community to result in positive change. Empathy will be the key to unlock the right marketing strategy. You should opt for a calm, warm tone as well as supportive, strong messages rather than fear-driving messages. Rely the message to your patients that you are taking the necessary precautions to keep them safe during their visit and what you are doing differently. Focus on using the different digital platforms to get your message out there. Partner with other organizations or healthcare professionals to promote your services and providing critical care during this time.

Marketing after the Crisis

Pivoting from the Trends

Use google analytics to find the trends in your area. What has brought patients to your website? What keywords are patients looking for? Many patients are home and using digital devices more than ever. Evaluate which platforms they use and how to get their attention. Consider working on SEO strategy to attractive new patients.

You need to work on how to capitalize on patient funneling through other sources. More and more practices are realizing that word-of-mouth recommendations result in the biggest new patient acquisition. They are more likely to trust their friends and family when it comes to such decisions.

Embracing Social Media

Social media is the best way to reach people who are seeking medical advice online. By guiding your social media towards providing high-value information, you can utilize your resources into creating valuable connections. You can create an educational blog and promote in on social media. Getting new patients to your website is half the battle! Once they are on your website reading the article then should be directed to making an appointment online.

By shifting your approach, you will be making sure that you have a lasting COVID-19 strategy in place. Marketing your optometry clinic in such conditions is possible as long as you have the right approach.

Top 10 Optometry Practice Management Mistakes

To have a successful optometry practice, you need to have goals for the practice and implement systems to complete those goals. However, the hardest part about managing an optometrist clinic can be to stick to the action plan. While trying to implement the plan, there are some common optometry practice management mistakes you could be making.

Here are the 10 most common optometry practice management mistakes that are made.

1. Failure to Take Control

If you fail to take control of your practice, your personal life and happiness can be affected as well. You need to make a total commitment to the practice. When you set out to make changes in the clinic, you may notice a dilemma that the staff is not really ready to make these changes. If they aren’t willing, nothing will happen.

If the staff is not committing to the new program and the new culture it initiates, they will not understand the dedication that is necessary to take the office to a whole new level. If you really want the optometric office to make those changes, you need to step up. The cost begins with creating goals for the clinic, implementing them through action plans, and measuring the result.

Take support from your family and your staff. The staff should carry your program on their shoulders and become partners in moving the practice along. Be assertive and take control!

2. Bland Office Image

The first impression your office gives is crucial to making the patient see value in your office appearance. By offering them a comfortable and appealing appearance, you are ensuring that they look forward to getting the care they need. Having a visually aesthetic clinic that you take pride in is necessary to provide the staff support in offering patients good-quality care.

3. Under-Utilization of Techonology

Hi-tech equipment can help make patients perceive the clinic as a state-of-the-art practice and result in optimal performance. Equipment can help create a more efficient and effective system that helps you provides better care. Investing in such equipment can be a step in the right direction.

4. Unable to Project a Positive Image

While your office décor and environment can be aesthetically pleasing, it may not project a positive image as you intended. Your patients should know that they stepped into the right place when they enter through the doors. The office needs to have a ‘successful’ look; hence, all the staff needs to look professional too.

5. Not Treating Staff Members Are Partners

If you want a successful and productive office, you cannot get one without a group of strong people who give you support. Treating your co-workers with the utmost respect and professionalism is necessary. Treat them like partners in the clinic and initiate a bonus plan to keep them motivated.

6. Lack of Control of at the Front Desk

If you don’t pay attention to how your staff is dealing with patients, you are making a very common optometry practice management mistake. You need to be in control of front desk training and interactions. Your staff must be trained to properly greet and accommodate patients.

7. Failure to Emphasize and Understand New-Patient Experiences

Every patient that walks into the practice has a monetary value. Have you calculated this value so that you know the exact value of new patients? Knowing these metrics and be very important for your practice.

Their experience of the new patient begins from the first phone call they make to book an appointment or ask for details. How are the calls handled at your practice? Do you ask so much information that you drive the patient away, or do you tell them you are happy they called you?

Making a patient feel welcome and special can be quite a game-changer when it comes to having a successful practice. Make sure you are able to accommodate walk ins and same day appointments.

8. Failure to Cultivate a Proper Team

You need to have the support of a group of dedicated, talented people who believe in the goals you have made for the clinic. While it can take serious effort and time to develop such a team, it can be totally worth it to have such a team.

The team members need to think that the optometrist can deliver the best care to sell it to the patients too. This attitude and self-esteem of believing in the practice can make it fulfilling, exciting, and fun. Remember your vendors are your partners as well. They will help to grow your team as well.

9. Lack of Great Attitude

Optometrists need to believe in their practice and have a great attitude as well. They may have a tendency to become too comfortable in the current environment. This can limit their ability to make any necessary paradigm shift. However, the world is constantly changing around you, and the clinic needs to keep up with it. Materials and procedures that worked 2 decades ago may not be the best options right now.

Hence, you should believe in yourself and your clinic.

10. Confidence

The biggest optometry practice management mistake to make is to have low self-esteem. Some optometrists don’t feel confident or good enough to do a lot of things they would like to. They may even have trouble trusting other optometrists. The lack of confidence in their results or technique will be felt by the patients too.

While optometry school may have given them adequate knowledge to run the clinic, it may not be enough. They may lack communication skills that can make patients not want to talk to them. An optometrist who can share the treatment plan, value, and benefits of the plan clearly will be perceived as valuable by patients.

If you want a successful practice, you can’t make optometry practice management mistakes. If the management is perfect, everything else will fall into place as well.

Improving Patient Satisfaction: 5 Questions Optometrists Should Ask Themselves.

The optometry industry is so highly competitive. If you want to rise above the competition and take your practice to great heights, improving patient satisfaction should be your top priority.

There are many ways in which you can build a strong relationship with your patients so that they stay loyal to your services for the long term.

Following are the five most important things you need to consider when growing your brand.

What Tools Do You Need?

Technology can help your practice in various ways. Certain tools can help streamline operations and enhance productivity, whereas others can help reduce bottlenecks, unnecessary redos, ease scheduling, and so on.

To build your practice, the first thing you need to decide is the type of tools that you will need. For this, you need to look into the main areas that need improvement.

For instance, if you want to make patient scheduling more efficient, a software system might help. Or if you want to build a stronger rapport with the patients by providing pre and post-treatment support, starting an online blog that discusses different issues might be the way to go. You want to promote those blogs on your Facebook page and in your newsletters.

What Is Your Social Media Marketing Strategy?

If you aren’t leveraging social media to improve your brand, you are only shooting yourself in the foot.

Being active on different social media platforms can help create brand awareness. However, you shouldn’t use these sites for advertisement purposes only.

Rather, you should use social media to establish a smooth and efficient, two-way communication with your patients and potential patients.

Are You Showcasing Your Practice Reviews Online?

Encourage your patients to rate and review your services online. Positive online reviews are worth their weight in gold and can be far more beneficial for your practice than you may have imagined.

Moreover, positive ratings push your website higher up on the search engine results page. So, your practice is likely to become more noticeable to people when they look for terms such as “optometrist in Chicago”. Think like your patients think and you will be ahead of the competition.

However, keep in mind that while positive reviews can work wonders for your brand image, a negative one can easily taint it too. Using a technology solution such as online reputation management services can prevent you from losing potential patients due to negative feedback from an angry client.

How is your website appearance?

In today’s digital age, it is common for patients to search for and browse the clinic’s website when considering a new OD.

First impressions matter. Therefore, make sure that your website has a prim and proper presentation. It should be up-to-date and offer vital information at a glance. This includes the services you offer, hours of operation, contact details, and other info.

Also, pay attention to the message you send out.

Your website presentation and the info it contains should make the visitor more confident in choosing you.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly? According to google analytics, more than 65% of all web traffic comes from mobile phone users.

Put simply, having a great website may not provide you with the best benefits unless it is optimized for mobile phones too. Make sure it loads quickly and looks impressive on desktops, tablets, and smartphones alike. It needs to be a seamless experience. You have a few seconds to capture their attention!

Bottom Line

Happy and satisfied patients stay not only committed to your services but also enable new patient acquisition by generating positive feedback.

Focus on the aspects of improving patient satisfaction discussed above, and you can take your practice from surviving to thriving.

Corporate OD Reopening Survey

58% are seeing 2 patients per hour
23% are seeing 1 patient per hour
17% are seeing 3 patients per hour
2% are seeing 4 or more per hour

Corporate Optometry surveyed 348 corporate optometrists to see how many patients they will see an hour as they reopen their practice. Generally corporate opticals are high volume locations. Corporate ODs were provided ppe supplies by there corporate partners. All the safety precautions and protocols have been reinstated to provide a safe environment for the ODs, staff and patients.

With these new changes, the number of patients being seen per hour has changed as well. Many ODs have reduced their days but extended their hours. Others have reduced hours per day and kept the number per days. In the chart above a 58% of Corporate ODs will see 2 patients per hour as they reopen their practices. Many feel that is a safe number to do an exam and have time to clean after each patient.

How are adjusting to the new norm in your practice?

How to Build Your Leadership Skills: Difference between a Leader and a Manager.

If you want to become a leader in the workplace, you’ll need to change more than just your outlook. Becoming a true leader isn’t as simple as managing a team and delegating tasks. You need to learn how to handle stressful situations with ease and make sure that everyone in your team feels valued.

Instead of just supervising a group of people and getting the work done, you need to inspire them to do better every day and step out of their comfort zone. Your focus needs to be on building relationships with your employees and getting them to trust you.

Let’s take a look at what sets a leader apart from a manager and how to develop leadership skills in the workplace.

1. Be Open-Minded and Innovative

Leaders are always open to new things. They have a passion for creating, and they don’t shy away from experimenting with new ideas. They don’t believe in sticking with tradition and are always looking for better opportunities to explore.

They’re unafraid of the challenges that come their way and encourage their employees to think outside of the box. Managers, on the other hand, believe in sticking to what they know. They aren’t open to new changes and like to stay within their comfort zone.

2. Take Risks

Leaders are all about taking risks every time an opportunity presents itself. They understand the importance of risks and are eager to learn from their failures. They believe that risks bring forth a realm of possibilities for any business and help a company grow.

They aren’t scared of failing because they realize that every failure is a blessing in disguise. They exude an aura of positivity and create a sense of hope and curiosity in their employees.

Managers avoid taking risks because they don’t feel comfortable in newer and unforeseen territories. They believe in following tried and tested ways to solve all their problems and don’t appreciate disruptive thinking in the workplace.

3. Stand Out from the Rest

Leaders are driven by their need to stand out and be unique. They’re aware of themselves and aren’t scared of owning up to their shortcomings. They’re willing to take their business to new heights by deviating from established procedures.

They value different opinions and encourage their team members to share and explore new ideas.

Managers like to emulate their predecessors. They replicate what they’ve been taught and don’t feel comfortable with the idea of standing out. They aren’t always eager to accept responsibility for their mistakes. For them, their employees are just individuals who work for them and are expected to complete the tasks they’ve been assigned.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned what makes a leader different from a manager, you can also become a great leader in the workplace by changing your way of thinking. The next time you’re faced with a challenge, you need to be willing to take risks and have an open mind to increase your chances of success.

5 Tips to Manage Your Anxiety during COVID-19 Lockdown

As Coronavirus cases continue to rise, people all over the globe have decided to go into self-isolation to protect themselves and their loved one. With incessant media coverage and increasing unemployment rates, there’s no doubt that these uncertain times are creating stress and anxiety for the global population.

If you’re struggling to look after your mental health during the Covid-19 outbreak, here’s a guide on how you can manage your anxiety and keep your mental well being as your topmost priority.

1. Avoid Obsessing Over Coronavirus Updates

It’s important to know what’s happening all around the world, but when you’re stuck at home and watching constant news about the pandemic, you’ll end up putting your mental health at risk.

You need to figure out a way to balance watching important news and news that could make you feel depressed. Take regular breaks from social media and mute keywords and accounts that can trigger your anxiety.

2. Use This Opportunity to Focus on Self-Care

Even though the world may seem dismal and dull right now, you need to focus your energy on the positives. Take advantage of the mandated work-from-policy and use it as an opportunity to explore your interests and create something you’ve always dreamed about.

If you approach this time with a negative attitude and stress about feeling trapped inside your home, you’ll only cause your anxiety to worsen. This can be your chance to focus on self-care and rediscover yourself.

Make an effort to reach out to family and friends and talk to each other on a regular basis.

3. Try Your Best to Maintain Your Normal Routine

If you have children at home, working from home can become stressful and you may be tempted to fall into a more laid-back schedule. This may lead to having negative thoughts about yourself, which is why you need to try and maintain at least some form of your normal routine from the pre-quarantine days.

It’s advisable to wake up and go to bed at the same time as you used to, make time to have proper meals, and do household chores just like before. Sticking to your normal routine will allow you to feel more active and make it a lot easier for you to readjust when things go back to normal.

4. Make Time for Exercise

Don’t give up on your exercise regimen during this global crisis. Studies have shown that exercising regularly releases chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, which are just as effective as anti-depressants for treating mild depression.

Since you may not have access to a gym, you should create your own exercise routine at home and try to reserve at least 30 to 40 minutes of your time to exercise about three or four times every week.

5. Get 8 Hours of Sleep

It’s also necessary to get good quality sleep every night to increase your chances of handling your emotions and staying healthy. It’s recommended to achieve about 8 hours of sleep every night after taking a hot bath and making sure there’s no screen time at least two hours before your bedtime.

Final Words

It may be difficult for you to keep up your normal routine, make time for exercise, and avoid watching the news when you’re uncertain about what the future may hold. Follow the tips mentioned in this blog post and take little steps each day to keep your stress and anxiety under control.

Time to Close? 97% of Corporate ODs don’t have the resources to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Many Corporate ODs are working through the COVID-19 pandemic. Optometry offices are not considered essential services. Many state organizations have recommended optometrists to shut down their offices for 2 weeks. The CDC recommends no gatherings larger than 10+. With some offices seeing 4-6 patients an hour the office can exceed the CDC’s recommendation. Corporate OD lanes being small areas was a major concern for many ODs.

Many Corporate ODs voiced their concerns about working during the pandemic without the proper resources provided to them. Many ODs don’t have face masks, gloves and have low supplies of Lysol wipes. Corporate ODs were concerned about working in a retail environment where there are a lot of people entering the building to purchase food and other supplies.

97% of ODs don’t have the resources to protect themselves and avoid the spread of the virus.

As of 3/17/2020

Warby Parker was the first to come out and close all their stores and paying their staff including their ODs during this difficult period.

Luxottica announced changes in store hours to 12-6 in their Lenscafters locations and closed the LC Macys for 2 weeks. Some LC sublease owners have closed their locations.

For Eyes reduced store hours and sublease ODs were make a business decision if they were to close their books.

Costco optical will close of 30 days according to resources in the Corporate Optometry Facebook group.

Sams Club followed by closing for the next 2 weeks.

Stay Healthy, hopefully together we can get more store closures and resources to the stores that will stay open.

Update 3/23 For Eyes closed, VisionWorks closed, TLC closed National Vision closed and all paid their employed ODs. Shopko closed and Stanton Optical. If we missed your company please contact us at corporateoptometry@gmail.com