L&T: Through My Lens

Aug
2012

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It’s not every day that I get a message from a world leader, so naturally I was curious when I received a press release from Dr. Dean Edell, “one of the world’s leading ophthalmologists.” It promised that Edell would “give me the scoop” about the differences between optometrists and ophthalmologists, and directed me to a YouTube video.

I thought I could tell an OD from an MD, but maybe there was something I was missing. Besides, what self-respecting journalist can resist a scoop?

According to Edell, “An optometrist is not a doctor but can prescribe glasses. An ophthalmologist is a physician and a surgeon who deals with diseases of the eye and can also prescribe glasses.”

That’s not entirely true. Although ODs are not “medical doctors,” as a recent court ruling states, they are in fact doctors whose scope of practice includes prescribing therapeutic and diagnostic drugs, and co-managing surgery patients. Yet Edell reduces this issue to purely mercantile terms. “Be careful when going to an optometrist as their job is to sell readers,” he warns, adding, “Why buy a pair of $300 glasses when a $20 pair might do the job just fine?”

Then again, they might not. Prescription reading glasses have the advantage over OTC readers of being able to correct for astigmatism. They can also be made with different prescriptions in each lens, and the optical centers can be located over the wearer’s pupil.

So why does Edell want to you to consider buying $20 readers? Because he wants you to buy his brand, known as Dr. Dean’s.

I have nothing against OTC readers. But really, Dr. Edell, do you have to bash your fellow eyecare professionals just to make a buck? Why whip up anti-optometry sentiment among the public by unfairly painting ODs as unscrupulous price gougers? Our society—and our industry—is polarized enough these days without you adding to the already hostile mood.

—Andrew Karp
akarp@jobson.com

 

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