Dear Optical Readers,
Thank you for your ongoing questions for our column. Please keep them coming! For this month, Ms. Specs wishes to talk about something that is dear to her heart and very timely…


It takes a village.

I have noticed recent conversations on optical social media about “belonging”… a feeling of being part of a village, our optical tribe.  

As opticianry varies state to state, there can sometimes be a sense of disconnect, while unintended, throughout the various correspondences between opticians.   

Opticianry is a fulfilling, noble profession… helping those with the most precious of senses: the sense of sight.

Recently, the Opticians Association of America held their annual Leadership meeting in Sandestin, Fla. There were over 200 opticianry leaders, optical apprentices and optical students in attendance. The energy in the space was inspiring. It warmed the hearts of “us oldies” to see so many new, younger opticians getting involved and taking on leadership roles across the country.

Prior to this, in the beginning of January, Florida opticians, along with other professional disciplines, faced the threat of deregulation by a bill which was moving through the House and on to the Senate. The Professional Opticians of Florida acted swiftly and formed an outreach campaign to opticians through social media, and created and payed for a link to make writing to the legislators easy and efficient.

While we were at the Leadership meeting, we were informed that the Florida Senate Committee would hold an open hearing addressing the bill (SB 1124). We had two days’ notice: The hearing would take place on Monday, Feb. 17, Presidents Day.

This is where the village emerged. Wes Stuart brought up the link for opticians to write their legislators. Jim Morris from the ABO ensured that they actually went to the link to take action, not to simply take a picture and do it later. We arranged for several professionals to go to the capitol in Tallahassee for the hearing including the POF lobbyist John Girdler, chair of the opticians licensing board Jim Morris from the ABO-NCLE and yours truly.

I would like to share the words, written by Blair Wong, professor in the opticianry program at Ben Franklin Institute in Boston which were presented at the hearing:

“Opticians are not frame stylists. Opticians are not optical associates. Licensed opticians design customized medical devices that provide vision that ENHANCES, … PROTECTS ... AND PRESERVES the vision for the citizens of this world. Vision is the essential sense of the Human Experience... On a day to day basis, on a minute to minute basis, and even a second to second basis…

“As an example of the critical need for Acute Vision provided through your eyewear or contact lenses by a licensed optician, consider this: driving home and trying to get through the Florida traffic safely, without your best prescription glasses. Providing acute vision to judge distances, to see color, to see your gauges: to react quickly and accurately to every decision that faces a driver on their way home.

“The laws, rules and regulations of Florida describe prescription glasses as medical devices. How is it possible, that a medical device, could be dispensed in Florida without a licensed professional? Is that the world that you all want to see yourselves and see others?

“That is the Question Before You.”

The Senators took note and agreed to remove all health care from SB 1124. This was a big win for all.

My message to you, dear optical readers: Join your state society and get involved. If there is not one available, start one. There are many mentors around the country who will help. Become a member of the Opticians Association of America and get involved.  

It takes a village.

Instead of quoting Ms. Manners, I would like to share one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM

Do you have a question for Ms. Specs? Please send your question to [email protected], and we may feature it in a future column.