By Marisol Rodriguez, ABO-AC, NCLEC

Every day, like many of you, I am “on the front lines” fitting and dispensing with the general public. And every day, with each encounter I am posed with a plethora of questions, and as their eye care professional I need to confidently provide solutions or answers to those questions. I always strive to provide what I consider to be my perfect curated experience for a patient. I have learned many solutions along the way through trial and error, others I have been taught through the power of example from some amazing mentors. 

I must give a hats off to Barry Santini, ABOM, because some of the most indispensable lessons I have learned were by shadowing him in his dispensary. Under his tutelage, I was exposed to being a better critical thinker, observer, listener, and that the patient experience goes beyond the dispensary. 

As opticians, we must always remain in a solution-based mindset. When a patient chooses us as their eye care professional, it is because they have a visual demand or task they are struggling with, and they are seeking assistance with resolving it. While a majority of fittings are fairly routine for us, there are a few that are much more challenging. Some patients may have some very specific visual demands and very specific expectations. Unfortunately, we may not always be able to meet those demands and it’s generally not for lack of trying. Many of them can simply be out of our control; however, the effort we put in to resolving it is within our control. This is where we can “flex” our opticianry knowledge and our patient-care expertise.

I was most recently presented with such a challenge. It was a mild spherical OU hyperopic Rx, just for watching television. At the time of dispense, the corrected visual acuity was not what the patient was expecting. Their exact words were, “they made no difference with or without them.” I always do my best not to inconvenience the patient and save chair time at their respective doctor’s office whenever possible. I took my time to troubleshoot them as thoroughly as possible. In this case, after wearing them for a few days, they needed to seek a second visit with their prescribing doctor. They returned with an amended prescription, and even with the Rx change presented, at the following dispensing date, the results were the same. Though it was disheartening because I felt like it was a simple scenario and not a successful fit, in the end, I gave them a refund. I expressed that I appreciated the opportunity and if there is ever anything else I can do for them, I happily would. 

About a week later they returned with their spouse, and their child to purchase multiple pairs of glasses and they specifically wanted to see me. They wanted me to know, “that they acknowledged I was doing everything I could to help them, and that they knew I had their best interests at heart. So they brought their family back.” This in my opinion was the win! I took that as a lesson, and a success story. Sometimes, we have to pull out every tool in our “opticians toolbox” to solve a problem. But we must also realize that patient care is just as essential a skill set, and it continues beyond dispensing the pair of glasses. In many ways, the trust is built beyond the dispensing table.