By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

The end of the year is upon us, and I, for one, am excited to turn the calendar page on the year 2021. This year has been full of highs and lows, a pendulum swing of hope and optimism followed by a crash of reality that we are still not out of the clutches of a pandemic. Collectively, we’ve seen people at their best and at their most divided. Yet here we are, we are still standing. We have been weathered by the storm; we are (hopefully) emerging into a more promising 2022. We have been changed by having lived through these strange times. So, for a moment, I’d like to ask each of you reading this to take a moment and appreciate how strong you really are. Just the fact that you made it this far is an accomplishment. Yes, it counts.

I know better than to think just the turning of a page on a calendar will magically make everything better, but I have to hope that the new year will bring many blessings our way. So rather than dwelling on what was, I am directing my focus for the end of this year on what was good, what I’m looking forward to, and things from 2021 I will take with me.

The Good
Resiliency, creativity, technology, and humanity. We have had to be creative in the way of doing business, as well as connecting with both our loved ones and our patients. We had to become proficient at fitting glasses around masks, we had to help patients create a sense of personal style while we could only see 1/3 of their faces. We got creative because we didn’t have a choice, but the creativity we experienced was unprecedented. And thank goodness for the technology that allowed us to be so innovative. Imagine how much harder these last few years would’ve been if we couldn’t have seen our loved ones via Zoom or FaceTime or whichever platform you’ve used.

I think we can see now how resilient we are. We stood through uncertainty, physical discomfort, emotional overload, and in working with the public, we stood through times of wondering if working with the public is as fulfilling as it once was. Yet, we stood and are still standing. It is easy to see now how resilient we are. It may not have felt like it in the moment, but we are all stronger now than any of us knew we could be.

Our profession is one that has shown its value and, in turn, demonstrates that the often-overlooked optician is one who has a vital place in the world of the three O’s. We deliver the good vision prescribed to the public through specially fitted and measured spectacles and contact lenses, we fix things that are broken, and we service those necessary spectacles when needed. WE are needed more than we may have known.

Looking Forward
In 2022, I am hoping to cherish those times I get to spend with loved ones. I hope to give and get massive hugs from those people whom I’ve sorely missed. I hope to plan (and take) an actual vacation. I hope to get to Vision Expo and to see so many of my favorite optical people in person again. There are so many things to look forward to, I hope these individual things serve as reasons to stay hopeful especially when things feel dark.

Lessons Learned
A good friend of mine always chooses a word that serves to motivate her at the start of every new year. She has used words like “Soar” and “Joy” and “Create.” I am not usually one who participates in this ritual, but I might join the party in 2022. The word I’m choosing this year will be “Emerge.” I’m hoping to look at this word and remember that we are all emerging from a place of uncertainty into a new and hopeful one. I hope to carry with me the kindness I’ve been shown this year, and to remember how resilient and strong I am and to muster this strength when I need it, (although I hope I don’t need it as often next year!) I hope to retain the creativity I discovered and to continue to connect with my patients and my peers. I hope 2022 brings people together instead of dividing them and I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. I hope we can see that we are all more alike than we are different and that we all will have a prosperous, healthy, and happy 2022.

Learn about the Opticians Association of America’s program to ensure a high level of competency and consistency for opticians throughout the country with our CE, The State of Opticianry, at