It has been eight months since I have become an apprentice optician. Every working day is an opportunity to learn different techniques and apply my knowledge. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since working in this field, it’s that people need to feel comfortable with who is helping them. Although every optician encounters those patients who refuse almost every suggestion made to them about lens treatments, materials, frame choice, etc., it is still important to try to relate to them and fulfill their needs. Being approachable and friendly will work, but patients gravitate more towards confidence. If there is a way to relate to them on a personal level, they value my recommendations instead of viewing me as another person who is solely seeking sales. Furthermore, I establish a comfort-zone and consequently they willingly share the appropriate information to enable me to design the perfect pair of glasses.
Leonardo da Vinci made tremendous contributions, not only to art and science, but to optics as well. He foretold the invention of contact lenses when he had a visually impaired man open his eyes in a bowl of water and the man’s vision improved. Da Vinci also aggressively studied the nature of light and anatomy. According to Historian of Art, Martin Kemp, “He planned to make a glass model of the eye to confirm how it functioned. If he understood how optics worked in the external word, and how the eye functioned, he should be able to make paintings that looked like a ‘second nature.’ This means that naturalism is not the taking a kind of ‘photograph’ of nature but reconstructing and demonstrating how nature works.”
Vision is fundamental to children’s learning. About 80% of socio-educational development takes place through the eyes during the first 12 years of life, but changes in vision can take place without parents noticing. Working as an optician has helped me realize the importance of having our kids’ eyes examined every year. The discussion can start with vision screenings at schools or pediatricians, but we must add that it is not the perfect way to fully diagnose a vision problem.
It’s not all chocolate and flowers. There’s a vision connection to the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named. Writings about St. Valentine of Rome give accounts of two instances in which he restored sight to the blind. The first was the daughter of a judge who had arrested Valentine. The second was the daughter of his jailer, just before Valentine’s execution. Is it coincidence, then, that February is Low Vision Awareness Month?