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Part Science, Part Art, All Heart

A dentist in the Inland Empire used these words to describe his profession.  I feel they really apply to optometry.  A major part of our profession of course deals with “science.”  Development in lens styles, treating disease and measuring visual findings has improved due to developments in science.  In dealing with the “art” however, we are dealing with the human mind, 2+ 2 doesn’t always equal 4.  If it did, there would be one best contact lens, one best style for frames, and basically we would never have to redo someone’s glasses due to comfort.  We would just put them in front of a computer and it would come out with a prescription and it would be perfect.  This does not exist.  Also, there is not just one great drug or treatment for a disease.  The “art” part comes from experience and listening to the patient.  When you deal with a patient, everyone is an individual and you must as a practitioner, accommodate and interpret the findings around the patient.

The “heart” part of the statement is particularly true in optometry.  Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care (an old proverb).  There is a lot of empathy surrounding my profession, or at least there should be.  You have to listen to the wants and needs of a patient.  This could never be ascertained by just a computer finding or just asking, “which is better, one or two?”  Just the fact that you show care for a patient could make the difference whether your treatment is successful.  Patients want to be listened to and feel their concerns are being addressed and considered and as individuals, they want to be valued.


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