Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to this event. What a joy to finally meet so many of you in person. I am especially encouraged in seeing so many here driven by the clear desire to speak publicly about vision. I recognize this as something much greater than a need to express facts: When VTOD’s speak, they speak for equality, justice, and fiscal common sense.
We know that, as a visual species, MOST of what we glean from the environment is through vision. We also know that vision is about a lot more than whether things appear blurred or not. The general public, however, has no concept of what vision is or means to us, especially what it means to children. It’s our job to tell them.
It is a sad fact that we have become inured to the notion that if there is a problem, we need a medical doctor. It’s a great business model – they call it funneling: Get the consumer to your doorstep, ready to pay. When that is the focus, ‘facts’ are of secondary importance, such as the fact that vision rehabilitation is often the best approach to many of the fundamental developmental, learning, and behavioural problems we see in children today.
Some of you know that among other things, I am a software developer. While we’ve been arguing the point that ‘VT Works’, others have started to adopt small wedges of VT technology into ‘new’ products. We need to take the lead in vision rehab, we are the best around.
So why doesn’t the public know it? This is simply a marketing issue. First, because the medical community has such a strong lobby and huge marketing potency. MD’s ‘own’ disease and reluctant to admit there are human conditions outside the realm of what is known as ‘pathology’. It is, as Dr. Press Sr. has pointed out, not sufficient that we succeed, but that other must fail. While this seems to be acceptable in a free-market, it is not at all appropriate for the ongoing care of patients who are disadvantaged when it comes to medical and therapeutic facts. Telling them, for example, that VT doesn’t work, is quite literally taking advantage of the disadvantaged.
OD’s suffer an inferiority complex of gigantic proportions: We politely hold our tongues when discussing diagnosis and treatment of behavioural vision concerns when speaking with MD’s in particular. But our complex is not nearly as profound as when expressed by a GPOD who tells patients “go see a PO” when faced with a behavioural concern, especially strabismus, learning, and developmental challenges. They believe pills will cure learning disabilities, that vision is unrelated, that vision is mechanical with no cognitive elements.
The behavioural approach is much more than simply applying a broader perspective to patient assessment and care, it’s a lifestyle approach to care: VTOD’s live by the credo that nothing is written in stone, that there is always a better way. This takes courage, foresight, and most of all, a very strong faith in self and colleagues to persist in continuous learning and a very loud public advocacy.
Indeed, our biggest challenge is not convincing the public, because I have found that converting people is easy once you simply explain things clearly and with no jargon or hyperbole. No, the real challenge is convincing GPOD’s that vision rehab is OUR domain first and foremost, and that we are best at it – and this because of no other reason than the simple fact that we are the best trained and have the broadest knowledge and understanding of vision rehab and all that it entails.
There is an opportunity before us all: To take the lead in an emerging and burgeoning vision rehab industry. People need to recognize optometry as a brand, something to be preferred over other alternatives. It’s happening with us, it’s happening without us: Those who engage now will take the lead and will blaze new trails for coming generations of new doctors.
So stop fighting for recognition of what is simply the plain truth: VT works, ok, we get it. Now, what are you going to do about it?
Let me tell you what to do: Keep on training, keep on learning. Next: Market with a confident and loud voice.
Stop PROVING, start moving. That is, move people to your door and away from the mindset that promotes medical solutions for behavioural problems. Yes, this is self-serving: It promotes justice, good clinical practice, and lower costs of care for taxpayers.
This serves me just fine.