It is far better to positively engage our colleagues and support them than to dismiss them as inferior, simply because of the environment they work in.
Around nine years ago, after presenting a talk on daily disposable contact lenses (DDCL) at an international meeting, a Canadian Professor asked if she could copresent my talk with me at a forthcoming American Academy of Optometry (AAO) conference. I agreed and we duly submitted the presentation. It was rejected as “having limited appeal”. Bear in mind that at that stage, US daily disposable usage was only around eight per cent.1 In other places, DDCLs were already reaching as high as 69 per cent. Being well behind the eightball, one would have thought US delegates needed educating as to why dailies were (and remain) the ideal modality.
These trolls should show empathy and respect – the people they criticise may have the same qualifications as them. Some may be better qualified
Fortunately, it seems the Americans woke up. The next year saw a leading editor of a US journal present a keynote at the AAO conference on dailies. Not too long ago my Canadian colleague finally got to present on the subject as well.
We have just seen the release of the 2018 International Contact Lens Prescribing results.2 DDCL prescribing in the US has now reached 23 per cent but still lags way behind many places, like neighbouring Canada at 47 per cent. Australia sits at 56 per cent and NZ at 39 per cent, with Denmark at 63 per cent. It makes you think about prescriber and user attitudes and aspirations, doesn’t it?
Speaking of attitudes and aspirations, way back before social media had reared its head, I joined an international optometric group on a web-based platform. With tens of thousands of members, one could participate in a variety of threads to discuss optometry and eye care. There was useful case discussion, plenty of great mentoring and you could get information on equipment and fledgling technologies. However, it didn’t take long before I discovered the meaning of ‘flaming’ and ‘trolls’. All too often I saw civilised and useful discussions break down into ego driven, opinionated slagging matches.
I was a moderator of one group but I quickly tired of the pettiness, dogmatism, egotistical rants and unsubstantiated, anecdotal opinions.
BACK TO THE FUTURE?
Today social media platforms are de rigueur. We have many options and experience excellent discussion, cases, and information. While some groups have quickly turned me off for reasons similar to those mentioned above, I remain active on others.
One Australian based group of optometrists and ophthalmologists, with a few thousand members, continues to impress. Collegiality remains excellent and the learning is exceptional. It is well controlled and very rarely are there any issues. Everyone seems keen to contribute or watch and learn. We have some fun too – as we should. There’s another Australian based site that deals with myopia. Here too there is excellent content and interaction. Apart from the odd raised temperature – usually surrounding debate on the efficacy of a given myopia control modality and the evidence base – the discussions are amiable and well intentioned.
KEEP THE BALANCE
Unfortunately, there are many platforms on which colleagues take a ‘holier than thou’ attitude toward others. Nasty comments are made about practitioners in commercial environments now dominating our market. These trolls should show empathy and respect – the people they criticise may have the same qualifications as them. Some may be better qualified.
I know a number of excellent optometrists who practice in commercial environments. They are well educated and care for their patients. They often win diagnostic competitions on said social media groups.
We may not agree with the skewed marketing strategies of the big commercials and we may not support twenty minute eye exams, but that’s no excuse for flaming.
I might think optometrists in such environments should stand up and fight conversion rates and the pressures of short appointment times, but I still respect their professional capabilities and feelings.
- www.clspectrum.com/issues/2010/february-2010/ international-contact-lens-prescribing-in-2009
- https://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/publication/frame. php?i=552776&p=28&pn=&ver=html5