Optometry - more than just glasses at OPSM
James has been an optometrist at OPSM Geelong for 6.5 years & is passionate about eyecare.
Why did you choose optometry?
I’d been really interested in healthcare. I find eyes interesting & exciting. It made a big difference to me wearing glasses when I started needing them. That experience gave me passion & I get to help people in the process.
What’s the biggest misconception about what you do?
That we only focus on glasses & checking people’s vision. Nowadays there are a lot of smaller eye issues that we treat & manage. We aid in the detection of more serious issues that might need surgery or other interventions to correct. A lot of people come in just expecting their eyes to be checked but once their eye health has been looked at, they’re sometimes surprised by how thorough the experience was.
What’s been the biggest change in optometry that you’ve seen?
The degree that we collaborate with doctors & specialists now. Traditionally optometrists had a primary focus on the vision but now we’re working more with other medical practitioners to manage eye disease & look out for potential issues that could impact a person's eye health in the future.
What technology changes have you seen in eyecare?
There’ve been big advances on what we use to check peoples eye health but also in the technology that’s used to make up & design glasses.
When it comes to eye health, 2 major machines that have come out are the OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) which allows us to diagnose & look for issues like glaucoma & macular degeneration. Then there's the ultra-wide retinal scanners which allow incredibly detailed assessment of the eye health.
For glasses, that technology has improved to offer clearer vision than what was achievable through lenses & even contact lenses 10-15 years ago. There are means to reduce the thickness of lenses, improve field of vision through the use of digitally designed lenses. Where things have been impossible before, there are now possibilities & I hope we continue to see these developed.
What technology do you enjoy using?
My favourite piece of equipment is the ultrawide retinal scanner. It’s able to map out about 80% of the inside of an eye in an instant, and that shows me an incredible amount of detail regarding eye health. It’s particularly useful for picking up things that are finer that we’d often be at risk of overlooking with a more basic check.
Contacts v. glasses – do you have a preference?
I’m biased towards glasses, I wear them myself. They give people the best vision, they can also be a fashion statement, lots people look fantastic in glasses. But contact lenses are handy, 90% of people can wear them & there are occasions where glasses might be a little impractical & they offer a great freedom.
Are glasses more than just glasses, are they more of an accessory now?
Absolutely, you see them much more in advertising & media, and they can really accentuate a person's facial features. A lot of young children that I see for eye check-ups come in hoping they’ll get glasses as opposed to dreading that they’ll get glasses, sometimes they’re a little disappointed with the outcome when I tell them their vision is perfect!
What are some tips for keeping my eyes healthy?
Sun protection! We’re good at protecting our skin with sunscreen, but it can’t help our eyes. It’s important to shield them when we’re outdoors.
There’s also research that show that a balanced diet with the right nutrients is good for eye health. It focusses on leafy green vegetables like spinach & kale, as well as bright vegetables like corn, capsicum & your bright coloured fruits like berries & citrus.
Eating more carrots to improve your vision is a bit of a myth, it’s nice to have a good level of Vitamin A but it’s difficult to be deficient in it if you’re eating a proper diet. They’re delicious, they’re good for you, but not the key to eye health.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy meeting all the new faces, and reconnecting with previous patients, it’s a lot of fun hearing each person’s story. Knowing how being able to see more clearly impacted on me when was younger, I really enjoy the opportunity to help other people, whether that’s by improving their vision, or helping prevent eye disease.