To an optometrist in the mid-1990s, the prospect of prescribing medications was still somewhat new. Many states had only passed their TPA laws within the last decade, and a few were still fighting the good fight in their legislatures for the privilege. Even many of the ODs empowered to Rx had only sporadic opportunity to do so, as the caseload often just wasn’t there. And drug companies were skittish about openly supporting optometry, lest they alienate their core market: ophthalmology.
As has so often been the case in the history of optometry, the profession had to look inward for help. Two ODs from North Carolina—Ron Melton and Randall Thomas—had made names for themselves as ace clinicians and entertaining lecturers, so Review of Optometry convinced the two to bring their expertise on ophthalmic drugs to our readers in the form of an annual publication. The Clinical Guide to Ophthalmic Drugs, first published in 1996, was a huge success right off the bat, and has been ever since. It’s our most anticipated, highest read supplement year in and year out.
And we just did away with it—sort of.
Packaged with this issue comes another compendium of advice from Drs. Melton and Thomas (plus their young protégé Patrick Vollmer, also of North Carolina). But it bears a new name, Clinical Perspectives on Patient Care, and a new format throughout. As the authors themselves explain in their introduction, the old format—listing all meds in a category and detailing their pros and cons—suited the needs of 1990s doctors who were still new to the world of prescribing. The medications themselves were exciting, intimidating, even a little exotic.
No longer. All new optometry grads enter practice with a strong grounding in pharmacology and clinical use of drugs, and the more seasoned ODs have a few decades of hands-on experience to rely on.
Even though the therapeutic agents have become more familiar to ODs, your clinical responsibilities have only continued to grow. Optometrists see all manner of eye diseases now, and the top challenge of the day is how to care for them all yourselves, keeping referrals to a bare minimum. Drs. Melton, Thomas and Vollmer have been role models in that regard, arguing strenuously for optometric dominance of eye care and practicing what they preach. To help others get there too, the authors want to share their perspectives on not just meds but also exam techniques, differential diagnosis, patient education, important journal articles, strategic planning for your practice—the whole enchilada. Hence the name and format change.
We all hope you’ll consider it a more well-rounded, on-target educational experience suitable for 2020 and beyond. If you slip and still call it “the drug guide” on occasion, don’t sweat it. We’re sure to do that too. After all, it’s still packed with loads of insights on medications, just now with even more advice to put those prescribing decisions in proper context.