Optometrists, by nature, are a friendly, loving and slightly neurotic bunch of folks, which lends itself to being pathologically involved with families.  

Of course, families—all of them—are also a challenge. Sometimes each of us gets a little fried and will have disagreements that may result in ultimate fighting-level cage battles. But in the end, we find a way through it, especially if everyone admits we were right. Optometrists, by nature, are also a little narcissistic. Just admit it. 

The Others

But our patients also have families. One time a patient called me aside before his father’s eye exam and asked me to please tell the patient, who had early dementia, that he should no longer drive. The son knew this was a big moment, and I saw a tear sneak out.

I did it. It was hard but the right thing to do. Two months later the son cancelled his own appointment, saying: “My father won’t let us come to a doctor who took his driver’s license away.”


How about when you check the next day’s schedule and see that four family members are coming in together? You know what’s coming:

1. There’s a 50/50 chance all of them cancel, reschedule or no show.

2. There’s an 80% chance some don’t make it because mom forgot they had soccer practice.

3. There’s a 90% chance that if they buy anything, it will be the cheapest thing they can get because sticker shock can be quite a deterrent if you are writing a check for four pairs of glasses. 

4. There’s at least a 10% chance they walk away with their Rxs.


Now, parents are very concerned about their kids stuck on computers all day for school. This just cannot be as healthy as what they did last summer… play video games all day. 

After you spend 15 minutes explaining the possible risks of 430nm to 450nm high-energy light and the importance of getting the kids outside, they go home and spend two hours on social media sharing their newfound knowledge, only to have a guy who used to work for their cousin convince them it’s all a bunch of malarkey. 


The Second Family

Your office is a family unit too, like it or not. You spend your time trying to keep your staff away from the hot stove but still want them in there cooking, right? And you can’t really discipline them, since spanking and time-out are off the table. Too bad. 

Your office family has all the requisite members: 

There’s the mom who spends her time making sure everyone is fed and listens, so she knows everything. For goodness’ sake, keep mom on your side or your office is doomed!

There’s dad. He’s kind and wants to fix everything, even if it makes it worse. Try to find dad a chair and a TV to keep him out of trouble. 

There’s the crazy teenage daughter who can ruin your day with a mere glance suggesting, “You might be an idiot.” 

There’s the rebellious son. Don’t forget to remind him who’s boss, i.e., mom. 

Family is the most confounding and blessed gift to us all. I say “confounding” because no one can ever decipher them. I say “blessed” in case my family reads this.